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Steinberg: Huge week for SoCal

December 13, 2011|By Leigh Steinberg

There is a theory that God created the concept of time so everything wouldn't happen at once, but the dizzying pace of announcements regarding the Southern California sports scene last week defied that principle.

A series of events altered the landscape dramatically and should provide enhanced thrills for local sports fans.

Arte Moreno, owner of the Angels, has demonstrated his passion for winning and concern for the fans throughout his tenure. The two-year absence of MVP candidate first baseman Kendry Morales contributed to a power drain this past season that enabled the Rangers to take their second straight title. There was one franchise altering free agent available this year — Albert Pujols, who appears on his way to the Hall of Fame. His ability to dominate a game with powerful hitting is unequaled.

Moreno stepped to the plate, and $254 million later the Angels pulled off the deal of the year in baseball by signing Pujols to a long-term deal.

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Mark Trumbo, incumbent first baseman, came close to Rookie of the Year honors, having the two sluggers at the same position is what is called a quality problem.

But wait (as they say on late-night infomercials), there's more. The Angels then signed C.J. Wilson, arguably the best free agent pitcher available. That gives them a rotation of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Wilson and Erwin Santana.

I've been a fan of the Angels since 1961 when they had Little Albie Pearson, "Daddy Wags," Bo Belinsky and Eli Grba (the only player to have a last name starting with three consonants). My father was a die-hard Angel fan and I wish he would was alive to see this season.

The Dodgers, the most beloved franchise in the history of this area, did nothing to enhance their team at the league meetings. That cracking sound you hear is the shifting of SoCal baseball primacy in the direction of Anaheim.

Jerry Buss of the Lakers has rebuilt a team that shifted from the dominance of West/Baylor/Chamberlain to Kareem/Magic/Worthy to Shaq/Kobe to Kobe/Gasol/Bynum, with aggressive moves over and over. The Lakers made a trade to bring Chris Paul, the most talented young point guard in the NBA, into a pairing with Kobe Bryant that would give them the most devastating backcourt in basketball. In steps commissioner David Stern, whose intransigence delayed and complicated the CBA negotiations, to veto the trade.

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