Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, June 12.
Facing one of the league’s worst offenses, Madison Bumgarner proved that you can take the boy off the bike but you can’t take the biker out of the boy. In his second start after last season’s embarrassing dirt bike wreck, Madison Bumgarner got himself ejected for the first time in his career after an emotional train wreck on the mound. He barely survived 5 innings against the Marlins, who with the Mets are duking it out to be this year’s least potent offense. Considering this, it took nerve for Bumgarner to argue with plate umpire Jeremy Rehak. He had only hurled 50 strikes to go with 41 balls-utterly unacceptable against a team as awful as the Marlins. They had crunched him for 6 hits, their usual output for 2 or 3 games. He gave up 2 runs to them in the 4th and 2 more in the 6th. Presumably Marlins’ players would spend the night texting their families to say how they’d knocked Bumgarner all over the lot. When his manager Bruce Bochy came with the hook, Bumgarner unleashed on the umpire. Nobody-not even a man already leaving a game-can argue balls and strikes. The ump’s thumb went up. While he didn’t get the loss, the Marlins won the game 9–5. Throwing in this kind of clunker and following it up with very public immature behavior sends up giant red flags about the Giants’ former star. I remember writing when the accident happened about the man who traded a nearly certain spot in Cooperstown for a day on a dirt bike. Even the death of Jose Fernandez in late September 2016 didn’t teach Bumgarner that he’s a mortal man made of flesh and blood, breakable bones and ligaments that can tear just like those of other people. Before the accident, Bumgarner left the umps alone. Last night we saw a spoiled boy on a sandlot, only his antics went out coast to coast.
The college ranks took their fans on a long, strange trip starting last Friday, and their World Series in Omaha is still 4 days away! As one of the 1986 Mets would later tell their broadcaster Bob Murphy, the World Series was easy. Getting there was hard work. With the super regional work done, play begins in Omaha on Saturday afternoon and carries on for 10 days.
For some, the super regionals were a formality. North Carolina took out Stetson in 2 straight while Oregon State left Minnesota wondering what log truck hit them. Texas and Texas Tech both took their series 2 games to 1 with relatively little trouble. Texas Tech got an extra edge when Duke’s Kenny Taylor was seriously hurt in game 2. Arkansas took 2 of 3 over South Carolina which surprised me mightily, especially how the Gamecocks were throttled 14–4 in the last game. Washington took 2 of 3 from Fullerton with game 3 being the best of the lot. Lamentably, neither scool broadcasts their games on the Internet.
The last two of the 8 super regionals would qualify for a word beyond super if there was one. Beginning on Friday night, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt met in 3 amazing games. In game 1, with the score knotted at 8, Mississippi State’s Elijah MacNamee launched a walk-off two-run blast for a 10–8 win. How could that be topped? Since Vanderbilt acted as the home team in game 2, they won 4-3 on a walk-off homer of their own on Saturday night. Sunday, the game was held up for 2 hours by lightning delays in Nashville. When the game began each pitch was deliberated as if life itself depended on it. This drives baseball’s detractors to distraction, but if your team is one of the two competing for a trip to Omaha, the suspense is indescribable. The game was a 3-3 contest after 8 innings with hardly a fan of the 5,000 leaving though the hour was late. The Commodores struck for 3 runs leaving Mississippi State in a 3-run hole with only 3 outs to play with. The Bulldogs responded with 3 of their own in the bottom half forcing extra innings. In the 11th they put up a 4-spot for a 10–6 win.
The last ticket for Omaha would go to either Auburn or Florida with the games being played at Florida’s home park in Gainesville. Florida won the last College World Series and had been number 1 in the country most of the way. Auburn had never been to a super regional but they won game 2 on a walk-off hit. Game 3 was one of the best-played college games I can remember and was played at a much more rapid pace than that of Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. When 9 innings were done it was a 2-all tie. It took a home run in the last of the 11th by Austin Langworthy to send Florida back to defend their title in Omaha. Langworthy might have gone pro, since the Reds drafted him right out of high school in 2016. But he chose college and found a new gear last June in Omaha, hitting .278, 40 points above his season’s average.