San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner entered last week’s one-game elimination wild card game with a lifetime 5-0 record against the Mets. He also had a 1.80 earned run average against our Flushing heroes and that low number was even skinnier in games in which he faced them at Citi Field.
The best that the Mets could hope for coming into the game was that the law of averages would come into play and that the Giants ace would suffer an off night. Unfortunately for them Bumgarner was as dominant as ever as he blanked the Mets 3-0.
Mets fans were understandably upset that their team’s closer, Jeurys Familia, failed in yet another pressure-packed postseason situation as he yielded a ninth inning three-run homer to unheralded Giants third baseman Conor Gillaspie which decided the game. They were also probably steamed because giving up heartbreaking ninth inning home runs has happened too many other times in Mets playoff history.
The reality is that Bumgarner did not throw a lot of pitches so he could have probably kept blanking the Mets deep into extra innings. He is also arguably the best hitting pitcher in baseball and put some good wood on fastballs thrown by Mets starter Noah Syndergaard and thus Giants manager Bruce Bochy would have had little incentive to remove him from the game.
Though the Giants played poorly in the second half of the season, they came into the game with a superior roster to the injury-depleted the Mets. Even if the Mets had won last Wednesday night’s game it would have been hard to see them surviving playoff matchups with the Cubs, Dodgers, or the National League East division champs and tormentors in recent years save for 2015, the Nationals.
Giants second baseman and former St. John’s University Red Storm star Joe Panik was glad to be back in Queens and of course he was inundated with ticket requests. “My friends know that I can only get tickets for my family and my fiance’s mom and dad.” Joe graciously added that he enjoys reading this column online.
Major League Baseball held press conferences with the players on the workout day before the game. I asked Noah Syndergaard if he ever gets nervous before he takes the mound. “I may get anxious because I want to get out there but you shouldn’t get nervous if you have done all of your preparation.”
One of baseball’s great characters, hirsute Giants outfielder Hunter Pence, loved the one-game winner-take-all aspect. “That’s why the call it the Wild Card Game–because it’s wild!” he told the laughing media.
No one could accuse Giants manager Bruce Bochy of being uptight. When he passed San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Henry Schulman in the dugout during the Tuesday workout he started singing in his ursine voice the old Herman’s Hermits 1965 hit, “Henry VIII, I Am.”
Hazing of rookie baseball players is a longstanding end-of-season tradition and it usually involves some kind of costuming. On the Saturday that they clinched a playoff spot in Philadelphia, Mets veterans had the rookies wear outfits from the 1992 film about World War II-era female baseball players, “A League Of Their Own,” with half of them wearing the uniforms of the Rockford Peaches and the other donning those of the Racine Belles. One of those rookies was second baseman TJ Rivera.
“A lot of Mets fans who came down for the weekend stayed in our hotel and they recognized us. They were pretty cool about it.” We did a get a few strangle looks from some of the folks in Center City as we were getting coffee and donuts for the guys,” Rivera said with a smile.
The Texas Department of Tourism made its annual media visit to New York and sports was a key past of presentations from the Lone Star State representatives. Houston will be hosting this year’s Super Bowl. Officials from the Dallas suburb of Frisco were proud of the fact that the Dallas Cowboys moved their training complex from Irving to their town. The Texas Rangers minor league affiliate, the Frisco RoughRiders, have the largest swimming pool for fans of any professional baseball team (hey, it does get pretty hot in Texas during the summer!) The team will be hosting the 2017 Texas League All-Star Game in 2017. In addition, the Dallas Mavericks’ NBA Developmental League team, the Texas Legends, play at Frisco’s Dr. Pepper Arena. Former Nets Chris Douglas-Roberts and Josh Childress played there last season.
As per custom, professional wrestling had a major presence at last weekend’s New York Comic Con. Veteran grapplers Ric “The Nature Boy” Flair and Jerry “The King” Lawler were signing autographs at the Headlocks Comics booth while former World Wrestling Entertainment women’s champion, Ashley Massaro, was doing the same at Scare Tactix Graphix.
The broadcast networks tend to overlook New York Comic Con in favor of bring star talent from its shows to the unrelated San Diego Comic Con which takes place the third week of July every year in that beautiful Southern California city. Their absence created an opportunity for cable networks as Syfy, TBS, and Adult Swim to show off their upcoming program. The streaming service, Amazon, debuted the trailer for Season 2 of “The Man in the High Castle,” which imagined what the US would have been like in 1962 if the Axis powers had won World War II. The first season was as dreary as its premise based on what I viewed.
While CBS did not present any panels at New York Comic Con they did have a number of huge banners around the Javits Center touting its CBS All Access streaming service which allows users to view 50 years worth of “Star Trek” TV shows and films.
Coinciding with New York Comic Con was the annual holiday showcase of TTPM which stands for Toys, Tots, Pets & More. Pacific Cycle displayed its latest line of Schwinn bikes while Razor introduced its battery-operated skateboard, the RipStik Electric. There were plenty of new and old school toys this year. WowWee displayed its latest example of artificial intelligence with its robot dog, Chip. Baby boomers might take comfort in knowing that Lincoln Logs is celebrating its centennial while Lionel, renowned for its train sets, has started creating toy roller coasters.
October is always a big event month in the Big Apple and the annual New York City Wine & Food Festival will be at various spots around town next weekend. Pat LaFrieda Meats, which has a huge presence at both Citi Field and at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the US Open, will be a sponsor of Bobby Flay’s BBQ at Pier 92 next Sunday afternoon.
Last week I mentioned that the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority had launched a smartphone app that would give potential visitors a true taste of all that Sin City has in store for them but I neglected to provide the name of it. You can download Vegas VR (as in virtual reality) at the Google Playstore and it’s free.
Joco has created an alternative to disposable Styrofoam, plastic, and paper cups that wind up in landfills. The company has created a reusable single serve glass cup that has a rubber ring around so that it can be used for both hot and cold beverages. A lot of people don’t like glass because of the fear of breakage but Joco cups are practically shatterproof. You would have to throw it against the wall with Noah Syndergaard-like velocity to create glass shards.