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OC Register: In praise of Mike Scioscia, the Angels’ shark of a modern baseball manager

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The text of Mike Scioscia’s Hall of Fame plaque might mention his intelligence, his grit, and the fierce loyalty he inspired as the manager of the Angels. It will certainly mention the 2002 World Series and Scioscia’s 1,628 regular-season wins and counting – fewer than only Walter Alston among men who managed a single team, if indeed Scioscia never manages another team.

Cooperstown does not permit enough characters on each plaque to explain the thing that separated Scioscia from his peers, however. To appreciate that one must step outside the dugout, out of the ballpark and out of Anaheim entirely. You have to step inside a WeWork.

“It’s a co-working space where there’s lots of entrepreneurs,” explained Bill Aulet, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. “If I need help on something, if I have a question – ‘by the way, I’m trying to find Java programmers, you know where I can find Java programmers?’ – ‘oh yeah, there’s this group over here. You can do that.’ And you get just the amount of resources just in the time that you want and you don’t have to own it.”

There are 20 WeWorks dotting a map of Southern California, from the 818 to the 714 and points in between. I googled it. They are some of the most beautiful, open and collaborative office spaces you have ever seen. Most importantly, Aulet said, they are the future of the economy, already encroaching on the present.

Aulet’s point of view is special if not unique. His résumé reveals the antithesis of an ivory-tower elite. As a young man, he was a professional basketball player. He worked at IBM for more than a decade, embodying the late 20th-century ingenuity that spawned the documentary “Silicon Cowboys.” He ran three companies and now teaches other inspiring entrepreneurs how to do the same.

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From his front-row seat, Aulet has seen MIT’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference grow into the largest student event on campus. He knows that the next general manager of the Boston Red Sox might soon pass through his classroom. If there is an intersection of trends in sports and the American economy at large, Aulet is perched nearby.

Multiple reports Sunday indicated that Scioscia will part ways with the Angels after his contract expires this year – his 19th season, all with one team. A couple of days later, I called Aulet. I needed more context about what this means.

Forget sports for a second. How does Scioscia’s career fit into the landscape of the 21st century economy – every job, everywhere in the first world?

“Scioscia,” Aulet said, “is a Jurassic being.”

You only need one hand to count Scioscia’s peers in the other major professional sports. Gregg Popovich has coached the San Antonio Spurs since Dec. 10, 1996. Bill Belichick began his tenure with the New England Patriots in 2000. Critically, Aulet said, each of these men had a star player to help execute his vision. Popovich had Tim Duncan and Tony Parker for the bulk of his run. Belichick has had Tom Brady for nearly his entire time in New England.

Scioscia has worked for two owners and four general managers without the benefit of a star player to match his own longevity. Mike Trout was 8 years old when Scioscia joined the Angels. This is akin to being the lone survivor of a meteor that wiped out each of his kinfolk, or at least forced them to manage a different Major League Baseball team.

“You just get into habits,” Aulet said. “Those habits create a lack of innovation. You do the same thing over and over again. Sometimes that can be good, but there’s a fatigue factor that usually kicks in. That’s why it’s so unusual that you see someone like a Mike Scioscia or a Bill Belichick. Change is good.”

As more and more Ivy League-educated executives occupy major league front offices, this is the message they are hearing about how to run a baseball team. It isn’t confined to sports, of course; Aulet teaches entrepreneurs with ambitions of all stripes. Yet as sports became big business, primarily because of television revenue, some overlap became inevitable.

Philosophies will evolve and general managers will change organizations, but a cross-disciplined, 21st-century approach to sports management is here to stay.

“It’s not ‘let’s go have a drink, let’s go sit around and smoke cigars and talk about the players,’” Aulet said. “Moneyball changed everything with the ability to collect data. Billy Beane and Bill Belichick have changed things by being more data-driven and just ruthless. There’s no sentimentality to hold on to people for a long period of time.”

It’s no coincidence that companies themselves are not as durable as they once were. Aulet pointed to a study by Richard Foster at Yale University, which revealed the average lifespan of a company listed in the S&P 500 has decreased from 67 years in the 1920s to 15 years today.

The result: Now more than ever, workers hop from one role with one company to a different role with a different company. Only recently did professional sports mimic the same practice. Aaron Boone was a player, then a television analyst, then the manager of the New York Yankees. Dave Roberts was a player, then a television analyst, then a coach, and now manages the Dodgers.

The most famous recent example of this phenomenon within baseball is Sig Mejdal. A trained engineer, Megdal was hired away from NASA by the St. Louis Cardinals. He became the Houston Astros’ director of decision sciences in 2012, then a special assistant to the general manager, then a minor league coach.

“This idea of jumping around to get different skills is true; you build up more skills if you jump around,” Aulet said. “If you stay at the same job, your learning curve will start flattening out. In other words, you won’t learn that much.”

It would be inaccurate to say the game simply passed Scioscia by. In 2014, his 15th year on the job, the Angels won 98 games, more than any major league team. This was widely perceived as a triumph of the old school, of the hit-and-run, of the sacrifice bunt. And to some extent, it was.

