The possibility is quite real all of a sudden. Just a couple more Houston wins and the matchup is on.
Verlander’s Astros vs. Scherzer’s Nationals.
I may be jumping the gun on this just a bit, but I never considered the possibility until now.
The Nationals, even though they have been one of the hottest teams in baseball for quite some time, have never found my radar as a serious consideration for the World Series.
But boy, have we learned over the last couple weeks how serious we should be treating them as a legitimate championship contender. And now that they are in, after dispatching the Cards so quickly, they have every right to believe they can win this.
The Astros? They have work to do to set up a match-up that so many Tiger fans want to see. JV vs. Max. But I really shouldn’t spend too much time considering it until it actually happens.
But what’s the fun in that? Let’s talk for a minute.
Max Scherzer left the Tigers having turned down the money they offered him to stay. There was a much bigger bag of money awaiting him in Washington if he chose to sign there. So he did. And if that wasn’t a big enough kick in the throat for Tiger fans, he explained how he didn’t leave for the money. He left because he wanted to win.
We know the story. The way Scherzer packed up and headed to Washington left a bad taste in the mouths of so many Tiger fans. I tasted it. So many of us tasted it.
Justin Verlander, on the other hand, needed every last second to consider whether or not he could leave Detroit. Until finally he decided it was the best move for him.
JV’s departure was painful for all of us. More painful than the loss of Max.
Why? Well, Max’s departure was ugly. It made us mad.
And JV? His departure was more about sadness. What was the state of our team, when maybe the face of the team could be sent out of town for, to this point, not a whole lot in return?
Quite a bit of time has passed now since both JV and Max anchored a great Tigers starting rotation. Max has thrived in Washington. Cy Young Awards and no-hitters have come his way. But the winning he said he became a National for, hasn’t arrived until now.
The shadow he lived under in Detroit, continued even after he left for Washington. Who was casting the shadow? Justin Verlander himself, who upon leaving for Houston, immediately won a championship.
Max was catching up to JV in all the personal awards and accolades. But it was as if Verlander was still thumbing his nose at Scherzer, riding a renewed wave of dominance after leaving Detroit, adding a championship to his resume and continuing to challenge for one every year since.
Do you get the feeling that Max, despite continued success in Washington after leaving the Tigers, is still living in the shadow of Justin Verlander? You could ask him and I’m sure he would never admit it, but I’m not sure what Max wants more.
What would please him more? A championship over Verlander or a just a championship? Without choosing, I would gather that Scherzer would be quite conflicted over making a choice.
From Max’s perspective, who do you think he is rooting for in the series between the Astros and Yankees?
Is there any question? There are so many boxes to be checked when it comes to Max vs. JV.
To have the opportunity to face JV’s Astros in the Series.
To have the opportunity to start against Verlander during the Series and potentially beat him.
To have his team beat JV’s, winning a World Title, equaling Verlander.
This is all about the shadow. And Max is 2 Houston victories away from a chance to even the score in the best way possible.
Remember, this is the same pitcher who won the Cy Young with the Tigers and the following season, had to sit on the bench on Opening Day in Detroit and watch JV take the mound as the starter. It was fresh off Max turning down Mike Ilitch’s $144M contract offer.
I believe it was never the same for him in Detroit after that day. I believe his decision to leave Detroit may have been more about making his own mark, becoming the man and emerging from the shadow. JV was always the man in Detroit, even after Max was awarded the Cy Young. The Tigers made it quite clear where he stood.
Well, he’s now standing at the cusp of his first championship. He is THE man in Washington. He awaits the icing on the cake.
And the cherry on top.
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