Programming note: For the most comprehensive World Series coverage from Kansas City, watch "October Quest" Wednesday at 4:00 p.m., and immediately after Game 7 on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The time has expired for metaphors, but here’s one last one before Game 7 of this World Series.
The San Francisco Giants, American’s Team Of The Extreme, The Best Team In Baseball Turned Worst Team In Baseball Turned White-Knuckle Champions Of September Turned Wild Card Phenomenon Turned Playoff Whirlwind Turned Oh God Oh God Oh God Here Comes Game 7 Help Mister Wizard, have helped create one of the most arrhythmic series ever.
Yes, with the connivance of the equally schizoid Kansas City Royals, the Giants make their Game 7 stand after producing one of the least sensible Series ever.
They won by six, then lost by five. They lost by one, then won by seven. They won by five, then lost by ten Tuesday night, a cool 10-0 throttling that was over even before the National Anthem had expired.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Peavy rocked, Royals force Game 7]
And now, with all the chips on the felt, they will send their oldest starting pitcher, Tim Hudson, to face Kansas City’s oldest starting pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie, in an unprecedented festival of AARP-dom that will ultimately produce a champion.
That makes Hunter Pence seem downright normal. And we haven’t even used the name Madison Bumgarner yet.
But since we’re bringing it up . . .
“There’s a lot of managers out there, and I understand that,” official manager Bruce Bochy said when asked a circuitous question about the Twitteratii, “but this guy just pitched. He’s going to be on two days’ rest. He just threw a complete game. Our confidence in Huddy. But you know, this guy is human. I mean, you can’t push him that much . . . so when they Tweet you, just tell them that.”
Swell. That’s what this series has been reduced to – turning the one brilliant starter into a batting cage machine at the first sign of the unknown, in a series that has been nothing BUT the unknown run rampant.
There is no form. There is no sense to be made. These two seemingly equally matched teams have played like perfect strangers for the last week, and though general manager Brian Sabean swore, “Tomorrow will be a close game, I guarantee it,” he is mostly burning with optimism’s flame, because when it comes to actual evidence to buttress his claim, he’s got squat.
This is already the third most lopsided seven-game Series in history, behind the 1960 gathering, in which the New York Yankees won by 13, 10 and 12 runs and still lost to Pittsburgh, and 1968, when Detroit outbludgeoned St. Louis. It is also the first Series in which five games were decided by five or more runs, which is more evidence of two spectacularly moody teams.
And Game 6 was indicative of the series in every way. Starter Jake Peavy exploded in the space of five batters, getting nudged, bumped and raked by batters Six through Eleven. Alex Gordon (clunked a blooper in front of Gregor Blanco), Salvador Perez (lined a single to right), Mike Moustakas (doubled just inside the first base bag), Alcides Escobar (grounder to Brandon Belt, who was told to throw home, decided against it but didn’t throw to first either) and Nori Aoki (ground single to left) before Bruce Bochy tapped out – WITH ONE OUT IN THE SECOND INNING!
Tapped out, you say in incredulity and anger? Well, the relievers were Yusmeiro Petit, Jean Machi, Hunter Strickland and Ryan Vogelsong. If that’s not tapping out, then I’m not famed WWE referee Earl Hebner.
The rest of it was a righteous mess, as have most of the games in this series been. Only Game 3, which the Royals won, 3-2, stand out as a taut postseason thriller. The rest have been smackdowns of increasingly strident ferocity, leaving the nation wondering exactly what this baseball season has wrought.
Perhaps the Belt play was a turning point, though Peavy’s inability to fool the Royals with what was uniformly described as “some of his crispest stuff” (Buster Posey), and the Giants’ collective inability to discomfort Royals starter Yordany Ventura make it an exceedingly thin reed upon which to balance one’s hopes. After all, what would have been the third out didn’t occur until Gordon batted for the second time in the inning. And even if the Giants had stopped the Royals cold there, they still scored zero themselves.
“Belt makes that play and Peavy gets out of the inning, you don’t know if Ventura breaks a little bit and gives up a run at the other end,” general manager Brian Sabean rebutted as he stood outside Bochy’s office. “He looks off the slow guy at third (Perez), and then he didn’t look at (second baseman Joe) Panik covering. It’s like he decided the pitcher wasn’t there, so he had to do it himself.”
But that’s post-carnage kvetching. Posey, ever the economical speaker, kept to the topic of the honor and coolness of playing a seventh game (“They haven’t had one in awhile,” he said, referring to the one in 2011, the only seventh game in the past 12 years), but he enters this game as perplexed as anyone else.
That is, if he falls into the trap of thinking that yesterday’s game explains today’s. He’s been around too long to take the hook, though. This series has debunked the concepts of trends, educated assumptions and momentum. Bochy has not outmanaged Ned Yost. The Royals have not run wild. The bullpens have been only intermittently relevant, and Tuesday was actually what pitchers WEREN’T used. In short, everything we thought knew turned into things we thought we surmised, and then badly.
All except Madison Bumgarner. And the millions of managers who know in their souls that he is made entirely of plasticene skin, adamantium bones and silicon flanges, and whose real name is F29B4, or something.
Until we find out in the end that what this series really was, was a subtle testimonial to the madcap nature of this rolling ensemble sitcom/reality show, and a tribute to those unencumbered by the hubris of know-it-all-ery.
Oh, and Bumgarner will be ready from the third inning on, warming up next to Dave Righetti, because why the hell not?