Sixth annual ‘predictions sure to go wrong’ column
By Chad Kimberley
I have missed on so many predictions over the years that I am incredibly confident that I have no direct lineage to Nostradamus and I am glad that we do not have legalized sports gambling in Washington or my family and I would be living in a van down by the river with Matt Foley.
But I am nothing if not a stubborn wanna-be sports writer so here we go again with another round of guaranteed predictions sure to go wrong as I take a peek into my very foggy crystal ball I have to misfire on the happenings of the local, national, and even global 2014 sports scene.
Bowl season kicks off with Washington State playing in their first bowl game of the Mike Leach era and while this column won't hit newsstands until after the game has been played I am confident the Cougars will pick up a victory and finish their season with a winning record. Other bowl games of note will feature the Iowa Hawkeyes upsetting LSU (serious homer pick), Stanford beating Michigan State in the Rose Bowl and most importantly Florida State ending the SEC dominance by winning the BCS Championship.
Super Bowl XLVIII is the matchup the Pacific Northwest would love to see: the former AFC West division mates Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos facing off for the Lombardi Trophy. The Seahawks, behind a 150-yard rushing effort from Marshawn Lynch, keep Peyton Manning on the sideline, allowing Seattle to grind out a 24-20 victory.
The other sporting event that will captivate audiences in February will be the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. While the American population and climate does not get as excited about the Winter version of the Olympics, we will still manage a top-three finish on the medal table, while other colder weather countries such as Canada, Russia, Norway and Germany round out the top five with the U.S.
The busy month of February wraps up with the Central Valley grapplers taking home a top five finish at the Mat Classic.
The Madness of March begins with the Central Valley boys basketball team bettering its fourth-place finish from last season - and ends with four teams, Michigan State, Arizona, Kansas and Louisville, punching tickets to the Final Four. Sadly enough, even a deep sense of homering on my part does not allow me to advance either Iowa or Gonzaga beyond the Sweet Sixteen.
The Major League Baseball season opens up with the Seattle Mariners and their new $240 million man, Robinson Cano, sweeping the Angels and starting 3-0, while Cano homers in two of three games. This becomes the highlight for the Mariners, as the team spends the next 9 7/8 seasons lamenting the $24 million a year they are paying Cano.
On a happier note, the month of April brings a change to the seasons and the Masters tournament in Augusta. Tiger Woods breaks through for his first major win in what seems like forever and renews his chase for the fabled record of Jack Nicklaus. On a local level, I finally achieve one of my goals by playing all 45 local holes in one day and writing a column about it for the May edition of The Splash (my goal is to shoot less than 240 or, as I call it, the Cano line).
The Central Valley girls softball team takes a top four finish at the WIAA state softball tournament, while the boys soccer team attempts to match the state championship by their girls counterparts and makes a run into the state tournament.
The summer months bring about the end of the indoor sports season. The NBA wraps up as the former Seattle Supersonics, aka the Oklahoma City Thunder, win their first NBA championship over the Miami Heat. On the ice end of things, the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup with help from former Liberty Laker Tyler Johnson.
The sports world turns outdoors for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. After drawing the "group of death" in the recent draw, the U.S. chances do not look good to advance to the knockout stages. But behind the stellar play of former Seattle Sounders teammates Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey, the Americans advance to the final eight before succumbing to a soccer power. The deep run stirs the passion for soccer in the United States (which will last until the "real" football season starts a few weeks later).
On a local level, Hoopfest sets another record for attendance and teams participating, I set a personal best at the Liberty Lake Loop (although in years past I have been in the stroller and wagon divisions, so this should not be too hard), and I finally waterski!
I have discovered over the years that it is nearly impossible to predict the fall seasons in sports because so much could happen between now and then with offseason action, trades and transactions, injuries and such, but here are a few guesses.
The Seattle Sounders use Dempsey's World Cup momentum to qualify for the MLS Cup.
The Washington State Cougars football team gets ranked in the Top 25. OK, that might be too much. How about the WSU Cougars receive "votes" in the Top 25?
The Seattle Mariners and Chicago Cubs battle for No. 1 - the pick, that is, in the 2015 MLB amateur draft. (OK, Mariners fans, you will probably be a lot better than the Cubs.) As far as the true No. 1 team, the Detroit Tigers pick up a World Series championship over the Washington Nationals.
The Central Valley girls soccer team will make a return trip to the state championship game, while the football team bounces back to make playoffs and the boys and girls cross country teams finish in the top five once again.
Happy 2014 Sports Fans!
Chad Kimberley is a Liberty Lake resident. He is a teacher at Valley Christian School and is coach of the Freeman High School girls basketball team.