Sportscaster: What’s your prediction for the fight?
Clubber Lang: Prediction?
Sportscaster: Yes, prediction.
Clubber Lang: (after a long scowl into the camera) Paaain.
I thought about this exchange from Rocky III (very underrated for its one-liners) when I was watching MLB Tonight on Monday. Host Matt Yallof asked Sean Casey and Tom Verducci to make their predictions about who was going to be in the World Series. I would love to remember who the both of them picked. I am 100% sure one of them picked the Washington Nationals and about 90% sure one of them picked the Detroit Tigers.
And there lies the crux of the matter. How can one accurately pick World Series participants on February 4th? The moving trucks are packing up and there is snow on the ground indicating Winter intends to be here for a little while longer. Rosters are not even set, free agents have to be signed yet we are supposed to forecast who will be playing for it all in eight and a half months. Come the end of the season, we may not remember what Casey and Verducci will have said on September 4th, never mind February 4th. This isn’t to pick on those guys. It is a symptom of a world we live in today where we can’t let things breathe, where every other day a prediction is made about the future a month from now, three months from now or a year from now. The day after the 2012 World Series ended, how many people did you hear speculate who would be playing in the Fall Classic in 2013?
That’s another peeve. How many predictions can a person make before we tune him or her out? If I am going to make a prediction about the upcoming season, I won’t do it until right around Opening Day. So much can happen between now and then; a big trade, a major injury or a team seems as though they gel throughout the exhibition season. If I choose to do so, I will predict playoff teams and World Series Champion at the end of March and make no other predictions until the playoffs begin. What good is my word if I say one thing in February, one in April, one in June and one in September? Last March, I was one of the few people who said the Nats would win the division. My reasoning? I didn’t like the news I kept hearing about the Phillies, I thought the Braves wouldn’t be able to recover from the 2011 collapse (which I was wrong about) and also believed the Marlins had a great chance to implode (which they eventually did). I thought the perfect storm was brewing for Washington to win the National League East. To me, I felt good about that prediction coming true not because I am a big lover of baseball (no debate) or I am a genius (plenty of debate) but because I said it once instead of waffling all Winter before settling on them. How dumb would I have looked if on January 1st after Miami made all of those moves I predicted they would win the division and then said on February 1st that I changed my mind and that the Phillies would be the team to beat only to go in another direction on March 15th by stating it was the year of the Nats?
I have a word of advice to everyone in the prediction business: wait. Wait until a week before Opening Day before making any judgements on the 2013 season. I have a lot of thoughts and beliefs on what I think will happen but I am not ready to share them yet. Again, I go back to wanting my word to mean something. I get one chance at getting my predictions right. If I am wrong on most of them, so be it. It doesn’t make me less of a fan or less knowledgable about the game if I am wrong. If most of them are correct, great although I won’t consider myself much smarter than the average fan or pundit. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do any bragging:)
Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com