This Sports Prophecy Came True

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Was it ridiculous to make the call? It was risky, indeed. But it also hit the bullseye.


Courtesy: SI

In the June 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated, sports readers and baseball fans were shocked to find what was on the cover. It was Houston Astros’ outfielder George Springer. And labeled in big bold letters on the bottom right-hand corner were the words: YOUR 2017 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS.

It was an odd prediction for a very good reason. At that point in time, the Astros were losers. Since 2011 Houston had lost 358 games and won only 187. The 2014 season was no different: the Astros were heading for a losing season with 100 games lost.

So why would Ben Reiter (the author) and SI (the publisher) take such a risk by making such a bold prediction?

Here’s the backstory.

On the morning of June 4th, 2014, Ben Reiter walked into Houston’s old Union Station abutting Minute Maid Park. Reiter was well aware of the Astros’ woes. He met with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and other team execs. Luhnow explained that the team was building for the future, not focusing on the present. He knew the ’14 season was essentially over. The Astros sought future success instead.

Reiter was impressed. He returned to SI’s offices and consulted with baseball editor, Emma Span, and SI’s editor, Chris Stone. Based on what Reiter told them about the Astros, SI began speculating about when the team would first have a good chance of winning the World Series.

2017 was the year they picked, largely because of a payroll increase and when its crop of talented players from the farm system would be ready for a breakout.

Ben Reiter (photo, SI)

The magazine released its article on June 24th to a good amount of criticism. Even The Houston Chronicle found fault, calling the piece “more of an attention-grabbing, perhaps even a tongue-in-cheek projection than a prediction.”

Reiter and SI received hate mail from fans, too. It didn’t make sense to predict that the worse team in baseball would become the best team in baseball…and make that huge leap in just three years.

But rather than being a classic debacle, Reiter and SI hit the nail on the head. The Astros are World Series Champions and, today, that June 2014 cover has become a very valuable collectors’ item.

Was it so ridiculous to make that call? A coach once told me that you always recruit/draft for the future. That makes sense and it’s exactly what the Astros did.

You may have losing seasons along the way but, if you keep working at it, you may end up winning a championship.

What an important lesson!

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About Matthew Paris

I grew up an avid Houston sports fan. After graduating from Texas Tech University in Theater and English Literature I worked as a marketing rep and coach for I9 Sports, coaching baseball, flag football, soccer, and basketball. I’m currently with Austin Sports Academy as a marketing coordinator, baseball and football coach, and coordinator of middle school and high school open play nights. I’ve written three short films for Looknow Productions and have also written articles on film marketing, producing, and directing. I really enjoy writing about sports and being an active contributor to The Sports Column.



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