When Mike Scioscia was first hired more than a decade ago, he was such an innovator. During an era of power, Sosh reintroduced the forgotten factors of the game: speed and small ball. The famous first-to-third took the league by storm, creating an aggressive nature seldom seen at the time. Outfielders couldn’t take any bloop singles for granted, and even if they didn’t, third base was frequently taken on any single. When the Angels came into town, every outfielder cringed because they knew for three straight nights, their senses needed to be on high alert. If the ball fell down on the outfield grass, the runner on first was definitely going to test them.
Sosh also thoroughly tested the infield with small ball. Sacrifice bunting multiple times a game to get a runner in scoring position was a method used nightly and opposing managers often had their third basemen come in with a runner on first. But, it still didn’t matter. As long as the ball was put on the ground, the runner was could be moved over.
Now as Angel fans we have grown accustomed to these plays because it has become the norm throughout the organization (and throughout the league, especially with former Angel coaches Joe Maddon and Bud Black with their own teams). Most players brought up through the system learns how to bunt, and not just bunt, but bunt well. In the Angel organization, aggressive baseball is the only baseball allowed.
But what has happened to these plays? It brought so much success for Sosh in the early and mid-part of the decade, why not now? It is this very question that sums up Mike Scioscia’s managerial style. After many years of innovation, Sosh’s managerial style has become redundant. He no longer thinks outside of the box, relying on pure talent, unorthodox lineups, and fluctuating rotation spots. We need the creative manager back who brought a whole new element to the game and took the league by storm. This innovation is lost, which is due to many reasons, but the most notable being his long-term contract.
There isn’t any manager/coach in any sport (with the only exception being Phil Jackson) who deserves a contract over ten years. Jackson has eleven championships; he deserves a contract that will last him his entire lifetime. But, Scioscia only has one championship on his resume (as a manager), why did Moreno feel the need to contractually lock him up for a decade?
This has been one of Arte Moreno’s only mistakes as an owner. Sure, you, me, and Moreno know that there is no other potential manager out there that can do a better job than Sosh, but Sosh doesn’t have to know that. Why not cut up Scioscia’s contract into three 2-3 year deals, just to put the question of job security in the back of his mind. Now with a deal that potentially goes until 2018, Sosh is getting way too comfortable inside the dugout. With guaranteed money for so many years, where’s the motivation? Where’s the innovation? Where’s the heart we saw all those years ago?
Now, understand that Mike Scioscia is the best manager in the game. It’s quite difficult trying to imagine another manager coaching the Angels. (Try it, my brain starts to hurt after 30 seconds). But, a question of baseball psychology must be brought up and thought about. If Sosh wasn’t so comfortable inside that Angel’s dugout right beside the third-base line, would he be more motivated?
And, ultimately would the Angels have been more successful?