The summit of sport? Bottom of the ninth, of course

& Ok. The Hot Stove League has its fuel for a winter-long fire. Should Gordon have gone for home?

I really don’t have to tell you about this, do I? In two days, it’s been replayed on tv more times than I Love Lucy.

I’m speaking of that video clip of the last baserunner of the last game of the 2014 World Series. As it so often happens in this granddaddy and still reigning champion of  sports-season finales, this one went to the bottom – the very bottom of the bottom — of the ninth inning of the final game.

Roll the setup:

Kauffman Field, Kansas City. Sweat City. On the field, the players’ attention is more focused than the day they looked at their first million-dollar check. In the stands, the popcorn hawkers are wishing they were selling Right Guard. They’d have made a killing.

The K.C. Royals, needing one run to tie and send the fans into delirium and the game into overtime (that’s a reference for football fans. You’re welcome.)

Two outs, K.C. superstar slugger Salvador Perez at the plate, digging in against San Francisco’s as-good-as-they-get, new-paradigm pitcher with the smooth-as-silk delivery and the stone-cold stare, Madison Bumgarner.

Man on third. A single ties the game; extra innings. An out ends all reason for living in the Midwest, and sets the West Coast on fire.

Wait a minute. Why’s the guy on third? Against Bumgarner? Madbum? He who’s given up only nine hits and one run to the Royals in 22 innings and already beaten them twice in this Series, once in a nine-inning complete-game shutout? Wha?


Back to two outs, nobody on. Alex Gordon at the plate.Gordon bloops a single into left center field, where it goes, ghostlike, through (around? over? under?) centerfielder Gregor Blanco and rolls merrily to the wall, leftfielder Juan Perez pounding in pursuit.

Gordon chugs around second as Perez plays hot potato with the ball at the wall.

Gordon, now steamrolling, approaches third. Perez, having corralled the pesky pill, throws a laser to shortstop Brandon Crawford, whose right arm – rumored to launch heat-seeking guided missiles in the off-season — cocks to throw to catcher Buster Posey at the plate.

Fans screaming (somebody, somewhere, certainly must have severely injured a vocal chord.) Time stops. Will Gordon go for an inside-the-park-error-aided-homer to try for the tie? Will there be a sliding showdown with Posey in a cloud of dust at home?

Nope. The hands of third-base coach Mike Jirschele go up like a drawbridge. Gordon thumps to a halt at third, where he’s still standing a couple of minutes later, as Bumgarner, cooler than Matthew McConaughey in an air-conditioned Lincoln, gets Perez to pop up to Pablo Sandoval at third. Giants win, 3-2. Game, and Series, over; beginnings of a Giants dynasty and a presidential campaign for Madison Bumgarner. End of baseball for 2014.

And the beginning of yet another baseball argument, never to end: Should Jirschele, knowing it would probably be the only chance to score against the wizardry of Bumgarner, have pinwheeled his arms to send Gordon to the showdown? Or, seeing Crawford cock his unerring cannon, was it best to stop the runner at third?

Already it has started. Jirschele’s stupid for not sending Gordon…Jirschele wudda been a goat if they nailed Gordon at the plate. Even Nate Silver, the Bumgarner of statisticians, has gotten into the act. He’s got some explanation, which Yr’s Truly has avoided. Go look it up fer yerself. The argument will go on as long as the one about whether Babe Ruth pointed to the stands before he hit the homer for that little kid.

And what do I think?  He shudda sent him. Why? Because there is nothing more exciting or memorable in the Wide World of Sports than a play at the plate in the bottom of the ninth in the final game of a World Series. Safe or out, it wouldn’t have mattered. It’s the play at the plate that counts.

But I was happy anyway. I was rooting for the Giants, and it was the name of Yr’s Truly in the betting pool’s 3-2 box, which added a tidy sum to my $2.50 winnings at the poker table.

& Without the help of an ump, I’m outta here.

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