Ok, let's just get the squeeze out of the way. It was an idiotic, indefensible play and one that illuminates what I have long suspected; that there is an egocentrism to the way Mike Scioscia goes about his work. On the one hand, I cannot blame him. He has a career .551 win percentage and a World Series title in nine seasons managing a team that was an afterthought when he took the gig. Now the Los Angeles Angels are on the short, short list of marketable baseball franchises. Good for Mike.
But let's be clear about that suicide squeeze call. Erick Aybar, the previous evening's hero, was at the plate and Chone Figgins, one of the Angels best players in the ALDS was on deck. It was a tie game in the ninth, and the Red Sox had their cleanup hitter, Kevin Youkilis set to lead off the bottom half of the frame. With a man on third and one out in 2008, according to BP's Run Expectancy Matrix, teams can expect to score .96937 runs, or pretty much one run per inning. In other words, had Scioscia played it straight, it would have been extraordinary for the Angels not to have scored in that scenario. Maybe you can tweak that .96937 number down some because of the players involved but it remains that the likelier scenario for plating a run would have been to steer clear of the squeeze.
So what role did Mike Scioscia's ego play? Well I am searching all over the web and I cannot seem to find one article blaming the guy for the call. Here is what Mike had to say after the game (excerpted from an article in the NY Daily News titled, get this, Don't blame Mike Scioscia for calling bunt that squeezes Angels out of playoffs)
"It was a great count for it," was the way Scioscia put it. "And Erick's a terrific bunter. Delcarmen throws hard, but it was a buntable ball. Erick just didn't get it done. That happens."
"Erick just didn't get it done." What a guy.
Scioscia knows he is teflon. The media loves "the way the Angels play" ("the right way", etc), to the point where they now actually ignore the way the Angels play (mediocre fielding, second in the AL in caught stealing, generally poor fundamentals as was on display in the ALDS). So he made the "gutsy", "aggressive" call because hey, that's how Scioscia plays and he knew there was no personal downside. And if they had converted and K-Rod came in to slam the door? Forget about it. They would be mapping the parade route through Disney as we speak.