When he stepped away from the game after the 2019 season — never used the word “retire” — he became a special consultant for the Giants. He also became a fan.
He also became the “guy” that people go to when they had a question about the game he loved.
Or when they needed to complain about something in the game they didn’t like.
“I became the guy they wanted to vent to, friends, about the game being too slow, too long,” Bochy said. “They’d ask me, ‘Why are they doing this?’”
Bochy didn’t take the Rangers job to escape the prodding questions of his friends. But it did bring perspective.
In the dugout, a manager’s job is to win the game in any way possible. Before Bochy left, that might mean flipping out relievers every batter based on matchups or having pitchers throw back to first base several times to buy time for a reliever to get ready. It might also mean a fielding shift, such as the one that was just banned.
In that moment, Bochy’s only job was to win the game. But his time away gave him a different perspective. Baseball, he said, is an “entertainment business.”
The way his friends and other fans were venting to him, he began to realize the game he loved might not be as entertaining as it used to be.
To him, the game was losing what it was supposed to be — fun.
“And we did, to be honest, with how slow the game became, the shifts, things like that, missing the action, the pace of the game,” Bochy said.
Those things that slowed the game, the aspects that drew the most complaints to Bochy, are part of the sweeping rules changes for 2023.
Next, there’s the pitch clock. Pitchers get 30 seconds in between hitters. Pitchers then have 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base.
Pitchers can only make two disengagements from the pitching rubber per at-bat. Batters can only call time out once, and must be set and in the batter’s box with no more than eight seconds left.
Plus, the bases are three inches larger, a move made to promote player safety but, combined with the pitch clock, could promote more stolen bases.
Bochy is still getting used to the rules changes, including one that wasn’t on the books when he managed — the rule that ensures a pitcher must throw to three hitters.
But so far he likes what he sees. And he hopes his friends do, too.
“I think they’ve done a great job at bringing that back,” Bochy said. “You’re seeing it now with the pitch clock. You get more base hits, you try to create more base-running or stolen base attempts. I look at it that way to be honest.”