If you hadn’t heard the news, Bruce Bochy will be missing Sunday’s finale against the Milwaukee Brewers in order to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York. He won’t be the only manager leaving their team for the occasion: the Twins’ Paul Molitor will be going as well.
Both men have strong reasons for stepping away from their commitment: to support close friends. In Bochy’s case, he’ll be there to see both Trevor Hoffman and Alan Trammel receive their plaques and he’ll be sitting in the audience smiling and ready for a cutaway during the telecast whenever either of them mention him in a speech.
Here are some possible Bochy smiles we might see during those speeches:
It’s another example of Bruce Bochy’s humanity, a quality of his that simply doesn’t get enough attention. We know he can be loyal to a fault when it comes to his players, but that “to a fault” is a value judgment only we lowly plebs make. He goes to great lengths to maintain relationships, and not just for the win-loss record.
Bochy would have to take a redeye after Saturday night’s home game against the Brewers then drive the rest of the way to Cooperstown, before flying to San Diego ahead of Monday night’s game.
The logistics are daunting.
”It would be well worth it for this man,” Bochy said. “He was a great player, a pitcher, but he’s also a great friend. We spend a lot of time together still. We get together in the offseason. I would be honored to be there.”
Of course, we’re not too far away from Bochy being an honoree himself. Last night’s victory gave him his 1,905 win as a manager, tying him with Casey Stengel for 11th all-time. As noted last night on Twitter, everyone ahead of Bochy on this list is in the Hall of Fame.
At the end of 2013, I wrote on this very site:
I think the Giants and Bochy have the potential for some success over the next three seasons (the term of Bochy’s extension) that will effectively pad his candidacy. That doesn’t feel outlandish or wishcastingesque to me.
So if we remove the anxiety of future lineup consternation and pitching change Machinations from our minds and simply focus on the past, then I think we can feel pretty good about the idea that Bruce Bochy is a Hall of Fame manager. He’s put in the time, he’s produced the results, he’s a good guy, he’s not controversial. He’s Bruce Bochy, Hall of Fame Baseball Manager.
If you scoff at the notion of Bruce Bochy being a Hall of Fame manager, then buddy, I’ve got some news: you’ve thought he belonged there for 5 years! GOTCHA!
So you So, it should come as no surprise that Bochy’s headed for the Hall. There’s no question, except where he’ll wind up on that all-time wins list when it’s all said and done. Will next season really be his final season with the Giants? As a major league manager? We know he’s had health problems over the past several years, and he’s already won three world titles.
The chances of him overseeing the transition from Bonds to Molina to Posey to Bart seem remote, but given his stick-to-it-iveness and pure love of the game, it’s not impossible. With just 136 more victories, he could hop over Leo Durocher and Walter Alston to claim sole possession of 9th place. Of course, if he was going to do this before his contract expired after 2019, the Giants would have to win 105-110 games next season.
But he’ll almost certainly pass Leo Durocher next season for 10th place. Even if he doesn’t, his “resume” is as impressive as almost every other manager in the top 10. His 44 postseason wins makes him 4th all-time.
Sure, that’s an expanded field versus the rest of baseball history thanks to the added playoff games over time, but his 8 playoff appearances and 44-33 record (.571 winning percentage) places him 6th all-time among the 11 managers who’ve won at least 30 playoff games in their managerial careers.
His 3 World Series titles ties him with Tony La Russa. They trail only Casey Stengel (7), Joe McCarthy (7), Connie Mack (5), Joe Torre (4), Walter Aston (4).
Again, that’s in the entire history of Major League Baseball. Bruce Bochy has reached the pinnacle.
It’ll be interesting to see who shows up for his induction and whose inductions he attends in the future (Posey’s? Bumgarner’s? Bonds’s?), but not more interesting than considering how the dude who managed the Padres for all those years and famously wouldn’t bench Vinny Castilla is in the Hall of Fame wearing a Giants hat. We’ve come a long way, baby.
A long way.