Thursday, October 15, 2009

Predictions Sure to go Wrong

Everybody likes to think that they can predict the future. It’s exciting. In a weird sort of way, it makes you think that you have supernatural powers. Some people attempt to predict the future for money, like gamblers and people that play the stock market.

I like to predict the future in sports. Lately, I have not been very accurate in my predictions. I was sure that the Boston Red Sox would make it to the World Series. However, I have come up with a list of things that I believe will happen in the next year in the world of sports. So, without further adieu, here they are in no particular order

- Lou Pinella will not return to manage the Chicago Cubs next season…Ryne Sandberg will
- This season will be Chris Osgood’s last as a Red Wing.
- Michigan will defeat Michigan State in basketball for the first time in years.
- The Washington Capitals will win the Stanley Cup.
- The Boston Red Sox will trade at least one of their most popular players this off season.
- As much as I hate to admit it, the New York Yankees will win the World Series.
- The Detroit Pistons will lose in the first round of the playoffs, fire their coach again, and Joe Dumars will name himself as head coach.
- Jim Leyland will resign midway through the 2010 season from the Detroit Tigers.
- Michigan football will go to a mediocre bowl game this season, but challenge for the Big Ten Title in 2010.
- Dick Jauron will be fired as coach of the Buffalo Bills before the end of the calendar year.
- Next year at this time, the following teams will have new head coaches in the NFL; Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccanears, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams, and Tennessee Titans.

So there they are. My predictions for the future are not something that you should go and bet your bottom dollar on. I didn’t look into my crystal ball or consult any tarot cards. They are just gut feelings that I have.

On October 15 of 2010, I will re-post this article on my blog to see how well my “sports visions” are.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hawkeye Fans Come Down with a Case of Premature Celebration

As the game clock showed 0:00, thousands of Iowa Hawkeye fans stormed the field to celebrate their 30-28 victory over the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday night.

Iowa, undefeated and ranked #12 in the country, narrowly beat a young, unranked Michigan team that turned the ball over 5 times.

I’m all for fans getting behind their teams and celebrating a victory, but last night seemed a little over the top. If the circumstances were different, then I could understand Iowa fans wanting to celebrate on the field with their team.

But they weren’t different. Iowa had everything going for them. They were playing at home. Their players are bigger, faster, and stronger. Iowa is just a much better team than Michigan is right now. Before last nights game, Iowa’s defense hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown since last November. Going into last nights game, Michigan hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown since last Saturday at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

If this was a game that decided the National or Big Ten Championship, then I could understand Iowa fans wanting to rush the field after the game. However, this was a narrow victory over an inferior opponent in the middle of the season.

I appreciate the enthusiasm of the Iowa fans last night, but the dash onto the field last night seemed a bit premature. Wait until you actually win a game that means something Hawkeye fans…like the Big Ten Championship.

THAT'S WHY YOU PLAY 9 INNINGS

I can’t believe it. I really can’t believe what I just saw.

If you were to tell me earlier on today that the Red Sox would lead the Angels 6-4 in the 9th inning and have Jonathan Papelbon on the mound to close it out, I would have bet my house that Boston would win the game. Instead, the Angels scored 3 runs in the top of the 9th inning off of the Red Sox closer and won the game 7-6, winning the American League Division Series.

I’ve got to hand it to the Angels though. They showed the never say die attitude that I kept expecting the Red Sox to come through with in this series. The Angels Torii Hunter said it best when in a post game interview he stated, “That’s why we play 9 innings”.

Now the Angels will move on to the American League Championship Series where they will play the winner of the New York Yankees vs. the Minnesota Twins.

So what are myself and the millions of other Red Sox fans supposed to do now? The way that I see it, I’ve got two options. The first, I can move on to other sports. Football is in the middle of its season right now, hockey has just started their season, and basketball is about ready to tip off their season.

The other option that I have is to continue to watch the baseball post season and root for my second favorite team, whoever is playing the Yankees.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's Okay to Believe in Superstitions

The 2009 playoffs begin tonight for the Boston Red Sox as they visit the Los Angeles Angels in the American League Division Series. Everywhere around the country, Red Sox fans will be tuning in to root for their team. Many of these same fans will also be engaging in whatever superstition that they believe will help the Red Sox win.

Now I know that in the real world, superstitions are just that…superstitions. They are silly things that people do because they believe that it will bring them or their team luck.

