Like most Royals fans, I’d love to be hating on Madison Bumgarner and today’s announcement that he is Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year.
But the San Francisco Giants ace pitcher absolutely deserved the award.
And the way Royals fans can acknowledge that fact is to look at how Bumgarner absolutely dominated Kansas City in the World Series.
He was put on the biggest stage in baseball and performed admirably. He beat the Royals when it mattered the most:
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When the Giants needed a first-game victory playing at Kauffman Stadium; when they badly required a Game 5 win in San Francisco to go up 3-2 in games won; and — of course — when he came into the game to shut down Kansas City in Game 7.
I was at that game and watched Bumgarner mow down the Royals inning after inning, slowly squeezing the life out of the club’s magical 2014 season.
Sure, Alex Gordon got the bloop single and, after an outfield error, ended up at third base, giving the Royals a chance to tie the game and wipe out Bumgarner’s great relief effort.
But note this: It didn’t happen. Bumgarner pitched brilliantly to catcher Salvador Perez, ending the game on a harmless pop up.
The Giants would not have come close to winning the World Series without Bumgarner.
He now holds some of the most prestigious World Series records, including lowest career earned run average in those crucial post-season games.
So, yeah, Madison Bumgarner deserves the SI top billing for 2014.