Week of October 26, 2014: Giants World Series Recap!

That's how we'd all hug Madison Bumgarner right now.

That’s exactly how we’d all hug Bumgarner right now.

PAL:

Tommy – we have to try to recap this third World Series for the Giants. Commence email exchange:

Topics to choose from:

  • Madbum
  • Madbum
  • Madbum
  • Did the Giants just “Brad Lidge” Hunter Strickland?
  • Was this a good World Series, or a World Series with a defining performance (Madbum)
  • Historically bad starts for the winning team (Peavy and Hudson)
  • The arrival of Joe Panik, and he needs a nickname
  • Pablo Sandoval and his next contract
  • Buster Posey…kind of sucked?
  • Petit
  • Giants that did not play in this Series:
    • Angel Pagan (lead-off hitter, center field)
    • Marco Scutaro (2 hitter, Second base)
    • Matt Cain (#2 starting pitcher)
    • Tim Lincecum (#3 or #4 starting pitcher)
  • Favorite moment from this playoff push
  • The fact that your baby was wearing his Giants T-shirt I gave him for a game 7 win

Game breakdowns:

Game 1: 7-1 Giants
Game 2: 7-2 Royals
Game 3: 3-2 Royals
Game 4: 11-4 Giants
Game 5: 5-0 Giants
Game 6: 10-0 Royals
Game 7: 3-2 Giants

Take your pick, and find a handful of images by which you will remember this post season. This is going to be our post this week, so keep it somewhat clean.


TOB:

It starts and ends with Madison Bumgarner. I am struggling to put Bumgarner’s performance into any sort of context, because there is no context. He was completely dominant for an entire month, which we’ve seen. Even from Bumgarner. But in the playoffs? In the World Series? Ok, sure, that happens, too. But consider:

  • Madison Bumgarner pitched 21 innings in the World Series. He gave up a single run (a meaningless solo homer in a 7-1 blowout). The rest of the Giants starting rotation pitched 16 1/3.
  • Bumgarner walking to the mound in the 5th immediately reminded me of one of my favorite sports movies – Little Big League – when Randy Johnson comes on in relief in the bottom of the 9th to shut the door on the Twins. It also reminded me of Randy Johnson coming on to close out Game 7 of the 2001 World Series for the Diamondbacks. In that series, The Big Unit earned 3 victories – pitching 17 1/3 innings over 2 starts and his 1 1/3 inning of relief. I remember that series quite well, and I remember thinking it was the most incredible pitching performance I’d ever seen. We’ve now seen one that far surpasses it.
  • For his career, Bumgarner has now given up just that one run in THIRTY SIX World Series innings for an ERA of 0.25. That is a record, believe it or not.
  • I was very pessimistic heading into Game 7. It just didn’t feel right. Hats off to Tim Hudson, who finally gets a ring – and he was not along for the ride, he earned it – but I just had a horrible feeling that I could not shake. When he was lifted in the second, with the score tied, I was fairly convinced that the game was not going to go the Giants’ way, and I was mentally preparing myself to be happy for such a great postseason run. “A pennant is nothing to sneeze at! Hell, the Dodgers haven’t won a pennant since I was 6!” That’s all bullcrap, of course. And then Bummy walked out. I was still terrified. It was only the 5th! “There’s no way he can give more than an inning or two,” but I had hope he could be the bridge to our suddenly shaky bullpen. Infante led off with a hard single, and I wanted to throw up. Even just a couple runs would have spoiled an otherworldly postseason performance by Bummy. And then… lights out. Between the Infante single and the Gordon hit in the 9th, Bumgarner retired FOURTEEN straight batters. And rarely did anyone come close to touching him.
  • It’s baseball, and baseball is weird and cruel, so I was still very unsettled until the last out. After the 7th inning, I texted you: “No matter what happens, what Bummy is doing is the stuff of legends.” It’s true, and I meant it, but I also wanted to say that out loud in case everything fell apart. Because win or lose, what Bumgarner did was simply amazing.

