by Rob Joyce
Hot takes are an increasingly prevalent norm in the sports world these days. Your team either is winning the championship or is awful, that All-Star is actually 100 percent overrated and that coach has no clue what he’s doing, ever. Most of these are nonsense spewed for ratings, but when a bold stance comes to fruition, it stands out.
Thus was the case after Game 7 of the World Series, when the Astros upended the Dodgers to win their first-ever championship. It made Sports Illustrated writer Ben Reiter look awfully good after his 2014 cover story predicted the Astros – then the worst team in baseball – would win the 2017 World Series. Better yet, George Springer was on the cover of that issue three years ago, and he went on to win World Series MVP.
Most bold predictions don’t come true, and no one goes on to remember such claims, but here are five along the lines of Reiter that were in fact fulfilled:
Whether it happened is almost irrelevant 85 years later, because the legend is going to live on forever. In Game 3 of the 1932 World Series the Sultan of Swat came to bat in the fifth inning with the score tied 4-4. With the count at 2-2 history states that Ruth pointed to the centerfield bleachers. The very next pitch, the ball was sent to over the wall in center – the Babe’s “called shot”.
Hey! A mention of Kaepernick that has nothing to do with protests, collusion claims, or anything of the sort! In fourth grade the quarterback wrote a letter to himself in which he predicted he would grow to be 6-foot-4 and play in the NFL for either the Packers or 49ers. Lo and behold, the 6-foot-4 Kaepernick would be drafted by San Francisco and lead them to Super Bowl XLVII, where they came within five yards of winning.
Guaranteeing a win a day or week in advance isn’t overly prophetic, as any number of things can happen in a one-game setting. Still, no one took Joe Namath’s words at face value prior to Super Bowl III when he predicted “We’re going to win the game, I guarantee it.” After all, the Baltimore Colts went 13-1 in the NFL, considered the far superior league to the Jets’ AFL. Alas, the 18-point underdogs not only won the game, they dominated throughout, shutting out the Colts for the first 57 minutes of the game before a late touchdown spoiled the shutout in a 16-7 New York win. It remains one of the most famous guarantees in sports history.
Okay, he was a year off, but it’s close enough. In the 1989 movie “Back to the Future Part II” Michael J. Fox’s famous character time travels to 2015. Sure there aren’t flying cars yet, but in many minds the most ridiculous prediction was that McFly traveled to a time when the Chicago Cubs were World Series champions. After all, 81 years in it seemed like there would never be a championship on the North Side – why would that end in 26 years later?
Though the 2015 season ended for the Cubbies in the NLCS, they did end their 108-year drought with their classic extra-innings Game 7 win over the Indians.
He’s called “The Greatest” for a reason, after all. On multiple occasions the legend would not only predict a win, but he’d nail down exactly which round in which his victory would come. First it was an eight-round bout with Archie Moore, who “must fall in four” according to then-Cassius Clay. Moore lost in four rounds. Then it was Henry Cooper, who “will go in five” and indeed lost in the fifth round. It was stated in his autobiography that he predicted the exact round he’d win a dozen times.