“The Yankees will bash their way to the AL pennant. In the end, Washington will prevail, thanks to its stars – and, yes, a little luck.” – Sports Illustrated, 2018 MLB Preview
Sports Illustrated’s pre-season World Series picks have been amazingly consistent:
2017 – Dodgers (wrong). 2016 – Astros (wrong). 2015 – Indians (wrong). 2014 – Nationals (wrong). 2013 – Nationals (still wrong). 2012 – Angels (wrong). 2011 – Red Sox (wrong). 2010 – (I’ve lost interest).
Sports Illustrated has never correctly predicted the World Series winner in its annual MLB Preview. Well, maybe they have. I don’t know. I got bored around 2010.
All I DO know is that my team of experts – first gathered in 2015 – has never been right and during that same period neither has Sports Illustrated. To be fair, my panel has also included cats and, in 2016, a one-eyed possum and a crow.
(You gotta give SI credit … totally burned by the Nationals in 2013 and ’14, and they’re picking them again this year. Like Selena Gomez who can’t kick Justin Bieber to the curb, they’ve been screwed over – time and again – but SI just can’t quit the Nats. )
My experts can already tell you, SI will be wrong.
My crackerjack panel of experts – which includes people who don’t even like baseball – will probably be wrong, too.
But, my panel has another incentive: If their team actually wins their division – just their division, that’s all I ask – I will bake cookies for them.
It happened last season.
Here’s Victoria, now 4, enjoying her cookies. (She correctly picked the Indians to win the AL Central.) (Yes, I baked cookies and brownies. I’m swell.)
Opening Day is Thursday. The earliest Opening Day ever. Because baseball is more fun when it’s 30 degrees and there’s snow on the ground.
No time to waste. Let’s get this World Series over with.
NL East: Gerilee Picks The Nationals
Gerilee works at the Arts Center of Orange in Orange, Virginia. She’s from Chicago – Northside, a Cub’s fan. To avoid a conflict of interest, I tasked her with the NL East.
What makes Gerilee a baseball expert?
Her mother once lived in a condo a block and a half from Wrigley.
She went to Indiana University, but she can’t stand Bobby Knight. She has seen Michael Jordan play basketball.
And, what she never told me, but I discovered purely by accident … she was an editor who worked on this book:
Curveball, the story of Toni Stone, the first woman to play in the Negro Leagues
Why The Nationals?
Gerilee mentioned that she’s getting married in two weeks. To Kevin. A Nats fan.
(And, while I have you here, Gerilee and Kevin would like you to know that they live in the only house on Orange’s Main Street that still has its Christmas lights on. Oh, and one more thing. Stop blocking their driveway when you park, would’ya?)
NL Central: Issac Picks The Reds
Isaac is 8 years old. I met him at Yoder’s, a little grocery in our town that has a farmyard along the side where children congregate and feed the goats, and peacocks, and geese. If you don’t have a grocery in your town that has a farmyard along its side with goats, peacocks, and geese … you need to move.
Isaac was far more interested in the geese than me. Fair enough.
What makes Issac a baseball expert?
Issac plays softball and, he said, it’s his favorite sport.
Then he paused, took a breath, and fessed up. “Football. I like football more.”
Why The Reds?
“Red is my favorite color.”
NL West: Colleen Picks The Dodgers
I’ve known Colleen for a long time. When I asked her to be on my panel she tried to wriggle out, but then let me come over and pester her at work. That’s a good friend.
What makes Colleen a baseball expert?
Colleen goes to baseball games occasionally, but she goes to Virginia basketball games always. This year she filled out her first NCAA bracket and posted it on her office door. She is still sad that Virginia lost in the first round.
Why The Dodgers?
Colleen once worked with someone who was a Dodger’s fan. When she asked how a guy from Virginia ended up a Dodger’s fan, he replied, “My uncle loved the Dodgers and so I love them.” Colleen thought that response was so sweet, she was delighted to choose the Dodgers in honor of someone else’s uncle. And, that’s sweet, too.
AL East: Caitlyn Picks The Rays
Caitlyn works at the local car dealership. She has helped put my Subaru back together again countless times. She is always friendly, will fetch your car for you when it’s raining, and would be pleased that I tell you that she is funny. When I showed up past closing time on a Friday to ask her to be on my panel this conversation happened:
“I’m working on a blog post. Caitlyn, will you be on my …”
“I’ll do it!”
What makes Caitlyn a baseball expert?
“Caitlyn, can you name anyone on the Rays?”
“Do you know who won the World Series last year?”
Why The Rays?
Come to find out, Caitlyn grew up in Tampa. She shrieked – seriously, shrieked – with delight when I handed her the AL East. “Tampa is my motherland!”
