If the Giants dynasty sticks to script, fans should celebrate this World Series title all the way through next season and plan to pop the champagne again in 2016, just as we’re electing a new president.
In 2010, 2012 and now 2014, the Giants defied expectations and became champions.
Wednesday night, the Giants were trying to overcome history, as well as the Kansas City Royals: The home team had won the last nine World Series Game 7s, going back to 1982.
History didn’t have a chance – not with the magic the Giants have on their side.
What makes this title even sweeter is how they did it. They overcame injuries and an epic midsummer swoon that put them behind the hated Dodgers. While they had Major League Baseball’s sixth-highest payroll this season, the Giants bank on teamwork and clubhouse chemistry.
Their core group of players came up through the farm system: Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Crawford and others. With the River Cats becoming the Giants’ AAA affiliate next season, Sacramento-area fans will have an even closer rooting interest.
Front and center of this homegrown group is Madison Bumgarner, the small-town North Carolina pitcher with the big arm. In an age when baseball people are obsessed with pitch counts, Bumgarner blew past all those limits, broke the postseason record for innings pitched and became a legend.
He threw a shutout in the do-or-die wild card game against Pittsburgh, and was MVP of the National League Championship Series against St. Louis. Unbelievably, he got even better in the World Series.
He won Game 1 and hurled a shutout in Game 5 on Sunday. After 117 pitches – with only two days’ rest rather than the normal four – he threw 68 more in Game 7 and gave up only two hits in the final five innings. He was untouchable in the series – 21 innings, 17 strikeouts and a single run – and was the unanimous MVP.
And in a culture of self-promotional athletes who beat their own chests, Bumgarner is remarkably soft-spoken and humble.
That’s something to celebrate, too.