Perhaps the best measure of how far the Los Angeles/California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have come isn't the recent annual attendance records and playoff appearances. Maybe the best measure is the billboards of LA. Oh, look, there's one, with Dodger uber-reliever Eric Gagne following through, the Library Tower over his shoulder. And there's another, with first baseman Nomar Garciaparra fielding his position in front of the LA City Hall.
The best measure of how big the Angels have become is that the Dodgers—the region's most popular team for nearly 50 years—the DODGERS feel compelled to remind people that they exist and that they exist in Los Angeles.
It's easy to say that this is the product of the Angels' 2002 World Series championship, but, fact is, it owes much more to what happened after. Arte Moreno took control of the team and showed that 2002 would not be some isolated fluke. Rather, it was the beginning of an era, when Moreno showed he not only had the treasure but, more important, the will to make the Angels annual World Series contenders on even footing with the New York Yankees—the YANKEES—whom they've defeated the last two times the teams have met in the playoffs.
It wasn't always like this, as longtime Angels fans will tell you. One of them, Dave Wielenga, relives the team's crushing defeat in the 1986 American League Championship Series and how it confirmed the dreaded Angels Curse, a curse that seemed to make what the team has become utterly impossible.
It's probably memories of 1986 that made fans open to Moreno's desire to change the team's city designation to LA—especially since the added revenue the change is likely to produce will be plowed right back into the on-the-field product. Moreno won the right to rename the team in an OC courtroom. The big loser in the case was Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, who, it turns out, has had more than his share of losses: Howzabout three straight whiffs at a seat on the Garden Grove City Council? Steve Lowery chronicles Anaheim's answer to Charlie Brown.
And in these days of steroids, DUIs, and spousal and drug abuse, Lowery offers a player you can feel good about rooting for. Find out why Carlos Delgado matters.
Finally, Miss Rebecca Schoenkopf (the Miss is short for Missing You) offers the only kind of preseason prediction that matters: which Angeldreamboats gals, and guys—it's all good—will be dreaming of: Kendry Morales' soul patch? We love it! The subtle beauty that is Brendan Donnelly? We love it!