As Another Prediction Comes Trues Norman Mapeza Can Only Hope

On Wednesday night, a bold cover page prediction by Sports Illustrated magazine, three years ago, that Houston Astros were going to win the 2017 Baseball World Series — just months after the Texas franchise had suffered a club record 111 losses the previous season — came to pass in spectacular fashion in Los Angeles.

The lowly Houston Astros had never won the prestigious World Series, the ultimate prize in American Major League Baseball, but that all ended when this Texan franchise powered to a 5-1 Game Seven victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers to take home their maiden national championship since their establishment in 1962.

For good measure, the Houston underdogs had eliminated the iconic New York Yankees, who have 27 World Series titles under their belt, with a seven-game success story in the final eliminator for the right to play for this year’s World Series title. And, what has even captured the imagination of the world is the fact that Astros’ remarkable triumph this year — as unlikely a success story as Leicester City winning the English Premiership title last year — was even foretold by a Sports Illustrated journalist, Ben Reiter, three years ago.
As Another Prediction Comes Trues Norman Mapeza Can Only Hope
Given that a few months before this bold prediction, the Astros had slumped to their worst season in the club’s history after losing 111 times, Reiter’s stunning prediction, coupled with the Sports Illustrated bosses’ decision to run with it on their cover page, has been generating a lot of headlines around the world since the events in Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

‘’All of a sudden, the worst team in the world is looking pretty good,’’ Reiter told Business Insider yesterday. ‘’I definitely picked them as my personal prediction! Look, I haven’t had any control over this, obviously. I’m probably getting too much credit for this prediction — all credit to the Astros front office and players. But I was certainly aware of it, and essentially any time I do TV or radio about baseball it’s kind of become my legacy.

‘’My big regret is that I didn’t go to Vegas at any point. What an idiot, right? The greatest prediction in sports history and I’m not gonna make a dime.’’

And, interestingly, Sports Illustrated are not the only ones this year to get it right because, in January, SportNet also made a number of predictions about sport that came to pass in the subsequent months this year:

l That the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors would, in six months’ time, meet in the NBA Final — a repeat of their meeting at the same stage last year — but this time it would be Golden State Warriors who would emerge triumphant and in June this year, six months after that prediction, it came to pass.

l That Kevin Durant, who had at the beginning of the season moved to Golden State Warriors from Oklahoma City Thunder, would win the Most Valuable Player award in this year’s final ahead of heavyweight names LeBron James and Steve Curry and, six months down the line, that also came to pass.

l That the Pittsburg Penguins were going to be win this year’s ice hockey Stanley Cup, which they did, and that the New England Patriots were going to play in this year’s American football SuperBowl, which they did, en-route to winning the prestigious prize in dramatic fashion over the Atlanta Falcons.

And, as all these sporting predictions come true, Norman Mapeza and his FC Platinum — who are battling the demons of history as they try to become the first club from outside Harare and Bulawayo to be crowned champions of Zimbabwean football — can only wonder, and hope, that what has also been predicted by some local pundits will come true. Lloyd Chitembwe, who won the league title with CAPS United last season, started the ball rolling when he predicted that Mapeza and his men will be crowned the champions of the domestic Premiership at the end of this campaign. Then, Spencer Manguwa, a Harare-based Liverpool and Dynamos-supporting pundit who has also featured as an analyst for international football matches on ZTV, came up with a controversial formula that FC Platinum will be champions this season.

That was three games ago and, interestingly, all his predictions of the matches which FC Platinum have played since he revealed his formula, have gone according to plan with the pundit predicting that:

l ‘’FC Platinum, in my analysis, will collect 19 out of the remaining 21 points and that will also take their points tally to 72 and they will win the championship by two points.

l ‘’I believe the Zvishavane miners will beat Highlanders away from home (which they did in a 2-1 win), beat Shabanie at home (which they did with a 2-0 win), draw against Harare City away from home (which they did in a goalless stalemate).

l (He also predicted that FC Platinum will) ‘’beat ZPC Kariba at Maglas (in their next match tomorrow), beat Tsholotsho away from home, beat Ngezi Platinum at home and also beat Chapungu away from home in their final match.

l ‘’The six wins and one draw should power FC Platinum to 72 points and, finally, in my humble analysis, they will be crowned champions.’’

In a strange world, and a strange year, where a sports magazine correctly predicted that one of the worst baseball teams in history would be champions this year, Mapeza and his men can only hold on to hope that there is substance in what Manguwa and his likes have been suggesting. After all, this year has transformed itself into one where sport soothes the pain inflicted on communities, like Houston, who were devastated by Hurricane Harvey only for their underdog Astros to give the city a reason to smile with their remarkable World Series triumph. The people of Zvishavane are still feeling the pain inflicted by that home loss, six years ago, at the hands of Dynamos when the league title was there for the taking and, maybe, in a year where sport is providing salvation and a number of predictions are coming true, it’s set for their coronation at long last.
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