"Los Angeles" Angels Of Anaheim Set Marketing Standard For Next 50 Years (Humor)

Mike CarleyCorrespondent IJuly 30, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:   (L-R) Vladimir Guerrero (L) celebrates with team owner Arte Moreno of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim celebrates in the locker room after defeating the Seattle Mariners 7-4 to win the American League Western Division at Angels Stadium September 23, 2007 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Greetings all.  I am Mike Carley Jr., the 35 year old son of the famous Mike Carley himself, e-mailing you from the year 2055.

The list of my father's exploits is long and exhaustive indeed: he cured Attention Deficit Disorder in 2024 and fought valiantly against the Zombie-French Axis in the Great Zombie War of 2036.

And of course, he perished epically this day five years ago while saving a boat load of innocent Peruvian supermodels from no less than seven attacking great white sharks—with his bare hands.

I felt it would only be appropriate, on the five year anniversary of his courageous death, to email his contemporaries back in the glorious year of 2009 to explain the far reaching effects of the one thing that I know vexed my father more than anything else imaginable.

The year was 2005.

Being a loyal Dodger fan living in Los Angeles, my father always looked forward to inter-league play, when the Anaheim Angels would shoot up the 5 freeway for a three game stop in Chavez Ravine.  It didn't matter that back then, the Angels had won a World Series as recently as 2002, and his lowly Dodgers hadn't won a playoff series since 1988.

Watching the Orange County vs. Los Angeles Southern California rivalry play out on the field and in the stands of Chavez Ravine was one of the most enjoyably intense occurrences in my father's young life.

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It was then that the new owner of the Angels, a pioneering young gent by the name of Arte Moreno, changed the face of sports marketing forever.

Way back in 2005, Moreno was faced with a dilemma. 

An hour (with no traffic) up the 5 freeway was Los Angeles, the second biggest media market in the world, filled with what he believed to be lethargic and victory-starved Dodger fans just waiting for the first sign to jump the ship that had been sinking since Kirk Gibson left town.

However his team, classic stadium, intensely loyal fan base, and animated-rodent sponsor were all situated in the quaint town of Anaheim, CA.

This location was perfectly positioned across the freeway from Disneyland and was widely regarded as the baseball capital of Orange County.  Still, Anaheim was rather far to attract the interest of the allegedly dissatisfied Dodger faithful located 30 miles up the coast.

How did the entrepreneurial Moreno solve this dilemma?

Why that's simple.  He decided to step back, see the forest through the trees, and, disregarding all geographical accuracy, decided to throw "Los Angeles" in front of Angels.

The only problem with such a mind- bending radical strategy was the fact that, lo and behold, his team, classic stadium, intensely loyal fan base, and animated-rodent sponsor, were all still comfortably located back down in Anaheim.

Moreno, not one to take "no" for an answer, simply did what any persistent and rational individual would do—come to a compromise by keeping the names of both cities in the heavenly team moniker.

Thus, the "Los Angeles" Angels of Anaheim, and the first geographical oxymoron in all of sports, were created, and the shock waves are still being felt today almost a half century later.

Looking back, the move was brilliant!

Not only did Moreno supposedly increase his team's fan base by like, 3.4 billion people or something, he did so while managing to avoid more expensive means such as moving the team, building a new stadium, etc.

The only cost Moreno incurred was the cost in Internet bandwidth it took to send the simple email memo to key league officials and media outlets that the scoreboard would be reading "LAA" instead of "ANA."

Now we are of course ignoring the immense legal fees incurred when the suddenly-alienated city of Anaheim decided to sue the industrious team owner to block the name change, a suit that dragged on for four years before finally being dropped way back in 2009.

We can ignore that silly little case because in the end, that cost was minimal compared to the fact that Moreno, through ingenious machinations the likes of which the world has never seen before, gained access to the media cornucopia that was Los Angeles.

(It came at the cost of divorcing his team's claimed city from the physical, geographical location of his team, classic stadium, intensely loyal fan base, and animated-rodent sponsor).

At the time, the ploy seemed dubious at best, downright absurd at worst.

