September 24, 2012

It's a matter of trust

This just in - Mike Scioscia doesn’t see the game of baseball the way you and I see it.

Thank God for that.

I find it absolutely ridiculous that a great many fans think they know more about how to manage a baseball game; let alone an entire team or organization better than the people already doing it. 

The way I see it, Fantasy Baseball has made fools of us all.  Yeah, that’s right – I think that just because some people play fantasy baseball and a few have success at it – they think they know everything there is to know about managing a lineup, putting together a roster, etc., etc.


Worse yet is the fan who played a little organized baseball or coached a little league team or touched the game in some way.  They too feel like given the opportunity, they could do a better job.

Right.  Sure thing.  Too bad you can’t see my eyes rolling into the back of my head right about now.

There are nuances and subtleties about baseball that you and I can’t possibly even fathom and every time we think we know more about the game than people like Mike Scioscia – someone should slap us upside the head.

That doesn’t mean that Mike Scioscia is perfect.  There is no such thing as a “perfect manager” in my opinion.  Face it – every fan base spends a certain amount of their time second-guessing the every move of the manager of their favorite team.  It’s what we do – it’s a part of the baseball fan culture.

So… when Arte Moreno came out over the weekend to let the world know that Mike Scioscia and for that matter – Jerry Dipoto would be back for next season, I let out a huge sigh of relief and I actually smiled. 

I can’t think of another person in this big ol’ world that I would rather see managing the Angels than Mike Scioscia.  I know that’s not the popular sentiment right now, but I’m not necessarily one to follow the crowd.

Does Scioscia make me crazy every now and then?  You bet.  Do I scratch my head and wonder why he does certain things?  All the time.

Here’s the thing – when I look at his entire body of work – how he carries himself as a human being (and not just as a manager), I feel good about Mike Scioscia, the man.  That’s where it all starts for me.  We can sit here and argue about the on-the-field decisions Mike makes from now until the cows come home and that’s all well and good; but for me it comes down to the fact that I trust Mike Scioscia to make what he believes is the best decision for the team.

Let me emphasize this – he’s making the best decision based on his body of knowledge of the game.  Not Arte Moreno’s, not Jerry Dipoto’s, not Joe Fan in the stands – not anyone else’s but his own.  When Scioscia goes to make a decision – he’s factored in everything he’s ever learned about the game and he definitely has a philosophy that he’s developed over the years.  I trust that process.

And guess what?  He’s accountable to those decisions.  He doesn’t point fingers or blame anyone else.  He owns his decisions.  I respect that.

Winning isn’t easy.  It shouldn’t be either.  If it was – it wouldn’t be so special.

I’m okay with Mike Scioscia failing every now and then because I believe he learns from his mistakes like all successful people do.  Again – winning isn’t easy; although, some fans look at a roster like the Angels’ and think that it should be.

Am I frustrated with the Angels 2012 campaign?  You better believe it.  But here’s the thing – my frustration is with the individual performances of some of the players and not Mike Scioscia.  I respect Scioscia’s ability to make decisions and I understand that he can’t control the outcome once he makes a decision – it's up to the player to execute.

When Scioscia took Zack Greinke out of the game in his last two starts and inserted Ernesto Frieri – the results were horrific.  Most fans saw that as the last straw and were ready to run Scioscia out of town. 

Not me.

Would I have taken Greinke out?  Probably not; but again, Scioscia doesn’t see the game the way you and I do.  There's a point there folks...

Zack Greinke can’t throw a complete game every time he goes to the mound.  Heck, one can even argue that he might not be able to do that even once a year.  He’s only had 12 complete games in 229 career starts and none since 2010.

Easy for us to sit back and say – Greinke should have pitched a complete game in his last two outings.  Perhaps he should have, but given what Scioscia knows about Greinke, he didn’t let him and I’m good with that. You might think you know better - but you don't.  Sorry, but you don't.

Did I like the outcome?  No.  Absolutely not.  I hated it.  

That being said, I can accept it and even understand it.  Every decision comes with risk.  I believe Scioscia weighed the risks and made his decision based on his knowledge of the game. The decision and the results are two separate things in my mind.

Is this starting to sink in yet?  You see - I'm comfortable with Mike Scioscia, the man and therefore; I'm comfortable with the decisions he makes. The results are almost irrelevant.  It's really that simple.

I’m betting that given the same set of circumstances in Greinke’s next game – Scioscia will bring in Frieri or someone else to close the game.  Not because he’s stubborn; not because he wants to prove a point, but because he wants to give his team the best chance to win the game.  I trust his motives and I trust them more than I do the popular opinion of the fans who think they know better.  It’s that simple for me.

