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OC Register: Mike Scioscia steps down as Angels manager after 19 years


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ANAHEIM — An era officially ended with the Angels on Sunday.

Mike Scioscia, who led the team to a World Series title in 19 years as the manager, announced he would not return following Sunday’s 5-4 season-ending walk-off victory over the A’s.

Although the eventual decision – that Scioscia would not manage the Angels in 2019 – was widely expected, the drama on Sunday was how the Angels would present the news.

“I am going to step down. I will not be returning to manage the Angels next year,” Scioscia said during a postgame press conference that was televised live on the stadium video screens. He added that he is open to managing again if an opportunity presents itself but that he is satisfied whether he does or doesn’t.

Angels president John Carpino said the decision was entirely Scioscia’s.

Among those most likely to be considered to replace Scioscia are Brad Ausmus, the former Detroit Tigers manager who is a special assistant to Angels general manager Billy Eppler; Eric Chavez, a longtime third baseman who is also a special assistant to Eppler; Josh Paul, the Angels bench coach; and Dino Ebel, the Angels third base coach.

Because of Eppler’s previous job with the New York Yankees, the list of outside candidates begins with those who were with him in the Yankees organization. Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi could be considered, as well as Rob Thomson, a longtime coach with the Yankees who is now the Philadelphia Phillies’ bench coach. Trey Hillman, who managed the Kansas City Royals, was a special assistant with the Yankees during Eppler’s tenure. Hillman is now managing in South Korea.

Whoever gets the job will be replacing a franchise icon.

Scioscia, 59, had managed the Angels for 19 seasons, compiling 1,650 victories, good for 18th most in major league history.

Only Greg Popovich, coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, had held his current job leading a team in one of the four major professional sports for longer.

Scioscia won a World Series in 2002 and led the Angels to the playoffs six other times. The Angels had never won a postseason series in the franchise’s first 31 seasons.

“I think the organization owes a great deal of gratitude to the time he’s put in here,” said former outfielder Tim Salmon, a member of the Angels’ Hall of Fame. “He’s definitely put this organization on the right track for years to come. He had a great run. Everything he did to come in and bring in leadership and bring in that steady influence. It’s been the biggest run of success this organization has ever had.”

Scioscia came to the Angels in November 1999, after he’d spent his entire professional career up the freeway with the Dodgers. Scioscia was a catcher with the Dodgers from 1980 to 1992, playing on their last two teams to win the World Series. After that, he spent the next seven years as a major and minor league coach with the Dodgers.

Frustrated that he wasn’t hired to manage the Dodgers, Scioscia left for the Angels. He took over as a manager after a tumultuous 1999 season that saw manager Terry Collins resign amid months worth of clubhouse discord.

Scioscia was largely credited for bringing the clubhouse together in a player-friendly environment. He was known for his laugh-filled morning meetings in spring training, when players would be assigned various tasks that helped them get to know each other and created team unity.

On the field, the Angels were consistent winners for much of Scioscia’s tenure. From 2000 to 2015, the Angels never had consecutive losing seasons. Their worst record was 75-87, in 2001, the year before they won the World Series.

“He got here in 2000 and put the organization on the map,” said Angels bench coach Dino Ebel, a member of Scioscia’s coaching staff since 2006. “The 2002 World Series and all the flags hanging in the stadium. You think of the Angels, from a staff point of view, and you think of Mike Scioscia.”

After the 2008 season, owner Arte Moreno awarded Scioscia with a 10-year contract, virtually unprecedented in an era when most managers last less than five years on the job.

In recent seasons, though, the organization’s fortunes had turned. The Angels had losing records in the past three years, despite having the game’s greatest all-around player, Mike Trout.

Since 2010, the Angels reached the postseason only once, and in 2014 they were swept by the Kansas City Royals.

There were personality conflicts between Scioscia and former general manager Jerry Dipoto, who resigned in the middle of the 2015 season.

Amid that, the team has struggled on the field, mostly because the front office allowed the minor league system to deteriorate to the point that was among the worst in baseball.

Still, Scioscia has received his share of criticism. Scioscia was accused of being resistant to adapting to the analytics that have now been a regular part of decision-making in the industry. Scioscia has insisted over the years that he has evolved.

Scioscia, in fact, was more open to changes — like the increase use of defensive shifts, and non-traditional use of relievers — after Eppler took over following the 2015 season. By all accounts, the two had a strong working relationship throughout most of their three seasons together.

There were, however, signs of cracks this year, as they had some small philosophical differences, mostly relating to bullpen management.

Another criticism of Scioscia has been that he didn’t communicate well enough players, leaving them unsure of their roles.

Mostly, though, the players have said they respected and appreciated Scioscia.

“In my first few years, we had so many different managers coming in and out, it was nice to have a nice calming steady force that came in with him,” Salmon said. “He changed the culture. He completely changed the culture. He went from that old-school culture to a newer light-hearted culture. He was all about building continuity and building camaraderie in the clubhouse and the dugout and checking your ego at the door.”

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