After winning more games than any other team in the Majors during the regular season (98), our Anaheim Angels of Anaheim were swept in three games by a Kansas City Royals team that limped into its first playoff series since winning the World Series in 1985. That's just one of the eight reasons Halos manager Mike Scioscia's abruptly ended 15th season should be his last in Anaheim.
1) SMALL BALLED
The Angels were swept by a tired Royals team that won largely playing the kind of small ball Scioscia teams had been known for ... once upon a time. Strong starting pitching, stifling defense, stealing bases and otherwise manufacturing runs are what won the Angels their only World Series, in 2002. The 2014 Kansas City squad looked more like those Angels.
2) TOASTED BY YOST
Since joining the Royals in May 2010, manager Ned Yost's teams compiled a 198-253 record. Just making it to the wild-card game was considered a huge accomplishment for a Kansas City franchise finally on the rise again. Though Scioscia's team (with a $63 million higher payroll) had more rest and he and his coaches had more time to prepare for the Royals, he was thoroughly out-managed by Yost.
3) NUMBERS GAME
The Angels won the Series in 2002. Scioscia has not been able to get them to the promised land in any full season since. They missed the playoffs for four straight years before getting more wins than any other team in baseball, guaranteeing them home field advantage throughout the American League playoffs. Then, thanks to an AL win in this year's All-Star Game (thanks in part to Mike Trout's MVP performance), the Angels would have had home-field advantage there also. And yet, despite the best player in baseball, even more star power and that massive $155 million payroll, they got swept. How is that possible?
4) NO DYNASTY
That 2002 world championship was supposed to be the start of a baseball dynasty in Orange County. Considering Scioscia's other 14 seasons helming the club, it's looking more and more like a fluke.
5) WRECKING PITCHERS
Scioscia shares this trait with his mentor Tommy Lasorda: pushing talented pitchers to the point of breaking ... and beyond. Ace Garrett Richards suffered a freak injury that can't be blamed on "Scios," but that the pitcher was on pace to throw too many innings for a rookie can be pinned to the manager. Matt Shoemaker saved the Angels' season filling in for Richards, but he'd thrown in many pressure-cooker situations as a reliever before that and would suffer a strained left oblique muscle near the end of the regular season. Jered Weaver (lower back) and C.J. Wilson (right ankle sprain) also suffered regular-season injuries.
6) STICKING WITH HAMILTON ... FOREVER!
Weeks before Josh Hamilton went down with a rib injury and especially during his return in the divisional playoffs, you'd watch him swing (or more like swat) his bat in the direction of the ball and wonder what the hell he was doing in uniform. (Other than the fact that he's got three years and $89 million remaining in his deal with the Angels.) Was Scios looking at the same weak-sauce dude we were? It's especially frustrating when you consider ...
7) TALENT ON THE BENCH
During the last quarter of the 2014 season, the Angels resembled the best scrappy teams of the late Terry Collins/early Scioscia years. Young guys and late-season veteran acquisitions helped sustain the winning momentum heading into the playoffs. But while C.J. Cron had 9 at-bats against the Royals, there was only one each for guys like Gordon Beckham, Efren Navarro and Hank Conger. Collin Cowgill had zero at-bats.
8) DODGERS STILL IN IT
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Fer chrissakes, if you're going to make an embarrassing exit in the playoffs, at least do it after the Dogs are done.