Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Red Sox, Ellsbury making me look smart

Back in 1979, when I was 16, writing sports for the White Buffalo high school newspaper, I predicted in September that the Pittsburgh Steelers would win another Super Bowl that season, beating (from out of nowhere) the L.A. Rams.

Come Jan. 20, 1980, the Steelers did beat Vince Ferragamo and the Rams 31-19. Truth be known, come game time, I’d forgotten I’d made the prediction until another MHS student, a rabid Rams fan and future Hollywood actor Dan Gauthier, told me so.

I knew if I kept writing columns and making predictions, I’d eventually get another one right. It took 34 years, but it’s happened.

Back in April, just after the Boston Marathon tragedy, I wrote about the big year facing another MHS grad: Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. He and his team had come off a forgettable 2012 season, and this 2013 season was the final one under Ellsbury’s current contract. He’d be a free agent at the season’s end: a great year and he could be looking at a $100 million contract; a poor year and he’d probably have to settle for something like the mere $9 million per year he works for now.

At the time of the April 24 column, a few weeks into the six-month season, the Sox had a slim two-game lead in the American League East. I noted that ESPN had collected about 32 baseball experts and had them all pick the division winners. None, not one, had picked the Sox.

Hogwash, I thought, pulling on that ol’ prognosticator’s hat. Compiling all the insight that a casual fan could gather in a couple minutes on MLB.com, I came out spouting how the new role players brought in would meld with the core players (like Ellsbury) who are entering their late-20s primes, all that plus the new manager, would lead to a magical comeback year.

I predicted back on April 24 that the Sox would win the AL East — which they did. Take that, Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian. Blue Jays, Smoojays.

In April, most experts thought the Red Sox would be well out of the hunt and would trade Ellsbury by the July 31 trading deadline, to get value before allowing him to walk away and sign with another team at seasons’ end. I called hogwash on that as well. I figured the Sox would be at or near first place all summer, and that no way would they trade one of their key players as a salary drop if a division title was clearly within reach.

And I predicted Ells would have a great year individually and put the pressure on the Sox come contract time. I said he’d lead the league in steals (check), be top 5 in triples (he was third), have 15 to 20 homers (just nine, but who cares?) and would hit .330. He hit .298, but it was the 14th highest in the league. I’d give that run of predictions a solid B, wouldn’t you?

After predicting the Sox would win the East Division, I went on to note that, if hot, they’d win the World Series. The Sox are hot, winning the last four of five from an excellent Detroit team to make the Series. Boston could very well sweep the Cards — that would be 12 World Series games won in a row for the Sox going back to ’04 and ’07 — but my pick is Boston in six.

As for where Ellsbury will play next year, and for what ... That’s a tough one. Back in April, I predicted that he’d sign for $80 to $100 million over five years. That’s probably light. A rumor had the Seattle Mariners contemplating a seven year, $140 million offer for Ellsbury. Goodness.

Being a Red Sox fan since the days Yaz was my favorite player instead of Ells, I hope he re-signs with the Sox. But, if I had to bet my life (and based on my history gambling, thankfully I don’t) I’d bet he’s in a different uniform next spring. I think he’ll get better offers from other organizations. I hope my Red Sox surprise me.

Making sports predictions is fun for, well, me. Watching Ells and the Sox is fun for me and millions of others. To all us here in White Buffalo country — and Ellsbury fans throughout Oregon — enjoy the World Series.

Care to predict who’ll win the MVP?




Local Weather

Fair

65°F

Madras

Fair

Humidity: 61%

Wind: 9 mph

  • 19 Aug 2014

    Clear 85°F 54°F

  • 20 Aug 2014

    Sunny 81°F 46°F