"This is the stupidest thing ever, but I love it."
That is my favorite quote about one of my favorite things- an annual baseball predictions contest we've made an in-house staple of our Research department here at ESPN. Nothing's at stake, other than pride and bragging rights, but every year, 40-50 of my colleagues and friends partake at our favorite pastime- predicting.
In order to make our predictions contest, now in its seventh season, distinct, we include a series of questions that you might not see anywhere else. Here are a few of my favorites from this year's edition.
Whose home run total will be greater? Johnny Damon...or David Wright?
Damon won last year, and won easily, 24-10, thanks to the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium. It won't be as easy this year in Comerica. But how much ground can Wright make up? And how much will the slicing in height of the centerfield fence benefit his cause?
What player will hit the most home runs out of the No. 2 spot?
The contest includes a category called "Nothing Wrong with Being Second." Last year's leaders: Aaron Hill (36), Johnny Damon (22) and Michael Young (18).
Will David Ortiz hit a triple?
How in the world is he going to do that, you might ask? Well, keep in mind that Ortiz's triple-hitting skills are underrated. He's hit at least one triple (but never more than three) in each of the last 10 seasons.
In what month will Mariano Rivera last blow a save?
We've seen a bunch of "October" responses from our early entrants, but that's a major roll of the dice. Rivera hasn't blown a postseason save chance since 2004.
Will there be an inside-the-park grand slam in 2009?
We always like to include a reference to at least one odd event. An initial search tells us that there hasn't been one in the majors since 1999. But before you rule out the possibility, consider last year's "odd event" question: Will the 2009 season include an unassisted triple play? Eric Bruntlett fans know the answer to that one.
Will there be a 40 home run hitter in the American League?
There was one every year from 1990 to 2007, even in the strike-shortened season of 1994. But we haven't seen one the last two seasons.
More or less: Joe Torre's ejection total- 1.5
Being in Los Angeles may have mellowed Torre a bit. Ejections guru David Vincent has Torre for two ejections in every season from 2004 to 2008, but none in 2009.
More or less: Albert Pujols go-ahead HR: 14.5
Pujols had 19 go-ahead home runs last year, but only four came after the All-Star Break. And if 19 seems high, consider that he only had nine in 2008.
Will LeBron James sign to play for a team in whose city all the MLB teams (one or two) finish above .500?
Only one of my colleagues has answered "Yes" to this one, leading me to believe that most people think he's either sticking in Cleveland, or that the Mets aren't finishing above .500. Could be the latter.
Total tweets for Ozzie Guillen by the All-Star Break: More or less than 549.5
Trying to end on a funny note here, but my colleague Ryan McCrystal deserves kudos for this one. Don't be shocked if we do an analytic study measuring the average number of tweets after a White Sox loss as compared to after a White Sox win. Guillen's at 148 and counting at the time of this writing.