Culbreath: SevenWritten by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, I made it pretty clear a couple of weeks back that I was pulling for the Kansas City Royals to win it all.
So yes, I’m a little bummed out that on Oct. 29, in Game 7, in front of the Kauffman Stadium faithful, the Giants pulled off the road win to claim their third Commissioner’s Trophy in the last five years.
But heck, I can’t be mad about it.
First and foremost, Madison Bumgarner is a beast. I know — not new information. They gave him a trophy for his time (And a truck! With technology and stuff!)
But I told people last week that I was sure they were going to put him in for Game 4. Never did I think they’d trot him out for Game 5, then put him in to pitch in relief two days later. Those five innings were one of the best individual efforts you’re going to see in championship sports, period. And talk about a gamble paying off: On two days rest, Bumgarner could have been vulnerable to getting knocked around. Kudos to Bruce Bochy to putting the ball in the hands of his ace and trusting him with it, inning after inning.
Secondly, and more importantly, there’s just something about a Game 7. Barring an egregious error, you know that the game is going to be awesome, nerve-wracking, and ultimately end correctly. The two teams battling for the title went six games, and couldn’t come away with a decision. Both teams have proven themselves worthy.
With the NFL playoffs, you can argue a team gets hot at the right time and makes a run. How else do you explain Eli Manning’s two Super Bowl rings? And with the College Football Playoffs looking like an SEC snuggle-fest, I may never feel comfortable about that. But MLB, NBA, NHL? After seven games, there’s no “Congrats to the victor, but the better team lost.” You know that the title was earned.
Even Ned Yost, the manager of the losing Royals team, knew he could be proud of the effort his guys put up, and said so in his postgame comments. Yes, they swept their way to the World Series, and the Giants proved to be the one adversary who could get over them. But there was no shame in that loss for KC. Fans won’t be happy with the result, but they can’t fault the team for not putting in the effort. They were in it until the final out.
There have been 37 Game 7s in the World Series. Sixteen Stanley Cup Final series went the distance. Eighteen NBA Finals have gone to the winner-take-all game. For the game 7s you have seen, rare is it that you’ve walked away going, “Man, what a yawner,” or “There’s no way that that team should have been in that game.” Even in the blowouts, you knew that it was part of a bigger storyline — that the gas ran out on the losing squad, but they fought to the bitter end.
Congrats to San Fransisco, and to Kansas City. The 2014 World Series had a lot of magic in it. Even if, at the end of it all, it was all overshadowed by a bumbling car salesman botching his lines.
Matt “Shaggy” Culbreath is sports director for 1370 WSPD.