No Secret: Bumgarner Is Elite as a Pitcher and Roper -- Check out the Q&A
As a rookie with the Giants in 2010, Madison Bumgarner stayed with fellow pitcher Jeremy Affeldt.
"I'd come home and he'd be spinning this rope, lassoing all my furniture," Affeldt said.
Hey, what's a Cowboy-at-heart supposed to do? A recent addition to the Diamondbacks in the off-season, Bumgarner has never been secretive about his fixation on riding and roping. Former Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who knew I had written in the past for both the Pro Roedo Cowboys Association and the Professional Bull Riders first mentioned Bumgarner’s tie to the roping world, which led to a story on his passion four years ago.
And what became obvious is that Bumgarner is just as competitive on horseback as he is on the mound, which has never been a secret. As he has advanced to the point of participating in rodeo at a higher level, Bumgarner has used an alias.
It’s not that he is trying to hide. It’s just that he doesn’t want to take away from the attention paid the men who make a living riding and roping, and become the center of attention, not for his ability with a rope, but because he is a baseball pitcher.
That's why it was a bit surprising to see headlines on Monday about Bumgarner being a team roper, and using an alias when he competes.
He has earned notoriety for his ability on the mound, where he was a key factor in the three World Series the Giants won (2010, 2012 and 2014).
He is 4-0 with a save and a 0.25 ERA in the Fall Classic -- the lowest ERA for any pitcher who has tossed at least 25 World Series innings. That's right -- his World Series ERA is lower than the likes of Babe Ruth (0.87) and Sandy Koufax (0.98).
He's not only won all four games he's started, but in 2014, three days after a complete-game shutout of the Royals in Game 5, Bumgarner came out of the bullpen to start the fifth inning of Game 7 with the Giants holding a 3-2 lead. He then threw five shutout innings -- giving up two hits and striking out four -- to clinch the series.
Then Bumgarner headed into the offseason, where he spends his time with his family on a 125-acre farm near his hometown of Hudson, N.C., taking care of a small herd of cattle and a stable of roughly 20 horses. He is a cowboy at heart, one who spends his free time refining his abilities as a team roper. The lefty admits that once his baseball career is over, rodeo could become a bigger part of his life than an offseason hobby.
To read a question and answer I wrote when I was as columnist for MLB.com four years ago, click: