Connie Mack. Tommy Lasorda. Whitey Herzog. Bobby Cox.
By simply reading those names, an avid baseball fan will be able to immediate associate one with a certain MLB franchise. All enjoyed long tenures, on field success, and came to represent the franchise as much as the players on the field. Often, even more than the constantly rotating cast of players on the field.
Prior to the year 2000, the Angels were devoid of such a manager. We had seen some good ones, some not so good ones, and plenty in between. Gene Mauch had two runs here in the 80s. Cookie Rojas was the first I remember. Terry Collins came along a while later. But none won a ring or was in town long enough to really become a franchise icon.
Then, in the year 2000, Mike Scioscia was brought on board. What followed has undoubtedly been the greatest run of success for the Angels franchise: a World Series title in 2002, 6 AL West Championships, and the best record in baseball in 2014.
In the midst of all that success came a contract extension signed in early 2009 that guaranteed Mike a place in the dugout through the 2018 season. After that contract was signed, the tables seemed to turn a bit.
Scioscia was cited as the de facto GM and one of the most powerful managers in the game. The playoff success vanished. There was serous debate about his usage, or non-usage, of the data his competitors were using against him. Like many long tenured managers, the honeymoon was over and the flaws started showing more as the losses mounted.
Scioscia was largely seen as the catalyst behind Jerry Dipoto’s abrupt resignation midway through the 2015 season. Suddenly, the gripes many Angels fans had with Scioscia became national news and he was often portrayed as a stubborn man who refused to jump on baseball’s analytic wagon.
But over the last couple of years, that no longer seems to be fully the case. Scioscia seems to work well with current GM Billy Eppler and embraces analytics to a far greater degree than in the past.
And now the long, sometimes rocky, often great run of Mike Scioscia as the manager of the Angels may be coming to an end. Yet nobody is talking about it.
The longest tenured manager in Major League Baseball enters the 2018 season with no guarantee he will return in 2019. The OC Register posted a measly one article on the subject back in October, and that is all I can find on the matter.
The Angels have made several moves to improve the future of the franchise. Billy Eppler has a contract for 2019. Mike Scioscia does not.
Does the silence indicate the Scioscia era is closing? Will Arte remain loyal? Or is this a prove it year for Mike?