Who’da thunk this Game 5 last week?

Hey, I just landed!” my friend says breathlessly. “Been on the moon! Got back in time for Game 5!”

Welcome home, I say.

“I knew the series would go the distance! What did I miss? Can’t wait for tonight. Final game! Tigers-Yankees! Verlander on the mound-“

Nope.

“What do you mean? He’s our best pitcher.”

I agree.

“Didn’t he pitch Game 1?”

Sort of.

“So why can’t he pitch Game 5?”

Because he also pitched Game 3.

“What? Was Leyland crazy?”

No. But the weather was.

“Who’s pitching then?”

Doug Fister.

“Fister can’t beat CC Sabathia!”

Sabathia’s not pitching, either. Although he might throw some relief.

“Wait. Sabathia’s a relief pitcher now? I’ve only been gone a week!”

A week’s a long time in baseball.

Guess who’s hitting .500

“OK, just tell me who’s been hitting in the series for Detroit? Got to be Miggy, right?”

Cabrera? He’s doing OK. Three hits in four games. Hitting .250.

“Then Martinez is killing it, right?”

One homer. Hitting .214.

“Alex Avila?”

Hitless. Twelve at-bats, six strikeouts.

“Then who’s the hot bat for Detroit?”

Well, Brandon Inge is hitting .500.

“You’re #%$@! me.”

And Don Kelly’s hitting .429.

“Man. I can’t believe the Tigers are even IN this thing. I suppose the Yankees are the same old Yankees, huh?”

They wear the same uniforms, yes.

“I mean how they’re playing. Robinson Cano is kicking butt?”

Yes. Only Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner are hitting at a higher clip.

“But those are the seventh and ninth men in the lineup.”

Strange, isn’t it?

“I guess Mariano Rivera has been shutting the Tigers down every night?”

He’s faced only one batter.

“One batter? The whole series? He’s Mariano Rivera! Is he hurt? Is he angry? Did they forget to take him on the plane?”

They just haven’t needed him.

“This makes no sense…”

Have a seat. You don’t look well.

“I am feeling queasy. I know one thing hasn’t changed for sure. A.J. Burnett still stinks, right?”

Uh…

Guess who isn’t playing

“Hang on. Let me review this. You say even though it’s Game 5 tonight at Yankee Stadium, Verlander is not available. You say even though Cabrera won the AL batting title, he’s not leading the way with his bat. You say Avila has no pop in his pistol, Doug Fister will pitch the biggest game of the year and Brandon Inge is Detroit’s hottest hitter?”

Yes. And Inge is benched tonight.

“But you said-“

Don’t look at me. I don’t fill out lineups.

“And you’re telling me Brett Gardner is a big man for New York – even though I never heard of Brett Gardner – and Sabathia is now a reliever and Rivera is well-rested and … what else?”

Remember Curtis Granderson?

“Love that guy!”

He’s killing us.

“Hate that guy.”

Oh. And Ivan Nova is pitching for the Yanks.

“Who?”

You really need to catch up.

“I don’t understand. How did everything get so flip-flopped? How are all the predictions so far off? How is bottom-of-the-order outdoing top-of-the-order, superstars yielding to role players, and two guys who weren’t with these teams last season pitching to decide who gets to keep playing?”

You have to keep up.

“But I’ve only been gone a week.”

A week’s a long time in baseball.

“Did they rebuild Tiger Stadium?”

Not that long.

Contact Mitch Albom: 313-223-4581 or malbom@freepress.com. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760). Also catch “Monday Sports Albom” 7-8 p.m. Mondays on WJR. To read his recent columns, go to www.freep.com/mitch.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This