ARTISTRY AND SPICE

By:  Kurt Snyder

It was the World Series. It was Game 7. So, what else was there to talk about, other than ‘you know what?’

Pitching.

And in this particular Game 7, it was a battle of contrasting styles.

The power, fire and intensity of Mad Max, the leader and lifeblood of the Nationals, versus the calm, composed artistry of Zach Greinke, with the surgical style the Astros hope will help fill the expected void left by free agent-to-be, Gerrit Cole.

That was Game 7. Through 6 innings.

You know Greinke’s story. Imagine. A former Cy Young Award winner, a perennial staff ace wherever he has been, comes to Houston in a head-turner of a trade to become potentially the final piece who could propel the Astros to another World Title.

That was the idea. And despite all his accolades, he would have to find his place behind 2 thoroughbreds. That’s right. Two.

The Astros would place Greinke third in the rotation behind Cole and Justin Verlander. Not a bad 1, 2 and 3 punch.

And what Houston found out, by the time they had  finished advancing and found themselves in another World Series, Zach Greinke would be the right guy to put them in a position to win another title.

Inning after inning he baffled the Nats. Pitches ranging from an 89-91 mph fastball down to a breaking ball that didn’t eclipse 60, left Washington hitters completely out of sorts. He lulled hitters to sleep through 6 1/3 innings. Absolutely fascinating to watch.

And Scherzer? Well, you certainly heard the tale of Max’s battle with neck and back spasms that took him out of consideration to pitch Game 5, mainly because he was left with a physical condition that didn’t allow him to do anything, well, physical.

The man couldn’t move. So how in the world was he able to come back in 3+ days and pitch a Game 7 for all the marbles?

Well, cortisone, chiropractic sessions, deep tissue massage, a little cayenne pepper and plenty of garlic. That’s the way it seemed to me, because boy, he was one spicy fellow before Game 7, striding around like he was getting into a boxing ring to go 15 rounds with the champ. He had fire in his eyes on the mound in the first. And for the first time in a while, I was rooting for Max.

I questioned how effective he could be Wednesday night, given what he had gone through, just to be able to get back in uniform, get to the point where he could throw and then pitch and then consider himself ready to win a World Title.

He made it 5 innings. He did battle. He looked good, but he also struggled with command and control. Of course, he did. Given everything he had gone through, just seeing him out there throwing 97 was a victory for him, his doctors and his training staff.

For 5-6 innings, fans got to enjoy what I like to call pure competitive theatre between 2 completely different starting pitchers. They share a lot of the same career accolades. But they go about realizing their success in completely different ways.

I didn’t go to bed after the 6th. The game kind of went nuts after the starters left. And that’s the beauty of baseball. That’s the beauty of a Game 7.

When things change gears and momentum swings, a totally different game separates itself from the one you were just watching.

It was a battle between 2 of the game’s best arms on the grandest of stages. When they left the game after the 5th and then one out into the 7th, and watched with the rest of us, another kind of game broke out. Throats tightened. Tension mounted. Tides turned. Inning by inning. Until it was over.

We have a World Champion.   And the tantalizing twists and turns getting their reminded me so much of …

Baseball.


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33 thoughts on “ARTISTRY AND SPICE

  1. I think Hinch panicked when he pulled Grienke. What strikes me is how the Astros looked a lot like the Tigers that never won in that they had big name starters but their pen leaked and in this game they had base runners but left too many on base. Happy for Max, Anibal and Captain Crooked-Hat Fernando. Hope the Tigers can find a Soto or Rendon soon.

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  2. Congratulations to the Nationals. It was an impressive win. Thy earned their victory. It also brought us back full circle to great pitching always bests great hitting. Biggest disappointment for Houston: Their offense but especially MVP candidate and resident hot dog Bergman. The Astros looked like the Tigers with RISP at home. Questionable call by AJ, bringing in Harris, who has been great but was worn out to relieve Greinke.

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  3. everyone talks about the astros starters etc….but the nats had scherzer, strasburg, sanchez and corbin!!! i mean extremely comparable to the houston top 3….great series and ultimately the best team won!

    Liked by 4 people

    • And sadly, incredibly comparable to a rotation of, let’s say, Verlander, Scherzer, Sanchez, Fister, & Porcello. I laugh so that I don’t cry. That is all, that is all.

