November 15, 2018
What does it take to become a champion?
Perhaps you heard about the New York State Lottery winner who finally won after playing the same numbers for over 25 years.
Persistence? Determination? Conviction? Dumb Luck? All of the above?
Every year I raise this question as we prepare to crown another winner in our MLB prediction competition and in the process bring new clarity to the meaning of the word “expert.”
However you define the process, or however you go about making your own picks, the end result is that a win is a win. And most importantly, to the victor goes the spoils.
The 2018 B.A.B.E.S. champion does NOT win $343 million, but he also didn’t have to persist for 25 years. He just had to hit the “renew” button on his B.A.B.E.S. predictions from 2017. That’s right, Gus Pompa is the 2018 B.A.B.E.S. winner with his 2017 picks. You can call him a man ahead of his time, or just call him lucky, but either way he is still the 11th winner of the James L. Walker Award.
Gus’ 45 winning points were built on the strong foundation of picking both pennant winners – LAD and BOS – as well as correctly predicting that BOS would capture its 4th World Series title in 14 years. (Of course, it actually happened in 15 years, but whose counting?) He also correctly predicted that Mookie Betts would win the AL batting title. Adding these big picks to just a few other team selections, Gus amassed 45 points, and he needed everyone of them.
First year B.A.B.E.S. member Chip Babcock finished second with 44 points – a very strong showing for a rookie. He aced the AL with 33 out of a possible 36 points. However, as a life-long Red Sox fan, he must have been ignoring the NL because his picks only scored 4 points there – highlighted (or low-lighted) by a prediction that SFO would win the pennant.
Well, Chip, the Giants only won 73 games, and as you know, I commented back in March that this pick might come back to haunt you. But who am I to second guess? You still more than doubled my point total (44/20).
Fortunately for both of us, there is always next year. And in case you and everyone else are already starting to think about how to revise your picks, remember that it might just be best to stay the course. Just ask Gus, or the New York State lottery winner.
October 22, 2018
A Century in the making, but really not a surprise?
Can something occur for the first time in over 100 years and still not be surprising? I think that is the case with the 2018 World Series. LAD and BOS may not have met in the Series since 1916, when the Dodgers were called the Robins, but neither team’s appearance in this year’s Fall Classic is shocking or even surprising. I think they are the best teams in their respective league (as much as I hate to admit that about my Astros). In fact, I could argue that every single post-season series (including the Wild Card games), was won by the better team.
You might argue about COL beating CHI, but frankly the Cubs weren’t very good the last month of the season and COL was very good. So certainly when they played the Wild Card game COL was recognizably better. Every other series went as most expected, although few saw the Astros falling in five games. I will talk more about the Astros loss in the off-season. For now, I am focusing on what should be an excellent contest for the 2018 Commissioner’s Trophy, as well as a very tight race for the 2018 James L. Walker Award.
By my estimation, there are at least nine of you still in the running depending on who wins the Series, with David Sanders (LAD) and Chip Babcock (BOS) leading the way. Of course with multiple members picking either BOS or LAD to win it all, the winner of the Rocky will likely once again come down to the individual awards. Updated standings can be viewed on the MLB-2018 page. As always, please check my math.
Stay tuned and enjoy the Show. No matter how predictable the match-up is this year, it may not come around again for another 100 years.
October 2, 2018
And then there were 10. Or 13? or?
So we know who the ten MLB post-season contestants are, and they are mostly as we anticipated. There isn’t a one in the ten who did not find themselves on at least two BABES member’s ballots. Even ATL and OAK got votes.
Kudos to defending champ Hudson Stone and to former champ Pat Stone (Hudson’s Grandmother) for predicting the Braves’ renaissance. I wonder who schooled whom on that one? My wife and two daughters all picked OAK, which once again reminds me that I should go to school with them before I make my picks.
Shame – or at least the opposite of kudos – to WAS for failing to make the post-season when virtually every one of us had them in the post-season and some (like me) even had them in the World Series. I am out of explanations for the failures of that franchise, but here is my first 2019 prediction: the Nationals will win the World Series next year over the Yankees, with Bryce Harper playing first base for NYY. But we’ll talk about that more in November.
We have to first award the Commissioner’s Trophy, and more importantly, the James L. Walker Award, for 2018. There may only be ten teams in the MLB post-season, but by my count there are at least 13, and perhaps more, who still have a chance to win the Rocky.
The possible outcomes are legion, so I won’t even begin to outline them until we get deeper into the post-season. But you can evaluate your current position and future prospects for winning the Rocky by going to the MLB 2018 page.
