Author behind famous Sports Illustrated prediction knew Astros were on to something – Fort Worth Star Telegram

This is not about the Sports Illustrated jinx for a change.

Baseball fans, especially Houston Astros fans, have surely heard by now of the iconic magazine’s cover story on the Astros in June 2014.

S.I. declared at the time, when the Astros were arguably the worst franchise five years running, that they would win the 2017 World Series.

The cover, with young center fielder George Springer swinging at the plate in the Astros’ memorable throwback rainbow jerseys from the 1970s and ’80s, posited simply: “Your 2017 World Series Champs.”

SI cover

Alas, it could really happen. The World Series begins Tuesday night with the Astros playing the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodgers Stadium.

“It was a communal idea that we’d been batting around for about a year, driven by the fact that the Astros were so laughably bad and a desire to figure out what was going on down there,” said Ben Reiter, who wrote the article. “The cover came out of the story — and the sense we got that the organization might actually be on to something.”

The prediction, while head-turning, wasn’t just made for shock value. The Astros and general manager Jeff Luhnow were starting from scratch with hopes of rebuilding the Astros’ system and unabashedly stripped the club bare en route to six consecutive losing seasons and a three-year stretch from 2011-13 when they lost 324 games.

Since the Astros got off to a blazing start in April, the S.I. prediction from three years ago has percolated in the media, including a Star-Telegram story in May (thank you very much!).

The Astros second trip to the World Series (the last was in 2005 in the National League), however, has put Reiter and S.I. in overdrive fielding over 20 requests for interviews concerning that long ago cover.

“We didn’t make the prediction as a hot take or to stir controversy — we made it because we believed it was a genuine possibility — so we’re not overly surprised, as we’ve watched it develop every step of the way. But if I take a step back, yes, the odds were enormous. Of course, they haven’t done it yet.”

That’s a good point. The Astros, who were swept in their only other Fall Classic appearance, still have to get past the Dodgers.

So, technically, the Sports Illustrated curse could still happen.

2017 World Series schedule

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