More than that, it was a triumph of adaptation. It is impossible – in baseball or in any discipline – to last 19 years without the adaptability of a shark. A few modern species of shark roamed the Earth in the Jurassic period beside the dinosaurs. We devote one week a year to their appreciation. The praise for Scioscia should probably be no shorter.

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Well, Scioscia just took all the fun that I had away, I have hard time forgiving him ! Many people think like me but eighter afraid to express their opinion or just try to be too nice, politically correct, etc. 🙏🤝✍️The last emoji is for a new chapter in Angels history, is coming, the change is looming large !

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Angels has awful record in day games, how a manager of 18 years can not find an adjustment to this, with today’s technology didnt they came up with a special sunglasses that can block the sun and good enough to see the ball landing ? Arte can afford to buy glasses like that, but Mr. Scioscia has to go regardless, impotent manager, the ultimate failure! 🙏first emoji for God cooperation, 👊2nd emoji for kicking Scioscia out, ✍️3rd emoji for writing a new chapter ! 

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9 minutes ago, Morris altalef said:

Angels has awful record in day games, how a manager of 18 years can not find an adjustment to this, with today’s technology didnt they came up with a special sunglasses that can block the sun and good enough to see the ball landing ? Arte can afford to buy glasses like that, but Mr. Scioscia has to go regardless, impotent manager, the ultimate failure! 🙏first emoji for God cooperation, 👊2nd emoji for kicking Scioscia out, ✍️3rd emoji for writing a new chapter ! 

rachel mcadams shut up GIF

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Troll Daddy, cool video, can you arrange me a dinner with that girl, I don’t mind her telling me all evening long to shut up, I will be smiling all evening long. Better than Mike Scioscia that practically tells all the Angels fans to shut up because he can do as he wish, after all some idiot provided him with a guaranteed 10 years contract, do you want a reminder of the Angels record in the past 10 years ? Please Lord 🙏please get rid of this fat ass incompetent manager 👊he is getting $5 million a year to watch his players getting strikes out looking, what a gig he got . A big change is coming and this change is roaring towards Anehiam stadium 💪🤪

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14 minutes ago, Morris altalef said:

Troll Daddy, cool video, can you arrange me a dinner with that girl, I don’t mind her telling me all evening long to shut up, I will be smiling all evening long. Better than Mike Scioscia that practically tells all the Angels fans to shut up because he can do as he wish, after all some idiot provided him with a guaranteed 10 years contract, do you want a reminder of the Angels record in the past 10 years ? Please Lord 🙏please get rid of this fat ass incompetent manager 👊he is getting $5 million a year to watch his players getting strikes out looking, what a gig he got . A big change is coming and this change is roaring towards Anehiam stadium 💪🤪

Hey Mo, bring more to this board than your barely coherent Scioscia talk.   You’ve been asked to do this already by another Admin.   

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Mr. stradling, if you read the policy of this website is says clearly that a member have the full freedom to express his or her opinion regarding Angels baseball, okay? Now, you tell me what is the cause of the failure if it is not Scioscia, maybe is something else, who knows, maybe a naive owner or maybe Eppler himself has to go, or after all maybe  it is Billy the goat, yea the curse left Chicago and decided to stick around Orange County, all possible ! 👎🙀

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10 minutes ago, Morris altalef said:

Mr. stradling, if you read the policy of this website is says clearly that a member have the full freedom to express his or her opinion regarding Angels baseball, okay? Now, you tell me what is the cause of the failure if it is not Scioscia, maybe is something else, who knows, maybe a naive owner or maybe Eppler himself has to go, or after all maybe  it is Billy the goat, yea the curse left Chicago and decided to stick around Orange County, all possible ! 👎🙀

 

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20 minutes ago, Morris altalef said:

Mr. stradling, if you read the policy of this website is says clearly that a member have the full freedom to express his or her opinion regarding Angels baseball, okay? Now, you tell me what is the cause of the failure if it is not Scioscia, maybe is something else, who knows, maybe a naive owner or maybe Eppler himself has to go, or after all maybe  it is Billy the goat, yea the curse left Chicago and decided to stick around Orange County, all possible ! 👎🙀

enough already, you prattling loon

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3 minutes ago, tdawg87 said:

You guys get trolled way too easily.

Been saying this for a while. It makes the board tough to read. Guys come here to contribute nothing but you have all the regulars that are good posters get sucked into it...

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6 minutes ago, tdawg87 said:

You guys get trolled way too easily.

I’m giving him a chance, call it trolling if you want.  I know what he is, but if we don’t give warnings then we are bitched at for not allowing people to express their thoughts.   I’m about ready to pull his plug, but figured I’d try this route first.  

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Ichiro Suzuki doing a great job with Seattle, I am full of envy, they actually swept the Astros in Huston, maybe the Angels should offer Ichiro to be the new manager, I know it would not be easy to get him out of Seattle but maybe the Ohtani factor will play into consideration, all possible ! ✍️👏🙏 and I am not going to do this🤐never.You guys should join the conversation until Arte and Eppler will listen to our outcry.

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2 minutes ago, GrittyVeterans said:

Don’t respond or put him on ignore until he gets banned. It’ll make the board easier for the rest of us to read

I never put people on ignore because I always end up reading their posts anyways. But, good advice nonetheless 

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