The Giants beat one of the very best teams in baseball. Stop whatever you're thinking if those thoughts aren't Madison Bumgarner-related. Go and appreciate him. Light a votive candle. Say some pretty things under your breath. Then go back to what you were thinking if you want. But you probably don't. Because you're in the Bumgarner Zone. It's stoic and fuzzy in there. Stay a while. Grab some milk.
This season has been a disappointment. Pause for dramatic effect. One of the reasons it's been a disappointment has been the starting pitching. After a few years of blissful ignorance, we got to see how the other half lives. Turns out these "pitchers" are pretty mercurial. Who knew? And for a while, the Giants couldn't get a quality start. I know the new school laughs at the quality start, but I still think they're useful. Six innings. Three runs. Teams that get that from their starters have a chance to win in any era. It's … a dumb metric. Literally brainless. But as a shorthand, I'll take it.
And for months, the Giants' starters couldn't string them together. Bumgarner now? Nine in a row. All of them over seven innings, and he's struck out 67 while walking 18 in 64 innings. His control is back. His command is back. His strikeout pitch is there. He's one of the best young pitchers in baseball. Chris Archer is also one of the best young pitchers in baseball. He's also a year older and 90 career starts behind Bumgarner.
Hold on. I'm looking up Beau Mills's stats ...
It's been a dreadful season. But Madison Bumgarner is pitching as well as he ever has. Better, even. If you want to roll around in rock bottom, please don't forget the really good things that are still going on with this team.
Now we get to the first baseman. Bradley something. Feels like someone should write this kid up, share some opinions.
The buzzword right now is competition. Oh, because Brandon Belt has competition, he's suddenly energized. He didn't have competition when he was one of the Giants' best hitters in June, but because he slumped in July, he needs competition.
Hunter Pence? Ha, no, he's cool.
Gregor Blanco? Probably fine. Also, the competition would be Jeff Francoeur, who isn't good. But, whatever, Blanco doesn't need competition.
But Brandon Belt needs competition from 28-year-old minor-league veterans if he's going to perform. Why, if he doesn't have a Brett Pill or Greg Dobbs or Ross Gload or ...
That written, I'll gleefully acknowledge that Bruce Bochy knows how to push buttons like Tim Flannery knows how to play guitar. The same amount of hours, blood, sweet, and tears went into both. eThere are nuances that outsiders can't appreciate.
From the outside, it seems silly. Your mileage will, of course, vary.
For the next three-plus years, Bumgarner is due about a million more than Alex Rodriguez is next year. There are also two team-friendly options with Bumgarner's deal.
The Giants won, so it's silly to nitpick strategic decisions. But if Roger Kieschnick were the kind of hitter that you would allow you to put a hit-and-run on with Buster Posey on base, he would have been a major leaguer in 2010. All of the other tools are there. It's the contact and discipline that makes him a 26-year-old enigma.
Goodness, what a silly hit-and-run call.
A Joe West performance self-review from the MLB.com archives:
Grmmph looks like a frmmm gramble gramble rrrf whatever goddamn punks goddamn kids buncha bullshit who are they? Who are they? Buncha punk kids buncha bullshit OUT STRIKE OUT STRIKE OUT that'll learn him. DON'T YELL AT ME. YOU'RE GONE. I'VE ALSO EVICTED YOU FROM YOUR APARTMENT. PACK UP YOUR CRAP. YOU'RE HOMELESS. TO HELL WITH YOU. DIE UNDER A BRIDGE, I'M JOE WEST.
grrmmble gramble frmmm out out out safe out whatever hrrrmmm wait I can't even see the paper I'm supposed to write this down on because I'm awful gramble hrmmm grumble frmmmm self-review's a buncha nonsense punk kids getting supervisor jobs cause their daddy had one or whatever REVIEW THIS out out out safe whatever is that a butterfly this is bullshit buncha punk kids.
This is a verified, completely accurate, league-mandated self-review that Joe West gave himself after watching video of his own calls. Give or take.