Spring training starts this week for the Los Angeles Angels and many other big league baseball teams. Simultaneous with that are the various predictions, guesses, hunches and odds that accompany a new season.
The first thing to remember about them is they are applesauce, hogwash and other two-syllable bunches of folly. Not only is it impossible to predict how a sports team will perform under the pressure of a zillion variables, but it also rests – usually – on a fundamentally flawed premise. Most predictions assume that a team and its players will perform more or less the same way they did in the previous season or seasons.
That’s just poodle-ranching. Players and teams rise and fall as age, injuries, luck, weather and a whole lot of other factors make their influences. It’s a rare player or team that does as well – or poorly – as it did the last season. Look at the Chicago Cubs, for crying out loud. They finished third in the AL Central in 2015, and won the World Series in 2016.
Or the Angels. They won 78 games in 2013, then 98 the next year. And then fell to 85 wins the following year and 74 in 2016.
But there is something seductive about the idea of sports predictions. They’re like those toy Magic Eight-balls you had as a kid. You knew they were bogus, but couldn’t help but look at the result anyway.
In that spirit, here are some prognostications.
- USA Today: Angels finish fourth (again) in the AL West with 74 wins (again). Dodgers win the NL West (again) with 92 wins. Division champs will be Boston in the AL East, Cleveland in the AL Central and Houston in the AL West; Washington in the NL East and the Cubs in the NL Central. With the exception of the AL West, those are the same teams who won in 2016.
- Odds from Bovada.lv to win the World Series: Cubs at 7-2, Red Sox at 9-1, Dodgers at 9-1, Nationals at 12-1 and Indians at 12-1. The Angels are ranked 20th at 50-1 odds.
- Fox Sports: Division winners are the Nationals, Cubs and Giants in the NL and the Red Sox, Indians and Astros in the AL. Wild cards will be the Dodgers, Arizona, Detroit and – big surprise! – the Angels. World Series champs? The Washington Nationals. You’ve come a long way, baby, from Montreal.
We’ll be revisiting success of these cracked crystal balls later in 2017. In the meantime, if you must bet, bet on something more predictable, like which city the Raiders will end up in.
FEBRUARY FRENZY may not have the same panache as March Madness, but it’s our name for the high school basketball post-season season, but it will have to do for now. On our local scene, the teams that look poised to have to best shot to run the table are Edison in boys’ Division 1-AA, and Orangewood Academy in girls’ Open Division.
The most interesting team to watch, though, may end up being the Huntington Beach High girls’ team. The Oilers (19-7 overall and the Sunset League co-champs) have a standout player in senior forward Frankie Wade-Sanchez who is averaging 21.38 points a game. HBHS is hot, having won 10 straight and has a first-round bye in Division 1-A. They and she could go far.
A HUMBLE SUGGESTION: Love what the Garden Grove school system is doing with massive upgrades to athletic facilities, including new football stadiums at Garden Grove and Bolsa Grande.
But early artist’s renderings of the Michael Monsoor Stadium at Grove have Argonaut symbols and colors and names all over the place. That’s to be expected, but it should be pointed out that although the facility is located on the GGHS campus and is the home field for the Argonauts, other schools use it as their gridiron domicile, too. On a regular basis, what used to be also called Jason Field is home also to Santiago and Los Amigos. When the schedule requires it, Rancho Alamitos and Pacifica have also hosted games there.
At Fred Kelly Stadium on the El Modena High campus, that facility – the lone football bowl for Orange, El Mo and Canyon high schools – displays the logos and colors of all three host schools, not just those for the Vanguards.
Just something to consider now that demolition and reconstruction are underway over there on Stanford Avenue.
Pete Zarustica is the author of Monday Morning Coach.