The art of prediction is always dangerous, and never more so than at NCAA tournament time.
“It is the sportswriting version of taking a 38-story swan dive,” wrote the Baltimore Sun’s John Eisenberg, who took the plunge nonetheless.
After listing the reasons for his likes and dislikes, Eisenberg picked his Final Four: “In Seattle, therefore, it will be Missouri against North Carolina and Arizona against Georgetown.”
The Baltimore Evening Sun’s Molly Dunham fared no better.
Labeling her pick “SAFE BETS,” she wrote: “Look for the No. 1 seed in the East, Georgetown, to meet the West’s No. 1 seed, Arizona, in the Final Four.”
And later: “Illinois Coach Lou Henson, the guy with the horrible hair, has the best collection of talent in the tournament. . . . Yet the Illini always find a way to lose early, and this year should be no exception.”
Further predictions: The Hoyas’ exit from the tournament wrecked more than a few forecasts.
“I think Georgetown is the team to beat,” CBS commentator Billy Packer said. “With their defense, you don’t get any easy shots. . . . They don’t blow many people out, but they usually find a way to win.”
Usually, but not always.
“The NCAA tournament . . . concludes April 3 in Seattle,” wrote Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant. “On that night, expect the Hoyas to be crowned champion. Their first, perhaps, of four in a row. Yes, they are that good.”
Well, no, not quite.
Trivia: Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Browning, who pitched a perfect game against the Dodgers last September, broke into the major leagues with a 20-9 record in 1985. Who was the last rookie before him to win 20?
Old, older, oldest: Bryan Trottier, the New York Islanders’ veteran center, said his role with the team has changed. Now, he said, he is playing a supporting role in the team’s youth movement.
“I have taken a different responsibility helping the youngsters to mature,” he said.
Coach Al Arbour, a teammate of Trottier’s on four Stanley Cup-winning teams in the early 1980s, put it another way:
“He’s like a father to the players. I’m like a grandfather.”
Dodger blue, green, red . . .: There were so many players at the first Dodgertown spring training, 581 from 26 farms teams, that they not only wore triple-digit uniform numbers but also different colored uniforms.
On the air: The Dallas Mavericks’ Rolando Blackman got his first national broadcasting exposure recently when he was a guest analyst on TBS.
“I was so very nervous sitting there,” he said. “I controlled the nervousness in my voice and on my face, but not in my leg. My left leg was twitching the whole time. Just when I started to feel comfortable, I looked on the monitor and saw the graphic, ‘Voice of Rolando Blackman.’ I realized that everyone was listening to me. I got nervous all over again.
“But I really enjoyed it. Just when I was getting warmed up, my time was over.”
Trivia answer: Bob Grim of the New York Yankees, who won 20 games in 1954.
Quotebook: Said Jay Leno, serving as host of “The Tonight Show”: “There are computer baseball cards out now that talk to you. But not many kids are old enough to get the Wade Boggs card.”