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home : columns : rahn larson June 29, 2016

12/21/2012 3:09:00 PM
The 2013 Fearless Forecast
My search for the Fearless Forecaster took me to a Minnesota landmark that just gushes with character, a place the natives refer to as "The Barn."
A 95-year-old usher escorted me inside, sharing historical tidbits as we walked. It was completed at a cost of $650,000 in 1928. The basketball court is known for its "raised floor, sitting three feet above ground level, leaves the impression the game is played on a grand stage.
Upon entering, I noticed a basketball sitting along the baseline, just beyond the 3-point arc. I climbed on the court, grabbed the ball, took two dribbles and put up a long jumper.
"Clang." The ball nicked the far side of the rim and caromed into the Gopher bench. I heard a laugh and a booming voice from above:
"Hey, you're no Trent Tucker."
Tucker was one of the great shooters in Gopher history. He went on to have a terrific NBA career.
I looked up and spotted the Danny DeVito look-alike in his familiar rumpled white trench coat. He was stretched out on the old wooden bleachers, high above the court.
Three staircases and 250 steps later I was in the upper deck. As I got closer I noticed that the Forecaster was puffing on his usual fat cigar.
"Holy cow, Forecaster, you can't smoke that thing in here," I exclaimed. "One spark and this old place would be ashes."
Forecaster chuckled and said, "They smoked in here for decades and now it's suddenly a hazard? I slipped the old usher a $50. He's OK with it."
I told Forecaster he looked mighty relaxed and comfortable these days.
"I suppose your .500 forecast record from 2012 is comforting, huh?"
Forecaster flashed a smile and raised his arm, pulled back a sleeve and displayed a shiny new gold watch.
"The gamblers were very happy," Forecaster said, beaming. "They've been showering me with gifts, dinner reservations, sports tickets, concert tickets, you name it."
"Concert tickets?"
"Yeah, I took in the Springsteen concert at the Xcel Center a few weeks ago," Forecaster said with a grin. "There's nothin' better than a night with The Boss."
"Couldn't agree more," I replied. "OK, what about the 2013 forecast?"
Forecaster chomped down on his cigar, gazed at the sparkling new Williams Arena scoreboard and said, "In the words of the late-great Marvin Gaye, 'Let's get it on.' "
The 2012 picks
Before we get to the 2013 forecast, let's review Forecaster's 2012 picks.
Forecaster finally had a solid year in 2012, hitting the mark on these picks: The Twins will improve on their 2011 record and Joe Mauer will quiet critics as he gets in the hunt for another batting title; despite poor approval ratings, more than 80% of the House and Senate incumbents will be re-elected; gasoline will hit $4 per gallon; the state Legislature will approve a Vikings stadium; Adam Carolla will be added to Celebrity Apprentice (although Forecaster went on to say Carolla would win it, which he did not).
Meanwhile, Forecaster missed on the following picks: Fortune Transportation will be called to deliver sod to the White House; cougar sightings in the region; Ed and Gayleen Woizeschke will host the National Picker's Convention; as corn prices rise, "grand theft corn" will become a big problem; Mitt Romney will be elected president.
The 2013 Forecast
Before we get to the forecast, I am required to add this disclaimer: "Fearless Forecaster cannot be held responsible for any money won or lost based on wagers involving the annual Fearless Forecast."
Here is the 2013 Fearless Forecast:
• The New England Patriots will win Super Bowl XLVII.
• The Windom city council and Cottonwood County Commissioners will jointly announce a new street project, River Road and 6th St - again. Although both streets were rebuilt this year and received outstanding reviews, officials will claim they are perfectionists and that they are sure folks won't mind another year of detours. The contractor will be told he can finish the project "whenever he feels like it."
• Daniel Day-Lewis will receive an Oscar for his role in "Lincoln."
• Hundreds of Cottonwood County residents will not be amused to find that a practical joker (and Packer fan) has placed giant permanent Green Bay Packer logos on their green-and-gold recycling containers. In response, the public will demand new purple and gold containers.
• Longtime late night host David Letterman will announce that he will retire at the end of 2014.
• Iowa Basketball Coach Fran McCaffrey will once again refuse to put the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits on his schedule. The Hawkeyes were hammered by SDSU, 79-69, on their home court in 2010. McCaffrey won't publicly admit it, but we all know he is afraid of the Jacks.
• The Minnesota Twins will be a surprise team, finishing with nearly 80 wins and paving the way for an off-season of optimism.
• Given the fact that Cottonwood County commissioners raised the tax levy 11% for 2013 and heard nary a peep from the public, the board will take it a step further in 2014, voting to raise taxes by 31%. In response to questions about the increase, one commissioner will say, "We just want to buy a bunch of neat stuff for the county."
At this point in the forecast, I finally mustered the nerve to say, "OK, Forecaster, I know there's a reason you've been hanging around The Barn. Let's have it."
Forecaster rolled his eyes and grabbed a handful of popcorn from a round tub. He chewed for a while, wiped butter from the corner of his mouth and replied: "Listen, I've been coming to Williams Arena for years. I know it inside and out.
"The crowds aren't like they used to be. I was here when Bill Musselman had this place rocking and his team won the 1972 Big 10 title. I was here when Jim Dutcher's crew hammered Ohio State for the 1982 Big 10 title. It was so loud you couldn't hear yourself think."
Tired of waiting, I urged Forecaster to wrap it up.
Forecaster, irritated, continued:
"This is a special Minnesota Golden Gopher basketball team. They've got my kind of point guard in Andre Hollins - solid and confident, low key, always in control.
"They've got several competent big guys, starting with Trevor Mbakwe. And, in Austin Hollins they have the most underrated two-guard in the country. I love great defenders and he's one of the best.
"Of course the Big 10 is tough this year. The Gophs will not win the Big 10 title, but they will get a high seed and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. They won't reach the Final Four, based on suspect outside shooting. But their defense will carry them into the Final 8. The Barn will be rockin' to and fro."

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