Breaking Balls: The worst World Series ever


 

We agree with you, Prince Fielder. The World Series was a real yawner.

I think most sports fan like to think of the championship series (or game) of any sport as a matchup of the two best teams battling it out to prove who is actually the greatest team that year.

But the truth is that’s hardly ever actually the case. Last year’s Super Bowl featured a wild card team in the New York Giants who probably shouldn’t have been in the playoffs and a New England Patriots team that should have lost to the Ravens in the AFC Championship game.

This World Series was a matchup of the fifth-best team from the American League (the Detroit Tigers) and the fourth-best team from the National League (the San Francisco Giants). So, the championship of all of 2012 baseball was going to be decided not by the “best” teams, but by the two teams who got the hottest after they made it into the playoffs.

You probably know by now the Giants won the World Series, and they certainly deserve all the congratulations they get. And the Tigers certainly don’t deserve the criticisms they are getting. They made it all the way to the World Series. Congratulations to them!

When the series started, I thought the Tigers would win. I felt it was a good matchup, but it seemed like the Tigers were just a bit better. And I still think that. Though, yes, I am aware that on those four days they played each other, the Giants played better. That doesn’t make them the “better” team.

Detroit only squeaked into the playoffs because its division was weak and the White Sox crapped the bed at the end of the season. So, both teams got lucky along the way. Who cares? That’s sports. What bugs me about this World Series is that it was so boring. Okay, Giants fans, calm down. I know winning isn’t boring, but believe it or not, most people aren’t Giants fans. That’s just simple math. There are 28 other teams in the league (29 if you count the Astros).

For me, beyond my own Red Sox preferences, it doesn’t matter who gets to the championship, I just want exciting games. Even the Red Sox recent two World Series victories felt a little weird because they were both sweeps. I’ll take the championships, but a sweep? Ugh. Boring.

This year’s sweep by the Giants only had one game that was close – the 10-inning game four – and even that just seemed more like it was just prolonging the inevitable Giants win than a nail-biting, edge-of-your-set thrill ride. The Tigers were shut out two games in a row. Do you know when the last time that happened? Almost a hundred years ago when it happened to the White Sox in 1919 – yep, during the Black Sox scandal. And those guys weren’t really giving it their all.

Maybe the six days off for the Tigers before the series was just too long. Inertia says that an object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest. And it’s safe to say that Detroit has some pretty big objects on their team.

The Tigers just didn’t look right from the beginning of the first game all the way through until the end. They were swinging wildly at pitches hoping to win games with every at bat, instead of mounting an offensive attack. The Giants have some excellent pitchers. They also have some not-excellent pitchers and the Tigers made them all look great.

I guess Detroit’s been like that all season and, as they say, you dance with who brung you. Their style got them into the playoffs, and then they got past the Athletics and whooped the lifeless Yankees. And then game one happened. Justin Verlander looked like garbage and Pablo Sandoval crushed three home runs – and like most of Detroit’s neighborhoods, the Tigers just never recovered.

Sandoval wound up with six home runs in the playoffs. Not bad for a guy who hit 12 total for the entire season. Someone might want to check his hotel room and see if Lance Armstrong set up shop in there.

Looking back, the Giants probably shouldn’t have made it to the World Series. They were down 2-0 in the series with the Reds and Cincinatti lost their best pitcher. Then they were down 3-1 to the miracle Cardinals, who had the best offense in the league, but completely stopped hitting. Skill and luck combined perfectly to get the Giants past better teams and into the World Series against the Tigers. Their pitching was very good and their offense was just enough. Their batters were patient and fouled off dozens of balls each game wearing out the Detroit pitchers.

San Francisco played baseball almost perfectly in every aspect of the game. They got production from all over their lineup. They played solid defense and, of course, they pitched the crap out of the ball.

Throughout the tedious, uneventful series I had a lot of time to think about various aspects of the game. And inevitably would come back to one thing that was very interesting. You: “How interesting was it?” Me: “It was so interesting that my wife thought it was completely uninteresting and pleaded with me to please shut up about it.” So, you know it was interesting.

