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Angels, Scioscia should be embarrassed

Oct 26, 2009, 12:47 AM EDT

The Yankees didn’t overpower them. Just once in the series did the Bombers really come out to play and turn a game into a rout. No, the Yankees were the better team going in and should have won this series anyway, but the Angels served it up on a platter.
Most notable were the eight errors, all of them legitimate and several of them costly. Even uglier were the mistakes on the basepaths, none more hideous than Vladimir Guerrero getting doubled on a routine fly to shallow right on Sunday. The hitters got less and less patient as the series went on. Only the pitching remained solid, but it was given so little to work with.
And while the players lost the series, Mike Scioscia’s star definitely lost some luster. Given the chance, he practically always went against the percentages and he had several decisions come back to bite him. And while Scioscia can’t control what happens on the field, the fact is that the team that he had a huge hand in assembling went out and choked. The Angels play the kind of baseball that old vets and writers lap up, but the fundamentals went right out the window against the Yankees.
Oddly enough, it turned out that the player the Angels are all ready to phase out was the star of the series. Guerrero went 10-for-27 with a homer and five RBI against the Yankees. He previously delivered the series-clinching hit against the Red Sox, and he ended up collecting at least one hit in all nine of the Angels’ postseason games. Unfortunately, Sunday’s baserunning blunder might be remembered at least as much as anything else he did against the Yankees.
Many other Angels wilted. The team totaled just three homers in the series, and the running game was pretty much a non-factor, even if Erick Aybar did go 3-for-3 stealing bases (the rest of the team was 1-for-2). Scott Kazmir struggled mightily in his start and threw away the Angels’ chances of a comeback win in Game 6 with a careless toss in his relief appearance. Chone Figgins was the biggest goat on offense, but the Angels should have been prepared for that going in.
Because Guerrero and Alex Rodriguez shined in the ALCS, Figgins perhaps now stands alone when it comes to active postseason futility. He did score one of the team’s runs Sunday after a flare to left off Mariano Rivera that barely eluded Derek Jeter’s glove. That’s about as close to hitting with authority as he came all month. He hit .130 against the Yankees, and he’s at .172/.223/.246 in 122 career postseason at-bats. Scioscia refusal to move him down after so many awful plate appearances hurt the team.
But if standing by Figgins was Scioscia’s worst sin, he would have had a fine series. Scioscia was handed what was essentially a lifetime contract from the Angels prior to this year, and he’s certainly not going to lose his job over a poor series. However, the regular-season success will only go so far.
Scioscia loves ignoring the numbers and playing favorites, and because his clubs keep winning, he gets the benefit of the doubt. It’s something that could begin to change if the October results don’t turn around. Scioscia’s teams have averaged 95 wins the last six years, yet are 2-5 in postseason series. The Angels should have more than the steroid-fueled 2002 championship to show for all of their recent success.

  1. Brian - Oct 26, 2009 at 1:44 AM

    No doubt the Angels played badly, but your shot at their 2002 win is ridiculous and a cheap shot. Not only did they beat Mr. Steroids, aka Barry Bonds, I challenge you to find a single team from the 90s through today that is/was completely clean.

  2. Bert - Oct 26, 2009 at 2:00 AM

    Matthew, Vlad’s base running mistake was on a shallow fly to right, not left.

  3. Matthew Pouliot - Oct 26, 2009 at 2:02 AM

    Oh, I doubt any of them were clean. But my guess is that 2002 Angels and the 2001 Diamondbacks had the highest ratio of dirty to clean players of any of the champions.
    But the 2002 Giants were likely even dirtier, so the Angels did have that going for them, I suppose.

  4. Matthew Pouliot - Oct 26, 2009 at 2:03 AM

    Of course it did. Thanks for the fix.

  5. Matthew Pouliot - Oct 26, 2009 at 2:06 AM

    Oh, and because I know it will be brought up, yes, the umpires should be mighty embarrassed as well.

  6. DougTucson - Oct 26, 2009 at 2:13 AM

    The commentary on the game/team is fair game, but the steroid crack was unnecessary and out-of-place. As for Scioscia, he managed a good but not great team to a better record than it figured to have, so I think a bit more credit is due.

  7. GimmeSomeSteel - Oct 26, 2009 at 2:15 AM

    Why give a free pass to the four Yankee WS winners in the five years before 2001, probably the height of the steroid era? Do you have evidence that they were clean?

  8. James Waterberry - Oct 26, 2009 at 3:14 AM

    Hey Matt, you gonna mention any of the Yankees over the last couple years that we KNOW where on steroids or just gonna through around silly accusations?

