Thursday, October 8, 2009
The problem with making predictions in print is they're often wrong. If they weren't, I'd be making a handsome living betting on sports. (I don't, by the way. Never have.) So Chicago didn't land the 2016 Olympics. So they were the first city voted out. Miss by an inch, might as well miss by a mile. I did. It happens. I'm already over it. Rio was the right choice. I just didn't think the IOC would make it. Someone from the Windy City forgot to deliver the suitcase of cash.
...The most memorable erroneous prediction I made was in the May 14, 1984 issue of Sports Illustrated on the eve of the Stanley Cup finals that pitted the four-time defending champs, the New York Islanders, vs. Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers. The Isles had swept the Oilers in the 1983 finals, and while I was a big fan of the Oilers run-and-gun style, I thought the Isles veterans had one more Cup in them. "...the Islanders will beat the Edmonton Oilers and win their fifth straight Cup," I wrote. "Five games? Six games? It doesn't matter. The Islanders will win it." [After a slow start New York stuck it to the Canadiens and - 05.14.84 - SI Vault]
...They didn't. The Oilers steamrolled the Isles in five. A lot of cities would have been satisfied with their first Stanley Cup. Not Edmonton, which has a cowtown mentality. They wanted to rub their victory in the face of the big city writer who had dismissed their heroes so cavalierly. The next week a huge funeral wreathe arrived at Sports Illustrated's editorial offices in New York, addressed to me and sent by the City of Edmonton. It was four feet across and adorned with white lilies and a card that said: E.M. Swift's Prediction, R.I.P.
The gesture earned a mention and a photo in the next week's Letter From the Publisher.
I have no clue what happened to the wreathe. I was on vacation and never saw it...
How about a story? By now you've probably heard that Greg Norman, the Great White Shark, and Chrissy Evert, the 54-year-old erstwhile tennis queen, have split after 15 whole months of marriage. Lots of theories on why: Evert didn't want to move into the estate where Norman's wife used to live; Norman's kids couldn't stand her; two huge egos don't fit in one marriage. Probably all have an element of truth.
... Theirs was a high-profile, short-lived romance, the subject of a long, gushy, embarrassing article in Sports Illustrated [At 54, Chris Evert and Greg Norman make each other feel - 04.13.09 - SI Vault]by the ordinarily reliable John Garrity, who treated us to the image of the two world-renowned narcissists as lovebirds stroking one another's feet. Evert, who has managed to cultivate and hang onto her image as "America's sweetheart" despite her three failed high-profile marriages (to British tennis player John Lloyd, to former skier Andy Mill, and to Norman), has a checkered reputation within the industry. So one prediction I would never have made was that her marriage to Norman would last.
...I have to be careful here, since this is a family oriented blog. The story I'm about to share involves a sexual favor. Or the promise of one. It is an act that men consider a treat, that many women consider a chore, and that President Clinton swore was not having sex at all. For the purposes of this blog, let's call this favor: "a piece of gum."
...So here's the story. Mills and Norman, who used to be best friends, were teamed together in a member-guest golf tournament a few years ago. Evert, who was married to Mills at the time, was dutifully following the duo. Mills faced an eagle putt on a par five, and as he stalked the green with Norman, reading the putt, Evert said within earshot of the caddy who told me this story: "Andy, if you sink this putt, I'll give you a [piece of gum]." Then she grinned at Norman. "In fact, I'll give you both [pieces of gum]."
... Mills missed the putt.
... When I heard that story, Mills and Evert were still married. So I was not exactly flabberghasted when the next time I saw her she was following Norman around at the 2008 British Open, cooing and batting her eyes like a schoolgirl.
...Enough of that. Time for my Red Sox-Angels prediction.
I've wrestled with this one, because I really admire the way the Angels play baseball. They run, they bunt, they play good defense. And the Red Sox are a flawed team this year, with Papi's struggles, the inconsistency of J.D. Drew in the middle of the order, Josh Beckett's late-season problems, and Matsusaka's disappearing act for the first five months of the season. And the Angels will run wild on Sox catchers Jason Varitek and Victor Martinez, who threw out only 8.5% and 10.5% of would be base stealers this year, respectively.
...But I just don't think the Angels starting pitching is enough to shut down the Sox offense, and I love Jon Lester in Game One. Beckett has a history of rising to the occasion in the post-season, and Matsuzaka is finally healthy and throwing well. Plus their late-inning, fireballing relief corps of Daniel Bard, Billy Wagner, and Jon Papelbon is as formidable as they come. And don't underestimate the "We've got your number" theory. The Sox eliminated the Angels in 2004, 2007 and 2008. No curse last forever--well, the Cubs one might--but look for the Red Sox to win it in four.
...Take that prediction to the bank. (But don't bet on it!)
Posted by E.M. Swift at 10:01 AM