October 2014

The Giants Had The Magic Weapon

The San Francisco Giants have won three World Championships in five years. Not too shabby. It’s so tough just to get to the postseason. This club has a ring for each of three fingers. And for me, this clinches a Hall Of Fame induction for manager Bruce Bochy.
Congratulations to the players, the front office, the workers in the organization and the fans. Well earned. Well deserved.

Part of being a good manager is keeping your team loose, knowing when and what trigger to pull and knowing what you’re doing. Having conviction. Bochy handled his roster like a Concertmaster handles his orchestra. He knew which instrument had to play at which time to make beautiful music. Together.

In essence, Bochy and the Giants accomplished the victory with a rotation of one starter. They got good effort but no results to speak of from Ryan Vogelsong, Jake Peavy or Tim Hudson. Bumgarner was the violin section, the horn section, the percussion section and everything else combined. He did everything but turn the sheet music. That was left to Jeremy Affeldt who pitched extremely well in Game 7 and to a great extent, Yusmeiro Petit who also contributed from the mound early in the Series.
But for all intent and purposes, this was the Madison Bumgarner World Series.
There will be countless words spoken and written about his heroics. He earned every syllable. All I can say is what I said on twitter tonight. I’ve watched lots of baseball in my life and Mr. Bumgarner’s mastery of his craft was probably the best I have seen over a sustained period of the Postseason. Others have been great. This was special. The man was on a mission. I’m glad I saw it. Bruce Bochy knew the exact moment to insert his magic weapon and had enough intestinal fortitude to let him finish the job.

Pablo Pandaval and Hunter Pence provided the offensive fireworks to allow the Giants to eek out enough runs to turn Bumgarner loose. The Panda can get hot and use the entire field to bring havoc to the opposition. Pence gets loose and confident and smacks the ball around the diamond with authority himself. Together they form a dynamic duo in the middle of the lineup.

I was disappointed in the lack of plate discipline of Buster Posey. He swung at bad pitches throughout the World Series and didn’t offer much offensive help at all. In fact, when his team had a chance to fight back in Game 6 when they were down 7 runs, he swung at the first pitch with the bases loaded and grounded into an inning ending double play. That took the rolling train right off the tracks. The train landed in a ditch and forced the Bumgarner Game Of A Lifetime-tonight.

Gregor Blanco almost became the Bartman of the Bay. His misplay with two outs and nobody on base in the 9th inning caused acid reflux, nausea and a case of the yips in the Giants dugout. But all is well that ends well. For the Giants, it ended with Pablo Sandoval catching a lazy foul pop up and collapsing to the ground in joy.

I could hear and feel the ground shake when Sandoval went from first to third base in the second inning. And when he fell to the ground with the final out in the 9th. And he did it right in front of the fabulous Panda heads if I’m not mistaken.

The Royals laid an egg tonight because they couldn’t really cash in when they had the chance. The door was open in their half of the second inning and they could only muster two runs. It seemed like a lot, but it could have and should have been more.

The Royals matched the Giants for ineffective starting pitching with the exception of rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura. We may be talking about that young man for a long time to come. He can hit 101 with his fastball and has the secondary pitches to buckle knees. What I like is that he has ice water in his veins.

Manager Ned Yost played his game without going to ANY of his right-handed pinch hitters against Affeldt or Bumgarner. Left sitting on the bench watching the action were bats that belonged to Josh Willingham, Terrance Gore, Jayson Nix and back up catcher Erik Kratz. Wouldn’t one of them have been worth giving a crack at Bumgarner? Would a bunt by Jarrod Dyson have possibly started a rally? We’ll never know.

The fans in both San Francisco and Kansas City were gracious, exciting, excited and tremendously loyal. I didn’t read or hear of any poor behavior or rude conduct. Everything in both cities was flawless. It’s just a shame one team had to lose. But the Royals didn’t lose. The Giants won. They snatched one more game in the series than Kansas City. It came down to the magic weapon they had and the Royals didn’t. That was Madison Bumgarner. Period.

Now, it’s back to Phoenix and the Arizona Fall League for me. Please join me on twitter to read about the prospects on your favorite team. I’ll be discussing every Major League club and the guys they have playing in the AFL. This coming Saturday is the Fall Stars Game. I’ll be there. I hope you will be, too.

You can find my World Series scouting profiles of Giants young players on their MLB.com team page and Royals young players on their MLB.com team page. Just click on “news” at the top of the page and scroll down for my articles.

Again, thank you to San Francisco and Kansas City for 7 great games. Thank you to each of you for following me on my World Series blogs. And congratulations to the 2014 Champions of Major League Baseball-the San Francisco Giants.


One Team Will Win The Rings

It wasn’t as bad as it looked. Jake Peavy made some good pitches. The Giants hitters found some holes. They also slammed some hard drives to the outfield, but it looked worse than it really was. But make no mistake-the Royals smoked the Giants tonight. This game was over in less than an hour, for sure.

Peavy and Tim Hudson have huddled in the clubhouse about the pitches Peavy made tonight and just how they would handle the Royals. Hudson said he wants to go at least 6 or 7. He has great faith in his bullpen.

I think Yordano Ventura was outstanding, to say the least. He said he wanted to start the game with the Royals thinking he was a little wild. Sort of keeping them loose. It was his plan warming up before the game. It worked. He went more to his secondary pitches in about the third inning-mixing and matching them with his 95-98 mph fastball.

I was concerned that Ventura would be “cold” after sitting through that seven run Royals rally. In fact, he was. He walked the bases loaded. Then Buster Posey did something I couldn’t believe. He swung at the first cookie he saw and slammed into an inning ending double play. With Ventura unable to throw strikes, it seemed strange to me that Posey would be up there swinging. But he was. That double play was like a dagger to the heart. It was the end of the night for San Francisco.

