It's been a crazy busy week for me, and while I've neglected writing since Saturday, I haven't neglected watching and observing.
Has anybody else noticed that the Tigers look like a carbon copy of the 2005 Chicago White Sox?
Up 2-0 heading back home against the A's, the parallels are striking. Many people forget how the White Sox nearly collapsed last season after building a massive lead -- needing to win a few games down the stretch to hold off the surging Cleveland Indians. The Tigers' fall was even more pronounced, as a 12-16 finish resulted in them dropping to wild card status on the final day of the season.
Now, they look practically unbeatable against a team that looked unbeatable itself against the Twins.
From my perspective, the A's are finished. The Tigers are a terrible matchup for them, and here's why: If you're familiar with the concept behind "Money Ball," the basic idea is to create scoring opportunities by getting on base as often as possible -- whether that be through a hit or a walk or a hit by pitch. Consequently, the A's are great at working counts, something that's much easier to do against pitchers who don't have great stuff, pitchers who don't attack the strike zone on a consistent basis.
Good pitching beats good hitting, and the Tigers have precisely the kind of pitchers that give the A's fits. They're young, they throw heat, and they're not afraid to challenge hitters with strikes. Guys like Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney don't afford Oakland's hitters the opportunity to wait for their pitch. The only notorious nibbler on Detroit's staff is Kenny Rogers, and he's been effective against Oakland, going 6-0 in seven starts over the last two seasons.
Combine that with Detroit's ability to beat up Oakland's two best starting pitchers -- on the road -- and it looks like the Tigers are putting together a White Sox-like run to a world championship taken against a sub-par National League team.
Other things I've noticed ...
- I was watching the St. Louis/San Diego series this past weekend, and up comes Scott Spiezio. You know, Scott Spiezio -- the guy who the Mariners gave $6 million a year to hit .200 and eventually be released? Well, he now plays for the Cardinals. As he walked to the plate with runners in scoring position, Fox announcer Thom Brenneman says, "And here comes Scott Spiezio. How many times has he been clutch this year!" What followed was a montage of his big hits throughout the course of the season. I about fell off the couch. If Scott Spiezio has become a key cog for a team heading to the World Series, I can only conclude that the National League has, indeed, become a minor league.
- As I'm watching this Stephen Jackson story develop, I actually have a little different take on it than most. Did anybody else notice the fact that ALL of the Indiana Pacers who were at the strip club were carrying guns? ALL OF THEM? Forget the fact they all were registered -- is this a problem for anyone else? Why are all of these guys packing? Are they trying to get killed? Don't they have enough money to hire some other guy to carry the gun? Maybe they thought it might scare someone off in the event that person tries to punch them and run them over. Yeah, that clearly worked ...
- How much of a piece of crap is Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hanson? The conference owns the worst television contract in the country, and that was never more evident than when only part of the country saw No. 16 Cal defeat No. 11 Oregon last weekend on ABC. If you live in a Big 12 state -- Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, parts of Iowa -- you saw No. 22 Nebraska and unranked Iowa State. It's no wonder the Pac-10 is the only conference to never get two teams into the BCS. So few people get to see the product -- compared to the other major conferences that appear regularly on the four-letter network -- that it's virtually impossible for our teams to get their due. One game not on the television dockett this weekend? Cal at WSU. A game that features what might be the best team in the conference and the dominant defensive player in the conference isn't on TV. What a joke.
- I'm tempted to try to and weigh in on who's going to win the St. Louis/New York NLCS, but I find myself wondering ... who cares? The winner is going to lose the World Series. Convincingly.