Time as player made Scioscia who he is
Titles with Dodgers groomed Angels' skipper into strategist
ANAHEIM -- With the possibility of a Freeway World Series still alive -- with both the Dodgers and Angels appearing as near-locks to head to the postseason this year -- there's one man who has had plenty of success with both franchises -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
Scioscia, of course, played with the Dodgers for 13 seasons and won two World Series with the club as a catcher in 1981 and '88 before later guiding the Angels to their first World Series title in 2002.
And with the Angels likely heading toward their fifth American League West title in the past six seasons, Scioscia doesn't hesitate to say that his success with the Halos has plenty to do with his experiences with the Dodgers.
"It's no secret that a lot of us here learned our baseball in the Dodgers organization," Scioscia said. "We all cut our baby teeth in baseball at a very young age -- 17, 18 or 19 -- with the Dodgers organization, and that's how we learned the game."
As Scioscia noted, nearly his entire coaching staff spent at least some time with the Dodgers organization, including first-base coach Alfredo Griffin, third-base coach Dino Ebel, hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, bullpen coach Orlando Mercado and bench coach Ron Roenicke.
Together, the staff has tried to mold the old "Dodgers way" it learned in Los Angeles into the "Angels way" just down the 5 Freeway in Anaheim.
"I think just from an application standpoint of philosophy and how the game should be played, a lot of us have drawn from that experience and tried to carry it forward," Scioscia said. "We've had some little twists we've learned along the way, too."
But aside from those twists, one of the biggest similarities between the Dodgers of Scioscia's playing days and the Angels of his managing days is the continuity at the manager position.
Tommy Lasorda managed the Dodgers for 20 years after Walter Alston's 23 years at the helm, and Scioscia is the longest-tenured manager in the American League at 10 seasons and counting.
Scioscia, who signed an offseason extension to remain with the Angels until 2018, thanked owner Arte Moreno and general manager Tony Reagins for their support but also noted that it takes more than just stability to succeed.
"I think in terms of stability, it's a chicken and egg situation -- does success lead to stability, or does stability lead to success? I don't know," Scioscia said. "We've been fortunate to have talented teams that have achieved, and I think with that, it's made Arte and Tony want to keep us together, and it's been fun to be around."
It has certainly been fun for the players, as the Angels have a chance to win their third straight division title for the first time in franchise history. And the players are quick to credit Scioscia for leading them to that kind of success.
"He was a great player, and he's carried into coaching," said Angels right-hander Jered Weaver, who grew up rooting for Scioscia's Dodgers. "He's definitely aware of the game and knows what to expect. He even knows pretty much what's going to happen. It's fun to sit next to him to listen to his thinking about the game."
One word Angels players love to use when talking about their skipper is "freedom" -- Scioscia's aggressive managerial style often calls for quick decisions from his players, such as in baserunning situations.
"Mike only gets upset if you don't try to take the extra base," said first-year Angels outfielder Bobby Abreu with a grin. "I really like this team, everything about it. We have a great chemistry here."
Much of that chemistry comes from Scioscia, regarded as a player's manager, with his door open before and after every game.
"He's a great guy and you can talk to him about anything, which I think is good to have," Weaver said. "But he's a very competitive guy who wants to win every time out.
"It's just great for this organization to have a guy that you can relate to and joke around with, but at the same time, he means business and gets things done."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.