“An hour before Game 5, [Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony] Rizzo has broken out his pregame inspirational and comedic presentation, quoting motivational lines from movies with no clothes on. The Cubs won, so Rizzo did it before Game 6, too. They won again, so he did it prior to Game 7 as well.” ~ Tom Verducci in The Cubs Way
There may be eight-million stories in the Naked City, but that’s city’s not Chicago and Anthony Rizzo won’t be Lady Godiva’ing his way to another World Series. Not this year anyway.Embed from Getty Images
How can I be so sure?
Because my crackerjack team of experts told me so and they’re awesome, smart, incredibly good looking, and I believe them. (And, you want to believe them, too. That’s why you’re still reading.)
In previous years, I’ve turned mostly to strangers to help me make my annual World Series predictions. The results have been well-intentioned, but uniformly lousy. I know that my 2017 panel of experts – friends and family edition – will do much better.
Full Disclosure: Each member of my panel has been promised cookies if their team wins their division. (Even more cookies if their team goes on to win the Series.) I’m a mad-good cookier and I’m ready to bake up a storm.
Sports Illustrated says Dodgers over Indians.
Not so fast.
National League East – Washington Nationals
It’s redemption time for Michelle.
She’s been on my panel before, and two years ago chose the Arizona Diamondbacks because their name was the longest one on the page. But, to be fair, at the time Michelle was still a British citizen, was recovering from a stroke, and called Fenway’s left field wall the “Green Meanie.”
Today? “The Green Monster!” Michelle says with the absolute certainty that can only be the result of her becoming an American citizen, being nearly stroke-symptom free, and learning about baseball pretty much only by reading this blog.
(But, Green Meanie? Much better.)
Michelle doesn’t have time for baseball because she is a competitive equestrian. She won’t tell you this, but I will — she is very good. Here she is on her horse Taboo.
Why the Nats? It was a random, close-your-eyes-and-choose sort of thing, but she’s standing by it.
National League Central – St. Louis Cardinals
Briarley was born and raised in Zimbabwe, a country in the southern part of Africa where, she assures me, there is no baseball.
She’s lived in plenty of other non-baseball places, too, including Bagdad, Capetown, and London.
But, she’s lived in the United States for more than 20 years, has been to plenty of games, even to a Peoria Chiefs game (have you?), rooted for the Cleveland Indians in the Series, and once played for the US Embassy softball team in Belgium while battling a case of malaria. That, my friends, makes her an expert in my book.
Why the Cardinals? Briarley wants you to know that she very much likes red birds.
National League West – Colorado Rockies
Becky has lived all over the world while serving in the Foreign Service and later as a State Department contractor. (I think she’s lived in more countries in her life than I have lived in houses.)
Her ports of call have included Algeria, Congo, Burma, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and she will tell you that it is possible to watch Red Sox games over the Internet nearly anywhere in the world, because she has.
“Here’s a picture from my Foreign Service days — 1989 at a gorilla orphanage in the Congo, with Jim as a baby (he likes to point out that he’s the redhead).”
Becky is also a genealogy detective and recently discovered that she is the sixth cousin, four times removed, of Ebenezer Dupignac, Jr., one of the original members of the New York Knickerbockers club which, in 1845, codified the game of baseball that we know today. (Eb is seen here with the Knickerbockers, front row, second from the right …)
Why the Rockies? “I’m an East Coast girl,” she said, explaining why she could never – ever – choose a California team. (I think she would ship the Giants and Dodgers back to New York and Brooklyn if she could.) “And, Colorado has mountains. You can’t beat that.” She’s not feeling that confident in the Rox, but she’s sticking with mountains over Arizona deserts and all of California.
American League East – Baltimore Orioles
Casey’s a writer who lives in Richmond. Not Virginia. California. It’s in the Bay Area.
He’s originally from Seattle and has rooted for the Mariners over four World Series-less decades. (The M’s are one of only two teams – along with the Washington Nationals – that has never played in the World Series.)
That kind of perseverance can earn you a seat on my panel of experts. So can this: “I once hit a grand slam in Little League, which certainly qualifies me to judge baseball talent.”
Casey writes the wonderful blog Koi Scribblings – “Baseball, food, technology, writing novels. Oh, yeah, and cats. Lots of cats.” – which I encourage you check out and follow. His first book, The Rag Time Traveler, co-authored with his father, will be out in June.
Why the O’s? “I’m picking the Orioles this year for three reasons: 1) Mark ‘Trumbone’ 2) Seth Smith — one of the best dads the Mariners ever had, and 3) It’ll make Jackie happy.”
(Aww, thanks Casey!)
