For Bochy, a win stamps a ticket to the Hall

For Bochy, a win stamps a ticket to the Hall
October 23, 2012, 4:11 pm
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Bruce Bochy has spent a lot of time in his managerial career mastering the art of saying as little as possible in big public gatherings. In smaller groups where he knows everyone around him, he is a man of keen insight and cutting wit, but the Bochy most folks see on television is a more tactical speaker, giving nothing that can be turned into something, and using his slow drawl to sucker people into thinking that he isnt.Thinking, that is.In 2010, he nearly blew his cover, guiding the San Francisco Giants to their first World Series title with an extended series of fortunate, superb, and well-considered pitching and tactical moves. When asked during the subsequent spring training whether his public reputation had been transformed, his cover blown, he laughed and said, I thought about that, but I know it works.Meaning:There isnt a honeymoon in this job. Itll all be back to normal by the end of April. He was right a maddening habit of his.But now, two years later, the Giants are back in the Series, with a nearly total remake from the 2010 team, one fewer reliable starting pitcher, and enough takes of Well, that ought to finish them to last a lifetime. Bochy shepherded Buster Posey through enough games to be the putative favorite for the MVP, he adjusted the back end of his bullpen twice, he dealt with the disappearance of Tim Lincecum and the re-emergence or Barry Zito, he overcame the minefield of Melky Cabrera, and on-again off-again developmental steps of Brandon Belt.And now he is quite possibly on the cusp of being a Hall of Fame-level manager. Winning this World Series would almost surely do it.Here we must stop, because the Hall of Fame isnt always about deeds, but perceptions as well. A lot of people can be Hall of Fame caliber, but lack one value or another and never get in. See Gene Mauch, for example, still considered the finest tactician of the last half-century, often while managing teams which tactics could not save.But to make Bochys case, lets go to the reference resources, shall we?Games Managed: 2898, 22nd on the all-time list. Those above him neither in or likely to be in the Hall of Fame: Mauch, Ralph Houk, Jimmie Dykes.Years: 18, tying him for 30th. Those tied or above him neither in nor likely to be: Mauch, Houk, Dykes, Charlie Griumm, John McNamara, Chuck Tanner, Bill Rigney.Postseason appearances: Six, tying him for 13th all time. Those tied with or above him neither in nor likely: Ron Gardenhire, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Dusty Baker. And you can make arguments for Johnson, Manuel and Baker.World Series Appearances: Three, including this one, tying him for 23rd. Those tied or above him, etc. Grimm, Houk, Jim Mutrie.And should he beat one of his contemporaries in all these areas, the almost surely HOF-bound Jim Leyland, he would have two big rings, tying him for 10th. Those tied or blah-de-blah-de-blah include Houk, Mutrie, Bill Carrigan, Terry Francona, Cito Gaston, Tom Kelly and Danny Murtaugh.Oh, and he ranks 23rd in wins and 18th in losses, which leaves him just below the same people he shares the other categories with. In case, the names escape you, allow us to facilitate your further comprehension:1. Connie Mack.
2. Tony La Russa.
3. John McGraw.
4. Bobby Cox.
5. Bucky Harris.
6. Joe Torre.
7. Sparky Anderson.
8. Mauch.
9. Casey Stengel.
10. Leo Durocher.
11. Walter Alston.
12. Bill McKechnie.
13. Lou Piniella.
14. Joe McCarthy.
15. Jim Leyland.
16. Ralph Houk.
17. Tom Lasorda.
18. Dick Williams.
19. Dusty Baker.
20. Jimmie Dykes.
21. Clark Griffith.
22. Fred Clarke.
23. Bochy.
24. Wilbert Robertson.
25. Chuck Tanner.
26. Miller Huggins.
27. Bill Rigney.
28. Earl Weaver.
29. Ned Hanlon.
30. Al Lopez.
31. Whitey Herzog.
32. Lou Boudreau.In that group, La Russa, Cox, Torre and Leyland are not yet but will be Hall of Famers, and Piniella is close. Baker needs a World Series title, and Mauch, Dykes, Tanner and Rigney died without one, and Houk have been passed over for years, and seem unlikely to be revisited.Which frankly puts Bochy in the thick of a debate he would publicly blanch at but privately enjoy, namely, how elite an elite manager is he? As in, not merely good for the moment, but in the history of the game?Where he falls down is in winning percentage, where he didnt get to .500 until the end of August of this year, and where he ranks 142nd, largely due to the dues-paying years in San Diego. This is not as compelling a stat, though, as Casey Stengel, one of the games best managers ever, had a .508 even after you allow for the great Yankee teams he managed in the 50s.The point here is that, even if you want to downgrade his press conference work as a unacceptably stylistic attempt at minimalism, you have here a Hall of Fame-caliber manager now, and someone who should be considered a near-mortal lock if his side wins this time. Leyland, who is a lock, will have one fewer title if the Giants win.And in any event, Bochy long ago had won over doubters within the baseball community. He has been an elite manager, and he is on the verge of having the numbers to prove it.The honeymoon for that? Oh, Id say Opening Day still, he said with a laugh. He gets the way this works. Hes been doing it too well for too long not to.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

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