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  4. Max’s decent performance tonight – when he clearly wasn’t at his best – was a result of his incredible grit, commitment, and pride, along with the significant support of the Nats medical staff to enable him to pitch…. I couldn’t help but wonder how our Tiger medical staff might have handled the same situation.

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  5. Also happy for former Tigers that got that ring. I’m sure Jim Leyland and Miggy both loves seeing all his former teammates and players winning it all. The Nationals way won out. Ha!

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  6. This week’s sign that the Apocalypse will soon be upon us: Even Fernando Rodney won a championship after moving on from the Tigers. It took almost 10 years but nonetheless…..

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  7. I’m happy for Holly & Alex. My thoughts were similar to Jim P’s; wondering if our medical staff could get Scherzer ready to pitch but I also wondered if our medical staff could even have our pitching staff in position to be in the playoffs!

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  8. Add “Mad Max” Scherzer to the list of ex-Tigers who have achieved their World Series trophy with someone else. Congratulations to him and the Washington Nationals for one of the great season comeback stories, and to the Astros as well for a World Series enjoyed by fans everywhere.

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  9. About the fifth inning I muted the sound, and found the experience far more enjoyable. Buck and Smoltz fill the air with wall-to-wall inanities, apparently terrified that, if left alone with our thoughts for a nanosecond, we will lose interest and turn to the Home Shopping Network or something. I miss when Ernie and Paul Carey would alternate three inning shifts on the radio, going solo and leaving us with blessed silence when they had nothing of vital interest to impart. It’s like when you are with a close friend or a family member you love; sometimes you just wish to share a companionable silence.

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    • Well put No-C I thought it was funny when ‘ole 5-head was talking about the player’s feelings in game 7 and the like. Making comparisons so we could relate. How many game 7’s has he played in? How many games?

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    • ESPN Radio is and has been for some the the place to go for superb play by play and analysis of post season. Yes, Ernie and Paul were the very best and nowadays when you have to put up with the never ending babble of Jim Price you know what we are missing.

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  10. After being 19-31 in May and written off by the experts, so great to see the Nationals win the WS.
    Get ready for a wave of articles and comments on how the Nats “proved” that you don’t need analytics to win. Nonsense. They showed you need analytics and your “stars to star” in the playoffs, a balance of veterans, youth, money and luck. Good for them.

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  11. Great to watch more former Tigers win a World Series. One thing that bothered me was the number of times Houston used the shift. One time in Game 6 it cost Verlander an early inning run when a soft groundball went through the empty left side of the infield. It also allowed other runners to reach base with dribblers right to where Altuve should have been playing.

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  12. Congrats to the Nats and especially to those Tiger alumni.
    I’m pretty sure that a couple years back Holly and Kurt used the Nationals as a comparison with the Tigers as two organizations with similar problems and dis-functionality. Clearly Washington figured out a path to make things right.

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  13. For once in this series there was actual drama, that is until the Nats pulled away. It would have raised the level of this series if at least one game switched leads in the ninth inning. The starters in game seven were totally different in how they had to face each batter but that added to the suspense that had us glued to this game seven. You had to admire Max for the results he got while trying to hold it together, and being an ex-Tiger admiring his performance wasn’t difficult. This game sevens had the histrionic theatre that will bring us back to opening day.

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  14. My observations: First time ever the road team won the first 6 games of a WS. So naturally, 7 road wins this year is a first also. Seeing JV lose his 6th straight WS decision was painful. But after he lost the game, I began rooting for our Tigers on the Nats team to get their ring. Great series. Houston will be losing some guys next season that will make it almost impossible for them to repeat a WS appearance. It was nice to see Strasburg win MVP. He has been through a lot over the past few years.

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  15. Dave Martinez actually had the nerve to tell Soto “That’s not how we play the game” when he carried his bat to 1st base? I personally think this kid’s behavior can be bush league, and he has a lot to learn, but Martinez’s embarrassing rant in game 6 was totally low class.

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    • That’s exactly how I would have expected Leland to behave after the Franchise got a perfect game stolen by that umpire who I refuse to name.

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  16. Pound for pound the Astros have the greater talent and were the favorites. However, the Nationals have giant HEART and they played hard every inning of the post season. I feel they won because the sum of their parts – The team was greater than the value of each piece. That is heart, grit, determination and for sure —- Love of the Game.
    Well Done Nats.

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