That catcher on the ground that Pete Rose smashed into in the 1980 NLCS?
It was a 25 year old Bruce Bochy. If you told anyone then that Bochy would have a much greater chance of making the Hall of Fame instead of Rose, you'd have been committed. It was literally an impossible thought. Bochy played his career in the 1980's and was known as a backup catcher with a giant head. Not a big ego. Just a huge cranium. He wears (at least) a size 8 1/8 hat. The official MLB store only goes up to 8. He has to get his specially made.
So he was known as the big head catcher in the 80's. You'd get his baseball cards back then and sigh hoping to pull a Wally Joyner or Ruben Sierra instead. Now? He's the greatest manager of this century and maybe my entire life.
The job he did last night in Game 1 of the World Series would be a bigger national story if it wasn't Bruce Bochy. We're just used to this genius by now. He's the only manager in the 2000's with 3 World Series rings. He's three games away from his 4th. The last guy to win 4 was Joe Torre. Before that? You have to go way back. Tony LaRussa won 3. Same with Sparky Anderson. Tommy Lasorda and Terry Francona only won 2.
It's Casey Stengel who won 7. He was born in 1890. That's how far back we are talking. That's how amazing Bruce Bochy is. His peer was born when Benjamin Harrison was president.
It's easy to forget that Bochy was a successful manager before coming to the Giants in 2007. He is one of only two people to bring the San Diego Padres to the World Series. They did get swept by the 1998 Yankees but considering that's the greatest team since (at least) the Big Red Machine in 1975-76, there is no shame in that. So, this 2023 Rangers team is already his 5th pennant with three different teams. Last guy to bring three different teams to the World Series? Dick Williams…who was Bruce Bochy's manager on the 1984 Padres.
Let's talk last night. Bochy went to Jon Gray in the 7th inning for what ended up being five outs. This seemed insane to me. Now, Gray was a good starter for most of the regular season before getting hurt. But since then, he's pitched one more inning in the last month than Meek Phil. Not only that but Gray was bad in that inning. You're going to have him pitch only down by 2 in Game 1 of the World Series?
This why I'm known for making fart noises with my mouth and being able to get compact and why I'm not a major league manager.
Jon Gray got five outs and four of them were via the strikeout. Gray was so good that it instantly gave Bochy a quality arm in the bullpen that I bet we see again in this series. Tony LaRussa may have invented the basic concept of a modern bullpen but no one has mastered it quite like Bochy. That Giants dynasty did it by having the best bullpen year after year. Sure, Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner didn't hurt but it was that pen of Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affledt, Javier Lopez and Santiago Casilla that you could count on in big game after big game.
I don't think this series is over. I said Dbacks in 7 when it started and I'll stick with that. Max Scherzer in Game 3 is not ideal and who pitches Game 4? Andrew Heaney? Game 5 would have Zac Gallen back in Arizona where he is elite. But I will admit, I might have been too quick to say the Rangers bullpen was not very good. The engine may be sputtering and the body of the car is covered in rust but you got Jeff Gordon behind the wheel.
Finally, the greatest trick Bruce Bochy pulled last night? He won an 11 inning game and didn't have to use Aroldis Chapman for a single out. You know that was no accident.
Bruce Bochy may have a 8 1/4 size head but it's all brains in there.