Give Arte his Props; He’s Lit

By T.J. Simers

I almost ran out of derogatory words to write about Angry Arte Moreno, waiting until the 3 p.m. MLB trading deadline just to make sure I didn’t have to find new ones.

But Arte remained firm, just as it had been leaked earlier, holding on to the best player in the game in Shohei Ohtani if only for another couple of months.

There was a time when I really liked Arte. We drank beers together beyond the centerfield wall until I criticized him, hurt his feelings and he went into hiding. He banished the media to a right field corner press box, a small-time owner making sure he didn’t bump into any of the scribes while entering or exiting his owner’s box.

But I commend Arte today, congratulate him on getting it right for the fans in Orange County. And when Arte started his journey as team owner he really did care about the fans until it got away from him.

It’s a fact. There are no guarantees with prospects; there is with Ohtani.

Yet some yahoos, some who have even been given a column to write, wanted Arte to trade the best player to ever play the game for prospects.

Arte made it clear at the trade deadline his team was going to try and make the playoffs, and isn’t that what every fan wants?

The Angels are within reach of the playoffs, and have been playing without an injured Mike Trout. And as soon as Arte made the statement in silence that he was in this to win it, his team traded for pitching and some additional hitting.

There is a reason to be excited about the Angels.

Isn’t that all you can ask for as a fan beyond cheaper prices for beer and cheap baseball caps for youngsters?

What I don’t get is how anyone could advise Arte to dump Ohtani, and take away the show in Anaheim? He’s worth the price of admission, and Angels’ fans have been supporting their team this season.

When Arte changed his mind about selling the Angels it had nothing to do with developing prospects. He realized the Angels were in position to seize the moment, a chance to win now and rehabilitate his reputation as a loser.

It’s ludicrous to suggest to the Angels’ faithful, “wait until next year,” which is what the Angels would be saying in trading Ohtani. In other words, the Angels would be surrendering, and I would have had to find more derogatory words for Angry Arte.

Now I can use those derogatory words on the Dodgers, who were all about saving money in the lead up to this season and who were outplayed at the trading deadline.

Go Angels!

Total Condemnation

By T.J. Simers

A dear old friend emailed outraged about what is happening to the LA Times sports section.

He was still giddy about the Angels’ amazing, super, dramatic comeback twice to beat the hated Astros Saturday.

“Not a word about it in the LA Times,” he wrote. “Ohtani started the comeback rally with a massive HR. Maybe you can read about it in the LA Times on Monday.”

He was so angry, mentioning he has two subscriptions to the Times, one of his own and one for one of his children, and now he’ going to cancel both.”

He’s dead wrong, of course.

The Angels won 13-12 in maybe the most exciting game of the year, but the Los Angeles Times doesn’t care. Never has about the Angels. You have seen how the Times covers the Angels and doesn’t cover them on the road,

Even if the paper had not made so many dreadful changes, dear old friend, a 13-12 classic would not have been enough to get the paper to make an adjustment. They went with giant pictures of Ohtani on two of the paper’s first four days as a magazine because everything in this new-look section doesn’t make sense.

And they would probably have had Sarah Valenzuela writing about the dramatic game, and that would have sucked the joy right out of the feel-good story.

She was still writing about Ohtani’s finger bothering him and what happened Friday night in Sunday morning’s newspaper.

Her only timely writing came in a tweet Saturday night, taking a selfie to show how she almost got nailed by a foul ball in the press box. Very dramatic.

On this, the one-week anniversary of the Times going into the dumper with a format change, people thought I was kidding when I said they were going to get four-straight days of soccer coverage on the first sports page. Three down and one to go.

The newspaper has been horrible, lousy and unreadable this week. They ran 26 letters to the editor online, and speaking from previous experience, no matter how bad the reaction to anything they could always muster a couple of positive responses.

It was 26-0 in describing the Times as an atrocity now online, by the time they made it to the newspaper the editors had cut eight negative letters, making it only 18-for-18 in negative reaction.

The Times has made it clear it is not going to listen to its subscribers, running the letters and then a “thank you for subscribing” letter from Sports Editor Iliana Romero. I’m not sure if she typed it with one finger, but in other words, we don’t care; we’re going to do what we like.

