Early Sunday evening, Tigers closer Jose Valverde inherited a 5-1 ninth-inning lead and allowed things to get a little too close before finally slamming the door on the Yankees. With that, the series was tied at one game apiece, and the teams prepared to shift to Detroit.
As if Valverde hadn't already gotten enough attention, he generated even more after the game in a press conference. Take it away, Danny Knobler:
"Oh yeah," the Tiger closer said late Sunday afternoon. "It's over already."
"Verlander has it [Monday]," Valverde said. "Next day, have the celebration in Detroit -- 100 percent. The Yankees have a good team, but I think that's it for them."
Late Sunday afternoon, early Sunday evening, whatever. Valverde was smiling as he spoke and claimed to be joking, but those are big words and they caused something of a stir. The Post is only one of the outlets that's run with the story, as Valverde might have provided the Yankees with some primo material for their bulletin board.
Here's the thing, though. Actually, here are two things.
First, who cares about bulletin-board material? Who cares if an opponent says something aggressive? Baseball isn't football. It isn't a game played on strength and adrenaline. You can't get amped up and perform better in the former the way you can in the latter. Additionally, bulletin-board material is for motivation. Do the Yankees really need to be more motivated to beat the Tigers in the playoffs? Can the Yankees be more motivated to beat the Tigers in the playoffs? Are we supposed to believe that Valverde's words could in some way lead to the Yankees achieving a higher level of performance?
Second, so, okay, Valverde's words could be interpreted as being cocky and annoying. They could make the Yankees really want to knock Valverde down. But something tells me the Yankees already really wanted to knock Valverde down, because he's always been cocky and annoying and people don't like him. Just ask former teammate Miguel Montero. Then look at this:
Valverde isn't the first pitcher to celebrate all wild-like on the mound and he won't be the last, but the thing about all of those pitchers is that they rub their opponents the wrong way. You can love those guys when they're on your team, but you hate them when they're not, and so I'm sure the Yankees were looking to knock Valverde around even before he opened his mouth. The press conference didn't change anything.
Jose Valverde is a pretty hateable player. But as for the remarks themselves, I wouldn't expect them to matter. They might become part of a narrative later on, but those narratives are always built backwards.