Caitlyn has actually gone to Rays games at Tropicana Field, their indoor ballpark. She’s one of the few. Of baseball’s 30 teams, Tampa has ranked last in fan attendance for the past six seasons.
(Wait ‘til Caitlyn finds out that most baseball is played outside!)
“I’m not a sports fan, but I love the atmosphere of live sports. And, tight pants. I like players in tight pants.”
AL Central: Eli Picks The Indians
Every panel needs a ringer and Eli is mine. He’s the Milwaukee-livin’, baseball-playin’ 12-year-old son of Wendy, author of the excellent blog Greater Than Gravity. (Go ahead, click and see for yourself. I’ll wait.)
“Eli’s the nicest, goofiest kid you’ll meet,” Wendy says, adding, “He also has had two two-home run games.”
What makes Eli a baseball expert?
He plays baseball.
Why The Indians?
“Oh, the Indians easily! They have good pitching, great defensive players, and yeah, they run the division. The Twins will be close behind them though. White Sox got nothin’ and the Royals dealt all their stars away.”
It wasn’t until after I got Eli’s pick that I discovered him in this photo on his mom’s blog …
… wearing an Indians cap.
My ringer is the ringerliest.
AL West: Ed Picks The Angels
Last Friday, Ed Clark, co-founder and President of the Wildlife Center of Virginia, wrangled a bald eagle, carried it out into a field, and set it free.
Did you do that on Friday? I didn’t think so.
The Wildlife Center of Virginia is a veterinary hospital for native wildlife. They cared for some 2,700 wild animals last year – from bears and eagles, to frogs and chipmunks. Releasing this bald eagle back to the wild was just business as usual for the Wildlife Center.
What makes Ed a baseball expert?
When you know someone who is an expert on his own things – like Ed is on issues of wildlife and conservation – it’s important to find out if they will out-expert you on things you know about. Let’s see.
“Ed, do you know who won the World Series last year?”
“Not a clue.”
Ed played baseball his senior year in high school. He joined the team only because basketball season had already ended. That was the beginning – and end – of Ed’s baseball experience.
Reliever Drew Storen, most recently with the Reds, once bought a rare and very expensive bottle of bourbon as part of a fundraiser benefiting the Wildlife Center. Ed didn’t know who Storen was, but he knew the expensive bottle of bourbon Storen bought was very, very good.
Ed knows a lot about very, very good bourbon. (I don’t even know exactly what bourbon is, but I’m pretty sure that a few shots of it will make you an expert on anything.)
Why The Angels?
“Heaven is going to help them.”
(Also going to help them: Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and, eventually, UVA’s Matt Thaiss – three Angels that Ed has never heard of.)
SIRI & GOOGLE ASSISTANT CHOOSE THE WILD CARDS
I would have asked the Russian bot that hijacked my Instagram account last week to pick a team, but screw him.
Instead, Siri and Google Assistant, the know-it-all “helpers” on iPhones and Androids, were asked to choose the Wild Cards from the 12 leftover teams in each league.
I had two requests …
1) Answer the question: “Do you like baseball?” and
2) Choose a random number between 1 and 12.
My friend Debbie’s iPhone set to work on the NL.
Siri, do you like baseball?
So who did the smart ass, hipster baseball hater choose?
Hey, Google Assistant! You’ve got the AL.
OK … shhh. That’s enough, Google Assistant.
Baseball-loving Google Assistant, pick a number …
The World Series: “The Nice Mountain Place” vs “The Never Winner”
My incredible panel of experts provided the post-season teams — the Nationals, Reds, Dodgers, and Rockies in the NL … and … the Rays, Indians, Angels, and Red Sox in the AL. Now, I asked a few people in each of my Yoga classes to take those teams and choose the two that will play in the World Series.
4:30 p.m Yoga Class Picks The NL “Nice Place”
Everyone agreed: “It’s a nice place.” “It has mountains.”
6:00 p.m. Yoga Class Picks The AL “Never Winner”
Tampa Bay has never won a World Series. “Let the Rays win!”
Mookie Picks The Winn-ah
Mookie the cat was named for Mookie Wilson and Mookie Betts, so it’s no wonder that our other cats leave the baseball picking to him. (Also, Mookie likes to eat paper.)
So then I tossed the names on the bed.
A sniff, but no luck.
(Helpful Hint: Need your cat to pick a winner? Hide your papers in a tin of sardines.)
I was just about to give up. When …
… Mookie pounced.
Nats over Yankees? Sorry, Sports Illustrated, not even close. Even my cat knows neither team will be in the World Series. It’s the Rockies-Rays this year.
And, Mookie is certain.
The Colorado Rockies will win it all.
(Sorry about the chew marks.)