Ratto: Bruce Bochy's Managerial Masterpiece


Ratto: Bruce Bochy's Managerial Masterpiece

Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com

ARLINGTON, Tx. -- BruceBochy walks well, shambles, more like the way he always has, but he hasthis perceptible smile on his face that he cant hide. He is playing with thecasinos money like he could feel the weighted dice in his hand and could seethe face-down king clear as day. Bon temps roulette,baby. Bon temps roulet.He is, 15 years after the fact, being hailed as a Baseball Mastermind (patentpending, MLB Productions), and he kind of likes the feeling of it, especiallyafter all those years of being dismissed as just another manager-dullard whoknows less than the Internet math wizard or the sportswriter whos seen it alla hundred times or Al From Foster City, youre on and turn down your damnedradio.People who once mocked him see him now and think hes really quite smart, andtrust us, that feeling sure beats waking up with lower back pain, showeringwhen the water heater goes out or finding out you ran out of coffee yesterday.But heres a shocking fact, one that will catch America by complete surprise. Bochyalready was what you now think he is, and a long time ago at that. What youreseeing now is luck, combined with roster depth, combined with planning, combinedwith expertise, combined with results.Which, as true baseball people know, is the real measure of a mans success whether hes good enough and prepared enough to know when hes pulling aces andfaces instead of twos and fews.Bochys work in this postseason has been exemplary, winning universal raves.And what the hell, why not? He does something, it works. He doesnt dosomething, that works too. Youre going to get snooty when you draw seven-deuceand the flop is seven-seven-deuce? No, youre going to show no expression, evenwhen you get that fourth seven on the turn.See, managing isnt about controlling every aspect of a game because thatcannot be done. Its about being in position to have the right guy at the righttime and let fate handle the rest.Bruce Bochy didnt contrive to create the Brooks Conrad Moment, or the VladimirGuerrero Moment. He didnt know that Aaron Rowand would throw a strike to homeplate from center field at just the right moment, or that Edgar Renteria can hithome runs with one bicep tied behind his back. He surely didnt will Cody Ross.But he did have the tools to make such things available, and the wherewithal toapply them in such a way that good things could happen as a result.Put it another way. Having Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum and Javier Lopez andBrian Wilson and six other really useful pitchers to get from one to the othersure beats a mallet to the stomach, but someone has to be there to employ them.And since Bochy has hit every note this postseason, he now reaps the benefitsof his good fortune and preparation, to make up for the years where he hadcruddy fortune and good preparation.We mention this because Ron Washington has been cross-nailed for his handlingof the Texas bullpen in Game 2 because he failed to know ahead of time thatDerek Holland would bowl a 13 in Game 2, and didnt give Ian Kinslers ballthat extra telekinetic nudge it needed to go from double to homer. He failed toexpect when he made out the lineup card that Guerrero could drive in two runsin Game 1 and still end up a minus-two for the night. He failed to understandthat Cliff Lee could deteriorate into Kevin Millwood on the biggest stage.Did Washington manage well? No, because his opinions were not validated by thesubsequent events. He took educated guesses that failed spectacularly. If thatmakes him a bad manager, then you go with that and be happy in your world.Games, though, are won and lost by the execution by the players (we were goingto say of the players, but the Players Association remains adamantly opposedto allowing the club to actually kill underperforming players).Bochy could have been an idiot for not teaching Lincecum not to run a trappedrunner back to the bag he came from, or he could have doltishly failed to warnFreddy Sanchez not to break from second on a popup like hed heard about the freelunch special at the French Laundry.But Bochy had already built up key mastermind points by then, because he hasdeftly used a very good and deep bullpen and gotten big starts out of everypitcher save Jonathan Sanchez in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series. He wascleared to land by a fan base that had such little use for him only monthsearlier.He has also had the great benefit of winning five one-run games, which alwaysmakes a manager look better than the average mailroom yutz.The point here, then, is simply to tell you that these three weeks are BruceBochys reward for all the months and years when he was condemned for having abig head, talking slowly and with a drawl and walking like the bolts that keephis feet on were coming loose.Oh, and for all those years of NOT having lots of useful players who rose up inbig situations on his behalf. Dont forget that one, either.So yeah, these are good times for Bruce Bochy, and hes more than earned thatsmile he cant seem to keep off his face. He knows it because he put in allthose years when he as just as smart and just as prepared but had a lot less towork with and therefore had to spend his days trying to put a pair of Tiffanyearrings on a late-model pig and call it Blake Lively so as not to burn theplayers.And ultimately, he knows that if he and the Giants pull this off, hes onscholarship for two years minimum. Wed say longer, but Charlie Manuelsgetting cuffed around in Philadelphiafor allowing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins not to save hisbacon like they did in 2008.This is Bruce Bochys time, the wheel keeps landing on 15 (his number), andgood on him for lasting long enough and being good enough to finally let LadyLuck plant one full and firm right on his lips.Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal


Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

In what can be considered your standard bolt out of the blue, California head football coach Sonny Dykes has reportedly been fired.

In what can be considered your standard spur-of-the-Internet-moment-connect-the-dots inspiration, the Internet went immediately to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal rumors.

The logic, of course, is impeccable. Dykes never really snapped the Cal program around, taking a bad program and making it, well, mediocre, and he has spent much of the past two years aggressively seeking out other jobs, so one can assume there was at least some trouble in paradise, even if you want to make the case that Cal football and paradise are somehow connected.

And Kelly just got canned by the 49ers as part of Jed York’s latest I-will-not-be-made-to-look-ridiculous twitch, so he could sign a properly modest contract at Berkeley and still get his full $6 million with the offset from the three years left on his Jed deal.