Miguel Cabrera couldn’t keep the magic going in the World Series. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

It was the Irony of Miguel Cabrera.

Many of you know that Miguel Cabrera was an offense machine this year and that he won the Triple Crown. Old school baseball folks think he should absolutely win the league Most Valuable Player Award. The problem is that there are now a lot of other statistics that smart people look at that tell how a player performs and Mike Trout is the clear leader in those stats.

So, the old school guys filibuster about Cabrera carrying his team on his back and getting the Tigers into the playoffs. And Trout didn’t do that (even though Trout’s Angels had more wins than the Tigers). Some of these “new” stats also factor in things like fielding and baserunning. Trout is almost perfect in those and Miggy is, well, what’s the opposite of a Triple Crown? A red velvet fedora? Miggy gets the red velvet fedora in defense and baserunning.

And so, old schoolers fire up their filibuster machines again and claim that defense and baserunning aren’t really that important and being the most valuable player is more about offense and intangibles. And Miggy has a ton of these intangibles – though coincidentally, with his girth, he also has a ton of tangibles.

That’s pretty much where the Trout vs. Carbrera argument ended: old school vs. new school. And then the World Series happened. And in game after game, defense and baserunning were factors where Detroit fell very, very short and offense had little to do with the outcome.

The Giants played very good defense – catching fly balls that would have been base hits against the Tigers slow defense. Detroit allowed base hits to the Giants that should have just been outs. And those base hits almost always scored. It was almost as if to prove the point to the world that there is more to a baseball player than just offense. And that defense and baserunning can win or lose you games just as well as a home run or an RBI or a truckload of intangibles.

If we started the World Series over right now, we would definitely end up with a different result. Not just because the Giants aren’t really this good, but because baseball never repeats itself – not over a whole series.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that this Tigers team actually wasn’t very good. And maybe this Giants team is – or maybe they won’t even make the playoffs next year. But they both deserved to get exactly as far as they got, because they did it – regardless of whether their opposing teams may have helped along the way.

This series stunk. These two teams were boring and they played a boring series. Last year’s series was almost too perfect with its come-from-behind wins and its heartbreaking twists and turns. It was the kind of championship that makes baseball fans out of everyone. Whereas this series was really just more fuel for those who say that baseball is too slow and uneventful.

There are so many random factors in every single game and then multiply that out from there for a series that I guess it’s really not fair to compare the different World Series of different years. But what the hell else am I supposed to do when the series is super-boring and now it’s already over?

 

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  1. Maybe what you could do is get together with some of your elitist Giants fan friends and write up a list of all the things that you wouldn’t mind me making fun of.

    Also, your qualification for “best fans” sounds more like “most affluent fans” or “most front-running fans” – so maybe you guys can work on that as well.

  2. JRigney, first of all, making jokes about how those Dodgers fans beat up the Giants fan is utterly disgraceful. And second, the Giants fans are the best the country has to offer. They have sold out EVERY game this season.

  3. The Giants aren’t this good? They won more games than the Tigers, who play in the worst division in baseball (Indians, Twins, and Royals), and won their division when the White Sox coughed it up.

    They aren’t this good? They played quality, fundamental baseball, which they did all season, and have done for the past several seasons.

    They aren’t this good? They had already won a World Series two years ago before THIS one even started. They missed out on the playoffs last year without Posey–by the way, they won just two fewer games last year without their best player than the Tigers won this year, WITH Verlander, Fielder, and Cabrera.

    They aren’t this good? They were a better team than the Tigers. The Tigers have three great, great players. No one else on the Tigers’ roster is better at their position than the matching Giants player. You can argue Jackson vs. Pagan, but both had very good years. Peralta, better hitter than Crawford, nowhere near the fielder, and a big reason why they won the series. Any argument saying that the Tigers were better are not based on facts or even reality, as nearly all the evidence shows. All this “luck” talk is tired, stupid, and bs. You don’t “luckily” win two World Series. A team wins multiple times because that’s what it is–a winner.

  4. You’ve totally turned me around on the World Series. It was super-exciting and didn’t have the lowest ratings ever and it was a boon for the entire sport and it helped draw in even casual fans and it got kids across the country enthusiastic about a sport whose fanbase is getting older and older.

