Why did the two-time World Series champ get sacked by the Angels on Tuesday? PIC: Elsa/Getty Images
Sure, it might not have been a total surprise, but it certainly isn’t any less disappointing.
Joe Maddon’s accolades speak for themselves. He’s got two World Series rings on his fingers; one as Mike Scoscia’s #2 in Anaheim back in 2002, and the famous curse-breaking championship with the Chicago Cubs in 2016. But Maddon’s success with the Los Angeles Angels didn’t ever lead back to the Fall Classic.
Maddon was fired on Tuesday after a subpar first two years of his stint in Anaheim. The Angels were 26-34 in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, then followed it up with another sub-500 season (77-85). 2022 could’ve been the year, many thought. In fact, just two weeks ago, the Angels were sitting pretty at 27-19, hitting their stride and finally firing up some of their big bats. But in the blink of an eye, they lost 12 games to close off May into the start of June, and the Angels had seen enough.
It’s a truly treacherous fall when considering the talent that comprises this roster, as the Angels are on the brink of missing a window they’ll never sniff again. Mike Trout has been called “the best outfielder ever” and “the face of baseball.” Shohei Ohtani garners similar praise, drawing comparisons to Babe Ruth. And, while Maddon might not necessarily have been the root of this below-average production, he gets the finger pointed at him for not righting the ship.
Perry Minasian, the general manager, had mixed feelings about pulling the trigger. “I really like the man, and it’s somebody I’m gonna talk to the rest of my life,” he told ESPN today. “But you’ve gotta be able to take emotion out of things and make decisions…as tough of a decision as it is, I felt like it was the right thing to do.”
And, as a note, things were definitely heated towards the end. Here was a transcript of Maddon's comments to the press the night before he was sacked. Yikes.
Now, it’s Phil Nevin that’ll take over and be charged with interim manager duties. Nevin, who served as the Yankees third base coach for the first three years of the Aaron Boone era, took the same role with the Angels at the beginning of the season. He’ll stay in that role until the end of the year, according to the Angels’ front office.
So, to say the least, it’s a vexing situation in Anaheim. If Joe Maddon can’t correct the course, who can? If we’ve seen anything about the more successful teams recently, it’s the teams that embed either A) a high level of superstar talent (2022 Dodgers), B) hyper-reliance on analytics (2020 Rays) or, sometimes, C) a healthy mix of both (Yankees, Astros, Blue Jays). Do the Angels grab an analytically-minded manager for their next hiring? Or do they go the classic blue-collar “ra-ra” manager a-la-Buck Showalter?
Only time will tell what the Angels best scenario could be, and I’m not even sure I know how to translate the prime years of Trout and Ohtani into a playoff run. But it’s a shame Joe Maddon never worked out in Anaheim…because if he can’t do it, then who can?