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Review: MLB Network Presents Bruce Bochy and Tim Flannery as friends who have also worked together for a long time and won world championships.

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The young network's new feature does a good job of stitching together archival footage and a couple of new interviews to create programming that fills time between commercial breaks, but for Giants fans, there's not a lot of meat on these bones.

"You wouldn't quit snoring last night, Boch. Ticked me off." "Just keep smiling for the cameras."
"You wouldn't quit snoring last night, Boch. Ticked me off." "Just keep smiling for the cameras."
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

How would you define friendship? It's at least a relationship that's founded upon a shared experience, right? Same class in school? Same team? Same favorite TV show? Something like that. But it's about having something in common first and the rest is all chemistry.

Bruce Bochy and Tim Flannery have chemistry. They're both baseball men -- that's the shared experience -- and they both have optimistic views on life. They're friends through and through, that much is clear, but for the sake of ratings, one cable network needed to make them something more.

Last night, MLB Network aired the first episode of their new series, MLB Network Presents, titled "Bochy and Flannery: The Odd Couple". Hey! That's great news for us as we are Giants fans and those guys are Giants! The premiere focused on the "unique bond" between Bruce Bochy and former third base coach Tim Flannery -- they're sort of an odd couple.

Turns out, the special was not really meant for us. If you've followed the Giants for any length of time over the past seven years then you'd already know about most of the stuff covered in the special, which is a shame because the idea behind it all is an interesting one. The Odd Couple comparison just feels forced, too, given what we see. It certainly felt like MLB Network opted to lean heavily on stock footage and voice over to do the bulk of the work, sprinkling in a few interview sessions -- one with Flannery, one with Bochy, and a joint interview. Ultimately, the result was something less than interesting but a hair better than boring.

Grant posted the teaser the other day. Turns out, that teaser previewed all the significant beats for the rest of the hour. So, within its first few minutes, the special was already traveling well-trodden territory.

Great pains were made to let us know that although they are friends, they are really quite different, you see.

Kim Bochy: "They don't really have a lot of the same interests other than baseball."

Donna Flannery: "It seems like a bad marriage at times."

The "second act" of the episode deals with how Bochy and Flannery came to meet, and that's actually a pretty great story. Bochy comes over to the Padres and meets Flannery while some of the Pads are on a pub crawl -- or, as they called it, a "Fun Run". So, really, it was baseball and beer that brought them together. They used to hold court after each game by their lockers, talking baseball until the beer ran out.

Bochy noted, "Wasn't just about having a beer, but you know, the guys seemed like they'd hang around more."

Flannery was loved in San Diego, which is kinda surprising until you remember that most cities love their baseball teams, up to and including the scrappy guys who hang around for many years. The Padres went so far as to have a Flan Appreciation Night. Feels like that'd be the equivalent of a Gregor Blanco Appreciation Night now, and, come to think of it, I'd probably be up for something like that.

Anyway, Flannery gives a very touching speech. Kinda the ultimate "man" speech, too.

I played on eleven Padres teams for seven managers with a hundred and eighty-two different players. Throughout my changes over the years, there was one thing that never seemed to change: it was the tremendous support you people gave to my family and me and for that I will be forever grateful.

Brief. To the point. Grateful. Oh, and the Padres gave his children college scholarships, too! Can you imagine a team doing that today? Jeffrey Loria would make the kids pay *him*.

The episode is strongest when it focuses on Tim Flannery. He has a backstory worthy of Justified. His father was literally a hill person from Kentucky, who walked out of the hills and to the city to become a preacher. Too bad Justified is ending this year, because I think we deserve an episode where Boyd Crowder needs to get a third base coach to fix a game for him for some reason.

And yet, it never makes a compelling case about them being an ODD couple. They're just different. And one's the boss, the other's the subordinate. You can't really say that Flannery's hippie-ish tendencies and artistry as a musician make him radically different from Bochy's stoicism, because Bochy isn't stoic. He's just stoic when he leans against the dugout railing.

Brian Sabean: [Bochy] has a knack as to know who needs a day off, who's a little bit prickly, who needs a little boot in the ass, who needs a pat in the back -- it's an art form and he's perfected it.

Art form? Does that not make Bruce Bochy an artist? It would be near-impossible to characterize an artist as passionless. Bruce Bochy loves and feels as much as Tim Flannery does, he just doesn't burst into tears as often (I think Flannery cries three times in this special). Flan even says at one point, "There are things that are said at three in the morning after you win a world championship where he's hugging on ya and telling you things about what you mean to him, but uh, it's been one helluva run."

These are fiery guys who express and handle their intense emotions differently, but they don't repress. Alcohol seems to fuel Bochy's more love-related feelings (it made him do karaoke for the first and only time), but he never holds back with his fiery temper and he's more than willing to modulate his behavior as the situation dictates.

It would've been a whole lot more interesting if they had dug deeper into a couple of situations. How did Bochy feel firing his best friend (when they were in the middle of a losing season in San Diego)? Why was it so important for Bochy to have Flannery in San Francisco with him? Why was Flannery so willing to go back to him?

If these answers were some variety of "The team was doing poorly and somebody had to pay for it" and "I said yes because I needed the job", then there's not really a lot of meat on these subjects' bones. In other words, this was a concept with very superficial traits guiding it, such as TIM FLANNERY PLAYS GUITAR BUT BRUCE BOCHY GOES FISHING! BRUCE BOCHY YELLS AT HIS SUBORDINATES BUT HIS SUBORDINATES DON'T LIKE TO BE YELLED AT! BOCHY IS THE SON OF A NAVY SEAL BUT FLANNERY IS THE SON OF A PREACHER MAN!

It lacks a substantial point of view. The only one it proffers is, "Here are people who manage and coach our wonderful sport. Look at how successful people are - they're just like you and me, kinda. Or, at least, totally relatable!"

And if there was a stealth agenda at play here, like starting the march towards Bruce Bochy's Hall of Fame induction, then the special could've done a lot more with that. Instead, we get a lot of stuff about Flannery's band and playing with the Grateful Dead and everything he did for Bryan Stow and his family -- all very nice and interesting things off the field, but we never really get anything close to that with Bruce Bochy. He tells a couple of stories from his fishing boat and I think that's just supposed to let us know that Bruce Bochy fishes and manages baseball and that's it.

But Brian Sabean does mention that he thinks Bochy was already a Hall of Famer before the third World Series, as does Flannery. There's a conspicuous lack of guys who played for Bochy, past and present. Hunter Pence is seen briefly, like he just got out of batting practice, long enough to call Bochy a "magician". Well, sure, to anyone from Alpha Centauri, someone who can manage a batted ball squadron without telekinetic abilities MUST be a magician of some kind.

And then there's a quick story Flannery tells after the first World Series where Bochy tells him, "This is all I needed. I just needed to win this one time." He's quick to point out that after three rings, Flannery knows Bochy's "full of shit... He wants to win all of 'em."

I would've liked to hear from Bruce Bochy: Relentless Winning Machine and I'm sorely disappointed that the people who put together this not-documentary shied away from the more interesting stories that came out of this not-at-all unlikely pairing. If nothing else, they could've given us a more interesting title. Some after-the-fact pitches:


Grade: 3 World Series Rings out of 5 Years. It was better than listening to Mike Russo scream at you for thirty minutes. It was better than Kevin Millar screaming GOT HEEEEEM! at you for thirty minutes. It was better than Brian Kenny screaming STOP BUNTING!! at you for thirty minutes. It wasn't better than Grant wearing a suit and staring sexily at you through the camera as he talks about baseball, which may or may not be a point added by Grant during editing.