The O’s have a lot of M’s blood in them – starting pitcher Chris Tillman, Golden Glove superstar center fielder Adam Jones, home run clouting DH Mark Trumbo, and new outfielder Seth Smith – so Casey should feel right at home cheering the Orioles to the AL East division title.
(I’m sure we O’s fans will eventually figure out why M’s fans call Smith “Dad.”)
American League Central – Cleveland Indians
Victoria lives near Richmond. The Virginia one.
Sure, she’s only three. But, then Mike Trout was just 19 and he was playing for the Angels. Youth has its advantages.
I was with Victoria when she saw her first baseball game when she was five months old.
Richmond Flying Squirrels, Summer 2014.
Today, she watches baseball, hockey, and basketball; is pretty good with a game of catch (no glove yet); and her dad is documenting her childhood on the sweet blog To Our Little Girl.
(Seriously, you didn’t have a blog when you were three, so don’t roll your eyes when I tell you that little Victoria is an important part of this year’s panel.)
Victoria’s dad is a pretty big Cubs fan, so I can only think there’s a little competitive spirit in Victoria’s Indians pick.
Why The Indians? Victoria’s mom wrote the AL Central team names on the sidewalk and Victoria moseyed around the list, briefly toyed with Tigers (abandoned, we believe, because tigers are not dragons) and settled on the Indians, marking her choice with chalk.
AL West – Seattle Mariners
Gary (who also answers to GN), lives in Boonville, Indiana, and has been a Chicago Cubs fan since he attended his first game at age 11, the season the Cubs went 59-103. Long-suffering is how he describes it. (But, long-suffering no more.)
He is an important part of my panel of experts because of this:
“Bill Veeck Jr., son of baseball genius William Veeck Sr., planted the ivy in Wrigley Field in 1937. Bill Sr. was born in Boonville, Indiana in 1877 and worked as a printer’s helper at the local paper for five years starting at age 14. 120 years later, I was the publisher of the same paper.”
And, because he once sent us this:
Today, GN publishes the new Boonville View Magazine which will feature Veeck in an upcoming issue.
I’ve never been to Boonville, Indiana, but I have been to Boonville, California, and that’s a nice place, so I’m relatively confident that the view from Boonville, Indiana is a nice one, too.
Why the Mariners? “Mariners because of pitching. But I root for the Angels because of Mike Trout.”
Wild Card Teams – Los Angeles Dodgers & Boston Red Sox
Editor/Husband has been dealing with a lot this year. It’s not easy recovering from a broken leg/hip. But, he’s getting around much better, thank you.
Some things are still a challenge – including navigating the bleachers, uneven ground, long drives, and carrying stuff while using a cane. On chilly days, the rod that was hammered into his leg bothers him.
“My leg attracts cold like Taylor Swift attracts bad boyfriends.”
Editor/Husband is pretty awesome and he deserves to be on my panel of experts, if only for the hundreds of times I will pester him this year with baseball-ities. So, I tossed him all the leftover National League and American League teams and asked him to pick a Wild Card from each division.
Why the Dodgers? “I always rooted against the Dodgers growing up. It was the 1960s and the Dodgers were always in the World Series and I always rooted against them. And, in ’66 I rooted for the Orioles against the Dodgers, and the O’s swept ‘em in the greatest World Series of all time.” He got pretty worked up about all this and I briefly wondered if maybe I should have just asked someone else to pick the teams, but I was too far in by now. So, why the Dodgers now? “I’ve grown soft on ‘em. They’re pretty good.”
Editor/Husband wants to make sure I mention that Moe Drabowsky is his favorite World Series player of all time, and Dodgers fans will know what that means.
Why the Red Sox? This conversation really happened:
Me: “Oh my God, I can’t believe you picked the Red Sox.” E/H: “It’s time for healing.”
Editor/Husband doesn’t like the Red Sox. He doesn’t like them almost as much as he doesn’t like the Dodgers.
“Who do you ‘don’t like’ more?”
“It’s pretty close. You gave me a list of teams and asked me to pick the best one. It’s probably the Red Sox.”
I can’t believe he picked the Red Sox.
Major league baseball spends a lot of time thinking of ways to speed up the game. But, baseball’s beautiful, untimed rhythm is perfect and the game shouldn’t be speeded up. But, this post should. So, I’m skipping right to the World Series.
I took all the predictions …
(Yes, those are the exact correct Pantone colors of each team. Thanks for noticing!)
… tossed them in a festive can …
… and waited for the cats to fish out a winner …
… which they never did.
