Saturday, October 13, 2007

Just a little more Windex on the ol' crystal ball

Two days, two extra-inning playoff games, two big-time college football upsets, two undefeated NFL teams meeting on Sunday, and a two-point, three-overtime, 69-67 win on the blue turf for Boise State. That's one great sports weekend.

Granted, I lost my NFL picks contest and, barring one the un-retirement of Lawrence Taylor and one of the all-time great defensive performances for the Giants on Monday night, the Rural Virginia Pit Bulls are suffering their second loss of the season. So it hasn't been the ultimate sports weekend, but it'll do. It was, at the very least, enough to inspire the following bold predictions:

Arizona will become the second team in baseball history to come back from down 0-3 and beat the Rockies: Colorado is throwing rookie Franklin Morales on the mound for his 10th career start in Game 4. They lose that, and they face the last pitcher to beat them, NL Cy Young candidate Brandon Webb, in Game 5. Lose that, and they go back to Arizona for Game 6. Lose that, and they face proven big-game pitcher and former World Series MVP Livan Hernandez in Game 7.

Sure, the Rockies won for the 20th time in their last 21 games Sunday night. Before they went on this run, they were 76-72. That's a .514 winning percentage. The winningest team of all-time, the 1954 Cleveland Indians, won at a .721 clip. The winning percentage of the Rockies during their 20-of-21 streak is .952. That is absurdist baseball theater. You don't have to be Eric Byrnes to see that Colorado has been lucky. They've played well, yes, but you don't win 20 of 21 Major League games without a great deal of luck, whether you're the 1954 Indians, the 1927 Yankees, the 2001 Mariners or the 1976 Bad News Bears. And luck is fickle. Just ask the 1954 Cleveland Indians. The Giants swept them in the World Series.

The top two teams in the initial BCS Standings will play for the National Championship: That means I think those two teams, Ohio State and South Florida, will win out. The Buckeyes' biggest test will be at Penn State in two weeks, not at Michigan on Nov. 17. But they will pass them both. The Bulls have a tough month ahead, starting at Rutgers on Thursday and continuing with games at Connecticut, home to Cincinnati and at Syracuse. But they are up to the challenge. Their blowout of a Central Florida team that Texas only beat by a field goal proved they're capable of winning the rest of their games.

The Patriots will finish the regular season 16-0: This isn't exactly an unpopular sentiment, particularly after Sunday's defeat of the previously unbeaten Cowboys in Dallas. But it is nonetheless a stretch to think anyone in the free-agent, 16-game season era can go unbeaten when only one team, in a 14-game season will no free agency, was able to do it. But the Patriots are simply the greatest team in the history of football. Never has there been a collection of talent so focused and so well-coached. A motivated team on a run could jump up and knock them off in the postseason, but I don't see anyone, even the Colts, on their regular season schedule that will be able to beat them.

Al Gore will enter the Democratic presidential race: Let's depart from sports for this bombshell I've seen coming for several months now. I was mentioning to friends back in the summer that I thought Gore would wait until Hillary looked almost invinceable and jump in, creating a compelling, down-to-the-wire horse race for the nomination. Now, it's closer to happening, as Hillary has opened up a lead in fundraising as well as in the polls, and a Draft Gore movement has taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times. He knows, as plenty of other rational thinkers do, the one Democrat the Republicans are capable of beating in 2008 is Hillary. He knows, as plenty of other rational thinkers do, that he won in 2000, and no one disputes that he won the popular vote. He knows, as plenty of other rational thinkers do, it would be a drain and largely a waste of time for him to campaign for two years before a presidential election. He's done more good for his campaign doing Nobel Peace Prize-winning work than shaking hands in Iowa and New Hampshire. The people know who he is. The people know what he can do. And, given the chance, the people will put him in the White House.

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