Every Royals starter had at least one hit. Escobar, Cain, Hosmer, Perez and Moustakas had two each. Moose also had a homer. The 6th off Hunter Strickland in the postseason, including two in the World Series.

The Royals have their big four of Finnegan, Herrera, Davis and Holland all available for tomorrow. The Giants have Lincecum, Romo, Affeldt, Lopez and Casilla ready to go. And of course, if needed, Shields is lurking for Kansas City and Bumgarner waits in the wings for the Giants. I don’t think Bochy will hesitate to make the call to Bumgarner if the situation fits.

The MVP? For the Royals it would be either Ventura or Cain for me. For the Giants I would vote for Bumgarner or Pence. In reality, there are more than one or two most valuable players in this 7 Game Series.

Yordano Ventura dedicated his game to his dear friend, the late Oscar Taveras. Speaking in front of a Dominican flag that he draped before him at his press conference, Ventura was emotional in thinking and speaking of Taveras.

Lorenzo Cain made another great play in tonight’s game. Now the entire world is aware of the complete player he is.

I have no prediction for Game 7. All I know is that like every little kid, I used to pretend I was hitting in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded and two outs in the 7th game of the World Series. The games were always in Cleveland. And they were always against the Giants or the Dodgers in my mind. I never struck out. We won every game. What a thrill it must be for a Hunter Pence or a Joe Panik. A Tim Hudson or a Jeremy Guthrie. No pretending for them. This is the real deal. They get to keep all the marbles if they win. And wouldn’t it be great if it was tied in eight innings and someone’s 9th inning heroics won the game. I’d be loving that.

It’s been a fabulous Series so far. I’m glad you’re with me and I’ve enjoyed sharing it with you. Come back tomorrow, please. We’ll end the season together.
Just think—February, March, April, May, June, July, August. September and now…the end of October. The last game of the year. One team will win the rings and be crowned the 2014 Champions of Major League baseball.

Thanks so much for following me twitter @BerniePleskoff and for reading my scouting profiles on MLB.com.

That’s it. I’m done.

World Series: “It’s All About The Ring”

Travel day from San Francisco was rather uneventful. It consisted of San Francisco to Chicago to Kansas City. There was one minor hiccup. Our plane was late getting to Chicago. I had very little time for the connection and had to go from a terminal on one end of the airport to the very last terminal and the very last gate at the other end. Lets just say I’m not fast on my feet. But I gave it everything I had (which was very little) and arrived in my seat just in time for wheels up. I was concerned about my luggage making the transfer in time, but my luggage was among the first to arrive. It was all very smooth. As it turns out, there were several people from San Francisco making the same connection and the plane was held 15 minutes. Kudos and thanks to the airline.

I believe baseball fans must be among the most passionate people in the world. They are loyal to their team beyond the imagination. For example, I met a couple on the Chicago to Kansas City plane that were on their way back home to K.C. They were at Games 1 and 2, left for Myrtle Beach, Florida, left their belongings in Myrtle Beach, drove to Charleston, caught a plane to Chicago, and transferred there for the plane to Kansas City. They’ll be going to games 6 and 7 (if there is one.) All dressed in their Royals garb, they indicated their son remembers sitting in the same seats at Kauffman Stadium when he was 11. He’s now 40. They’ve had season tickets for over 50 years.

We often forget the “behind the scenes” people at the stadium when we go to a game. I get to the park early and see the faces of America. They work so hard making sure the food gets out on time, the stands are clean, fans are escorted to their seats properly and the health and safety of everyone is cared for. These are wonderful, wonderful people who are proud to wear the black and orange or the royal blue and white. Or the home colors of any other stadium. They work hard and they don’t get the praise and recognition of the names we know. I tip my cap to each of them. They have made my experience at the ball park richer and more rewarding with their smiles and their kindness. I suggest we all take a moment to say thanks to a few the next time we’re at the park.

A couple voices we hear but faces we never see belong to the public address announcers in each park. San Francisco and Kansas City have two of the best.
Renel Brooks-Moon has one of the most mellow, pleasant and confident voices I have heard. She is passionate, yet professional. She loves her San Francisco Giants. As a matter of fact, her Game 3 program from the 2002 World Series is in the Hall of Fame. Why? She’s the first woman World Series public address announcer. She says she loves to introduce Buster Posey because the fans go crazy. Does she use passion when introducing the opposition? She says they get her respect, but not her enthusiasm. Love it. Just the right touch.

Mike McCartney has one of those voices to dream for. He bellows in a mellow way. He is as clear as a bell and introduces players his Kansas City Royals players with gusto and charm. He’s also respectful of the opposition, but there can be no doubt who signs his checks. That’s as it should be. The public address announcer sets the tone of the game. for the fans. And the tone set by Mike McCartney is professional, exciting and enthusiastic.

Aaron Lewis sang the National Anthem at Game 5. As so many have done before, he was flustered a bit and mixed up a couple words. Now, he is “asking for the Nation’s forgiveness.” He said his nerves got the best of him. There is nothing to forgive. He did a wonderful job. He has a great voice and I would guess 99.5% of us would likely forget a word or mix up a phrase under those same bright lights. Is there any among us that have not made a mistake? I know I flub up all the time. We’re human. So is Mr Lewis.
I only write this to share how badly he feels. Join me in remembering what a great voice he has. And please don’t get all over me when I mess up a tweet or miss a word here and there. I know the feeling of not getting it right all the time. Mr. Lewis did a fine job.

For the Royals to win tonight, I think they need to put Jake Peavy pitching from the stretch often. He pitches better from the windup. Putting pressure on him and making him think of base runners changes his game a bit. If he hangs a curve ball or two, the Royals could take the game and even the series. But they have to get to him early. And when he hangs one, they have to clobber it.

