This site is devoted equally to both jazz and baseball, and though I have a number of music pieces on the go, baseball will take a front seat for the next little while as, a), it’s World Series time and b), I’m really busy with gigs for the next week or two.
Being busy is a nice problem to have and I’m not complaning, but it always seems to be the case that it never rains but it pours at this time of year for me, I always seem to be really busy at Series time and rarely get to see many of the games except in snippets or by way of highlights.
I keep telling myself that one of these years I’ll plan ahead and book a bunch ot time off around the schedule of the baseball post-season and treat myself to a feast of watching and writing about the games. As you’ve probably guessed already though, planning ahead is not exactly the strong suit of a jazz musician like me. The only Series games I’ll be able to watch entirely will be Sunday’s Game Four and Monday’s Game Five, assuming there is one, which seems pretty likely. As a result, my blog comments will be short (yeah, right) and not too in-depth.
I wasn’t able to see much of Game One, by the time my gig was over the score was 5-0 Giants in the fifth, something of a shock. When I commented in my last post that Verlander might struggle against the NL and that his teammates might have a tough time scoring against the Giants’ pitching, it was just a vague hunch, I certainly didn’t expect him to lay such a big egg, I thought he might be just a little shaky. I mentioned that the Giants needed another key hitter to heat up, but I sure as hell didn’t expect Pedro Sandoval to hit three home runs, who could? Especially off Verlander, the way he’s been pitching lately.
It’s really wild, but this is the second year in a row that someone has hit three dingers in a Series game – Albert Pujols turned the trick for the Cardinals last year in Game Three. Before this it was an extreme rarity – Babe Ruth did it in 1926 and 1928, Reggie Jackson in 1977 – I guess it helps matters in this regard if you’re big. It’s still an enormous and amazing feat though, and Sandoval is the first to manage this in his first three at-bats of a Series. Here in Toronto, we don’t get to see a lot of Giants games and funnily enough, whenever I do, Sandoval never seems to have a good one, he always seems to be either struggling with the glove or the bat or both, causing me to underrate him and making last night’s tour de force even more surprising to me.
His shockingly early exit aside, I’m starting to develop some concerns about Verlander and his attitude, mainly that he may be a wise-guy, a little goofy in the head. Sandoval’s first homer off Verlander was a bomb to right-centre off an 0-2 pitch, his second a rocket to left off a 2-0 hanger, to which Verlander clearly reacted with an easy-to-lip-read “wow”, almost as if he was admiring the homer, was happy or excited about it. Doesn’t this seem like a more appropriate reaction for his teammates to Sandoval’s heroics, rather than the pitcher who just got lit up? Wouldn’t you expect something more profane or angry out of Verlander than “wow”? Some may have seen this as just flakey or amusing, but it gives me pause – I mean, he does realize what’s at stake here, that this is the World Series, right?
Then, there was his dismissive, incredulous reaction to the mound visit from pitching coach Jeff Jones, as if to say, “What are you doing out here, everything’s A-OK.” Well, if you say so, Justin, but you just gave up two homers to the same guy that travelled about nine miles in a tough home-run park, so I just thought I’d check. His post-game reaction seemed affectedly nonchalant, a kind of Alfred E. Neuman, “What, me worry?” casualness that was similar to his shrugging off the bad loss after the All-Star Game, as just one of those things. It’s one thing for the ace of a team, let alone the best pitcher in baseball, to pitch well in a big game and lose, this happens often enough. But for Verlander to pitch this badly in the opener of the Series and then just shrug it off, well, it makes one wonder.
I saw the pitching match-ups a few days ago in the newspaper, but didn’t twig to the great, anal name-collision of tonight’s pairing till last night – Doug Fister against Madison Bumgarner. This rivals last year’s epic Dickey vs. Furbush match-up, puts two names together you might not want to see in the same sentence – only in baseball could this happen. My advice is to have some Preparation H, medicated moist-wipes and a rubber ring on hand if you’re tuning in, or maybe have that bidet installed. It promises to be a roidally entertaining, hole-y engrossing contest. The NFL has the Super Bowl, this is more like the super bowel.
Sorry, can’t help myself. Some of you more serious-minded types might find this silly, but I’ll have you know that I received an email from a good friend this morning, whose wife is a doctor and not even especially a baseball fan, and she had pointed this out to him as well, so there.
Getting back to serious baseball for a minute, losing the first game with your best pitcher failing is not a good posiion for the Tigers to be in, and there have been all sorts of dire reactions to this, spouting similar past failures and their effects on the odds and so on, but it’s still only one loss in the first game, and on the road at that. When Fister is physically sound as he seems to be now, he can just shove the baseball right up your ass and Bumgarner has really been streaky so far, so to speak. If the Tigers can win tonight and salvage a split, they’ll be in decent shape, with the very good Max Scherzer scheduled for Game Four. If not, then they’re in real trouble, having to face the Giants’ two best pitchers after this in Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain.
Stay tuned and enjoy the game, which is more than I can say I’ll be able to do.
© 2012, Steve Wallace. All rights reserved.