After all that Madison Bumgarner did last October, he deserved one more day in the sun. Before 1 pm the clouds parted at AT&T Park, and Bumgarner received the loudest ovation (two, actually — it was almost like a curtain call after Bumgarner’s name was announced by Jon Miller as the teams stood on the foul lines).
It was a day of twos for Bumgarner, who threw two bullpens. He came out and threw several pitches with Mark Gardner watching closely, went back inside for a bit, then a few minutes later came out and threw some more. After blaming his rough outing on Saturday to a mechanical flaw that caused his pitches to come in too flat, apparently a little extra work was required.
Bumgarner looked surprise during pregame introductions that doffing his cap once wasn’t enough. When you’re included on everyone’s “best World Series pitchers of all time” lists after almost singlehandedly bringing San Francisco its third championship, polite applause and yays are replaced by stomping feet and vocal cord-torching screams.
Then the horses came out. No way would the Giants risk letting their franchise pitcher get bucked off a horse in front of 42,000, right? But this is Bumgarner, so the normal rules of caution don’t apply. He rode the horse along the warning track (I’m assuming it wasn’t the one that needed to be calmed down by a police officer after entering the field) while country music filled the air.
From Bumgarner the flag was passed to Jeremy Affeldt, who along with the other remaining three-time champs walked up the stairs to the arcade area in right-center. The scene seemed familiar, but it was a reminder of how times have changed since Brian Wilson took the flag across the outfield grass by himself in 2011.
No, the flag did not feature Bumgarner blowing a snot rocket. That sure would make a nice statue outside the park, though. And now is when I’ll leave AT&T Park. The folks at CSN Bay Area were kind enough to invite me to be on Yahoo SportsTalk Live tonight, but I’ve gone three days without shaving and I’m wearing standard baseball writer clothes (translation: not a suit). Oh well, it would’ve been nice to see what the Giants did in their home opener in person, but so far they’ve left about 26 guys on base. Plus (and no offense to Chris Heston intended), Bumgarner isn’t pitching.