The World Series continues, and we’ve seen a multitude of different games. We’ve seen blowouts, we’ve seen pitching masterpieces. We’ve seen close games decided by bullpens, and games decided by defensive lapses. As of this writing, the Giants have taken a 3 to 2 Series lead, with the series returning to Kansas City. This gives the Royals a chance to first pull even and then to contend for the title in a Game Seven which nobody predicted. Conversely, it gives the Giants a chance to win their third Series in five years, on the road no less, cementing one of the weirdest dynasties of our age.
“All of us throughout Major League Baseball are in mourning this evening, shocked by the heartbreaking news of the accident involving Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend in the Dominican Republic,” Selig said in a statement. “Oscar, a young member of the Baseball family, was full of promise and at the dawn of a wonderful career in our game, evident in his game-tying home run against the Giants exactly two weeks ago.” – Bud Selig, 10/26/14
Any conversation about postseason heroes begins with Madison Bumgarner. The ace spans the five year span of championship appearances by the Giants, first throwing 8 innings in the deciding game of the 2010 Series. He’s thrown 47.2 innings, wth a 1.13 ERA, a WHIP of 0.67, and allowing hitters a measly .156 average against. His 4-1 record doesn’t speak loudly enough – he’s been the dominant factor in every round of the postseason – a Royals player was even quoted as saying that the design of the team was to get back to Kaufmann stadium, where they “…wouldn’t have to face Bumgarner again”. Given his shutout on Sunday night, who could blame them?
“I simply can’t believe it,” said St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak in a statement released by the team. “I first met Oscar when he was 16 years old and will forever remember him as a wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived every day to the fullest.”
Meanwhile, the fact that the Royals are still in it at all is a massive testament to the overall commitment of the team. At this point, arguments seem to brush off of Ned Yost. He’s moved his lineups around, made questionable decisions (like allowing any left-handed hitter to face Madison Bumgarner at the height of his powers), and continued to adhere to a rigid structure of throwing his caution to the wind until the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings as far as his relief pitchers are concerned. The man might as well be a walking Teflon robot. And yet, the Royals keep winning. Across the way, Bochy hasn’t exactly been free of dumb errors and mental gaffes – for evidence, I present his handling of his five (five!) pitchers in the 6th inning of Game 2. Because of the managerial chicanery on both sides, my original prediction of the Giants winning in five has been rendered null and void.
Tony Clark said in a statement… “Oscar had a very promising future, on and off the field, and this news is heartbreaking on many levels. It’s never easy to lose a member of our fraternity, and to lose one so young is devastating news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of both, as well as to the St. Louis Cardinals organization and Oscar’s many fans in the United States and the Dominican Republic.”
The young players on both sides are helping to decide this series. Yusmeiro Petit has made a case as a long-shot Series MVP with his valuable work out of the bullpen. Meanwhile, the Royals will turn to Yordano Ventura to try and save their season. Home runs have played only a minor role in most games, with no player having hit more than one round tripper. Hunter Pence leads the way in intimidation and in slugging, sporting a 1.282 OBP that leads all regular players in the series. Pablo Sandoval continues to turn it up in October, sporting a .364 average with 4 RBI’s. Apart from Bumgarner, no single player has dominated – the rallies have all been team-based efforts, centered around a centered approach to hitting. These aren’t the power dominant teams of the 90’s. These are new age teams.
And yet, while we all want to care about baseball…
“First of all, it felt like a bad dream that could not be real, and when reality kicked in, my words didn’t even seem to make sense. To say this is a horrible loss of a life ended too soon would be an understatement. To talk about the potential of his abilities seemed to be untimely. All I wanted to do was get the guys together and be with our baseball family. I know the hurt that comes along with buying into the brotherhood of a baseball team. That hurt is just as powerful as the joys that come with this life. Not to say it is even close to the depth of pain his true family is going through, but the pain itself is just as real. The ache is deep because the relationships were deep, and forged through time and trials…
“In my opinion, the word “love” is the most misused, and misunderstood word in the English language. It is not popular for men to use this word, and even less popular for athletes. But, there is not a more accurate word for how a group of men share a deep and genuine concern for each other. We loved Oscar, and he loved us. That is what a team does, that is what a family does. You will be missed, Oscar.” – Mike Matheny – 10/27/14
Oscar Taveras, the rookie outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals who homered in the NLCS in one of his last at-bats in the majors, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic, along with his girlfriend, on Sunday afternoon. He was 22 years old, and was only beginning to taste success in the big leagues. However, at this point in time, it seems pointless – even cruel – to speculate on where he was, how he fit into the Cardinals plans, what he could have been. There is always wasted use whenever death finds one so young, always lost potential. There is nothing to be gained by talking about what might have been – that only makes this loss all the harder for those affected by it. Rather, the point is to remember what he was, what joy he did bring, and the fact that, even if only so briefly, he was able to shine in the sport he loved to play.
This Series, as fun as it has been, has been far from memorable so far. This isn’t to denigrate the baseball we’ve seen, or how far the Giants and (especially) the Royals have come. If they go to a Game Seven, that will truly be interesting. However, for the moment, their play is overshadowed by this death in the Major League Baseball family.
Thoughts and sympathy go out to Oscar’s family in the D.R. and to his family in the Cardinals organization. This is truly a tragic loss.