OT/ Disney To Sell Angels ..Not Victoria's Secret, the MLB Team!

A couple of Very good articles from todays LA Times.
The sell gives us all butterflies. I hope the team can manage.

Memo to The Mighty Ducks: I know you are 1 game from sweeping last years defending champs, but if you win you could be next! ;)
Major League Baseball
Disney Days Are Done by Ross Newhan

It was a strange trip indeed for company, but it was far too short.

With the clock ticking now on its final hours as owner, with a four-year search for a buyer having reached fruition in a tentative agreement with Arturo Moreno, how strange is the temptation to ask Disney to reconsider and stay for a little longer?

How strange is it that a corporation that initially thought that the best way to lure fans was with cheerleaders and Dixieland bands on the dugout roofs, that thought that logo and uniform designs seemingly produced in its animation division could camouflage the product on the field, is bowing out at a time when it has a real handle on how to operate a franchise?

How strange is it that after serving as something of a fan and media whipping boy during much of its seven-year tenure, Disney now generates an aura of stability as it reaches for the door -- the beating of those noise sticks providing an improbable compliment and/or complement?

How strange?

Well, it is strange, indeed, and maybe it's just that the departing Disney takes on a brighter sheen when measured now against the great unknown that is Moreno.

On the other hand, Moreno is buying a quality product significantly enhanced by Disney amid all of the trials and tribulations, the learning on the job.

For one thing, by staying the course, by maintaining a workable payroll instead of decimating it and the roster as other sellers have done, Disney goes out as owner of a World Series winner that incinerated a history of mistakes and misfortune and will remain in tact beyond this season.

Although many of the core players were scouted, drafted and developed by the Bill Bavasi and Bob Fontaine Jr. regime during the last years of the Autry ownership, it was Disney that funded the rebuilding of the Angels' international operation, the reopening of their Dominican Republic academy and the overall revitalization of a minor league system that Baseball America ranks fifth among the 30 teams and now includes players who weren't only drafted because of affordability but because of talent.

In addition, of course, it was Disney that hired Bill Stoneman as general manager, and it was Stoneman who hired Mike Scioscia as manager, and if both of those decisions had a lot to do with economics -- Stoneman because of his Montreal familiarity with restricted payrolls and Scioscia because he was comparatively inexpensive -- both decisions now seem fortuitous.

It was also Disney, somewhere along the line, that realized the best marketing tool is a winning team, and that the best administrators are those familiar with the business, and in time Paul Pressler -- who was supervising the Anaheim operation for Disney and had a passion for the game that others in Burbank lacked -- scrubbed the idea of a national search for an Angel chairman to succeed the micro-managing of Tony Tavares and decided that Stoneman would run the baseball end and that popular and respected Kevin Uhlich, who had been in the organization for 26 years, would complete the ascent from batboy to run the business side as senior vice president.

It was also Pressler, now CEO of the Gap Corp., who vetoed the done deal -- in a bit of serendipity that at the time seemed to strip Stoneman of some autonomy and came during a period when Pressler and Tavares were butting heads -- that would have sent center fielder and de facto captain Darin Erstad to the Chicago White Sox in December 200l and would have cost the Angels their World Series crown of 2002, and it was Uhlich, who, among other things, helped turn Edison Field into a sea of red with his push to make it the predominant uniform color.

Of course, there might be no sea of red, periwinkle or any other color, no Disney, in fact, if there weren't a renovated Edison Field.

Disney has never quite achieved the marketing and business synergy it first envisioned by owning the Angels and Mighty Ducks in the Hub of Happiness, so close to the Magic Kingdom, and was never able to get its regional cable off the ground --outfoxed by Fox -- but by contributing $100 million to the renovation it achieved one of its primary objectives and one Jackie Autry could not have afforded: Allowing the Angels to remain in Anaheim in tantamount to a new ballpark, expanding the tourist attractions.

Now, of course, it appears that Moreno, paying a bargain price, will enjoy the benefits of the long Edison lease and a Disney legacy that will be measured, among things, by the renovated park and the remarkable championship, a legacy that included the tumultuous 1999 season when the Angels finished 25 games out and Bavasi and Terry Collins paid the price, the drug episode involving Tony Phillips in which Disney chairman Michael Eisner attempted to rewrite baseball's drug rules, and the $80 million commitment to Mo Vaughn, a justifiable investment by an owner taking criticism, at the time, for its conservative finances but an investment that would turn to dust as another chapter in the franchise's long history of injury and misfortune.

