Game 7 live blog: The Giants are World Series Champions!

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A strikeout of Eric Hosmer. A foul out by Billy Butler. Then Alex Gordon reached third on a single that Brandon Crawford misplayed and allowed to roll to the wall. But then Bumgarner bore down got Sal Perez to foul out to Pablo Sandoval. So . . .

THE GIANTS ARE THE 2014 WORLD CHAMPIONS

Keep it locked on HBT, as we’ll be recapping Game 7 and the end of the 2014 baseball season as the night and early morning wears on.

11:09 PM: Greg Holland pitches the ninth. He retired Brandon Belt, Michael Morse and Brandon Crawford in order.

And now we go to the bottom of the ninth. And out comes Madison Bumgarner for three more outs. A legend is about to be unequivocally born.

11:01 PM: Another 1-2-3 inning for Bumgarner. Another inning in which Ned Yost let a lefty bat against him. I don’t think that’s the difference between trailing and a lead here — Bumgarner is straight dealing — but it is curious. The Giants are three Royals outs away from their third World Series win in five season.

10:51 PM: Wade Davis gets through the eighth after working around a Pablo Sandoval double. And now Greg Holland is warming, likely to take over in the ninth. Tip your hat to Ned. If he’s goin’ down tonight, he’s goin’ down with his best guys on the hill. He didn’t always have his best guys in the batter’s box — why he hasn’t pinch hit for his lefties against Madison Bumgarner I have no idea — but the big guns are pitching tonight.

10:43 PM: Madison Bumgarner on for his third inning of work. He threw 27 pitches through his first two. Before the game Bruce Bochy said he could go 50 or 60. You feel like, once this ball got rolling, though, that Bumgarner would pitch until he just couldn’t anymore.

He opened the seventh by getting Sal Perez to fly out to right. Then Mike Moustakas grounded to third. Then Omar Infante struck out. He needed only nine pitches. He may close this damn thing out at this point.

10:33 PM: Wade Davis came on in the seventh to relieve Herrera. You have to figure it’s him and Greg Holland the rest of the way. Davis struck out Brandon Crawford and Juan Perez and then got Gregor Blanco to ground out to short. Good things happen when you use your best pitchers. It’s something a lot of managers who are home watching this game on TV might’ve done well to remember this postseason.

10:26 PM: All Madison Bumgarner does is pitch like a man possessed in the World Series. Coming in to tonight, he had a career line of 4-0, a shutout, 27 strikeouts and a batting average against of .120. He just finished his second inning tonight — the sixth — and is cruising again. He got Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon all to fly or pop out. When Butler did he offered up a quite audible “God dammit!” The entire city of Kansas City is learning to do the same when Bumgarner is on the mound. The Giants lead 3-2 after six.

10:17 PM: Kelvin Herrera just pitched in his third inning — two and two-thirds, actually — and escaped trouble. He allowed a leadoff single to Pablo Sandoval but then induced Hunter Pence to hit into a double play. Brandon Belt singled but then Herrera reached back and struck out Michael Morse.

It was scarcely a month ago that Ned Yost outraged everyone by insisting that the seventh inning and the seventh inning only belonged to Kelvin Herrera. Tonight he brought him in in the fourth and let him finish out the sixth. Say whatever the hell you want about the managers here, but they are managing, appropriately enough, as if there is no tomorrow. Good for them. Good for us. And a great effort by Herrera after settling down.

10:06PM: Bringing in Bumgarner was not a matter of it, it was a matter of when. And when was the fifth inning. The first batter he faced, Omar Infante, reached on a single. Then Ned Yost — despite only having 15 outs to play with for the rest of the whole damn year, gave one up by having Alcides Escobar bunt Infante to second. The second out came on a Nori Aoki fly out to left. Then Bumgarner struck out Lorenzo Cain. So far, so good for the man who stands to be the World Series MVP if the Giants hold on.

Oh, and then there’s this:

9:54 PM: Herrera deals in the fifth. He got Gregor Blanco to line out on his second pitch and then struck out both Joe Panik and Buster Posey.

And now Madison Bumgarner is coming in to pitch the fifth inning. He was met with a chorus of boos by the Royals fans when he made his appearance. This should be fun.

9:48 PM: Jeremy Affeldt hit leadoff batter Alex Gordon with a breaking ball that didn’t break, but Sal Perez followed that up by hitting into a double play, the second one turned by San Francisco tonight. Mike Moustakas grounded out third to make it three up, three down. We head into the fifth with the Giants up 3-2.

9:38 PM: Maybe it was too late. Michael Morse came up and laced a single to right, scoring Sandoval. Herrera then struck out Brandon Crawford and got Juan Perez to ground out to short. Giants lead 3-2 in the fourth.

9:29 PM: Brandon Belt flew out to deep left, allowing Sandoval to tag and make it to third. A pretty ballsy send by the third base coach, really, but it worked. With that runners are on the corners, one out and Jeremy Guthrie is officially out of the game. Kelvin Herrera is in. Royals fans had best hope this isn’t too late.

