I knew there was something rotten in Denmark.

Yes, I smelled a rat — a big old sneaky one.

Six weeks into the 2006 Ada Evening News Prediction Race and I’m not six games in front of those slugs? You know that ain’t right!

Initially, I thought (God forbid) my skills had eroded. Sure, I’ve made a mockery of the prediction race in three of the past five years. But maybe — I considered — it was time to hang up my famed pencil.

Just when doubt was about to take over, however, I discovered treachery in the first degree. There was — I found — a logical reason why I wasn’t whipping those stiffs like a red-headed stepchild.

Finally it came to me like a vision of olden times. Earlier this week I was gazing into my priceless crystal ball, begging for some sign — any sign — to the outcome of the Louisiana-Monroe/Troy game. While in a semi-trance, it hit me like Uncle Jonas’ breath after a night on the town.

Immediately, I jerked up the crystal ball and — after a close examination — realized it was not mine. Some devious culprit had somehow disarmed my high-tech security system and replaced my invaluable work of art for some old worthless piece of glass.

Who would do such a thing? Who is sneaky enough to get away with the crime of the century?

Like a youthful Sherlock Holmes, I put my top-notch investigative skills to work.

“Who would give his right arm for my crystal ball?” I wondered.

“Who hasn’t won a title this millennium (besides the Beasleys, James Myers, Bob Forrest and an encyclopedia of guests)?”

I guess I knew down deep who the dastardly villain was, but I didn’t want to believe it.

Then, however, I received the FBI report. Here’s an excerpt: “We identified a partial print left behind by the perpetrator’s right ring finger. That wasn’t much to go on, but it turned out to be enough. Later, we raided the Hood and located your crystal ball hidden inside a life-size action figure (not doll) of Spiderman. Do you want to press charges against Jeff Cali?”

I guess I’m just too kind-hearted.

“No, just take this hunk of worthless glass and return my incredible, all-seeing crystal ball so that I can get back to my usual 9-1 weeks.

“How could you believe I’d stoop so low to swipe your hall-of-fame crystal ball?” the Big Fella whined sheepishly.

“The FBI found your fingerprint on it, man!”

“Impossible!” he screamed. “I was wearing gloves.”

Meanwhile, the 2006 prediction race is the tightest one in years. Thanks to my crystal ball, Jeff churned out an impressive 7-3 last week, while I hit rock bottom using his old scarred up hunk of glass (I should have known something was up when the Big Guy displayed unusual confidence in his selections.)

That farce jumped him into a tie for second place, only a game back of a couple more of scoundrels — James “I Can’t Get a Break” Myers and Bob Forrest. And the Beasleys are hanging tough, four games off the pace, with the guests within shouting distance five games out.

It looks like the battle for second place could get bloody. Expect a 10-0 week from me this week since I’ve been reunited with my magical crystal ball.

Do you realize every bookie in the nation would kill for my crystal ball, chiseled out of virgin glass by Michaelangelo?

———o———

Editor's Note: We'd like to extend a special thanks to all the guest who have — and will — make an appearance in the 2006 Ada Evening News Prediction Race. They first five incude: David Seely, sports editor of the Daily Ardmoreite; former prediction guru/AEN crime reporter Jeremy Cantrell; local financial wizard Bryan Roark (otherwise known as Craig and Chad's father); new Ada Vice Principal Jeff Maloy; and new Ada girls basketball head coach Michelle Shannon.

Which brings me to the Week 6 guest, Terry Shannon, who gets the biggest thanks for his 2-8 effort that got the guests of our backs. Don't worry Terry, we won't tell anyone that your wife went 7-3 the week before. Ooops.

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