Standby . . . Looks Like Rain

[from The Art of Sports / February 15, 2007]

Baseball predictions. They’re fun. They make for interesting conversation. They’re good for building excitement about the upcoming season.

They’re also inherently the stupidest part of the whole sportswriting world.

Let’s face it: for all the prognosticating and punditry that goes on, there is absolutely no reason to believe that a season as long as baseball’s can be condensed into a few inches of print or a few screens’ worth of text and graphics.

Even the language of the so-called experts is laughable.

The Angels “should contend in an unimpressive AL West,” reads’s baseball preview.

Gary “Sheffield should improve upon his 2006 batting line,” writes Fox Sports’ Dayn Perry.

“If everyone stays healthy, this [year’s Detroit] team should be even better than last year’s,” says The Sporting News’ Jim Molony.

Should? If? Are these really the rock-solid and bulletproof outlooks we should be hearing from some of the highest-paid baseball brains in the land? Is this really the best anyone can come up with?

Are they really worth the time we, the reader, put into them? Can anyone really expect to be correct when the best language available is the result of a mostly-educated guess based on a long chain of hypotheticals?

One hundred sixty-two games. Six months. Freak injuries. Shocking trades. On-field momentum. Off-field distractions.

The predictor’s job here is basically to be wrong. You might as well be predicting the weather.

But, as the old saying goes: that’s why they play the games.

With that in mind, here are a few predictions sure to come true:

  • At least one superstar will have a down year.
  • At least one unknown player will have a great year.
  • At least one perennial loser will continue to lose.
  • At least one perennial winner will continue to win.
  • Some team will surprise everyone.
  • Something unexpected will happen between April and November.
  • The fans of those teams and players that everyone counted out will get the last laugh.
  • And finally, the game, no matter what evil the league or its sponsors manage to pull off, and no matter how poorly those experts and their employers react to the way things turn out, will somehow go on. It always does.

Book it.