However, in the sports world, superstitions are everything. Some players will wear the same hat the entire year because they think that it will bring them luck. When the late Mark Fidrych was pitching, he would get a new baseball anytime that he gave up a hit. Wade Boggs would have barbecue chicken before every game that he played. I know of football players that won’t change their socks for an entire season. There are basketball players that will go through the exact routine every time the shoot a free throw. Hockey players will grow playoff beards for luck. The list is endless.

These superstitious beliefs don’t just end with the athletes themselves. Fans all over the world have superstitions that they believe will help their team.

I am one of them. Back in 2004, the Boston Red Sox were down 3 games to 0 and were on the brink of elimination at the hands of the New York Yankees. During that game 4, I had 4 chicken strips with some “three cheese light done right” ranch dressing as a snack. The Red Sox came back late in the game to defeat the Yankees. So, the next night I had the same snack at the same time and got the same result. I couldn’t stop there, so I continued on to the next game. The Red Sox ended up winning the next 8 games to claim their first World Series Championship in 86 years!!

Some of my other superstitions are not as noticeable. For example, if I am watching a game and my team is playing well, I will not change the position that I am sitting in until their luck changes.

Needless to say, each year that the Red Sox are in the baseball playoffs, I come up with something to try and help the team win. This year I am trying burritos as my food of choice. I will also be wearing different Red Sox apparel in an effort to help the team. If the team does well, I will continue on with the same routine. If they don’t, then I will try something different.

That’s what I love about sports, anything can happen, both ON and OFF the field!

TIGERS 2009 SEASON IN A NUTSHELL...CHOKE

A three game lead with only four games to go wasn’t enough. A 3-1 lead in the sixth inning of their one game playoff with the Minnesota Twins wasn’t enough.

The Detroit Tigers finished off their 2009 season by losing a 12 inning, one game playoff Tuesday night to their Central Division rival Minnesota Twins. After being up 3-1, manager Jim Leyland decided that taking out young pitcher Rick Porcello in favor of Zach Miner was the right move.

Leyland, who has a history of mishandling pitching staffs, lived up to his reputation. Miner gave up a two run home run to the Twins Orlando Cabrera to make the game 4-3 in favor of Minnesota in the 7th inning.

Aside from a Brandon Inge RBI double that later tied the game, the Tigers never showed any “killer” instinct. I was waiting for them to put the game away, especially when they had the bases loaded with only one out in the 10th inning.

So what’s next for the Tigers? Besides a winter at home watching the playoffs, they definitely have some issues that they need to address if they want to improve on this past season.

First and foremost, is Jim Leyland still the guy that you want to manage this team? I know that he just signed a two year extension this past season, but he does not seem to be able to get through to this team. Since 2006, it seems like this team does not perform well in big games. Also, his decisions involving the pitching staff have been questionable to say the least.

I’d also like to see a veteran brought in to mentor Miguel Cabrera. He is one of the most talented players in the league, but his decision to go out last Friday with some of the Chicago White Sox players showed that he still has some maturing to do. On a weekend where the Tigers were trying to clinch their division, going out drinking till the early hours of the morning was a horrible decision. And drinking as much as he did (he blew a .26!!) is just plain dangerous!

I know that some people would argue that the Tigers were a good first place team for most of the year, and that is true. However, they were a first place team in the weakest division in baseball. They were probably the most talented team in the division, but did not perform up to their potential.

Now that I think about it, that is how people describe the Chicago Cubs. For Tigers fans sake, let’s hope that they don’t have to wait as long between championships.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tigers Hope History Has a Way of Repeating Itself

This feels like 2006 all over again, but worse.

The Tigers of ’06 were 40 games above .500 on August 7th and seemed to be cruising to their first division title since 1987. For the last 50 games of the season, they went 19-31 and lost the division and ended up as the wild card entrant. Fortunately, the Tigers struck gold in October and won the American League Pennant before falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

The 2009 Detroit Tigers have been in first place in the Central Division since early May, and now their late season choke job has forced them into a one game playoff in Minnesota against the Twins. The Tigers will be hanging their playoff hopes on the young arm of 20 year old Rick Porcello, who wasn’t even alive the last time the Tigers won a division title.

Having only won 4 of their final 10 games in the regular season, the Tigers will need everybody on their roster to step up on Tuesday. They need to forget their slumping last few weeks of the regular season. The post season is a totally different type of baseball. Everything is magnified. One run or one pitch can make or break your team.

On Tuesday, the Tigers and Twins will be playing like there is no tomorrow. On Wednesday, one team will be traveling to New York, and the other will be heading home for the winter.

If I were the Twins, I’d be making reservations for the Big Apple.