PAL:

Madbum. Have you heard the theory about how the indigenous people couldn’t see the ships when Columbus hit landfall on the Americas? The theory is that the ships were so out of their realm of reality that they couldn’t process what was taking place before them. They couldn’t see the ships! Whether or not that’s true (I don’t buy it), that’s how I felt watching Madbum last night. I knew it was exceptional, but I couldn’t process it. Even when you tell me the numbers (.25 ERA in 36 WS innings…what the hell?), it still doesn’t process. I really don’t think we’ll ever, ever see a WS pitching performance like that again. Too deep of bullpens, too many specialists, and a media that would roast a manager who rode one pitcher that long. What’s even more unbelievable is that I don’t think there was much controversy in leaving him in!

By the way, Michael Powell has a great article in The New York Times about visiting Bumgarner’s dad in rural North Carolina.

TOB:

Love that article. His dad is hilarious. Sample quotes:

“I didn’t know if he had enough left tonight, but I did know that boy would try to steal a steak off the devil’s plate.”  

And a text that Mr. Bumgarner sent to Madison after the 8th inning:

“OMG. You’re so much more than awesome. To see you work on the mound reminds me of watching you in high school. You are willing yourself to perfection and dragging the team along with you. I couldn’t be more proud of your baseball accomplishments.”

Kevin looked at me. “I knew he wouldn’t read that text before the game was over,” he said, “but I wanted him to know this was what his daddy thought of him.”

The best! Look, I could go on all day about Bumgarner. But I have work to do and there are other things to discuss! Like Pablo Sandoval. Panda set an all-time major league record for most hits in a single postseason, with 26. In a World Series where Posey was simply out of gas, Panda was an absolute beast. Sometimes I like to put myself in the shoes of opposing fans when considering Giants’ players. While Bumgarner must have had the Royals fans feeling absolutely helpless, Panda had them frustrated. He’s an amazing hitter and a great defensive third baseman. PAY HIM.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 11.09.29 PM

But seriously: PAY HIM. I have been saying this all year, so I was happy to hear Harold Reynolds discuss it on last night’s broadcast: This is a very down era for third basemen. There are just not many good ones, for some reason. It happens. It’s cyclical. But third basemen are at an absolute premium, and we have maybe the best in the game on our team, and he’s grown up in our system, and he’s been a part of three World Series wins, won a World Series MVP, and would have won a second World Series MVP if not for that unearthly performance by Bummy. PAY HIM. I don’t care what it costs. It’s going to be a lot – because he deserves it, and because there are very few good third basemen out there, and because the Yankees, Red Sox, and possibly the Dodgers (shudder) are all in the market for a third basemen. The price is going to go high. And it will go to around 7 years. And yes he has a weight problem. And maybe the last couple years of his deal will be painful. But you cannot let him walk. You just can’t. The Giants fans show up every night. They sellout that beautiful ballpark every game, and they buy tons of Giants gear and buy $11 beers and $7 hot dogs. The team owes it to us to keep Panda. PAY HIM.

PAL:

Pay him. That’s the cost of success. I’m guessing 7 years / $140 million is the ballpark number and years. I’d rather give him 5/$125 million, but whatever. I’m concerned someone comes in at 7 / $200 million…that’s tougher to swallow. Here are the facts: he can really hit, he is a very good third baseman, and he shows up when it counts the most. While he was also pretty brutal hitting right-handed (.199) this year, I love watching him compete.

TOB:

You asked me at some point during this season if Bruce Bochy belongs in the Hall of Fame. I made a strong case for it. Now, with his third title, there is no doubt. Bruce Bochy is a Hall of Famer.