    Wentworth, if that even is your real name, you have made your point very clearly: you do not have a sense of humor.

  5. Jed, you didn’t mention him by name but everyone knew what you were referencing. Funny you mention Barry, don’t forget Mota was also suspended this year, that’s 3 guys over how many seasons? Cast an eye on the Dodgers and you’ll find that they had as many as 6 players juicing all in one season, for multiple seasons. By your logic, meaning an unfounded accusation, we might assume half of the 40 man roster were on PED’s, no? The Giants showed class in NOT bringing Cabrera back for the post, they didn’t need him anyways, they actually played better without him. Bottom line is this: baseball is baseball, anything can happen. A true fan and student of the game doesn’t write off a World Series as boring. All of the arguments around the web for making sure a world series goes the full 7 games are ridiculous. All but one of the DS and CS series went the distance, maybe it’s just a letdown to see a sweep after that? Anyways thanks for deleting my post.

  6. Hey, Giants fan, thanks for the clever input. Maybe take a few weeks and enjoy the fact that your team won the World Series.

  7. Looks like somebody lost their sense of humor in San Francisco.

    It’s not like San Fran has been squeaky clean on PEDs. Barry Lamar Bonds from a few years back comes to mind. Also Melky Cabrera FROM THIS YEAR. But Pablo Sandoval hit 6 home runs in that short amount of time because he is a professional baseball player and sometimes flukey things like that happen.

    As for Bryan Stow, I was not ridiculing him or the terrible crimes against him. The other commenter brought him into this.

    So I will continue to write my “so-called pieces of editorial journalism” just as soon as I find out who “so-called” them that.

  8. Not much to be said here except that this so-called piece of editorial journalism is a pretty telling indicator of why the author writes for through the fence instead of SI or another legitimate sports publication. I’d apologize for Jed not finding the World Series exciting enough for himself and his wife, but then that would be all too generous. As far as the Pablo Sandoval / Lance Armstrong / PED jab, wow, grow up Jed. Two surgical stints on the DL account for only 12 home runs during the regular season, if you knew anything about baseball, you might have taken that into account before writing such drivel. And as for that crack you made in the comments about Brian Stow? Big karmic black mark, really big.

  9. Unfortunately Bryan Stow was not the only Giants fan who has gotten beaten up by Dodger fans. And with exception of Bryan Stow’s case, most of the times it is drunk Giants fans who think they can antagonize other drunk people without any repercussions. That is the basest form of rivalry and is completely unnecessary on both sides.

  10. I never comment on articles I read, but that is a pretty insensitive joke. Bryan Stow’s life was dramatically altered after being beat by Dodgers fans so maybe your should consider him before writing something so idiotic.

  11. There are good fans and bad fans for every team. I enjoy meeting fans of other teams near our seats and have made some good friends. There are great people in lots of cities with a passion for their team. Having good fun competition keeps the games and season interesting. Baseball parks should be a safe place for families to enjoy time together. Real fans appreciate the efforts of the other team. It is okay to want your team to win without being rude to others.

  12. Giants fans are some of the worst people this country has to offer. That’s why Dodgers fans are constantly beating them up.

  13. That Red Sox series was awful. Except for them winning of course. But that was more because the Rockies ran out of their “We Hate Clint Hurdle So Much” juice that carried them into the playoffs. And then the Rockies were stuck with Jim Tracy for the next five years. Worst consolation prize ever.

  14. I would never ascribe a team “getting hot” as sign of anything other than “getting hot.” If you think they willed themselves to be better then it makes you wonder why they refused to will themselves to be better when they lost the other five playof games.

    So maybe the Giants were just a good team that got some flukey luck. And the Tigers were a good team that got some flukey bad luck.

  15. baseball is rarely about who the better team is. Everyone knows that it’s all about when you get hot. Giants have gotten hot in November/October 2 out of 3 years. You could call it a fluke or you could call it the sign of a really good baseball team/manager. I prefer the later.

  16. True, for Giants fans it was a great WS! I’d say this series and the Sox series of ’07 against the Rockies were probably the worst I’ve seen.

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