In 2007, Dane Cook was the spokesperson for the MLB postseason, excitedly exclaiming, “There’s only one October!” On the morning after the conclusion of a World Series Game 7, those words ring true once more as the San Francisco Giants celebrate their victory and solidify a dynasty.
Just 29 days ago the Kansas City Royals defeated the Oakland A’s in what will likely be the landmark game of the new Wild Card format for years to come. Their magical journey, perhaps semi-magical, nearly fantastic, included knocking off the team with the most wins in the American League in the Los Angeles Angels, and the club that shocked the AL East, the Baltimore Orioles.
For Royals fans, one season almost ended every bit of suffering since 1985. The James Shields trade brought them an elite reliever who allowed one run in 14.1 innings this October while striking out 20 batters. Shields himself had an up and down playoff run but his regular season performances in 2013 and 2014 were instrumental to the Royals reaching the postseason in the first place.
During the World Series, only two games were especially close, and the Royals’ blown lead in Game 4 looms large. But the Royals were in the mix for a season-capping victory until the final out of the ninth inning. With Alex Gordon just 90 feet from scoring at third base, the Royals had a chance to tie. Unfortunately for the Kansas City faithful, that was no simple task due to the man on the mound: Madison Bumgarner. The San Francisco pitcher, who won Games 1 and 5 in addition to closing out the final five innings of Game 7, has become a part of postseason lore.
Mariano Rivera in the WS: 36.1 IP, 27 H, 4 ER Madison Bumgarner in the WS: 35 IP, 13 H, 1 ER
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) October 30, 2014
Shortly before the game ended, Tim Britton, the Red Sox beat writer for The Providence Journal, sent out that tweet comparing one of the game’s young stars, still really a rising star in some ways, and the greatest closer in history. More games and more rounds gives today’s players a better chance of snagging a record or two, but even comparing only to the last two decades of the Wild Card era puts Bumgarner in elite company. With World Series MVP honors in tow, he heads into 2015 as the ace for the Giants, surpassing Lincecum and Cain with his latest act.
In addition to Bumgarner, the Giants’ bats had some life as well. Hunter Pence hit .333/.405/.470 during the playoffs, Pablo Sandoval joined him with a .366/.423 /.465 line and Joe Panik turned an amazing double play. In any other year the Royals might have kept their runner at first, but with instant replay, the umpires were able to get the call right during the biggest game of the season.
San Francisco joins the Boston Red Sox as the only teams with three World Series wins in the 21st century. This latest title caps off a recent dynasty, as the Giants now hold championships in every even year since 2010.
Thanks for 2014 postseason, Royals. It was one heck of a ride, even if you had to get off the train before the last stop. And congratulations to the Giants. May the evens be ever in your favor.