The Tip Sheet - Pre-race Edition
Ten races, ten winning teams. (Season Eight? Family Edition? Sorry, I'm not following you... when was that?) As I was saying... ten races, ten winning teams. After that many seasons, it should be possible to make some pretty decent predictions based on the past - even allowing for typical race randomness.
For example: of the ten winning teams (Yes, ten. Bransens? Never heard of them.), fully half have been pairs of young men. So any alpha male teams on this season would have to be the favourite. Unlucky for us - and for all the wannabe Tylers and Jameses out there, as scary as that idea might be - this year's Amazing Producers didn't cast a single team that fits the mold. So what's the next best thing? Young mixed-gender couples, with three out of ten, and thirtyish marrieds, with two wins. This season has given us none of the latter, but four of the former, plus a pair of best friends. Some of their bios indicate that their couple status may be up in the air, but history teaches that the couple doesn't have to actually like each other, or even necessarily be a real couple, to succeed.
At the other end of the spectrum, there's a real mixed bag. The first eliminations more often seem to result from one bit of random bad luck - a missed train or a lost cabbie - than from a real inability to race. But overall, the early legs show a real weeding out of teams with older members and the cross-generational teams. It's enough of a trend that we can expect similar results this time out.
So, looking at the teams for TAR12, what does the smart money - or in the absence of smart money, my money - have to say? Here's the breakdown. (Teams are listed in the order they appear at CBS.com.)
Marching to your own drummer can be a winning strategy in the race - but like anything else it can be taken too far. And if these two are as high-maintenance as their look seems to be, then they'll crumble early. Out by four or in to the end.
Their bio suggests the possibility of conflict, but let's be serious here: look at the size of the dude. If they fall behind, he can just stick her in his backpack. Expect a top four finish.
Father and daughter
Parent child teams are so heart-warming; so much potential for personal growth and renewed respect. That kind of makes up for the zero potential to actually win this thing. Have fun in Sequesterville, folks; gone by leg 4.
As with all young female teams, the question is "Dustin and Kandace, or Heather and Eve?" With one legal assistant and one actress, this team has a little of both. But I sense some brittleness - bottom half for these two.
Young male-female teams have consistently done well recently, but no mixed-gender siblings have had much success since Blake and Paige. But I have a soft spot for engineers. Top half.
Intense young couples trying to figure out their relationships may not be the most fun thing to watch, but the record shows they do pretty well on the race, with lots of top four action. Expect no less from these two.
Grandfather and grandson
Hm, perhaps a bit less angst than the typical parent-child set-up, but much more potential for age-related slowness. I can't see this team going too far - gone in four.
Oh goody, a team that wants to flirt and trash-talk its way to the top. Good news: teams like this rarely make it past half-way. Bad news: they usually annoy the crap out of us in the meantime.
The second pair of young women on this version could be considered equivalent to the first, but I don't know. Maybe it's the lack of blonde hair or maybe it's the approach to the Race - correctly noting that it BJ and Tyler won because of their positive energy, not their forced wackiness. Whatever it is, these two have an edge that should put them in the top 4.
Okay, the young couples are all starting to blur together here. This is the one where the big guy has a beard and bandana, not a tank top, right? Not that it really matters, they're all in the same boat - and that boat's sailing to the top four.
So, will they be married racing machines like fellow gay couple Bill and Joe, or married also-rans like fellow ministers Russell and Cyndi? I don't see "Lived in Paris for two years" on their resume, so I think I know which way this one is going. Gone in four.
In a nutshell:
In it to win it:
Jennifer and Nathan
Lorena and Jason
Marianna and Julia
Rachel and TK
Kate and Pat
Nicholas and Donald
Ronald and Christina
First to go: Ronald and Christina
Pick to win: Rachel and TK
Please note: I am totally unspoiled and I intend to stay that way during the season. Those of you who are spoiled are free to mock me relentlessly for my errors - but please don't email me about them until after the fact, thanks very much. There will be plenty of time at TARCON to make me wallow in my puddle of wrongness.