  9. sri - Oct 26, 2009 at 3:15 AM

    Mike Scioscia has been living off of the World Series team. Even during the year they won he wasn’t very good at making decisions, such as routinely using scott shoenweiss, even though he sucked big time (bandwagon fans won’t remember this). The World Series didn’t win due to his managing skills, it was the year where everyone had above average years at the same time. Pre-bandwagon fans will remember that one year we’d have a good offense and horrible pitching and then the next year would be the exact opposite. So finally it all came together and we had a lot of come from behind wins. I agree that Scioscia is really not the manager that the media makes him out to be. Being overly aggressive sounds as if it’s proper baseball, but it really isn’t. Being overly aggressive leads to turnovers in basketball and no one would call that old school, proper way to play the game, yet in baseball when they are overly aggressive on the basepaths it’s called good baseball. It’s fine to have certain players do different things on the basepaths due to their skills, but not the whole team, cuz then you end up w/ vlad always trying to make it to the third when he should stay at second. This series, the problem was scioscia actually went w/ the percentages too many times instead of evaluated his personnel properly, i.e. Lackey being better versus Tex instead of Oliver, even if it forces Tex to bat righty. The fact that he can’t evaluate makes him no better than a computer or some stat geek from running the team. Since scioscia obviously won’t be fired, I hope he is held accountable to rethink his baseball philosophy. If players are asked to adjust to be better every year so should a manager.

  10. CS - Oct 26, 2009 at 3:22 AM

    Yanks deserved that win. Now onto the World Series !!

  11. yankeelandintampa - Oct 26, 2009 at 3:47 AM

    I give credit to a great Angels team but the Yankees were the better team this time around. The world series will once again go thru New York, and the the Yankees will prevail.

  12. jasmemphis - Oct 26, 2009 at 4:05 AM

    The Yankees were really something, weren’t they? Good games. The Angels didn’t play well at all. It was as though they didn’t really have any interest in winning. It was a total disappointment to see them play in this series. It’ll be interesting to see Philadelphia do battle with the Yankees. Pretty well matched, I’d say.

  13. jim - Oct 26, 2009 at 4:07 AM

    Matt you’re an idiot

  14. broccoli rob - Oct 26, 2009 at 4:16 AM

    01 dbacks the dirtiest? are you for real? there is no way you typed that with a straight face. yankees fans *still* upset they lost that one.

  15. zero - Oct 26, 2009 at 4:23 AM

    This series proves baseball is fixed.Bad calls,bad baserunning,bad fielding,big paychecks.

  16. roleston - Oct 26, 2009 at 4:37 AM

    The angel fans are the worst fans of any sport, I’m glad the yankees beat them. They make me sad to be a so cal resident. 90% of them will ignore the fact that they played horrible ball (as described in this article) and are going to instead discuss things like salary, steroids and time off between games. What a bitter bunch they are.
    And as for yankee fans, where are all the people that were ready to hang Girardi by the neck yesterday? Yankees lose 2 games to a good team like the angels and everyone wanted Girardi dead.

  17. Various_Authors - Oct 26, 2009 at 6:22 AM

    Really, zero? Fixed? Did you see how many games on the last two days of the season between teams going absolutely nowhere went 11 to 15 innings? If baseball was in ANY way fixed, someone would have ordered their pitcher to throw up a homerun ball and get those games over with. Jerk.

  18. r mela - Oct 26, 2009 at 6:58 AM

    Yanks in 4

  19. Brenda - Oct 26, 2009 at 7:15 AM

    I think the Angels won more games than it should have this season, especially given the fact that its SP was really below average. Kazmir _____ all season. Saunders won a bunch of games while posting a high ERA. Figgins should have been bussed down in the order this posteason, given his history.
    Time off between games can work for or against a team. Had the Angels done well we’d be talking about how fresh they were.
    This year, the difference in talent among all of the teams was glaring. Half the teams were swept.

  20. Brenda - Oct 26, 2009 at 7:18 AM

    …and, ah, I’ve been wanting to get this in for a while: Figgins parents obviously can’t spell. C-H-O-N-E rhymes with phone–not John.

  21. Jay - Oct 26, 2009 at 7:38 AM

    Thank you, Brenda. That bugs me to no end and the world keeps on turning as if it’s okay. It’s not okay. It’s not. How does one say, with a straight face, “Actually, it’s pronounced SHAWN?”

  22. Kyle - Oct 26, 2009 at 7:42 AM

    Not really an Angels fan here, but still shocked at that unprofessional closing line to your article. Scanning the 2002 Angels’ roster, there are a few players that jumped out at me (e.g., Troy Glaus), but I don’t see any evidence to justify singling out that team as being more juiced than others at the time. A loaded claim like that should be explained with evidence, rather than sneakily tucked away as a low-blow last line of an article. An even still, I don’t think it’s appropriate or possible to try to determine the various levels of “juicedness” among different teams in that era.

  23. Tom - Oct 26, 2009 at 7:53 AM

    First thing I would like to say is congrats to the Yankee team…one more series to go…secondly, get over the steriod thing, real fans know it nothing more then a witch hunt and a way to sell news….how much coffee or alcohol or cigarettes, which all could be considdered a drugs, are on their breath when writing their articals on drug use in sports…get off the band wagon and start thinking for yourselves and stop letting the main stream media do your thinking for you…who really cares what players did back in the past when steroids were no big deal….from this point on, is a totally new subject, times change and we have to change with them….so, get over it and let’s get on with the future.

  24. Fecteau - Oct 26, 2009 at 8:20 AM

    Hey, don’t feel bad. The Washington Capitals has a player on the team that’s first name is spelled Shaone, which I would have thought was Shane, or Shay-On, and its friggen Shawn…

  25. Taco - Oct 26, 2009 at 8:33 AM

    The Angels are pathetic, painful to watch. They seem very content with losing. How did the Red Sox lose to this team?

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