Madison Bumgarner quiets Royals

The commentary above brings up a good point – the Giants probably needed this game more with Madison Bumgarner on the mound. They needed their ace to step up and he did. He also stopped the ridiculous post-season winning streak by the Royals.

Now we’ll see how the Royals react. They’ve been resilient during games, and now they have to bounce back from a home loss and avoid going down to games heading to San Francisco.

The ratings are down for this World Series, and a boring game one won’t help. That’s a shames as the Royals are such a good story. If they rebound we might see more fans tune in.

Meanwhile, the Giants have the chance to become one of those boring dynasties like the San Antonio Spurs if they can win this Series.

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Phillies or Giants: Which rotation would you rather have if you were starting a new organization?

Philadelphia Phillies all-star pitcher Roy Oswalt delivers a pitch during first inning San Francisco Giants-Philadelphia Phillies NLCS Championship game two at Citizens Bank Park October 17, 2010. . UPI/John Anderson

So you’re the general manager of the new Las Vegas Craps team and baseball commissioner Bud Selig comes to you with the offer of all offers.

He says, since the Craps are going to struggle this year offensively with a lineup comprised of over-the-hill veterans and unproven rookies, you get your pick of stealing either the Phillies or the Giants’ starting rotation.

“Sweet mother of all that is holy,” you say to Selig. “Those are the best starting rotations in the game!”

“Yes they are, Craps owner,” Selig says. “But you have to choose one right now.”

So which rotation would you rather have? Let’s take a look at the deets first.

Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Halladay
Age: 33
Salary: $20 million in 2011; $20 million in 2012; $20 million in 2013; $20 million option in 2014.
Career Stats: 169-86, 1,714 Ks, 3.32 ERA, 58 complete games, 19 shutouts
Accolades: Two-time Cy Young winner, two-time wins champion, seven-time All-Star.

Cliff Lee
Age: 32
Salary: $11 million 2011; $21.5 million in 2012; $25 million from 2013-2015.
Career Stats: 102-61, 3.85 ERA, 1,085 Ks
Accolades: Cy Young winner, two-time All-Star, 7-2 postseason record, 2.13 postseason ERA.

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2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Learned

Years from now, when people look back on 2010, what will they remember as the defining sports moment? Uh, they can only pick one? We discovered that Tiger Woods likes to play the field and that Brett Favre doesn’t mind sending pictures of his anatomy to hot sideline reporters via text message. We found out that LeBron listens to his friends a little too much and that Ben Roethlisberger needed a serious lesson in humility. But we also learned that athletes such as Michael Vick and Josh Hamilton haven’t blown second chance opportunities (or third and fourth chances in the case of Hamilton). It was also nice to see a certain pitcher turn down bigger money so that he can play in a city that he loves.

We’ve done our best to recap the year’s biggest sports stories, staying true to tradition by breaking our Year End Sports Review into three sections: What We Learned, What We Already Knew, and What We Think Might Happen. Up first are the things we learned in 2010, a list that’s littered with scandal, beasts, a Decision and yes, even a little Jenn Sterger.

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

Tiger Woods gets around.

We hesitate to put this under “golf” because the only clubs involved were his wife’s nine-iron hitting the window of his SUV and the various establishments where Tiger wined and dined all of his mistresses…over a dozen in all. This was the biggest story of the early part of the year, but it got to the point that whenever a new alleged mistress came forward, the general public was like, “Yeah, we get it. Tiger screwed around on his wife. A lot.” He has spent the rest of the year attempting to rebuild his once-squeaky clean image, but it’s safe to say, we’ll never look at Tiger the same way.

Golfer Tiger Woods apologizes for irresponsible and selfish behavior during his first public statement to a small gathering of reporters and friends at the headquarters of the U.S. PGA Tour in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida,on February 19, 2010.   UPI/Sam Greenwood/Pool Photo via Newscom

LeBron wilts when his team needs him most.

Say the words “LeBron” and “Game 5” in the same sentence and NBA fans everywhere know exactly what you’re talking about. In the biggest game of the season, LeBron looked disinterested, going 3-of-14 from the field en route to a 120-88 blowout at home at the hands of the Celtics. There were rumors swirling about a possible relationship between LeBron’s mom and his teammate, Delonte West, and there’s speculation that LeBron got that news before tipoff and that’s why he played so poorly. Regardless of the cause, LeBron played awful in that game, and it turned out to be his swan song in Cleveland as a member of the Cavaliers. Talk about leaving a bitter taste.

You can auction off your talented son’s athletic abilities and get away with it.

