Five years ago tonight, Madison Bumgarner did something we couldn’t imagine. It wasn’t just the five scoreless relief innings after pitching a shutout three days earlier, it was the act of creating living history.
There are moments in life when we’re certain they will never be forgotten, and then they usually are. Other moments feel like fait accompli even when they become a turning point or unique moment in history. And then there are those times when it feels like history as it’s happening and only grows in legend as time goes on.
We have plenty of video to reign in hyperbole when it comes to Bumgarner’s Game 7 . . .
. . . and we’ll always have the full and proper context of the accomplishment . . .
. . . and for most of us here, we’ll have our own, specific memories tied to the night for as long as our brains will preserve our identities.
I’ll always remember the dull headache I had the entire game. It’s a special kind of headache, one that only happens when the Giants are in the postseason. It began during the 2010 NLDS. It feels like a combination of eye strain, hours of trying to think up the perfect joke, and general physical depletion, a state beyond stress.
As Bumgarner came out of the bullpen I remember that dull dread unfurling down my forehead as I said, “Okay, this is really happening,” completely disconnecting from the emotions I wanted to feel — this is nuts — because I had absolutely no control over what was going to happen. Here was my team jumping off a cliff without a parachute.
Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg have a chance to make history tonight, but we know that short of a perfect game or no-hitter, Bumgarner’s 2014 World Series will standout as one of baseball’s truly peerless accomplishments. That it came at the end of a series of unprecedented events for the Giants only adds to the power of the legend.
We’re not only celebrating the five-year anniversary of Madison Bumgarner and the Giants’ Game 7 win, we’re celebrating the most successful years of San Francisco Giants baseball.
The Astros are just 27 outs away from winning their second championship in three years, joining fewer than a dozen other teams that aren’t the Yankees in this feat, and already they’re being lauded as one of the best teams of the decade.
We know how the 2010s ended for the Giants, but consider how it began: from 2010-2016, they won 53.5% of their regular season games (607-527), and were 37-16 (.698) in four postseason years that netted them three championships.There
These past five postseasons have seen many pitchers try to duplicate what Bumgarner did, but none have succeeded. The Astros are trying to do what the Giants did but in their own extreme version of form over function. Remember, the Giants had a plan, too. It just didn’t look from the outside as one that lined up with what armchair sabermetricians thought teams should do.
But at the end of the day, Madison Bumgarner did what he did because the Giants did what they did. Their championship run was all by design, fueled by the same intentions that drives the Astros. The game is cruel and always changing. Today’s design is tomorrow’s embarrassment.
The 2010, 2012, and 2014 Giants couldn’t beat the 2017 or 2019 Astros. 2014 Madison Bumgarner couldn’t do today what he did then. If Madison Bumgarner pitches in the World Series again, he won’t be the same pitcher who did what he did on this night five years ago, and that’s not something to be sad about. The game is changing and always cruel. Why not embrace the good and forget the rest?
No game or player has to be lost to time or discounted because it doesn’t measure up to now. That’s the benefit of living through history: they never will.