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Ashway: a fearless forecast for 2017 sports
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Finally, the Great Dentoni!

Fearlessly forecasting fabulous fabrications, fantastic facts, foretelling fate, and finding fault, our feckless forecaster famously flies forward, facing the future in fine form.  Fast-forward to 2017:

January: Alabama establishes itself as one of the best college football teams of all time with a resounding 42-14 thumping of Ohio State in the national title game. “We’ll enjoy this tonight,” acknowledges legendary coach Nick Saban, “and tomorrow we’ll start breaking down the film. I saw some things we need to improve on.” The Falcons return to the NFL playoffs, but lose to the Giants, 20-17, on a late interception return for a touchdown. “I just can’t make that pass in that situation,” laments quarterback Matt Ryan.

February: Capping an amazing playoff run behind a defense that evokes memories of LT and the Big Blue Wrecking Crew, not to mention Huff, Robustelli and Katcavage, the Giants stun the Patriots, 20-13 in Super Bowl LI. “It is what it is,” mutters Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “We just can’t beat those guys in the biggest game.”

March: Another drought ends in Illinois as Northwestern makes the NCAA Tournament for the first time. “It’s just another step in the process,” says coach Chris Collins. “I mean, I did learn a few things during all those years I spent at Duke.”

April: The whole country turns blue as the Final Four comes up Villanova, Kentucky, Duke, and UCLA. University of Phoenix Stadium glimmers like the Caribbean. Improbably, Josh Hart makes a half-court heave at the buzzer to beat Duke, 70-69. Nova rallied from 10 points down, sparked by a technical foul for kicking on Duke’s Grayson Allen…An improbable result in Augusta as well, as Sweden’s Alex Noren fires four straight 69s to win the Masters, extending the streak of first-time majors winners...Opening Day at SunTrust Park features a throng of 5,432, as a massive traffic snarl prevents all but close friends and family from entering the Braves new palace.

May: Despite having the lowest attendance in the major leagues, the Braves battle the Nationals for the division lead. Ancient wonders Bartolo Colon and RA Dickey continue to roll back the clock, and Jaime Garcia remains healthy. How far can the Braves go? “I don’t know, because we still have a long way to go,” quips manager Brian Snitker.

June: The U.S. Open visits Wisconsin for the first time, but we’ve seen this before. Phil Mickelson stands on the 16th tee with a two-shot lead, contemplating his next move. Three bogeys later, he laments another tortuous Open finish. Steady Hidecki Matsuyama, the recipient of Mickelson’s largesse, wins his first major…LeBron James leads the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals for a repeat championship. Does this make James the greatest player of all time? “I don’t know about that,” answers James, “but I should be in the starting five.”

July: The Braves Express creaks into the All-Star break with Colon, Dickey, and Garcia all on the disabled list. “We still have a long way to go,” observes Snitker. “Time for some of our young pitchers to step up.” Patrick Reed wins his first major in the British Open at Royal Birkdale. “There’s just something about playing against the Europeans that brings out my best,” exults Reed.

August: Undaunted, the PGA holds its championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, and Brooks Koepka wins his first major. “Surprised? No,” says the winner. “I finished fourth in two majors last year.”

September: Georgia Tech christens Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a rousing 42-28 win over Tennessee, as new quarterback Matthew Jordan rushes for 156 yards…Georgia struggles past Appalachian State, but then shakes down the thunder in South Bend with an impressive second outing…the Braves just miss the playoffs, but are encouraged for the future, as the traffic flow improved all during the season.

October: The Cubs breeze through the playoffs, but a new drought begins as the Indians sweep the World Series. “Next thing you know,” shouts manager Terry Francona, “they’ll be calling Cleveland the City of Champions!” Maybe so. The Browns actually win three games in a row.

November: Two-loss Georgia faces three-loss Tech, but the game is in Atlanta, so Georgia wins, 24-20. “We’re getting closer,” says Georgia coach Kirby Smart, “It’s just too bad that loss to Vanderbilt will keep us from playing in Atlanta again next week.”

December: Vanderbilt gets to play in Atlanta, but the Commodores are overwhelmed by undefeated, top-ranked Alabama. “We’ll enjoy this tonight,” acknowledges Saban, “and tomorrow we’ll start breaking down the film.  I saw some things we need to improve on.”