Mike Scioscia has memes, especially around these parts. There are the cliches ("Turn the page", "tip your cap"), the predilection of playing veterans, the love of roles (and its food-based meme cousin Mike Scioscia Loves Rolls), the unflinching disregard for batting order optimization, and the list goes on and on. Familiarity breeds contempt, and if you want any evidence of that fact, then those memes are here to serve. 16 seasons with a club will do that. But perhaps the most grating (and that's saying a lot) meme of the Mike Scioscia-Angels Era is the team's often-discussed, heavily-derided slow starts out of the gate.
April is a weird month for baseball, because it's a time ripe with ultimate Spring Training buildup and excitement, only to then be quickly cooled off by real pitching and real game scenarios that bring us all back down to reality. Some teams will have no problem getting off to hot starts. The Angels are not one of those teams. In his tenure with the Halos, Mike Scioscia-led teams have floundered at the start of the season more often than they've flourished.
|Year||Division standings at end of April||W-L at end of April||Season outcome|
|2000||2nd||13-13||3rd in West|
|2001||3rd||10-15||3rd in West|
|2002||3rd||11-14||WC, World Series champs|
|2003||3rd||13-14||3rd in West|
|2004||2nd||13-10||AL West Champs|
|2005||1st||13-11||AL West Champs|
|2006||3rd||12-13||2nd in West|
|2007||1st||15-11||AL West Champs|
|2008||1st||18-11||AL West Champs|
|2009||4th||9-12||AL West Champs|
|2010||T-1st||12-12||3rd in West|
|2011||2nd||15-12||2nd in West|
|2012||4th||8-15||3rd in West|
|2013||4th||9-17||3rd in West|
|2014||3rd||14-13||AL West Champs|
|2015||2nd||11-11||3rd in West|
Yep, Mike Scioscia's teams just don't like to get hot in April, which is a bummer because a few of these seasons really came down to the wire. It's confounding how a team can go into the regular season on the heels of a ultra-hot Spring, and then totally trip over their own feet right out of the gate. But that's a testament to how little stock we should put into Spring Training output; any baseball fan worth their salt should already know that. But it also screams a lack of urgency on Scioscia's part.
The guy has tenure and isn't going anywhere, but neither is his meh April record, either. Since taking the Angels manager job in 2000, Scioscia has an April record of 196-204....sub .500 and that ain't good. As you can see above, a slow start, which I'll count as .500 and anything below, becomes an albatross around the team's neck going into the rest of the season. Only two teams, 2009 and 2002, have managed to shake off a slow start and finish with a division win. That's out of ten seasons total where, by the April 30th mark, they were sitting at .500 or below.
We say it every year now, it seems: Mike Scioscia and the Angels' slow starts hamstring the team from the get go. This is the Mike Scioscia meme that needs to die; the meme that consistently has us waiting til May 1st or later to see a competitive Angels team show up.
It seems pretty simple: Start off with a winning April, and you'll probably win the division. But that's easier said than done, even with the most talented of Angels squads. What do you think is the cause of this lackadasical early-season offerings? Lack of urgency or too relaxed of an atmosphere? Too serious of an atmosphere? Mike knows better than anybody else, but whatever his approach and/or demeanor is going into Opening Day, perhaps it'd be worth it to tweak it or do something different.
It's only been two games of the 2016 season, and it's almost comical to see some fans already throwing in the towel. But I'd be lying if I said that same resentment and fear for this team didn't reside somewhere deep inside of me. Two games out of 162, but they're already playing to an all too familiar tune, and the only respite from the routine underperforming comes in the form of "hey, the 2002 Angels started out like this, too!".
Fighting memes with memes; look what you've made me resort to, Mike Scioscia.