Predicting the future in sports is kind of like guessing what part will fail next inside your car. There are strong indicators, like that ‘check engine’ light or the unmistakable syrup-y smell of burning antifreeze after every 10-plus mile drive, but ultimately it’s anyone’s guess as to whether it’ll be a blown gasket or a snapped belt.
Still, like I said, there are indicators, so here are a few things I’m waiting to see happen in the sports world in 2015:
- The Yankees will suck. Jeter’s gone (not saying that’s a huge negative, but the 2015 SS battle is between the New York State Witness Protection Program and Chase Headley or A-Rod), the free agent class of 2014-15 actually isn’t that great, and there are just too many dollars tied up in CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez (hahahahaha) and Mark Teixeira for the post-Boss Steinbrenners to make a credible postseason run. Kids, I really want you to cherish the hell out of years like 2014 and 2015, and any others that may come if this organization is still hamstrung by its massive outlays during the boom years. Growing up with a bad Yankees team is baseball gold, something very few generations ever get to experience. I never noticed how lucky I was from the ages of 0-11, mainly because I didn’t notice anything that happened outside of Detroit or Saturday morning cartoons, but I look back on my baseball cards from that time and giggle at the names I find in the Yankees section. Look at Stump Merrill’s (actual name) 1991 Bombers (71-91): Alvaro Espinoza was a star, Jeff Johnson had the second-most innings pitched with his 5.95 ERA and Donnie Baseball and Steve Sax managed 19 dingers between them. Had I known what was coming—the dominance of the mid-to-late 90s and early-aughts Yankees—I would have enjoyed their time in the shitter more appropriately. This being baseball and them being the Yankees, they’ll probably find their way to the top again, so really, really relish the fact that Ichiro Suzuki and his .664 OPS is literally their best option in right field.
- Floyd Mayweather, Jr., will do something stupid to promote a fight. In 2014 Floyd unleashed a handful of gems to turn the spotlight on himself in the weeks leading up to his fights. Before his first clash with Marcos Maidana, Floyd dropped the photo of a sonogram on his Facebook page, claiming it belonged to his former girlfriend Ms. Jackson and depicted a set of twins he fathered that she elected to abort. Nevermind that she never confirmed the story, or that there is substantial evidence that having a child with Floyd Mayweather is hazardous to one’s health, but focus instead on the fact that Money displayed somebody’s sonogram on a public website without their consent, coincidentally during a week leading up to a fight. Attention-seeking behavior doesn’t get more batshit than that, or at least I hope it doesn’t. I suppose the next step would be for May post a photo of his next opponent eating a sandwich and accuse them of cannibalism.
- Hockey will re-shuffle before it expands. Look, before the NHL can make the case it’ll inevitably make to move to Las Vegas and Seattle it needs to address to the two non-traditional markets where it’s currently failing: Phoenix and Miami. Florida juuuuust sells half of its tickets (actual attendance is likely under 50 percent) and Arizona, on top of being the third-least attended show in the Great Old Game at home, does almost as badly as anyone in the league on the road. Owners will put up with you sucking in your own house, but when you’re so bad you start blowing their gate take, the net loss will draw their focus in a negative way and they’ll evaluate the rest of your operation. Coincidentally, Quebec has a nice new arena on the way and a hockey-starved populace who’ll fill the barn for anybody. Toronto is a monster market that’ll gladly accept a second team and give some disaffected Leafs fans something else to do besides attempting suicide by alcohol every time it falls apart in the playoffs. No Canadian team is lower than 20th in the league’s attendance rankings and every single one of them sells more than 95 percent of their tickets on a given night. Winnipeg has blown the doors off ticket sales since the Jets re-emerged and there’s no reason to believe Quebec won’t do the same. The Coyotes may have recently re-signed their lease in Glendale, but if the numbers don’t work you can’t keep trying to get blood from a stone. In 2015, I’d look for some major NHL pressure to get its house in order by moving out of those two markets before making their final plans for Las Vegas and Seattle.