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Mike Scioscia: Leading the Angels from the Front


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by David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer -

When I’m not reading about baseball, I will indulge in one of my other passions—military fiction and nonfiction. One of my favorite authors is Richard Marcinko, known for his Rogue Warrior series, which stem from his exploits as the founder of SEAL Team 6.*


In his books, he includes his Ten Commandments for SpecWar. The first Commandment states, in part, “I will always lead you from the front, not the rear.” The third one states, in part, “Thou shalt do nothing I will not do first”. Combined these two Commandments make it clear that in his opinion that leaders lead from the front and by example.


I fully agree. My best and favorite leaders commanded respect by what they had done in life, regardless of their field. They led by example and were out front and visible.


Throughout this offseason, I, along with every other Angels fan had heard about the need to change aspects of Spring Training in order to get the Angels off to a better start in April. Along the way, we heard that the Angels had hired nutritionists to work with the players in the offseason in order to come to camp better prepared.


During the AngelsWin.com Fanfest weekend, I got a media pass to do some interviews with the players. Part of the routine for reporters prior to the game is to meet with Mike Scioscia at the entrance to the clubhouse to do the daily questions.


While waiting for Mike Scioscia, I spotted a member from the Angels Boosters who had brought quite a large assortment of Girl Scout Cookies to distribute to the players. Unfortunately, very few of the players were taking them, making her feel a bit despondent. I tried to console her about the new nutritionist on the staff and maybe that was why the players weren’t taking the cookies.


When Mike Scioscia came out to meet with the reporters, I had to do a double-take. I almost didn’t recognize him. It’s been published that Mike Scioscia has lost about 35 pounds. In person, it looks like a lot more. He’s svelte. It gives him much more presence. He’s not the same person I talked with last year.


And then I got it.


As fans, we’ve heard a lot about the changes that needed to be made to Spring Training. But none of those changes would work if they didn’t run from the top to the bottom of the organization. Leadership starts at the top, and the top of the Angels is Mike Scioscia.


At that point, everything made a lot more sense. Of course players wouldn’t take the Girl Scout Cookies—not when their manager had made a big effort to lose weight in the offseason and set a new tone for the camp. It’s a lot harder for the players to skip a workout when they see their manager working out to get into better shape.


During the offseason, I wrote that in order for the Angels to succeed in the offseason then the Angels would need to find a new team identity. Last year, the team seemed rudderless at times, never really forming a team identity.


After attending Spring Training, talking with the players, and seeing Mike Scioscia, I believe that they are well on their way to finding a new team identity—one that will extend to everyone in the Angels organization. Players in development now will know what is expected of them and what they will need to do in order to succeed in this organization. More science and analysis will be implemented to make the players healthier, stronger, and better.


One last thing: over the years a lot has been made about the so-called rift between Mike Scioscia and Jerry Dipoto. After all that I saw and heard this weekend, I have to say that this has been way overblown by the fans. Many of the changes that we are learning about, ranging from the nutritionist to the renewed emphasis are coming from Jerry Dipoto who is unifying the organization around central principles.


The leadership, though, is still coming from Mike Scioscia who isn’t just implementing the changes, he’s practicing them. He’s leading from the front and doing all he can to take the team in a new direction. Hopefully it will lead to a winning April and games played in October.


 

*If you are really into military writing, I highly recommend the Rogue Warrior series. It’s a brash, fun, death and destruction type series perfect for anyone looking for some high-octane reading.

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I gotta admit, I'm beginning to get excited for the season. I'm usually excited in November, but this year, after the last few years, I've distanced myself as to not get too emotionally involved in a crappy team. Something feels different this ST, and after reading this, I'm feeling optimistic.

Carlota, I'm feeling you. It took me until my recent ST visit to get excited.

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Im not gonna lie....was waiting for the part where sosh took all the cookies.

Good article. And marcinko is a legend. If you can get a copy of red cell (the video) its pretty mind blowing.

Yeah, I love reading Demo Dick's books. Several of his exploits occurred right here in Orange County at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons station. I really want to know which Italian restaurant he talked about in the OC in the book. Do you know Ten Ocho?

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I gotta admit, I'm beginning to get excited for the season. I'm usually excited in November, but this year, after the last few years, I've distanced myself as to not get too emotionally involved in a crappy team. Something feels different this ST, and after reading this, I'm feeling optimistic.

Me too Carlota69! It's going to be a dogfight this season, but I'm getting excited. I can't make any guarantees, but I can tell you that they are making all the right moves to get off to a good start this year. If they do that, they should be right in the thick of things.

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Thank you Dave for a great blog, and I have to admit there is something different about this ST even beyond the mentioned subjects, although I can't put my foot on it yet.

I am still concerned about a few things, but I do like the attitude of this org so far.

Get back to aggressive but smart baseball, and being in better shape gives better chances to succeed at it.

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Thanks for the nice article Dave.  

 

Question: Doesn't Scioscia lose ~30lbs every winter, coming into Spring Training at his lowest weight, then gains it all back during the regular season?  Maybe the secret to the team's success this year will be for Scioscia to lead by setting an example and keeping the weight off throughout the season?

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Yeah, I love reading Demo Dick's books. Several of his exploits occurred right here in Orange County at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons station. I really want to know which Italian restaurant he talked about in the OC in the book. Do you know Ten Ocho?

no clue. Might not even still be there. But funny you mention OC. If I remember correctly, it was their seal beach 'operation' that ended up getting him in jail in the first place. (The video is pretty gnarly, and I can see why it was considered over the line).

Ill snoop around online, there might even be a free version online.

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You definitely have to give Sosh credit for setting an example. At his age it can't be easy to drop 30 pounds in a few months. I think everyone is starting to get on the same page and it shows.

yeah, hard to lose 30 pounds at any age, let alone a guy in his 50's like sosh.

Ex dodger....losing weight.....will sosh replace lasorda on the slim fast commercials?

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Thanks for the nice article Dave.

Question: Doesn't Scioscia lose ~30lbs every winter, coming into Spring Training at his lowest weight, then gains it all back during the regular season? Maybe the secret to the team's success this year will be for Scioscia to lead by setting an example and keeping the weight off throughout the season?

I don't think he's been this svelte in years.

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Thanks for the nice article Dave.  

 

Question: Doesn't Scioscia lose ~30lbs every winter, coming into Spring Training at his lowest weight, then gains it all back during the regular season?  Maybe the secret to the team's success this year will be for Scioscia to lead by setting an example and keeping the weight off throughout the season?

He may have lost a few pounds each offseason, but nothing even remotely close to this offseason. It's a dramatic difference, and I really think it's his way of showing that he and the entire organization are serious about the changes that they want to make.

 

I wish I had the willpower to lose that much weight and the time to workout that much.

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Thanks Dave.  I didn't intend to be a buzzkill.  Losing 35lbs is not easy for anyone.  Good for Scioscia.  

 

On the topic, I recently bought an elliptical and watch recorded Angel Spring Training games along with some of the (few) highlight Angel games from last season.  It was difficult to get going at first, but I now find it a great way to watch games.

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Thanks for the nice article Dave.  

 

Question: Doesn't Scioscia lose ~30lbs every winter, coming into Spring Training at his lowest weight, then gains it all back during the regular season?  Maybe the secret to the team's success this year will be for Scioscia to lead by setting an example and keeping the weight off throughout the season?

People react to stress in many different ways.  Some drink (heavily), smoke, develop nasty attitudes, do drugs, etc.  Scioscia eats, and most of us would blow our minds out managing a big league club.  Everybody thinks they are smarter than you, and virtually every baseball decision you make gets over analyzed.

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