Could the Angels move to a new downtown L.A. ballpark?

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This is fun. And, if you’re the Dodgers or an Angels fan who lives in Orange County, kind of scary: Angels owner Arte Moreno met with the president of AEG, and it at least suggests the possibility that Moreno is investigating moving the Angels to a new ballpark to be built in downtown Los Angeles.

For those who are unaware, AEG owns the Staples Center downtown and is behind the substantial surrounding entertainment/dining/everything development.  Currently they are also the group pushing to build a football stadium down there in order to draw an NFL team.

Bill Shaikin’s report suggests that this could lead to a new ballpark, and notes that Moreno suggested as much as long ago as 2005.  And of course the meeting is notable in and of itself.  The problem, though, is that last year AEG said this when people started talking about the Dodgers moving downtown:

“Under no circumstances are we interested in building a baseball stadium. If you logically just think through playing baseball games in April, May and June when we have Lakers, Clippers and Kings playoff games that are scheduled on a week’s notice. Look at the conflict that would be created during that time. If you logically think through baseball playoff games which are scheduled on a week’s notice and we have Kings, Lakers and Clippers beginning their season, it doesn’t work.”

Obviously people can change their minds about such things, but that was a pretty detailed denial of baseball interest. Why they’d change now is unclear. Maybe because they’d catch less civic hell by luring the Angels up from Anaheim than they would taking the Dodgers out of Chavez Ravine. Maybe because they know something we don’t about the viability of a football stadium downtown and are willing to investigate plan B now.

Or maybe, like any good business, AEG will always take a meeting to listen to things even if it’s not that interested in pursuing the opportunity. Call it the Solozzo principle.  And maybe Moreno is just using the existence of AEG and the possibility of a new stadium to wring some sort of concessions out of the city of Anaheim as the team’s 2016 opt-out window nears.

All worth watching, of course.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?