On second thought, the stupid can was clearly a bad idea so I dumped the teams on the floor …
… and finally! … TomTom picked out a team and batted it around the kitchen …
… Mookie joined in …
Good enough for me.
My experts have spoken and we can now confidently announce the winner of the 2017 World Series.
I can’t believe they picked the Red Sox.
I can’t believe they picked the Red Sox either.
Still, we can console ourselves with the thought that the Yankees aren’t even gonna make the playoffs this year.
I know. Bitterly disappointed about the Red Sox thing. I figured that Mookie (named for both Betts AND Wilson) was a wash, but maybe that had something to do with it. But there’s no explanation for Randy’s pick in the Wild Card. Doesn’t matter,though. I’m already planning the cookies platter I’ll be sending to you when the O’s clinch the AL East and then again when they win the Series.
I like your husband’s pack; a replay of the 1916 World Series (with different results).
BTW what’s the pix on the wall behind him?
Randy remembers 1966, but insists he doesn’t remember ’16!
That art behind him is by a folk artist named Gray … it’s of an old bluegrass band and he painted it on a giant piece of wood. We love outsider/primitive folk artists and other oddities, so our house is covered with lots of things painted on old scraps of wood, along with a giraffe from an old carousel that sits in the middle of the room, and an actual scoreboard number from Fenway’s Green Meanie, oops, I mean Monster!
And, the cats know nothing about baseball … so I’m looking forward to that Dodgers/Orioles replay with you in October.
Thanks for the info. Not much into primitive art or things painted on wood, although I have a note from an Austrian soldier in World War I to his wife written on a piece of bark.
I won’t argue against a replay of ’66 as long as the results differ. :-)
Personally I love this column bestest of all! Go for that editor /husband! and throw GN in on that expression as well! I had so many chances going into the finals I just knew one of them would be a winner – but Boston? Fire the cats! Oh never mind!
Let me tell you of the many co incidents I have with your panel – Briarley – the Cards – my first love! and her love of southern Africa – a favorite trip of mine many years ago. The Peoria Chiefs – I grew up going to these games in Peoria… so yes I have been there and seen them! Small town ball – the bestest!
The Rockies – my 2nd love in baseball – thank you Becky
Casey – Seth Smith – a player on the Rockies for several years — all class.
Victoria – who could not love a 5 month old at a game! I did this with our 2 – take them young and teach them all about the game it sticks.
GN – Seattle – what?
Great to ‘see’ editor/husband – still not buying your pick, tho!
and with all of this carefully outlined – the Boston Red Sox…say it ain’t so!
Jessica Mendoza from ESPN was interviewed last week and she thinks the Rockies are being underestimated. So, you and Becky may be on to something!
I’m not sure there’s much left in Seth Smith’s tank, but he certainly is beloved by all his former team’s fans, so I’m looking forward to having him as an Oriole this season!
Seems like a good pick to me, although I may be regionally biased.
I would never say it out loud because I’m regionally biased too … but I will say it very quietly, in parenthesis (the red sox do look like they could have a pretty good season). :)
I was looking forward to your pre-opener predictions for 2017, and you did not disappoint! Play ball!
Thanks Wendy … I have high hopes for this year’s panel! And, baseball couldn’t get here soon enough … now I can read the box scores instead of depressing myself with the morning news.
Amen to that! MLB and MBA (Milwaukee Baseball Academy, our son’s organization) are ON! Of course you won’t be reading about my baby in your local paper, but the magic of the openers is just that, magic, at every level.
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So what do the kitties get if the Sox win the Series? ;)
Hopefully I won’t have to think of something for them! But, if I do, (but, I hope I won’t) I guess I’ll have to invent a sardine cookie for them. :)
I’ve never said anything like this before but, that’s an awfully endearing panel of experts you have there – and the furry ones are over-the-top adorable. To be honest, I’m jealous – I want in on the cookie action.
My panel of experts could use a baseball-lovin’ Canadian (who appreciates Babe Ruth and Christy Mathewson), so consider yourself panel-ized! And, I agree … my experts are the cat’s pajamas!
Ha! I didn’t mean to strong-arm you into that – I just got caught up in the cookie talk. But thank you – happy to be here :)
And bravo! That was a helluva game. Good start to the season. The Jays’ announcers didn’t even try to temper their crush on Machado.
It.Could.Work. There was an episode of Cheers where Diane ran the table in the football pool basing her picks on team colors, etc. “Oh a Ram would never beat a Lion”.
That’s as good a method as any. Of course, I went to Devils Lake High School when the team was still the Satans and there were those rare times when the Satans beat the Fargo Shanley Deacons and, you know, I always felt a little conflicted about that.
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