Some fearless predictions for the world of sports in 2014
By SCOTT PITONIAK - 1/3/2014
'Tis the season to make predictions for the coming year. So in honor of that slovenly, disheveled patron saint of sportswriters--Oscar Madison of "The Odd Couple" sit-com fame--I've put on a ratty old sweatshirt and buffed up my crystal baseball, football, basketball, golf ball and hockey puck to get a clearer vision of what's in store for the world of sports in 2014.
Be forewarned that my tongue has been planted firmly in my cheek for the majority of these prognostications. And do not--I repeat, do not--wager any of your hard-earned money on Nostra-Scott's feeble attempts at clairvoyance. Otherwise, you could wind up becoming fiscally unfit.
Without further ado, here's what I see:
Thanks to a monster nor'easter, the Super Bowl is postponed two days and is played for the first time on a Tuesday evening. With the stands half full at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the Seattle Seahawks pick off Peyton Manning three times and beat the Denver Broncos, 30-20. It's so cold that Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson's lips get stuck to the frozen Lombardi Trophy when he kisses it during the postgame celebration.
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Craig Biggio are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. They join classmates Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa at the induction ceremony in July as the museum celebrates its 75th anniversary in front of 50,000 spectators.
Oak Hill Country Club announces it will be hosting the 2023 PGA. To make the course more challenging, rows of new oak trees will be planted on the fringes of each of the East Course's fairways.
An arbitrator reduces Alex Rodriguez's performance-enhancing drug suspension to 100 games. To make up for the lost revenue, an incensed A-Fraud says he will be selling limited-edition autographed baseballs with inscriptions such as "I dated Cameron Diaz" and "Jose Canseco for Commissioner." He also challenges commissioner Bud Selig, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and the entire Steinbrenner family to a pay-per-view, no-holds-barred mixed martial arts free-for-all match.
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller avenges his 2010 Olympic defeat by Team Canada, blocking Sidney Crosby in a shootout and preserving a 1-0 USA victory at the Winter Games in Sochi. Shortly after Miller receives his gold medal, the Sabres trade him for several high draft picks.
Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis sinks two free throws with no time remaining to give Syracuse a 74-73 victory over Ohio State in the NCAA championship game. Orange coach Jim Boeheim blows a gasket when a reporter opens the postgame news conference by asking the 69-year-old basketball legend if he is going to retire. Ennis declares for the NBA draft the next day.
Jason McElwain, the autistic basketball star known to the world as J-Mac, adds to his Forrest Gump legacy by winning the Boston Marathon. President Barack Obama calls to congratulate him, and Hollywood studios intensify movie negotiations.
Ralph Wilson has a change of heart and sells the Bills to a consortium headed by billionaires Tom Golisano and Terry Pegula for $650 million. The new owners rename the Ralph "T&T Stadium" and vow to keep the Bills in Western New York forever.
After his Miami Heat three-peat, LeBron James announces: "I will be taking my talents back to the Cleveland Cavaliers," the hometown hoops team he once scorned.
Derek Jeter smacks a game-winning grand slam but reinjures his ankle rounding the bases and announces his retirement in a tearful news conference at Yankee Stadium. The Bronx Bombers schedule "Derek Jeter Day" and retire the shortstop's No. 2 jersey.
Abby Wambach scores three goals and assists on two more as the Western New York Flash win the National Women's Soccer League championship. Abby then tells reporters she has signed a five-game contract to play men's indoor soccer with the Rochester Lancers.
Tiger Woods finally ends his major drought by winning the 2014 Masters. He then reveals that he and ski champion Lindsey Vonn were secretly married after the Olympics.
Paula Creamer wins the Wegmans LPGA at Monroe Golf Club. A lover of the color pink, Creamer is deluged with hundreds of stuffed Pink Panthers from adoring fans.
Sent down by the Twins on a rehab assignment, Chris Colabello smacks a game-winning double in the bottom of the ninth at Frontier Field as the Rochester Red Wings win their first Governors' Cup in 17 seasons. The fans pour onto the field, hoist Colabello on their shoulders and take him on a victory lap around the ballpark.
Diana Nyad swims from Rochester to Toronto and back in the same day. "It was fun not having to deal with jellyfish and salt water," she tells reporters upon her return. For her next marathon feat, Nyad says, she will swim the entire length of the Erie Canal.
EJ Manuel stays in one piece and the Bills put an end to their famine by making the playoffs for the first time since the Clinton administration. (That's Bill Clinton, not DeWitt Clinton, though it has felt like a century or so since Buffalo made the playoffs.)
Evoking memories of Bill Mazeroski, Andrew McCutheon crushes a Game Seven, bottom-of-the-ninth home run as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers to claim their first World Series title since 1979.
Owners and players throughout the sports world agree to pay cuts and reduced profits so they can offer tens of thousands of free and deeply discounted tickets to fans. (And if you believe that one, I have some land smack-dab in the middle of Lake Ontario that might be of interest.)
Award-winning columnist and best-selling author Scott Pitoniak's 16th book, a collaboration with rock 'n' roll legend Lou Gramm titled "Juke Box Hero," is available at amazon.com and in bookstores. He provides analysis following Bills games on WROC-TV and is a correspondent for USA Today SportsWeekly. 1/3/14 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.