Special to Page 2
In an almost classic fit of legislative pique the other day, the California State Assembly passed a bill on to the State Senate that would force the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to tell the world consistently and repetitively the truth about their, uh, geography.
Specifically, the Angels would be forced to disclaim, on every ticket sold and through all advertising and promotional material distributed, that they're not really in L.A.
Now the smaller point is basic: Anaheim is still torqued over the whole name-change deal and the assemblyman whose district includes the city asked lawmakers to do something about it, because the traditional "let the marketplace decide" avenue wasn't working.
But on the larger scale, it's pure theological brilliance. As Assemblyman Thomas Umberg, D-Santa Ana, put it, "It's appropriate that we require, if they're going to deceive customers, advertisers and tourists in that fashion, that a notice be placed in promotional materials."
Truth in sports advertising and promotion? We can go with that but let's not limit ourselves to petty land disputes or concerns over whether the New York Giants ought to disclose on every ticket sold that they play their games in New Jersey.
Nope, let's get to the good stuff. Let's protect the consumer from fraud and deception on every sporting front available.
Shouldn't the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, for example, be forced to disclose something or other most of the time? Their ticket disclaimer ought to read, "Note: Patron may find himself sitting pretty much, or entirely, alone, indoors for bulk of innings played." Don't say you weren't warned.
If baseball were European soccer, the Kansas City Royals might be facing relegation (being dropped down a league for finishing last). But that's not what their season ticket promotional package ought to say. What it should say is, "Caution: Franchise cannot guarantee sufficient funds to acquire or retain actual major-league players." At least the public then goes to Kauffman Stadium with its eyes wide open.
Why be a disillusioned sports fan when you can be pre-disappointed? The Lakers could've saved themselves and their fans a multitude of aggravation by simply including the following line on the back of each ticket sold for the 2004-05 season: "Absent Shaq and Zen, team will stink."
You understand the idea. Why pay top-shelf prices for a product that isn't what it was suggested to be when the ticket packages were being promoted and sold all those months ago? A long drive from Hollywood to Disneyland is the least of it. Frauds, this is your day of reckoning.
Let the buyer beware: That's the normal course of business, in sports as elsewhere. But if the California Assembly has the power to make the Angels fess up about their true location, then shouldn't the San Francisco Giants be forced at the end of each television advertisement to intone, "Barry Bonds will be in attendance at tonight's game, but only long enough to sit in his Barcalounger during batting practice and watch his TV whilst surrounded by bodyguards?" That's the truth, isn't it? And don't consumers deserve the truth?
If we're going in that direction, then, hell, let's go. I want a notice on my next Auburn football ticket that says, "Warning: NCAA will not crown a true national champion." At least then I know I'm going to watch a team that, while it might someday be ranked No. 1, won't ever get to fully prove it.
The Orlando Magic: "Caution: Team and front office in disarray. Massive losses likely."