The last couple of months have been like the Huey Lewis and the News hit “If This Is It.” The chorus to this song, “if this is it, please let me know,” popped into my head many a time as the future of Mike Scioscia was discussed the last couple of months.
I just wanted to know. We all did. No we do.
This is it. Mike Scioscia, the man who has led the Angels for 19 of my 42 years on this Earth. The man who led the Angels to more success than any other manager. The man who assembled arguably the greatest coaching staff in modern baseball history. The only manager to raise a World Series trophy over his head while wearing an Angels jersey is gone.
But I don’t want him to be gone. Not for good. Life is complicated with very few certainties, but I am certain of two things:
- Mike Scioscia needed to be replaced as manager. The game has passed him by.
- The Angels are a better organization with Mike Scioscia in it.
The second line might come as a bit of a surprise as I’ve been labeled a Scioscia basher for years. Yes, I’ve criticized his decision making countless times. I’ve even compared him to a guy who loses the farm at the blackjack table because he’ll hit without knowing the odds.
But I’ve met the man a few times, know people in his circle, and know the man making those decisions is a great, albeit not perfect, one. That man has meant a ton to this organization, and I want him to stay an Angel for life.
I can divide my time as an Angel fan into two segments: before Mike and with Mike. I’d prefer not to add an “after Mike.” At least not entirely.
My first encounter with Mike Scioscia was at a barbecue in Tempe in 2007. I had booked my first Spring Training trip through the Angels web site and was granted two tickets to a post game meal with coaches and players. My dad and I went to the designated area anticipating a quick bite and not much more. We were wrong.
Mike Scioscia held court before the Angels served a solid meal. He answered questions, he signed autographs for literally every person who asked. He stayed after his meal and simply hung out with us normal folks. And it wasn’t an act, he was enjoying himself.
I don’t remember if he was drinking water or a beer, but he talked to my dad, myself and Mickey Hatcher while the three of us had a beer. I’d told him I just missed him at FanFest a few weeks earlier and he talked about what a fun, crazy day that was.
The next time I met him was on the field at Fan Appreciation day. He took a picture with my then girlfriend, now wife, and shook my hand. I reminded him I met him at the barbecue, he seemed to recognize me, and then move on to other groups. Again, every person who wanted an autograph got one. Every person who wanted a picture got one.
As I became more entrenched in Orange County and somehow ended up on an email list for the Angels foundation, I’ve seen Mike appear at countless charity events and take endless photos with fans. I’ve run into him in Tempe several times and seen him sign autographs and take pictures when there was no media around.
He’s promoted the Angels simply by being accessible and being a great guy. Grassroots and genuine.
In the business world, I have encountered many people who have had contact with Mike in many different forms: business, church, neighbor, etc. Normally when discussing a person of note you hear something negative at some point. Not with Mike.
Every single person who has encountered him has relayed a positive experience. I’m sure somewhere there’s somebody who ran into him on a bad day. I know he’s not perfect, but I have yet to hear one “he thinks he’s a big shot” story.
Arte Moreno prides himself on bringing in players of character, players who give back to the community. Albert Pujols is a shining example. Torii Hunter was, too. And for all the grief we give the Vernon Wells trade, Wells is a class act with a huge charity to boot.
Arte Moreno loves Mike Scioscia. They have a genuine friendship. Their wives are friends.
I know the wound to Mike is still fresh and might take some time to heal. But when it does, I’d love nothing more than to see a first pitch thrown out by Mike Sciocia, Head of Community Relations for our Angels.
I’d love to see him continuing to go to CHOC. I’d love to see him walking around Spring Training taking pictures and signing autographs. I’d love for my son to meet him and get an autograph and a picture.
Hopefully this is it as Mike the Manager. I sincerely hope this isn’t it for Mike the Angel.