Here is a link to my column in advance of Game 7. The full text runs below. For what’s it’s worth, I have no idea who is going to win this thing?
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
If Bruce Bochy had chosen to start MadBum in tonight’s Game 7 of the World Series, Bochy would be the bum.
As the Giants were getting mauled 10-0 by the Royals in Game 6, I received emails and tweets telling me Bochy should start Madison Bumgarner in Game 7 instead of Tim Hudson.
I call this line of reasoning JPG — just plain gibberish. But in the interest of fair journalism, I got Bochy’s take on the subject. He walked into the interview room minutes after the slaughter. He did not seem suicidal — he didn’t go after his wrists with a Gillette Blue Blade.
I said, “Bruce, this is not a trick question: I know you’re starting Hudson and not Bumgarner. I’ve had a million tweets tonight saying, ‘He should start Bumgarner.’ And ‘Why is he not?’ All I need is for you to explain why.
“Well,” Bochy said. And then he seemed at a loss.
“Did I catch you?” I asked. I didn’t want to trick the big guy.
“No, you didn’t catch me,” he said. “There’s a lot of managers out there, and I understand that, but this guy just pitched. He’s going to be on two days’ rest. He just threw a complete game. This guy is human. You can’t push him that much. He’ll be available if we need him, but to start him, I think that’s asking a lot. I have a good pitcher going (Wednesday), who has done a great job for us. That’s the reason. So when they tweet you, just tell them that.”
Bochy laughed and everyone in the room laughed — maybe out of nervousness. Now you’ve heard straight from the horse’s mouth why Bumgarner won’t start, not that Bochy is a horse.
Reporters weren’t done asking about MadBum. The subject won’t die.
Question: “Madison’s up around 250 innings and he’s 25 years old. Is it a matter of managerial conscience whether you send a guy out there for seven innings or one or two maybe?”
Bochy, smiling: “Well, I mean, this guy’s human, again. You want to take care of him. He is available, but as far as if we do use him, how far he could go, Dave Righetti and myself, we’ll watch him and make sure that we do take care of him. This is the last game of the year, so it’s easier to push a guy the last game versus doing it twice. In fact, he was available tonight, if we needed him. It’s two days off, and I think he could give some work, if needed. But with what you’re saying, sure, we care about this guy and we want to take care of him.”
I’ll add this. Anyone who would argue for starting Bumgarner is a borderline sadist. Why would you endanger his career — that young, illustrious career — with ill-considered overuse?
And who is Bumgarner on two day’s rest? We don’t know. Nobody knows. He’s never pitched on such short rest, certainly not in the deciding game of the World Series. He may not be any good. Let the Giants play with who they have — that means Hudson. Who they have has gotten them exactly where Kansas City is — one win away from a world championship. If you’re a Giants fan, you rejoice in that. You have faith in your team. You are content with the pitcher you have.
Let’s be realistic about Hudson. Hudson always was a better option than Jake Peavy, who was not up to the task of Game 6. Hudson is a better pitcher than Peavy and a more important figure in the history of pitching. Hudson went through a bad period this season which has been attributed to a bad hip. He has pitched well lately. Not that well.
At this very late stage of his career, he is competent instead of astonishing. He doesn’t shut down the other team. He limits it. He keeps his own team in the game. He prolongs the issue, but he does not decide the issue. He keeps the game close so the Giants can score enough and the bullpen can close things out.
That is how tonight’s game will work, if it works out for the Giants. Hudson doesn’t have to go more than four or five innings. Hudson never has pitched in a World Series. Now, he has a chance to win one. The sheer honor of it.
I want to tell you something else. The Giants got murdered in Game 6. It means nothing. Just as the Royals getting shut out in Game 5 means nothing. Those games are over and they indicate no pattern about the future — the future ends tonight. Each game in a World Series is a separate universe unrelated to the other games.
It is perfect this World Series is going to seven games. There is something special about Game 7, something definitive and cataclysmic and beautiful. If you think about it, tonight had to happen. It’s like it was preordained.
Here is Bochy on seventh games: “It’s exciting. It is. Good for baseball. This is it. It’s do or die. And that’s how you have to approach it. You want to make sure you’re ready for anything. There’s no tomorrow. We know that. So hopefully our starter, he’s on top of his game and the bullpen’s ready to go.”
The Bay Area experienced a case of premature euphoria after Bumgarner knocked the Royals on their ear in Game 5. Fans gave the Giants a coronation before it was coronation day. Fans are entitled.
The real ending to the World Series will happen as it should. It will happen tonight in the real world between real players on the grass and in the infield and the in batter’s box, and it will be played by men in dirt-stained uniforms with hope in their hearts and fire in their bellies.