I stand amazed at the Times reluctance to make its better writers write, while filling the newspaper with soccer, WNBA and women’s track. Homeless soccer, and three pages of it?

And where’s Plaschke? Still pouting about becoming the Page 7 columnist? I hope he’s not ill or under suspension like people guessed when I went missing a decade ago,

We’ve had two Helene Elliott columns two days in a row. Need I say more?

Attention book publishers and book buyers

By T.J. Simers

I wrote a book, beginning with one of my lawyers who made poisoned hamburgers to silence a watch dog so her husband could take some guy out to the desert, cut his manhood off and pour bleach on him.

It was pretty funny when one of the Times’ lawyers tried to bully her.

One of my other lawyers was like the best attorney on the planet, and I know that because that’s what he said about himself in his bio. He had 11 kids, so there were some who believed whatever he said

One of my appeals judges was identified by Erika Jayne from Real Housewives as her husband, Tom Girardi’s mistress. Erika Jayne said Girardi gave my judge $300,000 in misused funds for a beach condo. And my appels judge voted to give me nothing.

The reason I mention all this, I was wondering if any of you could suggest a book publisher. Maybe you have a friend, a former college roommate or some kind of contact in that world. I tried one here in the L.A. area and he said he wasn’t interested in the legal stuff in the book. He wanted a book just on the sports folks I got to know on Page 2.

They are all in the book, of course, a book about Kobe, Phil Jackson, Pete Carroll, John Elway, Junior Seau and Plaschke. I even mentioned F.P. Santangelo, although he hardly figures as a sports figure.

I also wrote about my love affair with the Los Aneles Times, telling a judge, jury and lawyers, “I love the LA Times. Still do.” And while it isn’t much now, it’s still the Los Angeles Times.

But I sued the L.A. Times because the Times hired a managing editor and editor who tried to get rid of me. I won in court three times, and I wrote about that as well as testimony from Tom Lasorda, Joe Torre and Garret Anderson. I had Kobe’s name on a list to testify and our judge said he wasn’t interested in hearing from people who were going to just gush about me. Kobe would have laughed at that.

My judge wasn’t the best, and I write about that. He seemed to have no faith in juries, and how is that for a selling point to get people to serve?

A book agent said he detected no interest in the East Coast about a book featuring notables from the West Coast and a newspaper writer they never read. Ouch! I’d like to see them get close enough to Salma Hayek to be kissed.

My East Coast book agent disappeared faster than Gary Matthews Jr.

Some folks have suggested I go the vanity press route, and I got a feeling that’s a commentary on my ego and coming from my children.

I’m told if a book publisher takes on the book, I would get about 10-14% of what the book costs in royalties, while keeping in mind only 1% to 2% of all the manuscripts submitted to publishers result in a book.

If I self-publish, supposedly I could get 70% of what I sell, but then it would be up to me to find folks to buy the book. If only I had the names of alumni who have cheated when it comes to USC sports, I could print them in the book and it would become a best seller.

They say the average book these days sells only 350 copies; I don’t have that many family members. Probably never had that many readers. Maybe I should just blog the book.

I guess I could start a list of who wants to buy a book, assuring someone like Rob Pelinka anonymity, and convince a publisher there is an audience. But I don’t know how much more disappointment I could take. One more day of reading about the Angels might end me over the edge,

If I were Patrick Soon-Shiong, the owner of the Times, I would buy 350 copies and then burn them.

Maybe I should rewrite the book. and make it more flashy. I don’t know if I could get anyone to read about the lawyer the Times hired who wore a little bell around her ankle so whenever she had to go to the bathroom we would hear her tinkle.

But it’s a thought.

Worst front-page sports story in history

By T.J. Simers

Dear Patrick Soon-Shiong,

Oh boy.

Don’t know if you have stopped reading your own newspaper, but the LA Times finally sent a writer on the road with the Angels. To New York, and have your accounting department calculate the cost of this trip.

Well, anyway we finally get a story on the Angels, and your sports editor Iliana puts the story on the front page of the sports section under the headline: “He really cooks at Yankee Stadium.”

So, I’m thinking Trout or Ohtani really gave it to the Yankees, but I make the mistake of trying to read the story. It’s about a guy from New York who cooks the food in the visiting clubhouse.

