What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Blogger’s Note: When it comes to baseball, I have split loyalties. I’ve discussed the hows and whys on that before. But now I’m having a moment as rare as a solar eclipse; both my teams are looking for new managers. Since both situations hare full of things which make sense and things that don’t, I’m here to give both the patented Dubsism break-down.
Today: The Los Angeles Angels
For Angels fans, Mike Scioscia has always been a conundrum. He came to “The Big A” after having been a “made man” in the “Evil Blue Empire;” the cross-town rival Los Angeles Dodgers. But he became a “made man” on his own in Anaheim by bringing the Angels their sole World Series championship in 2002. But in the sixteen season since, the Angels under Scioscia have been a model of consistent inconsistency; you could almost predict the fluctuations.
After 19 season totals, many of us Angels fans are left wondering just what was Mike Scioscia? Is he the greatest manager in the history of the franchise? Is he arguably one of the worst? Can he be both? The only thing we know for sure is on an episode of “The Simpsons,” he was the guy Mr. Burns hired for his ringer-licious company softball team whe really just wanted to work at the power plant.
To sort that all out, let’s start with Mike Scioscia: The Numbers.
That last line-item might be the most impressive. In an era where baseball managers last on average about three or four seasons, Scioscia stuck around despite the fact the Angels only made one post-season appearance since 2010, and that was a three-game sweep suffered at the hands of the Kansas City Royals in 2014. It’s even more impressive when you consider that in the nine seasons since 2010, the Angels only had winning campaigns in four of them, only winning more than 90 games once. When you remember the Scioscia Angels won at least 90 games six times in Scioscia’s first ten seasons, it’s easy to see why he is a conundrum.
That brings us to the Mike Scioscia administration and it’s two clearly distinctive eras:
1) The “Elite” Era: 2000-2009
These are the “Salad Days” of Angel baseball. The Angels are among the best in baseball, and they capture the World Series title to serve as the bona fides to that claim to “elite” status. This is the time when nearly all of the aforementioned bullet points on Scioscia’s managerial resume are achieved.
2) The “Red Mets” Era: 2010-2018
This is when the Angels become a West coast Version of the New York Mets. They spend the better part of a decade with a bloated payroll, a cast of under-performing players, even more who can’t stay healthy, and any pretenses about trying to ditch the idea they are the “little brother” of Los Angeles baseball were dashed.
But as the old saying goes, “that was then and this is now.” That means “now” is these first few days of the “Post-Scioscia” era.
After all that, we’re left with the conglomerate overarching question: “Now what?” It’s a conglomerate question because it is composed of what the future may hold for several entities.
As for Scioscia, he’s only 59 years old. That’s hardly retirement age for a manager, but the question is does he want to go back to the bench? One also cannot discount the possibility of a front-office gig somewhere. It all comes down to what he wants to do. He’s already been of of our Sports Doppelgangers…
As for the Angels, obviously they will need to hire a new manager. Speculate amongst yourselves, but in this case I’m not into that game for one major reason. Whatever your opinion of Scioscia may have been, there’s no denying that he’s not the sole target available for blame when it comes to the under-performing of this team; there needs to be a big chunk of it directed at general manager Billy Eppler. But to be fair, I can’t lay all the front office woes on Eppler either, previous GM Jerry DiPoto laid the foundations for many of the issues Eppler needs to clean up.
But from Eppler’s first day, he’s know the Angels are desperate for pitching, and what has he done about it? You tell me. Just take a look at the free-agent pitchers that have changed hands since Eppler took over.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, and that’s not including bullpen guys. It also doesn’t include guys who were obviously going to be available at the trade deadline and might have been available before they hit “trade deadline” prices.
Repeating this statement of need for pitching was literally the first thing out of Eppler’s mouth once the “Post-Scioscia” era was official. Granted, some of the guys on that list got hurt, but so did Shohei Ohtani and Garrett “MRI Frequent Flyer” Richards. There’s no guarantees. The point is that while Eppler keeps banging the “need pitching” drum, he keeps missing the beat when it comes to getting it.
Doubt that? Take a look at Eppler’s record of signing of starters of note:
The Angels have as big a wallet as anybody; lord knows they’ve pumped enough money into holes like Vernon Wells, Gary Matthews Jr, and Albert Pujols, whose hamstrings will arrive at his Hall of Fame induction in a separate car. They have no problems chasing bats, why not arms?
That question leaves us Angels fans with our turn at “What now?” We don’t know who will be the next manager, we don’t know what Billy Eppler intends to do about his wish for pitching, and let’s be honest…this team is much closer to the Rangers than it is to Seattle, Oakland, or Houston.
If you’re an Angel fan under 30, you may not remember the times when this franchise was truly awful; you have no idea of the mid-70s when the Angels had two of the best pitchers in baseball (Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana) and still struggled to win 75 games.
If you’re an Angel fan older than that but not quite 40, you might remember the 16-year post-season drought between the 1986 “Donnie Moore eventually kills himself” American League Championship Series and the 2002 World Series win; a span punctuated by the epic 1995 15-game division-title losing collapse to the Mariners.
If you’re an Angel fan my age, you can clearly see this is a cross-roads for this team. On one hand, this could be the dawn of a new age in which The Angels emerge from a decade of mediocrity to rejoin baseball’s elite. I’d love to have the optimism to think that’s going to be the case. I have one of those nagging voices in my head which is saying Mike Scioscia is walking away because he doesn’t trust Billy Eppler.
I understand that, because I’m not sure I do either.
Frankly, I think Scoiscia was the roadblock to what Eppler has intended to do all along. I think he’s looking toward a day when he can get this team out from under the DiPoto legacy, shed the big-buck deals and start over. If you’re an Angels fan of any age, you know for which that is “code.”
If I’m right, that means this “lifetime contract” stuff for Mike Trout is a smoke-screen of the first order. If he’s not going to re-sign the best player in the history of the franchise, he’s got to have a reason to trade him, lest Angels fan storm the stadium bearing torches and pitchforks. That alone is a pretty damn good reason, but from a strictly baseball perspective, Eppler can’t risk getting nothing for Mike Trout by letting him walk el freebo in free agency.
In other words, start preparing now just in case I’m right. Stock up on drinking water, canned goods, and getting a few guns might not be a bad idea. The Angels’ apocalypse is looming. If this “lifetime contract” thing doesn’t materialze, or if there isn’t a deal past 2020, Mike Trout is getting traded at the 2019 trade deadline…my money is on Philadelphia.
By the way fellow Angels fans…when you are buying those guns, don’t forget to pick up plenty of ammo as well. The Angel-ocalypse is coming, and It’s not going to be pretty.
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