Early-season predictions are fun; everyone makes them and dissects them. As fun as they are though, don’t mistake them as being constructive.
Coming into every season there are predictions made for a variety of categories, ranging anywhere from comeback player of the year to MVP to World Series champion. It’s fun and keeps people locked in (at least until their prediction falls flat) and as the person who makes the prediction you want to see how “knowledgeable” you are. There are so many factors that make a difference whether or not those predictions come to fruition or your pick doesn’t come close, but the most likely reason is when a team is hampered with injuries or your pick for MVP goes down in the second month of the year. Regardless, most media people make predictions because its part of the gig and it gives the general public or fans of those particular media personnel something to talk about amongst friends or rip into them because they didn’t pick that person’s favorite team or player to win.
I love the predictions and I think they are one of the more entertaining things that I read and really look into. We have all have our own opinions, our own biases, our own gut feelings on why Team A will achieve more than Team B. We all make these picks; it could be telling a friend in a text message, tweeting it out, writing it down on a crumpled up piece of paper, or just telling your friend verbally. I don’t care how you do it, but you do it and you own it. The biases always come in to play so long as your team has a decent chance to contend, because you never want to be that guy who goes against his team the year they take it down.
ESPN, Fox Sports, MLB Network, TBS, all have people that write or are on TV for them analyzing the game and most of those guys make the predictions as well. That seems to be the fans favorite part, because if the “expert” picks the incorrect winner and you’re the homer who picked the Marlins to win the World Series in 1997 against the juggernaut New York Yankees, you feel some sense of entitlement or you all the sudden know baseball like the back of your hand. Don’t get me wrong, picking the champion of any sport regardless of your reasoning is a great feeling; believe me, I’m hardly ever right, it makes you feel invincible in your circle of friends and you’re are now the king of sports.
Theses so called experts are regular people like you and I; granted, they may have played the game, or been writing or following the game for 30 years, but nonetheless they are people. They can be wrong, they can be right, and they will make mistakes. I would be lying if I didn’t pick apart every single prediction out there from all sorts of writers, analysts, former players, etc. I do it because I love to know their reasoning to see if I can learn anything from them or gain new perspective that I hadn’t thought of. If you’re not constantly trying to learn or get better at your craft, then I’m not quite sure why you’re doing it is what you do. That’s why I love all these educated or uneducated guesses. They create great conversations, lengthy debates, entertainment; hell, I’ve seen them end friendships. Sports people, we all love sports and the passion that erupts from it.
Here is the downfall to these picks; everyone, and I mean everyone, jumps the gun. Media loves to get fans and people all riled up with comments and questions they say on their show or write about an idea. They do a marvelous job because I have sometimes, a lot of times, laughed at them or gotten irritated with them for some of the things that they spew. That’s part of their job, to get people interested and keep them watching to see what they will do next. How many times have you been sitting on your couch with your preferred beverage in hand and heard someone mutter, Clayton Kershaw the early favorite for MVP? You hear it, then think to yourself, oh wait we are only one month into the season.
How can anyone in their right mind say anything relatively close to that? My best guess is that they have to fill air time with something. I mean, here is a perfect example: Mark Buehrle from the 2014 season. The guy was sensational before the All-Star break and then the second half of the season he wasn’t so great. He definitely earned the nod to participate in the All-Star game, but for anyone to make the notion that he was a favorite for the AL Cy Young at the halfway point is somewhat outlandish. He still had to make roughly 16 starts or so and continue his early season dominance. He is a good, if not great, addition to any rotation. The MLB season is a full 162 game season and anything can happen throughout; it is by no means a sprint. Let the season marinate and see what guys are consistent in their pursuit of excellence.
Give the media credit though, their job is to entertain and that is what they accomplish day in and day out by creating these stories and wild predictions a month or two into the season. They get a rise out of everyone and it’s fascinating if you buy in. It certainly gets me and my friends going and debating on a regular basis, whether it’s game 20 or game 145, creating a lively atmosphere for all parties. I would really like to see people cool their jets just a little though, wait until the season is nearing before we start handing out awards or indications that a certain player or team is well on their way to winning something.
At the end of the day, predictions and declarations are great; just take them with a shaker of salt.