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Thursday, October 30, 2014

World Series: Giants Win Again on the Impossibly Strong Back of Madison Bumgarner

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 12:00 AM

The Man.
  • The Man.
The car horns won't stop. The raucous fans won't stop. We're in the heart of San Francisco, and the pandemonium continues. Long may they honk. And yell. And whatever they do that doesn't entail the destruction of municipal property. 

Because tonight's 3-2 Giants victory in Game 7 of the World Series was a spectacle of the sort we may never witness again. Madison Kyle Bumgarner, the Giants' 25-year-old ace, ambled out of the bullpen and ascended into the realm of lore. Or, as your humble narrator's Uncle Steve would put it, "Movie Shit." 

Bumgarner took the mound in the fifth inning of a game the Giants led by that identical 3-2 score in Kansas City — only two day after hurling a magisterial shutout in Game 5 — and spawned a civic maelstrom by spinning five scoreless innings. (And, to make it that much more dramatic, the Giants outfield surrendered an inexplicable two-base error to the penultimate batter, setting up a situation in which Bumgarner needed to retire Salvador Perez with the tying runner on third. You know what? He did this.). 

This was the Giants' third world championship in five years, if you're keeping score. But, for the first time, the team transcended the plane of the believable and ventured into the realm of — sorry to be repetitive — movie shit. 

Bumgarner's long, loping form materialized in the bullpen during  the top of the fifth. Ineffectual starter Tim Hudson didn't escape the second inning, and deserving winner Jeremy Affeldt gave everything he had in two and a third innings of gritty relief. 

And that was enough. 

Bumgarner will never pay for another drink within city limits henceforth. Last night concluded one of the greatest World Series of the modern era. ("Almost makes getting hit with bottles worth it for a win like that!" writes a police source) 

And that's due, nearly exclusively, to Madison Kyle Bumgarner. He pitched in a manner previously reserved to describe men whose likenesses are only captured in speeded-up black-and-white motion. He reached into baseball's pantheon and shook it up like a maraca. 

Giants fans counted down the outs, pausing for breath at the mark of eight, drummed into our skulls by the debacle of 2002. Bumgarner cruised through that, powered through the eighth inning, and, momentarily, through the ninth. With two outs and two strikes, he faced down Alex Gordon. The superlative Kansas City left fielder responded with a slap to left, and, inexplicably, both Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez booted the ball. That would be a two-base error and, suddenly, the Giants' conquering deity had a man on third and two away.

Salvador Perez — who touched Bumgarner for a home run in Game 1 — heaved, Mighty Casey-like at several pitches. But this is a game of failure. And, tonight, Kansas City was on the short end. The World Series expired in the mitt of Pablo Sandoval, who fell prone in foul territory after gloving the final out on a popup.

The Giants' third World Series parade in five seasons will occur this Friday. The city will run orange. The mayor will, once again, don a jacket the color of a ballpark nacho order. These are the trappings of victory. 

The joy of a World Series, however, isn't in the fleeting moments of euphoria that follow that final out. It's in the permanence of victory. Madison Bumgarner's legendary performance — 21 World Series innings, one earned run — will last forever. 

The Giants will always be champions of 2014, and will always be the winners in three consecutive even years. 

If you grew up watching this team fail, tonight's victory and the outpouring of car-door slamming and whatnot is hard to fathom. But fathom it.

This is what it is to follow the Giants these days. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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