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A predictable Series matchup? Yes, to Sparky
By Marc Topkin
Published October 23, 2006
DETROIT - He may have been the only one, but Sparky Anderson insists he saw this World Series coming.
The former Tigers manager received a thunderous ovation after making a rare appearance at Comerica Park on Sunday and offered details of what was a truly amazing prediction.
"I'm going to tell you something and you're going to say I'm definitely a liar, but I have a guy at our golf place, he's a baseball fanatic, he's around 32-38, and every year he asks me, 'Would you pick the National League and the American League winner?' And I haven't been very successful. I'll be honest, this is the truth," Anderson said.
"And this year he asked me who's going to win, right after spring training. I said it's easy this year for me. He said what do you mean? I said the Cardinals are going to win the National. The Detroit Tigers are going to win the American. He said, 'What?' The Detroit Tigers will win the American League, those two clubs will be in the World Series, and that is the honest - one of the only honest things I've said in a long time. But that is honest. Just too much pitching. You look at that pitching and you said to yourself, oh, my Lord."
Anderson, who managed the Tigers to the 1984 Series championship, had praise for both Series managers and no disappointment that either Jim Leyland or Tony La Russa was going to match him as the only manager to win a Series in each league.
"I think that's the way baseball is supposed to be," Anderson said. "I think every record we have somewhere along the line must be broken. I don't believe anyone can own this game. I certainly didn't own it. I managed 26 years and found out when I retired I didn't own the game. I thought I owned it when I was managing all those years."
SOLID CONVICTION: A night's sleep didn't change Leyland's feelings about his decision to pitch to Albert Pujols with first base open in the third inning of Saturday's opener. Pujols homered when Justin Verlander left his first pitch too much over the plate, but Leyland defended their strategy, especially because Verlander struck out Pujols in the first inning.
"I have no problem with Justin Verlander in that situation," Leyland said. "The manager takes that responsibility. I take it and I accept it and it's one of those things where people can have a field day. Go for it. ... I don't necessarily agree with what everybody says that it was a terrible move. I mean, that's just my opinion."
NUMBERS GAME: Scott Rolen was 0-for-15 in Series play before hitting a homer Saturday; no other player had that many hitless at-bats before homering for his first hit. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Benny Kauff was 0-for-13 before homering for the Giants in the 1917 Series. ... The Cardinals were the first team since the 1973 Mets to open a Series with two pitchers with losing records, as Jeff Weaver (8-14) followed Anthony Reyes (5-8). The Mets split the two games starting Jon Matlack (14-16) and Jerry Koosman (14-15). ... The Cardinals were the fifth team in the past 66 years to win the Series opener on the road by at least five runs. The last four lost the Series; the last to do so and win the Series was the 1934 Cardinals - over the Tigers.
MISCELLANY: Because of the cold and intermittent rain, neither team took batting practice on the field. ... Former Tigers manager Alan Trammell, who was also given a rousing welcome after being introduced pregame, is reportedly going to be Lou Piniella's bench coach with the Cubs.