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By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Why wait?

Why wait when it doesn't matter who the opposition is going to be?

That's what I was doing while the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants battled it out in the NLCS for the right to play the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

Quite frankly, it made no difference in my mind if either the Cardinals or Giants survived Game 7, something the Giants did in a romp. Either one was going to lose to the Tigers.

The reasons are simple.

While the Cardinals and Giants went back and forth beating up on each other and on each other's pitching staffs, the Tigers were at home watching football and resting.

Some would call that a drawback as perhaps Detroit acquired some rust, but I don't think so.

Momentum, and sweeping the New York Yankees in four games in the ALCS gives you plenty of momentum, is only as big as that day's starting pitcher.

And the Tigers' starting pitcher three times, if need be, will be Justin Verlander. There is none better and he will make the biggest difference.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland is smart. He's said all the right things, the most important being that his four starters - Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer - are all ready to go in that order.

And, in a perfect world, Leyland will be able to do that. Use those four and only have to go to Verlander once.

If the Tigers have a 3-0 lead in the series, Leyland will be able to do just that. Stick to his rotation and let things play out. But if the series is close, he holds the biggest hammer in Verlander, 7-0 in his last seven starts with an ERA lower than my college GPA.

The World Series starts Wednesday. Verlander starts it for the Tigers. Give him three days rest and start him again, if necessary. And, here's the biggest bonus for the Tigers: a Game 7 wouldn't be until Nov. 1. A week from Thursday.

Leyland can turn to Verlander yet again and the big righty can become the first Mr. November. These days, with the way the World Series gets spaced out thanks to television, a team can ride their horse a long way.

In essence, all the Tigers have to do is win one game that Verlander doesn't start and they'll have their first World Series parade in Detroit since Jack Morris and Lance Parrish (with apologies to Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and Dan Petry) were running things in Motown in 1984.

Yes, the Tigers have to play on the road for the first two games in San Fran. And, yes, their pitchers will need to hit. But the thing is, their pitchers won't have to hit. With Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young in the middle or the order, runs are going to happen.

I know, Fielder has been struggling in the postseason. That's going to end, though. He's too good of a hitter and he knows National League pitching.

Cabrera, the game's first Triple Crown winner in the color TV era (that's how long it's been), is just unstoppable. And how good has Young been? Really good.

One could argue the Tigers only won 88 games in the regular season, and that they had a losing record on the road. But they know their game and they have lifted it in the postseason.

As the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants have proven in football, and the St. Louis Cardinals proved in baseball last year, all a good team has to do is get hot at the right time and make it into the playoffs.

Once in, what happened during the regular season doesn't mean squat, not after you've won it all.

The Tigers got in and that was bad news for everybody else.

The final call: I'll be sporting and give the Giants and the National League a game, but the Tigers win the World Series in five.



Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

Copyright 2012