PAL:

Bochy is a Hall of Fame lock. No questions asked. There are now 10 managers with more than 2 WS titles: Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, Connie Mack, Walter Alston, Torre, Sparky Anderson, Miller Huggins, Tony LaRussa, John McGraw, and Bochy. 6 of those dudes are from a long, long time ago  – different eras (even most of their names are olden time names). I think we should make a play to ghostwrite his speech at Cooperstown. That’s a good 1-2-3 Sports! goal.

Oh, also, Michael effing Morse! A great off-season pickup by GM Sabean. Let’s not forget his big moments this post-season. Game-tying HR against the Cards, winning RBI last night. By all accounts a great clubhouse guy. Plus, I like watching him get all kid-happy/excited while running to first after a big hit.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 11.02.09 PM

TOB:

You mentioned Sabean. Brian Sabean: Hall of Famer (!!!!). He has now crafted three World Series winning teams, plus those very good early 2000’s teams around Bonds. Additionally, according to Buster Olney, who was a Yankees beat writer at the time, Sabean was one of the major architects of the Yankees 90’s dynasty. Amazing. Six years ago, most Giants fans wanted him gone.

Re Morse: Before the season we did the usual, “How many wins? What are the numbers for this guy or that?” When you asked me who the key to the season was, I said Michael Morse. I thought if he could hit around 28 homers, the team would be really, really good.

Morse started out on absolute fire. I think he had 13 homers by June 5th, on pace for 34 home runs, when the Giants were the best team in baseball. I was feeling great out my pick of Morse.

Then Morse hit a horrendous slump, and the Giants tanked along with him, for the next two months. It wasn’t only the loss of Morse’s power, but it was a big part. Morse finished with just 16 homers.

By the end of the season, I wanted him nowhere near the lineup, because without bombing lots of homers, his outfield defense is a complete liability. He was the perfect DH, though, and we don’t win the World Series without him. Great signing by Sabean.

Jeremy Affeldt needs to be mentioned here. He came into a tie ball game, with two inherited runners, and it was Game 7 of the World Series. It was about 5 innings earlier than he usually enters. When he came out for the 4th inning, I thought it might be a bad call. How often does Affeldt pitch in three different innings in a row? Rarely. I thought Bochy was just asking too much. Affeldt hit Gordon with a curve ball that got away, and I wanted to puke. And then he shut it down. As usual. He induced a double play and a batter later, headed back to the dugout after having pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings… He has now made 22 straight scoreless appearances in the postseason, second all-time to Mariano Rivera (23). 

PAL:

Yes, Affeldt was excellent, and 22 straight scoreless appearances is nothing to sneeze at. I think that situational reliever is kind of like the place kicker of baseball – you’re typically put into stressful situations and people only notice when you fail.

Speaking of the bullpen, I have to ask: did the Giants just “Brad Lidge” Hunter Strickland? Or should we make a verb out of “Byung Hyun Kim“? I don’t know, but he gave up 6 home runs this post-season. Great arm, and I hope he bounces back, but that’s a sh*tload of home runs in one post-season. Also, in general the traditional bullpens of both teams didn’t factor into this series as much as I thought, and that’s a good thing for the Giants. Again, just looking at the scores of the games – 7-1, 7-2, 3-2, 11-4, 5-0, 10-0, 3-2 – and factoring how many innings Madbum ate up, and you have a pretty light load (at least low-stress) for 5/7 games. Not a lot of Casilla, Romo, or Lopez.

TOB:

I sure hope not. Strickland has some great stuff. But that was about as brutal of a performance as I’ve ever seen.

You asked if this was a good World Series, or just a World Series with a great performance by one guy. It’s a good question. I think it’s the latter. I read, after Game 6, that it was the first World Series to ever have five games decided by five or more runs. Game 5 was great, and a lot closer than the final score indicated. Game 7 was one for the ages. Game 3 wasn’t bad. But other than that… a very weird series. As a Giants fan, I will always remember it. But if this was any other team, it would have been a tough series to enjoy, until Game 7.

PAL:

Like I said, not a great series when you think about it, but a defining performance that will go down in history.

