Bochy knows second-guessing goes with managing All-Stars
Bruce Bochy knows the drill. Of course he does.
He's managed an All-Star game before, back in 1999, and even though Twitter didn't exist then, there was still plenty of instant analysis, picks critiquing and armchair All-Star managing.
"You can't beat yourself up over it," Bochy said on Monday. "Last time I did."
So he's not going to lose sleep over Jack McKeon's or Clint Hurdle's comments. McKeon questioned why Tim Lincecum should make the team over Marlins pitcher Anibel Sanchez
"He's a good pitcher, don't get me wrong," McKeon said of Lincecum. "But do we reward for what you're doing now or do we reward for what you've done in the past?"
"I think there are lot of guys who will never make the All-Star game again who are worthy of being on that team and will never get another chance," McKeon added. "Reward the guys for this year."
But to do that would mean eliminating fan voting, which turns the All-Star game into a popularity contest, stocked with New York Yankees at almost every position.
The midsummer classic is an imperfect process. Bochy followed an age-old tradition of rewarding his own players, by naming three of his pitchers to the squad: Matt Cain, Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong. A fourth, Brian Wilson, was voted in by the players. A fifth, Buster Posey, led the All-Star fan balloting when he suffered a season-ending injury in May.
Bochy is only in this position -- one he calls an honor but also joked was like having "bamboo shoots stuck up my fingernails" -- thanks to his pitching staff. And he made sure to recognize them.
"Forget last year," Bochy said of the Giants' World Series victory. "We're in first place this year."
On Monday Lincecum went out and made McKeon look justified in his critique. He gave up three runs against the league's worst offense, the San Diego Padres, and saw his record drop to 6-7.
But Lincecum remains one of the stars of the game, a player people want to see, thanks his small size, long hair and freakish delivery. He was the star of the last postseason. If the All-Star game is about entertainment -- and it is -- a player like Lincecum, even struggling, deserves to be on the team.
"He's good for baseball," Bochy said. "He's the type of player that everyone wants to see."
At least fans have heard of Lincecum. Some may be more puzzled by Bochy's selection of Vogelsong. But while Vogelsong is an unknown to many, he's one of the best stories in baseball this year. The 33-year-old went 2,412 days between winning a start and is succeeding in the major leagues after a journey that took him to Japan, Venezuela and the minors.
He fulfills McKeon's criteria: he's a guy who may never make the All-Star game again and is being rewarded for what he's doing now.
Bochy said he didn't get any lobbying from his players for their own inclusion but they all asked about Vogelsong.
"They was the one player they all wanted to be on the team," Bochy said.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and others are upset that Andrew McCutchen was left off. Bochy mentioned McCutchen and how hot he's been in recent days.
"I've sat in that chair and I know that there were managers that were disappointed in me," Hurdle said. "Well I'm going to take this opportunity to be one of those managers and be disappointed in the entire process. I think Bruce whiffed on him."
The last time Bochy managed the All-Star team, at Fenway Park, his team was "boat-raced" by the American League, led by a dominating Pedro Martinez. Bochy's goal was to get every player in.
It's different this time. This time "it counts," because of the debacle in Milwaukee in 2002. Bochy's Giants were a direct beneficiary of the National League's first All-Star win in 13 years, so he know how much a victory matters.
"This is a great event," he said. "It's a special day for me and my staff."
But he knows the drill. And being second-guessed is a major part of the job.