The Royals have to see some pitches and not go to the plate hacking. They’ve had a tendency to swing from their heels the minute they get in the batter’s box. They need to put some pitches on the pitcher’s arm. That goes for every pitcher they see-not just the starter. Make the pitcher work a little unless you see a cookie you can drive.

The Royals Yordano Ventura has to keep his fastball in the high 90’s range and not look to light up the radar game over 100 mph. Sure, fans like to see it . I like to see it. Television announcers like to see it. But when he hits 100, he often gets the ball up in the zone and gets hit. His pitches straighten the higher up the velocity ladder he climbs.
He is best when he uses his fastball to miss some bats and then his sharp secondary pitches to put the hitter away. If he can keep the game close for 6 innings, his team has a chance for a W.

I like the Royals tonight. When I was on the radio in San Francisco I said I thought the Giants would win in 6. If I’m on the radio in Kansas City, I’ll say the Royals will win in 7. So much for my integrity. I know how to play to the home crowd. I’m only kidding. I think the Giants will take this series—now in 7 games. Not 6.

Pitching-as it usually is-will be the key. I like Ventura over Peavy. And then? Who pitches Game 7? I really don’t know. I think the managers know. But I wouldn’t bet on anything just yet. Things have a tendency to change in a hurry as the pressures mount. Being the World Champions is what it’s all about. The public quickly forgets who came in second. Last year it was Boston that won the crown. They beat…I remember now. St. Louis. But it took a moment. Players will tell you that “it’s all about the ring.” They all have nice contracts and security. They don’t all have the ring. “It’s all about the ring.”

I’ll have another blog following tonight’s game. Hope you’ll find it then. And I hope you will follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff. My World Series player columns remain available on the team sites of MLB.com. As always, thanks for reading.

That’s it. I’m done.

Game 5-Advantage Giants

If there is anyone that hadn’t heard about Madison Bumgarner prior to this postseason and World Series, they know him now. For these few weeks he has been the best pitcher on the planet. Tonight, in his complete game shutout of the Royals, he yielded four hits and no walks. He struck out eight while throwing 117 pitches, 84 for strikes.
It was an epic performance by a very cool customer.

There were so many memorable moments from tonight’s game. Other than the work of Bumgarner, the game changer was the bunt single by Brandon Belt following a leadoff single by Hunter Pence. The bunt beat the Royals shift and surprised everyone in the stadium. I don’t think Kansas City recovered following the run that scored later in the inning. In essence, the game was over. Just as it was over in the first inning in Game 1 when Bumgarner threw his first gem of this series.

I am hoping that Lorenzo Cain is beginning to get some love from baseball fans everywhere. I’ve been talking about his bat and glove all season, and I think people are starting to take notice. I first saw him a couple years ago during Spring Training in Surprise, Arizona. I saw the pop in his bat. It is his speed on the bases that I think has been the biggest surprise for me. He now knows how and when to run. And his defense is outstanding.

A huge section of Royals fans seated in left field never gave up. They were cheering as loud at the end as they were at the beginning. I give them great credit.

It appears that the second base job on the Giants will belong to Joe Panik for a long time to come. He does everything well. He has some pop in his bat and plays very sound defense. I like what I’ve seen.

The Royals missed Billy Butler’s bat in the three games here. He struck out looking as a pinch-hitter tonight.

James Shields pitched a good game. He had no offensive support and didn’t make too many location mistakes. His pitches had tremendous life, which was different than Game 1 when he was fairly straight with everything.

I was seated next to a television monitor again tonight. That’s pretty cool. I can watch the game live and then catch it on delay on the monitor. There is no sound, just the picture.

The game took a very sad tone early with the news that young Cardinals hitting prospect Oscar Tevaras lost his life in a car accident. I was fortunate to have scouted him in the Fall League, in Spring Training and at the Futures Game. He had a tremendous future as a power hitter. May he rest in peace. My sincere condolences to his family and the family of his girl friend who was also died in the crash.

I am wondering how both teams will handle the pitching assignments in the next game or games? I don’t really want to speculate. Both managers have a day to consider their options. With the Giants on the brink of a Championship, the decision isn’t as crucial. But somehow, some way they have to find a way to get to the 7th inning with a lead. I’m not sure Kelvin Herrera has anything left in his tank. But I know Wade Davis and Greg Holland can rise to the occasion. And they can’t steal if they don’t get guys on base. As far as I know, a player still can’t steal first base.

For me, this series has turned on the pitching of the Giants and the timely hitting of Pence and Panda. Those two guys have been a wrecking crew. While Bumgarner is the likely MVP, Pence and Panda aren’t too far behind.

I am hard pressed to find a stellar performance so far from the Royals. If pressed, I would say the hitting of Sal Perez and the overall fantastic play of Lorenzo Cain are notable, for sure.

I loved seeing a wall filled with Yogi isms. I pointed out the location of the quotes on an elevator wall to my MLB.com colleague Lindsay Berra. She is Yogi’s grand daughter. She had her picture taken next to the wall. Way cool. I’m a huge, huge Yogi Berra fan.

I took a look at uniforms worn by the Giants in the 1950’s. The home whites and the road grey flannels look identical today. As I said yesterday, this is a franchise of tradition. All the old memorabilia hangs on walls. They even have some original seats on display in the Press Box.

The Press Box at AT&T Park is on a low level. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s very close to the field and the views are fantastic. Most Press Box locations are way up. The highest is in Washington. The players look like ants, but the view of the Capitol Building is stunning. I’m a fan of Press Boxes. They all seem so different to me.

The food at AT&T Park is outstanding. Lots of fresh items for every taste. There are healthy choices as well as things to eat for people like me. You know–junk. They do a really nice job.