This is what you are giving the readers of the LA Times, what you are paying for, and right there on the front page of sports along with another Helene Elliott snoozer.

Sarah Valenzuela is finally set free from only being able to cover Angels’ home games and she goes to New York to tell us: “Every visiting clubhouse has different food offerings for the players who come through.”

That was the inviting lead on her front page of the sports section story.

Yikes, Patrick. This might be, no it is, the worst story to ever appear on the front page of your sports section and I’m counting a lot of nonsensical Plaschke columns in that pronouncement.

. Man, do have any pride?

Sarah quotes an Angels’ infielder I have never heard of because of course she does because she went all the way to New York to get this story.

Luis Rengifo tells Sarah, “They just have a lot.”

Of course, he has a lot more to say, Sarah there with her tape recorder to get it all. “They have Dominican food, like rice and beans…” and all this is on the front page of the Times’ sports section. You own this newspaper, Patrick. No excuse to tell us you are looking for the cure to cancer when your newspaper is just killing us.

Maybe there is someone out there interested in the free food offered to millionaire baseball players. I suspect one—your sports editor Iliana.

“The chef behind the food,” Sarah writes, is “44-year-old Miguel Ramirez.”

No mention if he’s related to Manny, but only wishful thinking. There is nothing to make this story relevant. Worse than that, it is so poorly written, and if this was the first time someone picked up the Times to read the sports section I’m not liking the chances for repeat business.

Were told Ramirez is from “Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and has been a clubhouse chef at Yankee Stadium since 2011.” OK, so it’s not exactly a breaking story; in fact beyond the helpful small headline below the main headline, Sarah doesn’t get to the final score of the game—the game until the 18th paragraph.

I understand. You don’t get to go on the road with the Angels, you finally do, and you are out of practice.

“I learned to cook by watching all the other chefs with more experience, and just worked hard from there,” the cook tells Sarah, and hint: Maybe that’s what the writer from the Times should do in learning how to cover a team.

But Patrick, this is all on you. It’s your paper, and right now it’s second rate.

Dodger Parking Lot Attendant Doing Well

By T.J. Simers

I just watched the morning news on TV and learned it will cost $30 to park at Dodger Stadium this season, $27 if I alert the snipers and let the Dodgers know ahead of time I will be coming. Ah, the Parking Lot Attendant is alive and well.

The Screaming Meanie in me tells me the Dodgers are ripping off folks again, and that’s just fine with the folks.

I made a big deal out of the Dodgers raising parking prices to $15 back when Frank and Jamie McCourt owned the Dodgers and it might have cost the Tipper Gore Lady her job. She was the Dodgers top PR fall guy at the time, trying to blunt the criticism directed at the McCourts. She had worked in the White House prior to her fling with Dodger Stadium.

The Tipper Gore Lady really was a good egg, terrific at her job, but how do you defend the McCourts? I attended their divorce confrontation in court and watched a guy representing Jamie, who used to stand before the Supreme Court, flounder.

The price to park at Dodger Stadium has steadily increased, and the media has never told us if that is Frank McCourt’s doing or the Dodgers’ owners.

Dodger preferred parking, which is parking within the inner circle and a less likely place to be mugged, is $40 in advance or $50 at the gate. For a single game. I had free media parking when I attended Dodger Stadium because the LA Times was offering so much free coverage/advertising on the Dodgers.

When Frank McCourt sold the Dodgers he held onto the parking lots because they are such money makers and knowing Dodger fans are such hopeless romantics they would spend whatever to go, park and moon over their heroes.

You can just imagine the calculations going off in the head of Frank McCourt right now, a sellout for opening day and 16,000 parking spaces being grabbed by the faithful at $27, $30, $40 or $50 a piece of asphalt. Enough to keep him in starched white shirts for another season, and that’s just from one game.

The media no longer makes much a fuss about fans getting ripped off because the media isn’t much of anything anymore in Los Angeles. That’s why I get my news on TV.

I have no idea what Dodger tickets cost, a beer, hot dog or whatever. I presume most fans agree to take out a second mortgage if going to a Dodger game.

