Andy Kirkaldy: Looking back at baseball prediction
Sports writers love to make predictions. Usually, they are forgotten. Unless, of course, they are proven correct.
In the interest of standing by mine right or wrong, I have made three public predictions about the Red Sox, two in writing, (one of which had more waffles than Rosie’s) and one verbal on Sept. 15 made in response to a question posed by Corey Buxton.
Corey, whom I often see in the Middlebury College fieldhouse after we each run around pretending to be athletes, prompted my preseason waffling by asking my opinion back in March about Boston’s chances this season.
Basically, I answered the Sox had too many unknowns to feel comfortable making an educated guess. Included on that list: Were pitchers going to be healthy or bounce back from off years, were young players going to develop, could Hanley Ramirez handle first base, and would Pablo Sandoval be seen playing third base or floating over Fenway with a tire logo and a camera hanging from his midsection?
I wrote a column here that listed those issues and also mentioned some pluses, and also looked at the fact that every other team in Boston’s division also had pluses and minutes. It concluded about the Sox:
“They could be OK. The funny thing is you could say the same thing about the entire American League East.”
The next public prediction came on Aug. 2 on a Chad Finn Facebook post. Finn writes for the Boston Globe and Boston.com, and New England fans who do not read his much more balanced reporting and opinions than the usual gloom-and-doom stuff coming out of Beantown are advised to check out his work.
Despite the fact the Sox were not playing their best at the time, I commented in response to a piece about Sox General Manager Dave Dombrowski moves:
“Call me crazy, but I still have a good feeling about this team. Rotation looks good now, they can hit, Benintendi will at least shore up the recently leaky OF D, and really they just needed bullpen help, and that’s what has arrived with Abad and Kimbrel back.”
Abad arrived via trade with the Twins and has been an unmitigated disaster, so much for that prediction. But Kimbrel, despite one truly horrendous outing, has been good since he returned from injury just before I wrote that.
Of course, that same night alleged Sox ace David Price and the aforementioned Fernando Abad conspired to blow a 4-0 lead at Seattle in the 8th inning, dropping the Sox to 58-47. I thought maybe I should just shut up.
Then this past Friday, I saw Corey again at the fieldhouse. After lamenting we were no longer 27 and skinny, the latter condition which we blamed in part on Otter Creek Brewing, Corey stopped me and asked me for a one-word answer to the question: “Will the Red Sox make the playoffs?”
Well, so far, so good. That night, the Sox scored five times in the ninth inning, capped by a Ramirez three-run homer, to defeat some team from New York. The Sox went on to take three more games from their visitors, rallying on Sunday from four runs down to win, 5-4, and take a three-game lead over second-place Baltimore.
On Monday as this is written, the Sox entered a four-game set at Baltimore, a team that has given them fits in recent years. The race could tighten.
But this team, even with its suddenly shaky pitching rotation, has the look of a winner. And the other good AL teams, Cleveland and Texas, suddenly have their own pitching problems, with Cleveland’s Nos. 2 and 3 starters out for the season and the Rangers’ bullpen looking iffy.
And neither of those teams have Big Papi.
Why not the Sox? Bring on the Cubs.