What a treat to watch Madison Bumgarner.
He did not need the third victory in the Series; saving the championship was quite spectacular enough. Whatever convoluted process the official scorers went through, they got it right by eventually giving the victory to Jeremy Affeldt, who pitched well and was the reliever of record when the Giants went ahead. No sentimental decisions necessary.
I covered Bob Gibson and Randy Johnson when they pitched in October, on little rest. I could see up close how exhausted they were. Bumgarner seemed to have more left. It's nice being 25.
Gibson extended himself at the end of the 1964 season -- no playoff rounds then -- but look what he did: eight straight complete games, then an eight-inning victory, an eight-inning loss and a four-inning relief victory over the terrorizing little Mets on the final day, to win the pennant.
I can still see him on the stairs in the old Busch Stadium clubhouse. When somebody asked how his arm felt, he shouted: "Horseshit!"
Somebody asked Johnny Keane, the manager, why he had stuck with Gibson from the day he became manager through the turgid final week of the season.
Keane replied: "I had a commitment to his heart."
It remains one of the most beautiful things I ever heard a manager say about a player.
Then Gibson beat the Yankees in the Series. These days, baseball burns its best pitchers with all these post-season series. Bumgarner just kept going. There is a moral in there somewhere, about allowing great pitchers to pitch. For now, what a privilege to watch him pitch.
David Vecsey's sweet tale of distant love before the Web, now NYT Podcast, narrated by Griffin Dunne. Please see:
George Vecsey is Hofstra University's Alumnus of the Month! Read a Q&A with George here.