I may have said this yesterday. Panda hats are available in several colors. I repeat it today because I marvel at how the Panda has been marketed. Very wisely. I can only imagine his payday this off season. Pablo Sandoval is a “free” agent. And he’ll soon be wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.

There is public transportation that stops right outside the ball park. This city has thought of everything. It’s very convenient for fans. The entire area becomes one huge celebration on game days.

I’ve now been to nine games at AT&T Park and I’ve never seen a ball hit into the water in right field (McCovey’s Cove).

There was a tribute to San Francisco native Robin Williams before the game. It was really very touching. His kids were there along with comedian Billy Crystal to throw out the first pitch. The crowd roared.

Legends of the game like Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Willie Mays were all at the Series. We are so fortunate they are still with us. Seeing them together brought back tremendous memories for me. They should be cherished and celebrated. There are few players like them.

I leave tomorrow morning for Kansas City. Fly all day with a stop in Chicago. The World Series is so special. I think I’d fly anywhere, regardless of how long it took just to see one game. There’s something different in the atmosphere. Anticipation. Excitement. even Whimsy. There are serious moments of tribute and recognition. There are silly moments of local tradition. And there is darn good baseball played by the best athletes at their sport.

Thank you for coming along with me on this journey. And we aren’t done yet.


Game 4- Production From The P’s

I was concerned when I heard Ryan Vogelsong was starting Game 3 of the World Series. Frankly, I had been advocating for Yusmeiro Petit to get the ball instead. The huge righty has been pitching extremely well and I felt he matched up better against the Royals. As it turns out, he entered the game in the 4th inning and rescued his club. He pitched extremely well, holding the Royals and giving his team a chance to mount a huge comeback. Petit was a star in my book. What a relief he was for the Giants.

A major key in the game (in my estimation) came when little known Matt Duffy entered the game as a pinch hitter and singled batting for Petit in the sixth inning. Frankly, that’s when I felt the momentum totally shift from the Royals to the Giants. It was a big clutch hit and it set the table for the flood gates to open.

To find success against Royals starter Jason Vargas, hitters have to make him elevate the ball. He likes to pitch down in the zone. Once he gets that low pitch from the umpire he finds a comfort zone and keeps peppering the ball down and away until he makes mistakes. He yielded six hits and 3 earned runs in his 4 innings of work. He didn’t last long enough to get to the Tremendous Trio in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings. Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and closer Greg Holland were nullified by a barrage of hits and runs created by the Giants. Each of those three should be raring to go tomorrow.

But tomorrow brings Bumgarner. And Bumgarner means trouble. If he’s on his game, Madison Bumgarner can easily send his Giants back to Missouri with a one game lead. the “Advantage Game” tomorrow seems to me to be advantage— Giants. Big Game James Shields will have to have the biggest game of his life. He better be more on his game than his last start in Game 1.

Bruce Bochy took a calculated risk starting Juan Perez in left field instead of Mike Morse. But Perez had a fine game. He made a diving catch that was among several terrific plays by the Giants defense that helped save the bacon.

When Jerome Dyson led an inning with a single, I was shocked he didn’t try to steal. That, my friends is the Royals game. Get em on, steal second, and get em in. Somehow. It didn’t happen and I felt it was a missed opportunity.

After Bumgarner and Shields, we’ll likely see Guthrie and Peavy.

Rain was evident for about 30 minutes tonight and it forced several of us to find shelter higher up in the Auxiliary Press Box in left field. The rain stopped and it turned out to be a chilly, but fine evening. I think the game took something like 4 hours to play. I had a hoody, a light jacket and heavier rain/windbreaker type jacket, a hat, ear muffs and gloves. I’ve been down this road before. San Francisco can get cold, damp and windy. I wore all my gear and looked like a geek. I take that back, I didn’t wear the ear muffs.
But I still look like a geek wearing a hat.

I love seeing the guys dressed in Panda heads that sit down near the Giants dugout. They look great. Huge fans. On the way out of the stadium, I saw them posing for pictures with fans.

The Giants do not etch a logo, lettering, pictures, graphics or anything in their outfield grass. They prefer to leave it pristine. It’s all part of their “Old School” philosophy. They want the baseball experience as it has been for years and years. That’s also why they don’t have names on the backs of their home uniforms. And their uniforms aren’t true white/white. That’s most evident in the Arizona Fall League. Next to players with white/white uniforms, the Giants players look like their uniforms are a bit off color. Almost like the wrong color was put in the wash load with the uniforms. Sort of what I used to do in college. You know, pink underwear, etc.

Joe Panik doesn’t. He is really, really smooth. He keeps his composure and plays as if he has been in the big leagues for years. In fact, he’s a rookie.

Royals recent college pitcher Brandon Finnegan went back to school again tonight. The Giants taught him a thing or two about being a Major League reliever. He got too much of the plate and payed the price coughing up five runs on five hits and two walks in only one inning of work. The young lefty who has now worked in both a College Championship Series and a Major League Championship Series in the same season has a great future. But tonight, he got some ice water dumped on the sizzling start to his big league career.

I love to watch Hunter Pence hustle. I love to watch his awkward swing. His awkward throws and his awkward routes in right field. He looks goofy. But like I said the other night-the man can play the game. Period.

Panik, Posey, Pence and Panda tonight went 8 for 17. That’s good enough to win most games, wouldn’t you say? They drove in eight runs among them. And scored five. Tonight once again, the P’s Produced.

Jeremy Affeldt is one heckuva good left-handed reliever. i think the Royals guys get all the credit, but Affeldt, Romo and Castilla aren’t too shabby themselves.

