The time has passed for this year’s Hall of Fame news, and there were several players left with their future enshrinement still in question. The San Francisco Giants have a former player, and currently their pitching coach, who should receive some consideration; as a coach.
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Managers get the lion’s share of the credit and blame for the team’s performance. As the face of management on the field, that is how it should be. But the first thing a good manager will tell you, they would be nothing without their staff. Future Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy has repeatedly showered praise on his management team since he began his tenure with the San Francisco Giants,
Most teams in professional sports see a decent amount of turnover with their on-field management. Whether it is taking a promotion, retiring, or failing at the job, teams deal with attrition constantly. That isn’t so with the Giants.
With the exception of the great Tim Flannery, who retired after seven seasons with the club back in 2014, the team has kept its coaching family together for the long haul.
So if a coach enjoys their job, excels at their craft, and helps a team win championships, why are they not able to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame?
If we are to believe that a team is constructed with “top-down” excellence, the inclusion of coaches into the discussion of the Hall should be more common. Coaches like Flannery, Leo Mazzone, Dave Duncan, Ron Wotus, and Dave Righetti have all played a great part in the success of the franchises they have been with.
Wotus has often been “in the mix” for managerial jobs, and he deserves to get the opportunity. But what about the coach who has no desire to be a manager, but have had just as much of an impact on the game as if they were one?
That isn’t to say that Righetti will never decide to manage in the future, but what happens if someone just wants to stay in the number 2 seat? Are they less qualified at their job? Or does excellence at their current position force them to become a manager in order to be honored by their contemporaries?
Let’s view sports through the eyes of an assistant coach in any sport.
You get up the same time as the head coach every day, sometimes earlier, and you put in the same work as the one running the show. You are most likely a former player at some level, from fringe player to star athlete. (It is harder for the former stars though, since they expect the ones they coach to be as good as they were.) So essentially you are a manager-in-training.
Now comes the fun part. You are asked to become the head coach. (Jim Tomsula with the 49ers and Keith Smart with the Warriors were two in recent memory who were promoted and then fired. And because of the bridges that are ultimately burned, they must leave the organizations instead of going back to their previous position.)
So why doesn’t number 2 get the recognition? Isn’t baseball ultimately a team sport?
There has never been a coach elected into the Hall of Fame. It seems odd that a sport so dedicated to building from within organizations, would discourage continuity by allowing only those that steer the ship to get in.
Since 2000, which was the first year Righetti became the pitching coach, the team has been to the playoffs six times, winning three world championships. He was there halfway through the Barry Bonds era, which focused primarily on hitting. He then shifted gears as the team started drafting young pitching, and he has managed the staff extremely well.
As a player he was no slouch either. He saw both sides of the pitching staff, having saved 252 games as a closer, while also throwing a no-hitter as a starter. If you combine his playing numbers with the successes he has had as a pitching coach, there is no reason why he isn’t a HoF contributor to the game. (Oh wait, we can’t combine the careers together? We separate them from each other? Then why no Pete Rose as a player? Oh, never mind.)
Dave Righetti has been a key contributor to the game of baseball both on the field and in the dugout. His ability to handle a pitching staff that balances both youth and veterans well, have been nothing short of remarkable. Some might say that Rags has been successful because of the pitchers he has been given. But contrary to that opinion, the team’s success has been based on the culture of playing your role, and to the best of your ability.
That is why a coach like him should be considered for enshrinement. It shows people that a coach can be content and be brilliant at what they do, and still be appreciated for all their hard work.