Ron Agostini

Bumgarner – the Game Face of October

San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) pitches in the bottom of the fifth inning in Game 7 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium.
San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) pitches in the bottom of the fifth inning in Game 7 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium. jvillegas@sacbee.com

Reading time two minutes:

▪ Madison Bumgarner is 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds. You can find him alongside Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Christy Mathewson.

▪ When Bumgarner entered Game 7, Kauffman Stadium seemed to stand at attention, like the drill sergeant walking into the barracks.

▪ Bumgarner’s new place in the baseball world: He’s 25, fresh off one of the greatest performances by a pitcher in World Series history – and probably the best performance in postseason history – and he’s still that country boy from North Carolina.

▪ If it didn’t mean the Giants’ third World Series win in five years, Bumgarner would have preferred a simple handshake with Buster Posey.

▪ Perhaps from here on, the baseball talking heads might even pronounce his name right.

▪ All the destiny talk is irrelevant: The Giants have written their own special chapter in baseball history. Others will win. None will follow the Giants’ script.

▪ Centerfielder Gregor Blanco nearly became the answer to an infamous trivia quiz when he misplayed that two-out single. A thank-you to Bumgarner is due, Gregor.

▪ Ex-Modesto Junior College star Paul Wiggin made friends with his coming-home appearance last week. His advice to the Pirates: “If everyone focuses on doing their job to the best of their ability, then you can have a great day. So go out and make this a great day!”

▪ There is no better example of the community college’s important place in education than Paul Wiggin.

▪ Spotted a familiar name on Laney’s roster last week: Weston Tolbert, the son of former Golden State Warrior and current KNBR personality Tom Tolbert.

▪ Tolbert returned to MJC last week. He wasn’t far from the gym where he earned All-MJC Tournament honors in 1985 for Cerritos.

▪ One of the first great members of the San Francisco 49ers and an even better man: The late Gordy Soltau.

▪ Reserve a place in Cooperstown for Bruce Bochy, the best bullpen manager of the modern era.

▪ From the Royals’ standpoint: We clobbered the Giants until Bumgarner clobbered us.

▪ One day before he turned 24, rookie Joe Panik dived hard to his right and started the most important double play of the World Series.

▪ Why not: Joe “No” Panik.

▪ Yes, he had 26 postseason hits, but: Pablo Sandoval’s best contribution was his tagging up and hustling to third on a routine fly ball to left. Soon followed the title-winning run.

▪ If he signs with the Red Sox, Sandoval is just their latest high-$$$ free agent. If he stays with the Giants, he remains the Kung Fu Panda, the Senor Octubre of AT&T Park.

▪ The Giants have paid their dues for this run: The Willie McCovey line drive in 1962, scoreless in Games 6 and 7 of the 1987 LCS, swept by the Athletics while an earthquake shook in 1989, and only six outs away from the ring before they were undercut by the Angels in 2002.

▪ Those who believe in baseball karma knew Alex Gordon would not circle the bases. The Royals already received their golden break, resulting in a championship, with Don Denkinger’s blown call in 1985. Only one per customer, thank you.

▪ The most unsung play of the World Series: Brandon Crawford’s clean handling of Juan Perez’s short-hop relay throw as Gordon approached third. The slightest bobble meant a tie game.

▪ Further: Crawford’s cannon of an arm on relays, perhaps the tie-breaker on why Royals third-base coach Mike Jirschele didn’t take the chance. All things considered, the Royals were better off with one more swing at the plate.

▪ Baseball’s newest Face of October: Hang-dog stare, scruffy beard, stringy hair and sidearm release, the scariest Halloween look in Kansas City history. Madison Bumgarner. Superstar.

▪ And for the diehards: Only 111 days left before pitchers and catchers report.

Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeSports.

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