The Tigers are good on paper, the Giants are on a hot streak—what's a prognosticating fan to do?
Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation, Patrick Hruby (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic), and Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic) discuss what to expect going into the second night of the San Francisco-Detroit World Series.
In college basketball, March is supposedly mad; in the NFL, it lately seems like the silver Super Bowl trophy goes not to the best team, but rather the hottest. (Either way, that's two reasons the Dallas Cowboys haven't won squat since Jerry Jones was sporting his original face. But I digress). For sheer postseason wackiness, though, no sport tops Major League Baseball.
It's funny: Baseball has the longest regular season, which means bigger sample sizes, and the most easily-to-isolate-and-quantify player actions, which means better statistics. As the sabermetric revolution has taught us, the sport is fairly predictable. At least compared to Italian earthquakes. Until you get to the playoffs. Where, as everyone who has read Moneyball knows, Billy Beane's shit doesn't work.
Granted, all of us can rest assured that when October rolls around, Alex Rodriguez will vanish. But raise your hands: How many of you thought Luis Gonzalez would hit a broken bat blooper off Mariano "Hammer of God? I am God" Rivera to win the 2001 World Series? How many of you figured dial-up-modem-slow Sid Bream would somehow beat out a Barry Bonds throw to win the 1992 NLCS? Tell me, young Jedis, did anyone forsee the St. Louis Cardinals sneaking into last year's playoffs on the very last day of the regular season, and then winning it all? Did anyone picture the Washington Nationals blowing a six-run Game 5 lead to lose to the Cardinals this year, or the Cardinals blowing a 3-1 series lead to fall to the Giants? Did anyone expect Sandoval to hit three home runs off Verlander last night? Did Sandoval?
With all of the above in mind, here are my predictions for Game 2 and the rest of the World Series: Donald Trump will reveal Prince Fielder's Little League stat sheets on Twitter. Buster Olney will win a game while pinch-hitting for Buster Posey. And Verlander will sulk over his Game 1 loss exactly until the moment he realizes he's still dating Kate Upton. (Actually, that one is probably accurate). In other words, I have no predictions. And I think that's wise, given that of 58 combined ESPN and Sports Illustrated pundits who predicted World Series match-ups at the start of the season, a minuscule 58 got the eventual Giants-Tigers pairing wrong. Which, it should be noted, is statistically worse than random.
Fellas, I appreciate your best efforts. But here's a tip: sportswriters prognosticate. Baseball laughs.