Tigers, Cardinals Kick Off World Series
JACKI LYDEN, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.
The World Series opens tonight in Detroit, where the home team Tigers take on the St. Louis Cardinals. The highest superstars of baseball won't be there, but NPR's superstar sports correspondent Tom Goldman is.
And Tom, thanks for joining me.
TOM GOLDMAN: Jacki, you didn't mention that I was a highly paid superstar reporter, but that's okay.
(Soundbite of laughter)
LYDEN: The highest paid superstar sports correspondent at NPR, I believe.
GOLDMAN: And the only one. Thank you.
LYDEN: So the mood there in Detroit must be pretty fired up.
GOLDMAN: Fired up is an understatement. The entire city seems to be clad in orange and blue, the Tigers' colors. There is a tremendous thrill about this. This is the first time in 22 years that the Tigers have been in the World Series. Of course, a lot of people have heard about the tough times that Michigan and Detroit continue to have economically with the auto industry, and people are looking at this as the classic sports-as-diversion kind of thing. I mean, it's not changing things but it gives people a respite a little bit from a lot of anxiety and some economic hardship.
And there's a particular amount of excitement because the Tigers come into this World Series as overwhelming favorites against the Cardinals. And all these different classifications, like starting pitching, relief pitching, hitting defense, base stealing, the Tigers are considered better than the Cardinals. And the people of Detroit, the people of Michigan, figure this is going to be a pretty quick World Series.
LYDEN: Tom, St. Louis was in the World Series two years ago. You reported on that, and they were swept by the Boston Red Sox. I'm sure they're not just planning on standing there. What do you think the strategy is going to be for St. Louis?
GOLDMAN: Well, that's a good point, and that is one of the things in St. Louis's favor. I heard it referred to as their Mulligan World Series. And they get another chance, using a golf term there. They talked to a player, at least the ones who were there in 2004, about not taking this one for granted, or making sure they get very involved, and make sure their intensity level is up so that they won't fall behind quickly and get swept.
And practically what they can do on the field, the Cardinals don't have overpowering pitchers, but their pitchers are very crafty and they rely on good placement of the ball. And we saw some great St. Louis pitching in Thursday night's pennant-clinching win over the New York Mets. They've got a lot of confidence coming into this series. And they feel that they can perform well against Detroit's big batters. If there's one knock those batters, it's that they don't a lot of patience at the plate, and that can benefit those pitchers.
LYDEN: You mentioned New York. Doesn't post-season play thrive on the fact that there's a lot of unpredictability?
GOLDMAN: Oh, absolutely. And that's another thing in St. Louis's favor. You know, you often see unexpected heroics from little known players. You often see sudden swings, literally, of fortune. I think most immediately of that incredible Game 7 between the Mets and the Cardinals on Thursday night, when Mets left-fielder Endy Chavez made that amazing grab and robbed Scott Rolen of a homerun, one of the greatest plays in post-season baseball ever. And all of Shea Stadium was just out of its mind and people were so thrilled, and it looked as if that was it. Mets are going to win. They're going to get to the World Series.
Of course, a couple of innings later, St. Louis hits the game-winning homerun and there's this violent momentum swing. And there you have it. The entire Shea Stadium was then silenced.
LYDEN: Brokenhearted. Well, it's been such a colorful week for baseball. Do you think that this series is going get a lot of national attention?
GOLDMAN: Sadly, at least what the pundits are saying, no. These teams are not from big media markets. And you know, there are only a couple of truly recognizable star players which people around the country like to identify with. And it's unfortunate that way. People are saying that Fox will get low ratings in this, and combined with this perception that Detroit is going to overwhelm St. Louis, people around the country may not be as excited as the people of Michigan and Missouri are.
LYDEN: Well, we know that you'll be watching.
GOLDMAN: I will be watching.
LYDEN: NPR's Tom Goldman speaking to us from Comerica Park in Detroit.
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