As Sam Sees It<br>

New Year’s Day has come and gone and most who dare to play prophet have offered their views of the future. My record in previous such endeavors have included correctly predicting a NCAA football and basketball champion (Alabama and Arizona) and wrongly selecting many winners who turned out to be losers. The most notable of the latter was the year I picked the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the World Series and lived to see them finish last in the National League Western Division.

That type of results should make one think before trying again to see into the future. The penalty for failure is not great, hence the following are the visions seen dimly (in some cases very dimly) in my not so trustworthy crystal ball.

This will prove to be the year of the Phoenix Suns, soon to be NBA Champions. Too bad Jerry Coleangelo will only be a spectator at what could have been his second world championship. The west is still where the best teams in the NBA play, but Los Angeles, Sacramento and Dallas have all been weakened in the past year. San Antonio will give Phoenix its biggest challenge. The east will be won by Miami, but the Heat will prove no problem for the speedy and talented Suns.

At the college level in basketball, both the Arizona Wildcats and the Arizona State Sun Devils will make the NCAA Tournament. The crystal is really dark here, but it looks like Kansas will survive the 64-team, single elimination tournament that is probably the least predictable of all sporting events.

Major league baseball is my favorite sport, but free agency has made it difficult to forecast as well. Most teams have yet to finalize their rosters. The New York Yankees have been on a spending spree and may have bought themselves yet another championship. The Boston Red Sox haven’t been asleep or stingy with their money and may have enough left to defend their long awaited championship.

The dim crystal seems to say that the winners in the American League will be Anaheim, Minnesota and the Yankees. Boston will be the wild card again. I will be rooting for somebody to prove that money can’t buy everything, but it does look like the Yankees will be back in the World Series.

National League winners will be Florida, St. Louis and San Francisco. Atlanta will be the wild card. The eventual winner will be St. Louis and the surprise result will be that the Cardinals will defeat the Yankees in the World Series.

College football is a fun sport to watch, but difficult to predict. California will be atop the polls according to the crystal. The real hope here is that college presidents will come to their senses and establish a play-off system that will give us a real champion.

The NFL is always a war of attrition with avoiding injuries the most important thing a contending team needs to accomplish. My guess is that the Indianapolis Colts will learn to play defense and win the 2006 Super Bowl.

As for the Arizona baseball and football teams, both will be more competitive but not enough so to make the play-offs. The Diamondbacks will be lucky to finish third in the West. The Cardinals actually could have a shot at the play-offs if their division is as weak as it was this year.

Quickly turning to high school sports, Winslow has a real shot at championships in both boys’ and girls’ basketball. The baseball and softball teams should make some noise, but probably fall short of winning state. The 2005 Bulldogs football team will get to the final game this year. Hopefully, they will have enough talent left to win it.

If you are foolish enough to bet on my predictions and win, contributions will be gladly accepted. If you don’t win, though, you should know that you lost more on them than I did even if you only bet a penny.

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