High and Tight: World Series Predictions

Rolling Stone

The Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants are two of the most venerable and venerated franchises in major league history; the Tigers have been around since 1894, while the Giants can trace their lineage back to the New York Gothams of 1883. But while the two clubs are certainly no strangers to October glory – the Giants have won six World Series rings, and the Tigers four – these two behemoths have never actually faced off against each other in the Fall Classic. Until now . . .

While the 108th World Series doesn't pack the geographical or historical animosity of, say, a Tigers-Cardinals or Giants-Yankees matchup, this San Francisco-Detroit pairing still packs one helluva cultural clash. Think Mission burritos versus Coney dogs, Lawrence Ferlinghetti versus Elmore Leonard, the Fillmore West versus the Grande Ballroom, the Grateful Dead versus the Stooges, Sly & the Family Stone versus Parliament-Funkadelic, the City by the Bay versus the City of Impending Zombie Apocalypse.

Not to mention there's the showdown between two strong MVP candidates, AL Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera vs. NL Comeback Player of the Year Buster Posey, along with the intriguing possibility of a post-game pie-eating contest between Prince Fielder and Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval. And for once, the All-Star Game's determination of World Series home field advantage actually makes some kind of poetic sense: Giants ace Matt Cain was the ASG's winning pitcher (and now-disgraced Giants PED-popper Melky Cabrera was the MVP), while Tigers ace Justin Verlander served up the first-inning bombs that put the AL in a 5-0 hole.

But mostly, the 2012 World Series should be a dogfight between two very good teams with excellent pitching – you know, the thing that's supposed to trump hitting when the postseason chips are down. The Tigers would seem to have the advantage, at least in that their rotation (which has posted an otherworldly 1.02 ERA thus far in October) is well-rested and leading with Verlander against the inscrutable Barry Zito in Game 1, while the Giants are scrambling to reset their rotation after Monday's NLCS win, and we won't see Cain until at least Game 3. But the Giants have a stronger bullpen, and if Tigers skipper Jim Leyland (who often acts as if he's sending Strat-O-Matic cards in to pitch, rather than running-on-fumes relievers) reverts to his previous reliance upon Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde for the 8th and 9th innings, the Giants could easily head to Detroit with two walk-off wins in their back pockets.

There's also the "rest versus momentum" sub-plot: The Tigers, who finally got hot in mid-September after a season of underachieving, have now been off for five days, while the Giants are coming in fresh from a three-game win streak. Hardcore Tigers fans (full disclosure: I am one) still gag at the memory of the steaming, stinking dump Leyland's well-rested (and heavily favored) team laid against the Cardinals in the 2006 World Series. But Verlander and Omar Infante aside, this is an entirely different Detroit team than that '06 squad; and if Leyland's figured out a way to keep his players sharp, loose and motivated during their break – and if Posey continues to perfect the A-Rod impression that he unexpectedly unveiled against the Cardinals – the Giants could suddenly find themselves in deep trouble.

Either way, this is shaping up to be a great – maybe even truly epic – World Series between two immensely talented teams populated by some very memorable characters. If you can't get excited about it, you simply don't deserve baseball. My prognostication? Tigers, in seven very tough games. Now, let's see what our esteemed panel of rock & roll seamheads are predicting.

Name: Alice Cooper
Position: Vocals

A team has got to peak at the right time to win the series, and at this point, Detroit is peaking at just the right moment. I think they will win in six games. In fact, I think they will be tough to beat. And if it comes down to a Game Seven, they'd have Verlander. Maybe I'm biased – there's still a little kid from Detroit living inside me. Go Tigers!

Name: Scott McCaughey
Band: The Baseball Project, The Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows
Position: Guitar, Vocals

I certainly can't pick against my Giants again, the way this topsy-turvy postseason is going. Though with Verlander on the hill two or three games for the Tigers, Los Gigantes have yet another uphill battle. More miracles, bad hops and clutch performances from unlikely sources ensue. San Francisco in six, celebrating in their appropriate colors on Halloween night.

Name: Ken Casey
Band: Dropkick Murphys
Position: Bass guitar, Vocals

The advantage goes to a rested Tigers rotation of Verlander, Fister, Sanchez and Scherzer. But the home field goes to the Giants. The postseason magic of guys like Zito, Scutero and Lincecum will fade here to the Triple Crown winner Cabrera and his accompanying cast of proven veterans, as well as their proven skipper in Jim Leyland. Tigers in five or six.

Name: Handsome Dick Manitoba
Band: Manitoba
Position: Vocals

The Manhattan Giants in six. With a team hitting on all cylinders, and a very good pitching staff top to bottom, the Tigers that looked like Christy Mathewson was throwing everyday versus the Yankees will be mauled. 

Name: Vinnie Paul
Band: Hellyeah, Pantera
Position: Drums

I predict the Detroit Tigers will win the World Series. I've been wrong about everything else this post-season, but I believe the Tigers have the mojo! Oh, and Verlander too! Tigers Roar!

Name: Scott Ian
Band: Anthrax
Position: Guitar

Well, since the Yankees played like the Bad News Bears without Kelly Leak, I'm backing Detroit. Cabrera deserves a ring for his Triple Crown season.

Name: George Thorogood
Band: George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Position: Vocals, Guitar

I'm going with the Tigers all the way. They have the pitching, and pitching wins World Series.

Name: Steve Earle
Position: Vocals, Guitar

It's finally Jim Leyland's year. Tigers in five.

Name: Ben Gibbard
Band: Death Cab for Cutie
Position: Vocals, Guitar

Tigers over Giants in six.

Name: Joshua Epstein
Band: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Position: Vocals, Keyboards

I have been watching the Tigers all season, and I must say that they finally look like the team we all expected to see. It is impossible for me to answer this impartially, as I have a dog in the fight, but I can't see the Giants beating the Tigers unless the long layoff has killed their momentum. The Tigers have the best hitter and the best pitching in the playoffs. This could be an exciting season in Detroit!

Name: Joe Pernice
Band: Pernice Brothers
Position: Vocals, Guitar

I'd say Tigers in five. Very happy to see the Tigers in the Series.

Name: Tom Morello
Band: The Nightwatchman, Street Sweeper Social Club, Rage Against the Machine
Position: Guitar, Vocals

Very much looking forward to the Tigers-Giants World Series. If it can't be the Cubs, then those are two fine teams to slug it out.

Name: Steve Wynn
Band: The Baseball Project
Position: Vocals, Guitar

Well, if the last few weeks are any indication, the Series will go the distance, and that's just fine with me. The day after the end of the World Series is always such a drag – it brings on those long three-plus months before pitchers and catchers arrive in Florida and Arizona. Nah, let's play seven. All logic would seem to favor the Tigers, but this is no time for logic. I pick the Giants in seven, winning on a shocking, unscheduled start – and complete game shutout – by Tim Lincecum. Again, logic – who needs it?

Dan Epstein's book, Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s, is now available in paperback.