For soothsayer champs, trash talk at work not so bad

J. Patrick Eaken

For Gladieux Home Center employees Ron Gladieux and Joe Szyperski, tying for the Press soothsayer championship is not so bad.
        In picking the winners of 148 high school, college, and professional football games, somehow Gladieux and Szyperski both finished 119-29, which at 80.4 percent is slightly under the all-time record. Press soothsayers have been choosing winners, and losers, since 2001.
        Because of the tie, now there is no need for taunting in the workplace. If you ask the two of them, there never was, but maybe just a little trash talk.
        “I’m just proud of Joe,” Gladieux said. “If I had to tie, I’d be happy to tie with Joe. He wanted to win bad, but at the end I was happy that we tied.”
        Szyperski added, “It was fun. It gave us something to talk about every day. He tried to get me to pick Stryker (0-8) every day. My only regret is I’m a Michigan fan, and I picked Michigan every week, and the only week I didn’t pick them would have won me the contest. I didn’t trust them against Notre Dame and that would have won me the competition.
        “It’s good we tied. It was good competition. We were never more than two games apart the whole season,” Szyperski continued. “He won a week, I won a week, and either he went two games up, or he had a bad week and I went two games up, or he had a good week, and it ended up even.”
        Press contributing sportswriter Yaneek Smith finished third, three games back at 116-32, followed by Press features editor and defending champion Tammy Walro (113-35), Genoa Banking Company President Marty Sutter (111-37), Oregon jeweler Alan Miller (105-43), ESPN The Ticket 106.5 Saturday morning talk show host Steve Taylor (103-45), and Jill Bench (95-53) of Bench’s Greenhouse in Elmore.
        Gladieux and Taylor are also color and play-by-play announcers for Toledo Sports Network, but it was Smith who was the best soothsayer for most of the 10-week season.
        “Yaneek was up until the last few weeks. He had a week where he took six losses (bad picks) and we caught him,” Szyperski said. “We passed him the third-to-last week.”
        It came down to the Cleveland Browns-Denver Broncos game in week 10, which the Broncos won 24-19. Gladieux had the Browns, Szyperski chose the Broncos.
        “I didn’t trust the Browns,” Szyperski said. “They hadn’t won all year.”
Happy Meal for the winner?
        Gladieux, a 1982 Clay graduate, and Szyperski, a Cardinal Stritch graduate, had a bet. If either won, the other was to buy lunch.
        “I was going to buy him a (McDonald’s) Happy Meal, but he said he doesn’t eat lunch,” Gladieux said. “I said, ‘I have to buy you something if you win.’”
        So what was it like working together while your football picks are in the public domain?
        “He’s going to say there was a little bit of trash talk, but there wasn’t,” Gladieux said. “I’m very competitive. It’s one of those things where if we’re in something, like when we are, you know you want to be the best at whatever you do. You’re going to be in that competition, you are going to try and win it.”
        We always like to find out what the strategy is of our winning soothsayer — is it like picking horses or did you research and have a plan?
        “You know it was tough because Genoa usually rocks, but this year was a little bit tougher. I think what you saw with everybody’s picks, probably a lot more losses than maybe in the past. There were a lot of games that could have gone either way,” Gladieux said. “And, you can’t put money on Cleveland, right?”
        Szyperski, a long time wrestling coach, former Stritch football coach, and Press distribution carrier for 44 years — since he graduated high school, said he went on his “gut feeling and I just read the newspaper. That’s it. I kept track of everybody’s wins, kept everything, like your insert (Press football preview) that you had at the beginning of the season, marked everybody’s scores down and was able to compare common opponents.”
        One of the toughest decisions is whether or not to pick your home school, even if you know they are not the favorite going into the game.
        “That’s one of those things, but it was amazing to see that Clay had a really, really good season,” Gladieux said, acknowledging that the Eagles went 5-5 playing in the always-tough Three Rivers Athletic Conference. He says if he did not pick Clay, there was little negative feedback.
        “It was friendly. Troy McLaughlin, a good friend of mine, he coaches over there, and he was in my wedding years ago and we grew up together and went to Clay. A couple of times I didn’t pick them, and he said, ‘You should’ve picked us.’ But yeah, they had a great season and I’m proud of that, too.”
        Szyperski had already learned his lesson.
        “I did learn from last year you can’t pick your home team all the time. You’ve got to pick against your alumni if you want to win this thing,” Szyperski said. “You can’t pick Stritch and Michigan every week.”
        There was always the feedback from the public, too.
        “You know, customers would come in and say, “Hey, I see you were first or second or you didn’t do so well that week in your picks,” Gladieux said.
        Plus, the parishioners at Szyperski’s church are waiting to hear how he finished.
        “A lot of people at my church are waiting to hear the results of this. I have a big following at St. Jerome and they are all wondering how we ended up,” Szyperski said. “I told one guy so far but I have several people asking.’


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