The NCAA set a strange precedent this season while dealing with the Newton family. The always inconsistent and completely morally uncorrupt NCAA decided in its infinite wisdom that despite discovering that Cecil Newton shopped his son Cam to Mississippi State for $180,000, and that is a violation of NCAA rules, that Cam would still be eligible because it couldn’t be proven that he knew about it. Conference commissioners and athletic directors around the country spoke out about the decision, while agent-wannabes and greedy fathers everywhere had a light bulb go off in their own heads: As long as we say the player doesn’t know about it, it could go off without a hitch. What was Cecil’s punishment in this whole thing? Limited access to Auburn for the last two games of the season. Easy with that hammer there, NCAA. Read the rest of this entry »

2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Already Knew

Let’s be honest: Sports bloggers know everything. Just ask us. As part of our 2010 Year-End Sports Review, our list of things we already knew this year includes Brad Childress’ biggest fail, Wade Phillips’ demise in Dallas and John Calipari’s troubles. We also knew Kevin Durant was the next great superstar (who didn’t see that coming?), Roger Clemens is the ultimate windbag and that “Matty Ice” knows fourth-quarter comebacks. We should have gone to medical school…

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

LeBron is a frontrunner.

We all were a little surprised that LeBron left Cleveland, but the writing was on the wall. Growing up, LeBron didn’t root for the local teams. He followed the Yankees, Bulls and Cowboys, which in the 1990s constituted the Holy Triumvirate of Frontrunning. He wore his Yankee cap to an Indians game and was seen hobnobbing on the Cowboy sidelines during a Browns game. He says he’s loyal, but he’s only loyal to winners…unless they only win in the regular season, of course.

July 08, 2010 - Greenwich, CONNECTICUT, United States - epa02241974 Handout photo from ESPN showing LaBron James (L), NBA's reigning two-time MVP, as he ends months of speculation and announces 08 July 2010 on ESPN 'The Decision' in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, that he will go to the Miami Heat where he will play basketball next 2010-11 season. James said his decision was based on the fact that he wanted to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Brad Childress’ biggest flaw cost him his job in the end.

There were many reasons why the Vikings decided to fire head coach Brad Childress roughly a year after they signed him to a contract extension. One of the reasons was because he lost with a talented roster. Another was because he never quite figured out how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, which is a sin given how talented AP is. But the main reason “Chilly” was ousted in Minnesota was because he didn’t know how to manage NFL-caliber personalities. He didn’t know how to handle Brett Favre, which led to blowups on the sidelines and multiple face-to-face confrontations. He also didn’t have a clue how to deal with Randy Moss’ crass attitude, so he released him just four weeks after the team acquired him in a trade from New England. Childress was hired in part to help clean up the mess in Minnesota after the whole “Love Boat” scandal. But the problem with a disciplinarian that hasn’t first earned respect is that his demands fall on deaf ears. In the end, Childress’ inability to command respect from his players cost him his job. You know, on top of the fact that he was losing with a talented roster, he didn’t know how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, he…

Love him or hate him, George Steinbrenner will forever be one of baseball’s icons.

You may have hated his brash attitude, the way he ran his team or the way he conducted his business. You may even feel that he ruined baseball. But regardless of how you may have felt about him, there’s little denying that George Steinbrenner will forever be one of Major League Baseball’s icons. Steinbrenner passed away in July of this year. He will forever be a man known for helping revolutionize the business side of baseball by being the first owner to sell TV cable rights to the MSG Network. When things eventually went south with MSG, he created the YES Network, which is currently the Yankees’ very own TV station that generates millions in revenue. During his tenure, he took the Yankees from a $10 million franchise to a $1.2 billion juggernaut. In 2005, the Yankees became the first professional sports franchise to be worth an estimated one billion dollars. While many baseball fans came to despise the way he ran his team (mainly because he purchased high priced free agents with reckless abandon due to the fact that he could and others couldn’t), don’t miss the message he often made year in and year out: The Yankees are here to win. He didn’t line his pockets with extra revenue (albeit he generated a lot of extra revenue for his club) – he dumped his money back into the on-field product. Losing wasn’t acceptable and if the Bombers came up short one year, you could bet that Steinbrenner would go after the best talent in the offseason, regardless of what others thought of the approach. How many Pirates and Royals fans wish they had an owner with the same appetite for victory?

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Bumgarner dominates Rangers, Giants now one win away from championship

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws against the Texas Rangers during Game 4 of Major League Baseball's World Series in Arlington, Texas, October 31, 2010. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Here’s a six-pack of observations from the Giants’ 4-0 win over the Rangers in Game 4 of the World Series. San Fran is now just one win away from becoming World Champions.

