We can only imagine the uproar Babe Ruth’s Called Shot home run at Wrigley Field would have created if Twitter had been around during the 1932 World Series.
Instead, we’ll have to settle for the silly controversy surrounding a single tweet about Madison Bumgarner’s availability in Game 4 of the 2014 Series.
In the end in didn’t really matter, as the Giants pounded the Royals, 11-4, in Game 4 to even the Series at two games apiece.
Bumgarner still will take his regularly scheduled spot in Game 5 with a chance to give the Giants the Series lead before heading back to Kansas City.
“We all knew going into this game how important it was for us,” catcher Buster Posey said. “Now we have one more here with our guy on the mound.”
Still, the Giants ace was visibly upset after Game 3 on Friday when he was informed MLB Network’s Peter Gammons sent out a tweet during the game saying: “Before the game, Bumgarner told teammates, ‘My pitching tomorrow is not an issue. I am. I will not take no for an answer.’”
Bumgarner apparently never uttered the comment, but in this world of smartphone tag, a single tweet can do a lot of damage.
The strong comment in a tweet by a well-respected national baseball writer immediately drew the attention of the media swarm, and after that Royals victory, someone asked closer Greg Holland about the Giants’ decision to start Bumgarner in Game 4 instead of Ryan Vogelsong.
A few hundred feet away, Giants manager Bruce Bochy reiterated that Vogelsong would be his Game 4 starter, not Bumgarner.
Before Saturday’s game, Bumgarner denied the quote that was attributed to him in the tweet.
“I never said anything like that,” Bumgarner said. “Obviously, I’d be available if they wanted to go in that direction, which is not my call. But when it comes to this time of year, you have to be ready any time you’re called upon.
“We knew that might be an option, but at the same time, everybody in that clubhouse has all the confidence in the world in ‘Vogey.’ And again, that comment, that was out of nowhere. I never said anything remotely like that.”
The question over whether to start Bumgarner over Vogelsong was a valid one, even if the Giants never seriously considered it. Bumgarner is 6-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 12 postseason starts, including a 3-1 record and a 1.40 ERA in three starts this October. He’s by far the Giants’ best starter, while Vogelsong entered Game 4 with a 5.19 ERA in his two previous postseason starters this year.
“We were not going to change course on how we do things,” Bochy said. “We wanted to keep him on his normal routine and normal rest. … It’s going to be a good battle” Sunday.
Do you use your ace on three days’ rest with your team trailing 2-1 in the Series, or stick with the game plan and put your trust in Vogelsong?
“You always want their ace out there, but a lot of people would have had some feeling for Vogey not getting his start,” Jake Peavy said. “But there’s never any panic. There’s never any knee-jerk reactions during the game or postgame.
“We’re extremely excited the way we played today. We showed fight and the character we’ve played with for the length of these playoffs. It was never more evident than how hard we played and fought after being down 4-1.”
Bochy insisted that he had no intention of switching to Bumgarner.
“Vogey and Madison are going to pitch in these two games,” he said. “Both of them are very important games, so we weren’t going to move Madison up and change his routine or Vogey’s.”
Vogelsong was cruising along with a 1-0 lead in the third before giving up four two-out runs. Bochy lifted his starter after 2 2/3 innings and only 62 pitches, making his decision to start Vogelsong look suspect.
But this time the Giants bullpen came up big, while the Royals showed their bullpen is vulnerable outside the big three of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Holland.
Someone tried to soften the blow for Bumgarner on Saturday afternoon, asking him if the erroneous comment in the tweet about demanding to have the ball was actually a good attribute for a pitcher to have.
“I don’t know if that quote’s a good attribute,” he said. “It sounds like I’m trying to run the team, which I’m certainly not. That’s no good that that got out there somehow. It doesn’t make any sense to me why that would happen.
“I never said anything to anyone about anything. We knew that was an option, and I’m prepared, where I would be ready for Game 4 or 5 or any of them. That’s just ridiculous.”