Planet Golf — 23 October 2012 by Jim Street
World Series: The Tigers in five

The path that the NL West champion Giants took to reach the World Series was pure drama for their fans, who endured six win-or-wait-‘til-next-year games over the past two weeks.

Sure was fun to watch wasn’t it?

That being said, I have some bad news for the NL champs and their legion of followers. There will be only elimination game played in the World Series and the AL champion Tigers will win it, capturing the Fall Classic in five games.

Why? Three reasons: pitching, pitching, and pitching.

Thanks to a four-game sweep of the Yankees (and wasn’t that sweet?) in the AL Championship Series, the Tigers have had plenty of time to set up their starting rotation. And that is a huge advantage.

Whereas the Giants needed a Game 7 to dispatch the Cardinals, relying on ace right-hander Matt Cain to deliver, which he did, the Tigers have likely Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander well-rested for Game 1 on Wednesday night.

The Giants counter with left-hander Barry Zito. Even the fact that Zito is coming off perhaps his best performance as a Giant, pitching brilliantly in the first of three straight must-win games against the Cards in the NL Championship Series, is not reason enough for me to anticipate him taming a Tigers’ lineup that includes Miguel Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years.

Cain, meanwhile, won’t be able to pitch again until the best-of-seven Series moves to Detroit for games three, four and five.

The Game 2 pitching matchup of Tigers right-hander Doug Fister against Giants left-hander Madison Bumbarner tilts in Detroit’s favor although this will be Fister’s first start on baseball’s biggest stage. Bumgarner has been battling a dead arm, but Giants manager Bruve Bovchy has decided it is best to have Tim Lincecum in the bullpen.

Don’t be shocked if Lincecum throws more innings in Game 2 than Bumgarner.

The Giants have a bit of an edge in the games started by Cain and right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who beat the Cards twice in the NLCS.

Not that it will make that much of a difference, mainly because the Tigers’ offense is superior, I believe the Giants have the edge in the bullpen. To me, closer Sergio Romo provides the Giants with a higher degree of comfort protecting a one-run lead in the ninth inning than either Jose Valverde or Phil Coke do for the AL champs.

For the most part, the absence of the designated hitter rule in NL ballparks creates a huge disadvantage for the AL team because their pitchers rarely swing a bat during the regular season. Most AL teams have a designated DH, but not the Tigers.

I drew a blank when trying to identify the Tigers’ primary DH, so I went to the team’s website to find the answer. Only one player had “DH” behind his name and that was Brad Eldred. He played in five games as the DH, going 3-for-16 with one RBI.

What this tells me is manager Jim Leyland moves a lot of guys in and out of the DH spot and it is a less important offensive position than other AL teams. It is far more important, it seems, to have Prince Fielder and Cabrera on the infield corners than who handles the DH duties.

The 10 Things I’m looking forward to seeing in the World Series:

1. Witnessing the first time since the Mets and Orioles played the Fall Classic in 1969  that both teams have orange as a dominant color.

2. Injured closer Brian (The Beard) Wilson playing an imaginary piano on a teammate’s baseball cap.

3. Analyst Tim McCarver arriving in the TV booth in time for the entire opening segment of the broadcast.

4. An entire series played without an umpire making a call that is so obviously wrong that most of the in-game and post-game talk is about expanding instant replay.

5. The super-duper slo-mo camera that breaks down a bat-hits-ball sequence that blows your mind.

6. A National Anthem performed with class and dignity.

7. Hunter Pence’s eyes.

8. Prince Fielder’s girth and hoping he doesn’t take out Giants second baseman Marco Scutero during an attempted DP the way Matt Holliday did.

9. All games to be played under relatively pleasant weather conditions, unlike the bizarre top of the ninth inning of Game 7 Monday night at AT&T Park.

10. Erin Andrews interviewing anyone.

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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