My eyelids drooped half closed and I tilted my head back in one slow, listening nod.
"At least they made it this far."
Yeah. That's true. It was incredible. The god-dog Kansas City Royals went to the World Series! And they almost won!
Yep. There are no two ways about it. It was an amazing season. I was at Kuafmann Stadium when Salvador Perez hit that ball past Josh Donaldson to win the Wild Card game. Madison Bumgarner can't take that away from me. But I bet he'd like to though, the evil snot-snarfing bastard.
Actually, I kind of liked the Giants before this series and I'll probably go back to kind of liking them again after my heart rate drops back down to normal sometime next week. Bumgarner was excellent all postseason. And no one can take that away from him, but in this manic list of things I was able to come up with to write about in this blemished emotional state, I'm going to begin by trying to do just that. Sort of.
Madison Bumgarner melted my corpus callosum
Part of me was extremely mature last night, given the circumstances. Bumgarner was demolishing the conceptual architecture of its ossified conclusions on pitcher roles and workload, but my left brain had things under control. It calmly pivoted, rationalizing the 25-year-old left hander's performance like each pitch was a bead on an abacus.
My right brain, however, was pinging the shell of its hemisphere at 1,000 minutes a second like a feral laser beam that had become self-aware and had decided that the only proper course of action in existence was utter chaos. The connection between the hemispheres of my brain unraveled and I gakked it out of my nose in one solid string of brain matter -- kind of like a snot rocket.
LEFT BRAIN: Bumgarner doesn't have the same stuff he did in his starts this series, but he and Buster Posey are making good decisions on location and mixing the looks well.
RIGHT BRAIN: That's not Madison Bumgarner. That's clearly a reptilian superbeing that has taken his shape.
LEFT BRAIN: This is one of the most notable performances in World Series history, even if the announcers are laying it on a little thick.
RIGHT BRAIN: Everyone is going to misremember this whole thing. They're going to act like he was throwing 115 mph and breaking off a better curve than Clayton Kershaw. Bumgarner is just getting lucky that the Royals aren't putting together any good at bats.
LEFT BRAIN: Bruce Bochy took a risk that paid off, but maybe pitch counts are a little overemphasized in the baseball community right now.
RIGHT BRAIN: Bumgarner's arm is literally going to fall off.
LEFT BRAIN: The results are the results.
RIGHT BRAIN: No one was rooting for the Giants. Major League Baseball and America itself will have a shorter history because of this outcome.
My right brain had to get pretty creative in its attempts to detract from Bumgarner's performance.
Acting as my own uprooted corpus callosum, I think it was probably a little bit of both. Bumgarner was excellent, but he wasn't hitting his spots the way he did in his starts. His velocity was down and the Royals swung at several bad pitches, but Bumgarner's stuff is good enough for him to get outs even when he isn't at his very best. He was the best player in the series by far. The two teams were basically even otherwise. He was the difference that won the title.
Sure, people might misremember the performance. They might fictionalize it to some extent. But even if some of the details are exaggerated, Bumgarner's performance will be mentioned alongside some of the best postseason performances ever -- and deservedly so. The Royals didn't put together a strong offensive performance after Tim Hudson left the game, and yeah, maybe a team like Oakland or Boston would've drawn a few walks and ended up making Bruce Bochy's decision to let his ace pitch on extremely short rest would've backfired in a different scenario -- although he might not have used Bumgarner against a different team.
And, the A's and Red Sox weren't in the World Series.
The Royals were.
The Kansas City Royals.
And they were because of their ability to string together timely hits. Unfortunately, sometimes that ability stalls. That's what happened in Game Seven -- against a
really good great pitcher.
Holding Gordon at third in the ninth
They had to. Mike Jirschele wasn't thinking about how well Bumgarner was pitching or who was on deck when he held Alex Gordon at third after Gregor Blanco's error in the ninth. He was thinking about how the cutoff man had the ball while Gordon was reaching third base. It seems like there are some varying opinions on the decision to hold him, but it would've taken a pretty awful throw for Gordon to score.
Since the play is already solidified in historical record, it doesn't really matter. And the outcome that followed -- Perez batting with a chance to win the World Series with one swing -- was, in some ways, preferable to a potential controversy at the plate. Given the new rules about home plate collisions -- and the fact that Buster Posey was one of the reasons the new rules were put in place to begin with -- Gordon might have just had to walk right into a tag. Or if Posey was deemed to have been unfarily blocking the plate, the Royals might have tied the game on a semi-bogus technicality. You take runs any way you can get them of course, but personally, I'm glad Game Seven of the World Series wasn't decided by the interpretation of a rule.
Mike Morse ...
Source- John Rieger, USA TODAY Sports
Ugh. Is it possible that this guy is worse than Nick Swisher?
