Here is a link to my column about the Giants’ win in Game 5. The full text runs below:
I could write about Madison Bumgarner and how he outpitched James Shields in Game 5 of the World Series and how he made the Kansas City Royals look ill and how he is the best playoffs pitcher on the planet and how he may be the best pitcher in the big leagues and how he’s the best Giants’ pitcher I ever covered. All of that.
I could write how he struck out pinch hitter Billy Butler looking in the eighth inning. And as Butler slumped back to the dugout, Bumgarner stared at his fielders, turned his back to Butler with disdain because Butler already was in the past — history.
I could write about Bumgarner’s face. Not really his face. The expression on his face. Call it The Look. It’s a terrifying look. It is mean, without compassion or remorse. I’m talking about his look on the mound, not his look in life. When he has The Look you wouldn’t want to tick him off and meet him on a lonely street. That must be how batters feel — how the AL champ Kansas City Royals feel.
But a tribute to Bumgarner’s undisputed greatness is off the point. The point right now is bigger than Bumgarner. He is surely finished as a starter in this World Series, and he may not even pitch again — although he could be available as a spot reliever in a Game 7. If there is a Game 7.
As the World Series moves back to Kansas City on Tuesday, Bumgarner becomes a minor character in this drama which probably will move on without him. I certainly am not diminishing Bumgarner. I am addressing the reality of this series.
Of course, things are looking great for the Giants. They almost surely will win the World Series, maybe even in six games. And the Royals certainly seem vulnerable. They are the team making mistakes, like the shaky fielding by shortstop Alcides Escobar, two balls skidding past his astonished glove, balls Brandon Crawford would catch like breathing.
And there was that amateurish play in the fourth by so-called defensive specialist center fielder Jarrod Dyson — he absolutely cannot hit. He grossly misplayed a Crawford single, allowing Pablo Sandoval to score from second. The Royals came apart a little bit here and a little bit there until, as happened in Game 4, it all turned to chaos for them.
The Giants have been too much for Kansas City. We know that. We honor that.
Forgive me for writing this, but the World Series is not over. Lots of dark and unexpected things happen when you travel back to the Midwest to close out a World Series in the other guys’ park. It’s like gravity works differently out there, or the laws of nature don’t quite apply, or you’re entering a dark hole. Be cautious. Don’t bet the mortgage or risk your first born on a cinch Giants win. Not just yet.
Only three road teams have won Game 6 in the World Series since 1990. The last road team to win Game 6 was the Marlins in 2003. They beat the Yankees in six games. If you go back to 1980, four road teams have won Game 6.
I’m just saying.
I’m also saying the matchup in Game 6 is Jake Peavy vs. Yordano Ventura. That was the matchup in Game 2. The Royals won that game.
I’m saying that, too.
None of this is a putdown of the Giants. It’s a reminder this series is exquisite drama and the ending of the drama — the conclusion, the resolution, the finale — has not been written.
After Sunday’s game, I asked Crawford about going back to KC. He gave a lousy quote — uninteresting to the max. But I’ll quote him, anyway. And then I’ll explain why.
“We feel good, we feel confident,” Crawford said on autopilot. “We’re one game away from where we need to be. But it’s going to be a battle out there.”
You see what I mean about boring. But I’m not criticizing Crawford. He was bland to the point of death because he wanted to be noncommittal, not to jinx anything. I understand that.
So, let’s switch to Royals’ manager Ned Yost. He came to the postgame interview room. I said, “Does it mean anything that you’re going back to Kansas City?”
He gave me a look like it was the dumbest question in the history of dumb questions.
“We get to, right?” he asked. The official transcript followed his question with the stage direction “laughter.” Yost was laughing. I wasn’t.
“I’m allowing you to,” I told him. I meant the Royals can go back to KC if I have any say in the matter. “I just want to know what it means,” I said.
“Thank you,” Yost said. “I just wanted to make sure we’re getting to go back to Kansas City.”
He was really milking the joke. Then he got rolling.
“You know what, we’re going back to our home crowd,” he said. “The place is going to be absolutely crazy. We feel good about our matchups. We’ve got to walk the tightrope now without a net, but our guys aren’t afraid of walking the tightrope without a net. We fall off and we’re dead. But we win Tuesday, nobody’s got a net. It’s going to be winner take all. So we think it’s going to be fun. We’re looking forward to getting back to our home crowd where it’s going to be absolutely wild and crazy.”
God love Yost for his net quote — brilliant. And God love the San Francisco Giants, a team everyone left for dead earlier this season. They have come a long way. They are one game away from winning the World Series. You have to believe they’ll win it.
It’s just that life in baseball can get hard before it gets easy — net or no net.
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