A Fall Classic for the record books

David J. Phillip/AP Photo

David J. Phillip/AP Photo

The San Francisco Giants win the World Series in Game 7, their third title in the last five years!

The best two words in professional sports, “Game Seven”, and boy did this year’s final game of the World Series ever live up to the hype. The Kansas City Royals, the “Cinderella” team in this years’ post-season, were an American League wild card team that made the playoffs for the first time in 29 years. It was 29 years ago, when the Royals won the World Series, back in 1985 at home in game seven. The San Francisco Giants were the National League representative, also a wild card team. However, the Giants franchise is used to playing baseball deep into October. The Giants had won the World Series just as recently as 2010 and 2012, and they won it again under manager Bruce Bochy this year in 2014, giving their city of San Francisco their eighth World Series Championship.  Six players have been a part of the Giants sqaud for all three championships over the last five years.

Despite another Giants championship, there’s a lot of positives the Royals can take to hold their heads high. They were a team that made the playoffs by just two games, and then went onto to win their first eight games of the playoffs. They beat one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, Jon Lester to win the 1-game wildcard match-up versus the Oakland Athletics. They then swept the regular season’s best team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, followed by sweeping the Baltimore Orioles to get into the World Series. Led by their Manager Ned Yost, the Royals found a way to win the old fashioned way, through pitching, speed and defense. The Royals led the MLB this year with the fewest home runs out of all 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. However, their speed and defense made up for it, and it became well known throught the baseball world this post-season thanks to the likes of Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jared Dyson and Terrance Gore. Veteran Royals Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas carried the load of the offense and the bullpen was their backbone all season long. The Royals bullpen was so dominant, the nickname “HDH” developed at the start of the post-season. That started when Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland would be common regular relievers to pitch day in and day out in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings respectively, seemingly never allowing a single earned run. When you know you have the support behind you, it makes the job much easier for starting pitchers to focus on throwing six-innings, and that’s what led to the Royals’ success this year.

On the other side, every World Series championship team provides storylines that we can talk about for years and years to come. When you talk about the 2014 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants 50 years from now, the name you’ll remember will be Madison Bumgarner. Words like inhuman, historic and legendary would be the words to describe him. Bumgarner, a 25-yearold starting pitcher for the Giants, who now has three rings with them, was simply untouchable in this year’s post-season. He posted a 4-1 record this post-season with a 1.03 ERA, while striking out 45, allowing just six walks in 52 2/3 innings. What most people will be talking about though is his World Series dominance, where pressure is at its peak. Bumgarner is now 4-0, including one World Series clinching save, 31 strikeouts, and a ridiculous 0.25 ERA. That is good enough for the best World Series statistical numbers of all time. With all of that being said, he followed up his NLCS MVP Award by the receiving the World Series MVP trophy. Madison Bumgarner was simply unbelievable.

Other notables who came through in a big way for the Giants this post-season were catcher Buster Posey, right fielder Hunter Pence, rookie second baseman Joe Pannik, and third baseman Pablo Sandoval who made the catch on the final out in game seven.

Three quick notes:

James Shields – The Royals member who logged 227 innings this season is now a free agent and will likely not return to the team next season. Shields will be one of the hottest commodities on the free agent market for whom some teams may over bid. It’ll be very tough for the Royals to get back to the World Series next year without adding an extra offensive talent as well as someone to fill in the void that Shields will leave behind.

Pablo Sandoval – In any other World Series, Sandoval would have won World Series MVP, but Bumgarner was just too dominant to not be chosen this year. Sandoval is an incredible player who plays with such passion and is beloved by fans in San Francisco. He has been a giant his entire seven-year MLB career, but is now a free agent. The word at this point is contract negotiations aren’t going well. If Sandoval doesn’t return next season, then that’s a huge hole that the Giants will have to fill.

Bruce Bochy – The Giants manager has created many baseball fans around the world to start consideringhis team a dynasty. That’s now three championships in the last five years for Bochy, and only 10 managers in the history of baseball have ever won at least three. With this 2014 title, Bochy may have just clinched his ticket to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

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