The Los Angeles Angels just added $125 million in payroll by signing slugger Josh Hamilton in the free-agent market. Someone has to pay for it, so no one is going to be surprised when Angels fans get the bill in some, way, shape or form.
They're not the only ones, though.
In an effort to maximize revenue streams, the Angels are converting the press box behind home plate into luxury seats, and are moving sportswriters to a new location down the right-field line somewhere. Sorry, chums! TV and radio guys will stay in their current locations. Of course, those guys often work for the teams themselves.
The renovations will improve dining opportunities and other amenities for about 80 fat-cat fans. The big difference being, of course, that fat cats pay to watch baseball. The press gets paid (albeit meagerly in many cases). Angels beat reporter Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times talked to the Angels, and they're not about to feel sorry for anyone:
"It really boils down to building revenue streams and finding as many ways as possible to grow," said Tim Mead, Angels vice president of communications. "In talking to other teams, the seating behind home plate is a prime area to do things."
A similar move several years ago by the Chicago White Sox, who pushed writers far down the right-field line and up a level, was met with resistance by the media there, but the configuration has remained despite some objection from Commissioner Bud Selig.
Asked if the Angels had received permission from Major League Baseball to make the switch, Mead said, "This is not something we have to seek approval for." Mead did talk to White Sox officials before deciding on the move.
Let me tell you from experience: The press box situation at U.S. Cellular Field stinks. The old press box view was one of the best in baseball. Great vantage. Not very far away from home plate. You could hear the zip of the ball and the crack of the bat. You could track and identify pitches, which is important when you're writing about a game for people who can't be there. You could see into either dugout in case there was a fight or any Ozzie Guillen hi-jinks.
The current White Sox press box would be fine to cover, say, a football game — were the Cardinals someday to re-locate back to Chicago's South Side. The media have never had a great relationship with Jerry Reinsdorf, and moving the press box definitely was taken as a personal thumb in the eye by the press. Oh, well. Nobody is going to cry for the reporters except for the reporters, so there's no use in complaining anymore.
Will this affect the media's ability to cover Angels games? To a certain degree, yes, but it won't be impossible. Mostly, it's something the guys and gals in Southern California will have to get used to. It's not like the old days when baseball teams basically put newspapers on their payroll (at least in terms of covering travel expenses) in order to get coverage. The teams know they don't have to be as accommodating anymore, and they also have the right to do with their stadiums whatever they want. Even if those stadiums are publicly funded. Because, again, the only ones who will complain about the press box being moved is the press.