"Why couldn't it have been Steve Finley?"
That's a thought that actually went through my mind about a year ago. They are sad, sad words to think. They are sad, sad words to type. Matt Williams was managing the NLDS like a confused tourist holding an upside-down map, and it was stunning. Would you have taken the ball out of Jordan Zimmermann's hand? You would not have. Williams did, and the Giants won the World Series because of it.
I was okay with Matt Williams being an all-time Giants great for what he did as a player. He did not need sad bonus points.
This comes up now, of course, because Williams was fired by the Nationals less than a year after winning the Manager of the Year Award. He's tied with Bruce Bochy for his career, but only one of them is likely to go to the Hall of Fame as a manager*. In a Williams Era postmortem, the Washington Post offered some Giants-related nuggets.
In the seventh inning of a tie game, with the Nationals facing elimination, Williams tabbed rookie Aaron Barrett to pitch out of a jam. In the other dugout, according to a person familiar with the situation, Giants Manager Bruce Bochy turned giddily incredulous that Williams had not instead chosen all-star Tyler Clippard, whom Bochy feared because of his experience and ability to face both left-handed and right-handed hitters. As Barrett warmed up, the person said, Bochy expressed to one of his coaches that Williams’s decision had just given the Giants the series.
I have to use that phrase more.
The Zimmermann move gets more press, but the Barrett decision was completely unhinged. Williams managed that game like it was the start of a four-game series in April, not like his shoes were filled with scorpions and his world was crumbling. It was enough to make me offer hot takes about using the postseason as a factor in the Manager of the Year voting. A year later, it's an absolute embarrassment that Williams won the award the same season he did ... that ... in the postseason.
Oh, how I wish it were Steve Finley. This just isn't fair.
Instead of lamenting that Finley exists and Williams is a goat for an entire fan base, I would like to share a fanboy's wish with you. Now that he's done benching around with the Diamondbacks, dodging foam effigies of himself, and now that he's removed himself from consideration to manage another team again -- at least for the next decade or so -- let us imagine Williams back in a Giants uniform in some capacity. It is a good imagine, that imagine. For example, this is Matt Williams in a Giants uniform:
/tosses Good Giant peanut from pile of Good Giant peanuts
Him in a Giants uniform makes for warm fuzzies. It's been about two decades now. That's long enough. Come back, Matty. Come back.
As to the logistics of that wish ... well, I don't have a good idea on how to accomplish this. Hensley Meulens is an underappreciated soul who should have been a manager three years ago, so he stays on as a hitting coach. Ron Wotus hasn't hung around this long because someone forgot to take his keys away -- he seems to be an important part of the organization. Even if Williams wanted to step back and coach third, Roberto Kelly was doing well there by the end of the season, and he's been a valuable coach for the Giants for years.
Unless someone hires one of these cats to manage their team, there probably isn't a spot for Williams. The dream of Matt Williams, great Giants player and great Giants coach, probably isn't realistic, unless we're talking about something in an instructional capacity in Scottsdale. Which I would be fine with! As long as he stayed the hell away from the pitching staff and pitching changes. Like, go sit over there and don't even shake hands with a reliever, just ignore them, go on, get out of here.
Until one of those scenarios comes true, though, we'll have to remember Matt Williams, great Giants player and great Giants-related manager.
Just not in the way he would have liked. Williams probably deserved better. Best of luck.
(I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that this is the year a Giants coach gets poached for a manager's gig, so keep an eye on him.)