Man, I'd been trying to tell people about watching playoff baseball in the Tommy Lasorda commercial manner for years now. Get out of the tree!
The Tigers and Cardinals were hardly the World Series that, um, anyone expected at any point this season. Detroit stormed out early and then collapsed late, but they've dominated the playoffs, like Chicago did last year. The Cardinals just puttered around all year, winding up 83-78 and barely holding off a Houston team that had no business being in contention that late. So of course the 83-win Cardinals and the what the hell Tigers are YOUR World Series teams.
Let us compare these teams!
Obviously the Tigers hold a big advantage here, with Verlander, Rogers, Bonderman and Robertson compared to Carpenter, Suppan, Weaver and Anthony Reyes. Well, on paper they do, anyway. Suppan was named the NLCS MVP and Weaver has been effective in all three of his starts this postseason. Carpenter is Carpenter and is the best pitcher in the World Series. Well, on paper, anyway. Kenny Rogers has been a man possessed and Jeremy Bonderman looks like John Smoltz, plus Verlander has done well after struggling some down the stretch. Robertson hasn't been too shabby either, really. And they're all rested, as the Tigers have had a week off and all four guys have pitched just twice, while Carpenter has started four games already and Suppan and Weaver have gone three times. I think this is close, really, but I still have to go with the Tigers. Advantage: Tigers
The Cardinals have Albert Pujols and the Tigers have Carlos Guillen. Placido Polanco has been on fire, plus the Tigers have longball threats with Ordonez, Thames, Inge, Monroe and Granderson. The Cardinals don't have a terrible supporting cast or anything, but Jim Edmonds is getting old and Rolen's shoulder has been bothering him. Preston Wilson and Juan Encarnacion aren't wasted spots, and Chris Duncan is a valuable lefty bat to have for St. Louis. Then there's Spiezio.
You've also got two good-throwing catchers here in Pudge Rodriguez and Yadier Molina. I have no idea what that matters at all really since neither team steals a ton, but man, those guys can wing it. Push
The Cardinals have rookie Adam Wainwright closing, and he made Carlos Beltran look positively foolish to end the Mets season. Aside from him, there's Braden Looper, Tyler Johnson, Randy Flores, blah blah blah. The Tigers don't need to have Joel Zumaya back, but obviously having a shutdown guy in the 7th/8th inning is good. Fernando Rodney is capable enough of doing Zumaya's job, but he's not Zumaya. Jamie Walker has become one of my favorite players, and of course there's Ol' Homophobe Jones handling the ninth inning. Advantage: Tigers
I don't really think managers mean a ton, but LaRussa and Leyland are a couple of serious veteran skippers and I think it could get really, really fun if they start to attempt to outmicromanage each other, which could easily happen, particularly in St. Louis. Leyland is a great quotesmith, and LaRussa has never not annoyed me even though I think at this point his overratedness has gotten overrated. The guy's a winner. Maybe I don't think he's the greatest strategist, but I don't have 4,286 wins and five trips to the World Series to my credit, so maybe I should just shut up. Both guys fit their teams well (at least for now in Leyland's case). Advantage: Push
So I've got Tigers 2-0-2, but the Cardinal starters have stepped it up and their bullpen has handled itself pretty well. This could be another really tight World Series, even if it's a sweep either way, a lot like last year's. Both teams have been pitching well and rely on "timely hitting," one of my least favorite phrases. All hitting is timely. There is never a bad time to hit.
Give me the Tigers in six. I think the Cardinals will battle, but this Tiger team is a force right now. And prepare thine ears to be regaled endlessly with stories from Tim McCarver on what it was really like to be in the 1968 World Series, and also expect to see his game three home run roughly 24 times (probably only once, if you want to be serious). Brandon Inge said he gets frustrated watching baseball on TV because of the commentators, which made me feel better because I thought maybe it was just us fans that hated these schmucks. Of course Inge could've meant something entirely different, but I want to imagine Inge watching TV and being like, "GOD SHUT UP JOE BUCK, THAT IS SO STUPID."