Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Let's Get This Thing Started!



On Thursday, the prospect of playing the National League champion felt completely manageable. 

On Friday, it got cloudy. 

On Sunday, it got scary.

And on Monday, it got scarier.

Now I don’t know what to think anymore. 

On one hand, the Tigers have dominant pitching and the Triple Crown winner.

On the other hand, the Giants are riding the most giant wave of momentum there can be, with their aces and shortstop taking them off the cusp of elimination…again…and into the World Series with just a day’s rest. 

The Tigers will be forced to go against the trend - in the three times where one LCS champion has swept and the other one won in seven, the one that went the distance won the World Series. Including 2006.

I want to believe that the writers and analysts will pick the Giants to win on the basis of which they can’t be eliminated. They’re like the John McClane of baseball right now. The problem is, the media isn’t. They are declaring that while the Giants are scary, the Tigers look like the team that will win. But they always mention that the Giants are a threatening team right now and could pull an “upset.” 

So try to help me with this…when the media declares that the Tigers are the favorites, yet say that the Giants are going to win, doesn’t that mean the Giants are the favorites? They pick the Giants without actually picking them, and it’s to prove that when the Giants do win, the media can pull out the “I knew it all along” card.

I know that baseball is built on momentum, but let’s remember the regular season here: the Giants finished with a 94-68 record and won the NL West, a division that also had the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks and the well-paid Los Angeles Dodgers. The Tigers went 88-74 and came into the playoffs with the lowest wins of any division-winning team in the postseason. Why do people have to favor us?

I want to fly under the radar. It is entirely possible – it’s happened to opponents of championship favorites all the time. I keep hoping to hear more pro-Giant talk, but I don’t! 

If the Tigers are going to win this series, they are going to have to win in five or less. I have very little hope that the Tigers could go to San Francisco for Games 6 and 7 and pull off a win.

So here’s to you, Justin Verlander. As the starter in Game 1, he has the ability to squash the Giant momentum. At this time, this game is the biggest of his career. He’s thrown for a Game 1 World Series before, and didn’t look that great. He’s thrown for a do-or-die series clincher, and he threw a complete game gem. He’s thrown against one of the biggest payrolls in baseball, and while he didn’t look bad, he was a little shaky, especially in the end.

Verlander needs to do just enough to stop the offensive luck of the Giants, while the defense behind him has to stay sharp, unlike how the Cardinals closed out the NLCS. 

We could look at the other starters in upcoming games, but I’ll just dissect one game at a time. Tomorrow is huge – it will show us if the Tigers took the layoff well, or if the Giants are tired, or if the Tigers already wrapped up the season, or if the Giants will just keep rolling. 

I think I will feel much better after just one game. I can stop listening to the speculation and finally have some inkling of what’s going to happen in this series.