Buck, Reynolds, and EVERYONE ELSE FOR THE REST OF ALL TIME
"Wow. That's about all you can say about Madison Bumgarner," said the guy who has talked about him for 10 days straight.— tyler drenon (@TylerDrenon) October 30, 2014
Joe Buck said that. It's safe to say that some people, like former Royals beat writer Bob Dutton, didn't think the booth was being sycophantic.
This is unfair. I thought Buck was fine. Still funny, though. @Baseball_Photos: Joe Buck loves Mad Bum (Via @MLBMeme) pic.twitter.com/1Msvm9pRuS— Bob Dutton (@TNT_Mariners) October 30, 2014
Okay, Bob. But Harold Reynolds actually said, "This is the coolest thing ever" when Bumgarner took the hill again in he eighth. I can't remove myself from my own bias, but it seems like even Bumgarner -- or perhaps, especially Bumgarner -- would've disliked the fact that they were making the entire broadcast about him. In my opinion, some of the things that were said during Game Seven would've been hyperbolic even if Bumgarner was out there performing actual miracles on the mound. But we should probably just agree to disagree if you don't think they were going overboard in praising him. I can't help but be cemented in my opinion on the matter.
He did it on his own, according to Ned Yost's post game interview.
However, the Royals had plenty of time to nix the idea if they wanted to. Second guessing your team's moves might not be a good policy, but given the rare opportunity to triple-guess a decision, maybe Ned should've done so. Escobar didn't get the sacrifice bunt down until Bumgarner's third pitch of the at bat, and the first two pitches were well out of the zone.
Ned might not have called the sac play, but he did sit idly by when he had the opportunity to stop it, so he might as well have called it himself.
Who knows, though? If Giants left fielder Juan Perez had been in a different defensive position when Nori Aoki slashed that ball down the left field line in the next at bat, Infante would have scored and the game would've taken a much different course.
The Panik double play
Wow. That's all you can say about that play.
Just kidding. You can talk about it ad naseum and disregard the better part of the middle innings of a World Series broadcast talking about that play.
What a huge moment, though. Between that and Juan Perez's excellent defensive positioning on Nori Aoki's hook down the left field line with one out and a man on second, the Giants benefited from two huge defensive plays. Hosmer shouldn't have slid into first base on the Panik play, but he was probably going to be out anyway.
It's also good that the umpires got the call right. Kansas City already has one bitter team to deal with in regard to a missed call in the World Series. No need for another.
Photos: San Francisco fans burned couches and clashed with riot police. http://t.co/8o737NGC9O— Deadspin (@Deadspin) October 30, 2014
The riot cops are out in San Francisco. TIME FOR RIOT COP SELFIES (via @sfkale, @jmariephotog) http://t.co/BJNc5d1SnR pic.twitter.com/atF6YQqI87— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 30, 2014
I can only hope this wouldn't have happened in Kansas City if the Royals had won. It's hard to imagine the people that torched that couch are your average, well-informed baseball fans.
The riots -- and especially the SWAT selfies -- were definitely the overall low point of the night. Of course I wish the Royals would've won, but in the grand scheme of things, it was just a game. When Giants fans began celebrating by burning couches and "clashing" with riot cops, they were subtracting from the diligent efforts of protesters in general. No matter where you reside on the political spectrum, making light of an extremely important issue -- at a time when it is unquestionably one of the most important things facing our country -- is bad form.
It's not as if the fans were intentionally adding to the Selfie Generation narrative that has continued to develop in the wake of the protests in Ferguson ... but that is, in effect, what they did. That narrative paints protesters -- in Ferguson and elsewhere -- as narcissistic millennials that don't really care about the issues they are protesting, only their ability to promote themselves within the situation. Even if you disagree with a given protest -- whether it's Block the Boat or a Tea Party demonstration -- it's better and more dignified to debate the actual issues rather than casting an ad hominem blanket over the situation in an attempt to hide it.
Riot police have to respond to all kinds of situations, and this instance doesn't really have much to do with other responses by similar departments, but with the issue at a boiling point in our society, it's unfortunate that something like a World Series celebration could enter into that frenzied, polemicized realm.
Still the best
That World Series was a classic. It would've been a lot more classic if Salvador Perez had hit a two-run walk off homer off of Bumgarner, but even though the Royals came up a little short, those seven games were
And even though they lost, the Royals had a spectacular season. We might not be calm enough yet to really appreciate it for the once-in-a-lifetime run it has been. That's not to say the Royals won't make the playoffs again in during this generation of Kansas City baseball, but a postseason run like the one we just saw doesn't come along very often for anyone.
Sure, we can say it out loud right now: "It was still a great year." But after being so close, it's probably going to take a while to reflect on how incredible 2014 really was.