Apr 10, 2008

Worst Sports Predictions of All-Time

Seems like we hear it every year, especially around playoff time: "I guarantee we will win this game" or something to that effect. Give an outspoken player a microphone, and let the camera roll. Once relegated to boxers, the art of the prediction has spread to virtually all of America's professional sports.

Normally, coaches cringe at these public displays of arrogance. They seldom do enough to motivate the team of the player making the unabashed prediction. More often than
not, these predictions actually have a bigger impact on the opposing team. Let's face it: the predictions are generally made by the overwhelming underdogs, as the favorites don't have as much to prove. A ballsy prediction by the underdog often lights the fire of the more talented, favored team, giving them extra motivation to run up the score and rub it in the predictor's face. Consequently, we have witnessed several meltdowns of historic proportions after these predictions have been made in recent years.

In the age of the prediction, I had many to choose from in drafting this post. While I normally stick to basketball, I threw in a few football predictions that went sour - they were just too good (or bad) to not mention.

Without further ado, my five favorite predictions-gone-wrong (in ascending order):

5. Anthony Smith's predicted upset of the Patriots

After the Steelers opened the 2008 playoffs with a win, their high-energy safety made a prediction to do what no other team had done: beat the 2007-08 New England Patriots. By high-energy safety, you must be thinking, "Polamalu, right?" Wrong. Anthony Smith. "Who?" My thoughts, exactly.

Smith's comments puzzled virtually every member of the national media. Had he studied any film heading into the game? Did he fail to notice the 6'4 gazelle or the 5'10 spark plug being hit in stride by the best quarterback in the NFL? Even so, he must have caught at least one Sports Center segment that tabbed this offense as the best ever.

If he underestimated the Patriots' machine, he was quickly enlightened. Then he was abused. Then he was stolen of his manhood. Bellichick, Brady, & Co picked on Smith early and often. He got caught in open space and didn't stand a chance. Brady even looked his way when other receivers were wide open. In the end, Smith got scored on twice and looked foolish doing it.

"Anthony, where are you? Ahh, there you are..."

When the dust settled, Smith's Steelers were pummeled 31-14 and he was forced into the fetal position by a Quarterback. After the game, Darth Vader himself (Bellichick) had the following analysis for Smith: "We've played against a lot better safeties than him, I'll tell you. The safety play at that position was pretty inviting." I'll say so. Smith's post-game comment? "We will see them again. Well, it's gonna have to wait until next year at the earliest. Next time, Smith would be wise to just shut up.

4. Gilbert Arenas' prediction to score 50 points against Nate McMillan's Trailblazers

After being cut by Team USA in the summer of 2006, Arenas had undisguised beef with Nate McMillan (an assistant coach on Team USA). From Arenas' blog came the following prediction: "The most important game is on Feb. 11 (2007). Well, it's not the most important but that's the game I'm going to say is my next 50-pointer."

The 50-point prediction came on the heels of multiple (successful) predictions: the 54 pts he dropped on Phoenix and the game-winner against Utah. This prediction didn't go so well. After much was made of his prediction, Arenas dropped 9 pts on a disgraceful 3-for-15 (0-3 on threes) shooting in 33 minutes. Oh yeah, the Wiz also lost by 21 points to the lowly Blazers and Arenas contributed 5 turnovers to boot.

Yes, Gilbert... it was THAT bad.

3. Jerramy Stevens' "sad day" prediction for Jerome Bettis & the Steelers

In the days leading into the 2006 Super Bowl, much was made of Jerome Bettis' return to his hometown of Detroit to play in his first Big Game. Knowing Bettis & his Steelers were the sentimental favorites, little-known Seahawks Tight End Jerramy Stevens made the following comment (publicly): "It's a heartwarming story and all that, but it will be a sad day when he leaves without the trophy."

This statement made headlines leading into America's biggest sporting event, and it woke up Steelers linebacker Joey Porter. Porter responded by saying: "When a guy says something who lines up in front of me every play, I have to like that. He has to see me. There's no way he can hide from me. We have to meet - over and over and over. . . I'll remind him every time I put him on his back." Yikes -- just what Stevens wanted to hear. A 255 pound linebacker with a propensity for violence is relishing the opportunity to put him on "his back."

Did Stevens feel Porter coming on this drop?

And Porter did just that, laying out Stevens on multiple plays. When Porter didn't get him, Stevens heard footsteps and dropped key passes. These dropped balls (most notably the pictured ball in the red zone) may have cost the Seahawks the game. Interestingly, we haven't heard much from Stevens since...

2. Joey Dorsey's "I am Goliath" prediction against Ohio State's Oden

Before Ohio State & Memphis matched up in the '07 NCAA Tournament, Memphis Center Joey Dorsey called out college basketball's golden boy (err, Man), Greg Oden. He called Oden a "little man" (really?), and said he (Dorsey) was Goliath and Oden was David. He also went on to say Oden was "way overrated" and that he would hold the Ohio State "little man" to 9 points and 5 rebounds. Dorsey also said that he would put up 15 points and 20 rebounds against Oden. Calipari must have been ecstatic about these idiotic predictions.

The biggest "little man" in the world

You know the story - "David" beat, no, massacred, "Goliath" just like in Biblical times. Dorsey's line for the game (a 92-76 loss) was 0 pts, 3 reb, and 4 fouls in 19 minutes. Oden? 17 pts & 9 rebounds on 7-8 shooting.

The future still looks bright for Dorsey, though. I'm sure he will replicate the draft position of Oden in this summer's draft (#1 overall). Right...

1. Matt Hasselbeck's coin-flip guarantee

First, my apologies to Seahawks fans for giving you two spots in the top 5. Living in the Northwest, your team has just blessed me with too much good material. This one takes the cake.

In the 2004 NFL playoffs, Seattle and Green Bay were gridlocked in a tie at the end of regulation. The two teams sent their captains to midfield, where a coin toss took place. Seattle won the toss, and that's where all the fun began. Matt Hasselbeck grabbed the mic and estatically proclaimed: "We want the ball, and we're gonna score!"

Watching the game live, I could almost feel the grumble from Holmgren's beer belly. At that point, Hasselbeck hadn't proved anything in the league. He was a poor-man's Favre, high-risk/high-reward type of player with no postseason experience. This was a setup for disaster.

I'll give Hasselbeck a little credit - it was pretty ballsy. In reality, the first part of his prediction came true: the Seahawks did get the ball. The second part? Not so much. Not only did the Seahawks fail to score, but Hasselbeck (Mr. Prediction himself) was picked off by Al Harris. Harris returned the interception for a score on the same play, leaving a dejected Hasselbeck and his bold pronouncement in his wake. Classic.

Uh, Matt, they scored...

I know I have missed some worthy predictions, so make mention of these omissions...

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