Disney stayed the course, changed the history and will soon depart, turning the Angels over to the unknown. How strange to think we might miss Mickey and Michael.

Second Article.

Impending Sale Causes More Nervous Smiles Than Outright Glee
by Bill Plaschke

Impending Sale Causes More Nervous Smiles Than Outright Glee
Apr 16, 2003

Disney has just sold a sports team, and you'd think it would feel Fantasia.

It doesn't.

The Angels have just been bought by a guy who could make them look more like the Dodgers, and you'd think things would be just Grichy. They're not.

In the Be Careful What You Wish For Department, the Angels' long-maligned corporate suits have apparently finally sold the team to a rich guy who reportedly loves sports and family and winning.

And it scares us to death.

Arturo Moreno buying the Angels is like a stranger buying a once-ramshackle neighborhood hut shortly after it had been renovated into a mansion.

The neighbors are gathering on the sidewalk, peering into the windows, and wondering.

What's he going to do to the place? Paint it pink? Blacktop the lawn? Put up a fence?

And when it has finally been fixed!

So many questions, so much uncertainty, the strangest of championship parade routes. It began last October at a theme park, and ends this week in angst.

We know the new owner once coached his kid's little league team.

Does this mean he likes tiny shortstops?

We know the new owner became rich running a billboard company.

Surely he never sold one in the shape of a giant "A?"

We know the new owner used to own part of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Does that mean Angel pitchers have to start wearing mullets?

Never thought anybody would miss Disney, but, well....

It gave Southern California a sparkling ballpark, and a world title, and find the rodent jokes in that.

Disney showed us that treating sports as a business doesn't have to be a three-letter word spelled F-O-X, not when you put it in the hands of bright minds and baseball guys.

It took a while, but The Mouse got it right, which makes it a fitting part of the cursed Angel history that it is saying "Goodbye" just when it finally figured out, "Hello."

And who exactly got next?

Not exactly sure.

Arturo "Arte" Moreno, 56, could be anybody.

He could be the next Peter O'Malley or the next Donald Sterling.

He could a visionary like Jerry Colangelo or a villain like Bill Bidwill.

We know very little about the Arizona man, who is reportedly a polite recluse, which is fine as long as he shows up to explain himself when he names Lute Olson the new general manager.

Whoever he is, we can always hope.

We can hope that his reported $940-million net worth will allow him to maintain the Angels as champions even though Disney decided it wasn't worth the stockholder's trouble.

The organization is in such good shape that there will be few issues immediately, but next season could be the final one here for the likes of Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus and Bengie Molina.

Nobody is more important to the foundation than Mike Scioscia, who is probably the most underpaid manager in baseball, and that also needs to be addressed.

About the Outdoor Systems billboard company that he aggressively directed ? he once spent $1 billion acquiring another company ? Moreno told the Arizona Republic, "We have a big appetite."

Even though this business won't make him as rich, let's hope he's still hungry.

But not so hungry that he becomes a glutton for control.

As the boss of Outdoor Systems, Moreno was famous for asking that disgruntled clients bypass their sales representatives and call him directly. Can you imagine Brad Fullmer calling him to complain about a benching?

He was also known for his distaste in modern conveniences. He didn't allow his employees to have voice mail, and he had no secretary.

Maybe a hand-operated scoreboard is next?

Here's hoping that, as the first Latino owner in Major League Baseball, Moreno also realizes he has a chance to reach out to the community while increasing his fan base.

The largely Latino neighborhoods in Orange County are largely invisible at Angel games. It only makes good business sense to change that. Nobody in town appeals to every corner of the population more than the Dodgers, and nobody draws more consistently.

"It's going to be interesting to see what he's going to do in the community and to the team," Molina said. "I don't know what to expect out of him because I don't know him ... he'll make a big impact on Latino players, hopefully, and an opening for us to come play in the big leagues."

Just don't count on any breaks, for anybody, at least not judging by another sports team he once owned.

It was the 1987 minor league Salt Lake City Trappers. They won 29 consecutive games, a professional record. And you know what he said about them afterward?

"Nobody is interested in past performance," he said. "They're interested in what you're going to do. If you play baseball, it's your next at-bat."

Sounds good, Arte Moreno.

You're up.

Bill Plaschke can be reached at: Bill.Plaschke@latimes.com.