last night's Game 7 of the World Series did indeed develop, but it was a show that was ultimately and thoroughly stolen by Madison Bumgarner. In a game that early on appeared to be spiraling out of control, Bumgarner emerged from the bullpen in the 5th inning, on 2 days' rest, with the Giants clinging to a 1-run lead, and, you know, all he did was finish the game allowing no runs, 2 hits and no walks. This capped off a World Series performance in which Bumgarner had already won twice and allowed 1 run in 16 innings coming into the game. With his 5-inning Save in Game 7, Bumgarner elevated his already-lofty status to "World Series Legend" and pretty much singlehandedly brought the Giants their 3rd World Series Championship in the last 5 seasons.
Though I'd gone on record as rooting for the Royals, and I certainly held firm to my pick throughout the series, I couldn't help but think back to the Giants, and how perhaps back in some portion of the Summer, when they went on a run and wiped out the Mets at Citi Field that something like this would come to pass. The Giants are an excellent, well-put-together team and as I've said, this seems to be the recipe for extended success in October, and the Giants have now proven this point multiple times. Does it make them a Dynasty? Probably. In my eyes, yes. True, in this era of free Agency and players hopping teams it's tough to keep that sort of a nucleus together, but for the most part the Giants have done that. Think about who it's been for the Giants. It's been Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey. It's been Bumgarner and relievers like Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez. Mix that in with players like Hunter Pence and guys who feed off their energy like Michael Morse and it's pretty easy to see why these guys have had so much success. Bruce Bochy continues to push all the right buttons in all the right moments with the pieces he's got. Even if it's been an every other year thing, a World Series Championship is a World Series Championship and you can't take that away from them.
On the other side, the Royals have to be aching sorrowfully after dropping Game 7 in their own building, with their own fans being loud and proud and continuing to cheer them on long after the game had finished. There was nothing wrong with what they did in Game 7, they played their game. They got down early, battled back and tied the game, but once Bumgarner came in the game, they had no answer and perhaps the only regret they may have would be that Alex Gordon isn't just a little bit faster. His parachute hit that was twice-botched in the Giants outfield was enough to get him to chug all the way to 3rd Base, but no further. If he's sent home, he's out by 20 feet. Still, I'd have to imagine that everyone had that vision of Salvador Perez blasting one out into the Kansas City night and pulling off the miracle of Royal Miracles, but that wasn't in the cards against Bumgarner. Perez's popup landed in Sandoval's glove and, in a moment that was both predictable and anticlimactic, that was it.
Still, the Royals have nothing to be ashamed of. After 29 years in the Wilderness, they rallied together and got hot at the perfect time, and rode that crest all the way to the 7th game of the World Series. It was a wonderful run by a young team that's still learning just how to win, and having been through this crucible, they have to come back next season and play with the confidence that this success brings. Unfortunately, they happened to run into a team that already had that experience multiple times very recently. The Giants just had that recipe and the ultimate weapon to bring home the ultimate prize once again.
You know, in case anyone else in the business of building a Major League Baseball team wanted to take a good look at how to build a team that can win over an extended period of time. Hint Hint.