After all, just three years prior, the ANAHEIM Angels had won the World Series, and simultaneously brought the "Rally Monkey" into existence—a horrid and despicable creature that for some reason or another seemed to electrify all of Orange County into a frenzy.

Also, a few years previous in 1997, Disney had purchased the team and provided renovations to Angels stadium so extensive that they were, by all accounts, straight out of a fairy tale—thereby verifying what had been promised to the team by lead architects Goofy, Minnie Mouse, and Jimmeny Cricket.

I mean, who wouldn't want want such a, *ahem*, noble water fall gracing the outfield of their team's ball park? 

Never mind that an explicit condition of this agreement-made-in-Neverland (the Peter Pan one, not the Michael Jackson one) was that the team's name contain the word "Anaheim."

This was a successful team, with what amounted to a new stadium and a devoted fan base.  This wasn't a team that necessarily needed to be ideologically separated from its past.

Also, the sheer audacity Moreno possessed to completely disregard the overwhelming geographical paradox the name presented is nothing short of admirable.

Anaheim and Los Angeles are roughly 30 miles apart as the crow flies.

However, it seems to me that distance would only be relevant if people actually rode crows to and from work every day.

In actuality, the drive from Los Angeles to Anaheim can routinely take two hours or more, the same time it takes to travel between New York and Philadelphia on Amtrak.

If it takes that long to get from one stadium to another, I don't care what time period you live in, those two stadiums are not in the same city.

And that was the heart of the issue.

Anaheim wasn't in Los Angeles.  Heck, it wasn't even on the boarder of Los Angeles (13 different earthquakes since 2010 may have changed this fact now, but I haven't checked a recent map.)

Yet it didn't matter.  The "Los Angeles" Angels of Anaheim were born, unknowingly becoming a genesis of one of the slipperiest and most unprecedented slopes in sports marketing history.

After a few years of smooth sailing as the "Los Angeles" Angels, other sports marketing departments in major league baseball started to catch on.  They began to realize that if they didn't need to tie their marketing efforts to the specific market their team resided in, the possibilities were endless!

Anaheim wasn't in Los Angeles, but that didn't stop Maverick Moreno from shamelessly trying to tap that huge media market. 

Other teams started to recognize that maybe this formula could work for them as well.

Not to be outdone by their rivals down the coast, the Los Angeles Dodgers decided to up the ante a little. 

If the Angels wanted to tap the market of a city they didn't reside in just because it was the No. 2 media marketplace in the country, why not capitalize on Joe Torre's New York connections and try to tap into the country's No. 1 market?

Thus, in 2012, with great fanfare the Dodgers changed their name to the New York Dodgers of Los Angeles.

The move was greeted with much chagrin by native Angelinos, but was widely embraced by the .6% of Manhattan composed of actual Dodger fans.

And hey, as the PR department put it, what's not worth a .6% bump in market share—am I right fellas?

It was all downhill from there.

By 2014, Yao Ming's foot woe's had been solved with mysterious Chinese implants, the origin of which was so mysterious, that ESPN reportedly lost contact with four different Outside The Lines reporters trying to gain access to the lab in Beijing where they were created. 

Sadly, none of them were Skip Bayless, who managed to escaped unharmed from a Chinese prison after his guards were killed slamming their own heads into brick walls out of annoyance and disbelief.

Therefore, it only made sense to re-name the team the Shanghai Rockets of Houston. By doing this, the Rockets sought to be the first NBA team to directly tap the huge Chinese market that was already Houston-friendly by default.

Additionally, the No. 2 and No. 1 markets in the U.S. had already been invaded by other sports teams, so why not up the ante and go after one of the biggest marketplaces in the world?

This move by the Rockets led to absolute bedlam in the off season of 2015.

The Orix Mariners of Seattle came into existence after the team changed its name to reflect that of Ichiro's Japanese Pacific League Team, the Orix Blue Waves, in hopes of regaining some of the share in Japan that they had lost after Ichiro's retirement in 2013.

The Mariner's also sought to inspire a team struggling for success and identity years after the departure of their speedy slugger from the Land of the Rising Son.

