When it was announced that Arte Moreno purchased your Anaheim Angels to become the first Latino owner of a professional sports franchise, I wrote this piece for your favorite rag excoriating the expectations of local Latinos that Moreno be all Mexican-loving and down with the brown because he's Latino. It's a strange position for me to have, because a big part of me would love to see Moreno blasting away at Barbara Coe and marching along with his team in support of amnesty–but, hey: I get it. He's a sports owner, not Nativo Lopez (and thank God for that).
But it's an issue that occasionally bubbles up, and ESPN took a crack at it this week.
Written by Angels beat writer Mark Saxon (the former Angels beat writer for the Orange County Register), the piece examines why Moreno is so silent on his ethnicity with a quick study of the Angels and its once-invisible Latino fan base, using me as the main source for quotes. I told Saxon that I do understand why Moreno stays quiet, citing that he's from a different generation than I, one that Chicano scholars call the Mexican-American Generation: the group of wabs that figured the quickest way to success was assimilation, and that sure worked out for the multibillionaire Moreno. One thing that didn't make it into the piece, however, was an anecdote I told Saxon about briefly interviewing Moreno for ESPN the Magazine a couple of years back that speaks volumes about Moreno's approach to his mexicanidad.
I spent a good week at Angels Stadium interviewing players, coaches, executives and the like, but spokesperson Tim Mead kept telling me that Moreno was unavailable for comment for the story (just like he was for Saxon's ESPN piece). I kept pestering and pestering, though, so Mead finally allowed me to meet with Moreno like for literally a minute. Even then, the polite Moreno said he only had time for one question, which was this: what did he think about the increasing popularity of the Angels among Latinos? I don't have the article in front of me, but his answer was boilerplate we-try-to-appeal-to-everyone claptrap. DUH.
I'll always remember how uncomfortable Moreno was in even addressing the issue–in fact, I felt so bad for asking him the Latino question that I thanked him for his time instead of badgering him like the time I yelled at Mike Carona from the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse to his car. Okay! We get it, Arte: you're American, first and foremost, then a sports owner, then a Mexican-American. You're committed to producing a winner, and that's what ultimately people care about, as well they should. But even Morrissey eventually broke down and acknowledged his Latino fan base. Stop being so pinche wary of the issue, cabrón, and just deal with the question when asked, make a cerveza joke, and move on. Until then, stories like Saxon's will appear–and we have this conversation anew.