AT&T Park is beautiful. Huge, but beautiful. The setting in China Basin is picture perfect. And watching thousands and thousands walking from wherever to and from the games is a sport in itself. Of course there is little to no parking in that prime real estate area. People take public transportation of leave their cars miles away and walk along the water. The sound is deafening. Cheering. Air horns. Whistles. Boat horns. You name it. And the place is a sea of orange and black. I don’t think I saw one person without at least one form of Giants garb. Hat, ticket holder, tee shirt, sweatshirt, game jersey, pants, etc. etc. You name it. Lines at the portable souvenir shops were enormous. It’s just an exciting vibe. And believe me, it was exciting in Kansas City as well. The World Series is very special.

Mike Trout and Giancarlo Stanton won the Hank Aaron Awards-as the best overall players in each league.

They had ice cream sundaes today in the real Press Box. How great is that? I just happened to find my way there when I heard the news.

I’ll be back in this space tomorrow. Hope it’s a great game.

Thanks for reading my work on MLB.com and for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff.

That’s It. I’m Done.

Advantage: Kansas City

It is the job of the starting pitcher to keep his team in the game and give them a chance to win. It sounds simple. It isn’t. Big innings or imposing hitting threats waiting in the on-deck circle can cause a manager to make the waive to the bullpen. The best manager’s know when to make that nod. I think both the Royals Ned Yost and the Giants Bruce Bochy have handled their pitching well. So far. More about that later.

Tonight’s Game 3 was a battle of two tried and true veterans. The Royals sent Jeremy Guthrie to the mound. He’s a pretty seasoned and experienced pitcher. He really rebounded once he left the high altitude of Mile High Stadium in Colorado.

Guthrie throws a ton of breaking balls and off-speed pitches to go along with his average fastball. He is a fly ball pitcher, and home runs have been an issue. I thought for sure the Giants could take him deep tonight with a strong wind blowing out-especially to right-center field. After a bit of a sluggish start, he came on strong and pitched well enough to win. Of course, the bullpen of Kelvin Herrera, Brandon Finnegan, Wade Davis and Greg Holland each played their usual role in slamming the door shut at the back end of the game.

I thought Giants veteran pitcher Tim Hudson took quite a while to get his sea legs. He looked nervous to me. The wide strike zone of home plate umpire Jim Reynolds was both helpful and harmful. When Hudson did get the low strikes called his way he was grateful, I’m sure. When Reynolds called the same pitches a ball later in the game it rattled Hudson a bit.

Hudson has to get sink on his pitches to be effective. He did after a while and he was effective. There were quite a few ground ball outs induced by guys hitting the top of the baseball.

For me, the premiere at-bat of the game was Eric Hosmer against left Javier Lopez in the 6th inning. Hosmer saw 10 pitches before slamming a single on pitch No. 11. It was up in the zone and it knocked in the winning run. Usually Lopez is money in the bank against left-handed hitters. Hosmer had been struggling in the Series. Not this time.

The defense behind both starting pitchers was superb. Sliding catches saved the bacon. Both teams played and pitched well enough to win. The Royals got that one extra hit at the right time to seal the deal. Momentum shifts in the game could be felt throughout the stands. Royals to Giants and back to Royals. Now momentum remains with the Royals until the first pitch tomorrow. Who knows-it may not shift at all.

If i’m Bruce Bochy I don’t even think about starting Madison Bumgarner on such short rest. I would save him until he was on his natural schedule between starts Or maybe even until the Royals had won three games and he was a “must” start. But I certainly wouldn’t start him in Game 4. My Giants starter would be Yusmeiro Petit. I think he’s the “Wild Card” in the Series. He’s the extra starter the Royals don’t have. If not Petit, then I’d go with Ryan Vogelsong as originally planned. But frankly, I like Petit better for the situation. Bumgarner is the ace in the hole and should be played properly. That play will be very meaningful. Very crucial. it will be part of Bochy’s managing legacy.

The Royals will counter with Jason Vargas. It’s a good assignment, and the right one for the team that’s up one game in the Series. The only “spare part” pitcher they could even think to use as a starter would be Danny Duffy. I wouldn’t go there. Why invite uncertainty and unwanted intrigue to the party. keep it simple. Keep the mo flowing. Give the ball to Vargas. He can be very crafty.

Sal Perez showed the cannon he has for an arm tonight, cutting down Hunter Pence trying to steal. And what was up with that steal attempt? Was it a straight steal? Did someone miss a sign? It didn’t make much sense to me.

Right- handed pitchers simply have to feed Alcides Escobar a steady diet of sliders and curves down and away until he shows he can hit them. He should never see a fastball from a right-handed pitcher. Especially on the first few pitches of the game. The guy goes to the on-deck circle swinging. Get him off-balance and keep him there early in the count.

For a rookie that has now pitched in both the College World Series and the Major League Baseball World Series in the same season, Royals lefty Brandon Finnegan has ice water in his veins. And a nasty changeup. He is no fluke. He’ll be around a while. The guy can pitch.

Alex Gordon can murder a fastball up in the zone.

Lefties were hitting .194 off him before Hosmer got that hit off of Javier Lopez.

I was seated in the auxiliary media section in left field. The game started in bright sunshine. It was so bright, I couldn’t find the cursor on my screen or even see the screen to write or tweet. Then in about the 6th inning it got so cold I had to put on my jacket. In the 8th I went to my bullpen and called upon my even warmer jacket. This isn’t my first rodeo. I know how cold it gets in any American city in late October at 7PM.
I was prepared. Tomorrow-my MLB.com hoody, gloves and a hat. Take that-San Francisco weather. I hope it doesn’t rain.

Mike Morse has had two monster hits for the Giants this postseason. A huge home run and tonight’s ringing double. And he just recently returned from injury.

Twitter was so busy tonight it crashed. Every one of us out in left field looked at our screens at the same time. Every screen had some silly TECHNICAL ERROR message. Take twitter away from me and I’m a different person. I have a need to share.