1. It’s hard to oversell how good Bumgarner was.
Had Giants’ starter Madison Bumgarner walked onto the field in Game 4 and proceeded to give up five runs on eight hits to the Rangers in their home ballpark, people would have shrugged and said, “What did you expect from a rookie pitching in the World Series?” But the fact that he went eight innings without giving up a run and limited the Rangers to just three hits was unbelievable. The Rangers had only been shutout once at home this year. Once. Bumgarner faced the league’s top hitting team and completely dominated them for eight innings. He needed just 106 pitches to record 24 outs and struck out six while holding Texas without an extra-base hit. Think about that for a second: Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Vlad Guerrero, the seemingly unstoppable Mitch Moreland – zero extra-base hits. Unreal. Madison Bumgarner was unreal in the biggest start of his young career.

2. Bochy continues to make all the right decisions this postseason.
Every move that Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy has made this postseason – from changes to his lineup to handling the pitching staff to defensive adjustments in the later innings – has paid off. He made two underrated moves before Game 4 that will certainly be overlooked in the Giants’ victory. One was benching a highly ineffective Pat Burrell and replacing him with Nate Schierholtz, which forced Cody Ross to move to left field. The move gave the Giants a major lift defensively, as Ross made at least one great catch that would have surely fallen in front of Burrell for a base hit. And who knows, there may have been others that would have led to Rangers’ runs. Schierholtz wasn’t any better than Burrell at the plate, but it didn’t matter. Moving Ross over to left and getting Burrell out of the lineup was the key. The other move Bochy made was replacing Aubrey Huff with Travis Ishikawa, which gave the Giants a better defensive first baseman and allowed Huff to concentrate solely on his offense. The end result was that Huff hit a two-run homer in the third, which was really all the offense San Fran needed with how well Bumgarner was pitching. (Of course, the double Andres Torres hit to score Edgar Renteria in the seventh and the homer Buster Posey hit in the eighth certainly helped ease the tension for Bumgarner and the rest of the club.)

3. The Giants continue to get all the breaks, but…
From calls on the base paths to near home runs to balls that bounce off the top of the wall instead of into the stands (or over the wall for home runs), the Giants have gotten all the breaks in this series. That said, they’ve also made their own breaks too. Their starters have been better, their bullpen has been better, their offense has been more clutch and Bruce Bochy has outmanaged Ron Washington. So when it’s time for one team to catch breaks, it’s been the Giants who have been most deserving. That may be salt in the wounds of Rangers fans, but it’s true. The Giants have just been better.

4. Rangers need way more production out of the heart of their order.
The Giants’ pitching is outstanding – maybe even the best in baseball now. But there’s simply no excuse for this Texas team to have gotten shut out in two of the first four games in this series. Vladimir Guerrero’s at-bats on Sunday were putrid. Josh Hamilton has been nearly non-existent since his play in the ALCS. Nelson Cruz’s power…well, what power? The heart of the Rangers’ order has turned to mush since the start of the World Series and if it doesn’t come alive in less than 24 hours, then Texas will be watching the Giants celebrate on their home field Monday night. No offense to Mitch Moreland, but he can’t be your best hitter in a lineup that consists of guys like Hamilton, Guerrero, Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young.

5. The umpiring has been brutal thus far.
I can’t even begin to describe the zone that home plate umpire Mike Winters had on Sunday night. He was calling strikes high, low, inside, outside – it didn’t matter. Then he called balls that were high, low, inside and outside. He was all over the place and the fact that Madison Bumgarner went eight innings while only giving up three hits is a freaking miracle. It was bad on both sides and it only got worse as the game went on. Pitches that were called balls in the first three innings were called strikes in the last three innings. Winters’ performance was bad and unfortunately, it only fell in line with the rest of the home plate umpires this series. And the guys on the base paths weren’t any better, as replays showed that the Rangers got screwed on two bang-bang plays at first base. Major League Baseball can’t be too happy with these umpiring crew this series. This is the best the game has to offer?

6. It’s redemption time, Cliff Lee.
The Rangers are in a bad spot down 3-1 in the series, but they still have plenty of life left. First and foremost, they need to take it one game at a time because if they get caught looking ahead, they won’t make it past Monday night. They have their ace on the mound in Game 5, but unfortunately for them their ace was shelled in Game 1 and they’re also facing the Giants’ best pitcher in Tim Lincecum. That said, it’s highly unlikely that Lee has two bad games in a row and Lincecum doesn’t like pitching in warm climates (San Francisco hardly constitutes as a warm climate – especially at night), so if the Rangers’ bats come alive then there’s no doubt they can force a Game 6. Their backs are up against it, but they have the advantage in Game 5 and they need to keep that in mind.

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