Justin Verlander has accomplished just about everything to which a pitcher might aspire: a Rookie of the Year award, a no-hitter, another no-hitter, a Cy Young, an MVP.
Last Thursday in Oakland -- as he bounced off the mound after the last out of his nine-inning, series-clinching masterpiece -- his father noticed something different.
"He was giddy," Richard Verlander said Tuesday. "I could hear him in the stands . I went back and watched the replay, and you could hear him screaming. This was total, unfettered joy. I don't think I've ever seen him that elated after a game on a baseball field. And I think that's because it was more than an individual thing.
"He was happy for the Tigers."
Justin Verlander gets it now. Maybe he did before. But he really gets it now. He knows that no-hitters and banquets are nice, but that championships are forever. And he's pitching like he can smell the champagne before everyone else.
In his first two postseasons -- stymied by inexperience in 2006...