The bus ride back to the hotel from the ball park showed once again why this is such a beautiful city. Major buildings were lit with orange colored lights. Way cool. And the harbor area with tons of boats lit for the occasion just added to the ambiance.

The stands were loaded with sophisticated fans. Neither team need be told by the scoreboard when to cheer. People dressed in orange far outnumbered those in Royal blue. But the blues were plenty loud. Maybe it’s because rows and rows of them were in the section adjacent to our Auxiliary box. Man, were they ever excited. Who can blame them?

On the way out, a couple colleagues asked me if the Giants are finished? My answer-not by a long shot. They were one timely hit away from a home field victory tonight. it didn’t happen. But give the Royals credit. They used Formula One to gain the upper glove. Formula One is the bullpen. Formula Two is the Running Game with Terrance Gore, Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain. They didn’t have a chance to pull that trigger on the stolen base routine. In fact, they didn’t need it. Formula One Won.

Join me on twitter during the game tomorrow. I may be reached @BerniePleskoff. And please bring your friends.

That’s it. I’m done. Good night. And thanks for reading my work.


Welcome To San Francisco

Today I’m writing two distinct blogs. This first one, written in the morning will have nothing to do with baseball. It’s just a time for me to share my San Francisco experience with those that may be interested. I’ll discuss the game in Blog #2 before I retire for the evening. You know, that’s fancy for before I go to bed.

The plane rides from Kansas City to San Francisco were rather uneventful-with one exception. I froze on both flights. I had a layover in Phoenix (where I actually live) and had to change planes. Shaking from the cold of the previous flight, I took my seat in the middle of the plane. Again. I thought the issue with temperature was isolated to the trip from Kansas City to Phoenix. Wrong. I told the flight attendant about it. She thanked me for my concern and went about passing out bags of 14 peanuts per bag. I kindly asked another flight attendant if they could possibly turn on some heat? She turned to the third flight attend ale-a male this time, and asked him if he was cold? “No.” OK then. Situation settled. Are you kidding me?

I know-I sound like an old man. But there is cold and then there is freezing cold. I live in Phoenix. I don’t do cold. Passengers around me? They told me they were really, really cold. But none came to my defense. None as in zero. They must have all been– members of the Don’t Get involved-Let HIm Figure It Out By Himself vacation club.

So we land in San Francisco. The cab driver throws my luggage in his trunk and asks me where I’m going. I told him and he said–“Sure, on…. street. That wasn’t on my instructions. I said, “I think it’s on…” His answer-“Get in, I know where I’m going.” OK. I believe, I believe. Now-I thought New York cab drivers drove fast. This was amazing. If we would have hit a feather I would have been dead. He should have been a prize fighter. He could bob and weave, zig and zag without getting hit. The entire ride went along in silence, which was fine with me. I had nothing to chit or chat about. We pulled up across the street from my hotel. He told me to “Get out” and rolled my luggage across the street before I even knew it was gone. The bellman told me that was a first. He had never seen anyone pull up across the busy street and roll the luggage across to the entrance.

My room is really beautiful. I woke up this morning raring to go. I asked the front desk clerk where I could get breakfast other than in the hotel? I wanted to take a walk. He sent me to the Chinatown area. Just through the main gate is a great breakfast restaurant. How could I forget one thing? I’ve been to San Francisco countless times. I watched Streets of San Francisco every week like it was a required seminar in crime prevention. But I forgot the hills. I forgot that to get somewhere, you have to walk uphill. And I mean UP HILL. The only good part is that you can walk home down hill. Unless you walk down hill getting there. Then you have to walk UP HILL getting back. That’s twice as bad. But I made it to the restaurant.
I ordered good ole’ sunny side up eggs. And as if my wife was watching over my shoulder I did what she always says: “If you must have bread with your eggs, make it wheat bread.” She’s right. So I ordered wheat bread. I’ve never eaten straw, but that must be what it tastes like. Do I sound like a grumpy old man, or what? flight, cab, walk, wheat bread? Yikes. But anyway, the breakfast was good and I got to walk back down hill. But on the way, within four stores I could have had my palm read, my feet massaged, my nails done, my hair colored (“we specialize in mens”) and my knees replaced. (“Virtually painless.”) I chose none of the above and kept walking.

There are a few sounds in life that really bring a smile to my face. I love the sound of the ball off the barrel of the bat. I also love the sound of cable cars in San Francisco. There isn’t anything else quite like that sound.

Kansas City and San Francisco couldn’t be two more different American cities. They are both really great. They both have championship baseball teams. They both have wonderful people helping all the visitors. But the entire vibe is so totally different. I’m so grateful to be experiencing both these terrific places. I hope you enjoy coming along with me. Tonight: We talk some baseball. Right here at BERNIE’S BASEBALL WORLD.

Follow me on twitter live from the game @BerniePleskoff
As always, thanks for reading all my work.


A Momentum Shift

After a very bleak Game 1 for Royals fans, hope returned to Kansas City in the form of their huge Game 2 victory tonight against the Giants. Momentum seems to have shifted a bit as we head to San Francisco on tomorrow’s travel day. Game 3 should be pivotal. But ultimately, the Royals will once again have to face Madison Bumgarner, the ace that caused them heartburn last night. They had to make some headway while they could. That’s exactly what they did tonight against the Giants Jake Peavy and his bullpen buddies.

Loud offense provided by Lorenzo Cain, Billy Butler, and Omar Infante set the stage for the much needed victory. A solid pitching performance by Yordano Ventura proved just good enough to get to the bullpen in time. All in all, it was the Giants who looked like a flat, warm bottle of soda pop that had lost its fizz. Offensively, they laid an egg. As opposed to last night, the yoke was on the Giants.

