Kurkjian: Revisting the penultimate play from the 2014 World Series

From SABR member Tim Kurkjian at ESPN.com on March 25, 2015:

It could have been one of the greatest endings to any World Series in history. It could have been the worst ending to any World Series in history. Or, as San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey said, shaking his head in disbelief, “It could have been the weirdest ending.”

The second-to-last play of the 2014 World Series had so many moving parts, so many storylines, elements and ironies, all wrapped up in a frantic, 12-second run from home to third base by the Kansas City Royals’ Alex Gordon with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of a one-run game, the seventh of the World Series. On the mound was the virtually unhittable Madison Bumgarner, who was one out away from completing perhaps the greatest postseason performance ever by any pitcher. Behind the plate was Posey, who in a different way is also unhittable after he, through no fault of his own, helped create a new rule in 2014 regarding collisions at the plate. On deck was the Royals’ Salvador Perez, who had homered off Bumgarner in Game 1, the only run the Giants pitcher allowed in 21 innings of the World Series. At shortstop was Brandon Crawford, whose strong, accurate throwing arm is known well by every third-base coach in the National League. And at stake was the Royals’ first world championship in 30 years and the Giants’ run at destiny.

Of the 14 Game 7s in the World Series that were decided by one run, the only one that ended with an out being made on the bases was in 1926, when Babe Ruth inexplicably tried to steal second base — and was thrown out — with two outs in the ninth inning with no one else on base against the Cardinals. But in 2014, there was, at least for a while, a chance that the World Series would be decided on a play at the plate. A bang-bang play, out or safe, would have been a finish for all ages. But if Gordon had been out at the plate by 25 feet and just surrendered to Posey 10 feet up the third-base line, it would have been the worst World Series ending ever. And Royals third-base coach Mike Jirschele would say four months later, “I wouldn’t be wearing this uniform right now.”

Read the full article here: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/12485525/mlb-penultimate-play

Originally published: March 26, 2015. Last Updated: March 26, 2015.