If you’ve been around this site at all this season (and since you’re reading this, it’s a good bet you have), you’ll know I’m the resident Mike Scioscia apologist. I am his flag bearer, his bannerman, his excuse maker, his defender, his supporter, his lover, his fanboy, his drummer boy, his bro, his internet campaign manager…wait, did I say lover? Never mind. You get the picture. I think he’s a good manager.
I feel like he hasn’t gotten enough credit from people for the way he’s managed the clubhouse throughout the years and all of the success he’s had on the field with the franchise. Several attempts by respected analysts to quantify managerial influence have agreed with this assessment. I acknowledge, grudgingly, that he may have lost a step or two over the years, and he’s stubbornly refused to alter his decision-making processes until it’s abundantly clear that he needs to, but hey, he’s a guy who’s had success managing in certain ways, and it’s understandable that many people in those circumstances would be reluctant to abandon the methods they’ve effectively employed for a decade.
Commenters here have railed on his bullpen use, his over-reliance on veterans, his blindness toward crippling flaws in catchers whose defense he approves of (and conversely, his blindness toward positive contributions from catchers who may not fit his preferred defensive mold), his continued play of guys who clearly have lost their ability to contribute, and his meddling in the affairs of the front office. I have provided counterpoints to ALL of those criticisms at some point in this or past seasons. Scioscia’s not perfect, but I feel he has legitimate, supportable reasons for most of the things he does, and I promise you that I’ve argued in good faith. I’ve been persistent with those arguments to the point of annoying plenty of people.
I’m here to tell you that it’s over. I’m done. Thanks for all you’ve done, Sosh, but you’ve lost it. Take your lasagna-eating, defensive-catcher-loving ways, and go.
When Kendrys Morales singled with two outs in the ninth inning last night, I was pleased. We had a one-run lead over our division rivals and it would be nice if we could get one more run to pad that lead. I said out loud, "Alright, bring in the pinch runner." I knew Peter Bourjos would probably come in for defensive purposes, so he wouldn’t be available unless we wanted to lose the DH spot, but Howie Kendrick and Vernon Wells were both on the bench. There was no reason NOT to bring them in. But no pinch runner was forthcoming.
Well, Callaspo was up, and even though he hit a double earlier in the game, he’s not really a power hitter, so chances are if Callaspo gets on base, it will be a walk or a single, and no runner would be able to score on that (except Mike Trout, but I digress). While I don’t agree with it, I guess you don’t want to burn a bench player needlessly. Alberto Callaspo hit a single, Morales went to second base. "Okay, NOW bring in the pinch runner." No pinch runner. What the hell is going on here? You’ve got a singles hitter up in Maicer Izturis, you’ve got the slowest man in baseball on second base, you’ve got a one run lead in the ninth inning against one of the best hitting teams in baseball…what the #*&@ are you waiting for? PINCH RUN DAMMIT.
The single that followed where Morales got thrown out at the plate (whether he was actually out or not is irrelevant to this discussion) was eminently predictable. No non-Molina in baseball would have been thrown out on that play, except for Morales. The bloodbath that occurred in subsequent innings just felt like painful cosmic justice for a simple decision botched so spectacularly. The Angels should have woken up this morning with a two game deficit, a chance to sweep their rivals on the road in a four game series, and a lot of momentum. Because of Scioscia’s idiocy, they wake up with none of those. And I wake up in a frothing rage. I thought it would dissipate in the night. As it turns out, I’m still seething.
So here is my pledge, HH brethren. No more will you see me defend the merits of our venerable clubhouse king. Oh it’s possible he’ll make some tactical decisions I agree with, and others may voice their disagreement, but I will not offer any opposition. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just as likely he got lucky as he knew what he was doing. I am done carrying that particular torch. In light of this, some may welcome my change of heart, others may call me a hypocrite. Either response is fair. I'm an Angels fan, and always will be. I will root for my team fervently, even in the face of poor decision-making. But no more Scioscia love from me. For those who continue to believe in our esteemed manager, I wish you no ill will, but I must leave your ranks. I hope your continued faith proves more founded than mine.