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Bruce Bochy's final season starting to have a magical feel to it

SAN FRANCISCO – As the rumors swirl regarding what the San Francisco Giants may or may not do at the deadline, Bruce Bochy can acknowledge he has his preference.

A second half that seemed destined to simply be just a farewell tour for the future Hall-of-Fame manager suddenly seems like it will be full of meaningful baseball.

The Giants, written off by many as recently as earlier this month, are now baseball’s hottest team, winners of 15 of 18 after taking three of four from the New York Mets.

They’ve put themselves in a position that could allow the front office to keep the band together and try to let Bochy chase a potential fourth ring in his 25th and final season as a manager, including 13 with these Giants.

“I’m attached to these guys, that’s fair to say,” Bochy said Saturday morning. “I know what they’ve done for the organization and for me. Things aren’t always going to stay the same, but it’s pretty amazing when you look out there, especially in the infield, those guys have been here a long time. Selfishly, sure, I enjoy it and working with these guys and appreciate my relationships with them. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but sure, you get attached to them.”

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy is set to retire at the end of the 2019 season. (USA TODAY Sports)

The business and personal side of baseball are often on different tracks at the trade deadline as teams try to make honest assessments of their situation.

Executives, players and managers often say at this time how this game is a business, and tough calls have to be made for the greater good.

The Giants seemed dead in the water as recently as June 27 when they were 12 games under .500 and in last place in the NL West, and it seemed then like a foregone conclusion that Bochy’s final season would feature him overseeing a losing team that had begun its transition to a team committed to rebuilding.

It would not be the most exciting final season for a manager with the 11th-most wins in MLB history, but it’s the price the Giants would be paying for chasing titles this decade. And, unlike the Detroit Tigers, the Giants have hardware to show for it.

Yet, these Giants, who twice have won the title from the wild card spot, are now just 2.5 games back in the chaotic NL wild card race.

Suddenly, Bochy has the chance to go out while making one final push with holdovers from his championship teams such as Buster PoseyMadison BumgarnerBrandon BeltJoe Panik and Brandon Crawford.

It would be a deserving final stretch for one of baseball’s great baseball minds, and a manager who will forever by loved by Giants fans.

That Bochy has the chance to end his tenure managing a contender is not lost on Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. He’s the one balancing the business side —like Madison Bumgarner’s future —with the personal factors.

Zaidi praised Bochy and his staff for the job they’ve done in reviving the team.

“This kind of entire ecosystem is really conducive to a team maybe even overachieving and making a run because I don’t think it’s just about Boch, it’s the players’ sentiment for him,” Zaidi said Sunday morning before a 3-2 win in 12 innings over the Mets. “This team coming together over the last month and a half or so has been as much about their motivation to do well for him as anything else. I know how excited and energized he is as we all are about our play.”

He added: “The ability to compete this year and keep the fans engaged is important to us. Boch being here for his final season is part of this too.”

That the Giants are even at this point where a sell-off is not the only option at the trade deadline is a credit to Bochy and his staff, according to his players.

The Giants have a strong bullpen featuring three trade candidates, but the rest of the team has either underperformed or been inconsistent.

Bochy has been masterful with his bullpen, as shown this weekend when the Giants won three extra-innings games with the Mets.

There’s also something to be said for a manager who keeps his team believing in its abilities even as the results would indicate otherwise.

“It’s huge,” Belt said. “It usually starts from the top and when you have guys that don’t panic in the face of adversity. It trickles down to the rest of the players and helps you stay calm and play good baseball. That’s what’s what he’s done for us.”

If the Giants can win 83 games, Bruce Bochy will end his career with the 10th-most wins by a manager. (USA TODAY Sports)

Bochy’s Giants also appear to be conjuring their magic from some of their World Series runs with their wins this weekend coming on walk-off hits by Donovan Solano and Mike Yastrzemski, and a three-base walk-off error.

If the Giants can win 83 games, Bochy will end his career with the 10th-most wins by a manager. The 10 in front of him at the moment are all Hall of Famers.

“We want to send Boch out the right way, he means so much to this organization and this city,” Panik said. “Make one last run for him.”

Even if this Giants run is not sustainable, it at least changes the narrative surrounding Bochy’s final season, which is no small feat. Other managers are not always afforded that luxury, such as last season when Buck Showalter’s magnificent run with the Orioles ended with him managing a 47-win team.

Bochy made it clear this weekend he’s enjoyed how reinvigorated his players are by this hot streak, and how it seems they are having so much fun. It’s not easy for a group of champions to be 34-46 and on pace for a third straight losing season.

It took some prodding to get the manager to reflect on what this run means to the manager, but the former catcher let his guard down a little bit.

After all, this hot streak is giving him the chance to end his career with October baseball, which has defined his tenure with the Giants.

“I’ll be honest, it’s been a lot of fun for me too. Part of this whole thing, I talked about it back in spring training, try to finish strong and get this club back on the right track to winning baseball,” Bochy said Saturday. “That’s been my goal and my job. It’s been gratifying. My hope is this is how it’s going to be in the second half, we’re going to play a different brand of baseball.”

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