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Time to win
The Rangers' hiring of Bruce Bochy as manager signifies a commitment to winning that hasn't been in place for a long time.
As the saying goes, a great manager is worth a few extra wins a season.
In the playoffs, that managerial advantage can mean everything. The difference between winning and losing, between glory and dejection.
Bad teams don't have a use for great managers — either way, they're still bad teams. Great managers can make average teams good and good teams better and great teams champions.
That’s been the case for Bruce Bochy, a manager I’ve long admired and interviewed for my book on his former player Ken Caminiti, and who is going to be managing my favorite team.
The Rangers announced the hire, a three-year deal, on Friday.
The Rangers franchise has never hired a World Series-winning manager before. That's not to say the team hasn't had big-name skippers. The Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, was probably the most notable. Other notables include Gil Hodges and Billy Martin, who both helmed the club before winning championships with other teams, and Whitey Herzog, who guided St. Louis to a title.
Johnny Oates, Ron Washington and Buck Showalter all left their mark, too.
A good manager can get their players to buy in, even at the player’s personal detriment or reduced role. A bad manager can drive players away.
A good manager can absorb front office stress and drama without batting an eye. A bad manager can fuel distrust and discontent.
A good manager can win. A bad manager ...
The Rangers have had lots of ineffective managers.
Bochy is a sharp in-game manager who is great at working with players. A player’s manager who knows how to win.
He was lured to Texas by his former player, and the Rangers’ current GM, Chris Young.
The hire gives me faith of two things:
1) The Rangers are committed to blending old school and new school methodologies
2) The Rangers are committed to winning.
Otherwise, why waste your time hiring Bochy?
And for Bochy, why take this job if you aren't allowed to manage the way you wish? Why re-enter the dugout if it isn't the right culture fit for you?
Bochy spoke to that point in the press release announcing his hire.
"If I was going to return to managing, it had to be the right situation," Bochy said. "I strongly believe that to be the case with the Rangers, and I can't wait to get started."
I can’t wait, either.
I've been inclined to think that Bochy would manage again ever since I interviewed him during the spring of 2020. The interview happened amid the COVID-19 pandemic and after he departed the Giants.
Bochy didn't say he was "retired" during the conversation. Instead, he used the term "pause button" during a chat about the 1998 World Series loss and how it motivated him.
"It just made me so hungry to want to get back, have one more shot, and so 2010, that happened. And so you think, 'OK, I did it,' but then you want to win another one because you heard you were lucky. So you want to validate the first one, and so we won the second one, and now it gets you even hungrier to even do it again. And even after '14, after three, I wanted one more shot. It's like an adrenaline drug. There's nothing like it. And so, you know, that's going to be the hardest part for me with hitting the pause button here. That's what I'm going to miss."
For Bochy, the hunger and spark remained.
And now he's going to be managing again, leading a team with Corey Seager at shortstop, and Marcus Semien at second base, and Nathaniel Lowe at first base, Adolis Garcia in the outfield, and any number of free agents lining up to want to play for him, and prospects like Jack Leiter waiting in the wings … and here I am, getting excited about Rangers baseball for the first time in a long, long while.