Growing up, some of my best friends were Angels fans. I don’t know why. You usually don’t ask when you’re young. You just accept it. They’re your friends, after all. So as a teen and young adult, I would keep my pouting to a minimum while they would drive to Anaheim Stadium instead of Dodger Stadium.
Angels games were often a miserable experience. To accommodate the Rams, Anaheim Stadium was converted into this multipurpose monstrosity that looked like Candlestick Park — with the same level of comfort. And my friends wanted to see the Angels beat the better teams in the American League, which meant we were often outnumbered by Yankees and Red Sox fans.
So when the stadium was reconfigured for baseball, and when they finally won their only world championship in 2002, I sent an email congratulating the ones I still had contact with. Your favorite team being a world champ? Few things top that feeling.
Only Mike Scioscia is still the manager then and the Angels haven’t come close since then, unless you count getting clobbered by the Yanks in the 2009 ALCS. He’s been at the helm for 17 years. One title isn’t good enough. He has to go.
For years, national baseball announcers have showered praise on Scioscia as “the best manager in the game,” even though Tony LaRussa and Bruce Bochy might privately disagree. Bochy has won three since 2002.
Besides, it has become abundantly clear to me that Scioscia has steadily accumulated power and favor with team owner Arte Moreno. Scioscia influences personnel decisions, instead of simply asking for particular players. That’s beyond his job description.
As such, he bears responsibility for a fractured major league roster and a minor league system that is far and away the worst in baseball, according to Baseball America and ESPN.
When he was hired by the Angels in 1999, he took over a roster of players assembled for him that included Tim Salmon, Darin Erstad, Jarrod Washburn, Bengie Molina and Ramon Ortiz. All were the core that won the title three years later. Heck, John Lackey was on that 2002 team and he’s still going strong.
Since 2002, Scioscia curried favor with Moreno, who falsely saw an opportunity to become more popular than the Dodgers. Moreno took risks at Scioscia’s behest, signing elite players such as Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and C.J. Wilson. Remember the Dodgers are still paying Carl Crawford $20 million for doing nothing? The Angels are paying Hamilton more to play for the rival Texas Rangers. Pujols is approaching the twilight of his career and nobody really knows where the hell Wilson is.
In baseball, when you go on a free-agent hiring binge, you forfeit top draft picks as the minor-league system withers.
Moreno then shut off the funds. Few people on this earth are made of money. But with no money to invest, no prospects to promote to the major league team, which is currently at 50-70, all you have left is Scioscia’s reputation — which is one world title.
And I haven’t even discussed in depth that idiotic power play last year between Scioscia and former general manager Jerry DiPoto. The GM threw up his hands over Scioscia’s ego and moved on to Seattle, where the Mariners are suddenly respectable.
The Angels long road to a rebuild starts with a proper division of labor: A front office creates a plan for developing a winning team. A manager takes those players and assembles them into a winning unit. The players execute. Their current model is Scioscia banging on Moreno’s door, demanding the front office bends to his will.
If the Lakers could part ways with Pat Riley after four world titles in 1990, there is no reason to suggest Scioscia is more important to the Angels.
He’s not expendable. He’s damaged the franchise for his own ego. And Angels games are again a miserable experience.
Mike Scioscia is the very definition of a manager who should be let go.