Prince Fielder lets the champagne fly in the Tigers' clubhouse (AP Photo)
DETROIT -- Lots of points to ponder after the final installment of the Motor City Mashing. I picked the Tigers to make the World Series in March, so I was not surprised to be in their clubhouse in October as the champagne was getting sprayed all over. But to be in there after a sweep of the Yankees? Unthinkable. Here's some thinking out loud:
Pitching: Detroit starters were basically unhittable, giving up just two runs in the four games. Let's see how the Cardinals (or the Giants, if they can come back) handle them. Power fastballs, sharp sliders. Nasty stuff. Justin Verlander starts Game One Wednesday in the NL city and could go three times in the World Series. The Tigers are a favorite. Also, kudos to manager Jim Leyland for finding a temporary closer in Phil Coke. Jose Valverde has a few more days to straighten himself out.
A-Rod: He's the center of the media attention and you gotta say he handled the masses awfully well the last couple of days. Does anyone really believe Joe Girardi wanted to sit A-Rod and play Eric Chavez in an elimination game? No way. A-Rod seemed to realize that too as he referred to the Yankees' GM as "Cashman" (not Brian) several times after the game. The whole thing seemed punitive. Pretty basic moral: Don't preen for female fans' phone numbers during the game.
Remember, A-Rod was dropped to eighth by Joe Torre for the final game of the Yankees' 2006 division series loss here. He never forgave Torre but it was a seminal moment in his career; he hit 54 home runs the next season.
"I gotta look in the mirror. I sat in this room in 2006 and some of you guys were here and there were a lot of doubtors," he said. "I said I was going to get back to the drawing board and I did. I came back with a vengeance in '07 and I'm looking forward to the same thing."
Oooooooooooooooooook. You're six years older now. Two straight subpar years. (OK, no PEDs either). Don't see it happening.
The A-Rod/Joe Girardi dynamic: Both sides said they didn't see any huge need to mend fences. Rodriguez is clearly blaming management for his benching, not the manager.
"As far as I know, we're OK," Girardi said. "It's not something I wanted to do all -- you know that. But I don't have any signals that he's mad at me. I know he wanted to be in there. I understand that. But I don't have any signals. Now, if there are things that I have to do, I'm going to do them. "
Robinson Cano: He finished the season 24 of 39, then went 3 for 40 in the postseason. Yes, it was a major slump but he wasn't facing the Blue Jays, Twins and Red Sox anymore either.
"That one is kind of baffling for me," Girardi said. "Because we have seen the type of hitter that Robby Cano is. For him to struggle as long as he did, and it seems a lot longer than it actually was, we're talking about nine games. And nine games during the course of the season you say ahhh, but to see it, it's pretty difficult for me to understand."
Media mob: There's nothing like covering the Yankees in the postseason. The old adage of "no tent big enough for this circus" applies. We were piled into the visitors clubhouse with no noise but the water of the showers when it was announced A-Rod would speak in an adjacent room. Everyone bolted back out of the room and scurried down the hall. Cracked a Yankees security official: "Cue the Bugs Bunny cartoon."
What's next: Media day for the World Series is Tuesday at either Busch Stadium or AT&T Park. I'll be there. Thanks for reading in this series and follow along with our full coverage on the scene next week.
(A-Rod photo: Getty Images)