Baseball

Bruce Bochy taught us all what good leadership is. He deserves a solid sendoff season

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy looks out at the crowd at Oracle Park during introductions before the start of the home opener Friday, April 5, 2019. Bochy, who is retiring at the end of the season, was honored in pre-game ceremonies. The Giants lost 5-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays to fall to 2-6 at the start of the season.
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy looks out at the crowd at Oracle Park during introductions before the start of the home opener Friday, April 5, 2019. Bochy, who is retiring at the end of the season, was honored in pre-game ceremonies. The Giants lost 5-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays to fall to 2-6 at the start of the season. Associated Press

Oh, come on, guys. Don’t do this to King Cranium.

Bruce Bochy is taking the next ride-share to the Hall of Fame when this 2019 Major League Baseball season calls it a year. We’ve known that since Bochy steered the San Francisco Giants to three World Series titles at the start of this decade.

But, not like this.

Don’t make Bochy walk down You Have Got To Be Kidding Me Boulevard from here to Cooperstown. Don’t crown his 8 1/8 -size skull with another 100-loss ballcap during this long stroll to the ever after.

No one expects you to give Bochy a fourth trophy as a going-away gift, but you’ve got to do better than this start to the Farewell Tour.

Don’t turn this all-time great into Willie Mays in a Mets jersey, thinking he overshot his retirement by a few years.

Play like this is your last season. Play like you’re the one who never gets to do this again. Bochy’s earned at least that much.

He is one of 10 managers ever to win three World Series titles. He sits 11th on the all-time wins list, and he’d be even higher if he didn’t spend the first 12 years watching the Padres be Padres.

Bochy won when the Giants were the best team in the land. Bochy won when the Giants were anything but. Bochy won because he cajoled, tweaked and milked every player for their every last contribution to society, and then squeezed out some more.

He won with Barry Zito, for goodness sake. That merits its own wing in the Hall.

Changing direction in San Francisco

My kids won’t understand this column. My youngest was 3 years old when I took him to the 2010 championship parade on Market Street in downtown San Francisco. My three tax credits don’t know a world where the Giants don’t win in October.

You and me remember different.

We know the stories of Willie McCovey’s live drive out against the Yankees back in ’60-something. We remember the 100-loss season with Frank Robinson, and Candy Maldonado and the 1987 playoff loss to the Cardinals, and the Earthquake Series sweep to the A’s.

We do not remember Dusty Baker pulling Russ Ortiz from the 2002 World Series Game 6, and the ensuing collapse, but only because we pay a therapist who helps us to not remember such things.

In short, life before Bochy was a tortured existence. The best thing we had going was a Humm Baby jingle and a new ballpark with a view.

Bochy gave us deliverance from all our childhood memories. He let us jump like mad on the last day of the season like we were 7 years old again.

Life lesson

He taught us grownups how to lead.

You don’t have to scream in people’s faces, or complain and moan about every bad call, or demand access to the most expensive players, or blame others for losing even when it’s their fault. He showed you can have a Big Head without getting a big head.

You can keep your cool, and be cool at the same time.

Know what’s not cool?

Riding Bochy off into the sunset like this. Remember that, Giants. Give this thing all you’ve got, because this is all he’s got left.

David White is a former Fresno Bee staff writer and NFL beat writer at the San Francisco Chronicle, now a pastor and Sunday sports columnist for The Bee: bydw@sbcglobal.net, @bydavidwhite

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