By Steve Silverman
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It seems likely the San Francisco Giants will find a way to overcome the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
On paper, it could be a seven-game series, but the Giants are more battle-tested than the Tigers.
Detroit got pushed to the limit in the divisional series by the A’s, but as all New York baseball fans know, the Yankees simply rolled over for them in the ALCS.
The Giants were taken to the fifth game by the Cincinnati Reds in the first round and they overcame a 3-1 deficit against the St. Louis Cardinals to get back to their second World Series in three years.
Here’s the real issue that will keep the Tigers from hoisting the trophy: the National League is slowly but surely winning the battle for superiority against the American League.
The AL has been the dominant league for decades. Those who came of age in the 1960s and ’70s know the NL with Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal was the much better league at that time.
There was no interleague play in those days, but the National League stars asserted themselves in nearly every All-Star game. The American League normally acquitted itself decently in the World Series, but there was little doubt that the NL was far superior.
It was humiliating for American League stars like Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline and Harmon Killebrew, but there was little they could do about it.
It didn’t turn around until 1983, when the American League broke an 11-game losing streak in the All-Star game and also won the World Series after losing the previous four.
At that point, the American League turned it around and they have carried an edge for nearly 30 years. But that dominance appears to be over.
While the American League continues to win the regular-season interleague competition, the National League has bounced back with three straight All-Star wins.
In the World Series, the Yankees’ 2009 victory over the Phillies was the only AL win in the last four Fall Classics.
The NL’s postseason participants seemed to have an edge on the American League teams. The Tigers were an ordinary team throughout the season and they won the AL Central because the Chicago White Sox collapsed. If that hadn’t happened, the defensively shaky Tigers would not have even made the postseason as a wild card team.
The Yankees were tired and old in the postseason and the Rangers fell apart down the stretch before dropping their wild card showdown with the Baltimore Orioles.
Baltimore and Oakland appear to be on their way up, but they are not there yet.
On the other hand, the National League had four legitimate contenders. In addition to the Giants and the Cardinals, the Reds had the second-best record in baseball during the regular season while the Washington Nationals were No. 1. If the Nationals had not put star pitcher Stephen Strasburg in mothballs to “save” his arm, they likely would be playing in the World Series.
The Las Vegas linemakers have installed the Tigers as significant minus-160 favorites over the Giants.
However, don’t buy into the hype of Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers. The Tigers have the stars and the hype, but they don’t do the key things to win games like play defense and run the bases.
The Giants also have the much better bullpen, and that often is the key in any postseason series.
The American League had a long run, but it appears the balance of power has swung to the Senior Circuit.
Are you pulling for the Giants or Tigers? Be heard in the comments below!