Atlanta a special postseason place for Bochy
Giants skipper celebrates second clinch, bids farewell to Cox
ATLANTA -- The uniform has changed and a few more gray hairs have popped up since then, but the setting and the outcome were much the same for Bruce Bochy on Monday night as October 1998.
Victory. Celebration. A bucket of ice water down his back from a group of players who know he had theirs all season.
In 1998, Bochy led the Padres to the National League Championship Series, winning Game 6 at Turner Field to advance to the World Series. His Giants are one step away from that now, but their NL Division Series victory over the Braves definitely had a familiar ring to it.
Twelve years earlier, the Padres had to get through Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz to reach the World Series -- which they did with a Game 6 victory over Glavine, the Braves and of course venerable manager Bobby Cox.
This time around for Bochy, the Giants have to get through the Phillies' Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in the NLCS to reach the Fall Classic. While the Giants are certainly well-armed themselves, the challenge will be just as daunting as it was for the Padres in '98.
But a clinching win in Atlanta, his latest greatest victory as a manager, was just as sweet for Bochy.
Cox was the first manager to ask Bochy to be a coach in the All-Star Game, and like many other managers who have come around -- and gone away -- in the last two decades, Cox is a manager Bochy looks up to as an example of how to handle a job only 30 people in the world hold.
"You know, it gets emotional for me," Bochy said. "I revere this man so much, what he's accomplished in this game. It's going to be strange coming in here and not seeing Bobby on the other side. ... He's a man I've looked up to, not just how he manages the game, but his team, how professional they are. They're always in uniform. They play the game right."
The Giants to a man showed the same level of respect for Cox by taking a break between their on-field celebration and their champagne celebration in the clubhouse to stand and applaud the Braves manager as he tipped his hat to the appreciative Turner Field crowd.
Bochy waved and tipped his hat as well to Atlanta's No. 6. The admiration is mutual.
"I love Bochy," Cox said. "He's one of the best guys in baseball. If we couldn't win, I'm glad he did."
Again, just like in '98.
And now Bochy has his sights set on the World Series, having seen his team get it done in dramatic fashion in Atlanta. Again.
"There was never an easy moment for Bobby or myself, because these games could have gone either way," Bochy said. "We were fortunate to have come out on top. We know it. ... It was just a great series, I think. If you're a baseball fan, you had to love this series."
Especially when you're rooting for the Giants, it's a "Groundhog Day" for Bochy, and it ends with a champagne celebration in Atlanta.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.