Arte Moreno has been trying to make in-roads in the LA market since he bought the Anaheim Angels in 2003. By signing Josh Hamilton that objective is made clear once again. While Moreno’s efforts are noticeable, where I’m sitting they haven’t had the desired effect yet. That desired effect is effectiveness. The Angels are still Orange County’s team. But signing Josh Hamilton could be his biggest effort yet. Could it really make the difference?
Last year the Angels made waves. There was the splash when Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson signed as free agents. The big ripples when they traded for Zack Greinke mid season. And the rookie MVP candidate Mike Trout who left all reason and statistics in his previously uncharted wakes all season. The baseball world took notice of the Angels. Even LA took notice, but neither LA nor Orange County followed the Angels more. There was certainly no tidal takeover of LA.
In 2012 the Angels on Fox Sports West were second to last in average ratings among regional sports networks. Granted, the populated market is still a much larger average audience size than Kansas City or Miami, so the number is a bit skewed. But with the amount of waves the Angels made they still were at the bottom of the viewership ratings with their regional coverage. We know Josh Hamilton is a big signing here in LA, but it doesn’t mean that LA fans will follow the Angels.
Any on the fence fans or neutral parties in LA won’t side with the Angels because of the amount of money and attention the Dodgers are spending. The Angels perceived market rivals are spending at least as much, so why would an LA fan turn to the Halos as an alternative. Even particularly subversive sports fans and underdog lovers wouldn’t side with the Angels, because they are slated to be at least equally formidable. It would take serious Dodger seriously struggles, probably worse than Laker-type struggles, for fans to come aboard Arte’s former Disneyland amusement park franchise. And that would only work, provided the Angels meet one other criterion–they have to win.
Winning is the only thing that actually grows a fan base in LA. The Angels need to win to infiltrate LA, and they would prefer the Dodgers to lose to capture some of that audience. But Arte can’t control what happens on the field. Infiltrating LA will almost exclusively be effected by the results on the field.
Moreno changed the name of the franchise to The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (aka: The The Angels Angels of Anaheim), and it still is a point that is scoffed at by LA and Orange County fans alike. In 2002 when the Anaheim Angels won the World Series, just before Moreno bought the team and changed the name, the Angels were much more visible in LA. Angels car flags were in downtown and Rally Monkeys in storefronts and dashboards all over the LA area. By winning it is possible the Angels make more than in-roads.
The Angels will receive greater national attention if the Dodgers and Angels are both winning. Predictions of a freeway World Series, and comparisons of which franchise is better are only going to increase national attention on ESPN and MLB Network. But if the Angels really want to be the Los Angeles Angels, something they will never be geographically, they are going to need to be much much more successful than the struggling Dodgers.