Why wait when it doesn't matter who the opposition is going to be?
That's what I was doing while the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants
battled it out in the NLCS for the right to play the Detroit Tigers in the
Quite frankly, it made no difference in my mind if either the Cardinals or
Giants survived Game 7, something the Giants did in a romp. Either one was
going to lose to the Tigers.
The reasons are simple.
While the Cardinals and Giants went back and forth beating up on each other and
on each other's pitching staffs, the Tigers were at home watching football and
Some would call that a drawback as perhaps Detroit acquired some rust, but I
don't think so.
Momentum, and sweeping the New York Yankees in four games in the ALCS gives you
plenty of momentum, is only as big as that day's starting pitcher.
And the Tigers' starting pitcher three times, if need be, will be Justin
Verlander. There is none better and he will make the biggest difference.
Detroit manager Jim Leyland is smart. He's said all the right things, the most
important being that his four starters - Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez
and Max Scherzer - are all ready to go in that order.
And, in a perfect world, Leyland will be able to do that. Use those four and
only have to go to Verlander once.
If the Tigers have a 3-0 lead in the series, Leyland will be able to do just
that. Stick to his rotation and let things play out. But if the series is
close, he holds the biggest hammer in Verlander, 7-0 in his last seven starts
with an ERA lower than my college GPA.
The World Series starts Wednesday. Verlander starts it for the Tigers. Give him
three days rest and start him again, if necessary. And, here's the biggest
bonus for the Tigers: a Game 7 wouldn't be until Nov. 1. A week from Thursday.
Leyland can turn to Verlander yet again and the big righty can become the first
Mr. November. These days, with the way the World Series gets spaced out thanks
to television, a team can ride their horse a long way.
In essence, all the Tigers have to do is win one game that Verlander doesn't
start and they'll have their first World Series parade in Detroit since Jack
Morris and Lance Parrish (with apologies to Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and Dan
Petry) were running things in Motown in 1984.
Yes, the Tigers have to play on the road for the first two games in San Fran.
And, yes, their pitchers will need to hit. But the thing is, their pitchers
won't have to hit. With Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young in the
middle or the order, runs are going to happen.
I know, Fielder has been struggling in the postseason. That's going to end,
though. He's too good of a hitter and he knows National League pitching.
Cabrera, the game's first Triple Crown winner in the color TV era (that's how
long it's been), is just unstoppable. And how good has Young been? Really good.
One could argue the Tigers only won 88 games in the regular season, and that
they had a losing record on the road. But they know their game and they have
lifted it in the postseason.
As the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants have proven in football, and the
St. Louis Cardinals proved in baseball last year, all a good team has to do is
get hot at the right time and make it into the playoffs.
Once in, what happened during the regular season doesn't mean squat, not after
you've won it all.
The Tigers got in and that was bad news for everybody else.
The final call: I'll be sporting and give the Giants and the National League a
game, but the Tigers win the World Series in five.
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-
area newspapers for over 25 years.
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