October 30, 2012
Almost as if it were preordained by some Higher Power, the 2012 World Series played out just like the 2007 World Series, as the team that had just swept a league championship series was in turn swept by a team that had had to fight tooth and nail to grab the pennant. The confidently dominant Detroit Tigers exchanged roles with the feisty never-give-up San Francisco Giants, who became World Champions for the second time in three years. No team has matched that achievement since the Yankees won three straight World Series titles, from 1998 to 2000. It was a bittersweet end to the season for the fans in chilly Detroit, but the good news is that their team shook off the doldrums, played very well, and came close to winning World Series Game 4.
Tigers scored first in the second inning, on a ground-rule double to deep left-center field by Hunter Pence and a triple off the wall in [the right field corner by Brandon Belt. (It would have been a homer almost anywhere else.)...]* Gloom momentarily descended upon Comerica Park, as fans realized the Tigers' desperate plight. But just as quickly the mood turned to exhilaration in the third inning when Miguel Cabrera ("MVP! MVP!") hit a fly ball to right field that carried just over the wall, thanks to a push from some stiff northerly winds. After two games in which the Giants seemed to get all the lucky breaks, fortune smiled on Detroit, briefly. But then in the sixth inning, Buster Posey hit a two-run homer to the left field corner, giving the Giants the lead again. But the Tigers' Delmon Young came back with a two-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to even the score at 3-3. The next batter singled, and then Jhonny (!) Peralta hit a long fly ball to left field that fell just short of the fence for the third out. Just a few more feet would have given the Tigers a two-run lead. The next three innings were scoreless, and the two starting pitchers (Max Scherzer and Matt Cain) were replaced. In in the top of the tenth, Ryan Theriot (former Cub) singled, Brandon Belt bunted him to second base, Angel Pagan struck out, and then clutch batter Marco Scutaro singled up the middle for what turned out to be the game-winning RBI. In the bottom of the tenth, closing pitcher Sergio Romo (sporting a black beard just like Brian Wilson did two years ago) struck out three batters in a row, the final one being none other than Miguel Cabrera, who was caught looking on an unexpected fast ball down the middle. Ouch! Final score: Giants 4, Tigers 3. See MLB.com.
I admit to being partial to the Tigers, who haven't won a World Series since 1984. But before the Giants' big triumph two years ago, San Francisco had never won a (baseball) world championship, so you have to take that into account. (The New York Giants won the 1954 World Series, when Willie Mays made that amazing catch in center field at the Polo Grounds, breaking the hearts of fans in Cleveland.) One thing is absolutely clear: The Giants earned this victory, and they deserve hearty congratulations for winning it!
It was the first time since 1997 that the deciding game of the World Series went into extra innings. That was the year that the Florida Marlins beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2 in the 11th inning of Game 7, which was played in Miami.
The Tigers' aggregate batting average for the World Series was an abysmal [.159, compared to .242 for the Giants. What the heck happened to Prince Fielder?? (.071)] As for the Giants, their manager Bruce Bochy is getting recognized for putting together an awesome team. Most of their players are locked into contracts at least through next year, so they stand a very good chance of making another postseason bid in October 2013. (NLCS against the Nationals?) Barry Svrluga analyzes the Giants' prospects in the Washington Post.
I know all too well how it hurts when your team gets swept in the World Series, remembering the ill-fated (from my point of view) 1963 matchup between the Yankees and Dodgers. An MLB blog, "Getting Blanked," consoles Tigers fans with the thought "So You Got Swept: It Could Have Been Worse." The author summarizes five of the most lopsided World Series outcomes in baseball history:
The Baseball Annual Chronology page has been updated with the 2012 World Series results, Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown, etc. It also includes two items for 2013: The transition of the Houston Astros from the National League Central Division to the American League West, and the site of next year's All-Star Game: Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.
It wasn't finished in time for the final game of the World Series, but the Comerica Park diagrams are now corrected and enhanced with new details such as the platforms and entry portals in the upper deck. The only notable change is that the upper deck near the left field corner extends about ten feet less than it did before. I had a preliminary update posted in time for what would have been Game 5 -- for what that's worth. One intriguing detail can be seen in the lower-deck version: the zig-zag ramps to help disabled fans descend from the main concourse to the areas reserved for wheelchairs, on the first base side and near the left field corner.
There will be several more diagram updates in November. Stay tuned for those goodies and other news items to report!
* Thanks to Larry F. for the corrections.