A World Series hero, why wins as a stat matter at least a little, and the sun shining on the bay

OK, I have more pressing matters today. But only once in a couple lifetimes do we see somebody do what Madison Bumgarner did last night in leading the San Francisco Giants to another World Series ring.

When most of us went to bed last night it was with the knowledge that Bumgarner was awarded the victory even though Jeremy Affeldt was the pitcher of record. No doubt that Bumgarner is the hero and the MVP of this series, but I tweeted:

This morning I found replies to that tweet from two guys a lot younger than me (and former students of mine) who can stay up later than even me. And they are baseball guys, which is something you don’t find a lot of in their generation. At least not at their level of dedication to following the sport. They are to be respected for that in this age of “baseball is slow, it’s so boring.” But nights like last night remind us why some baseball players are artists.

First, Kyler chimes in with this:

Then the official scorer, or perhaps Bud Selig in his last act as commish, gets it right:

Thanks Kyler for the tweets or I might not have realized yet that the change had been made. (Reason No. 10 to love Twitter.)

Then comes along my favorite person to debate with on Twitter about baseball and the merits of Ohio State vs. Michigan (he’s kinda quiet about that one lately). I should’ve seen this coming, but it was late and I have classes to teach today.

If Andrew ever gets a job with MLB or at STATS, Inc., he will make it his mission to make the W-L stat for pitchers go the way of the game-winning RBI. I see his point to a degree, especially when it comes to relievers. But it does give us insight to the effectiveness of a starter.

Yes, a starting pitcher has no control over the run support he gets or the errors his defense makes or the skill of his defense or where the manager positions the defense or the umpire’s strike zone. I get that. But a pitcher also isn’t pitching in a vacuum. Game situations, including the score, cause him and his catcher and manager (or whoever might be calling pitches from the dugout) to make decisions. Those decisions affect the outcome of the game.

Pitchers pitch differently with the lead, from behind and when the score is tied. They must keep their composure when suddenly there’s a runner at third in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the World Series through no fault of their own.

I will never say that wins and losses are the ultimate measure of a pitcher. But what stat is? Look at them as a whole and decide who wins the Cy Young, MVP awards, etc. And wins should play a part in our debates. After all, winning is the point to any game.

Even if it makes no difference in eternity, I enjoy debating sports. It’s fun. It makes you think. It challenges your assumptions. And it even makes you change your mind sometimes. Andrew, you have gotten through to me a little bit on the wins debate. But I’ve gone as far as I will go on this one. By the way, have you read “Season Ticket” by Roger Angell? Great stuff in there about the 1986 World Series, especially about Game 6. I know you’ve heard a lot about it even though you weren’t around for it.

One of these days, your Mets or my Reds will be playing again in October. Until then, Go Bucks.

As Fox signed off last night with a brief highlight reel, they did it to the song “Lights.” A great call by a producer somewhere. I’m not a Giants fan and I’ve never been to the city by the bay, but it is my favorite Journey song.


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