“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.” – George Will
On Wednesday the culmination of a season comes to a head. Two teams who had very little business being in this position will end up vying against one another to determine who is the best in baseball. As a fan I must say this is one of the greatest times of the year.
The San Francisco Giants have made it to this point despite losing their best player (Melky Cabrera) to suspension, having their star pitcher Tim Lincecum really start to act like a freak (you know the kind you point at and laugh), and seeming to lack any kind of offense needed to make a serious run. When you factor in the how the LA Dodgers went on a buying spree at the beginning of August that would have made the Yankees blush, it certainly seemed the Giants had no chance. Yet they comfortably won the NL West by 8 games. In the playoffs they found themselves down 2-0 to the Cincinnati Reds and yet were able to come back and dispatch the Reds by winning three games on the road. Apparently they didn’t learn their lesson and found themselves down 3-1 against the surging “infield fly” St. Louis Cardinals, but some how managed to once again rattle off 3 wins in a row to take the NLCS. I’m really not sure how Giants fans have made it through this post season without some kind of medication.
The Tigers on the other hand were built to be here, much like the cars that hail from Detroit are made to be on the road. Owner Mike Illitch made it very clear at the beginning of the season that he wanted a World Series championship in Detroit and would do anything to get it. Nabbing Prince Fielder and creating one of the best combos in all of baseball with Miguel Cabrera, it seemed that the AL Central was theirs by divine right. However, due to major inconsistencies in their pitching, eerily silent bats, and a closer who seemed to enjoy causing mass panic in the hearts of Tigers fans everywhere, by mid August they were well behind the Chicago White Sox. However, an epic collapse by that ‘other’ Chicago team allowed the Tigers to enter into the playoffs and win the AL Central despite not crossing the 90 win threshold. While pushed to 5 games by the Oakland A’s in the ALDS, it was clear that Justin Verlander was straight out of a Marvel comic book, sans the cape, as he pitched a gem to close out the series. And let’s not forget the demolishing of the New York Yankees in the ALCS which led to that team’s first sweep in nearly four decades.
Pitching will be the key to this series. Can the other-worldly Justin Verlander continue his post season mastery? Or will Matt Cain stifle the Tiger’s Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera? There are numerous story lines and angles in which to approach this series. But perhaps, instead of picking a winner, we should just sit back and enjoy how the improbable became reality and watch as new legends are born in the next two weeks.
That being said I’m picking the Tigers in 6 games. 🙂