What Could Have Been: Scioscia and Black Together in Colorado

There will be a reunion at Angels Stadium of Anaheim on Monday night -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia and Rockies manager Bud Black, who was Scioscia's pitching coach from 2000-2006.

The franchise won its only World Series (2002) during that time.

They, however, could just as easily been together with the Rockies. The opportunity was there for both. It, however, didn't work out.

Scioscia resigned as the manager of the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate after the 1999 season, and was in position to join the Rockies as either the organizational catching coach or manager of the Rockies Triple-A affiliate, which was in Colorado Springs. 

While the details were being worked out, however, the Angels came calling, and hired Scioscia to be their big-league manager. He's in his 19th year on that job, although speculation has come up during the season that he will step down when his contract expires at season end.

Black? Former Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd got acquainted with Black when O'Dowd was the No. 2 man in the Indians front office, and Black initially was a pitcher for the Indians, and then, after retirement from his playing career, became a special assistant.

When Josh Byrnes resigned as O'Dowd's top assistant to join the Boston Red Sox late in the 2002 season, O'Dowd had an emissary reach out to Black the ensuing off-season to see if Black still had an interest in staying in the game in a front-office capacity.

Black said it intrigued him, but after the excitement he wasn't ready to take off the uniform. Black eventually left the Angels after the 2006 season to become manager of the Padres, a job he held until being fired during the 2015 season. 

Black returned to the Angels, where he was reunited with Scioscia in 2016, before becoming manager of the Rockies in 2017.

That working relationship in Colorado never developed, but it was close. During the Arizona Fall League in the fall of 1999, Scioscia met with Mike Hill, the Rockies farm director at the time, and the late Boyd Coffie, the coordinator in minor league instruction. Both joined the organization in the aftermath of the hiring of O'Dowd that September.

"They were looking for a Triple-A manager and if I was going to be in the minor leagues, I wanted to be a catcher coordinator," said Scioscia. "They said, `We would like to bring you on board.' I said, `Hey, I'd love to, but we have to find out what role it is first.' As the process was developing, I got a call about the Angels job."

Scioscia indicated he probably would have taken a job with the Rockies if the big-league managerial opportunity in Anaheim had not come along.

"I was really impressed with Boyd and Mike Hill," said Scioscia. "Those guys were great. They seemed like they really cared about people, and their knowledge of the game was tremendous, and they really made me feel like, `You come here and have some kind of an impact.'

"I told them, `I have some other things I am working through, but if the major league job doesn't work out, I'd love to come and work for the organization.'"

The major league job did work out, including help from the general manager Bill Stoneman in putting together a coaching staff.

Scioscia submitted a proposed staff.

"Bill said, `Mike, we are going to mix and match. There are guys I know of who are going to be important for what you want to do. Let's talk about it.'"

One of those guys was Black, who was among seven names on a list created out of suggestions from Scioscia and the front office. 

"Buddy Black was the first guy we interviewed, and the only guy," said Scioscia. "After his interview, Bill and I look at each other, and I said, `Bill, I don't think we need to go any further. I think we'd be wasting our time." He said, `I agree.' He quickly scratched the next six off the list and Buddy was hired.

"It's funny how things work out. I would not have had anywhere near the chance of staying on this job if it hadn't been for Buddy, Joe (Maddon) and Ron (Roenicke).

Maddon was the first to leave, becoming manager of the Rays in 2006. Black was hired by the Padres in 2007, and Roenicke became the Brewers manager in 20011.

"After Joe, I think Buddy thought he'd like to take that next step," said Scioscia. "He was a terrific pitching coach, but he was more than that. He helped in so many different areas than pitching. I could tell he wanted the challenge to manage."

Maddon eventually left the Rays to manage the Cubs. Black, after being let go with the Padres, spent a year with the Angels out of uniform and then joined the Rockies. Roenicke is the third base coach in Boston.

Meanwhile, Scioscia has remained with the Angels, his 3,047 games managed ranking 19th all time, and second among active managers to Bruce Bochy (3,840), but Scioscia has the edge on Bochy with one franchise. Bochy has spent 12 years with both the Padres (1,926 games) and the Giants (1,914).

Scioscia has spent all 19 years in Anaheim, where he has a 1,633-1,414 managerial record, ranking 18th all-time in games won. The Angels have been to the post-season seven times with him as the manager, including that 2002 world championship.

The last few years, however, have been a challenge. The Angels are headed to their fourth consecutive season without going to the post-season, and their third consecutive losing record, all of which fed the speculation that Scioscia could move on at end of the season when his 10-year managerial contract with the Angels expires.

There reportedly has not been any serious talk of an extension, which has led to speculation that Scioscia has downplayed.

"There is always chatter out there," he has told the media. "The only word I have is `poppycock.` That's all it is."

The respect Scioscia has for Black, however, is sincere.

That's no poppycock.