I have long maintained that Mike Scioscia of YOUR...Anaheim Angels is the best manager in not just baseball, but in all of sports. Every season he fields consistently competitive teams, regardless of the personnel. Even more impressively, every single one of these teams, no matter how many wins they end up or how far they advance in the postseason, play the exact same way - with hustle, passion and respect. Sure, the Red Sox have consistently won since 2003, but how would you characterize some of those teams? Did Manny Ramirez or Pedro Martinez exemplify class? Has anyone ever spoken of Daisuke or JD Drew and said "damn, those guys are gamers?" Scioscia might not have as many rings as Terry Francona, but he damn sure held his team to a higher standard than a lot of other, more successful organizations. The Angels stay out of the headlines, play as hard as they can and WIN. I can't say that about too many franchises in North American sports.
But the winning doesn't just stop with Mike. Watching the Yankees-Brewers game last night, I was reminded that Ron Roenicke, former Third Base and bench coach for Scioscia, is now the manager for the Milwaukee (or, as it's known in Algonquin, "The Good Land") Brewers and has that squad in first place in the NL Central. Not too shabby for a first year manager.
Roenicke is just one of the 3 current coaches of Scioscia's 2002 World Series Champion Angels that manage in the majors right now. Joe Maddon, the 2002 bench coach, has been the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays since 2006. Bud Black, who was the pitching coach in 2002, has served as the skipper for the San Diego Padres since 2007.
Having three guys on your squad become managers is a pretty impressive statistic in itself. But hey, anyone can manage. Tommy Lasorda just yelled nonsense and ate chocolate malts for 20 years and somehow won 4 pennants and 2 titles. Let's take a look at their managerial records since they left Anaheim:
Mike Scioscia (2000 to current): 1021-842
Joe Maddon (2006 to current): 427-423
Bud Black (2007 to current): 354-377
Ron Roenicke (2011 to present): 44-36
Total Record: 1846 - 1678, a .523 winning percentage
To put that in perspective, one of the winningest managers in the history of the game, Joe Torre, has a .538 winning percentage. Pretty incredible.
Beyond the stats, anyone who pays attention to Anaheim, Tampa Bay, San Diego or Milwaukee baseball (there's got to be at least two...no, three dozen of you out there) will tell you that these 4 managers are amongst the best in the game. Roenicke looks like he could be taking the Brewers to only (and amazingly) their 4th playoff appearance in nearly 41 seasons. Bud Black led a garbage San Diego Padres squad that finished 22nd in runs scored and 27th in OPS to within one game of unseating the future World Champion San Francisco Giants from a playoff spot. He won the 2010 NL Manager of the Year award for the job he did. In his 5 seasons with Tampa, Joe Maddon has coached the team to it's 3 winningest seasons, on track for number 4 (in fairness, they never won more than 70 games before he got there). He won the 2008 AL Manager of the Year award for getting the Rays to their first World Series.
Scioscia's story is better documented. After a pennant-filled career with YOUR...Los Angeles Dodgers, Scioscia started his coaching tenure with the Angels in 2000, and has remained in that post ever since. In 10 seasons, he's taken the Angels to 6 postseasons, winning the 2002 World Series and completely changing the culture of what was one of the most mediocre and underachieving franchises in the majors. When I was growing up, the Angels were an absolute joke - akin to the Los Angeles Clippers or the New Jersey Nets. The "little brother" team that could never quite overcome the stigma of being in the shadow of the "big brother" Los Angeles Dodgers. Scioscia, along with new owner Arte Moreno, changed that perception 180 degrees, to the point where you could potentially call the Angels the premiere baseball franchise in all of Southern California. In a sporting world where managers are hired and fired every couple years, Scioscia is the longest tenured coach in the American League (2nd in the Majors next to Tony La Russa) and just secured a contract extension that will last until the 2018 season. Nowhere in baseball does any coach have a contract like that. For all his work, Scioscia has won two AL Manager of the Year trophies, in 2002 and 2009.
I can't speak to exactly what makes everyone who works around and under Mike Scioscia so great - I'm only a simple blogger, who despite all of his great, great greatness, is so far away from actual clubhouse knowledge. But it seems that he's one of those rare managers that can communicate with meathead baseball players and actually is smart enough to know what he's doing. Good thing the Dodgers hired this guy 10 years ago!