There’s also Anaheim, of course, and the Angels are charging $20 to park because I guess there isn’t as big of demand to park in Anaheim. I’d be more likely to spend $30 to go see Trout & Ohtani before going to Dodger Stadium to be reminded there is no Scully & Lasorda.

Angry Arte Moreno rode a wave of popularity after lowering beer prices; where are those prices now and my criticism remains the same: He should have lowered the price on water, maybe even sodas.

. I understand the Dodgers didn’t spend a lot of money this offseason, so I wonder if this qualifies as grand larceny. After all, the Dodgers still have to pay Trevor Bauer $22.5 million and who better to pay it than the suckers paying so much to watch a dying sport.

I know your dad used to take you to the ballpark, but come on, he never got ripped off like you are today.

By the way, why are the Dodgers passing out Freddie Freeman bobbleheads on April Fools instead of Trevor Bauer bobbleheads? Or, a bobblehead of the fool who made the decision to sign Bauer?

I would argue baseball is no longer America’s pastime, so slow now and boring, thus the move to the pitch clock to speed up the game for people who no longer have the attention span to watch. For the most part, the game is tedious after being exposed to so many other exciting sports events.

I’d rather watch South Carolina women’s basketball versus Iowa’s Caitlin Clark Friday night than the Dodgers’ second game of the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Preferred parking right in front of my TV.

Life tossed aside by Eric Kay

By T.J. Simers

I’m not sure what to write here, and even if I figure it out, I could very well be wrong.

Eric Kay, the Angels’ PR guy, is going to prison for the next 22 years.

I knew Eric Kay, worked with him, and no, I was never really close with the guy. But he’s a father of three boys, a husband and stupid, making the kind of mistake where there is no satisfactory retreat.

He gave drugs to Angels’ pitcher Tyler Skaggs and Skaggs died. Throw away the key.

For some, it’s that simple.

I’ve heard what Kay said on tape about Skaggs, and it’s as tough as it can be said about someone who is dead. It might also be expected coming from someone who is tortured by what he’s about to lose and how he allowed himself to go that far off the path.

He was sitting in a prison cell and didn’t become politically correct or self-aware overnight no matter what the judge expected. Just goes to show you what an unsophisticated criminal Kay really is, now going to pay for that with two years of additional prison time.

Kay didn’t force Skaggs to take any drugs, but he made them available, and Skaggs died. Everyone here or who was here, are guilty. Skaggs paid for it with his life, and while Kay remains alive, he’s dead to his family, friends and so are any dreams he might have had for the rest of his life.

It’s a horrible story about throwing away life, Skaggs a Major League pitcher and something so wrong with him he put his life in jeopardy. Kay had a dream job in Anaheim, a chance to be a real role model for his three sons and it wasn’t enough.

For so many there is no sympathy, no mitigation or a second side to the story. And as angry as Kay sounded apparently on prison tapes, that’s all she wrote.

But imagine sitting in prison Tuesday night and looking ahead to the next 22 years.

And I know what some are saying, what about Skaggs?

I don’t have the answers, whether the drugs were laced with fentanyl, whether Kay could have done something to save Skaggs, whether 20 years was too much prison punishment and then added time for venting in prison about how upset he was with Skaggs, or just how much to blame him for being so bitter.

There’s nothing simple about a life thrown away, no idea what must be going on in Key’s head, or why it should never have crossed his mind when he started trafficking drugs.

But I did know Darryl Henley, a Rams’ starting cornerback on the verge of making more than $1 million year, who went away to prison for 41 years without any chance of parole.

I didn’t get along with Henley, as writer and football player, but I came to know him as accused drug trafficker and later as the guy ordering a hit on a judge and Rams cheerleader.

Henley got in trouble initially because he allowed family and friends to take advantage of his stardom and money. He didn’t think he was doing anything wrong, and given his awesome ability to communicate, it was clear in his head he could talk his way out of anything.

But he was wrong, and he began to dig a deeper hole, angry like Kay because he didn’t think he was as guilty as everyone made him out to be. He couldn’t take responsibility for his misjudgment.

I was with Henley in his home the night before the jury pronounced him guilty and he never saw it coming. The Feds set him up in prison and he took the bait and ordered the hit on the judge and cheerleader. Once again, no sympathy for such a lack of judgment.

