1. Life & Culture

The writer predicts this column will amaze you

A series of uncommonly good guesses.
Magic 8 balls make predictions, too.
Magic 8 balls make predictions, too. [ Shutterstock ]
Published Jul. 28

Everything I am about to describe happened on June 26. My wife, Karen, witnessed it all, but I predict you won’t believe it.

It started at Bed Bath & Beyond. We were in the market for a tray with little legs, the kind on which you serve breakfast in bed. They had just one in stock. We liked it, but the clerk could not find the price. “That looks like it’s worth about $29,” I said. The clerk checked the computer. Her eyes were wide. “$29.99!”

On the way home — it was hot, hot, hot — we drove through Lakewood Estates, home of the St. Petersburg Country Club. A lovely golf course winds its way through the neighborhood. On an average day we might see dozens of golfers. “I bet we only see three golfers out today. It’s so hot.” Over the course of about a mile, Karen counted two young men on one hole, then nothing, more. Three golfers.

At home we turned on the Rays game. I predicted the Rays would beat the Angels 5-3. Later we checked in to the score. It was 5-3, although the Rays would score 13 runs. At one point, with Mike Zunino at the plate, I was feeling frisky: “On the next pitch he’s going to hit a home run.” The next pitch was a ball. After that? Home run!

I strutted around the house with my arms raised, as Karen stood dumbfounded.

But wait, there’s more.

After dinner Karen and I were watching something on Netflix. I needed to stretch my legs. “I’m going out front to say hello to the ducks.” We had not had a duck visitation in several days. But there was a cute little quacker under the oak tree with the squirrels, pigeons and blue jays. I watched for a few minutes and offered my vocal imitation of Donald Duck. No kidding, the duck stopped and looked straight at me with what appeared to be bilingual appreciation.

This special power is not a new thing with me. I may have inherited it from my mother, who often made predictions and, when they panned out, claimed to be a witch.

I remember decades ago sitting in the bleachers of Al Lang Field, watching a spring training game. I blurted: “I bet on the next pitch this guy is going to hit it over the left field wall.” He did not. But he did hit the wall. On a fly. I have witnesses. “You know,” I said, “we haven’t seen a foul ball up here for a while.” Next pitch! A kid sitting in front of me turned in astonishment: “Who are you?” he said.

Call me Roystradamus

My powers as a prognosticator, soothsayer and clairvoyant are not limited to making predictions. They have other manifestations, including the ability to see magic numbers.

Do you have a magic number? Karen and I do. Our number is 1111. Four aces, if you will, in a game of license plate poker. It began when we started to check the time and, way beyond coincidence, noticed how often it turned out to be 11:11. At 11:11 in the morning we might leave the house and go downtown for a coffee. Or at 11:11 in the evening we might kiss goodnight.

Then those numbers 111 or 1111 started to appear everywhere, even on license plates. Our daughter Alison, a kind of witchy woman herself, informed us that those numbers are considered celestial, a sign that our angels are keeping watch on us.

Imagine the day last January when I got a call from our mechanic. Karen’s car was ready. How much? A hundred and eleven dollars. “What?” I asked. “$111? That’s our lucky number.”

“Yes,” she said, “and it’s today’s date: 1/11.” It kind of freaked me out.

When I shared these phenomena with my Facebook friends, I was taken aback by their desire for me to monetize this power by playing the Lottery. “Give me a number,” begged one, pathetically, as if I would desecrate my gift. It’s all about the prophet, folks, not the profit.

In this spirit, I offer several predictions for you to ponder from the realm of sports, politics and otherwise. If you can monetize any of them, good for you.

• Tom Brady will lead the Tampa Bay Bucs to two more Super Bowls. Upon his retirement he will announce that he — and not Ponce de Leon — discovered in Florida the Fountain of Youth.

• Major League pitchers will be required to pitch naked, assuring that they will not be able to apply a foreign substance to the ball, unless, that is, well, never mind.

• A Category 7 hurricane will hit west Florida, ripping Tropicana Field from its moorings and sending it floating across the bay. It will come to rest in South Tampa, where it will become the new home of an expansion team from Montreal.

• On the political front: The new mayor of St. Pete will make history either as the first Black mayor or the first openly gay mayor.

• St. Pete will one day become so densely populated that we will be left with only one street parking space. A lottery will determine the one citizen who will get to park there. The winning number will be 1111.

• When we least expect it, former President Donald Trump will…well, you know….

To those of you still with me, I will now share my secret. If you predict lots and lots of things, folks will forget the many that miss, but remember the few that hit. (This applies to everyone in the world except for sports writers whose bad picks and predictions doom them to years of ridicule and second-guessing.)