28 July 2010

We're Not In Phoenix Anymore

Went to the Big A last night, with the Red Sox in town. Missed Haren by a day. It didnt sell out, but I guess Boston visits Anaheim each year (vs once a decade in Phoenix) and it was a Tuesday night. Plus there were no Wiggles.

Nonetheless, 40,000 and a fun buzz around the park. The loudest cheers greeted Red Sox hits, just like @ The Lovely Morgan, so why fret that Phoenix has uniquely inept fans? We're an inept state full of inept people, but we're not an inept fan base. The Angels perennially contend and have been around half a century - and they were outnumbered, or at least outbellowed on this night.

Ticket prices are high. Concession prices are generally high too, but you can still get a $3 hot dog and it's cheaper than Disneyland next door. Excellent food variety, and there's plenty of good places to eat outside the park. Centralized parking was only $8 and very well staffed and organized. Getting in and out was a breeze, impressive considering the crowd. Inside the park, they let you stand behind a red line (pictured) to watch the game from anywhere on the concourse. Fan friendly, unlike Phoenix where they shoo you to "keep moving" like you're a vagrant instead of a customer.

Most fans, on both sides, wore jerseys. These are younger, "lifestyle" fans who buy team gear and pay higher ticket prices for the game and the beer guzzlin' scene. Everyone gushes over Moreno's $7 hats, but he's hardly the low margin saint he's often made out to be. The vast array of merchandise leans pricey - yet moves quickly. You dont see racks of unsold Eric Byrnes or Tony Pena shirts in the Team Shop. It all looks new, fresh and, most importantly, people want it. Outstanding women's selection; stuff young women feel they look good in- and for the most part, they do. It's hip to be an Angels fan.

The impetus isnt really marketing, however. First, Moreno intelligently invested in exciting, successful teams that people wanted to identify with, then merchandise fell into place. The Diamondbacks havent bothered much with the first step, opting instead to inundate fans with the incessant promise of a brand backed up by unrealized potential and increasingly broad incompetence.

All MLB outfits "try" to win and promote their brand, but franchises prioritize goals differently, based on competitive circumstances and owner's subjective response to those. Winning simply isnt Ken Kendrick's priority. It's a desire, like nibbling on a woman's ear, or fudge. His first priority is, and always has been, to "get his money back" from Colangelo, as evidenced by low risk/low return investment in a revenue protected (ie shared) environment and Kendrick's methodical consolidation of franchise share.

Alright, alright. Back to the game.

The Angels made all sorts of mistakes - they threw to a wrong base and ran themselves out of a couple innings. They're eight back of the Rangers. Maybe this wont be their year. But there's a feeling of excitement at the ballpark. A feeling that they can do it, or at least make it very interesting. We dont feel that in Phoenix, and not just this year and last. Even when we lurked near the division lead in September (2005) and later, actually won the division (2007), hope seemed unusually tempered by a foreboding, almost as if we didnt deserve to win. As if we were lucky or didnt quite belong.

Angels fans feel like they belong. They feel like if they make a bad play or have a bad game, that they'll come back strong tomorrow. That Scioscia, and up in the boardroom, Moreno, will make things right. Somehow, and sooner rather than later.

Sorry this is so poorly edited with no links, but am on the road with an unusually nasty head cold, bad back and my battery is running out at an internet cafe.

Good times!!!


Russell said...

"We're an inept state full of inept people."

Isn't that on the license plates?

Diamondhacks said...

Land of Ineptitude...saguaro on the left, mountains in the back. I like it!