It is almost mid-June in the City of Champions and looking at our proud and loved sports teams around the town only one thing is clear, we have so many more questions than we do answers about what the future holds. I do have some really good news to share with everyone though. I’ve spent the last few days asking my “Magic 8 Ball” 10 questions about the major sports teams in the Steel City. Some of the answers I received may surprise you, scare you and even shock you more than you have ever been in your lives. Please, before you continue reading, grab a cold drink and sit in your most comfortable chair. I do not want to be responsible for anyone fainting and injuring themselves.
1. Gregory Polanco will have a long and great career in Major League Baseball. A few years down the line he will compete yearly for the MVP award and even win one by the year 2022. The only catch is the best years of his career, his MVP caliber seasons, will not be in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform. The Magical 8 Ball would not tell me what team he would be playing for, but it assured me it would not be the Pittsburgh Pirates. Polanco will be offered a big contract by Pirates standards but decide to test the free agent market and sign a bigger deal elsewhere. I am sorry to say Bucco fans, but enjoy Gregory Polanco while you can.
2. The Pittsburgh Pirates will finish the 2014 season with an 87-75 record and miss the last wild card spot by 2 games. With a strong September but get swept by Cincinnati to finish the season, finishing behind the Reds and missing the playoffs. With his great second half of the season Andrew McCutchen finishes with 26 home runs, a .323 batting average and comes in second in the NL MVP vote.
3. Pedro Alvarez finishes this season the same way he played the entire year, in a slump. He ends up with 24 home runs and a .221 batting average. He remains a Pirate during the offseason and to start the 2015 campaign only to be traded before the deadline. He goes to play third base and DH for the New York Yankees where he still can’t hit left handed pitching or a curveball. Even so he still wins 3 AL home run crowns.
4. The Pirates will win their first world series since 1979, in 2034. Andrew McCutchen, now 47, is the MVP of the series after blasting 9 home runs and hitting an amazing .755. After accepting the trophy he grabs the microphone and thanks the man who helped him reach this point in his career, Barry Bonds.
5. Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt will start at inside linebacker and defensive end respectively for Dick LeBeau’s defense, making them the first rookies to do so in 15 years. Shazier will finish second on the team in tackles and win the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. Tuitt will lead the team in tackles for loss and finish third in sacks with 7. Both will be a huge reason why….
6. The Steelers will finish the season in second place in the AFC North division at 10-6 and sit in the first Wild Card spot when the playoffs begin. After beating the Bengals in the Wild Card round they will lose in the Divisional round versus the New England Patriots when Darrelle Revis intercepts a Ben Roethlisberger pass and sets up a game winning field goal for New England. Patriots 31, Steelers 28.
7. After losing to New England, the Steelers contact Brett Favre who informs them he is not interested in playing. That prompts the team to offer Ben Roethlisberger a contract extension which he laughs at. He holds out until the middle of training camp in 2015 when he finally receives a contract extension he rightfully deserves. With all of that behind him, he will lead the Steelers and their fans on a tremendous ride to Santa Clara, California where they will play San Francisco in Super Bowl 50 (the first and only Super Bowl to use a number instead of a roman numeral). Steelers 21, 49ers 20. After the game, Dick LeBeau announces “I think LeBeau’s last right is here in Cali”. Keith Butler is promoted to Defensive Coordinator just days later.
8. New General Manager Jim Rutherford will hire Los Angeles Kings Assistant Coach John Stevens as the next Head Coach of the Penguins. Stevens will bring discipline and implement a more defensive focused approach to the team. Even though this will not sit well with stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, it will pay dividends on the ice. The team will finish the regular season in second place in the Metropolitan Division with the third best record in the Eastern Conference. All with the help of a healthy Pascal Dupuis and a few acquisitions brought in by Rutherford. In all the commotion James Neal is traded to the New York Islanders for prospects and a third line winger.
9. In the Playoffs, the new defensive style will show its true face. The Pens will steamroll through the first two rounds only to meet up with the Boston Bruins in the conference final. After six grueling games, the Flower stands on his head in game 7 and Crosby’s 13th goal of the postseason holds up and sends the Pens to the Stanley Cup Final where they face Stevens’s old team the LA Kings. The Kings are a tough test for the Pens but they prevail in 6 games to bring Lord Stanley back to the Brugh. Your Conn Smythe winner is Sidney Crosby with 17 goals, 19 assists and 36 points.
10. The following season the Pens decide to keep their new (or old) alternate jersey as their main home sweater. They set the franchise record with 122 regular season points and bring home the franchises second Presidents’ Trophy. In the first round of the playoffs they face off against the New York Islanders. In game seven, an overtime goal by James Neal sends the Pens home scratching their heads. Rutherford steps down as the GM the following morning and Jason Botterill is named as his successor hours later.
Remember folks, the Magic 8 Ball never tells a lie. Just to be on the safe side though I wouldn’t run to Vegas and place any bets just yet.