For Bochy, a win stamps a ticket to the Hall


For Bochy, a win stamps a ticket to the Hall

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

Kershaw stands between Cubs and first World Series since 1945

Kershaw stands between Cubs and first World Series since 1945

Clayton Kershaw stands between the Cubs and the World Series, a possibility that left veteran catcher David Ross thinking about Ric Flair inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse late Thursday night: To be The Man, you got to beat The Man. 

“Woo!” That’s how the Cubs like to punctuate their postgame celebration routine, channeling the professional wrestling legend in a ritual with so much sensory overload that the fog machine set off fire alarms throughout the underground Wrigley Field lair…after a win in the middle of August. “Woo!” 
The Cubs left Los Angeles one win away from their first National League pennant since 1945, and with two chances to pull it off this weekend at Wrigley Field, beginning on Saturday night in Game 6. So imagine how this crew would trash the Party Room if they beat Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP. 

“The guy competes,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s pretty much like mechanics be damned, it’s just about me beating you somehow. 

“He’s got a good fastball that he locates. He doesn’t walk people. He’s got a dynamic curve and slider. And he’s got deception. He’s a little bit funky, and that’s got to be hard to pick up. The ball gets on you pretty quickly, and then he commands it. 

“So there’s nothing you could possibly ask for that he doesn’t already have.”

Now we’ll see if something clicked while the Cubs turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 NLCS lead – handling rookie starters Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda and the softer parts of the Los Angeles bullpen – or if those 18 runs combined in Games 4 and 5 were a mirage.

In 16-plus innings so far, the Cubs still haven’t scored a run off Kershaw, if-necessary Game 7 lefty starter Rich Hill or dominating closer Kenley Jansen, who got this review from Maddon: “He’s like a 100-pound heavier version of Mariano Rivera. He’s the bigger man with the same kind of stuff.”


No Indians first pitch for 'Wild Thing' in World Series


No Indians first pitch for 'Wild Thing' in World Series

CLEVELAND -- Wild Thing will have to stay in the bullpen during the World Series.

While actor Charlie Sheen, who played Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the movie "Major League" offered to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before one of this year's World Series games, Major League Baseball said the choices have already been made.

A spokesman told the AP on Friday that MLB has worked with the Indians to identify "former franchise greats" to throw out the first pitch for the games in Cleveland. An announcement is expected early next week.

The Indians host Games 1 and 2 on Tuesday and Wednesday. If necessary, Cleveland will host Games 6 and 7 on Nov. 1-2.

There had been a movement by fans on social media for Sheen to throw the first pitch and be part of the pregame festivities.

Sheen got wind of the buzz and responded on Twitter, posting a photo of himself as Vaughn in his Indians uniform and wrote, "Major League continues to be the gift that keeps on giving! if called upon, I'd be honored."

Sheen made an appearance during the playoffs at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday when the Chicago Cubs beat Los Angeles in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

Released in 1989, "Major League" is a fictional account of the Indians finishing in first place with an unconventional group of players including Vaughn, who struggled to find the strike zone and warmed up to "Wild Thing," a No. 1 hit song in 1966 by The Troggs.

The real Cleveland Indians, who overcame injuries to win the AL Central, before knocking off Boston and Toronto in the playoffs, took a page from "Major League" this season.

Slugger Mike Napoli and second baseman Jason Kipnis constructed a shrine in an empty clubhouse stall between their lockers like one in the movie. In the film, character Pedro Cerrano practices Voodoo and prays to an idol named, "Jobu" to help him hit curveballs.

Like Cerrano, Napoli and Kipnis have their own "Jobu" and have left gifts, including small bottles of rum and cigars, to keep them out of hitting slumps.