This could have the makings of another Erstadian defeat.
Yesterday's match resulted in Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo defeating Wally Backman by the score of 47-19. He'll advance to face Darin Erstad in the quarterfinals.
Today, however, on a Sunday it's fitting that we bring two saints back to Anaheim. Well, one of them never left. In fact, he's been here since 2006. The other? Well, he's the reason our first combatant got a job here in 2006. Here we go!
DINO EBEL (LAA) vs. JOE MADDON (TBR)
Dino Ebel has been the Angels' third base coach since 2006, after serving as the manager of AAA Salt Lake in 2005. Before that, he was in the Dodgers organization for 17 consecutive years as a player, a coach, and a manager. He was a career minor leaguer in the Dodgers' farm system from 1988 to 1995, before becoming a full-time coach with AA San Antonio in 1996. 1997 saw him make his managerial debut, with High-A San Bernardino. He bounced between Great Falls and Yakima the following two seasons, before landing back in San Bernardino in 2000, leading the team to the California League title. He shifted to Class-A Wilmington the following year, and then to AA Jacksonville in 2002, leading them to a division title. He would stay there until 2004, when the Angels beckoned with the AAA opportunity, and later a coaching position. Ebel's position as third base coach has given us an opportunity to witness his leanings towards aggressive baserunning, suiting the likes of players such as Chone Figgins, Reggie Willits, and Mike Trout, our current cornerstone. His minor league managerial record of 531-496 translates to an 84-78 record over the course of a major league season, but does it accurately reflect the effect he'd have on the team? His preference for aggressive small ball seems to be lost on manager Mike Scioscia, who engineered it in Anaheim when he was a mere fledgling. Could Ebel's small-ball style be exactly what this team needs? And as a current coach, would he be able to command respect of the team, or simply be seen as a Scioscia figurehead?
Joe Maddon is, arguably so, the best manager in the game right now. What's worse, is that he was ours once upon a time. He even managed us on the interim--TWICE. One interesting story (the link to which I don't have, but it was posted on here) states that GM Bill Bavasi had the plan, after the 1996 season (Maddon's first interim stint) to bring in managerial legend Sparky Anderson on a three-year contract (a plan Sparky was completely behind), and retain Maddon as a bench coach and Anderson's heir apparent, so that once Anderson would retire after the end of the 1999 season, Maddon would ascend to manager. It came down to signatures and contracts, until then-team president Tony Tavares nixed the deal and brought in Terry Collins as manager instead, who would be ousted by a clubhouse mutiny in 1999. Who replaced him on the interim? Maddon. Who didn't get hired as manager after 1999? Maddon. Who did? Scioscia. Who was bench coach, still? Maddon. For six more seasons, in fact. Maddon accepted the job as manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays before the 2006 season, leaving the Angels organization after 31 years spent within it as a player, coach and manager. He has, in eight seasons as manager in Tampa Bay, lifted the team from losers to underdogs to favorites, having won the team two division titles, a wild card, and the 2008 American League pennant. Now, as the Angels have tumbled from center stage to the undusted, cobweb-filled wings backstage, would it even be possible to get Maddon to manage the team? A trade would be the only way--he's under contract with Tampa Bay through the end of next season--but could it be the missing piece of the formula for the Angels?
This will DEFINITELY be an interesting one--cast your ballots and discuss to the death!