Angels opt out of stadium lease

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The Angels have played in Angel Stadium — which has gone by several names over the years — since 1966. Since that time the park has gone from state-of-the-art to the fourth oldest in the game.

Like every other team, the Angels would love to make a boatload of money on a new or dramatically-upgraded, cash-generating ballpark. Like every other team they would likewise prefer not to pay for a new or dramatically-upgraded, cash-generating ballpark. They want someone else to.

In a lot of places this ends with the Angels getting a new or dramatically-upgraded ballpark at taxpayer expense. California is not a lot of places, however, and in recent years, taxpayers and local governments have made it clear that they do not intend to foot a billion dollar bill for a multi-billion dollar business’ showroom space. Not that the Angels have not tried.

Several years ago, the Angels tried to get Anaheim officials to pay for $130-150 million in upgrades and renovations to Angel Stadium. The mayor led the opposition against that, so the Angels disengaged and approached the Orange County suburb of Tustin, California about the possibility of a new stadium. The idea would’ve been for Tustin to build them something on an ex-Marine base. After some negotiations, Tustin told them no, so the Angels went back to Anaheim. No traction has been achieved in the past two years, however.

That leads us to today, in which the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have opted out of their lease with the city of Anaheim.

That doesn’t mean the team plans on leaving — the terms of the lease required them to either opt-out now or be automatically renewed for a decade — but it does mean that the team has maximum flexibility to negotiate with whoever and wherever it wants. And,  it can find a better deal than the one it has in Anaheim they can bolt. Think of them as the sports team equivalent of month-to-month renters.

The problem is that there isn’t a realistic place for them to bolt to unless they plan on paying for their own ballpark. And they seem to know that. From the Times:

[Angels spokeswoman Marie] Garvey said the Angels understand they are unlikely to find a city in Southern California willing to pay for a new ballpark.

“We understand the realities of California,” she said. “There is a significant investment involved either way.”

Acceptance is the final stage of grief, I suppose. But team owner Arte Moreno is worth $3 billion bucks or so and his team is worth close to $ 2 billion, I reckon. I feel like he’ll be fine whatever he has to do.

UPDATE: Nice statement from Anaheim. It’s the first time I can recall a local government properly acknowledging that a sports team is not some sort of public trust or civic institution as opposed to a simple business, entitled to no more favor than any other:

Manoah, Merrifield lead Blue Jays to 3-1 win over Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Alek Manoah pitched seven shutout innings, Whit Merrifield hit a three-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays regained the top AL wild-card spot with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

The Blue Jays lead Tampa Bay by one game. The top wild card finisher will host all games in their best-of-three opening-round series, while the other two wild cards play strictly on the road.

Manoah (15-7) scattered four hits, walked two and struck out eight while throwing a season-high 113 pitches. The righty worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth by striking out Randy Arozarena and getting a flyout from David Peralta.

Jordan Romano replaced Tim Mayza with two on and two outs in the eighth and allowed pinch-hitter Harold Ramirez‘s RBI infield single but avoided further damage by striking out Manuel Margot. Romano finished the game to get his 35th save in 41 chances.

Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen (10-7) gave up one run, three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five.

The teams combined for 31 runs, with the Rays accounting for 20, in the first two games of the series that were both won by Tampa Bay.

Arozarena got the Rays’ first hit off Manoah with a two-out double in the fourth. He became the first Tampa Bay player and 20th big leaguer to have 40 doubles, 20 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season.

Teoscar Hernandez ended Rasmussen’s night with a double in the seventh. Brooks Raley entered and, after a walk to pinch-hitter Danny Jansen, Merrifield made it 3-0 on his 10th homer of the season.

Merrifield homered twice in Thursday night’s 10-5 loss to the Rays.

Alejandro Kirk opened the second with a single before Rasmussen retired 12 in a row until Merrifield’s leadoff double in the sixth.

Plate umpire Corey Blaser took a hard foul ball by Margot on the mask in the eighth but remained in the game.

HONORING KK

The Rays posted a thank you on the message board for CF Kevin Kiermaier, who is out for the season following left hip surgery. Kiermaier is in the final season of a $53.5 million, six-year contract that includes a club option for 2023 that is expected to be declined.

TEAM AWARDS

Rays ace Shane McClanahan was voted the Don Zimmer MVP award winner by members of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. CF Jose Siri was selected as the outstanding rookie. 3B Yandy Diaz received the Paul C. Smith Champions award as the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (lat strain) allowed three runs and three hits over two-thirds of an inning for Triple-A Buffalo.

Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe (lower back) is done for the season.

UP NEXT

McClanahan (12-6), pulled from his start Tuesday in the fifth inning due to neck tightness, will face Blue Jays RHP Ross Stripling (8-4) on Sunday.