It seems like every time a professional sports franchise can’t win, the first person blamed is always the coach. This is consistent with what many have said about Mike Scioscia‘s stewardship of the Los Angeles Angels this season. Picked by many to be preseason World Series favorites, the Halos are languishing in fourth place, and Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in the MLB, may be out of a job by season’s end.
Though it may be satisfying to place the blame for this season’s failure squarely on Scioscia’s broad shoulders, his critics seem to have forgotten that it’s the players who play games, not the manager. Baseball isn’t a game like football or basketball where you can hustle your way through a slump to make meaningful contributions to your team. You either have the magic, or you don’t. Players are not Xs and Os on a chalkboard, they’re flawed human beings who fall prey to the same doubts and lapses as all of us.
What exactly was Scioscia supposed to have done? Did he urge Arte Moreno to sign Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to a combined $360 million? Did he tear Pujols’ plantar fascia or put a hex on Peter Bourjos?
It is certainly true that the same old voice in the dugout can get irritating after a while. Even so, Scioscia has been unfairly maligned by baseball fans this year, and if the Angels show him the door, they will struggle to find an adequate replacement.
It’s the players, not the manager.