March 29, 2018
Note to B.A.B.E.S. Spouses:
And another note to B.A.B.E.S. members: get your picks in by Noon today or your last year’s picks will be renewed, just like the salary of all MLB players whose service time is short of arbitration eligibility!
March 27, 2018
And the winners will be…US
Rocky Walker, Steve Jacobs and I started this competition eleven years ago in order to prove that informed baseball fans could be as accurate in our predictions as the “experts,” those who made a living by covering baseball. It was just the three of us then. We didn’t have an organization or a name and certainly not an acronym or a blog. Now as we start our second decade, we have all of those things plus dozens of colleagues, but more importantly we have a history and a legacy.
Our history proves that we were more correct than even we knew at the start. Predicting winners can be a serendipitous thing, and it is smarter to be lucky than it is lucky to be smart. https://babesbaseball.wordpress.com/2014/11/. Our legacy (so far) has been the same legacy that baseball has always enjoyed – connecting generations of Americans through a timeless game they all learn to love. Our competition has shown that baseball continues to speak to American youth today, in the second decade of the 21st Century, just as it spoke to many of us who enjoyed our youth in the sixth, or fifth or even fourth decade of the 20th Century. A quick glance at our winners proves this point. https://babesbaseball.wordpress.com/past-champions/., even more than my attempt to articulate the fact. https://babesbaseball.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/memorial-day-memory/. Of course, W.P. Kinsella wrote about the same thing long before I did, and he was able to have James Earl Jones immortalize his words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDyM4CfExXU.
So I am convinced that as long as there is a baseball season we will all be winners, because baseball brings our country together and enriches our lives, particularly the lives of fathers and sons.
Never have I been so proud to be called a nerd.
So, regardless of how poorly my own picks have fared since that first year when I won the competition with a score well below the Mendoza Line, I happily continue to make my selections and then sit back as baseball marks another year for Americans and offers us the peace we lack.
AL West winner – HOU
AL Central winner – CLE
AL East winner – BOS
AL wild card – NYY
AL wild card – LAA
AL Pennant winner – HOU
AL MVP – Correa
AL Cy Young – Verlander
AL batting champ – Altuve
NL West winner – LAD
NL Central winner – CHI
NL East winner – WAS
NL wild card – MIL
NL wild card – COL
NL Pennant winner – WAS
NL MVP – Harper
NL Cy Young – Strasburg
NL batting champ – Turner
World Series winner – HOU
March 24, 2018
Only Five Days Until MLB Opening Day!
“THE Pitch,” W.B. Thompson (wbthompson-art.com)
And your picks have started coming in. No surprises yet, but clearly there are several very strong contenders for the Commissioner’s Trophy (Manfred’s, not mine). Everyone seems to be on the NYY bandwagon again, but I am sticking with BOS, at least as the AL East winner.
I will reveal the rest of my picks on this page on Tuesday. You are free to consult them if you wait until the last day. But remember, I haven’t won the Rocky since the very first year of the B.A.B.E.S., eleven years ago. Maybe I need to consult Theo Epstein to break that streak?
For those of you who have already submitted them, you are free to make changes until the season starts. (Did you hear about the injuries to Justin Turner and Madison Bumgarner? One may matter, the other surely won’t….).
March 19, 2018
Ten Days Until MLB Opening Day!
And 10 days in which to join the 11th year of B.A.B.E.S. competition. Perhaps you’ll find your way into the James L. Walker Award Hall of Champions:
March 12, 2018
“We’re not the Cubs!”
We have just witnessed the shortest off-season in MLB history (only 148 days) and perhaps that explains why the Astros’ competitive fire is still burning. The normally taciturn Dallas Keuchel let it be known emphatically that Houston is going to be ready to defend its 2017 World Championship from Opening Day, 2018.
When asked about the possibility of a championship hangover, Keuchel responded “We’re not the Cubs!” referring to the 2016 champions and their less-than-stellar first half to the 2017 season.
As if challenging the Cubs’ mental toughness was not enough, Keuchel added “I firmly believe we have better players.” Perhaps he meant that the 2018 Astros team is even better equipped than the 2017 champions, but it also could be interpreted as declaring that the Astros are better than the Cubs then and now. The Chicago media interpreted it that way and disagreed:
Well, we are 17 days away from finding out how fresh the Astros are and how accurate of a prognosticator Dallas Keuchel is. You have the same number of days to get your B.A.B.E.S. picks in, smack-talking optional.
From my personal archives, I thought I would share my son Jack’s evolution from simple baseball fan (gotta love the Cubbies) to die-hard Astros fan (older and wiser).
And then there is our indoctrination as full-fledged Keuchel’s Korner irregulars…