Ray Ratto

Ratto: Bruce Bochy's Managerial Masterpiece

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Ratto: Bruce Bochy's Managerial Masterpiece

Oct. 29, 2010RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTSVIDEO
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.

In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in

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AP

In retirement, Andre Ward will have days when he desperately wants back in

Andre Ward finally did what he said he would do – retire before the sport of boxing retired him.

Now we’ll see if boxing intends to leave him be.

Ward announced his retirement via Twitter Thursday morning, seemingly ending the career of one of the world’s greatest fighters in the elusive pound-for-pound category. He now plans to get into media, which is a battle of its own (ask Teddy Atlas when he talks with Stephen A. Smith how rewarding that can be).

But there’s that word “seemingly.” Boxers have a greater incidence of unretirement than any other sport because they miss what they do, they are typically surrounded by people who like the paydays the boxer’s fights provide, the unpaid tax debts some incur never go away, and sometimes they just don’t have anything better to do.

And then one day they find out they can’t do anything at all because of the punishments that come with violent sport, and then they become either tragedies or cautionary tales. Almost nobody gets to 95 like Jake LaMotta did.

Ward has said repeatedly that would never happen to him, that he was in control of his destiny and would remain so. And you want to believe him, because he would be that rarest of boxing stories – the unmitigated success.

It will be his toughest fight, however, far tougher than Sergei Kovalev. Boxing has this weird thrall upon its practitioners that can prove irresistible, if not outright necessary, and Ward will have to train as hard to repel its call as he did when he was neck-deep in it. It will not be easy, and he will have days when he desperately wants back in.

But retired fighters typically make poor unretired fighters, and the more one unretires, the worse the future becomes. So Andre Ward has to win this one more than any other fight.

And maybe it will be an easy victory for him – but it is a victory that will have to be achieved every day, almost like fighting alcoholism. Boxing is bad for you, and though it has been good for Andre Ward (as far as anyone knows), being an ex-boxer will be even better. He has done what needs to be done, and now he needs to do something else, one that doesn’t require putting his body and brain at risk for our amusement.

If this can be done, Andre Ward can achieve it. But neither he nor anyone else should think it will be any easier than understanding an Adalaide Byrd scorecard. Post-boxing will be difficult and rewarding business. All he has to do is master it every day for the rest of his life.

The time has come to draw your own conclusion

The time has come to draw your own conclusion

For the record, and just so you can’t say you weren’t told, these are the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL and the 50 backups. Draw your own conclusions.

(Author’s note: We list these only because Joe Webb was just signed by the Buffalo Bills, whose starter and first backup, Tyrod Taylor and T.J. Yates, are still in the concussion protocol).

AFC WEST

DENVER: Trevor Siemian (Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler)

KANSAS CITY: Alex Smith (Patrick Mahomes, Tyler Bray)

LOS ANGELES: Philip Rivers (Cardale Jones)

OAKLAND: Derek Carr (E.J. Manuel, Connor Cook)

AFC NORTH

BALTIMORE: Joe Flacco (Ryan Mallett)

CINCINNATI: Andy Dalton (AJ McCarron)

CLEVELAND: DeShone Kizer (Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan, Josh Woodrum)

PITTSBURGH: Ben Roethlisberger (Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs)

AFC SOUTH

HOUSTON: Tom Savage (DeShaun Watson)

INDIANAPOLIS: Scott Tolzien (Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett)

JACKSONVILLE: Chad Henne (Blake Bortles)

TENNESSEE: Marcus Mariota (Matt Cassel)

AFC EAST

BUFFALO: Nathan Peterman (Taylor, Yates, Webb)

MIAMI: Jay Cutler (Matt Moore, David Fales)

NEW ENGLAND: Tom Brady (Jimmy Garoppolo)

NEW YORK: Josh McCown (Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg)

NFC WEST

ARIZONA: Carson Palmer (Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert)

LOS ANGELES: Jared Goff (Sean Mannion)

SAN FRANCISCO: Brian Hoyer (C.J. Beathard)

SEATTLE: Russell Wilson (Austin Davis)

NFC NORTH

CHICAGO: Mike Glennon (Mitchell Trubisky, Mark Sanchez)

DETROIT: Matthews Stafford (Jack Rudock)

GREEN BAY: Aaron Rodgers (Brett Hundley)

MINNESOTA: Sam Bradford (Case Keenum)

NFL SOUTH

ATLANTA: Matt Ryan (Matt Schaub)

CAROLINA: Cam Newton (Derek Anderson, Brad Kaaya)

NEW ORLEANS: Drew Brees (Chase Daniel, Taysom Hill)

TAMPA BAY: Jameis Winston (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin)

NFC EAST

DALLAS: Dak Prescott (Cooper Rush)

NEW YORK: Eli Manning (Geno Smith, Davis Webb)

PHILADELPHIA: Carson Wentz (Nick Foles)

WASHINGTON: Kirk Cousins (Colt McCoy)

Again, draw your own conclusions. I know I’ve drawn mine.