June 29, 2010
URBAN ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOChat withMychael from thestart of the 4th inning through the end of the 6th inning of Tuesday'sGiants-Dodgers game!Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.comA great many Giants fans likely looked at Bruce Bochys lineup for Tuesdays tilt against the Dodgers, saw Pablo Sandoval in the No. 3 spot and slapped their foreheads. A few WTF?!? Tweets or texts to friends might have immediately followed.Given the Kung Fu Pandas quasi-cartoonish struggles of late, thats an understandable reaction. But take a step back from it all and youll see that this isnt a head-slapper at all.Its a stroke of managerial genius by Bruce Bochy.
Look, we all know that Sandoval hasnt been hitting like a true No. 3 hitter since April. And most agree that a sense of urgency -- the playing of hot hands -- should carry the day for Bochy right about now.But we also know, or should, that managing or coaching any professional sport at the highest level is as much about managing egos and personalities as it is about talent, lineups and strategy.Sandoval batting third, a night after (a) taking Giants out of an almost-sure run with the worst baserunning mistake seen in these parts since Ruben Rivera, and (b) being lifted for a pinch hitter with the game in the balance in the bottom of the ninth, was Bochy smartly acknowledging the baby-sitting aspect of the job.This is a 23-year-old dealing with failure for the first time in his baseball life, remember, and Monday night was pretty much rock bottom. Sitting him on the bench Tuesday or batting him in the bottom half of the order again would have been the absolute worst thing to do for the kids waning confidence.Whether it pays off on the field or not -- Sandoval actually had a hell of an at-bat to get on base before his brain cramp and had a solid night at the plate in general -- it will pay off in the clubhouse, in the dugout and in the managers office whenever Sandoval might next be summoned.The message Tuesday, from Bochy to Sandoval, was this: We still believe in you. I still believe in you. We need you. We trust you. We love you.It might sound a little sappy for some, but its part of the failure-based game of big-league ball. Sometimes, as the leader of highly paid men, you have take care of someones head even if your heart is saying something else.