I’d like to start this week’s column by congratulating the Houston Astros on winning their first World Series championship. They had a terrific season and put up some of the most amazing offensive numbers of all time.
I’d also like to congratulate myself for correctly picking the World Series matchup.
On the first episode of the podcast on April 1, I chose the Boston Red Sox as my 2017 World Series champions. When the Houston Astros traded for Justin Verlander at the August trade deadline, though, I tweeted this out:
I knew the Astros had a good team, but adding Verlander all but sealed the deal in my book. There was no way this team was not going to win the Fall Classic.
After picking six of the seven playoff matchups correctly (including calling that the World Series would go seven games), I feel I’m qualified to give advice on making predictions. So it is with great pleasure that I give you The Art of Predictions.
1. Be Bold: In reality, no one ever really knows what will happen, so it doesn’t hurt to make a bold pick. Hey, if you’re a major publication like Sports Illustrated, you might even pick a team that just went 51-111 to win three years from now. Why not?
2. Change It Up: I’ll be honest, at the beginning of the season I didn’t even think the Astros would win their division. I picked the Rangers to win the AL West (yes I know, that was a dumb pick). But once they traded for Verlander, I couldn’t ignore the ‘Stros. So don’t be afraid to change your picks when something major happens.
3. Follow Trends: When making a prediction, keep recent trends and momentum in mind. For example, home teams are 20-22 (now 20-23) in World Series Game Sevens, so it was likely the Dodgers would lose this series once it went to Game Seven. On a recent episode of the Start Jumping podcast at Virginia Tech, Trey Lyle and I predicted Iowa State to beat TCU, citing their recent string of upsets over ranked teams. Trends are usually helpful when it comes to predictions. However...
4. Beware the Unpredictable: Although trends are helpful, anything can happen, especially in baseball. Five of the last seven World Series Game Sevens have been won by the National League club, but this year's was different, so it was smart to go against the trend. It's important to keep in mind the unpredictable nature of sports, and once they get into the playoffs, the unpredictability is multiplied tenfold. *cough* March Madness *cough*
And, if all else fails...
5. Be Random: I'm in a weekly NFL pick 'em league with my friends and family, and somehow I'm beating my roommate, who is a football fanatic. I have little actual football knowledge, but I have a 50/50 shot at getting each game right. So if it comes down to it, flip a coin and you should be just fine.
I'm not guaranteeing anything, but by following these tips, you can make the Vegas sportsbooks bankrupt in no time. You may even end up like this lucky guy.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find something to do until next baseball season starts.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.