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October 25, 2014

A Baseball Thread! [BCochran81]

Evening Morons and Ettes, BCochran1981 here. For the first time. Nope, not afraid I'll screw this up at all.

So a few of us were...opining...that we wished we had a World Series/baseball thread with a little more depth to it. I was chief among the opiners. So, CBD called my bluff. I got an email that said, "Great idea. Write it up and I'll post it."

Ok then.

First, a little background on me and baseball. Love the game. Truly and deeply. I had the privilege of playing from the time I was a wee little Ron all the way through college. 17 seasons.

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I was then the Head Asst Coach, Pitching Coach and general jack of all trades at a DIII school for another 3 years. I wouldn't trade a single second of any of those seasons. The lessons I learned through the game are invaluable and the friendships I made are worth more than gold and silver.

I'm one of those sick individuals who enjoys watching baseball on TV. (Although a cold beer and a sausage dog with mustard, peppers and onions from a park are two of the finest things in life.) The wife alternates between looking at me like I'm crazy and laughing at me as I scream about letting bunts roll foul, the proper way to round a bag or pitch selection.

Like I said, I love the game. It's in my blood and I hope I never lose it.

Alright, enough of memory lane, let's talk about the World Series.

As far as I'm concerned, this has been an outstanding Series so far. The two teams appear to be evenly matched and similarly situated. The Giants have the greater cachet (having won the Series in 2010 and 2012) and the more recognizable names. The Royals were one of the hottest teams in baseball in the second half. They don't have the names or the payroll or the notoriety, but they are the definition of "the whole being greater than the sum of the parts."

Game 1 in Kansas City had a dominant performance by the Giant's Madison Bumgarner and a disappointing performance by the Royals' "Big Game" James Shields. Bumgarner completely shut the Royals down and gave up a single run. Incidentally, that run broke his streak of postseason scoreless road innings at 32 2/3 innings. It also put a halt to his scoreless World Series innings streak at 21. Hunter Pence got the Giants started early with a two run homer in the first and the Giants never looked back. The cruised to a 7-1 Game 1 victory.

Game 2 saw a similar score, but a different route to it. Gregor Blanco blasted only the 10th lead off home run in World Series history to get the Giants started, but Kansas City answered back in the bottom of the 1st with an RBI double by Billy "Country Breakfast" Butler. Each team had added another run as the game entered the bottom of the sixth. At that point, the Royals bats came alive and they ultimately put up 5 runs in their half of the inning. In a weird moment, a misunderstanding on who was talking to whom between Giants' pitcher Hunter Strickland and Royals' catcher Salvador Perez led to both benches momentarily clearing. Strickland had given up a two run home run and, in anger, appeared to be yelling at himself on the mound. Perez, rounding third, thought he was yelling at him and yelled back. The two exchanged favorite recipes for a few moments and the benches came out to see who was providing the covered dish at the social afterwards. Cooler heads prevailed and the game carried on.

Ultimately, the Royals walked to a 7-2 victory.

Game 3 was in San Francisco and was a classic. Ultimately the Royals took a 2-1 Series lead with a 3-2 win. While the first two games saw each team display its offensive prowess, Game 3 belonged to the pitchers for the most part. The Royals sent 10 year vet Jeremy Guthrie to the mound, while the Giants sent 15 year vet Tim Hudson. Guthrie took a shutout into the 6th before surrendering two runs. Hudson gave up 1 in the first and 2 in the 6th. The stars of the night were KC's bullpen. The combo of Brandon Finnegan, Wade Davis and Greg Holland put on a show and held the Giants scoreless for the remainder of the game. Those 4 scoreless innings were the longest scoreless streak in relief in the World Series in 22 years.

Game 4 features Jason Vargas taking the mound for the Royals and Jonathon Vogelsong for the Giants. Vargas has hovered around a record of .500 for his entire career, but has thrown fairly well this postseason. He's given up 3 runs in 11 1/3 innings over two starts up to this point. Interestingly, all three runs were the result of solo home runs. Vogelsong is considered by many to be a potentially dominant postseason pitcher. He had allowed 1 run or fewer in his first 5 postseason starts. That came to a screeching halt in his last start against St. Louis where he gave up 4 runs and only lasted 3 innings. Look for him to have something to prove and get back on track.

If you're looking for a few characters or stories in this series, you'll find them. First and foremost is Brandon Finnegan. No, not that one. This one...

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Brandon has done something that no one else in the history of baseball has, he has pitched in two World Series in one year. Just a few months ago, Brandon was pitching in the College World Series for TCU. Fast forward and now he's in THE World Series with the Kansas City Royals. This has got to be an absolute whirlwind of a year for him. I hope he's getting the chance to enjoy it.

On the Giants side, well, there's the man who was referred to as a "spaz" by a commentator during Game 1 of the NLDS against the Nationals, Hunter Pence.

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Can't say the commentator was wrong. But what I can say is that for all his...eccentricities...Pence plays with grit, hustle and pretty much total abandon. He's fun to watch.

Well, that's enough from me. I hope you enjoy the post, I certainly enjoyed putting it together. But more than that, I hope you enjoy the Series.

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posted by Open Blogger at 07:00 PM

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