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Mike Sciocia Built The Angels Into A Winner

What would have happened if he hadn't gone to Anaheim?

Rich Herrera
October 01, 2018 - 5:08 pm
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The end of an era came Sudnay after the last game of the season for the Los Angeles Angels.  It was the last time they would be able to call Mike Scioscia their manager.  Scioscia had plenty of folks singing his praises, and rightfully so.  

Rumors and whispers made this a foregone conclusion in the last few weeks, so I was not terribly surprised at the news he was stepping down.  What will surprise me if he isn't back in the dugout soon.  Scioscia is a young man at the age of 60.  If he walked away today and never managed again he would be Hall of Fame worthy with his 6 AL West titles, two trips to the ALCS and a World Series title in 2002.  The LA Times had a great stat about Scioscia: only four other managers had longer runs with one club than Scioscia: Connie Mack, John McGraw, Bobby Cox, and Walter Alston.  For 19 years he was the steady hand that ran the ballclub next to Disneyland and won.  

Was it time to move on?  Who am I to say?  Had the players heard his voice for too long?  Was it time for a fresh voice in Anaheim?   Was the pressure mounting with all the east coast writers trying to create a narrative that Mike Trout was wasting his time in Southern California and something had to change or he would soon be heading elsewhere as soon as he could?  Could it be a combination of all the above?  Who knows?  

I do know the fortunes of Southern California baseball were forever changed by Scioscia leaving Dodger Stadium and heading to the Big A.  I was at the press conference when Tommy Lasorda stepped aside as the Dodgers’ skipper.  At that time, the Dodgers led by Lasorda, were the class of the National League and there were more candidates waiting in the wings for his job than the club had room for.  Dusty Baker went to San Francisco, Kevin Kennedy went to Texas, and Mike Scioscia left for Anaheim.  

People might not remember the state of the Angels before Scioscia got there.  In 39 years, the Halos had a total of three playoff appearances in team history, which also matched the number of team names the ball club had when he got there.  Scioscia brought a lot of Dodger DNA with him to Orange County which rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way when he got started.  At that time, the worst thing you could say to anyone with the Angels is "This is how the Dodgers do things.”  Oh, how things changed from his first season in the American League until now.  It's not a stretch to say that he built the Angels to where they are today.  

On another hand, the club that passed on him, the Dodgers, spent that same time floundering under bad ownership, inept management, and a revolving door of managers that were going to rekindle the success that Lasorda had brought to Hollywood, but never seemed to get the job done.  Imagine if the Dodgers had kept Scioscia around.  How would the fortunes have turned out Post Lasorda?  Would the Angels World Series Trophy have called Dodger Stadium home?  Would the Giants have been able to have won 3 titles this decade if Scioscia were the Dodgers skipper?

I interviewed Mike Scioscia the day he got the job in Anaheim on Sports Fan Radio.  I remember he was so overwhelmed that day, and having to wait a few minutes for him to come on because he was trying to grab a bite of a sandwich because he hadn't eaten that day.  I told him to take his time, that he’s going to be a manager for a long time, so enjoy your sandwich.  I was right that day.  He managed for 19 years in Anaheim.  I know I'll be right today when I tell you he will go somewhere else and be as successful running another ballclub before he is done