Am I the only one who remembers that old skit from Late Night with Conan O’Brien called “In the Year 2000?” They dropped the house lights and a band member held a flashlight under his face while repeadtedly singing the titular words in an odd falsetto. After each refrain, O’Brien and Andy Richter would make humorously far-fetched predictions for the future.
They refused to change the name of the bit even after the calendar passed to 2000 and beyond, which only added to the B-movie sci-fi schtick they were going for. In keeping with that tradition, I set about putting forth 10 bold predictions for the Cubs in 2014. This was back in September of 2013, just after the season had ended, so the dated nature of some of the statements below is clearly evident.
But I had said from the start that I was going to hold myself accountable to what I had written at that time, and I’m a man of my word. I have to be honest with you though: after looking over these predictions again, I think I’d rather be a little less scrupulous.
They don’t call ’em bold for nothing, and some of the following prognostications were certainly out there. And like Javier Baez in a two-strike count, I swung and missed several times. If you’re ready for a few point-and-laugh moments, read further and see for yourself.
The Cubs will win 85 games (Wrong, 0-1)
Admittedly, this was a pipe dream from the start. In truth, 73 wins wasn’t all that bad given the team we were subjected to for much of last season. I might have to recycle this one for next year.
Dale Sveum will be replaced as manager (Right, 1-1)
The original CI post was partially culled from predictions I had made in a Yahoo post prior to Sveum’s firing, so this one was determined a long time ago. While it doesn’t seem like a stretch now, this wasn’t a slam dunk at the time I projected it.
Starlin Castro will bat .300 (Push, 1-1-1)
Castro actually ended leading the team with a .292 average but missed the last 23 games after suffering an ankle injury on an awkward slide. But had he played the season out, I believe he’d have finished 32-92 to add the required 8 points to the total. For that reason, I’m going to consider this a push.
Is that a stretch? Absolutely. But I’m writing this, so I make the rules. Besides, I need all the help I can get here.
Javier Baez will win Rookie of the Year (Wrong, 1-2-1)
Had the season consisted only of Javy’s opening series in Colorado, I’d have been looking really good here. However, the aforementioned tendency to swing and miss proved deadly and Baez quickly became a victim of the extensive book major league pitchers already had on him.
Scott Baker and Daniel Bard will be solid members of the bullpen (Wrong, 1-3-1)
Anyone else hear a toilet flushing?
Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood will combine for 35 wins (Wrong, 1-4-1)
Huh. Yeah. Well, I would have been better off if I’d have added Jake Arrieta (10), Kyle Hendricks (7), Felix Doubront (2) and Blake Parker (1) to the total. Combined with Shark (7) and Wood (8), I’d have been right on the nose.
The Cubs will stand pat at the trading deadline (Right, 2-4-1)
I was close on this one, as the big Shark/Jason Hammel trade went down in early July. But then the Cubs went and dealt Emilio Bonifacio and James Russel to the Braves for Victor Caratini on July 31st. But since I didn’t specify that it had to be the non-waiver deadline, I’m counting this as correct.
Wrigley purists will enjoy the video board (Push, 2-4-2)
As with seemingly everything else in the sprawling business plan, this addition is behind schedule. Due to the semantics of the sentence though, this will likely never be true. Purists are, by nature, resistant to change and may never accept something they feel will ruin Wrigley’s ambiance.
If they wanted to watch a giant TV, they reason, they’d just stay home with their big-screen set. And if they wanted something to blare distracting rock music, they’d just go for a drive with their teenaged kid or grandchild. Never mind that these are myopic and jaded opinions, they’re going to be held steadfastly.
At the same time, the lack of a jumbotron means that there’s nothing to lament. Therefore, I earn a moral victory.
Anthony Rizzo will be an All-Star (Right, 3-4-2)
Heyo! I’m actually looking okay at this point. It’s easy now to look back and Rizzo’s season and see that he was one of the best first basemen in the majors, but this prediction was at least a little bold when I made it. Rizzo was coming off of a pretty blah 2013 and wasn’t a lock for stardom.
What a difference a year makes, huh? After causing many to regret the trade of Andrew Cashner, Rizzo quickly became the unquestioned leader of this young Cubs team. All-Star berths are somewhat overrated, but in this case it was very much deserved and served as a sign of things to come.
The Cubs will win both the first and last games of the season (Wrong, 3-5-2)
This one’s a bit of a cop-out, I know. But when I first drafted this up over a year ago and was about ready to submit for publishing, I realized that I only had 9 predictions. Struggling for ideas after having squeezed so many from my limited brain already, this was all I could come up with. Only took one game for it to fall flat.
If you just look at the overall record, it would appear that I didn’t do all that bad. But my hits were little bleeders and my outs prodigious, making the result look worse in reality that it was on paper. Oh well, I had fun writing it up the first time and revisiting it a couple times since.
I’m sure you’re all going to be sitting on pins and needles waiting for my 2015 predictions, so I’ll try not to make you wait too long.