Tonight, for the first time in this World Series, we got some action throughout the game and drama at the end, an extra inning's worth, even. Each league's probable MVP hit a home run, while another star continued to have one of the worst World Series I can remember. San Francisco struck first, as they have all series, but Detroit managed to fight back and take the lead for the first time all series. Of course, they didn't keep it. And with the Giants winning 4-3 in the 10th though, there's now no baseball for months... So many months... Too many months... I guess I'll have plenty of time to brood about that later, for now let's just look back at Game 4 and the 2012 World Series.
Not all World Series are created equal. In 2011 we were treated to close games, including an all-time classic in Game 6, while the 2012 edition is ready to go down as a clunker. San Francisco's 2-0 win last night leaves them one win away from a sweep, great news for Giants fans, but not so exciting for the rest of us. In the 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox proved that a team CAN come back from down three games to none, but that's the lone example in baseball history. In fact, of the twenty three World Series that have begun 3-0, twenty ended in a sweep and none went farther than a fifth game. The Giants are on the verge of their second championship in three years, and the Tigers don't seem interested in doing much about it.
I know from dozens of trips to ball games, and from watching on TV with countless people over the years, that the vast majority of baseball viewers want to see a whole lot of scoring. Home runs are preferable, but in their absence, ground rule doubles, bloop singles, or horrific defense will all suffice. Whatever gets someone across home plate. I have a confession... I prefer pitching duels. That isn't to say I don't enjoy a good slug fest, but the games that make me happiest are the ones when both starting pitchers it going and the late innings approach with a sense that the first side to break will be going home empty-handed.
Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols, two of the greatest players in history, each of them hit three home runs in a single World Series game (Ruth did it twice, in fact). Most famously, Reggie Jackson did it too. He got his nickname on account of that accomplishment. Pablo Sandoval got his nickname from a cartoon panda bear. But last night, in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series, Sandoval became the fourth member of this exclusive club. It's been said before and it will be said again: You can't predict baseball.
I did not expect to find myself in the position of standing up for one of my least favorite players, but that's what it's come to. I'm basking in the glow of the Yankees being swept in a best-of-seven series for the first time since I was born, but the amount of blame being sent Rodriguez' way is far out of proportion and the way his entire career has been downgraded by some in the last few days is ridiculous. Rodriguez is one of the twenty or so best players in MLB history and during his time with the Yankees he's been the best player in the American League. He's had some bad postseason series, but so has just about everyone who's played in more than a handful of them.
Born in 1980, I never really had any reason to care about the Yankees as a kid. Of course I knew many of their players, Ron Guidry, Willie Randolph, Dave Righetti, and Dave Winfield were all familiar names to me, but little more than the Blue Jays, Rangers, or Royals I pulled from packs of Topps trading cards back then. When I began high school in 1994, I'd never seen the Yankees in the playoffs. On my 15th birthday my sister's boyfriend gave me a Yankees hat, saying "I figure either you'll love it or hate it." But I honestly had no real reaction at all. A few days later I quietly exchanged it at a local sporting goods store for a new Indians hat, because mine was getting worn out.
It's a fool's errand to try and predict the baseball playoffs, because anything can and will happen during a short series. And hell, before we even get to any short series, there will be two do or die Wildcard Games this evening. You might as well flip a coin at that point. I'd like to think I'm smarter than a nickel though, and I'm nothing if not a fool, so I figure I might as well try my hand at guessing what happens over the next four weeks. I will totally gloat if I'm right about anything, because it will prove just how smart I am, and when I'm not about things, we'll just pretend this never happened.