So we’re all even at one game each. Now it’s down to the best of five. The next three games will be played in the National League park-meaning there will be no designated hitter named Billy Butler in the Royals lineup. Meaning the pitchers will have to hit. Meaning Advantage San Francisco. For the next few games, at least.

In every World Series it seems dignitaries in the two competing cities place bets with each other. This one is among the most creative I’ve ever heard—If the Royals win, top officials of the San Francisco Zoo will stand in front of the lion exhibit with signs that say “The Royals won and we’re swallowing our pride.” If the Giants win, the director of the Kansas City Zoo will stand in front of the sea lion pool with signs that say, “We’re not lion- The Giants beat us fair and square.” Oh well, who thinks of these things?

I wonder if anyone has doubts about James Shields future after his clunker last night? With starting pitching at a premium, I don’t think his flat tire in Game 1 will ruin his chance to purchase an entire fleet of luxury automobiles if he so desires. Such is the market for a pitcher with the moniker Big Game James. But when we think about it, Shields has needed air in those tires for about two months now. He’ should get another chance to rev up the ol’ engine at least one more time.

The Press Box food tonight included the great ball park favorites of hot dogs, hamburgers and all the trimmings. Even though it was the same as yesterday, I certainly didn’t hear any complaints. It was all very good. Tonight though, the hosts added some very good, very freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. They went very quickly.

The Royals were able to return to at least part of their winning formula tonight. They were able to use their tried and trusted back end of their bullpen. Herrera, Davis and Holland all came through. If they were an accounting firm, you would think they were cooking the books. They aren’t accountants or math geeks, just very solid pitchers at the top of their game. Bam-they have the ability to slam the door shut. In Game 1 they were merely spectators. In Game 2, they were allowed to ply their craft.

Fact: Ten of the last eleven teams that have won Game 1 have won the World Series. Can that really be true? That seems like an awfully large number.

If the preliminary pitching match ups remain as originally stated by managers Ned Yost and Bruce Bochy, the Royals will be facing Tim Hudson in Game 3. Jeremy Guthrie would pitch for Kansas City. Game 4 would see the Royals Jason Vargas against the Giants Ryan Vogelsong. Who knows? That could change. But that’s what it looks like right now.

I thought the Royals Yordano Ventura looked very calm on the mound tonight. When he faltered at all, it was when he tried to increase his velocity beyond 97 mph. He would elevate those faster pitches, losing command of the strike zone. His counterpart, Jake Peavy was rocky at the start but recovered nicely and settled down.

I will greet you on twitter @BerniePleskoff from San Francisco on Friday evening. I hope you’ll be ready for more great World Series baseball. I still think this Series will go six games and we’ll be coming back to Kansas City.

Thanks for following me and for reading my World Series scouting profiles on MLB.com.


Game 1-A Bum Wrap

Well, Game 1 of the 2014 World Series is now history. And it was over in the first inning when the Giants scored three runs off the Royals James Shields. It wasn’t pretty for Shields. I won’t recount the entire inning or his short outing, but I will say that Panda, Posey and Pence make a formidable trio in the middle of the order. As I said in a blog a month or so ago, stop those guys and you stop the Giants. But even with their big bats tonight, a tip of the cap to Madison Bumgarner. He usually gives the opposition a bit of a chance somewhere in the first third of the game-and then BOOM. Down comes the hammer. The Royals squandered a second and third with no outs opportunity in the 3rd inning. Bumgarner wiggled off the hook. Not so much as a peep until a late homer by Salvador Perez. Game 1 goes to the Giants. Bumgarner wrapped up another win.

So I forgot to tell you about the elevators in my hotel. There’s a touchpad on the wall opposite the actual elevators. Touch your floor and you’re assigned an elevator-either A B or C. I thought it was pretty cool until I realized everyone was assigned to the same elevator. Once inside, there is no way to press another floor button. They are behind plastic. The touch pad is the only way to get to your floor. Make a mistake on the touch pad and there’s no turning back. Your doomed to go all the way to the top or all the way to the bottom on elevator A B or C. And you have to hear the woman’s voice saying Elevator A opening. Elevator A closing and yada yada yada. Yikes! Pick the right button the first time.

The home plate upper level Press Box at Kauffman Stadium was extended to accommodate all the media. There was an auxiliary Press Box in left field in what is usually a restaurant. I was seated in the one behind home plate. I had a great view of the game and there were TV monitors all around. The food was outstanding. Hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, pretzels, peanuts, coffee, pop, and probably more things that I can’t remember. Man, people were constantly eating. I didn’t eat that much. Just enough. By the 4th inning the place was a mess.

A crowd of 40,459 fans were in the stands and I would bet 40,458 were wearing some form of Royal blue. It really looked nice. And I have to give it to the fans-they were rooting for their team through thick and thin. Mostly thin. By the way, the park seats 37,903 at capacity. We were in a Standing Room Only situation. There were Giants fans in attendance, but they were few and far between.

I spent most of the pre-game down on the field watching batting practice. It was really neat to see guys like Pablo Sandoval enjoying discussions with David Ortiz and Salvador Perez. They all seemed like great friends who really enjoyed the moment of competition together. Even though Big Papi isn’t in the game, he was laughing and joking around with his buddies. The field was groomed perfectly.

The Royals hit only 95 homers during the season. The 1987 St. Louis Cardinals hit 94 and made it to the World Series.

This World Series is being billed as Destiny (Royals) vs. Dynasty (Giants). I’m not sure the Giants are a dynasty. But maybe. This every other year World Series thing is pretty special.

Madison Bumgarner is pretty special.

Nori Aoki took some pretty bad routes tonight in right field.

So you’ve heard of Steak N Shake? How about Curry In A Hurry. That’s the name of an Indian Restaurant down the street from the hotel. I think that’s pretty clever.

