By Glen McKee, Senior Scioscia Waffler -
In case you missed the reference, my title isn’t about the supposed difficulty of spelling Scioscia’s name. It’s a tribute to the coolest fictional character of my youth, Arthur Fonzarelli:
Yeah, I know, in retrospect it’s weird that I thought Fonzie was cool, when his “office” was a diner bathroom and he always wore a leather jacket, even during the summer. That’s beside the point. What I now share with the Fonz is difficulty in admitting I was (perhaps) wrong. Fonzie was loathe to admit he was wron…wror…not right about anything, and I’m resistant to admitting I may have been wrong about Mike Scioscia.
For a few years now I’ve been, if not actively calling for him to be fired, saying I would be OK with him being let go to bring a new perspective to the team. A few things have happened recently to make me rethink my position, and while I still wouldn’t mind seeing him go at the end of the season I also realize that might not make for a better team.
The first cause of the reexamination of my position was the Royals making the WS last season. Prior to that Ned Yost was generally considered to be a terrible manager. Worse than Scioscia, even, by some on the AngelsWin board. Hard to imagine, but true. Yost made terrible in-game decisions, didn’t seem to have a discernable philosophy, and appeared to be playing out the string until he was fired.
And then his team went to the World Series. Now he’s secure and respected in his job. Amazing what winning will do. It makes you realize that sometimes a manager is the cause of his success and other times he’s just riding a wave.
One of the most vociferous objections to Scioscia is how he sticks with veterans too long. We thought we finally saw an end to that last year when Ibanez was given the boot in early May, although that may have been more the GM than the manager. We’re seeing it now with Joyce. Fans are reactionary, myself included. This is a Scioscia failing we’ve witnessed way too often and have a hard time turning the page on it.
Then I was listening to MLB Network this afternoon, and they were talking about a particular manager and how it’s well-known that this manager sticks with veterans too long, sometimes to the determent of the team. It was one of those few moments when I found myself agreeing with Jim Bowden (something about a broken clock twice a day). However, the manager he was talking about was Bruce Bochy, he of the gimpy eye and several World Series championships. Casey Stern agreed with Bowden, making it official: Bruce Bochy loves veterans too much.
I thought this was a Scioscia-only failing and was a bit surprised to learn that not only Angels fans feel this way about their skipper. I’m more of an Angels fan than a baseball fan; I don’t mind watching other games but they don’t have much appeal to me. I know a lot about this team but not much about any other; the AngelsWin has made me even more insular. Jim Bowden made me realize that my managerial complaint was not unique, and that led to me wondering if Scioscia is really that bad of a skipper.
Sure, he’s frustrating. He bats a guy with one HR in the cleanup spot. He sticks with veterans too long. He makes questionable substitutions and non-substitutions. Sometimes, though, it pays off. In the first game against Colorado he opted not to pinch-run for Pujols in the bottom of the eighth, and Pujols stole second and went on to score the winning run. It was startling. That could have been luck, but if I blame Scioscia when things go wrong I have to give him credit when things go right. So much of baseball is just about luck, and about players performing to their averages. Managing doesn’t do much for either of those. Luck does favor the prepared, but it also favors fools way too often. Players perform both above and below their averages.
Having said all that – it sure does seem like this team under Scioscia often starts out cold, with the bulk of the offense looking incredibly inept. Is that a management flaw, or is it just a fluke? Maybe six of one, a half-dozen of the other.
If you questioned the fans of every team, they would point out the perceived flaws of their managers, as well as the players and the GM. Would they be correct? To some extent yes, but to a large extent it seems like they would be no different than us lamenting Scioscia.
I’m not saying I’m in love with Scioscia. That would be an abusive relationship and I’m too old for that crap. I’m not even in like with him. I’m like the old couple that has been married for 20 years or so and knows what each other is going to do and even while it annoys the hell out of them they put up with it. I know what Scioscia brings to the relationship and he’s gonna continue to piss me off more than occasionally, but he’s my manager and I’m sticking with him.
Until the trophy wife comes along. When that happens I’m dropping Scioscia like a used rubber. ‘Til then…