It’s jarring, though, to watch someone toss away their life. He’s been in prison something like 27 years and can’t get out before 2036 when he will be 61.

I wish I could I write something insightful or meaningful about Kay or how life unexpectedly changed for the Skaggs family. And why did it happen? I am at such a loss how to explain it or how I really feel.

For a writer, that is so defeating. So frustrating.

Albert the Great

By T.J. Simers

I apologize.

I wrote a nice blog yesterday on Claton Kershaw and Dylan Hernandez, and today I’m not going to take back what I wrote about Hernandez despite the clamor.

Instead, I am going to go off the deep end and write more kind things, this time about Albert Pujols.

When Albert came to the Angels, I was told to tread lightly with him, a green light for me, of course, to really go after him. Above all, I was told, don’t talk to him about his age.

So, first question to Albert: “Just how old are you?”

He didn’t pick up a bat, which I found very encouraging. I never worried about that with most Angels because they would have swung and missed, but this guy was considered a vaunted slugger.

Albert’s answer: “As old as you are.”

Next day I wrote that’s why the Angels stink; they just signed a 61-yearold first baseman.”’

As I liked to do, I said the same thing to Albert to see how it would fly, and he laughed.

The Angels’ PR guy at the time was Tim Mead, and the best PR guy in Los Angeles. Well, strike that. No one considers Anaheim a part of Los Angeles, especially the L.A. Times which tries to avoid all things Anaheim, so that would make former USC PR guy Tim Tessalone the best in L.A., and Mead the best in the greater southern California area.

Anyway, I digress, and you can do that in a blog. Mead warned Albert all about me, the wisecracks and question baiting to come, and so Albert disarmed me.

I take it the Dodgers’ PR guy never warned Kevin Brown.

Albert and I talked that day and any day I thought I could be in Anaheim without the fear of being seen. I came to learn a lot about the so-called malcontent as so many other sports writers had warned me. As usual the horde had it wrong, refusing to find out for themselves what was true and what was not.

He married a woman who already had a special needs child, and I found that interesting. They divorced after 22 years of marriage, and I found that none of my business. It garnered some negative headlines because the divorce became public shortly after she had successful surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Given that, his former wife released a statement at the beginning of this season: “He has been one of the most disciplined athletes of his sport that I have known and how God has used his life on and off the field has always blown my mind! I am really happy he gets one more year to play the game.”

So are a lot of others, the baseball fans in Dodger Stadium screaming out their appreciation Friday night after Albert hit two home runs to reach only the heights of Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron as the only baseball players to reach 700 career home runs.

Wouldn’t you like to see Angry Arte’s face right now, Arte Moreno. the Angels’ owner signing him to a 10-year deal and Albert putting on a show against the Dodgers for the St. Louis Cardinals? Just up the road from Angel Stadium.

I am so happy for Albert, finding the giant of the game to be even bigger off the field.

In 2013 I went to spring training in Arizona and began the trip with the Angels, a clear sign I wasn’t feeling well. I would be hospitalized later in the night, but that morning I was so eager to interview Albert. I had to endure two meetings with Manager Mike Scioscia before I got the chance, the first to tell me he would never tell me what to write and the second so he could tell me what to write.

Then I talked to Albert, enjoying it all before I woke up that night to collapse. It would be the start of the end for me at the L.A. Times, the Times apparently not thrilled with sickly columnists.

A Dodger trainer assistant drove me to the hospital, and while sitting on the edge of my bed in a hospital gown, I wrote a Pujols column.

That was the last time I dealt with Pujols, missing the chance to wish him well, because after all, he was working for Angry Arte.

Looks like he did just fine, having a night in Dodger Stadium and writing his name into baseball history.

I wish him well now in retirement, knowing now how old he is.


I want to know more about Trout

By T.J. Simers

It’s a war out there.

It is damn near impossible now to get quality time with athletes as a journalist, the enemy banished outside upon the arrival of Covid—never again to be afforded intimate access.

I knew Kobe Bryant, adored him and disliked him and laughed and yelled and all in the same interview. He was human, and I came to understand that. Even Kevin Brown was human, although I could argue the alternative.

