I just happened to be in Anaheim California this weekend and there just happened to be some big press conference going on at Angels stadium. Also, the press conference just happened to be open to the public.
How many teams can organize a press conference, outside, on an 85-degree day in mid-December, and officially announce the signing of one of the greatest players in baseball history? On Saturday, December 10th 2011, the Angels did just that. I was among the nearly 4,500 people that showed up to partake in the morning’s festivities.
I arrived at the stadium a little after 10 AM to meet up with an old friend of mine hat had been at the stadium since 8:30 AM He told me that, though he got there early, he was far from the first fan on the scene. Even before I arrived nearly an hour and a half before the start of the press conference, someone had already purchased an authentic Pujols replica jersey for $260 from the temporary team store stand right next to the guard rails that separated the fans from the media.
Within 45 minutes of my arrival on the scene, the crowd had almost doubled and the cameramen had begun taking their stock footage of the gathering. Most of the crowd dawned their red and white Angels gear and it was clear that I was surrounded by some serious Angels fanatics. One guy lifted the side of his shirt to reveal a tattoo of the Angels’ 1971-72 logo, though his version of the state of California was filled in completely in red. Another fan had a sleeve of Angels logos tattooed up his arm.
For the most part, the Angels fans around me spoke nothing but positives with regard to the team’s two big signings. A couple of more grounded, realistic fans happened to point out that Pujols might not be not exactly be so exciting in four or five years.
But this day wasn’t about whether or not the dollar amounts or years of the contracts were actually good deals or not. It was about keeping the momentum going. It was about overshadowing the division rival Texas Rangers. It was about putting a foot on the neck of the down on their luck Dodgers and claiming rights to the throne of southern California baseball. Just days after the Angels reportedly signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, they had already sold over 1,000 season tickets, hundreds of mini plans and signed a 20-year TV contract with Fox worth billions of dollars. As the Angels key front office members appeared from behind the giant red curtains, they did so alongside the newly acquired Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson…
Then, a little after 11:30 AM, the TV voice of the Angels, Victor Rojas, came to the podium. After a few minutes of introductions a few short statements from owner Arte Moreno and manager Mike Scioscia, Rojas returned to introduce the newest addition to the Angels’ rotation and SoCal native, C.J. Wilson. The crowd responded with a resounding cheer and “We-got-C-J!” After a short speech by the laid-back Wilson, Rojas took the stand again. The crowd new what was coming next and by the number of phones and cameras that suddenly poped into the air, they undoubtedly wanted to archive the moment forever. Pujols was introduced…
When asked about what he expected from the Angels in 2012, a fan standing next to me said quite matter of fact, “World Series.”
Then there was this guy, who, for some reason, inexplicably owns a Jeff Mathis T-shirt. However, at least he was smart enough to recycle the T…
One of my favorite moments from the press conference came from none other than my wife. Now, my wife is a baseball fan, but a casual one. She asked me, “How old is Pujols?” to which I replied, “He’s 31, but will turn 32 in January.”
“No way he’s that young,” she replied.