Updated July 8, 2016: So, uh, apparently Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Twelve is throwing out the first pitch at Angels Mormon Night in late July. Consider the matter closed.
Oy. Here we go again. It is clear to me that officials in Salt Lake City have no idea there are two baseball teams in the Los Angeles media market: the Los Angeles Dodgers (or Doyers for the more racist among you), and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a name change I refuse to recognize, much like the United States does with Burma/Myanmar.
I am an ardent Angels fan. I love my boys in red. I have Halo fever. I stick by the team even when they are terrible (like this year). Saying I oppose the Dodgers might be an understatement. I loathe the team. I’m not even sure I could have married a Dodgers fan. Luckily for me, my wife is from San Diego and is pro-Padres, but who on earth is actually a passionate Padres fan? That’s on par with being die-hard Astros or Blue Jackets or Jaguars.
Before going into this rant, perhaps the Dodgers’ events and PR office has someone with tighter connections to Salt Lake than the Angels. And if that’s the case, then my gripe is with the Angels’ front office. Of course, that seems insane considering the Angels’ AAA team is based in Salt Lake. Or on the flipside, perhaps the regional Church public affairs folks work better with the Dodgers than the Angels. There’s certainly some truth to that, as Los Angeles Church public affairs has an actual, paid person there. But I’m just going to assume for now that what’s really going on is the Dodgers have a larger national profile, so they get the attention.
The Dodgers and Angels both hold Mormon Night™ sometime in summer—an evening where Mormons in the area congregate en masse to make their presence known in a sporting way. This happens across the country with many organizations.
But every year, the Dodgers manage to get some top brass from Church HQ to throw out the ceremonial first pitch while the Angels get some random stake patriarch from Fountain Valley. This happens repeatedly and consistently. Let’s look at the Dodgers’ offerings in recent years:
- 2016 – Elder Neal L. Andersen (with the pitch caught by an Area Seventy)
- 2015 – President Linda K. Burton (Relief Society)
- 2014 – Elder David A. Bednar
- 2013 – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
- 2012 – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
- 2011 – Elder Quentin L. Cook (likely a Giants fan)
And now for a look at the Angels
- 2015 – Who knows, the Mormon Newsroom doesn’t
- 2014 – Uh
- 2013 – Random Area Seventy
- 2012 – So desperate they called in someone from the Crystal Cathedral
- 2011 – Probably a primary president (good for her, though)
- 2007 – Emily Dunn (???)
This isn’t even a comparison. Who are these people?
Of particular import is that the Dodgers and Angels share a media market, so they have complete overlap when it comes to television and marketing rights. In theory, all should be equal. The Saints in Santa Barbara are just as entitled to apostolic representation as those in San Clemente or Temecula.
But let’s be snarky and take it to a more local level. For the sake of not dealing with the messy cultural politics of the Inland Empire—where my experience is that it’s pretty much a crapshoot who is a Dodgers or Angels fan (though there might be a slight divide between north/south for the former/latter)—I will focus on the immediate metropolitan area, essentially actual Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
Los Angeles County has 24 stakes and a population of approximately 10 million people. Orange County has 15 stakes and 3.1 million people. Simple math shows us that Los Angeles County therefore has 417,500 people per stake whereas Orange County has a mere 207,600 people per stake. Clearly, the Mormons are in more dense, glorious abundance in Orange County than the lost world of Los Angeles. And yet, Los Angeles gets the apostolic love.
So sure, make a (rightful) mockery of the Angels’ absurd two-city designation and their billionaire owner with the baseball gumption of a chimpanzee, but do not deny we, the Orange Countians, the faithful who pack the Newport Beach Temple to the brim, a visit from a higher-up. General Authorities look better in red. Our General Conference Tie Tracker attests to this.
LA has long been the recipient of top brass because Mormon Night™ has a 20-year history there, and then some common sense.
“Alright boys, we’re in Salt Lake. Throwing a pitch at a Bees game isn’t gonna cut it. What’s the closest market with an MLB Team?”
“That’s the 17th-largest media market in the country. Not worth it. Where else?”
“Not bad, not bad. But still, 12th-largest, and we send lots of people down there.”
“What about Los Angeles?”
“Brilliant! Sure, New York is #1, but we don’t have the critical mass there to merit the trip. LA seems great. Book it.”
“Thank you, Elder _______.”
However, times have changed. Let’s ignore the perceived PR “weight” of showing up at Dodger Stadium and play to where the Church is larger and growing. We’re still selling off superfluous buildings in Los Angeles, for goodness’ sake. And again, the Angels share that #2 media market. Let’s be fair.
Though to be fair, if we really want a General Authority or Officer to visit the hottest parts for Church growth, they’d probably have to pay a visit to, uh, Fontana or Hemet or Ontario or Moreno Valley some awful place nobody wants to admit having visited.
Anyway, as said above, it turns out Elder Stevenson is now throwing out the first pitch at Angel Stadium in 2016. So the times they are a-changin’. Nevertheless, would this have happened without this blog post?