Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Giant Perhaps Forgotten

The Giants are currently showing the top 10 games (as voted by the fans) on Comcast, the cable network responsible for showing more San Francisco Giants games than anyone else.

Most recently, Game #8, has aired (these games are being shown in reverse order) and its of the 1987 Giants clinching the pennant at Jack Murphy Stadium against the Padres.

In this film are a lot of familiar faces of yesteryear, one of them being Bruce Bochy. In this particular game Bochy was inserted as a pinch-hitter but his futile attempt at reaching base was thwarted by the crafty left-hander, Dave Dravecky, who made Bochy appear feeble at best. And this reminds me that Bruce Bochy, as a manager, has been serviceable. No more, no less. He had more than a modicum of success with the San Diego Padres, which is more than I can say for his job with the Giants, so far.

Because I was on the outside looking in I thought the Giants hiring Bruce Bochy was a good move. But as the Giants' skipper he has not shown the ability of timing. This is one trait all successful managers must have and as long as he stumbles in his decision-making process, much of it having to do with timing, at least one embittered and sometimes inebriated fan will continue to mispronounce his name as Botchy. And unfortunately, for Senor Bruce, there is some accuracy to these misspoken outbursts.

I came across a familiar name as someone Baltimore Oriole closer, George Sherrill, credits for helping him catch some scouts' eyes when he was toiling around in the minor leagues. When Sherrill was playing for the Winnipeg Goldeyes in 2003, the manager was Hal Lanier. The same Lanier who wore #22 before Jack Clark and then Will the Thrill Clark, after him. He played second-base then shortstop for the San Francisco Giants from 1965 thru 1971, before handing the job of shortstop over to Chris Speier.

Lanier has been doing the managerial thing for a while. And since he has some history with the Giants I wanted to re-introduce him to fans of the orange and black. He had the werewithall to tell George Sherrill that he needed to lose some El Bees (lbs.), preferably 25, and in doing so Sherrill picked up a couple of miles per hour to his fastball. With an already deceptive throwing style that extra oomph helped Sherrill lead the Northern League in earned run average (ERA) and got him noticed by some scouts.

It appears to me that Lanier can see beyond the initial impression. And that's better than Bochy who doesn't seem to know when to pull a struggling hurler or when to just leave him in there to work out of the mess. I don't blame Bochy, pitching coaches Dave Righetti or Mark Gardner for the abundance of no balls and two strikes hits allowed. Although the idea of fining the bonehead (and his batterymate) might make some of those guys who have difficulty reaching for their wallets (due to alligator arms) think twice about getting too much of the strike zone with a pitch while they are ahead in the count.

Hal Lanier, a name to keep in mind when the time comes to replace Bruce Bochy.

(Inspired by article from ESPN magazine, dated May 19, 2008.)

Kevin Marquez