Contributed by Guy Hase-CityofSports Blogger
Going into this World Series lots of attention has deservedly been given to Rangers manager, Ron Washington. And why not? His emphasis on defense and fundementals have helped propel this club from perennial sluggers to a well-rounded powerhouse; however, sitting in the other dugout is another manager who’s due should be coming soon.
I type this article with the World Series standing 2-0 in favor of the Giants. A team that plays in the obscurity of the West Coast and if you aren’t a true baseball follower then you probably only know of 2 players on the team (one of which is actually on the postseason roster). So it’s pretty easy to overlook this group of cast-offs and young eccentric pitchers in favor of the feel good story of on and off the field triumph that is the Texas Rangers. But with just 2 more victories it may be time to place Bochy in the same discussion of Joe Maddon, Joe Girardi, Tony LaRussa, Ozzie Guillen, and Ron Gardenhire.
His career record stands at 26 games below .500 but it’s to overlook the situation which Bochy has managed for most of his career. Spending 12 years in San Diego (a franchise that seldom spends big on players), Bochy was the foreman for 2 rebuilding projects. After reaching the World Series in 1998, the Padres began their own personal firesale. Letting pieces like Steve Finley, Wally Joyner, and Kevin Brown leave in place of unproven guys named Mark Kotsay and Phil Nevin. GM Kevin Towers had so much respect for Bochy’s baseball mind that he committed to the man in spite of 5 straight losing seasons during the rebuilding process.
After leading the Padres to an NL West title in 2006, new Padres CEO Sandy Alderson opted to encourage Bochy to seeking new jobs because he favored a younger manager. During that offseason my Chicago Cubs were seeking a new manager to replace Dusty “in we used to trusty” Baker. Much like Twilight, that winter Cub fans were divided into 2 teams: Team Joe (Girardi) and Team Lou (Piniella) with your author being on Team Joe. When word got out that GM Jim Hendry was interested in hiring Bruce bleepin Bochy, I like most other Cub fans cried foul because we wanted to hire a sexy name in order to make us forget about the previous 95-loss season and the White Sox World Series run (I just threw up in my mouth) back in 2005.
Man were we wrong. Bochy does not have a reputation for being a wizard but he is a solid and knowledgable baseball guy. Look at his resume, his teams always play solid defense and he always has one of the better bullpens in the National League. Who do you think gave Trevor Hoffman a shot to close? Once given the Giants job, Bochy, a career backup catcher, has done a masterful job honing the skills of young fireballers Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain as well as teaching finesse lefty Johnathon Sanchez to paint the strike zone. As these 3 pitchers have improved so has the Giants’ record. His work with young pitchers throughout his career can not be understated.
He has also taken a no-nonsense approach holding all players accountable. Check out the postseason roster. Notice a name not on there? He just so happens to be their highest-paid player, Barry Zito. The 170 million dollar arm has been demoted in favor of men who make less than 5% percent his entire salary. How do you not play your heart out for a man like that?
Tomorrow night, the world may finally become acquainted to the best kept baseball secret on the West Coast. A humble man who would never want the attention on him. But with 2 more victories, Bruce Bochy may have no other choice but to bask in it.