Perhaps the biggest story of trade deadline day was the number of potential big names available that weren’t traded.
At the top of that list, and therefore a big story in his own right, was San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. He’ll remain in a Giants uniform for at least the next two months, possibly three if San Francisco makes the postseason. Then it’s decision time as he enters free agency.
Not that any of this matters to or has fazed Bumgarner in the slightest. He’s heard all of the trade rumors dating back to the offseason. He’s answered question after question from reporters speculating that his latest start might have been his last for the Giants. In the process, he’s defiantly destroyed each and every attempt to shift his focus from what he can control, to what he can’t control.
Now that he knows he’s staying in San Francisco, he’s laser-focused on what he can control: Winning baseball games for the Giants.
Madison Bumgarner is still a Giant. Right back to work. pic.twitter.com/GLPMhsYxIb— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 31, 2019
Speaking to the media before Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Bumgarner was, as you might expect, completely unfazed by the day’s events. Sure, he was aware of what was happening, but the drama and chaos didn’t impact his mindset one iota.
"I feel the exact same, honestly," Bumgarner said. "I feel I've done a good job of not letting that stuff creep into my head."
"I never expected to be somewhere else until that happened," he added. "Nothing has changed for me. I don't look at it as being past a hurdle. I've got a job to do and I'm going to do it."
Bumgarner’s ability to not be fazed by, well, anything, is one thing that has always separated him from the pack. He’s overcome bad-luck injuries. He’s effectively pitched through heavy workloads. Now he’s managing to separate the business side from the pitching side in order to help keep San Francisco alive in the playoff race.
Most players would like to believe, or at least have us believe, that what happens in the front office or on the rumor mill doesn’t faze them. That they can take it in stride. But the truth is very few can block it all out completely.
When Bumgarner says it hasn’t changed his focus, you believe him. Because he’s backed it up consistently with his words and his performance.
The trade rumors were the loudest at the beginning of July. At that point, the Giants were 36-47. Bumgarner responded by posting a 2.70 ERA during the month. As for the Giants, they’ve gone 17-6 to put themselves on the fringe of contention.
In the end, the Giants looked like deadline winners in part because they kept Bumgarner and closer Will Smith. But also because they found a way to subtract Mark Melancon’s over-bloated contract while adding a good hitter in Scooter Gennett.
Maybe the Giants should be rebuilding. But when you’re winning games and Madison Bumgarner is focused like only Madison Bumgarner can focus, going for it isn’t a bad option either.
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