This is about Dusty Baker vs. Bruce Bochy, but it’s really about old-style baseball managers vs. new-style. I prefer old style — Baker, etc. — in a specific way, but I am not criticizing Bochy –a new style guy. Got that?
The Reds were in SF over the weekend and I covered the Sunday game. I arrived at the park 3 hours early and I still missed Bochy’s pregame presser. Frustrating. I knew I never could get to see Bochy after that. That’s because he’s new style and cuts off media access, controls it carefully. His prerogative — but definitely no fun for a writer.
So I walked right over to the Reds’ clubhouse. I knew Dusty’s door would be open. He is old style and old style managers talk. I learned baseball from talking for hours and hours with Frank Robinson, Roger Craig, Tony LaRussa, Art Howe, Ken Macha and even Billy Martin when he showed up sane at the park. I had not seen Dusty since spring training and we greeted each other warmly. His son was there — the kid who almost got run over at home plate in the 2002 Series. Dusty introduced me — lovely, polite boy — and Gwen Knapp was there too. And we all just gabbed.
In the course of gabbing you reestablish ties with someone you know — Dusty — and you also learn stuff and he does too.
Old style managers were in the oral tradition. Ostler tells me LaSorda was the same way.
Bochy’s office has a window that looks out to a hallway in the clubhouse. The window has venetian blinds which are always shut. If his door is closed — it usually is — it means you can’t drop in and chat or kill time or learn or establish a baseball relationship. I don’t knock Bochy for this. He seems to be an exemplary human being and he won the World Series — his first priority. But except for several conversations about wine I really haven’t talked to Bochy and I don’t think I know him well, although I’d like to. In his media access he’s more like a football coach than a baseball manager. My suspicion is many new style managers are like him.
Anyway, that’s what’s on my mind, such as it is, on a sunny, glorious Wednesday morning.