The List/Tigers win it all – Yeah, you heard me

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 1, 2006

Someone asked me the other day who I thought would win the World Series.

I promptly replied, “New York.”

But I wasn’t referring to the Pinstripers.

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I think the Mets have the best chance to win it all this season. At least I did until I found out Pedro Martinez’s right arm finally fell apart.

But I still think the Mets will be there. And they will be playing: The Detroit Tigers.

I’ll tell you why Ty Cobb would have a reason to smile when we go down “The List.”

6. Offense – The Mets’ 200 home runs as of Sunday were fourth in the National League. But the balls they hit better go far because they only hit .264 as a team. Shortstop Jose Reyes (.300, 19 HRs, 81 RBIs, 64 steals) is the most exciting leadoff hitter in baseball.

The Tigers are a little bit better at the plate (.274, 201) despite playing in one of the biggest ball parks in America. Swinging for those distant fences may be why they are second in the AL in strikeouts.

Advantage: Mets (but not by much).

5. Defense – Here’s an interesting stat: The Tigers have allowed 49 stolen bases, the fewest in the Majors. I’m thinking Pudge Rodriguez has a lot to do with that.

The Mets? They’ve allowed 111, the sixth-most.

Despite Reyes and superstar center fielder Carlos Beltran, the Tigers are slightly better up the middle. And that’s where ball games are won and lost.

Advantage: Tigers.

4. Pitching – Losing Martinez hurts. A lot. Behind him are a proven winner in Tom Glavine, a gamble in Orlando Hernandez and three or four other guys that wouldn’t get recognized in a supermarket.

The Tigers’ staff has experience (Kenny Rogers) and talented youth (Justin Verlander), and they smacked the White Sox down in a series a few weeks ago to all but ensure there would be no repeat. Closer Todd Jones was scarily inconsistent earlier this year but still had 37 saves.

Advantage: Tigers.

3. Managers – Mets skipper Willie Randolph was a coach for Joe Torre during the glory days in the 90s, but this is his first time leading a team to the postseason.

Jim Leyland has been there and done that with the 1997 Marlins. He also won three division championships with Pittsburgh before the Atlanta Braves became The Atlanta Braves.

Advantage: Tigers.

2. Intangibles – The Mets are basically an assembly of All Stars.

Anybody remember what the Tigers were doing three years ago? They were setting the record for the most losses in AL history (43-119).

The same kids that were getting their heads kicked in are now playing October baseball, which is why they didn’t disappear over the last half of the season like I said they would this summer.

Teaching guys how to win instead of buying winners makes five and seven-game series a lot easier to get through.

Advantage: Tigers.

1. Final pick – Tigers in 7. Teams that dominate the way the Mets have this season don’t just disappear. But a younger, hungrier opponent will do them in.

George L. Jones is sports editor of The Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at .