Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Michael Lorri Scioscia (born November 27, 1958 in Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania) is a former catcher and current manager in Major League Baseball. He spent several years as a catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, taking over the position from Steve Yeager and earning World Series rings in 1981 and 1988.
Since 1999, he has served as the manager of the Angels of Anaheim, leading them to their first World Series championship in 2002, and their fourth American League West division title in 2004 (their first since 1986).
His coaching style is widely written about among the baseball press (especially in Southern California). It can be characterized by two things: taking the season one game at a time and emphasizing a game (offensively) of "small ball".
One Game at a Time
Scioscia's "one-game-at-a-time" approach was first truly noticeable during the excellent season the Angels had in 2002, leading up to their World Series title. He was extremely patient with members of the media, who expected the Angels to be more excited about doing well, or more concerned about how well the Oakland A's (who won the A.L. West Division that year) were playing. He reminded them time and again that 162 games are a lot to play, and a team can't play well "today" if they're focused on next week, or next month, or yesterday, for that matter.
Players such as clubhouse leaders Tim Salmon, Garret Anderson and Darin Erstad followed his lead and refused to publicly dwell on future problems or to rest on past victories. After a game, if asked, they would make comments like, "I can enjoy (some achievement) in November (the offseason), but right now I'm really focused on playing well tomorrow." This focus also leads his team's reputation of never giving up on a game, even when behind, because, just like the season, the game is not over until it's over.
Tactically, he emphasizes an offensive game of "small ball," meaning that you do the little things that help you win: steal bases, lay down sacrifice bunts (including the suicide squeeze), lay down a surprise bunt for a hit with nobody else on base, and be more concerned about hitting for average than for power.
Some consider this a "National League" style of play. Unlike the American League (to which the Angels belong), pitchers in the N.L. must take a turn at-bat just the same as all the other fielders. However, quality pitching is so important, that teams don't really care how bad of a hitter their pitchers are; consequently, most Major League pitchers are not good hitters; the batting average of most pitchers does not rise above the Mendoza Line. However, coaches in the N.L. don't want to waste their pitcher's turn at bat, either, so the pitcher is often called upon to "at least" try to lay down a sacrifice bunt, enabling a runner already on base to advance one spot, and the pitcher will likely be thrown out at first.
In contrast, with the exception of inter-league games played in National League ballparks, American League pitchers do not hardly ever bat; instead American League teams play with a designated hitter who bats in the pitcher's stead, but does not field a position. Because the "DH" is usually a pretty good batsman in his own right (considering that's all he does), there is less reason for American League teams to lay down a sacrifice bunt.
All of this is only to say that Mike Scioscia, managing an American League team, uses the bunt much more often than his fellow A.L. managers. In stark contrast is Art Howe , manager of the A.L. West Division rival Oakland A's, who very rarely employs these seemingly risky strategems; his style seems to show a preference to wait for the "big hit".
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