Saturday, June 15, 2024

Alexander: Southern California sports fans sound off

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When the responses to our column at the start of the month asking the public to evaluate (or complain, or maybe even laud) the owners of their favorite teams began to arrive, there was a surprise. Amazingly, given the tenor of emails we’ve received over the last few seasons, not all were devoted to the failures of Angels owner Arte Moreno.

Maybe devoted Angel fans have gotten most of their rants out of the way in previous correspondence, or else some are reluctant to pile on in the early stages of what figures to be another season in the depths of the American League West.

The Angels and Moreno drew multiple mentions. But so did the Lakers, who have one championship in the last 14 seasons, are in the midst of another coaching search (subtitle: “What did LeBron Know and When Did He Know It?”) but still have a firm grip on the emotions of this market’s fan base.

And excessive stadium noise – which has become pervasive at all levels of sports, though it seems more incessant and more grating at Dodger Stadium – was also mentioned multiple times. The consensus? Turn down the speakers!

(I’m not sure all of the latter responses originated from the “get off my lawn” generation, either, although the din probably bothers us more. You can tell it’s bad when your overwhelmed Apple Watch just stops issuing loud environment warnings.)

I am surprised, though. I was expecting more responses. If you respond now, it’s too late to get your rant published (unless it’s a really, really good one).

Anyway, here are some of the public’s reactions, with comments edited for clarity:

“Arturo Moreno is far and away the worst,” wrote Andy J. Mariani of San Pedro, who described himself as an Angel fan since 1967. He cited Moreno’s “ability to hide and avoid conflict sneaking behind ‘no comment’ and putting shills and cronies like his president (John) Carpino out front when something must be said. … Oh, those days of a senile Cowboy with wife Jackie and Disney’s cheerleaders dancing on top of dugouts was bad, yet Angel fans now realize we never had it so good.”

Steve Keller of Mission Viejo defended Arte, calling him a “very good owner” and saying, “Arte has spent the money and the players have let him down.” He suggested General Manager Perry Minasian and the rest of the front office should bear responsibility. But it must be noted, as other respondents at other times have pointed out, that the Angels don’t have a president of baseball operations to supervise the general manager or be a buffer and talk Arte off the ledge (or out of pulling out his checkbook) when needed.

Keller defended Joe Maddon, who was fired early in the 2022 season. So did Blake Kidd, who made this observation: “Just love Arte telling us he wanted this year’s (manager) to have experience. Didn’t Joe Maddon have experience? Until Arte sells the team and we get rid of (chairman Dennis) Kuhl and Carpino, nothing will change.”

Jim Frear, who says his Angel fan bona fides date to 1961 and the franchise’s inception, wrote that Moreno “doesn’t get the concept that pitching and defense wins championships. He spends tons of money for hitters but zero on pitching. Please update me on the ’21 draft where Angels took a pitcher with every pick. Have they ‘coached’ anyone up to the majors?”

Matt Quint of Irvine was one of those who celebrated when Moreno said he was exploring a sale of the team two years ago, the elation of course being short-lived. “This man has (singlehandedly) destroyed an MLB franchise trying to play land games for real estate schemes,” he wrote. “Disgusting, dishonest, fraud, joke, need I go on? These are the terms I associate with this charlatan of an owner. ‘Hey look at me! I lowered beer prices, please don’t look at how I decimated our farm system and wasted valuable payroll funds on washed up players at my behest.’”

Quint did have kudos for the Rams and owner Stan Kroenke. He’s one of many in this market who turned their backs when Georgia Frontiere moved the team to St. Louis in 1995 but returned to the fold when the Rams returned in 2016. “I am proud to be a Rams fan, not for just the play on the field, but for (how) our team is run day to day,” he wrote.

As for the Lakers, another of his favorite teams? “Oh, how the mighty have fallen,” he wrote. “I love Jeanie (Buss) & what she is trying to do, but she arguably has the least capital to work with of ALL the NBA owners, making us a poor franchise in a rich market. … I don’t know if Jeanie truly has it in her to do what is needed to bring this franchise back to greatness? I hope she proves me wrong.”

Carl and Lori Linnecke laid the blame for Lakers issues at the feet of VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and the rest of the front office, citing not only the Anthony Davis trade – “A.D. is a great player. But he does not always come to play” –  but also the deal that sent Ivica Zubac to the Clippers early in 2019. And then there’s this:

“LeBron James should stay out (of) making decisions about players. Maybe he should retire instead of talking about playing with his son Bronny. James was a great player. One of the greatest. His time has come and gone. They will never win a championship as long as he is on the team.”

Edward Sussman wrote that the Lakers should cut ties with James, saying that “he is a great player, but a coach killer” and that “the Lakers were a better team with Darvin Ham as their coach.” And he added a prediction: “The problem here is that the Lakers will draft Bronny and whoever becomes the coach of the Lakers will experience LeBron’s pressure to play him.”

Steve Benoff of Beaumont responded to the suggestions – before we realized it was prohibited – that James should be player-coach: “LeBron would never accept the role of coach, because, true to form, in a year he’d have to fire himself.”

(Rimshot!)

As for the other apparent pressing issue among those fans who responded: Try finding a sports venue where you don’t have to deal with ear-splitting music, screamers at the public address mic and recorded pleas for even more noise.

“Finally someone who knows baseball has mentioned the excruciating noise level at Dodger Stadium,” wrote Tom Kaczmarek of Los Alamitos. “It hits you from the moment you pass through security and only ends when you leave. There was a time when baseball at the ballpark was a time to catch up with family or friends … (or to) discuss baseball statistics and strategies. Apparently, those days have replaced by non-stop forced hilarity.”

Mike Reuben of Anaheim Hills wrote that the speakers “are so damn loud that I had to give up my Ducks tickets, and even the Angels seats are exposed to excessive noise.”

So is there a point when lost business from potential fans turned off by the noise assault overrides the idea of the high-energy environment the marketing folks seem to crave?

Judy Kent described her experience at Dodger Stadium: “I had the good fortune to be invited to one of the BofA suites a few weeks ago and was shocked at the noise pollution (haven’t been to the stadium in a few years). It was almost impossible to have a conversation with anyone when sitting in the outdoor seats and not much better when we’d go back inside the suite!

“Where do I send my complaint?”

The information guide on the Dodgers’ website lists a fanfeedback@ladodgers.com email address, and I’d imagine – or would at least hope – that other teams have similar ways to register a complaint or a suggestion.

But they may not always listen. I will.

jalexander@scng.com

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