Is it possible I'm starting to like Justin Verlander?
I've always admired and respected him for very obvious reasons. He's been a generational stud with premium velocity for the last two decades. He throws 4-seamers all over the strike zone and just overall exudes everything you want from an Ace starting pitcher. There's really nothing I can say about Verlander you haven't heard and don't already know.
But liking him is completely different.
Nothing egregious stands out. I was annoyed at the heigh of the Kate Upton story but that's long calmed down. It's also kind of annoying that he's still awesome and the Cubs could've easily traded for him instead. There's the longevity and the simplicity to his game that also rubs me. Again nothing major. Just one of those faces I've looked at for a long time and thought he was leaving something on the table. Easily the thinnest argument I can make but the fact remains. I've never seen him as a cool guy that I want to hang out with.
But then I see him give a real casual middle finger in Philly and it jolts me into a 180. This guy knows he's gonna get unmercifully mocked for the next 48 hours before taking the mound game 5. I can hear the JUS-TIN chants ringing out now. So much shit talking at every turn about his 6.07 World Series ERA with nowhere to run or hide. And instead of channeling it into this weird hardo energy that's abound in playoff sports, he's laughing his way right into an old fashioned Fuck You for the camera.
Bright side he backs it up. Brighter side, he never lives it down.
We'll find out Wednesday night. Subscribe to S9 for postgame recaps: