October 10, 2006

GOOD THEATER, BETTER PITCHING:

Tigers vs. A's: A call to arms (Larry Stone, 10/10/06, Seattle Times)

All of those people lamenting the absence of the Yankees, and their undeniable box-office appeal, should realize that what we have now is even better. It's two dramas for the price of one — the A's and Tigers battling it out on one side, and George Steinbrenner spontaneously combusting on the other. Good times, squared.

The Tigers didn't beat the Yankees by accident, either. The depth of their rotation and bullpen might be exceeded in the American League only by the A's, for whom 16-game winner Joe Blanton wasn't even needed in their convincing sweep of Minnesota.

There is enough quality pitching in this series, in fact, that whoever wins it ought to lend one starter to the depleted Mets or Cardinals just to make the World Series sporting.

The Tigers have Justin Verlander, the 23-year-old kid with the distinctive trappings of greatness. They have Kenny Rogers, who totally erased his reputation as a playoff cipher with the most focused and intense postseason pitching performance not involving Roger Clemens. They have 103-mph thrower Joel Zumaya, who can throw that speedball by you, make you look like a fool, boy.

They also have Jeremy Bonderman, and therein lies a tale, one that will be told in great detail by the Fox folks, you can bet. As detailed in "Moneyball" — a tome that will be referenced a few thousand times in the upcoming days — A's GM Billy Beane was so incensed that his scouting people drafted Bonderman out of Pasco High School in 2001 that he reportedly threw a chair through a wall.

"It's an embellishment," Beane told the San Jose Mercury News' Ann Killion on Sunday. "But it makes for good theater."


Posted by Orrin Judd at October 10, 2006 7:40 AM
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