Madison Bumgarner is a competitive guy. That’s to be expected, of course—you don’t become a staff ace and World Series hero without some fire in your belly.
But much like a wildfire in California, it’s easy for that fighting spirit to get just a teensy bit out of control.
Bumgarner has earned himself a reputation around the league as a (possibly problematic) hothead thanks to his ongoing vendetta against fun—uh, I mean, bad sportsmanship. Given that fact as well as yesterday’s brouhaha, it seems appropriate to look back and rank all the times Bumgarner hulked out over a home run.
To the tape!
June 9, 2019: Bumgarner v. Max Muncy
Not only is Max Muncy a strong man who hit ball far, he’s also pretty good with a quip.
Muncy: “Bumgarner said ‘don’t watch the ball, run’, and I just told him if he doesn’t want me to watch the ball, go get it out of the ocean.”— Joe Davis (@Joe_Davis) June 9, 2019
Faulty geography aside, it’s a fair point. Beefing with Muncy for admiring his Bondsian blast is self-defeating, because it only draws more attention to just how freakin’ far the ball went. If you want to jaw out anyone for this incident, blame Bumgarner for throwing a meatball to Muncy.
Still, as far as Bumgarner blowups go, this is pretty minor. In his postgame interview, Muncy referenced how he didn’t want to become another Yasiel Puig.
Please. Muncy is no Puig. It takes more than some light trash-talking to earn that distinction. I’m giving this showdown one Angry Bumgarner out of five.
May 9, 2014: Bumgarner v. Yasiel Puig
Speaking of Puig, this is the bat flip that started it all.
Playing in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Giants were up 3-0 against the dreaded Dodgers when Puig launched a beautiful, arcing homer to dead center. While the bat flip (mild by Puig’s standards) wouldn’t impact the outcome of the game, it sure did have an affect on Bumgarner’s sunny disposition.
After Puig rounded the bases, Bumgarner greeted the slugger at home plate. We don’t know exactly what was said, but Bumgarner offered his version:
I was congratulating him. It was a really good hit. It was impressive. Again, I don’t know why everybody got so mad. It escalated quickly for no reason. I think he said, “Thank you.” I’m not sure if he did. I don’t speak Spanish very well.
Not exactly original, but it is a classic joke, with a nice “Speak American!” undertone to set it apart. It also arguably led to the infamous “Don’t look at me” incident two years later.
For this reason alone, it earns four Angry Bumgarners out of five.
May 12, 2019: Bumgarner v. Puig (again)
We don’t have to go back far to find a run-in between these two Titans of Bruised Egos. Decked out in pink, the former Dodger blasted an inside fastball from Bumgarner into the left-field bleachers at Oracle Park. Then Puig, fun player who I wish played for the Giants, added a bright-pink cherry to the dinger sundae with a glorious bat flip.
There's only one day a season you can flip a pink bat. pic.twitter.com/uI1Mn9AiWs— Cut4 (@Cut4) May 12, 2019
Before all you Puig haters come in complaining about “respecting the game,” take a moment to recognize that Bumgarner isn’t exactly innocent when it comes to showing up the pitcher. My point here isn’t that Bumgarner is also a bad person, but that it’s silly to get huffy about players enjoying the fruits of their labor. Just…lighten up, people. It’s a game, not high-stakes diplomacy.
Anyway, it’s a shame that Puig was wearing a Cincinnati Reds uniform this time around, because it would have been terrific #GoodForTheRivalry fuel. As it stands, this incident is also pretty minor—probably because Bumgarner wasn’t looking when Puig flipped his bat—but it did inspire this fire quote from the Giants pitcher:
Bumgarner on Puig’s homer on a fastball in: “He’s a quick study. It only took him seven years to learn how to hit that pitch.”— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) May 12, 2019
I’ll give it two Angry Bumgarners out of five.
June 19, 2013: Bumgarner v. Jesus Guzman
You know what helps when you’re angry? Throwing a 92-MPH fastball at someone.
Therapists everywhere: “What, no, that’s a terrible—”
Anyway! In a start against the San Diego Padres, Bumgarner decided to take out his rage on the backside of Jesus Guzman.
Or rather, he tried to. In actuality, he ended up whiffing like a complete doofus.
Even though Guzman somehow escaped unscathed, he threatened to escalate the feud as he tramped towards the mound, bat in hand. Fortunately, Buster Posey and the home-plate umpire quickly intervened before things got really out of hand.
The best part about this whole situation is that Bumgarner didn’t even give up a home run to Guzman! The offending home run happened the previous night, when Guzman enthusiastically responded to taking Matt Cain deep.
I can imagine the car ride after that game…
Bumgarner: “I can’t believe the nerve of that guy!”
Cain: “It’s okay, he just happened to groove one. We’ll get him next time.”
Bumgarner: “NO! It’s not okay!”
Cain: “Whoa, Bum, you need to calm—”
Now, in no way do I condone intentionally hitting another person with a high-speed projectile, but this was really poorly handled on Bumgarner’s part. First of all, he went after Guzman in the top of the second inning. If you’re going to target a guy, do it when you know you’re going to be pulled soon.
Second of all, after Guzman was stopped by Posey and the umpire, Bumgarner kept advancing, causing Duane Kuiper to caution that “Bumgarner better get out of there,” because the Giants couldn’t afford to lose him either to injury or an ejection. But it’s not like he would ever put himself and the team at risk by doing something stupid, haha!
Anyway, Guzman had his revenge later in the game, when he connected for a home run against Bumgarner in the seventh. Which is really how these things should be handled. Want to get back at an opponent who showed you up? Strike him out next time.
The unreasonable amount of rage for a slight that wasn’t even committed against him makes this one truly special. I gotta give this one five out of five Angry Bumgarners!