Would you rather be Bum in Game 7 or Travis Ishikawa for his pennant-clinching home run?

TOB:

Man. Tough call. Ishikawa’s was dramatic, although less so because it was Game 5. Hard not to want to be the best player in the world right now. But Ishikawa’s story is pretty great. He almost quit baseball this year! And then he comes back and wins the pennant with a home run. Amazing.

PAL:

Another high point of this World Series – the post-game calls to my dad back in Minnesota. We didn’t talk about anything grand – just a summary – but it reminded me of all the games we’ve watched together, and it was just a real good time. He was openly rooting for KC, but all he could do was laugh and say “Je-sus” when the topic of Madbum came up.

TOB:

That’s great. My parents are not huge sports fans, which makes you wonder how I turned out like I did. But they love to tell the story of me coming home from school when I was 6 years old and saying, “We need to watch the World Series tonight!” They were like, “Uhh, ok.” And that was the night Kirk Gibson hit that home run off Eckersley.

But they do enjoy watching sports a bit, especially championships. And I called them after Game 7, too. It was fun to see them so into it.

PAL:

One other thing – can you freaking believe how close we were to Blanco becoming a huge, huge, infamous goat last night? If any of the fast guys are running for KC instead of Gordon, if Crawford doesn’t pick a tough short hop on the relay…I was watching through the window at a table outside the bar, and everyone just stopped. We watched in silence. That play would have gone alongside Buckner’s error in ’86 and Denkinger’s missed call in ’85.

TOB:

I still barely want to even think about it. I think I was shouting, “No, no, no!” But you’d have to ask my wife. I remember I felt like I wanted to puke (again). As Gordon was rounding second, and I saw Perez boot the ball at the wall, I half wanted Gordon to go for home, because I was sure we’d get him. But after he stopped I wasn’t sure if I could take it. On fivethirtyeight.com, Nate Silver made an interesting statistical case that Gordon should have gone. I thought the problem with his premise is that, barring a dropped tag from Posey, there was just no way that Gordon comes close to scoring. Sure enough, I later found this breakdown by Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs, which shows that Gordon had almost zero shot to score. He would have been absolutely hosed.

Joe Panik deserves mention. I have been watching the World Series since 1988. That is a total of 27. And while I don’t have total recall, I can’t recall a better and more important defensive play than the double play he turned in the third. It was only the bottom of the third, but until Gordon’s hit in the 9th, it was the last time the Royals would threaten. Cain led off with a single, and the Royals’ best hitter, Eric Hosmer, came up. He ripped a ground ball up the middle, and Panik came out of nowhere to glove it. Cain is fast, and he didn’t have much time, so before he even stopped sliding, Panik flipped the ball directly from his glove to Crawford, and Crawford threw an absolute bullet to get Hosmer at first. If that ball gets through, I think the game does not end well for the Giants.

Click the image for the video. It is a killer breakdown of this play.

After Game 5, my mom sent me a very cute and funny e-mail. After talking about how much she and my dad love Hunter Pence, with his “Marty Feldman eyes” and his high socks and pants pushed above his knees, she said, “Of course, Dad also has his other favorite, Panik. He loves him. He thinks he’s Mr. Baseball.” That nickname is official. Joe Panik is Mr. Baseball.

One last thing. I watched Game 6 from the same bar I watched every single playoff game in 2012 at. The Giants got crushed, but even before that, it just didn’t feel right. So I went home for Game 7. Hey, I’m a dad now. I needed to watch it with my boy. He’s only 4 months old, and he may have slept through the final 3 innings, but it was so fun to experience it with him. One day, I will be telling him about Bumgarner’s incredible performance, and I’ll be able to tell him that we watched it together, and that he was wearing the Giants t-shirt that Phil gave him when it happened. That’s my favorite part of this World Series. Go freakin’ Giants. Long live the Giants!

This will never get old.

This will never get old.

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