Chủ Nhật, 10 tháng 7, 2011

Even in All-Star game, Bruce Bochy all about winning

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery likes to tell a story about manager Bruce Bochy, and it has nothing to do with World Series parades, accolades or riding high.

"It was in 1999 with the Padres, after they slashed the payroll, and we were outgunned and undermanned on every level," Flannery said. "I remember saying one day, 'What possibly are we going to do about it?' And he walked in with seven Betamax tapes, all stacked up, stuck 'em right in my lap and said, 'We're going to work harder.'

"He doesn't care if he's outgunned or outmanned. He always believes he has a chance to win."

Bochy will round up his posse of N.L. All-Stars on Tuesday in Phoenix, and although the selection process provided a few king-size headaches, he is ecstatic to manage the game for the second time in his career.

The last time, in 1999 in Boston, he felt more pressure to run it like a Little League game. Everyone participates. This time, with home-field advantage in the World Series at stake and a few rules changes that will make it easier to substitute, Bochy can manage to win.

And that is just the way he likes it.

"They say teams take on the personality of their manager," Flannery said. "I'll look at our guys late in the game, and as much as we want to win, these guys really hate losing. That comes from him."

It's true for anyone who knew him well during his 12 seasons managing the San Diego Padres and his five years with

Padres coach Glenn Hoffman recalled many nights after a loss when Bochy would collapse flat on his back on the floor of the coaches' room, his 6-foot-3 frame blocking the way out.

"Do we step around him? How do we leave? Should we leave?" said Hoffman, smiling at the memory. "We didn't know."

That kind of passion can backfire when a manager fails to control it, either spilling out in their public comments or turning a team on tilt. Yet when Bochy leaves the privacy of his office, he is able to keep his frustration simmering under a calm exterior. That's the part that amazes Giants general manager Brian Sabean.

"I don't know how he does it with the press, especially with the kind of games we play," Sabean said. "He'll have a tantrum, but he has to wipe that face off and face you guys, and he's stoic about that, then he's back in the clubhouse doing what he's got to do to blow off the loss. I can't imagine how you do that over time."

That stoic face has kept the Giants from panicking despite the losses of Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez, plus injuries that robbed Pablo Sandoval, Cody Ross and Andres Torres of time or momentum. Despite one of the worst offenses in the majors, the Giants are in first place in the N.L. West. They have won 21 games -- more than 40 percent of their victories -- while scoring three runs or fewer.

Bochy's career record of wins and losses is beginning to pile up. With luminaries such as Lou Piniella, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre no longer active, Bochy's tenure of 17 consecutive seasons as a big league manager is second only to Tony LaRussa's 33.

With 1,326 wins, Bochy trails only LaRussa, Jim Leyland and Dusty Baker among active managers.

The All-Star game isn't merely a showcase for baseball's great players. It's a chance for Bochy, fresh off his World Series victory, to gain a little national recognition, too.

"Oh, he's always been one of the great managers," said Leyland, when the Giants visited Detroit this month. "Just a very good, solid man. He's a prince of a guy, that guy. I think the world of him, and I have for a long time.

"He's a champion, and he's been a champion before he won the World Series, as far as I'm concerned. You know who's in charge. You never hear him blowing his own horn. He's a great tribute to our game."

Leyland said Bochy should enjoy managing the All-Star game now that he doesn't have to double-switch to avoid having the pitcher's spot come up.

"It was a thrill for me to do it, but it was a chore," Leyland said. "I can't say I enjoyed it like I wish I could have. But now, this will be a piece of cake for him, and he'll enjoy the moment."

For all the indelible memories of managing at Fenway Park in '99, with the All-Stars gathering around Ted Williams on the field, Bochy hasn't forgotten that he lost the game. He was grateful the National League ended its 13-year streak without a victory last July, giving the Giants home-field advantage in the World Series against the Texas Rangers.

"We want to keep that advantage — hopefully for us, but for whoever gets there, you'd like to say you helped the N.L. out," Bochy said.

Will his priority be on showcasing his roster or winning the game? You don't need to peer over a stack of scouting tapes to know the answer.

"Winning the game," Bochy said. "Not that I'll grind any of the players out, and they'll want to enjoy the experience, but I'll let them know that we're here to win.

"I want to win this thing "... really bad."

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