An eminent sports columnist some years ago grew weary of picking the logical teams to win the major league pennants. He decided, instead, to go for the underdogs. He reasoned that if he selected a long shot and it lost, no one would notice. But if it happened to win, well—wow! So he picked the New York Giants, who at that point had been a second-division team nine times in 12 years. It was 1951, of course, and the Giants came from 13½ games back in August to beat the Dodgers in a playoff on Bobby Thomson's home run. The columnist's readers were tremendously impressed, his editors were proud and he himself accepted the plaudits with becoming modesty.
It's a great system, but you'd have a lot of trouble working it this year because you can't hardly find an underdog. Consider the predictions boxed below. They were made by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S baseball staff, the men who have been in the training camps watching the teams and have worked for two months preparing the special baseball package that begins on page 50. They have a unanimity of opinion on some things—such as, this is going to be a whale of a season—but look at their pennant selections.
Tom Brody likes the Dodgers and the Orioles. Bob Creamer likes the Orioles and the Reds. Jack Mann likes the Reds and the White Sox. Bill Leggett likes the White Sox and the Phils. Gary Ronberg likes the Phils and the Twins. Mark Mulvoy likes the Twins and the Pirates. Les Woodcock also likes the Orioles but says they will play the Braves, while Herm Weiskopf agrees on the Braves but says they'll play the Tigers.
All this leaves me with an idea for the granddaddy of underdog hunch bets. I think I'll pick the New York Yankees.