ALCS 2006: Tigers v. Oakland
I haven’t figured out the best way to preview a playoff series, and I think it may be because it’s a pointless exercise. My first inclination is to look at the numbers, but if I would have focused on the numbers before the Yankees series, I would have never been so optimistic about the Tigers’ chances. In the A’s first round series, the numbers wouldn’t have made you think the A’s would beat Santana at home, and nothing could have predicted the series’ pivotal play – Hunter missing that line drive to center that turned into a crushing two run homer. So, let somebody else get all worked up about Zito outpitching his peripherals and Verlander walking a fine line when he strands so many baserunners. I’m not going to, because all it does is make you shake your head when reality flies in the face of what you convinced yourself was probable.
So, if you came here today thinking I was going to give you solid evidence as to why the Tigers were going to beat the A’s, I apologize. I’m not going to do it. I can tell you the A’s lineup doesn’t scare me all that much, I think the Tigers can put a better pitcher on the mound three nights out of four, and I have a good overall feeling about their chances in this series, but they’re just hunches and I’m not going to spend more time than that trying to explain them. I guess this may be a cop out, and you may think it’s kind of gutless, but the truth is I want you sitting in front of your TV screen with your fists clenched and your legs twitching in anticipation of how things will unfold just like I will be. I want you pacing around your living room when Leyland brings in Jones instead of leaving in Zumaya just like I will be.
We headed into that Yankees series hopeful, but very aware that we may be in for a beating that would seem logical after the way the Tigers finished the season. A loss to the Yankees still would have hurt, but not nearly as much after seeing the Tigers piss away a series and the division against the Royals. Well, now that the Tigers have put down the Yankees, we don’t have that protection anymore. We’re all secretly or not-so-secretly expecting the World Series and we’ve tossed aside the padding and armor we put on before the Yankees series because that stuff pinches and chafes you when you’re celebrating. Nothing I say is going to make anybody put that padding back on, and if the A’s find a way to put the Tigers down, I’ll be laid low at least as badly as anybody reading this (unless any actual Tigers read this, I suppose). So, pull up a seat on the couch or at the bar, but do so knowing that unless we’re on the Tigers payroll, all we can do at this point is watch and hope no matter how much or how little we know about the two teams.
Actually, this approach of not making predictions is probably a good thing because if somebody taunted me with my own words in the even of a Tiger loss, I may not be able to keep the blog going after I was convicted for whatever I did to them. I was in a meeting last week and all a guy said was “You can stick a fork in the Tigers” after their Game 1 loss and that made me want to strangle him with his own tie. “What are you basing that on?! Did God Himself tell you that? Then shut the hell up, you sheep! Oh, and could you take a look at this work plan and approve what we’ve proposed? Thanks.”
Game 1 is at 8:09 tonight, and it will be Barry Zito against Nate Robertson. Go Tigers.