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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Well, They Did It Again

The San Francisco Giants have won the world championship of baseball. I'm not happy about it; my praise will be grudging and sparse, and I make no apologies for that. My Cardinals were beaten by the lucky trolls, for one. And for another, just that: they were obscenely lucky. I still haven't figured out how they score runs; they don't really hit!

The ERA for the starters not named Madison Bumgarner was near 10; that's awful. The relief pitching was great, and obviously, it had to be. At this moment, I need to tell you how great Bumgarner really was, and is: he's played in 3 World Series, and he has surrendered about a quarter of a run per 9 innings over all of them. Forget winning; you're fortunate to score against him. When my profound distaste for them all wears off, I will say that it is one of the most impressive things you'll ever see in this game. He started and won games 1 and 5, and he pitched in relief 5 innings in Game 7. Two days of rest. He's the reason the Giants won, with all due respect. In one of those funny quirks of the game, the starting pitcher cannot be credited with a win unless he pitches 5 innings (among other things). In such a case, the official scorer has the discretion to decide who gets the win. It is customary that the relief pitcher who is in the game when his team takes (and holds) the lead gets it. In this case, the scorer's discretion was wisely used in awarding it to Bumgarner, though the Giants took the lead before he entered.

The other amazing thing is how little the Giants struck out. Strikeouts are extremely helpful to pitchers. In most cases, runners cannot advance when a batter strikes out. There are a myriad of ways to score on a batted ball, and pitchers know how reliant they are on their teammates behind them when that occurs. Though the relationship between winning and the raw total of strikeouts is tenuous--you can miss a lot of bats, and still lose--the occasions of strikeouts during a game can be crucial. For example, with runners on second and third, and less than 2 outs, a batted ball in play is likely to score the runner from third, even if it's not a hit. Sometimes, you just need a strikeout. The fact that the Giants rarely did is a big reason why they won.

I'm happy for Giants pitcher Tim Hudson. He labored 16 years in this game before he got even close to the World Series, and now he is a champion. A true gentleman, and a consummate professional. He leads all active pitchers in wins, with 214.

Congratulations to the Giants and their fans. You outlasted and beat this year's Team Of Destiny, (the Royals) and that is no small feat. You were not beaten by The Cardinal Way, and the best organization in baseball. You beat the team with the most wins in the National League, the Washington Nationals. You survived a one-game do-or-die with the troublesome upstart Pittsburgh Pirates, and their limitless optimist, manager Clint Hurdle. In the end, whatever I feel about it, I can't take that away.

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