Sure, we can talk about this: we've got all winter. Christy Mathewson threw three shutout victories for the Giants in the 1905 World Series, and won two more games (while losing five) in the Series of 1910, 1911, and 1912, but, as Matty would point out if he were here—he was famous for his fairness—even at his best he would not fare well against the enormous, toned-up athletes of our day.
Bumgarner, who went 18-10 for the Giants this year, is a star commodity, of course, but he's been a bit eclipsed by the Dodgers' great Clayton Kershaw, who will pick up his third Cy Young Award next week, after a 21-3 summer. It's their post-seasons that set them apart. Kershaw lost two games to the Cardinals in the National League Championships last year, and, excruciatingly, did the very same thing again against the same team in the Divisionals this time around. It's beyond explanation, a dislodged Lego piece from the gods.
I don't know what it felt like watching Mathewson pitch, but watching Bumgarner is like feeling an expertly administered epidural nip in between a couple of vertebrae and deliver bliss: it's a gliding, almost eventless slide through the innings, with accumulating fly-ball outs and low-count K's marking the passing scenery. It's twilight sleep; an Ambien catnap; an evening voyage on a Watteau barge. Bumgarner is composed out there, his expression mournful, almost apologetic, even while delivering his wide-wing, slinging stuff. Sorry, guys: this is how it goes. Over soon.
[Photo Credit: Scott Strazzante, S.F. Chronicle]