The Giants 20th World Series appearance ranks second all-time. The New York Yankees have the record with a whopping 40.

Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie is Yordano Ventura’s interpreter.

Giants third base coach Tim Flannery got burned sending Buster Posey home when there was very little chance he could score. Posey didn’t slide and was called out. Several people in the Press Box were really down on Flannery for aggressive decisions like that. But if Posey would have been safe, Flannery would have been a genius. Such is the life of a third base coach.

The Giants had no- as in 0-left-handed hitters on their bench. The Royals had one, Jarrod Dyson.

In case you were wondering, that beautiful fountain in the outfield at Kauffman Stadium is 322 feet wide. It is the largest privately funded fountain in the world. I was thinking about that just the other day. You know-something like, “where’s the largest privately funded fountain in the world?” Now I know.

George Brett played in 43 postseason games. Frank White played in 42. Brett hit ten postseason home runs.

After his last start in Baltimore, James Shields passed a kidney stone.

The bakery down the street was open this morning when I went for my walk. But frankly, I didn’t see anything that met with my approval. It was mostly cookies. And my wife bakes great cookies. I’ll wait to get home and get some of hers.

Well, join me on twitter tomorrow night @BerniePleskoff for Game 2 of the 2014 World Series. And look for my articles on MLB.com about young World Series players.

That’s it. I’m done.

On Deck: The World Series

OK-I’ve written this before on twitter-but it still amazes me. Get on this big, long metal tube in Phoenix. Find a seat. Sit down. Fall asleep instantly and two and a half hours wake up in Kansas City. What a concept! Then-go to a hotel room, slip a card in the door and the door opens. Then turn on a switch. The entire room goes from pitch black to light. What a world! What’s next? Am I going to be able to click on this keyboard thing and immediately-with very little delay, these words that I write may be viewed all over the world? I still marvel at man’s ability to invent convenience.

Who would have thunk it? In his last World Series, Commissioner Bud Selig gets to preside over two Wild Card teams playing each other. The concept happened on his watch. These two teams beat the odds and are the last two standing. I give them both credit. They deserve to be here. They outplayed some very, very good clubs. And Bud Selig can smile. The concept worked. A Wild Card World Series.

So here’s the deal. Every day in this space I will recap my day with you. I want you to join me here in Kansas City and then in San Francisco. I’ll share what’s happening. We can do this World Series thing together.

When I got off the plane at the airport I couldn’t find a cab stand. That’s a first. Usually cabs run into each other to pick up a fare. Not in Kansas City. There is a phone on a wall about a half mile from the baggage claim exit door that is used to call a cab. A few minutes later, the cab appears. Then, on the way to the hotel, the driver showed me a sea of yellow cabs waiting in line to get “the call.” It’s a system. So, I was a bit surprised how far the airport was from the hotel. After I took out a loan, I coughed up the $50 for the ride and exited the cab. In Phoenix, many entire used cabs can be purchased for $50. Or so it seems. Anyway, the driver was a nice guy.

This is the same area where we stayed for the All Star Game a couple years ago. Then the area was hustling and bustling with people, signs, horns, balloons, the entire works. Today, I thought I was arriving at a funeral parlor. Morte. Dead. The fountain across the street had blue water. That was the closest thing to excitement about the Series being here. i didn’t look at the fountain for a long time, because looking at water fountains makes me…you get it. And this is a huge blue fountain. So where’s all the hoopla? I love hoopla! There weren’t any signs or hats or anything fun at the airport either.

I was starving after only having a bag of peanuts and some lorna doons on the plane. I found a place to eat a few blocks away and went in. It was a food court place. Also dead. I was the only soul within blocks. I saw a sign for a bakery and got excited. We don’t have many real bakeries in Phoenix where they actually bake things. I went to the bakery and it was…closed. Of course, it was already past 2PM. Are you kidding me? Is this a national holiday or something? Closed.

I walked back uphill to the hotel and saw a bus that said MLB Media. A ha, I said to myself. I can go get my credential. The bus driver was awake and he took me to Kauffman Stadium. Once there, I was immediately assisted by a kind gentleman behind the window-got my credential and took the bus back to the hotel. I avoided a huge hassle tomorrow.

On the way back in the bus, we went over the Len Dawson Bridge. The Kansas City Chiefs icon has a bridge named after him. I’d love anything named after me. Even the Bernie Pleskoff Manhole Cover. What an honor that would be.

I took a walk through the World Series merchandise tent. Way cool. It was already crowded and I’ll be things will sell out. The Royals haven’t been in this position for a long, long time. The fans are hungry.

There’s a Gala tonight. I’m not going. I don’t do well at those. I don’t like the din and loud noise in those type rooms. I like noise at the ball park. Not at a Gala. I’m no longer a Gala type guy. Years ago I was more a Gala type guy.

About this World Series: I have a few questions. 1) Can San Francisco keep the Royals running game in check? 2) Can the Royals somehow, some way put a hurt on Madison Bumgarner? 3) Can the Giants get to the Royals starters anytime before the 6th inning- after which it’s too late? 4) Can the Royals get to the more mature (older) Giants starting pitching?

I think these are two very well balanced, equally talented clubs. They are both flawed. But they’re also great fun to watch. I have no idea who will win. I do think it’ll go six games.

Every evening I will write about the events of my day. I want to share this experience with you. So come along. Follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff starting with tomorrow night’s first game. I’ll tweet all game long. Live, I hope.

I’ll return to covering the Arizona Fall League when this World Series is over. For now, it’s the Fall Classic every day. Join me and bring your friends.

Soon I’m going to press that key and you can read this. What an invention. What a world. It’s great to be alive, right?

Thank you for reading my work at MLB.com, MLBPipeline.com and on twitter @BerniePleskoff (where I have the best followers in the world.)

That’s it. I’m out.