9:26 PM: The fourth inning for the Giants started with Pablo Sandoval reaching first when Alcides Escobar slipped trying to field his grounder to short. That was followed by a single by Hunter Pence. Two on, no one out. Ned Yost just got Kelvin Herrera up and warming. He probably should’ve had him warm to start the inning.

9:17 PM: Our first replay challenge of the night comes in the bottom of the third. With a runner on, Eric Hosmer grounded to second. Joe Panik made a slick-as-hell play to rob Hosmer of a hit that would’ve caused this crowd to explode and shoveled the ball to Brandon Crawford who relayed it to first. Hosmer slid head first into first base and was called safe. Bruce Bochy came out to challenge it, however, and the call was overturned after a 2:57 review.

Don’t slide head first into first base unless you’re avoiding a tag, kids. Just don’t ever do it. That may have been the difference between an out and a man safe on first.

We’re through three here in Kansas City and it remains tied at 2.

9:04 PM: Jeremy Guthrie settled down in the third. It was what some of the TBS broadcasters liked to call a “shutdown inning” way back in early October. It’s a b.s. stat, but an OK concept, as Guthrie setting the Giants down in order — a comebacker and two straight strikeouts — electrified the crowd and allowed the Royals to catch their breath.

8:53 PM: And now it’s tied. Gordon tagged from second on a Mike Moustakas fly ball to left and then came home on an Omar Infante sac fly. 2-2 in the second. We’re probably gonna get that bullpen game after all. Tim Hudson is out, Jeremy Affeldt is coming on for the Giants. Whoa, nelly.

8:48 PM: The Royals have struck back quickly. Billy Butler led off Kansas City’s half of the second with a single and Alex Gordon followed it with a double to the deepest part of the park, scoring Butler all the way from first. Oh my God, did Butler run. I’ve never seen Country Breakfast book it so fast.]

That run scored on three total pitches. On the fourth pitch of the inning Tim Hudson hit Sal Perez, and Perez went down hard. It took several minutes for him to make it to first base, checked out by trainers for a long, long time. He’s staying in the game for now, but he may not last long. The Royals continue to bat in the second.

8:44 PM: The first runs of Game 7 was scored by the Giants here in the second inning. Jeremy Guthrie loaded the bases with no one out via a pitch that grazed Pablo Sandoval, a Hunter Pence single and a Brandon Belt single. Two sacrifice flies later — one by Michael Morse, one by Brandon Crawford — and the score was 2-0 Giants. Guthrie avoided further damage by striking out Juan Perez, but a 2-0 hole already feels deep.

Only after the runs scored did Ned Yost get anyone warming in the Royals pen, with Brandon Finnegan getting loose. One wonders, however, if that was already too late.

An Astros executive asked scouts to use cameras, binoculars to steal signs in 2017

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The Athletic reports that an Astros executive asked scouts to spy on opponents’ dugouts in August of 2017, suggesting in an email that they use cameras or binoculars to do so.

The email, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, came from Kevin Goldstein, who is currently a special assistant for player personnel but who at the time was the director of pro scouting. In it he wrote:

“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings.”

The email came during the same month that the Red Sox were found to have illegally used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees. The Red Sox were fined as a result, and it led to a clarification from Major League Baseball that sign stealing via electronic or technological means was prohibited. Early in 2019 Major League Baseball further emphasized this rule and stated that teams would receive heavy penalties, including loss of draft picks and/or bonus pool money if they were found to be in violation.

It’s an interesting question whether Goldstein’s request to scouts would fall under the same category as the Apple Watch stuff or other technology-based sign-stealing schemes. On the one hand, the email certainly asked scouts to use cameras and binoculars to get a look at opposing signs. On the other hand, it does not appear that it was part of a sign-relaying scheme or that it was to be used in real time. Rather, it seems aimed at information gathering for later use. The Athletic suggests that using eyes or binoculars would be considered acceptable in 2017 but that cameras would not be. The Athletic spoke to scouts and other front office people who all think that asking scouts to use a camera would “be over the line” or would constitute “cheating.”

Of course, given how vague, until very recently Major League Baseball’s rules have been about this — it’s long been governed by the so-called “unwritten rules” and convention, only recently becoming a matter of official sanction — it’s not at all clear how the league might consider it. It’s certainly part and parcel of an overarching sign-stealing culture in baseball which we are learning has moved far, far past players simply looking on from second base to try to steal signs, which has always been considered a simple matter of gamesmanship. Now, it appears, it is organizationally-driven, with baseball operations, scouting and audio-visual people being involved. The view on all of this has changed given how sophisticated and wide-ranging an operation modern sign-stealing appears to be. Major League Baseball was particularly concerned, at the time the Red Sox were punished for the Apple Watch stuff, that it involved management and front office personnel.

Regardless of how that all fits together, Goldstein’s email generated considerable angst among Astros scouts, many of whom, The Athletic and ESPN report, commented in real time via email and the Astros scout’s Slack channel, that they considered it to be an unreasonable request that would risk their reputations as scouts. Some voiced concern to management. Today that email has new life, emerging as it does in the wake of last week’s revelations about the Astros’ sign-stealing schemes.

This is quickly becoming the biggest story of the offseason.