By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer
When Mike Scioscia won his 1000th game, a lot was said about what a milestone that was. There were many articles written reflecting on his tenure of the team, covering all the highlights of the past decade.
But to me, Scioscia’s 1,000th victory wasn’t the biggest milestone of his managerial career. For me, last night’s victory, the 1,001st was much more important.
No, this isn't going to be some rant about whether the millennium started in the year 2000 or 2001. It's not going to be a technical piece. Instead, it's going to be an optimistic piece about the Angels' future.
When Mike Scioscia took over the reins for the Angels, he inherited a team built entirely different from the way he wanted it to run. He had plenty of power but little in the way of speed or pitching.
Over the next few years, Scioscia molded the team into what he wanted: a team that put pressure on the defense. A team that went from first to third regularly. A team that manufactured runs and had strong starting pitching to keep the games close. A bullpen that worked like a conveyor belt to shut down the opposition. A team that could turn the page on a loss or a tragedy and move on to win the next game. Basically, the type of team that we have now: the type of team that plays Angels' baseball.
In last night’s victory, Scioscia's 1,001st, we saw all the elements of Angels baseball come together. Last night’s victory came after the Angels had been shutout and last badly. More importantly, it came after Vernon Wells had been injured, sapping a source of power for the lineup.
In typical Scioscia fashion, he got the team to turn the page on the night before. He cobbled together a lineup that included Howie Kendrick playing LF for the first time in his career. He got a great pitching performance from Pineiro and the team played great defense. The offense manufactured runs, running the bases well and putting pressure on the defense. In short, it was the definition of Angels’ baseball.
In choosing to acknowledge Scioscia’s 1,001st victory, it’s a statement of optimism. As a fan, I’m excited to see what the next decade under Scioscia will bring. While I don’t always agree with all of his decisions, I love the stability he brings to the team. Knowing that he is on a 10-year contract excites me--it means that his style of play and his level of success will continue.
As a fan, I can’t help getting excited about this organization. Angels’ baseball is now part of every level in the organization. It affects the draft. It affects signings and trades. You can see it played at Orem and at Salt Lake. Talking with Minor Leaguers, they know what they have to do to earn a promotion in this organization. They know that they will have to earn a spot on the Major League roster. And, they know if they succeed at it, they will get a shot.
Imagine how the next decade will go when Scioscia has Trout, Segura, Conger, Bourjos, Trumbo, Cowart, Grichuk, Amarista, Chatwood, Walden, Richards, Reckling, Martinez-Mesa, Berg, Kohn, Geltz, etc. all playing for the team. He will have speed and power. He will have BA and patience. He will have quality starters and relievers. He will field a team with strong defense. And it will all be home-grown, forged in Angels’ baseball tradition from the time they were drafted.
The Angels are on the verge of a major wave of talent rising up to the Major Leagues. We are already seeing some of that talent in Amarista, Bourjos, Chatwood, Conger, Trumbo, and Walden. That talent is doing more than holding its own. It’s succeeding, and playing a major role in the team’s success this year. Already several of those players have displaced veterans, many of whom have been far more expensive. As they develop, they will allow the team to hold onto key players such as Weaver and Haren so that the Angels will continue their dominance.
One thousand wins is a milestone worth celebrating. It was a great chance to reflect on all that has happened under Scioscia’s tenure. He brought forth the golden age of Angels’ baseball.
One thousand and one wins is something to look forward to. The golden age of Angels baseball shows no signs of letting up. To paraphrase Spinal Tap, that’s one better, isn’t it?