I began using the internet in 1995 - as an undergraduate student in music. Like many, I was using AOL as my ISP at that time and I barely understood the real internet. However, what I did understand was that AOL delivered pretty advanced baseball information to me within a few, well placed clicks.
Within a short amount of time I had found a plethora of message boards on AOL that fed my desire for information about the Angels. It was stunning, really. I could read about a spring training battle between William Van Landingham and Omar Olivares for the 5th spot in the starting rotation. I could bond with fellow posters about the debut of Troy Glaus. I could opine about the amazing quality of Darin Erstad in 2000. And how big a pile of crap Erstad was in 2001.
It was there, in 1997, that I wrote a long post about which young west coast 3rd baseman would be the best bet going forward: Troy Glaus, Adrian Beltre or Eric Chavez and I learned about on-base percentage and how it completely usurped batting average as a useful measure of hitter value. It was there that I learned why it could prove to be important for pitchers to have high K/9 rates and low WHIP rates.
It was there where I was first introduced to advanced thinking and eventually some advanced stats. There were some amazing writers on those boards - Bads85 (still visible on BBTF), HalosWin (my online-writing mentor) and many others. Basically, it was Halos Heaven before there was Halos Heaven.
Well, how does this relate to the 2012 Halos with Albert Pujols, you say? Well, keep reading...
It was in 1998 or so (I think this was before the Mo Vaughn signing) when my friend HalosWin mentioned something that I had completely overlooked. He said this: "I can see Disney going all in for Alex Rodriguez in 2001. Think about it, a young Latino star in Orange County. He fills a position where there is no one blocking him (Gary DiSarcina - essentially a nobody) and the marketing potential alone is staggering for a well-oiled machine like Disney."
This completely blew my mind. I had never thought of that in 1999 - but it made way too much sense. Disney didn't spend willy-nilly, but it seems like if you are going to break the bank on a guy - it's a generational talent like A-Rod circa 1999, or in this case Prince Albert circa 2011. It took 12 years longer than my buddy Chance thought, but he ends up being very, very right.
I personally have very little idea about how to market a MLB team, but Arte undoubtedly has guys - himself included - that understand this very, very well. There is an opportunity here that is not often seen. Albert Pujols is a once in a lifetime talent who fits your target demographic perfectly. He is, by all accounts, a great guy and he is being paid to not only produce on the field, but sell baseball to the local population in a way that no other player for the Halos has been able to since Reggie Jackson.
If this Fox TV deal is for real - we are getting an unprecedented look into the way this all works, and it shows me that our owner is more savvy than I imagined. It also shows me that Jerry Dipoto is a convincing communicator and seems to understand that there are certain players that help pay for their own contracts. That is not typical. Vernon Wells isn't that guy; but Albert Pujols may be that guy. Pujols is a once in a lifetime player, and while I think he is too old for a 10 year contract, I am not going to complain about the signing because chances are it just paid for itself (and V-Dub's asinine contract too) with increased revenue.