So it makes perfect sense . . . which is why it should be judged with considerable skepticism.

For one, Kelly can almost surely do better in the college job diaspora. Cal is a big name with modest ambitions due in part to constant budget constraints, and there are better jobs out there even if he sits for a year.

For two, Cal and Kelly are an odd fit, given the persistent tensions between academia and athletica at Berkeley.

For three, the job comes with massive roadblocks, including Stanford, USC, Washington and (potentially) a resuscitation of the Oregon he left behind. Success will not come easy, if it does at all.

For four, Cal just finished four years of gimmick offense and overburdened defense, and Kelly would provide a more successful version of the same.

And for five, this is too easy, too simple, too convenient. Something about this scenario must be wrong somewhere. When people hit the Internet with photoshopped Kelly-in-Cal-costumes within minutes of the Dykes announcement, you know this is too obvious to actually come to fruition.

Why? Because we don’t live that well, that’s why.

The beauty of a triumphant Kelly at Cal glowering down at the charred ruin in Santa Clara seems more appealing than it actually is, because try as they might, Cal fans will never be backing the more popular horse here, and Kelly won’t win that battle unless he takes Cal to the Rose Bowl while the 49ers are still grappling over draft positions.

In that way, reality sucks. The idea that Jed York could be mocked in collegial absentia by his two biggest coaching hires is delicious but almost surely illusory.

But until we get more on why Dykes got canned 43 days after the team’s last game – recruiting, academic issues, legal issues, photocopier problems from him sending his resume out so often – all we have is the Chip Kelly rumor-ette to keep us intrigued.

Okay, to keep us amused.

Okay, to keep us from falling over in a coma. Cal should matter more than it does, but it’s been 13 years since the Holiday Bowl zenith of the Jeff Tedford Era, and 25 since Bruce Snyder took the Ursines to the Citrus Bowl. The evidence since 1990 is of a team with bigger dreams than means that is slightly below .500 (160-164). Sonny Dykes leaving means one more coach who didn’t make an impact unless his departure leads to either reassessment of the program’s standards, internal or external sanctions . . .

. . . or what the hell, Chip Kelly. Let’s face it – in these dismal days for wacked-out rumormongering, this is pretty intoxicating stuff.

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports


Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

The Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors have always had a casual attitude about their home court, even by the once-flexible standards of the National Basketball Association.

Thus, it should be only slightly amusing but not actually surprising that Warriors chief arenologist Rick Welts is now waffling a bit (courtesy Comrade Poole) on whether the team will change its name to San Francisco Warriors when it moves across the pond in 2019-20, or retain its current geographic association with Narnia.

I mean Golden State. I often confuse utterly fictional locales – when I can be bothered to give a toss either way.

But the Warriors, whether they play in Oakland, San Francisco, Pier 30, Pier 32, Westeros, Hobbiton, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Curryvania, the Klingon Empire, the Death Star or Planet Nine, are relocating, and once they break the seal on the earth in 12 days, Welts and his fellow elves will almost surely play the team’s future name as a mildly tedious cliffhanger.

Hey, fun is where you find it.

The matter of the team’s relocation will be a sore subject among lifelong East Bay residents, who have put up with the Warriors for 45 years in various stages of development, including the current “We Almost Never Lose” stage. They regard the Warriors’ transplantation to San Francisco to be an unspeakable crime given the high level of fan allegiance afforded them in Oakland.

And yes, they regard Oakland and San Francisco as very real places, as opposed to Golden State, Freedonia, Vulgaria or the Nexus of All Realities.

It is not yet fully known what San Franciscans think of this development, but that’s the nature of the gamble here. They may embrace the Warriors as the new toy in town and then lose interest, and frankly, neither Welts nor anyone else knows the answer to that.

Either way, their die is cast, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are now future former Oakland fixtures. Yes, they are quite fond of the exciting new real estate values and their exciting new unobstructed view of the bay, but it has long been assumed that the move would also entail changing the name back to “San Francisco” for the snob appeal.

Now Welts, who has overseen both arena projects (including the one at Piers 30 and 32 which ended up with the piers beating the Warriors in a rout), tells Comrade Poole that the San Francisco Warriors might not end up as the San Francisco Warriors after all.

“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that yes, we should attach a city name to the team, then it becomes a more global franchise,” Welts marketing-gobbledy-gooked. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world. What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”

In Oakland.

Now, the mic drop.

“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” he added. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made. But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”

Of course. Why not stay fictional when specificity might move fewer hoodies?

Then again, this is a team that in its 70 years has played home games in Philadelphia (the Arena, the Civic Center, Lincoln High School and Convention Hall), Hershey and Bethlehem PA, Atlantic City, Trenton, Collingswood and Camden NJ, and Saratoga Springs NY . . .

(a moment’s rest here to catch our breaths)

. . . and then after moving west in 1962, the Cow Palace, San Francisco Civic Auditorium and USF’s Memorial Gym, the Oakland Auditorium, San Jose Civic Auditorium, San Jose Arena, Richmond Auditorium, then Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Eugene, Seattle, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

In fact, and you can swindle the gullible at your neighborhood tavern with this one, the Warriors’ first game in San Francisco occurred almost three years before the team left Philadelphia. The Warriors played the visitors to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles a year later and had already played a regular season game at the Cow Palace earlier in the year, so this game, January 31, 1960, could have been considered a civic scouting trip for both teams as they sought new homes.

In other words, the Warriors are almost surely the most geographically vague team in the history of North American sports. Moreover, they are about to become the first team in sports history to go home for the third time under three different city names – Philadelphia, San Francisco and Krypton, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves this time.