When and if that time comes I know - fans will boo.  They will break furniture and cuss like sailors.  They will have a hissy fit like no other.  

Me on the other hand; I’ll be laughing (on the inside) and hoping the player executes the way he should.  If not – I’ll blame the player and not Scioscia because again, I trust his ability to make the right call.  Mike Scioscia didn’t ask to earn my trust, but he has it just the same.

You on the other hand... not so much. Just saying.

September 6, 2012

I still hate the A's, but I do love blogging

When it comes to the Angels I almost always have something to say; however, when it comes to blogging about it, I don’t always make the time.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want to write about them – it’s just that sometimes life has a way of getting in the way of all the things you want to do every day.

I have to admit that writing a blog and keeping it up is hard work.  I was reminded of that when I read a piece recently by one of my favorite writers – Joe Posnanski who wroteabout the passing of a long-time Atlanta Braves Blogger named MacThomason.

In his piece, Posnanski wrote about the difference between all the blogs that are out there “…the real difference between them is the commitment. Few last. The idea of writing every day about your favorite baseball team fits right into the ‘sounded good when I started’ category.”

How true.

I knew that going in.  My goal when I started was to have some staying power in this game and not fade into oblivion.  It hasn’t been easy.  When I go a few days or even a few weeks without posting, I feel guilty.  I feel like I’m letting a few loyal readers down.  I even get nudges every now and then when I don’t post.

So – today’s post is for those that nudge and in a small way for Mac Thomason who had a great deal of staying power – even in the midst of fighting for his life. 

When I started this blog, I started out by telling the world how much I hated theOakland A’s.  That first post took place nearly three years ago and as I write this today – it’s the A’s and my disdain for them that inspired me to blog now.

There are lots of disappointing things about this season and there are plenty of things that make me want to rant and scream, but the one thing that bothers me more than anything else is the fact that the Oakland A’s are in a pennant race.

Are you kidding me?

I would be perfectly happy if they faded into the darkness of never-never land and became absolutely irrelevant till the end of time.  No such luck.

Lucky for me – my Angels just swept the A's (to ease some of my pain) and if everything goes the way I hope – they’ll do the same thing in four games next week.  Now – that; would make me smile.

I’m not going to go back over all the reasons I don’t like the A’s – you can find that in my original post from 2009

Here’s what I have to say today about the A’s.  They’ve had a good run, but quite frankly – it’s time for it to end.  Billy Beane is not a genius and there isn’t going to be a miracle in Oakland this year.  I know the hordes of Beane admirers are hoping for something more, but it’s going to end soon.  It has to.

Look – believing in Billy Beane is only going to give you false hope.  Save yourself the agony and realize that although he’s made brought a lot of attention to sabermetrics – he hasn’t found all the answers and I’m guessing he isn’t going to. 

Don’t look at me like that.  I’m telling you the truth.  That team isn’t going to win a championship in the near future, period.  Their story might make for a good movie, but it makes for a lousy season.  Just saying.

By the way – if there are so many stinkin’ Billy Beane fans, why don’t they show up at home games?  They might as well rename the ball park Tombstone – because it’s as a dead as it gets.

Enough about the A’s.  I really want to talk about my Angels; our Angels.

I know they’re not out of the woods yet – but they’re showing signs of life.  I like it.  In fact, I love it.  Now, I know some of  you would much rather ignore the recent play and focus on all the bad stuff that has taken place all season long and to that I say…Meh... 

Even when I’m at my lowest point in a season – the last thing I want to do is sit around and complain about my team with other fans.  Sure, I’ll write about it – but to actually engage in that kind of a discussion with other people is about as appealing as being stung by a hundred hornets.

There are few things I dislike more than complaining about my favorite baseball team with other fans.  Even when I’m totally dissatisfied, I can’t stomach hearing complaints from other fans for some reason.  Angels talk with Terry Smith after an Angels’ loss is nauseating.  That old saying about "misery loving company" is lost on me.

So here’s the deal; I know it sounds cliché, but let’s just take things one game at a time.  Next up is the Detroit Tigers who in many ways mirror the Angels.  Here’s a team with a big payroll and huge expectations… they signed Prince Fielder to a monster contract, have some really solid pitching with guys like Justin Verlander and yet – by most people’s standards – they’ve under-achieved. 

The Angels post-season hopes have a lot riding on every game they play from here on out and with the Tigers and the A’s coming to town, I’ll be disappointed if the stadium isn’t rocking.  Our team is playing meaningful games in September and that’s what it’s all about.  Who’s with me?