Thursday, October 30, 2014

Where's The Play At The Plate?

It's not just that Madison Bumgarner was unhittable. It's that he was unhittable and completely emotionless.

It wasn't like it was the World Series, let alone Game 7 of the World Series. It could have been a spring training game or an early-summer game against a team that was going nowhere, like the Yankees or something.

There as Bumgarner, inning after scoreless inning. And each time, he showed absolutely no emotion of any kind. Got the ball. Got the out. Back to the dugout.

The nightmare scenario that every Kansas City Royal feared the most played out last night in Game 7, when Bumgarner came on in the fifth inning with his San Francisco Giants up 3-2. And that would be that. Final score, 3-2.

Bumgarner went five innings and allowed two hits, walking none and striking out four. He was on total cruise control - until an incredible moment with two out in the ninth, at which point the big lefty had retired 14 straight.

Alex Gordon dropped a line drive just in front of San Francisco centerfielder Gregor Blanco, who saw it roll to the wall and get kicked around just enough to make it even more interesting .

Gordon made it to third relatively easily. He was held the whole way by third base coach Mike Jirschele. And TigerBlog was left to wonder one thing: Why, why, why didn't the coach send Gordon?

Yeah, his odds of scoring weren't great. By the time he would have rounded third, shortstop Brandon Crawford would have had the ball on the outfield grass.

On the other hand, what happened next was inevitable. Bumgarner got Salvador Perez to pop out to third. End of World Series.

Yes, nobody today is saying that the third base coach blew it. Then again, nobody is saying the Royals won either.

Here is a quote form Jirschele:

"Believe me, I wanted to send him. I couldn't do it. I didn't want to go the whole offseason with Alex getting thrown out halfway to home plate right there."

Oh, but you're okay going the whole offseason knowing you lost but nobody is blaming you? With the way Bumgarner was throwing and the way Perez was hurting, what were the chances he'd tie the game there? Less than the chances that Crawford was gong to make a bad throw home - hey, maybe he would have been so shocked .

This was their one chance, and they didn't take advantage of it. And they lost. Yes, nobody is blaming Jirschele or Gordon, and yes they would have been all over them if Gordon had been thrown out at the plate.

Sadly, in sports, that often trumps everything.

Oh well, the Royals gave it a good run. It wasn't a great World Series, but it was a World Series of greatness - Madison Bumgarner's.

TigerBlog didn't see much of it, and then again, nobody did, as it was the lowest rated World Series ever. Just wait 50 more years, when the Major League Lacrosse championship game is the biggest sporting event.

It was the lacrosse banquet Saturday night that caused TigerBlog to miss the soccer doubleheader on Myslik Field at Roberts Stadium against Harvard. And he got a little hung up all week and so it's not until Thursday until TB points out something fairly obvious and yet still incredible.

There were 14 goals scored on Myslik Field that night.

Fourteen? That's a lot of goals.

The women lost 5-4 to Harvard as Tyler Lussi scored all four goals. The men won 3-2.

In the women's game the winning goal came on a penalty kick with 10 minutes left. As with all penalty kicks awarded in tie games with 10 minutes to go, the punishment did not fit the crime.

TigerBlog hasn't looked up when the last time at least 14 goals were scored in one day on a Princeton soccer field. If he had to guess, he'd guess it's been awhile, if ever.

When the dust settled from it all, the women found themselves not quite mathematically out of the league race, thought it would take a lot for them to win the Ivy title. The men? They're right in the thick of it.

On the women's side, it looks like the champion will be either Harvard or Dartmouth, most likely Harvard, even if the Crimson lose to the Big Green Saturday and definitely Harvard if the Crimson win or tie.

Harvard is 4-0-1 for 13 points, followed by 2-0-3 Dartmouth with nine. Should they tie this weekend, then Harvard would clinch the title with 14 points, while Dartmouth would find itself in the strange position of being undefeated in the league - and mathematically eliminated.

If Dartmouth wins, then it would be one point back of Harvard with one game to play. The Crimson still have Columbia to go, while the Green have Cornell.

Princeton? The Tigers are tied with Columbia with seven points, six points back of the Crimson. The best Princeton could do is tie for the title, and the only way that would happen would be if Princeton won its two games (at Cornell Saturday, home with Penn Nov. 8), Harvard lost both of its and Dartmouth beat Harvard and then either tied or lost to Cornell. Columbia is in the same boat as Princeton, needing two wins to get to 13 and then some help.

If Princeton sweeps and Harvard gets swept, there could be a three-way or four-way tie for first. Princeton would not win the tiebreaker in any scenario, so the Tigers cannot win the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Princeton does have a non-league game Tuesday at home against North Carolina State as well.

By the way, contrast that with what have happened if the PK hadn't been called and that game ended in a tie. Princeton would have eight points. Harvard would have 11. It would be a much, much, much different race. In the end, that call could have done as much to determine the league race as anything.

Now TigerBlog did not see it. He wasn't there and hasn't seen the replay. He's not saying it was a bad call or anything like that. He's saying it was a season-changing call though.

As for the men, they have played one fewer game than the women to date, so it's harder to figure out what's what at this point.

The knowns are that 1) no team is unbeaten, 2) Dartmouth is alone in first with nine points and 3) Princeton, Harvard and Penn are all tied for second with three.

As with the women, Harvard and Dartmouth play this weekend.

Princeton's regular season ends with a game at Cornell, a midweek game at American, a home game Nov. 8 against Penn and a game at Yale Nov. 15.

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