Monday, August 21, 2006

Predicting the Past

We're always amused to read and listen to prognostications at the beginning of a new sports season. Predicting how a team will do is a meaningless exercise unless your angle is gambling. But like the buzzards returning to Hinckley every Spring, you can count on every newspaper, every televised sports program, and every sports talk radio show to devote an inordinate amount of space and time trying to predict the sporting future.

We note this as the predictions about the Browns are starting to roll in. We heard Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio predict a grand total of 5 wins, based mostly on what they feel is a tough schedule. Most others are predicting that the Browns will improve either one or two games off their six wins last year. To all of this we ask, "who cares?" Getting worked up about what a few folks in the media think is hardly worth the effort it took to write this sentence.

The truth of the matter is that the way the NFL is designed, you can get away with predicting 9-7 for every good team, 8-8 for every mediocre team, and 7-9 for every bad team without doing any research and without embarrasing yourself with among your drinking buddies in the book club. There's no question that some teams will end up doing better, others worse. That's where injuries, arrests and other mid-season distractions come into play. But if there is one thing that's certain, it is that no matter what you think now what will happen will be radically different.

Most thought that the Indians were going to be a playoff team this year. A few of us openly questioned this given how cheapskate owners Larry and Paul Dolan cut the legs out from under GM Mark Shapiro in the off-season. But neither side of the debate foresaw this mess. The same will hold true with the Browns. And that's as far as we want to venture into the prediction business. It will save us both our sanity and our money.

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