When Mike Scioscia was hired to manage the team in 2000 by general manager Bill Stoneham, it was a classic Angels reach. Scioscia was a Dodger, a former All-Star catcher, World Series hero, and longtime coach for the LA Blue team. And what are the Angels but a Dodger knockoff, an imitation, a lesser SoCal team, dating back to their first years when they rented Dodger Stadium to play their home games.
Scioscia made no bones about installing the Dodger Way with the Halos. No one in the front office cared, they just wanted to end their playoff drought. In 2002, Scioscia led the Angels to 99 wins and their first postseason appearance since 1986.
Channeling his Inner Lasorda, Scioscia guided the Angels to a first-round upset of the Yankees, and watched as his team easily dispatched the Twins in the League Championship Series. In the World Series, the Angels defeated the Giants in a thrilling seven-gamer to finally fulfill Gene Autry’s greatest wish, a world championship.
Two years after title, the Angels started a six-year run where they averaged 94 wins and captured five division titles. That was indeed, the best of times for Rally Monkey Nation.
In their nearly sixty-year history, the Angels have only finished last three times. Well, actually five times, but twice it was in a four-team division, so that hardly seems worth mentioning.
You know how they say “it’s always darkest before the dawn”? Well, the Angels finished last in both 1974 and 1975, just a few years before the team signed a slew of free agents that turned things around (see The Ultimate Angel below).
The early 1970s Halos had two excellent flame-throwing pitchers in Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana. But the offense was pathetic. The franchise was also bleeding talent: they let coaches Sparky Anderson Whitey Herzog go elsewhere to much success.
Vladimir Guerrero homers in his first home opener as an Angel.
1979, 1982, 1986, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014