I’m not sure I could function today in the sports arena; I’m sure I will find out when the LA Times brings me back.

We don’t know Mike Trout because he’s a quiet guy, and nobody wants to spend the time to really get to know an Angel with all the hurdles to be jumped. I had a rule when I worked that I would not spend much time with a rookie, knowing how I might take advantage of someone inexperienced in dealing with the media.

I told Trout I would get to him the following year, but then the Times took away my press pass and the Angels certainly weren’t going to complain.

And that’s a big mistake on the Angels’ part. They should welcome the media to get to know Trout better and tell fans what kind of guy he is while hitting homer after homer. That kind of familiarity allows an athlete to become almost family-like with a fan base and the Angels need all the fans they can get.

Mike Trout is a superstar secret. Compare him to some other superstars and he’s a mystery. The Angels might think they are doing him a favor by protecting him and limiting his media availability so that he might hit, but he’s gonna hit even if we move in together.

I find it a real shortcoming on my part that I didn’t get to know him better.

And now it’s going to be harder for reporters to do that without being considered a jerk and push boundaries. I used to meet with individual Dodgers at the team’s hotel in San Francisco and spend a couple of hours getting to know them. Did the same with the Clippers like Chris Paul at a team hotel in Philly.

I got to know players better by traveling to cover their games, the crush of L.A. media staying home because even the Times won’t send a reporter on the road with the Angels.

. It’s tough, clubhouses and locker rooms now more removed from the media than ever before, athletes more conditioned to avoid the media after Covid and reporters given only minutes here and there to report superficially on a city’s main sports characters.

And that shortchanges the fans who want more and more from their heroes.

Covid did athletes a huge favor, driving reporters out of their clubhouses or locker rooms. I never said athletes were smart, so much money to be made off the field but most of it going to who we know best.

It’s not always war. As contentious as I might have been, someone asked me yesterday how many sports figures really hated my guts. I don’t know, but the list begins with Brown, Frank McCourt, Lisa Leslie (because I said “jinx” to her when she had hit 50 free throws in a row prompting her to miss her next attempt), Helene Elliott and Arte Moreno.

A strong dislike is another category, and the numbers might be astronomical, but as much as the Angels’ Garret Anderson tried to avoid me, he testified on my behalf at Trial No. 1.

There were skirmishes, of course, with Jeff Kent, Mike Garrett, Phil Jackson and Chris Pronger. Pronger was a hockey player and I visited him during a Stanley Cup Finals match or game or whatever they call it, and told him I was bored and just bring the Cup to the children’s hospital at UCLA when he was done.

He did, placed it in the beds of sick kids and I even said I might go to another hockey game. You get to know people, even hockey players and people, even columnists, aren’t so bad.

The important thing is to get to know people. As soon as Phil Jakcson and I exchanged pictures of our grandkids and he realized mine were just cuter, we could spar good naturally.

Mike Garrett hugged me after hiring Lane Kiffin, and I guess he knew he was going to need all the friends he could get.

McCourt refused to sit down and chat, his shirts so starched maybe they wouldn’t allow him to sit down. His wife, the Screaming Meanie as I called her, wrote my name on her coffee cup sitting across from her husband in the courtroom while they were in the process of getting divorced.

I loved Kent. He was tough, a bully and far too smart to be such a crumb-bum at times, but one of the most interesting people I have ever met. We talked or argued almost daily for four years while he was in uniform, and I’m not sure that could happen today.

There are too many restrictive guidelines now, so many more people willing to throw up walls around sports figures to protect them from being challenged.

LSU Coach Brian Kelly, the former Notre Dame coach, lost his first game. At his weekly press conference following the game, he teased/criticized reporters for arriving late.

Baton Rouge Advocate reporter Leah Vann spoke up and told Kelly, “Maybe if you win I’ll be on time.”

Someone emailed the reporter to say, “If you worked for me you would be fired. Could you be more unprofessional?”

The reporter later apologized, getting it all wrong. That’s a chance for readers to get to know Kelly, and for that matter the reporter. She was being chastised for having a doctor’s appointment and showing up late to hear a football coach probably say nothing all that revealing or memorable.

