5 Bold Predictions in Sports for 2014
With me being the resident Sports Guy here at the station, I get asked quite often who will win or lose before games are even played. I usually base these predictions on raw talent, head-to-head matchups among the players involved, and a lot of numbers - a sports "Rainman", if you will.
When I hosted my former sports show "The Arena" many moons ago, I made one of my first bold predictions and got ripped for it before the game was even played. That game was the Michigan-Appalachian State game in 2007, where I predicted the defending 1-AA champion Mountaineers would knock off the Maize and Blue at the Big House. Sorry Wolverine fans if I brought up some bad memories.
I've still got the knack for predicting such games, but I'm testing my metal this year, as I make five bold predictions for this season. If I'm wrong, I'm fine with it. I will own up to missing on these revalations, but I hope to have the opporunity to look back and say that I got them right! Here we go!
1) An October without the Detroit Tigers
I'm willing to go out on a limb here, but there are a few reasons why I think this will hold true. I do like what GM Dave Dombrowski and his staff have done since Jim Leyland left his post, both with coaching and personnel. I think Brad Ausmus was a great hire, and keeping Jeff Jones and Gene Lamont on the staff will be crucial in helping Ausmus become a better manager in his first gig. With Jones, keeping the methods of consistancy in the pitching staff will be beneficial. This 2014 Tigers squad will be polar opposite to the last two years, manufacturing runs with speed, baserunning, and more small ball ideals. With Cabrera moving back to first base, his health will be benefit the team in the long run. The problems that I see are in middle relief, almost zero left-handed hitting, and not finding a more solid backup for Alex Avila behind the dish. Plus, with a Cabrera and a few others heading into contract years, I hope they don't push themselves too hard to overperform. Cleveland and Kansas City are much improved and could eliminate the Tigers if the AL Central gets too far out of hand.
2) The Detroit Pistons will make a run in the NBA playoffs
Once I saw what GM Joe Dumars put together for the season, I really liked the outlook on this Pistons squad. Bringing in players to fill key roles, like Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, while giving up players that could have been part of the Pistons' future, was definitely out of character for Dumars. I think the pressure was on from second-year owner Tom Gores, and going out to get solid veterans was worth the risk. As I write, the Pistons are the 7th-seed in a weak Eastern Conference. They're gelling better under Head Coach Maurice Cheeks tutilage, and they are getting 100% from every player, one through 15. I don't think an Eastern Conference final will be there, but if they end up in the middle of the conference race, I wouldn't be shocked to see them in the semifinals.
3) The Detroit Red Wings shed some age
The only good move that has happened so far for the Red Wings was their move to the Eastern Conference with realignment. The bad news is that the East is a much more physical, grind-it-out, defensive battle night in and out. The physicality has left them battered and injured, and the Olympic Break won't help the cause. At this point, the Wings would be well out of the playoffs if they were still in the West. I really think that some of the elders on the roster are slowing the team down on the ice. They're young on the blue line and aging quickly on the wings. In order to compete, they need to be more physical.
4) The Maize & Blue will be black and blue
Realignment will take place next season in the Big 10 (or 14?), and the Michigan Wolverines have yet to make any changes in the coaching department. With a more gritty Rutgers and speedy Maryland squad making their way into the conference, I don't forsee the Wolverines being able to compete in the new East Division. It almost seems like they can't stop any style of offense, and they're offense seems slow. The one high note that we could see is...Sorry, I can't find one. I sure hope the U of M brass doesn't pull the trigger too soon on the Brady Hoke regime ending, but it could happen.
5) The Spartans will play for a National Championship...in Basketball
I hope I had you going, after Mark Dantonio success with his gridiron squad. They'll be good in 2014, but not quite National Championship caliber, since they will be losing a lot on the defensive side with graduation. I'm not too worried about that. Tom Izzo's Spartans are REALLY good this year! They've got leadership at all positions, they trust each other, and they're bench is deeper than it has been in the last four years. They'll have their battles in the upcoming conference schedule, but they've been tested early in non-conference and should be ready once the Dance begins in March. I'd love to see National Title back in East Lansing, but they should at least compete for it in April.
Like them or not, I hope that you get the opportunity to make your own predictions and hold me to mine...Good luck to a wonderful sporting 2014!