Programming note: For complete World Series Victory Parade coverage on Friday, tune in to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area at 11:30 a.m.
KANSAS CITY – The most acrobatic, impressive, momentum-changing double play in Giants history wouldn’t have been a double play if not for two pairs of eyes in a back room off the visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium.
Shawon Dunston squinted. Chad Chopp turned the dial and played it back. The clock was ticking, and you can’t exactly squander your replay challenge when it’s the third inning in Game 7 of the World Series.
“I’m the hyper one, he’s calm,” Dunston said. “He said, 'Hey, we can take our time. We have 30 or 40 seconds. That’s a lot of time.”
Chopp, a former minor league pitcher, worked as a firefighter in Arizona before linking up with the Giants. He worked out at the same gym as Hunter Pence, and asked him out of the blue one day if he’d like someone to throw to him. When the Giants needed to hire a replay coordinator, and an extra arm to throw batting practice, they liked Chopp’s experience at having to solve problems and act quickly.
The second game of the season, though, did not go well. It was April 1 at Arizona and the Giants challenged a pickoff play at first base. Replays were deemed inconclusive and the call stood. An inning later, when Matt Cain applied a tag at home plate and the umpire appeared to blow the call, the Giants didn’t have their challenge. They lost 5-4 and Dunston, new to the replay advisory role, was devastated.
“We learned,” Dunston said. “We learned from the start to just tell the truth. Don’t tell them what they want to hear. What Brian Sabean told me after that game stuck with me. He said, 'Don’t worry about it. This is new to all of us. This is going to be a blessing in disguise,’ It’s no lie. He told me that, and now look where we are now.”
Dunston and Chop had several angles on the play in the third inning. Second baseman Joe Panik stretched every fiber while diving to knock down Eric Hosmer’s hard grounder, he flipped with his glove to Brandon Crawford and first baseman Brandon Belt made the stretch. The replays were extremely close, but one angle showed a bulge in Belt’s glove from where the baseball made contact while Hosmer’s fingers were millimeters from touching the base.
“I said, 'OK, OK, he’s out. Let’s go for it,’” Dunston said. “And we did that together.”
It took two minutes, 57 seconds. It lasted an eternity for Dunston. Then came the out call, and vindication. Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt said he might not have lasted one more inning if not for the double play.
“This is Game 7, man,” Affeldt said. “You can’t go, ‘Well, I kind of think maybe …” They’ve got to do their diligence.”
First, Dunston and Chop -- the old shortstop and the fireman – did theirs.