Monday, October 15, 2012

A National Mystery

Amidst the media crisis that is the Yankees, there only seems to be three markets that remember that there is another Championship Series going on in baseball right now: San Fransisco, St. Louis, and the MLB Network.

I have been prone to dismissing the National League Championship Series, simply because my Tigers aren't in that league, and barely plays any of the teams in that league. Such dismissal happened back in 2006, when I was wrapped up completely in the Tigers' improbable World Series run. That was a big mistake - the St. Louis Cardinals kept cruising after a 7-game series with the New York Mets and beat Detroit in five games. I forgot that not every team was going to roll over for the Tigers in that postseason.

I barely heard much of anything about the NLCS this morning as I prepared for work. Actually, I barely heard anything about the ALCS, either. Any baseball news was all about instant replay and how Joe Girardi - who three years ago was insistent that it not be used (I'm not even kidding - USA Today dug up a good quote from the ALDS in 2009) - was adamant that it be instituted as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, there was more instant replay controversy in the NLCS tonight, when Jon Jay made a spectacular catch in right field and Allen Craig caught Gregor Blanco at first base on a tag...and none of the umps saw the tag. It wouldn't have ended the inning, but it did allow the Giants to score two more runs in that inning. This isn't going away.

I am making an effort to watch more of this NLCS because whoever the NL champion plays in the World Series (please let it be Tigers...), I want to be prepared and have a good idea what kind of Series I'm going to watch.

Initially, I had a feeling that St. Louis was the more dangerous team. The Cardinals, going back to last year, have a team where you never know from where the runs are going to come. Between David Freese and Daniel Descalso, who have the ability to fly under the radar till the postseason, their entire lineup is dangerous (I did get the opportunity to see this team in person in June, when they were in Detroit). Meanwhile, San Fransisco lost Melky Cabrera in the summertime due to his doping suspension, but that didn't deter the Giants from crushing a formidable division with pitching that was both outstanding (Matt Cain's perfect game) to middling (Tim Lincecum's below-average season), and surrounding them with reliable offensive juggernauts like Buster Posey, Angel Pagan, and Pablo Sandoval. Game 1 didn't deter my opinion at all.

Game 2 was a different story. After a questionable slide into second base by Matt Holliday into Marco Scutaro, the Giants were energized and pounded Cardinals' pitcher Chris Carpenter, while Giants' pitcher Ryan Vogelsong continued his solid pitching in the playoffs, only allowing one run.

But if there's any team that would easily halt a momentum swing, it's the Cardinals. Washington tried so hard to drive the Cards away in each game, trying to put a streak together, and the Cardinals would not let it happen. A lot of times a game is decided on streaks. And when a team has the ability to stop a streak, it is admirable...and scary.

Make sure to pay attention on the other Championship series, which can display just as much drama and momentum shifts than the ALCS...and with far less media overload.