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Sports Illustrated Predicted The Astros Would Win The 2017 World Series Back In 2014 (PIC)
In 2014 the Houston Astros lost 92 games. The three seasons prior to that they lost 106, 107, and 111 games respectively.
Of course, now the Astros are in the World Series. And perhaps the only thing more unlikely than their meteoric rise to the top of the American League is the fact that Sports Illustrated called it.
In June of 2014, Sports Illustrated predicted that the Houston Astros would win the 2017 World Series. And the prediction wasn’t buried in the middle of the magazine. It was emblazoned on the cover.
Take a look:
3 years, 3 months & 3 weeks ago, Sports Illustrated’s cover story told us the Astros would win…
The 2017 World Series. pic.twitter.com/1jhLLqzgEw
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) October 22, 2017
That prediction is looking pretty damn brilliant right now. Sure, the Astros haven’t won the World Series. They might not win it. But they got to the World Series, which is no small feat in the age of the expanded MLB postseason. All they have to do to make SI’s prediction come true is win four more games.
So how did SI arrive at their prediction? It all started with a brilliant longform piece from baseball scribe Ben Reiter about the Houston Astros’ statistically driven rebuilding effort. According to SI editor-in-chief Chris Stone, when they realized how good Reiter’s piece was, they wanted to put it on the cover. But you don’t just put lousy baseball teams on the cover of Sports Illustrated without a good angle.
Here’s how Stone explained the genesis of that cover in a recent conversation with For the Win:
“We knew he was working on an access piece with the Astros, and that he was getting an unusual amount of access to it,” Stone told For The Win by phone this week. “But access doesn’t necessarily mean that the story’s going to be good, and the story wasn’t just good, it was great. and when there’s nothing else that jumps out on the sports schedule, you say, ‘Let’s do something different and put it on the cover.’ The next trick is, how do you put such a lousy ballclub on the cover of the magazine?
“I spoke to Ben and said, ‘What does the future hold for this program? Do you believe in their plan?’ And from what I could understand, he did. To sell it, we needed to say something, so we came up with ‘Your 2017 World Series champions,’ which seemed plausible in light of some other transformations we had seen in the previous decade. Remember how quickly the Rays pivoted in 2008? It didn’t seem implausible that a team with smart people running it, with a plan, could turn things around in three years.”
The Astros may not prevail in the 2017 World Series. But they’ve already delivered a win to Sports Illustrated just be getting this close.
*Side Note: In Sports illustrated’s 2017 MLB season preview, which was published prior to the start of this season, they didn’t pick the Astros to win. Rather, they picked the Dodgers. Crazy, amiright?*