Q&A with Angels owner Arte Moreno

Q&A with Angels owner Arte Moreno

ANAHEIM -- The All-Star Game returns to Anaheim for the first time in 21 years and the third time in the Angels' 49-year history on Tuesday. But this one is particularly significant to Arte Moreno, who has enjoyed a great run of success since he purchased the team from Disney in 2003.

The Angels have been to the postseason five times since then, winning the American League West title in all five of those seasons, including the last three. Success, though, is in the eye of the beholder, Moreno recently told MLB.com.

"I tell people all the time that modern-day baseball, at least, has been around for 110 years," Moreno said. "The term of my ownership is like a little blip. Ask me after about 20 years and I'll tell you whether we've been successful or not."

Certainly one of the jewels of his first decade in the "catbird seat" was procuring the All-Star Game for Angel Stadium, which is in its third configuration since opening in 1966.

MLB.com: How are you holding up as the All-Star Game and festivities grow closer?

Moreno: I think we're doing well. Basically we're getting a lot of support from Major League Baseball. It's a great opportunity, obviously, to showcase our stadium and our fans. Any time you get to host the best players in the world it's pretty exciting. We really want to focus on southern California baseball. There are two franchises here in the Los Angeles area, which draw seven million fans a year. As I tell the Commissioner all the time, we have five teams in California and we play baseball out here. Sometimes because of how late our games end on the East Coast, people forget about that.

MLB.com: What has the effort been like to put on an event like this?

Moreno: The city of Anaheim has really stepped up to cooperate with the donation of the Anaheim Convention Center for FanFest, all the transportation, security and fire [prevention]. That was big for us. MLB, of course, goes from city to city every year putting on this event and has a very good footprint for it. From an organizational standpoint, it's important that we put our best foot forward -- show the personality of the franchise and reflect well on the community we live in.

We have an older stadium. Even though it's been fully renovated, it's still the fourth oldest in baseball, so we wanted to make sure it's looking sharp. The planning process has probably been two years and as we've gotten closer you really want to make sure you cover all the bases and finish the job right.

MLB.com: What's your perception of the state of the baseball in 2010?

Moreno: I see us becoming a more global game. We've had four no-hitters so we've really seen some young, dominant pitching during the first half. MLB Network has really given us a chance to showcase all of the teams. They give us 24/7 baseball. For a baseball nut like me it has been great. The races right now are all very tight. I think the first half has been very competitive and it's going to be a fun second half. Our fans are showing up and having fun. Once we get through the All-Star Game, you make the turn, get the whip out and see if your team can get to the finish line.

MLB.com: Do you feel that baseball has weathered the recession?

Moreno: I think we've stayed very competitive. I know economically for people it's just been tough, but it's a great opportunity to get away from the day-in, day-out grind. We try to make it a fun baseball experience. We may not win every night, but when people come to the park we want to make sure that they feel very welcome and have a good experience. Baseball has done that for generations.

MLB.com: This is the seventh full year of your ownership. How much of a challenge has it been to keep the Angels competitive over the course of that time?

Moreno: We've really tried to be consistent from day one. We have great people. Mike (Scioscia) is one of the best when it comes to on-field management. This is his 10th year and I signed him to a long-term contract. Consistency at that level is so important. Tony Reagins, our general manager, is homegrown. He's pushing 19-20 years in the organization. He continues to work on the Minor League system to make sure it remains as competitive as it can.

The free agency thing is always interesting. Vladimir Guerrero came back in with the Rangers recently and he just lit us up. It's a true transition when you get used to a player and the free-agency market opens other doors. We have a long-term approach. The whole package is a balancing act. If we can build on this, we have a chance to remain a competitive franchise.

MLB.com: Has all the marketing advantages come to pass that you envisioned in changing the team's name to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?

Moreno: Oh, yes. The original name of the team was the Los Angeles Angels. We just felt that we wanted to be more inclusive of the total market. There are 300,000 people in Anaheim, three million in Orange County and 18 million in the metroplex. Almost all of our media comes out of the Los Angeles market. It's the No. 2 media market in the country. We just felt that from a marketing standpoint that we would be able to better reach the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Since then, economically we've more than doubled our revenue. We've doubled our season tickets. This will be the eighth year in a row that we've drawn three million-plus. We believe we're reaching a much bigger audience.

MLB.com: Your Angels head into the All-Star break trailing the Rangers in the AL West. What do you foresee for them as you head toward the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline and through the second half of the season?

Moreno: We're always figuring out ways to improve our team and get the proper balance. By this point in the season you know the strengths you have and which areas you can improve. You look at what's on the market that can help you improve and what it's going to cost you. There are two costs: one is economic and the other is young talent. If you make trades and it doesn't significantly improve your team then that's not going to work.

We're in the race. We think we have a good ballclub and good depth. We've had a few key injuries. The (Kendry) Morales thing was a rough one. Breaking a leg in a game-winning celebration is as strange as it gets. You don't ever want to take emotions out of the game, especially when you hit a walk-off grand slam. It was a tough injury, but you play on. We've just got to get ready to play good baseball in second half.

MLB.com: The Angels were the object of some debated calls last year in the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. Where do you stand on expanding the replay system to deal with critical calls -- during the regular season, playoffs?

Moreno: Personally, I would like to see it expanded and I'll give you a couple of reasons why: One, we do have the technology. Two, we continue to expand our viewership through television, whether it's over the air, cable or satellite. We continue to try to grow our audience. With the technology fans have at home, they get to see everything in slow motion on their TVs or even hand-held devices. Don't get me wrong. I don't think it should be used on every play, but I think we should continue to expand the use, if for nothing else except the playoffs.

MLB.com: Any particular areas you'd like to see included? Any particular calls?

Moreno: When we talk about limited, I think a manager should be able to ask for a review on one or two plays a game. Likewise, if the umpires feel they need to review a call late in a game, they should be able to do so. This is my opinion, but for example, it would have been very simple to review the play on Armando Galarraga's (near) perfect game because it (would have been) the last play of the game. Once the umpire (Jim Joyce) saw the replay he realized he had made a mistake.

There are also plays at home plate that sometimes can make a difference in the game. Those are the kinds of plays that all the fans watching the game get a chance to see. If it's a game-changing thing, then I think it's important. You see it in hockey -- whether it's a goal or not a goal. You see it in basketball -- whether it's a three-pointer or not a three-pointer. You see it in football -- whether a guy's feet are in the end zone or not. I understand the tradition. I love the tradition. But today we have the technology. So I'd like to see it expanded, but I'd like it to be limited.

MLB.com: What has been the most significant thing you've learned during the course of your ownership?

Moreno: Before I bought the Angels, I'd been in the game for years as a Minor League owner and a minority owner of the D-backs. So I had some background when I took over the Angels. I wouldn't say I'm just learning it, but the most consistent thing we focus on is making sure we take care of our fans. We're learning all the time because things change, but the fans are always No. 1. Every day is a challenge. But no matter what happens, as I always say, every day brings a new baseball game and every day is fun.

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.