Monday, October 29, 2012

Of Course It Happened That Way

Of Course. I picked the Tigers to win the World Series in 7 games, and the World Series ends up being a 4-game washout by the San Francisco Giants.

Really, looking back on this blur of a series, I should have known better. Perhaps I was mollified at how easily the Tigers dispatched the hated Yankees, while the Giants battled tooth and nail to beat the Cardinals, but this seems to be how it happens in the World Series. Usually, the team that coasted in hits a wall, and the team that has a crucible ends up catching fire. This seems to have happened in '06, '07, '09, '10 and last year, too. The Tigers, who appeared loaded from top to bottom, a team primed for just this kind of situation, could only watch as their bats collectively went ice cold, while the Giants, the team built to scrape out victories, did just that every time out, winning twice via shutout and once in a 10-inning, 1-run effort.

The Tigers, certainly, must ache quite a bit, but they fell victim to both of the adages I mentioned last week. Good pitching beats good hitting, and you can't win if you don't hit. Detroit pitched admirably well, outside of the one guy you figured would be great in Game 1, and when you allow 2, 2 and 4 runs in 3 straight games, you figure you ought to win some of them. But the Tigers offense barely made a peep, scoring a combined 3 runs over those 3 games, all of them coming in Game 4, all of them coming via the Home Run. The end result was a slow fade into the off-season, with poor Phil Coke, who had saved the Tigers multiple times against the Yankees, saddled with the loss.

But give credit to the Giants. They built themselves to win with their pitching and defense, something that worked for them in 2010, and worked for them again this year. They rode their pitching all year long, and rode it right through the postseason. Their pitching was so deep that Tim Lincecum, perhaps their best pitcher in spite of a poor season, got moved to the bullpen where he turned into a Mariano Rivera-esque hammer that stopped the Tigers dead in their tracks multiple times, eating up middle innings and providing a bridge to Sergio Romo, who simply caught fire at the right time. Ultimately, the Giants made all the right moves at all the right times.

Offensively, though the Giants didn't have the firepower of the Tigers, they constantly got the key hit. Whether it was Pablo Sandoval turning into Albert Pujols in the first game, or Gregor Blanco's bunt staying fair, or Hunter Pence creating havoc on the bases, or Marco Scutaro resurrecting his career, every time the Giants needed a break, they managed to create one.

Nobody seemed to embody the pluck of the Giants quite like former Met Angel Pagan. Not a star, and sometimes appearing only passable as a Major Leaguer, Pagan was basically handed to the Giants in a deal that netted the Mets the useless Andres Torres. Pagan, meanwhile, found himself rescued from Met Hell and had a fine season, played solid defense, and came up with one of the Giants biggest hits of the season, a leadoff Home Run off Chris Carpenter in Game 2 of the NLCS that spurred the Giants on to a victory. In the World Series, Pagan didn't do anything to grab a headline. But he came up with a clutch stolen base late in Game 2, and scored an important insurance run in a 2-0 victory. Now, he's a World Series Champion. He and the rest of the Giants all earned it.

So, thus begins about 5 Baseball free months, kicked off by a major Hurricane hitting the New York area. Nobody has mentioned anything, probably because nobody's there, but I believe Citi Field is in the middle of a flood zone, which seems fitting since the 2012 season ended with them all wet. But I digress. It won't be long until we're convening there once again on April 1, 2013 for Opening Day. Until then, stay dry, all.

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