Jewish World Review Jan. 7, 2005/ 26 Teves, 5765

Greg Crosby

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Whose Home Team is it Anyway? | Well, here we are, only a few days into the new year and already idiocy has reared its ugly head   —   this time in sports. The Anaheim Angels baseball team has changed their name, and it's not because they moved to another city.

The new name, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, is supposed to help attract new fans and advertisers and eventually get them more lucrative broadcasting contracts, so says Tim Mead, vice president of communications. "It's a long-term business strategy," Mead said. "Our appeal in the marketplace will be broader." Oh, really? I think they're nuts and the new name sounds really dumb.

The new name sounds to me like the team owners are ashamed to be associated with small town Anaheim. You just know that they would really like to change the name to the Los Angeles Angels, period, but legally they can't do it.

An agreement, made in 1996, required the team name to include the word "Anaheim." The new version, while apparently within bounds of the contract, violates a legal requirement that all sides act "in good faith," said Anaheim city spokesman, John Nicoletti. "It's geographically confusing and absurd," Nicoletti said. "No other professional sports team that I can think of has two different cities in its name."

Anaheim's City Council has voted to authorize a lawsuit blocking the change, which officials say violates the stadium lease agreement under which taxpayers have shelled out nearly $30 million for stadium renovations.

The bottom line is, the stadium where the team plays is located in Anaheim. Downtown Los Angeles is about 30 miles from the stadium. And Anaheim isn't even in Los Angeles County, it's in Orange County! Los Angeles has nothing to do with this team. They are called the Anaheim Angeles because they play in Anaheim. DUH!

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When the franchise began in 1961 it was owned by Gene Autry and was called the Los Angeles Angels. The team became the California Angels when it moved to Anaheim in 1966. In 1997, when the team was controlled by The Walt Disney Co., the franchise was renamed the Anaheim Angels. Being a traditionalist, I never liked the name California Angels because I think baseball teams should be named for the cities they play in, not the states. I was very happy when their name became the Anaheim Angels   —   it made sense to me at last.

Then along came Arte Moreno who bought the team in 2003, one year after it won the World Series. Right away he wanted to change the name. Gosh, it seems to me if the old team name was good enough for it to win the World Series maybe you ought to just leave it alone, y'know?

The Angels drew 3,375,677 last season, the third-highest total in baseball behind the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, so it's not like the franchise is hurting for fans, either.

If this stupid new name sticks it would be like calling the Dodgers "The Brooklyn Dodgers of Los Angeles," or calling the Giants "The New York Giants of San Francisco." Just call the damn club by the name of the city it plays in, okay? Gad   —   isn't life complicated enough, Arte?

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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