October 2012

Breaking down the World Series

We finally know the two teams that will play for the 2012 World Series crown. The Giants completed two of the better Postseason comebacks you’ll see, being all but dead and buried at 0-2 down to the Reds in the Division Series, and having to go to Cincy and win three straight games against a team that had not lost three straight games at home all year long.

The Giants took the only approach you can in that situation. Some people will say take it one game at a time. I don’t buy into that. In order to win three straight games in a win-or-go-home situation, you have to break it down as far as you can. And that is a pitch-to-pitch approach. That is what the Giants did in both series. They put away the Cardinals in convincing fashion last night:

That tells you what kind of team the Tigers will be facing in the Fall Classic. Many people would have said that the Giants would be the team that would have a better chance against the Tigers than the Cards. I am not one of those people. The Cardinals’ bullpen is a stronger one than the Giants’ and the Cards’ lineup is more dangerous because of the right-handed power bats. Detroit does not have a left-handed starter, and that would make many people
think the Giants’ lineup would be better against the right-handed power arms that Detroit will run out there.

But the Cards love hitting against hard-throwing pitchers and the Giants have many left-handed or switch hitters in their lineup, which I feel helps the Tigers because of the change-ups that Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer possess! In his two starts prior his last outing, Verlander struck out 22 hitters, and 17 of them were left-handed hitters.

So I feel that the Giants are the team the Tigers would rather face. All that being said, be careful what you wish for. Because this Giants team does the most important part of winning games: they play one pitch at a time and they do it as a team. I’m picking the Tigers in six games, but the Tigers had better not fall into the trap that the Reds and Cardinals did in thinking that if they get an early lead in the series, it is over. Because like Yogi famously said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over!”

Looking ahead to the LCS

We are in the middle of one of the best Postseasons we have seen in a long time, with all four Division Series going the full five games.

Of the two Division Series still undecided, the NL is the tougher one to predict. The Nationals and Cardinals are very closely matched. It will come down to the pitchers. If Gio Gonzalez has his emotions under control, I see the Nats moving on to the NLCS. If he goes out overamped like he did in Game 1, I see the Cards moving on.

The AL is a little easier to predict. Pitching will definitely decide Game 5 of the Yankees-Orioles series. Neither team is swinging the bats well. The Yankees are beat up: Jeter is on one leg, Teixeira has a bad calf and Cano has a bad calf. A-Rod cant catch up with a fastball and Girardi has pinch hit for him twice in the last two games. That is not a good sign for the Yankees, considering they have five years of $30 million a year that they still owe him. But CC will put the Yanks through to the ALCS.

When the League Champions Series start, the AL will be much easier to predict a winner. With the feel-good story of the A’s coming to an end, I don’t think the Yankees are healthy enough to beat Detroit. That could be a quick series. The NL will be much tougher to predict. With the Nats and Cards still unsettled, with Giants awaiting the winner, either way the NLCS will be much more compelling. But I see Washington facing Detroit in the World Series.

Next week I will have more on the World Series. I picked Detroit out of Spring Training to win it all, so I doubt I will change that pick!

Heading for another photo finish

With three games left in the regular season there are still four divisions left that have not been decided. Three are in the AL. That speaks to the parity in the game. But again this year, the Wild Card has been what has kept the game so interesting to watch.

There are two teams in the NL battling for the last Wild Card spot, with the Cardinals holding a two-game lead over the Dodgers. But in the AL, there are three teams still alive — the Rays, the A’s, and the Angels — with three division races still undecided. The Nationals hold a three-game lead over the Braves in the NL East.

As a baseball analyst and a fan of our game, I think the added Wild Card spots in each league have proven to do exactly what commissioner Bud Selig had hoped: keep teams playing hard for all 162 games that are on the schedule. After seeing what we all refer to as “Wild Card Wednesday” in 2011 and the excitement that brought to our game, it is hard for anyone to sit back and say that adding the additional Wild Card team from each league this year has been anything but a huge success.

For all the fans out there who love this game as much as I do, the last three days are going to be a blast to watch. Then will come the excitement of the one-game Wild Card playoff for the right to play in the Division Series!

I have never been known as a “company man,” but in this case it is hard not say that what baseball has done has been anything other than a huge feather in their cap!

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