So Jimmy Rollins proved once again that when it comes to playoffs and predictions, he's an idiot. Picking the Phillies to win in five games was clearly an act of a delusional man. Thank God the mighty Yankees proved him wrong.
Wait. Hang on. Scratch that.
Rollins shouldn't be criticized for making a prediction. He should be applauded for pointing out (indirectly and probably unintentionally) the laziness of sportswriters.
Asking a player for their prediction in a series is the most cliched, pointless thing a sportswriter can do. It baffles me that people continue to ask, and more amazingly, get upset at the results.
Exactly what is a writer hoping for when asking a player for a prediction? Do they honestly think some ground-breaking answer is going to come out? Some piece of prose, so eloquently worded we'll be showing video clips of it for years to come?
Realistically, there are two things that will occur when a player is asked this question:
1) They will say they think their team will win
Of course, they won't do this without first admitting their opponent is a great team/player. After all, we wouldn't want to offend anyone here. But once the required pleasantries are out of the way, it's all their team, all the time.
Again, why would this be suprising to people. What player doesn't have the confidence in themselves and their teammates that they think they'll lose? Even if they did, who in their right mind would say it? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure this stuff out.
Of course, some people don't want to ruffle any feathers, so you get a variation of this response:
2) "I think we're two evenly-matched teams, and it's hard to know how the game(s) will play out, and they've got a lot of great players in that locker room, so I really can't say what will happen"
Well, great. Thanks for that insight.
You know when I'll applaud a player for making a prediction? When I hear this:
"Well, we're a great team, but our rotation isn't lined up so great, and they have home field and we've got some guys battling injuries and we don't have their depth. I like the other guys in six."
At least that quote will have some meaning to it.
At least then you've got a story with something interesting to say.
At least then I know the guy is being honest, and not just worried about how he'll look in the press.
But we all know that will never happen. We all know every sportswriter wants to get the next Joe Namath quote. The next Mark Messier guarantee. So, they keep asking and we keep hearing the same bland responses. Think "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," minus the fury part.
Now I don't blame athletes for making these predictions. If a sportswriter sticks a mic in your face and asks you the question, what choice do you have but to give an actual answer?
And I certainly understand why sportswriters ask. For one, it's an easy, no-brainer column to write. And second, it will get a ton of views/clicks/comments. Nothing gets the people going like someone asserting that their team is inferior to another and once you get an argument going, viola! You've done your job as a writer, namely, increase your readership. I get it.
But at the same time, it makes me sad. That as writers, we can't even come up with a decent angle to cover, so we fall back on the cliched prediction piece.
It's sad that as fans, we still seem to be surprised that there are people out there who don't think our team is the best there ever was.
So here's hoping that someday soon, we all wise up and rid ourselves of the fascination of the prediction. I figure it'll happen around 2013. Guaranteed.