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1988 Dodgers player profiles : Mike Scioscia, the biggest hit of his career

Mike Scioscia hit three home runs all year, but hit a two-run home run in the ninth against Doc Gooden that led to tying the NLCS at two games apiece.

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

One of my favorite articles about the 1988 World Series was published in Sports Illustrated's 1989 baseball preview edition. Mike Scioscia was interviewed by Peter Gammons and that article was a batter by batter account of Game 2 and how Hershiser and Scioscia pitched to Oakland that night.

There are lots of great details that you can read here but my favorite part comes before anything about the game. Scioscia is explaining the three elements you need to call a game and within the third element, he says this:

The third element is knowing the hitters' weaknesses, but this factor shouldn't be overplayed. There are managers who like to tell pitchers, "Don't throw so-and-so a fastball." That's wrong. If a hitter is properly set up by the pitcher, there are a number of ways to get him out. I watched the A's hit in batting practice before the first two games to look for little tendencies. For instance, when I heard a hitter ask the batting practice pitcher for a curveball, I watched to see if the hitter made any adjustment with his feet; if he did, he would probably move his feet similarly in a game, and that would indicate to me that he was sitting on the breaking ball. Only the catcher and pitcher can see that, or can see a hitter moving forward a few inches in the batter's box or closer to the plate.

That's why it doesn't make any sense for a manager to call pitches from the dugout. If the manager wants a curveball and I can see by the hitter's feet that he's sitting on the curve, do we throw the curve anyway because the manager says so? Do we stop the game, call out the manager and throw off the pitcher's tempo? A manager can't call pitches from the dugout. The right pitch can be what the book says is wrong.

But that article is really great and while I have not sat down and watched my DVD of Game 2 with the article in hand to compare, it is something to look forward to doing in the future.

How acquired: Mike was selected by the Dodgers as the 19th pick in the first round of the 1976 amateur draft. Mike played 4 years in the minors until 1980 when he split time in Triple-A and the Dodgers.

Prior MLB experience: Scioscia came up in the 1980 season, Mike was part of the youth movement as the Dodgers began to replace the major parts of those great 70s teams. Scioscia, Guerrero, Sax, Marshall, Valenzuela and Hershiser would all come up in the next few years. Mike was inserted into the lineup immediately and played in all 3 postseason series in 1981. After hitting .219 in 129 games in 1982, Scioscia missed most of the 1983 season with what was eventually diagnosed as a torn rotator cuff. He came back and from 1984-1987, he hit .272/.369/.376 in 1,897 plate appearances.

1988 age: 29

1988 stats: In 115 starts and 123 games played overall, Mike hit .257/.318/.324 that year. He did throw out 41% of baserunners who attempted to steal and the Dodgers had the second best staff in the NL.

Regular season game of the year: In the Dodgers 10-3 win against the Giants on Apr. 23, Scioscia went 3-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored. He caught Hershiser's fourth win of the month.

NLCS performance: Hershiser won the NLCS MVP but Scioscia was a hitting star, he hit .364/.391/.545 in 23 PA.

My viewing habits for the 1988 playoffs were strange, I was working two jobs and as hard as may be to believe, while excited about the Dodgers, I didn't rearrange my life to watch the games. And although I did start videotaping NBA Finals in 1985, I didn't tape these games. Game 4 was played on a Sunday and it crept into the early evening. Some friends were gathering to play some poker and we went down to my friend's apartment in Redondo Beach. The Dodgers were ahead and then they fell behind and I think it might have even been the 9th inning when we got there. We all thought the game would be over as well as the playoffs so we were getting ready to play cards.

As noted before, John Shelby had walked, Mike Scioscia, who had been in the regular season 8-for-16 with two walks against starting pitchers he had seen three prior times, hit Gooden's first pitch fastball over Daryl Strawberry and the right field wall to tie the game at 4-4.

From that point on, the card game waited and we watched the Dodgers win the game in extra innings.

World Series performance: Scioscia did not have as good a series at the plate and it was after his third hit of the series in Game 4 when he twisted his knee and his 1988 season ended. Scioscia had three singles in 14 plate appearances with no walks in the 1988 World Series.

Post-1988 playing career: Scioscia bounced back in 1989 and went to his first of back to back All-Star games. He hit a career high 10 home runs in 1989 and came back in 1990 to hit 12. In 1991, he had an 112 OPS+ as he had his third consecutive fine year with the Dodgers.

In what could have been a prelude to his last season as a Dodger player, Mike's voice appeared in this now classic Simpsons' episode back in February 1992, Homer at the Bat.

Dr. Hibbert: Uh, Mike, try to lift your arm.
Mike Scioscia: Can't... lift... arm... or... speak... at... normal... rate...
-- ``Homer at the Bat'

The show may have been ominous but who knew it would spawn this fine Dodger blog.

In 1992, Scioscia would suffer like the rest of the team, hitting just .221 in 117 games. After the 1992 season and the Dodgers looking to play Mike Piazza and Carlos Hernandez, Scioscia signed a one-year deal with the San Diego Padres. But Scioscia's 1993 season ended in spring training as he had another torn rotator cuff injury and was out for the year. He would then sign a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers but would never appear in the majors for them.

Scioscia leads all Los Angeles Dodger catchers in games played at 1,395.

After his playing career ended, he began to coach, in 1997 and 1998 he served on Bill Russell's staff with the Dodgers and then in 1999, he managed the Dodgers' Triple-A club in Albuquerque.

Where he is now: In October 1999, the Anaheim Angels hired Scioscia as their manager. The Angels had not been to the postseason since 1986 and had still had never won a pennant. In 2002, the wild-card Angels defeated the Yankees, Twins and Giants to win their first World Series. Scioscia holds all career marks for the Angels as manager and is currently the longest-tenured manager for one team in the majors and the only one to have piloted over 1000 wins with his current team.

In 2010, Scioscia came back to The Simpsons; this OC Register article covers it pretty well.

In 2012, the Dodgers saluted Mike with a bobblehead. I am not sure what was rarer, the opposing team honoring the other team's manager or Juan Rivera hitting a home run but both happened this night.