Upon purchasing the Angels in 2003, MorenoCorp inherited the goodwill of a recent championship and banked it with fan-friendly amenities, favorable press coverage, and most importantly, a successful and consistently entertaining team on the field. That balance has steadily depleted ever since the wheels fell off the wagon about five years ago, and whatever goodwill the ownership might have recouped with a surprise season in 2014, the account is now overdrawn—perhaps several times over.
Before today, MorenoCorp could toy with a favorable uncertainty: no one really knows what happens on Gene Autry Way, at least no one willing to speak on the record about it. Sure, there have been rumors and leaks and gossip, but if you wanted to stand beside the red polos, you could always blame someone else, and no one would be able to prove you wrong. As long as they kept up their surplus of goodwill, lending them the benefit of the doubt was never entirely unreasonable.
Although many of us have already called in their debts, what is happening this week should start a run on the banks. We must see MorenoCorp for what it is: a brash and petty bunch of self-important landlords who think they painted a Matisse just because they bought one. Not only do they expect money from your wallet, your cable bill, and your tax return, they demand that you adore them for their benevolent conservatorship of a "public trust," whatever that means.
Perhaps they genuinely believe they are sincere. Sincerity is easy when it gets you what you want. But a modern baseball operation with talented management and progressive ideas? Only as long as it doesn't threaten their vanities. Apparently, it does. Nice to know you, Jerry DiPoto.
Some of the team's mistakes certainly bear DiPoto's signature, but so do some of their best moves. The total, I think, is positive. The worst blunders, on the other hand, have Arte Moreno's greasy thumbprints all over them. His stubborn protection of his darling despot in the dugout is only the latest, probably not the worst, but definitely the most flamboyant.
I don't much care for Mike Scioscia. I don't much care about him either. Because the season is long, and his competitors similarly stilted, the damage of Scioscia's tactical blunders is likely overstated. Generally a collection of good baseball players will, more often the not, play like a good baseball team. The law of large numbers comes up short in the playoffs, however, and when other managers play baseball, Mike Scioscia plays chess. Which would be great…at a chess tournament.
Supposedly, DiPoto's job was to get good players onto the field. He showed some ability to do it when Scioscia was actually playing them and Moreno wasn't getting other players instead. The reasons for this might never become clear. If Jerry DiPoto wants to keep tending bar in the conspiratorial country-club that is Major League Baseball, he'll keep his mouth shut. But we've seen more than we need to see. The Angels franchise is a rare piece of artwork hanging in MorenoCorp's private gallery. It is contented just to please itself.
So, you too wish to gaze upon it? Surely we can settle on a price…