The writing on (and off) the wall: Dr. Soon-Shiong and the DNR Angels? That’s rich

Tom Hoffarth /

Everyone and their destitute friends want to tell Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong how to spend his disposable income these days. It’s become an epidemic.

Soon enough, he’ll fritter it all away just as easily by himself.

The Los Angeles Business Journal just released its annual list of the 50 Wealthiest Angeleonos – you can read it online but you only get so many looks before you’re faced with trying to scale a paywall to keep away the illegal riffraff.

Spoiler alert: Soon-Shiong has retained his No. 1 prime-time top spot because of his deteriorating estimated his net worth of $19.1 billion.

When he was top L.A. dog in 2021, the Brentwood resident and LeBron James neighbor supposedly had $20.4 billion tucked away. Yet he is anything if not consistent – he’s lost six percent of his walking-around money in each of the last two years. Even more if you check other sources of repute.

And still, enough think he’s the person they want to buy the Angels.

There can’t be an Angeleno in his right Charles Schwab ledger who’d own up to wanting to own the Angels these days.

Soon-Shiong is in the health-care business. He knows a DNR situation when he sees one.

First, no one living in a 25-mile radius of Angels Stadium has even received their first COVID shot. That’s the definition of a dying fan base.

He also has to take into account that Shohei Ohtani, the most remarkable Major League Baseball player we will every witness in our lifetime, will be summonsed back to his home planet soon unless he is compensated according to what Babe Ruth and Cy Young would be paid, combined, in today’s economy. They’ve not created a super calculator with that many digits yet.

Soon-Shiong has to be running out of patience, patients and patents.

The mountain of Monopoly cash he built from his biopharma and immunotherapy companies are testing positive for reality. It’s a volatile business. The meddling government wants to keep costs down for the consumers while regulating how much the ultrachemists can profit while keeping their own fentanyl addictions regulated.

Soon-Shiong has already taken on the personal challenge of trying to keep the Los Angeles Times relevant. Moving them out of that historic downtown building, getting this fancy fixer-upper up on the outskirts of LAX and then watching it stay vacant as employees stay home to keep their health in tact. Or their sanity, since enough have already moved out of California and now do their remote Times desk work from places they don’t even have to pay state income tax. They’re no idiots.

We read the papers. Mostly, the New York Times. We know it costs $6 every Sunday to get it home delivered, and another few bucks for the phone app, but that’s what the media barons have conditioned us to do, so we do it, because we want all the news that’s fit to be digitized. Soon-Shiong has to read his own paper, too. How many headlines can his editors noodle that start with Trout and Ohtani doing something outrageous, but the rest of the team conspiring to do something more outlandish? Collateral damage Joe Maddon could write a book about it — and he has.

To put Soon-Shiong’s Lake Mead-receding bankroll into some perspective — and that’s what all of us need here — Forbes says his net worth is actually closer to $6.9 billion. It’s interesting how two publications that fancy themselves as informing the public about the Titans of Industry are more than $13 billion apart on assessing the Soon-Shiong Dynasty.

This just in: Forbes, as of today, says Soon-Shiong’s real time net worth is trending toward $7.2 billion. This also just in: Sportico tabs Soon-Shiong’s portfolio at $8.94 billion. Things are starting to smell less and less like a rotting Trout lifetime contract.

For what it’s also worth, Forbes has Elon Musk as the world’s richest-est-est person at $219 billion. Musk, of course, used to live in L.A. but moved to Texas, so his former top spot on the LABJ list (No. 1 in 2020, at $75 billion) is no longer relevant. Soon-Shiong can take Musk’s mantle, just not that star center fielder they keep comparing to Mickey Mantle, but much nicer.

Soon-Shiong, also with a 4.5 percent interest in the Lakers finally getting back into the playoffs, doesn’t need to put himself in the company of Steve Ballmer, either. He’s No. 9 on the Forbes list at $91.4 billion (but apparently not allowed on the LABJ list apparently because of his WA residency; same with Colorado’s own Stan Kroenke).

The Clippers owner actually jumped up from $68.7 billion in ’21, and from $52.7 billion in ’20. It’s allowed him to build his own palace in Inglewood, which also comes with the privilege of not discounting even a generalized definition of the word gentrification.

(Last point of reference: Donald Tokowitz Sterling – with current shellgame/devoted spouse Shelly – is No. 15 on the LA Business Journal’s local rich guys at $5.9 billion. That’s actually up from $5.4 billion a year ago for the 88 year old. Maybe the slumloard is more financially upwardly mobile to handle the Angels’ current crisis better. Move them into one of his Century City condos and have V. Stiviano run the operations.)

The news of late that the still living Arte Moreno – with a net worth of about $4 billion – wants to get out of the ownership business and is pondering a sale of his L.A.-adjacent Angels again is fantasyland for most of us. He bought the team in 2003, right after their one-and-only World Series wild-card run at a time when managers like Mike Scioscia were actually paid to make decisions. He only spent $184 million on the deal. It’s supposed to be worth north of $2 billion now – just 10 years after the Guggenheimers snatched away the Dodgers for a then-record $2.15 billion.

Owning a baseball team isn’t as financially fundamental, or fun, as it may look. G. Scott Thomas wrote on his “Baseball’s Best (and Worst)” column post today that, by doing simple match, the Dodgers and Angels are the least efficient teams when it compares payroll to victories. If the Dodgers stay on pace to win a league-best 111 games this year — still pretty phenomenal — it will come at the cost of $2,595,000 per win, based on their top-ranked payroll of $289 million (no thanks to TBauer). The Angels’ projected 71-win season (which would be ranked 20th of 30 teams) will come at a cost of $2,490,000, based on the sixth-greatest payroll of $177 million.  

Moreno, 76, needs to cash out so he can spend the last 10 years of his existence at a place where no one knows the name Josh Hamilton.

ICYMI, Soon-Shiong, 70, needs to keep his own cash supply close and his Clozapine supply closer.

(And, really, ICYMI, that Tweet above from the L.A. Times: It was posted days after the story linking Soon-Shiong to the Angels came out first in Sportico. Perhaps the Sportico paywall also deterred local newsies from getting alerts when there is breaking news on their beats.)

If Soon-Shiong stepped up with a magic prescription that would make the Angels relevant again, more power to him. In the end, we know we’ll get stuck with some kind of outrageous co-pay bill and decide it’s better instead to spend $1,399 for a Disneyland Magic Key annual pass. Because if we’re heading to sweaty Anaheim for the day, that usually ends up as the better value. More man-made shade trees.

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