We have lost all sense of who is important and what is important, a football coach now being paid oodles of money to leave Notre Dame and become gawd-like at LSU. We’ve always had sacred cows in sports, but every one of them is just a human being being confronted by another.

We need reporters to stand toe-to-toe with guys who can score 50 points a game, and challenge them if they say stupid, or unbelievable or arrogant things at times.

To Kelly’s credit he joked with the Baton Rouge reporter and a week later showed up late for his news conference and fined himself $10. That was more revealing than anything he could have said at the podium, and kudos to the reporter who was more than just a stenographer.

I will grant you that reporters are no longer as important as they might have been, a long list of former athletes now working on TV and in radio to pass along their expertise

. But if I want to know more about Mike Trout and his wonderful baseball talent, I’m going to have to wait for one of those ESPN retrospectives. Or return to work and go on the road with the Angels solely to determine what makes Trout so incredible.

Nine years later — just here to help

By T.J. Simers

Patrick Soon-Shiong refused comment to the Los Angeles Times, the newspaper he owns, and I just love that.

It’s been reported that Soon-Shiong is exploring the opportunity to buy the Los Angeles Angels, the baseball team his newspaper doesn’t cover with any consistency, and I just love that.

If I can figure out something else to write, I can be annoyingly repetitive like Bill Plaschke, and I just love that.

The Angels are expected to be sold for more than $2 billion, and I’m happy to report that the Times’ Bill Shaikin says Soon-Shiong has about $6.9 billion, which should be plenty for the Angeles and me.

That’s right, if Charles can take on the duties of the king at age 73, and both Biden and Trump are older than I am, why shouldn’t I return as Page 2 columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

The Times’ rep has already paid more than $1.2 million into an escrow account for my lawyers and myself, and as soon as they hand over the remaining $3 million or so they owe us, I can return to work.

I’m not sure who I should call to find out what days I will be writing or what games I will be attending, but as boring as the sports section has become, I’d like to try and spice it up.

I recognize one problem, there is no Page 2 anymore. When the space is offered as part of its enewspaper, sometimes it is page 27 or so. When the printed newspaper is delivered home, it’s the last page of the California section, like B10. There are also days when it begins its own section, D1.

When it runs online, sometimes the column runs there, but they wait a day before putting it in the newspaper.

It’s really a ramshackle operation, certainly not designed to help Times’ readers, and you might be wondering why I would like to return at age 72. Well, that’s what bothers me. I’m still going strong without blood pressure medication and there is a void on the second page of the sports section. I think I can offer the experience needed to get more out of the Lakers. I think I can offer more than Westbrook, and are you going to argue with me?

Dave Roberts is going to need help as the Series approaches, and it’s a good bet USC or UCLA are going to need a good spanking down the road.

The readers of the Times deserve a muckraker, troll or whatever you want to call it, but as wretched as the Times tried to portray me in court, the newspaper never fired me. In fact, as court testimony shows the newspaper tried to give me my Page 2 column back, but I just didn’t trust the editors.

The Times later agreed, firing both of those editors, but rather than wait for one of Patrick’s lieutenants to call me, I thought I’d let the newspaper know I’ll be asking for my old job back.

I wonder if Soon-Shiong will offer comment on that.

I’m serious. As soon as Alden Capital, the hedge fund paying the Times’ legal obligations pays me, I’ll be willing to return to the Times. My problem was never with the newspaper, just the editors and I recognize that Soon-Shiong saved the newspaper and now wants to do the same with the Angels.

I can suck up if that’s what is required to return. At least for awhile.

It’s been more than nine years since I wrote for the newspaper, and I noticed they hired a guy to fill Page 2 or whatever they called it a few years back, but it didn’t work out. He just couldn’t write.

Minor detail given some of the newspaper’s other hirings, but that’s why I love Shaikin’s report. He’s one of the very best, and on occasion the Times still employs the very best.

The Times’ sports section, though, has put a lot of effort in going soft the past few years, a Lakers’ beat reporter dedicated to flattering the Lakers’ front office so they will take his calls. I hate to see stuff like that, knowing people pay money to get the straight scoop from the newspaper.

But I also know Soon-Shiong is a minority owner of the Lakers, and I hope I don’t find out he’s behind the house organ the Times now has covering the Lakers.

