Monday, November 1, 2010

We're almost there: It's ours to lose

This just keeps getting better and better.

Before it's all said and done, it's about to get sweeter than any of us could have imagined back in April.

Back in April, Rowand started over Torres, Posey was in Fresno, Wellemeyer was our 5th starter, Burrell was DH'ing in St. Petersburg, and Madison Bumgarner was... a concern to say the least.

Remember? He had a terrible Spring, was throwing 85, and everyone was freaking out! Some people thought he was injured. Some thought we were dumb not to trade him while his stock as a prospect was high. More thought he had gone all Rick Ankiel on us and would never recover.

I was one of those freaking out... thinking he'd been rushed; thinking he'd need more seasoning and time to iron out his mechanical problems. I feared the worst. I prayed to God I didn't see anything at the bottom of my screen mentioning Madison and the most feared words in the Baseball Language: Dr. James Andrews.

Thank God none of that ever happened. Sure enough, after a couple months in Fresno, slowly but surely, Bumgarner came back around. His velocity increased back to respectability, and his stock slowly began to rise again.

Bumgarner's was not quite the odyssey of an Aubrey Huff or a Rick Ankiel, but within the framework of one season, it mirrors the Giants' season as a whole. It is quite possible that if you were to choose just one Giant's season that best represented the "hero cycle" that is the 2010 San Francisco Giants, it would be Madison Bumgarner.

As it turned out, in one of the biggest games of our lifetimes, this 21 year-old country boy with ice water in his veins shut down one of the best lineups assembled in the last 20 years. He threw mostly fastballs that varied in speed from 89-94, and kept professional hitters off balance all night. He can barely buy a beer, and he made Vladimir Guerrero, who drove in 115 runs in '10, look like a confused old lady.

Bumgarner, who I refer to as "The Carolina Kid", seems like he has "it". We said that about Timmy in '07. Remember?

His demeanor and mentality lead me to believe he would be an excellent military sniper. One of the most skilled jobs in all the world, a sniper must be silent, patient, alert, steady, and strong. You can't blink. You can't make a sound, and if you so much as shake an iota, your shot misses by 10 feet. Madison Bumgarner has a steady trigger finger.

As it were, The Carolina Kid and his steady trigger finger, at all of 21 years old, has led our beloved baseball team to within one win of a World Series title.

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