By Rick Morris
Here’s 12 predictions for the coming year.
1 With a Mitt Romney/Marco Rubio ticket representing the GOP in the presidential race this year (prove me wrong, Republican party, prove me wrong!), Barack Obama will overcome the odds for a president with a crummy first term to be reelected by a 290-248 margin. It will be the same electoral map as last time, except Romney will capture six states won by Obama in 2008: Nevada (5 votes), Indiana (11 votes), Virginia (13 votes), North Carolina (15 votes), Florida (27 votes – swung by Rubio’s spot on the ticket) and New Hampshire (4 votes). Likewise, Romney will run slightly closer in the popular vote than McCain (who lost 52.9% to 45.7%), going down 51.7% to 46.2%. In taking Romney as way more of a threat than he actually is, Obama will make the predicted panic move and have Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden trade jobs for the second term.
2 Europe will continue to totter towards disaster, with the Euro crashing completely and the continent entering a depression, but as in 2011, its leaders will continue to keep the wolves at bay for another year. Similarly, Iran’s saber-rattling over developing nukes and closing the Strait of Hormuz will not lead to open warfare, but taken together, aftershocks from a wild 2011 will continue to hold down world economic growth and fuel lingering protests that are likely to turn violent in more places as the year continues.
3 LSU will win the BCS Title Game.
4 Green Bay will become the first team since the 2004 Patriots to successfully defend their Super Bowl championship, ironically getting past a New England team that will find a way to outscore their opponents moving through the AFC bracket.
5 A Kentucky team that may go down as one of the best in college history will finally give John Calipari his first NCAA championship. They will prevail against a team that they already beat and one that could well be remembered as one of the best runner-up squads ever, North Carolina. Ohio State and UConn will round out a superstar-studded Final Four.
6 Miami will find a way to lose the NBA Finals yet again this year, as the Oklahoma City Thunder defy the Association’s “wait until your turn” edict to take home the trophy.
7 In a thrilling Final battle of Original Six franchises, Detroit will foil Boston’s bid for a second straight Stanley Cup championship and send captain Nick Lidstrom into retirement on top and as one of the few elite players in any sport in recent decades to win five championships.
8 Having completed their cycle of falling one additional step short each fall (failing to defend the World Series title in the Fall Classic in ’09, losing the 2010 NLCS, losing the 2011 NLDS), the Phillies, like the Red Wings, will end a four-year drought from their sport’s ultimate glory by dishing out vengeance for 2011 to Albert Pujols in a bicoastal battle with his new Angel team.
9 Jimmie Johnson will be back on top in NASCAR.
10 The Winter Classic will be awarded to the Big House for the first time ever, as Detroit hosts Chicago in a reversal of the home-road arrangement at Wrigley Field in 2009.
11 With the Summer Olympics as a tremendous source for programming, the new NBC Sports Network (as of January 2, formerly Versus) will continue to gain traction and take at least the baby steps towards legitimately competing with ESPN (realistically, a 5-10 year project).
12 Buoyed by what should be tremendous success with The Rock vs. John Cena at WrestleMania 28 (and with 29 rumored to be held just down the road from Stone Cold at JerryWorld), the longtime rumblings will become official well in advance as the announcement of CM Punk vs. Steve Austin for April 2013 will be made. Neither JerryWorld nor any other venue will host Mayweather v Pacquiao in 2012, however.