Gil Hodges is getting another crack at the Hall of Fame. So are Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant, and Maury Wills. So is Bob Howsam, who built the Big Red Machine. Thank the Golden Era Committee, one of the three committees mandated to replace the former Veterans Committee to review the Hall of Fame credentials of those who didn’t quite make the Baseball Writers Association of America cuts in the past.
The World Series is barely faded away and baseball’s third season begins—namely, the proverbial hot stove. And a few things have gotten rather hot already:
* All indications are that the Cubs will hire Joe Maddon as their next manager, nudging incumbent Rick Renteria out of the way. The Cubs may not have made it official yet, but if the former Rays manager is their hire a number of analysts say it means only good things for a Cubs organisation that looks like a rising power in waiting.
Not every Cinderella story ends the way the real one did. And fewer than those end the way this World Series did. With the postseason’s best pitcher striding in in relief to pitch five shutout innings after a rookie second baseman made it necessary—thanks, Yogi Berra, and brother did you have it right!—to get him in there.
There was probably no way San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy would have trusted anyone else, even one of his own stud bullpen, except Madison Bumgarner to secure a lead into a Game Seven win once the Giants had the lead and escaped losing it in less than a flash.
Hands up to everyone who expected Game Six to be a blowout on either side. Join the club, I didn’t expect it either. So let’s be reasonable, consider the source, and call what the Kansas City Royals did Tuesday night a 10-0 slashout.
Now, hands up to everyone who thought the Royals would hang up a seven-spot in the second inning Tuesday night. Join the club, I didn’t expect that, either. But there they were. The Roach Coach’s windows were wiped, the oil was changed, the tank was filled with fuel, and the Royals sent it into runaway train mode before the San Francisco Giants had a clue to what was hitting them.
If you’re a San Francisco Giants fan, your team has the Kansas City Royals on the proverbial ropes. If you’re a Royals fans, the Giants have you right where you want them. In Kansas City. For World Series Game Six. Of course, it won’t be simple, even if neither of these two teams do things the simple way.
Some Giants fans may be wondering where were these Giants during the regular season, when they looked like a runaway train in a none-too-strong National League West beyond that bunch of reprobates in Los Angeles (their words, surely), before they blew a ten game lead and ended up settling for the wild card play-in game.
One minute, you’re sent out to pinch hit in a National League Championship Series and tie the game with a single swing. The next minute, seemingly, your team is stopped from a World Series trip and you’re dead in a grisly road accident.
We’ve learned two more things from Game Five. Thing one: Madison Bumgarner is traveling in the World Series company of Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling, Whitey Ford, and Lefty Grove. Thing two: H-D-H, or at least H and D, are only human, too.
Bumgarner pitched a masterpiece of a shutout Sunday night, Kelvim Herrera left first and second for Wade Davis in the eighth only to see them score on Juan Perez’s fat-the-calf double, and the San Francisco Giants put themselves on the threshold of becoming the second team other than the Boston Red Sox to collect three World Series rings in the 21st century.
When Game Four was still somewhat manageable and a three-run deficit not seemingly insurmountable for the Kansas City Royals, I made a note while recording the pitching change to Tim Collins in the bottom of the seventh. Why didn’t Ned Yost reach for Collins after Hunter Pence bounced one to short for a force at the plate with the game still tied in the sixth, when Collins might still have had something to bring to the mound?
What the seventh inning was for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the division series, the sixth inning may yet prove to be for the San Francisco Giants: the inning of doom, or at least dire straits. What the Kansas City Royals showed among other things in roaching to a two games to one World Series lead Friday is that they may have to re-name their late-inning law firm to H-D-H-F.
And what Royals manager Ned Yost showed during Friday’s squirming is that he just might be elected genius by default. Emphasis on “might.”
The seventh inning proved to be the poison that took down Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League division series. The sixth inning Wednesday night proved to be poisonous for the San Francisco Giants in Game Two of the World Series. In more than one way.