Race and Angels

In light of the recent OC Weekly article that sparked an interesting, at points offensive, but for the most part diagnostic dialogue about the Angels and race, I decided to do some of my own research on the Angels and see what Arte has done during his tenure as an owner, as a Latino and as a businessman.

I have been interested in race and the Southland since before I was interested in baseball. This interest sparked my continuous monitoring of "The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports" which publishes an annual report for each of the four major sports as well as MLS, WNBA and a few others. These reports rate the various sports based on the opportunities provided for, and positions held by, non-white and female employees. I have always found these incredibly interesting and turned to the most recent report in order to begin a discussion of race and Angels.

The first part of the report that stands out is in its general discussion of the MLB: "Arturo Moreno, who owns the Los Angeles Angels, remains the only person of color to own a Major League Baseball team. " That statement alone is indicative of the tremendous leaps and bounds made by Moreno in an effort to diversify baseball in general and specifically the Angels. He has opted to insert himself in an entirely white group and has kept the doors open for other people of color to own baseball franchises if they so desire. In addition to the lack of persons of color in ownership there is a not a single person of color CEO/President in the league. This only heightens the strides made by Arte in a very white setting.

The Angels don't have a non-white GM (anymore...). However they do have one of the only 11 Latino VPs in the league, Robert Alvarado our vice president of Marketing and Ticket Sales (no other organization has more than 1). So, in addition to being the only Latino owner, Arte has hired as many Latino VPs as any other franchise in the MLB.

Moving away from the report, I would like to look at what He has done for the Angels on the field. He came in with a dedication to spending money to build the Angels into a west coast powerhouse. The first big signing was Vladdy Guerrero. Wikipedia (thank God it has returned) writes this "The owner of the Angels, Arte Moreno, is the first Latino controlling owner of a Major League ballclub, and Guerrero has cited Moreno's Latin heritage as a motivating factor for choosing the Angels over other teams." In addition to Vladdy, Moreno shelled out the cash for Kelvim Escobar, Bartolo Colon, and Jose Guillen. Then in December he pulls the biggest trigger ever and brings in the greatest hitter of a generation, who is also Latino.

Moreno was adapting the aging Angels to a newer, more diverse body of Major League players. As Kennedy, Erstad, Eckstein, Salmon and Glaus were aging and leaving the Angels, he was looking at Latino players to replace them. Not to say that he picked only Latino players or that he picked players because they were Latino, but rather that Arte was willing to look everywhere for talent and was willing to keep the Angels on the cutting edge of where talent might be coming from. How different this current infield is from the WS team from 02 is an indication of that. Pujols/Kendrys, Kendricks, Aybar and Callaspo (3 positions filled by Latino players) have replaced Spezio, Kennedy, Eckstein and Glaus. It's true, the shepherd in the dugout is a white, Italian, lasagna eating, crazed mastermind, but remember, he is also bilingual and that plays a significant part in his role managing a very diverse roster.

So has Arte done little to open the doors for Latino fans? That question is impossible for me as a white kid to answer. What I can say is that he has opened doors for Latino fans to watch Spanish broadcasts of Latino athletes playing under a bilingual manager, all of whom are employed under the only Latino owner in the league. And finally, if Latino fans would like to go to games at the Big A or buy Angels merchandise, it falls under the domain of one of only 11 Latino VPs in the Major Leagues.

This is not to say that the league doesn't still have tremendous disparity in its racial relations (it's a little jarring to look at the percentage of non-white players versus the percentage of non-white owners/execs/VPs), but I would say that the Angels are pushing the line and opening up more needed opportunities than most teams.

This Fan-Post is authored by an independent fan. Tell us what you think and how you feel.

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