By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Rex Hudler, AngELs TV ANNOUNCER
Rex Hudler would be blathering on and on—somewhere, anywhere—even if the Angels weren’t paying him to do it in their TV broadcast booth. But they are. For going on eight years, Hudler has been providing the color commentary for Angels telecasts—basically, filling every possible moment of summer’s sweet game with a breathless hodgepodge of suspect analysis and shameless asskissery, relentlessly steering all of it toward another opportunity to remind everybody that he was once a major-league ballplayer too.
It’s a dream job for a forgettable player like Hudler, who played for 18 teams during a 21-year pro career and never came close to fulfilling the potential the New York Yankees saw when they blew their top draft choice on him in 1978. The gig saves him from camping out at sports bars, blowing hard about the game on the big screen, dropping heavier and heavier hints about who he almost used to be. Instead, Hudler is on the big screen. Of course, that’s a nightmare for the rest of us, who can’t escape him simply by moving from the bar to a table.
Still, even as Hudler’s scenery-chewing style grinds on your last nerve, the fact that he’s got such a plum assignment in one of the world’s great media markets remains fascinating. Absolutely nothing about him—neither his talent as a player, nor his grasp of strategy or appreciation of nuance, not even the ability to speak in coherent sentences—seems to qualify him for this job.
So how does he do it? The answer may lie in the nickname Hudler loves people to call him—the Wonderdog. This canine alias works on a number of levels, referencing his pet-hero first name, emphasizing his bounding enthusiasm and implying a noble modesty. But most important, it reveals that, like all dogs, Hudler’s always got his nose up somebody’s ass—a characteristic Hudler confirms any time he says anything about anybody associated with the Angels, from owner Arte Moreno to the manager and players to the guy who scrapes the mud out of the players’ cleats.
Ironically, Hudler’s brown-nosing may be his most legitimate baseball skill. An underperforming first-round draft pick doesn’t draw 10 years of minor-league paychecks from the New York Yankees by saying what he really thinks. A journeyman doesn’t bounce around the majors—almost always the worst player on whatever team he is on—by telling people the truth.
Rex Hudler was a survivor in a cutthroat profession, and if you listen closely as he blathers on and on during those Angels telecasts, he is transmitting a valuable lesson in this era of uncertain employment: suck up! (Dave Wielenga)
Donald Bren, OVERLORD
When discussing terrific jobs in Orange County, we’d be remiss not to examine the career of Irvine Co. chairman Donald Bren. Now, we have a history of giving Bren the occasional good-natured Friars Club-style ribbing—about his children out of wedlock, his nebulous financial dealings, his being the source of inspiration for The O.C.’s bad-guy developer Caleb Nichol, his influence over powerful conservative politicians. His name appears in this paper almost as often as Gustavo Arellano’s. But who are we fooling? It’s obvious we’re just jealous. You see, while it may seem that working for a free weekly newspaper in Orange County would be a powerful, financially lucrative occupation, the truth is most of our editorial staff have to live together in a derelict Vanagon parked off the 55—which I believe Bren technically owns as well. You’d be jealous too.
Despite whatever petty personal reasons we may have for kicking Bren around, we can all agree that he’s got a pretty fantastic job. As chairman of the board of the Irvine Co., Bren has amassed power and fortune the likes of which you—assuming you did not have this paper delivered to you in a golden chariot driven by a team of oiled slave-boys—will never see. His wealth has enabled him to make extensive educational, cultural and environmental donations that have resulted in some buildings being named after him, which you can bet makes the “About Me” section of his MySpace page a little more impressive than yours. Best of all, Bren has so much money he doesn’t need to pay the same percentage of his income to child support as the rest of us schmoes. As reported by R. Scott Moxley in our May 3 issue, California state law dictates that Bren, as an “extraordinarily high-income earner,” can refuse court-ordered requests for specific financial information on the grounds that the amount of child support he’d end up having to pay would go well beyond the standard “diapers-and-college-fund” range and potentially enable his offspring to purchase the Vatican.
The Aug. 13 edition of the Los Angeles Times’ West magazine named Bren the most powerful person in Southern California, which by extension pretty much makes him the most powerful person in the world. If Bren was so inclined, he could quit working tomorrow, board a platinum rocket ship to heaven, and spend the rest of his days paying the Blessed Virgin to give him shoulder rubs. And all this comes as a result of using Orange County’s resources in ways that would have given Ayn Rand an orgasm. That’s a job! Now, please, Mr. Bren, if you could see your way clear to turning my water back on, I’d really appreciate it. (Tom Child)