Thursday, October 30, 2014

Orange October -- A Celebration

Last night those watching Game 7 of the World Series got to enjoy watching history in the making. Madison Bumgarner, a twenty-five year old pitcher, pitched five dominant innings of relief to power the San Francisco Giants to their third Championship in five years, to go with two previous dominant wins as a starter (in three World Series he has a .25 ERA -- amazing). Oh, and this series clinching win came on the road in game seven - a fete that hasn't happened since 1979, when the Willie Stargell led Pirates beat the Orioles.  They were a family, and so is this Giants team! 

As a life-long Giants fan who endured years of  unfulfilled hopes and dreams (and a lot of bad teams), these three championships have been wonderful. Bumgarner is a cornerstone to all three.  This one came twenty-five years after the Giants made their first appearance in twenty-seven years (a 1962 series the Giants lost to the Yankees in seven).  That series against the A's, of course was the one interrupted by an earthquake. The Giants were swept by a team with two dominant pitchers. I did get to go to game 4, but alas it was in a losing effort.  Then there was the 2002 series against the Angels, which the Giants lost in seven.   But then came 2010 and a beginning of an amazing run. Maybe it will continue on, but maybe this is it.  

Madison Bumgarner -- Photo -- Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle
Looking at this team, it has its stars, but not superstars. And more than most team sports, baseball is truly a team sport. A pitcher can dominate, but he needs the backing of his offense and defense. So we celebrate the names of Pablo "Panda" Sandoval, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik (what a find he has been), Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco (he was supposed to be the 4th outfielder), Michael Morse (DH and pinch hitter), along with Travis Ishikawa (a first baseman playing outfield for the first time) and Juan Perez (a light-hitting rookie).  Then there was Jeremy Affeldt and Yusmiero Petit who  rescued the Giants when the starters faltered.  And I shouldn't forget manager Bruce Bochy, who has put together a Hall of Fame career.  Congratulations boys -- you did well!

Yes, we may not pass this way again. Putting together a string of championship teams in the age of free agency is difficult. Sandoval and Sergio Romo are both free agents. We don't know of Angel Pagan and Matt Cain will return from injury. Will Tim Lincecum regain his earlier form? The rotation, which has been a center-piece of the Giants efforts is an uncertain position.  

What we do know is that the Giants have found their second baseman (Joe Panik) to team with one of the best shortstops in baseball (Crawford).  Hunter Pence will be there and so will Posey and Belt. But beyond that, who knows.  When I looked back at the 2010 team, many of the stars of that season were gone the next year or fell into mediocrity. The moral of the story is this -- enjoy it while you can, and I'm enjoying it.

By the way, I must say congratulations to the Kansas City Royals.  This is a good young team, and as a Tigers fan (I've adopted them as my AL team due to my living in metro-Detroit), they're scary good. They're young and hungry. They will be back, and they will have learned much from this experience.  Thank you for the show!!  

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