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That crystal ball

October 6, 2011 - John Mehno
At the start of every season, we feel some obligation to make predictions.

Hockey season is ready to open, and the Penguins look like a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. But who knows? They looked like one at this time last year, too. Who could have known they'd play the second half of the season without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? That led to huge problems in scoring goals. Although they were fine in the regular season, they got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.

How long is the hockey season? When the Pirates play their home opener next April 5, it will be part of a sports doubleheader -- the Penguins play that night at the Consol Energy Center. It's not even their last game of the regular season.

A lot of twists and turns are coming, and it's impossible to forecast where they'll lead.

That's why I called my baseball playoff predictions "guesses." Three of the four series are going the five-game limit. A pitch here, a play there might make the difference. I still remember when the Pirates lost the 1972 playoffs on a wild pitch.

So watch the games, enjoy the games but don't bet the games. You're always just a crazy bounce away from losing your paycheck.

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