October 27th, 2014

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.