Bochy's steady hand points way to second title
DETROIT -- For Giants manager Bruce Bochy, this World Series win is certainly one to savor. It's San Francisco's second championship in the past three years and puts Bochy among the pantheon of the modern managerial baseball gods.Tommy Lasorda won a pair with the Dodgers. And Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella won one each -- Cox in five chances with the Braves and Piniella with the Reds, the only time one of his teams went to the Fall Classic.
That puts the selfless man the Giants affectionately call "Boch" in pretty heady company."I know how lucky I am and how blessed I am," Bochy said on Sunday night after his club swept the Tigers, putting the final touch on an unexpected season with a 4-3, 10-inning victory at Comerica Park. "To even be mentioned with those guys, I revere all those managers you just talked about and the careers that they had. I'm numb, really, the fact that we've won two World Series in the last three years. This will sink in, but right now, I'm kind of speechless about that." In the immediate aftermath, Bochy sat on the chair in his office with a look of sheer contentment on his broad face. Around him were the Giants braintrust: general manager Brian Sabean, assistant GM Bobby Evans, senior advisor Tony Siegle, special assistant Felipe Alou, scouting director John Barr and a few of the myriad scouts who put this club together.
|1954||Leo Durocher *||Indians||4-0|
|1933||Bill Terry *||Senators||4-1|
|1922||John McGraw *||Yankees||4-0|
|1921||John McGraw *||Yankees||5-3|
|1905||John McGraw *||Athletics||4-1|
Outside the door, team president Larry Baer was singing Bochy's praises, and for good reason. Among the recent pantheon of the managerial gods, only Joe Torre and Tony La Russa have more World Series rings to their credit. Torre won four with the Yankees and La Russa three with the A's and Cardinals, including 2011, his last season before retiring.Next year, Torre, La Russa, Cox and Piniella will all be on the ballot when the post-expansion Veterans Committee gathers to decide whether any or all of those great men should be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bochy shouldn't be far behind. His Giants team that defeated the Rangers in five games two years ago is now 8-1 in the World Series. "Bochy has been un-be-lievable," Baer said, stretching out the word for emphasis. "To overcome the adversity and the guys we had taken off the field, you have to have a steady hand. And he has the steadiest hand you can possibly imagine I have ever seen in sports. He doesn't get flustered. He's calm. He thinks things through. He has the respect of the young and the old, the people upstairs and downstairs. If there's one blessing in all this besides the obvious, it's that this guy is finally getting his recognition." The Giants plucked Bochy away from the Padres in 2006 after he spent 12 years managing in San Diego. Sabean had just dismissed Alou as manager and was looking for that steady hand to guide the Giants through the chaos of the 2007 season, during which Barry Bonds was projected to and ultimately did pass Hank Aaron for the all-time home run record. The Padres had just won consecutive National League West titles in San Diego under Bochy, losing to the Cardinals in the NL Division Series both seasons. But chief executive Sandy Alderson was looking for a newer age manager to adapt to his more sabermetric style, although Bochy was under contract for one more season. Alderson gave Bochy permission to talk to the Giants, and when Sabean offered a three-year deal, the manager jumped. The results have been staggering. Alderson is long gone to Mets. The Padres, under new ownership, haven't been back to the postseason since Bochy left. The Giants are in the midst of their most successful era since moving from New York to San Francisco in 1958. Their World Series victory on the field at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was their first since 1954. The Giants haven't won the World Series in the same proximate era since back-to-back titles in 1921-22. Thus, Bochy becomes only the second manager in the club's illustrious history to win the World Series more than once. The other is the legendary John McGraw, who did it three times: 1905, as well as 1921-22. That's some more pretty heady company. "You know, I count my blessings," Bochy said. "I mean, I'm blessed to be in a situation where we can win. I'm thankful for Brian Sabean bringing players in to put us where we're at right now. Ownership, of course our fans, and these players. It's all them. And for me to be the manager ..." The Giants survived a half-dozen playoff elimination games and finished the postseason with seven wins in a row. They began the season without closer Brian Wilson and never had second baseman Freddy Sanchez because of injuries. Buster Posey, Bochy's All-Star catcher and best player, came back from a seriously broken leg that cost him most of 2011. When Melky Cabrera, the All-Star Game MVP at Kansas City and the NL's leading hitter, was banished for 50 games because of a positive drug test, the Giants continued winning. Bochy made all the moves, including this one: In Game 4 on Sunday night, he chose to use the unheralded Ryan Theriot as designated hitter. Theriot simply started the 10th-inning rally with a single and scored the World Series-winning run on a base hit by Marco Scutaro. From Baer to Sabean to his players and coaches -- they all said Bochy deserves the credit. The man of French decent, who had a pinch-hit single at Tiger Stadium in his one at-bat for the Padres in the 1984 World Series, who still blames himself for the Yankees sweeping San Diego in the 1998 World Series, declined to accept any of it. When asked about his decision to DH Theriot, Bochy smiled and kept on strutting. "I appreciate those comments, but you have to have the personnel, the players to be able to do that, and we did," Bochy said. "I'm going to keep going back to how unselfish they were. I'll mention names: Theriot did a great job for us and he became a role player. He didn't say a word, he didn't complain. He kept himself ready and ended up scoring the winning run.
"Timmy [Lincecum], we put him in the bullpen, he didn't waver on it. We did the bullpen by committee. They didn't care who closed the game there. They just wanted to help us win. That's the only way it gets done."They played as a team and came out and played hard every day. I'm thankful for that and thankful for their attitude." No question, Boch, the feeling from them all is reciprocal.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow@boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.