I guess I could keep my lawyers on retainer.

That’s something we’ll probably have to discuss before I formally return.

The Quitter that Angry Arte has become

By T.J. Simers

What if no one cares the Angels are for sale?

Do they just sit there until the stadium is condemned? Nice knowing Ohtani and Trout, but did anyone really care how they did in Anaheim beyond a glance at the box score? Can you name the manager of the Angels presently without looking it up?

They have been to the playoffs once in the last forever, are looking at a seventh-consecutive losing season and have the feel of a minor league franchise located out in the sticks somewhere.

If Angry Arte Moreno had the business contacts one might expect a baseball owner to have, there would be no press release but rather secret negotiations to sell the Angels. They are now solicitating offers.

The Angels have always been lost souls as far as the LA Times is concerned. All of its internal readership numbers suggest no one reads the Times’ stories when they are Angels’ stories. Journalism be damned. The Times doesn’t send a reporter on the road with the team.

There wasn’t a word in the LA Times newspaper Tuesday morning about the possible sale of the Angels, breaking stories a thing of the past. Now they get a press release, wake up their reporter who rewrites it and then gets it to its readers.

Why are the Angels for sale? Obviously Angry Arte is a quitter, never figuring out how to match the expertise of Mickey Mouse who led the Angels to a World Series win the year before Angry Arte bought the team.

Arte Moreno came to the Angels full of marketing ideas, high hopes and the advantage of playing in a four-team division. But in the end, he leaves a wimp, beaten down by the inability to get a new stadium and his own volatile temperament.

I used to meet with Moreno with regularity. I walked the stadium with him as he greeted fans and helped promote his image of the caring owner. Drank beer with him behind the centerfield wall after a game. He put his daughter on our Sunday morning radio show. He came to our Nokia Theatre show with Sandy Koufax and Joe Torre.

I wrote a column under the headline: “Arte Moreno is one of those nice guys.”

I was in Arizona, and when I mentioned that to the Angels, Arte got into his car to drive through rush hour traffic to my hotel for breakfast. At the time I wrote that I thought he misunderstood and heard someone wanted to buy Angels tickets, adding, “By now everyone knows this guy will do almost anything to take care of a customer.”

What a turnaround, losing gobbling him up and making him sullen and eventually unapproachable.

When I made mention of the Angels’ losing owner in a column: “It must be asked, is Arte Moreno the Angels’ problem?” he became so upset he began to cuss like Lasorda, who really did know something about baseball. Then he stopped talking. And Lasorda would have never done that.

The last time I bumped into Angry Arte was outside his owner’s box where he was calling me a “@#$%^&,” and while technically not accurate, some would have agreed with the sentiment. He became so irritated; he moved the press box far away from his owner’s box and the action on the field to become even more reclusive.

Keep in mind he didn’t always go to Angels’ games, because would you?

As much as I liked his approach early on, he didn’t have the guts to stay in the public eye when shamed by poor results.

It’s a very long list of people that Moreno stopped talking with, and then came along the death of Tyler Skaggs, and no comment on the culture of drugs inside the Angels. They weren’t all Angels, one of the PR guys found guilty of drug distribution and awaiting sentencing in October.

Angry Arte flipped out when Gary Matthews Jr. joined the team and then later was linked to steroids and the Mitchell Report. He made Matthews speak publicly on it, Matthews denying he used HGH while never saying why it was shipped to him. I wondered where Matthews stored those boxes, afraid his dogs might get into the drugs and who knows the problem.

It was always about image with Arte, who sold advertising billboards before buying the Angels. He went to court to change the team’s name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He wanted attention, placing a huge Times’ advertisement atop the scoreboard and red-inked ads atop the Times’ sports section on the Internet.

He wanted to be a part of Los Angeles, but he lacked the standing to make an impact in the big city when his team failed to win. Pretty much everything Angry Arte touched turned to crap and now Arte wants out.

I’m not surprised. It’s pretty much a dead end ahead for the Angels, a new stadium not coming any time soon, a new manager to hire, Trout deep into his career and Ohtani a year away from becoming a free agent.

It’s much easier for Angry Arte to just quit, stomp his feet and go home with his money.