Home MLB World Series 2012 preview

World Series 2012 preview

by Matt Smith

The Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants will play Game One of the 108th MLB World Series in the early hours of Thursday morning, U.K. time.

The two teams have made the World Series 30 times combined, emerging victorious on 10 occasions (6 times for the Giants – 5 of which from their period as the New York Giants – and 4 for the Tigers).

However, this will be the first time they have faced each other in the Fall Classic.

The schedule

All of the games in the best-of-seven series are scheduled to begin at just gone eight in the evening Eastern Time. While we in Britain move out of British Summer Time this coming Sunday, Daylight Time in the States continues for one extra week. That means the first three games of the series will begin at just gone 1 a.m. U.K. time, with the remaining games starting one hour earlier.

Game One – 24th Oct. (1 a.m. on Thursday 25th U.K. time)
Game Two – 25th Oct. (1 a.m. on Friday 26th)

Game Three – 27th Oct. (1 a.m. on Sunday 28th)
Game Four – 28th Oct. (00.05 on Monday 29th)
Game Five – 29th Oct. (00.05. on Tuesday 30th)*

Game Six – 31st Oct. (00.05 on Thursday 1st)*
Game Seven – 1st Oct. (00.05 on Friday 2nd)*

* if necessary.

The coverage

BBC Radio will once again be providing their own dedicated commentary for the World Series on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra, available on DAB Radio, Digital TV and online (for U.K. residents). Simon Brotherton and Josh Chetwynd will be in the booth at AT&T Park and Comerica Field.

TV coverage is provided by ESPN America, most likely showing the MLB International feed with Gary Thorne and Rick Sutcliffe on commentary duties. MLB.TV subscribers will be able to watch or listen to the games live and on-demand online, with the TV feed being FOX’s U.S. National TV coverage presented by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

The series match-up

The San Francisco Giants are returning to the World Series two years after winning the championship for the first time since crossing coasts and moving to the Bay Area in 1958.

They have been the comeback kings of the 2012 playoffs, recovering from an 0-2 deficit against the Cincinnati Reds to win the best-of-five series 3-2 and then fighting back from a 1-3 deficit in the Championship Series to win their best-of-seven match-up with the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3.

In fact, the Giants’ resiliency has been a feature of their season. They lost star closer Brian Wilson to season-ending elbow surgery early on and then suffered the indignity of seeing their run-scoring catalyst Melky Cabrera’s season – and reputation – go up in smoke following a failed drugs test in mid-August.

However, Cabrera did provide his teammates with a parting gift. His MVP-winning performance in the All-Star Game helped the National League to an 8-0 victory and home-field advantage in the World Series. Games One and Two, as well as Six and Seven if required, will take place in San Francisco as a result.

The Giants’ opponents have also had to battle against some bad luck on their way to the Fall Classic. Detroit’s World Series hopes appeared to have taken a significant blow during the offseason when Victor Martinez suffered a season-ending knee injury and created a sizeable hole in their batting lineup.

The Tigers’ 83 year old owner, Mike Illitch, responded by getting his cheque book out and spending $214m on a nine-year contract for free agent first baseman Prince Fielder. The signing of Fielder alongside the presence of established stars Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander made the Tigers overwhelming favourites to win the AL Central division and whilst the Chicago White Sox nearly scuppered their plan, Detroit proved too strong in the end and made their way into the postseason. A hard-fought 3-2 series win over a spirited Oakland A’s team was followed by a 4-0 thumping of the New York Yankees to book a place in the World Series early, leaving the team kicking their heels while the National League series continued.

The layoff has raised some concerns that the Tigers might come into the World Series slightly off the boil. Such fears are understandable considering what happened in 2006, the last time Detroit made it to the Fall Classic. As has occurred in 2012, the Tigers quickly swept their way through the Championship Series (against the A’s) that year whilst the National League Championship Series went the full seven games. The Cardinals ultimately got the better of the New York Mets 4-3 in that series and went on to beat the Tigers in five games.

Could history repeat itself with the battle-hardened Giants jumping on the too-well-rested Tigers this time around?

It could – there’s no doubt about that – but putting too much store in the Tigers being undercooked would be a mistake. Detroit are a well-run club and have played several practice games to keep their players ticking over. More importantly, they earned the ability due to the rest period to align their starting rotation exactly as they wanted and that should more than counter any possible rustiness.

Justin Verlander, the ace of aces, will be Detroit’s starting pitcher in Game One, with Barry Zito likely to take the ball for the Giants. That’s a notable pitching match-up advantage for the Tigers and, upon consideration of the two rosters, on paper it seems fair to peg them as favourites to win an entertaining series in six games.

But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the 2012 postseason so far it’s that trying to predict how things will turn out is liable to leave you looking foolish.

It’s best instead simply to sit back and enjoy watching or listening to the drama unfold.

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