Never mind that 95% of Seattle thought Orix was a new, environmentally friendly line of bottled iced tea that was coming out at Starbucks next year.  They already had fans in Seattle; this was about expansion, damn it!

The Dallas Mavericks were also renamed the Bavarian Mavericks of Dallas, after the German state in which Dirk was born to recapture some of their lost glory as well, failing to realize that until chain smoking is allowed inside NBA arenas, most Germans will be semi-resistant to fully embracing the NBA product.

That same year saw the birth of the Barcelona Timberwolves of Minnesota, a strategy meant to capitalize on the fame of their All Star point guard Ricky Rubio, who coincidentally happened to be one of 16 straight point guards drafted by Kevin McHale from 2009-2017.

Even flagship teams across all leagues were not immune to this trend.

2022 saw the birth of the Lumbini Lakers of Los Angeles, Lumbini of course being the city in India in which Buddha himself was born.

While already alliteratively pleasing, the new named looked to "reincarnate" (pardon the pun) a franchise that was struggling to recall their past glory by bringing back the Zen-like atmosphere formerly bestowed on the team by one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Phil Jackson.

India also seemed like the next logical untapped marketplace to exploit, and not only because of the connections to Phil Jackson and the country's massive population.

Additionally, the popularity of the sport itself was growing rapidly in India, as indicated by a shrinking "outsourced-American-corporate-telephone-help-center to basketball court" ratio that at the time stood at a promising 68 to 1.

Even "America's Team" couldn't help but be seduced by the rage sweeping through the sports world like a wild fire.

Anybody familiar with the Dallas Cowboys—Washington Redskins rivalry is familiar with the bitter origins of this rivalry.

Back in 1960, the Cowboys basically blackmailed the Redskins, the only team attempting to block their entry into the league, with their own fight song after the owner of the Cowboys bought the rights to it from the Redskins' disgruntled band leader.

The Cowboys never forgot about their hated rival's attempt to block their creation.

Therefore, as the axiom goes, revenge is a dish best served cold—and hindsight makes blatantly obvious that the Cowboys wanted this piece of revenge served freezing.

In 2035, exactly 75 years after the Redskins' initial attempt to block the creation of the Dallas Cowboys, "America's Team" was officially re-named as the Washington Cowboys of Dallas, a name change was nothing more than a nefarious "Screw You" to the organization's most hated rival.

Dan Snyder was still alive in 2035 due to the plethora of microscopic nanobots flowing through his bloodstream, which served to extend his life far beyond what mere non-billionaires could even dream of.

Snyder became aware of said process around 2011, after he saw how well it had been working for Magic Johnson, and ironically, in the ensuing investigation to uncover the origins of this life-extending procedure, ESPN lost four more Outside The Lines Reporters in the line of duty.

Yet again, sadly, none were Skip Bayless.

After this antagonistic maneuver by the Cowboys, the less-than-frugal Snyder, still invigorated with unnatural life, was not to be outdone.

The following week, Snyder promptly announced that the Redskins had been re-named as the "Dallas Redskins of Washington," a move most analysts classified as the renowned "I Know You Are But What Am I" strategy due to its childish simplicity and ease of implementation.

These teams still play each other at least two times a year, and the scoreboard of their match ups looks so confusing it has been known to induce seizures in both young children and the elderly.

I could detail the multitude of other name changes, but I feel like you get the idea.

Arte Moreno, who in your time in 2009 is just regarded as another enterprising major league baseball owner, is actually the genesis of one of the most revolutionary movements in sports marketing history.

By divorcing his marketing efforts from his team's geographical location, Moreno changed the face of sports forever, and for that he should be recognized, even if it does take a map more complicated than the blueprints of most spaceships to discern where sports teams actually originate from by 2055.

I know the paradoxical nature of the name "Los Angeles" Angels of Anaheim drove my father absolutely crazy.

Hopefully by explaining just how significant this name change has become over the last 50 years, I will offer his tortured and probably just-as-good-looking spirit some small condolence.

I do have so much more to tell you, but I have to run.  If I linger here any longer, I might miss the first pitch of the Dodgers-Mexico City Padres of San Diego game.

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