Sunday, October 22, 2006

World Series 2006: Night Moves

Well, maybe this will wake people up. For at least one night, everyone was wrong about the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Tigers could still come back and win this series in short order; their pitching is good enough that they can reel off four wins in a row at any time, even if it means going through the Cardinals’ two best starters (Carpenter and Suppan) in Busch Stadium. However, if game one is any indication, the Cardinals are sure as hell going to make them earn it if they do end up winning the series.

A convincing Cardinals win is the best thing that Major League Baseball could have asked for. A Cardinals squeaker would have been written off as a fluke. A 7-2 blowout says this team is good enough to compete for every game of the series.

I still say the Tigers win, and if Game 1 caused me to waver in my prediction, it did so to the extent that I might now say that the Tigers will win in 6 instead of 5. But the media and the public had all but handed the series to the Tigers, and I suspect that a lot of people tuned out because of that. It’s unfortunate if they did, because this series should offer a lot to get people interested. In particular:

• A battle between two historic, proud franchises. Baseball’s history is the one asset that it has a distinct advantage in as compared to other sports. Both of these teams have over 100 years of history, and in that century, they have a combined 27 World Series appearances, and following the conclusion of this matchup, 14 championships between them. The Cardinals rank 2nd in World Series wins (9) and are tied for third in appearances (17). The Tigers rank 8th in wins (4) and appearances (10). As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, they have matched up twice in the World Series (going seven games each time), with each of the teams taking one. We haven’t even talked about the great players who have suited up for these franchises, but the names of Gibson, Musial, Hornsby, Kaline, Greenberg and Cobb is a good place to start.

• Out of this series, we’ll get to add at least one name to that list: Albert Pujols. The power-hitting Cardinals first baseman is considered the best player in the game (unless you’re one of the few remaining ARod apologists) and should be entering his prime. This series is a perfect chance to showcase him to the viewing public.

• On the Tigers side, they may lack a true franchise player, but the powerful young arms of Bonderman, Verlander, and Zumaya should intrigue. The latter two can hit 100 mph on the radar gun, and the former is one of the best strikeout pitchers in the game. Actually, it might be a good thing if people missed Verlander’s performance last night, but he should be better in Game 5.

These two franchises have strong followings (especially the Cardinals). I just hope that it’s more than these two fan bases and the hardcore fans of the game who tune in for this series.

A few comments on last night’s show:

• Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association have apparently hammered out a five-year labor deal, as reported on the air last night by Ken Rosenthal. Where the heck did this come from? What is the world coming to when baseball has labor peace? In all seriousness, though, great news. I don’t remember the last time there wasn’t the threat of a disruption when a labor deal was coming up for a renewal, possibly because the last time was about 10 years before I was born.

• Great touch with Bob Seger singing “America the Beautiful”. When they brought him out, my first thought was “I hope he plays ‘Night Moves’ afterwards”. While that didn’t happen, Fox closed their broadcast with that song, which was awesome.

• If we’re going to continue with the trend of local artists doing the national anthem, Michael McDonald damn well better be performing once the series moves to St. Louis.

• I can’t get enough of the Chevy ads with John Mellencamp, but they’re really missing the boat by not making an ad with baseball highlights specifically for the World Series.

And the game itself:

• Anthony Reyes’ performance has to be causing Tony La Russa to think about what to do for Game 5. The thought was that for Games 5, 6, and 7 (if necessary), he’d go with Weaver, Carpenter, and Suppan all on short rest. Now, after the kid pitched 8 innings of 2 run ball, he has to bring Reyes back for Game 5, doesn’t he?

• Detroit didn’t show the same type of plate discipline that they did in the ALDS and ALCS. That will be a problem if they don’t sort it out.

• If Rolen can hit the high fastball off of Verlander, you have to think he’s going to be able to do it off of the other Tigers starters, right?

• Speaking of the Tigers starters, I still think that any hope St. Louis has of winning this series rests on getting to them and building a lead in the first 5 innings. If they’re not trailing after 6 innings, the Tigers aren’t losing.

And tonight’s game:

• Kenny Rogers in 2-0 and hasn’t given up a run in 15 innings in his two starts at Comerica. He’s really feeding off the crowd, and that makes him more dangerous than usual. The Tigers need this win, and I think he’ll deliver. Unless Jeff “Dream” Weaver (who the crowd will be riding all night) pitches a gem of his own, this series is headed back to St. Louis all tied up.


At 6:14 PM, Blogger Alex said...


At 6:50 PM, Blogger Alex said...

On the topic of the actual game, why is Preston Wilson starting? Hasn't he struck out his last 15 times up to bat? Bad move by La Russa.

At 10:13 PM, Blogger Feynman and Coulter's Love Child said...

Well, Detroit took Game 2, in what could be the greatest mindf**k of all time with Rogers inciting Cardinal players into complaining about a "foreign substance" on his hand after his so-so first, and then substance-free massacring them over the next seven innings.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Alex said...

I also like how Rogers told the reporter for Fox afterwards that the umpires were complaining that he was working too quickly. Nice one.

At 7:11 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

As if he didn't know it was on his hands. If pitchers pay attention to anything, it's what is on their hands. I just assume he was cheating. I mean, it's Kenny Rogers.

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Ty_Webb said...

I'd respond about Kenny Rogers, but I'm afraid He'll take my keyboard and start beating me with it.

Go Cards!


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