High and Tight: World Series Predictions
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
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.