I Love A (World Series) Parade

Wow!! I still cannot believe that my team, the San Francisco Giants, have won their third World Series Championship in five years. This is the first time it’s been done in the National League since the 1940’s. The word “Dynasty” had been mentioned…and I never thought that the Giants would become associated with that word. Of course, with free agency and player movement it is very difficult to get continued success over a long period of time.

It was a great World Series with the Kansas City Royals playing against the Giants. The World Series was a great competition between two great every evenly-matched teams. I must say that I get really sick and tired with the national media talking up the opposition so much. They did this with the Texas Rangers in 2010, and with the Detroit Tigers in 2012 and with the Kansas City Royals in 2014. It was not ‘smoke and mirrors;’ the Giants are a genuinely excellent team. The Giants would not have won three Championships in five years if they were not a great team. It is a question of balance and appreciation and respect for your opponents, and I don’t know why the media do not feel this way for the Giants.

Of all the teams that the Giants have faced in their recent playoff series, the Royals were the toughest team they faced. I think that the Royals were the team most closely-associated with a National League-style of play—good defense, good pitching and good team speed.  And they gave the Giants the most difficult battle taking the World Series to the full length of seven games. The Giants were the first road team to win a World Series Game seven since the “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979, and there have only been ten World Series which went to Game 7 since then, and all the road teams have lost. Well, every team except for the Giants.

The Giants were able to win the 2014 World Series despite having starting pitching problems. The one constant for the Giants throughout the year was having solid defense which held up well throughout the playoffs. For all the talk and conversation about the Royals and their great defense very little was mentioned about the Giants. The Giants’ defense was great until two outs in the ninth inning of the seventh game when centerfielder Gregor Blanco misplayed a single into a two base error.

Madison Bumgarner was the savior of the Giants, and had a postseason run for the ages…and we’re talking ‘old school’ ages.  Bumgarner was probably as great in the 2014 postseason as Giants Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson, who threw three shutouts in the 1905 World Series. I have seen some great pitching performances in the postseason—Orel Hershiser of the Dodgers in 1988, and Jack Morris of the Detroit Tigers in 1984, and Madison Bumgarner was ‘head and shoulders’ above them.

Bumgarner pitched great in the 2010 World Series and in the 2012 World Series. He outdid himself in the 2014 World Series. He threw seven innings of one run ball in Game 1 of the 2014 World Series, and pitched a five hit shutout in Game 5. In Game 7, Bumgarner threw five shutout innings for a save along with winning the World Series for his team. What’s amazing is that Bumgarner is only 25 years old, and will in all likelihood only get better.  I’m thinking in the regular season. I’m not sure if Bumgarner can get any better in the postseason.

Game 7 of the 2014 World Series  was one of the greatest games that I’ve ever seen. It was further proof of the mastery of baseball by Giants manager Bruce Bochy. He knew how to manage his team, and his bullpen. Yes, of course, having pitcher Madison Bumgarner made his life and decisions considerably easier.  Clutch sacrifice flies by Michael Morse and Brandon Crawford and a clutch RBI single by Michael Morse were the key plays in the game. The key defensive play was a diving stop by second baseman Joe Panik to start a key double play to snuff a possible Royals rally.  The scariest moment was with two outs in the ninth inning when Alex Gordon’s single skipped past center fielder Gregor Blanco and went to the fence. Juan Perez fumbled it slightly, but was able to pick it up, and get it to the shortstop Brandon Crawford. Gordon, who was the game-tying run, was held up at third base. Catcher Salvador Perez was the next hitter, and Bumgarner started pitching him high in the strike zone.  With the count at 2-2, Perez hit a foul pop up to Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who squeezed it for the final out…and the Giants were the World Series Champions for the third time in five years.

I watched the clinching game at a friend’s house in San Lorenzo. We had watched the World Series clinching games in 2010 and in 2012.  So, it made sense to continue with ‘our’ tradition and watch a possible clinching game in 2014. Our usual post Championship game tradition is to cheer, along with yelling and jumping up and down on the front lawn and pouring champagne on each other.  It’s always interesting to see her neighbors looking outside their doors to see what is going on outside. It’s just pure joy!!

I left my friend’s house, and went home eager to avoid traffic and people going too crazy. I went home to relax, and to watch the sports news with all the highlights again and again… and again. I was also starting to think about going to the World Series parade. I had been to the parades in 2010 and in 2012 and I was going to go again in 2014.

DSCN0913[1]I got up on Friday October 31st at 4:15 am to go to the parade. I always go to Civic Center Plaza to see the end of the parade. At one point early in the morning the sun peaked out and created a beautiful orange sky. The weather throughout the early morning brought occasional rain.  I always figured that the parade routes along Market Street were too crowded and too busy. I was there early enough; although, I did hear about a guy who showed up for the parade at 8 pm the previous day. That’s a little too early for me. It starts to get crowded as the time goes on with a lot of standing around, and waiting, but it is always fun seeing and talking about the Giants and the past season.

Most of the time prior to the parade is spent just standing around talking to other fans and waiting for the parade to get started. The most exhausting thing was the hours spent standing around. I found it amazing how far people had come for this parade from the central valley, etc. I even heard about someone who had flown out from New York just for the parade. It really does mean something, not just to me, but to other Giants baseball fans.

The parade and the speeches were great. It was MC’d by Renel Brooks-Moon who is the PA announcer for the Giants at the ballpark. She really did a great job introducing the politicians and the honored guests. I always love to see the Giants alumni. I know that one huge reason the Giants have won World Series in 2010, 2012, and in 2014 is due to great scouting, and I’m thrilled that the Giants acknowledge these scouts at the parade.

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The Giants players, coaches and staff were brought out individually and acknowledged by the huge crowd. The Giants announcers Jon Miller, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper were there to pump up the crowd, too. The Giants players were great. They seemed so excited, and that they loved our support, and that we were in this battle together. Hunter Pence, one of my favorite players, who genuinely seems to love being a San Francisco Giants player was great and enthusiastic. One of the themes of the parade was in re-signing Pablo Sandoval who is a free agent. I would like to see Pablo stay with the Giants, but who knows what will happen in the business of baseball after the season is over. Pablo is a great postseason player, and good fit with the Giants in San Francisco. These parades just don’t get old, and neither does the fun. Yes, the exhaustion does get old. I was glad that when the parade was over.

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I was relieved when the parade and rally were over. I was exhausted!! It was now after 5 pm, and my legs felt weak. The major league term is jelly-legged, and that’s how I felt—exhausted but just so happy. I bought a World Series shirt as I left the rally to go home. It really was great! I heard that this attendance had topped the previous two World Series parades. Someone recently asked me what I do in the baseball offseason, and I replied with what baseball old timer Rogers Hornsby great quote “Look out the window and wait for spring.” Actually, I do follow the post season awards along with what’s going in the postseason hot stove league. Whatever happens in the offseason this was another great season.

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