Tigers fire-balling reliever Joel Zumaya just became the most compelling player in the MLB playoffs.
For that 100-plus MPH fastball...
For that SCARY-ASS EYE...
And for the way he protected a series-turning win for the Tigers in New York yesterday, ripping out the heart of the Yankees' order (and perhaps the Yankees' heart itself) in the 7th and 8th, recording 5 outs in 5 chances against:
That's the heart of an order that many argued was the scariest lineup of hitters in MLB playoffs history (ESPN Era).
But not as scary as Zumaya, with his heat, his own heart and that freaking eye, which is straight out of Edgar Allen Poe -- and which just helped obliterate the Yankees' playoffs home-field advantage that took 162 games to create.
Speaking of Poe, there's another "Tell-Tale Heart" in this series besides Zumaya's: A-Rod's.
And the tale being told is even scarier than Zumaya's eye: A-Rod was 0-4 in Game 2 with 3 Ks, the last coming after facing Zumaya in the 8th. The symbolism couldn't have been more staggering:
The rookie pitcher making all of $327,000 this season having the best performance of his life when his team needed it most, blistering the highest-paid, uber-talented player of his era, having the (now-typical) worst performance of his life when his team needed it most.
(A-Rod looks even worse now than he did during his epic slump during the middle of the summer. Win or lose, the Yankees HAVE to trade him this winter, right?)
But punishing A-Rod takes a back-seat (at least for the morning) to praising Zumaya. (Is it too late to hand Zumaya the AL Rookie of the Year award? Yes... but it shouldn't be!)Meanwhile, are bloodshot eyes are the new Thundersticks or Rally Monkey or "Cowboy Up" T-shirt, that postseason fad that catches on across the country as the symbol of a hot team's good fortune?
How many Detroit fans will arrive to the ballpark tonight with bloodshot eyes? And will it be a fashion statement, to honor Zumaya, or simply the effects of 24 hours of celebrating the revival of their team's fortunes in this series?
Comments Question(s): What's your analysis of the Yankees-Tigers series NOW? How do you rate the Tigers' chances, now that they control home-field advantage? Who's the most compelling player of the playoffs so far? Do you agree it's Zumaya?-- D.S.