Sometimes when things look their bleakest and frustration boils to the point of exploding in a nasally, whiny complaint, fate intervenes. As I wrote last night I had planned on live blogging Game 2 and had cleared out my Wednesday night schedule, which had previously consisted of sitting by myself in my apartment watching the Project Runway reunion show, to watch Game 2 live. Of course it got rained out and rescheduled for this afternoon, which didn't work out for me (and several thousand other equally frustrated fans in Michigan and New York) because I have class on Thursday from 1:20 to 7:30. It seemed hopeless, I had waited 19 years to watch the Tigers make the playoffs and now I was going to miss the majority of the first two games because of previous obligations, (I missed part of Game 1 to attend my 23 birthday party, an by the time I got to watch the game closely the Tigers were already losing 5-0). However, shortly after midnight I received an e-mail from my Professor saying my 3 o'clock Con. Law II class, (which is completely insufferable) was cancelled because of a shoulder injury he sustained while cycling. It was as if all my negative energy had caused a stick to leap of the ground, lodge in my Professor's front tire and send him hurtling over the handlebars. I was thrilled, not that my professor was hurt, (o.k. maybe a little) but that I could get back in time to watch at least the last 4 innings of the game.
So today I rolled out of bed at about noon, (literally rolled out right on to the floor, thats how I get up in the morning), got ready for class and watched the top half off the first inning before leaving for Sports Law. Luckily 90% of the kids in class had various Gamecasts going on their laptops (I'm apparently the only person in the history of law school to not own a laptop, William Blackstone probably banged out his principles of law on a iBook 250 years ago) and since its a sports themed class the Professor was cool about people giving updates. Anyways I raced out of class with the score 3-2 Yankees and got back to my apartment just in time to see Carlos Guillen come up to the plate in the top of the sixth, and in the first pitch I saw since the top of the 8th Guillen turned on a Mussina fastball and drove it into the right field seats. Tie game. These rest of the game was a blur but here's what I remembered.
1: Thames had a great game and Granderson came up big late but the MVP of Game 2 was Joel Zumaya. He completely overwhelmed the Yankees hitters for two innings. The Yankees shouldn't have even bothered to come to bat because they didn't have a chance. The only person who can even hit Zumayas fastball in the whole Yankees lineup is the guy who has the fastest bat in all of baseball Sal Fasano.....err I mean Gary Sheffield. If there is one thing I can guarantee for this series its that Larry Bowa will be decapitated by a foul ball during one of the Sheffield-Zumaya showdowns and I couldn't be more excited about this possibility. I also love Zumaya's attitude. Sure, he's only 21 and was pitching in his first post season game against the most storied franchise in baseball history, (although Philadelphia's a close second with their one title in 100+ years) but that doesn't stop him from striking out 3 current or former MVP's with pure gas, (assuming Jeter wins it this year, and barring Ortiz doing some Chicago style ballot dumping into Lake Michigan), and then pumping his fist and spinning off the mound after recording his final out. And I havent even wrote about the curveball he spun to Abreu....Jesus, I can't wait until this guys our closer in a couple seasons.
2: Granderson did an excellent job of proving me wrong today with his tie breaking triple in the seventh inning that stood as the winning run. Thames led off the inning with a double, making him 9-11 in his career against Moose, which might be one of the craziest stats ever, before Inge bunted him over to third and brought up Granderson with one out. I thought for sure Granderson was going to strike out as he's done so many times this season in similar situations, and sure enough he falls behind 0-2 and I grip the remote really tight and stalk around the room ready to unleash it in a moment of fury against the wall, call my friend and bitch about how many leadoff doubles the Tigers have failed to get across the plate in the last month. 100? 200? 5,000? When strokes the ball into the opposite field gap for a triple. Didn't see that coming, and I couldn't be happier that he proved me wrong. Now I'm online trying to order a Curtis Granderson T-Shirt jersey.
3: I also had another fickle fan moment in the ninth when Matsui led off the bottom of the inning with a single. Yankee Stadium is going crazy, Jorge Posada is coming up, Leyland is walking out to the mound and things look grim. I've watched to many games that the Yankees have won in similar situations to not be scared to death, and the fact that Todd Jones has stretches where he gets his brains beaten out (i.e. May-July of this season, with parts of August and September mixed in) and I'm getting visions of Cano atoning for his hitless day with a three run homerun as Yankee Stadium goes crazy, with a shot of the Jones walking off the field and covering his face with his cap, Leyland hurrying into the clubhouse to smoke a pack of Lucky Strikes, and I'm laying comatose on the floor. So what does Jones do? He starts pumping strikes gets a couple of easy popouts and has a rather uneventful save, and I get to stay conscious. This works out best for everybody.
So now the series shifts back to Detroit where a playoff game will be played for the first time since 1987, or to put it into better perspective a time when Kenny Rogers was a spry 63 year old man. Incidentally Rogers will be pitching tomorrow against an equally geriatric Randy Johnson the first time the two have pitched against each other in the postseason since 1934, (that's right two straight Kenny Rogers is ancient jokes, you want more because I got more........actually thats about it). My prediction for tomorrow Rogers goes out and does Kenny Rogers things, turns the game over to the bullpen after allowing 2 runs over 6 innings and the bullpen does the rest. Randy Johnson and his balky back go 2 2/3 allowing 3 runs before the Yankees realize he doesnt have enough. This causes the Yankees to wear out their bullpen in a 6-2 Tigers victory, and Karl Ravech's raging Yankees boner slowly turns into a mushy semi.
Seriously though, if the Tigers don't win another game this series I won't be disappointed, (o.k. maybe a little). But today was my first taste of playoff baseball and it was amazing. I love baseball and care very deeply about the Tigers, probably more than is healthy, and today's game was the most thrilling baseball game I ever watched. After witnessing Game 1 I thought I would lose my playoff virginity like I did in real life. Sloppy, uncomfortable, over before I even knew it started and followed by hours of crying, (I mulled over weather that last sentence would be too personal, creepy, or offensive to the girl I lost it too, my friend T.J.'s mom, before deciding to run with it so I apologize for it). But today's game made a lifetimes wait worth it.