First Pitch: Why I hate predicting
February, 25, 2013
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
TAMPA, Fla. -- Because of things like what happened to Curtis Granderson on Sunday, that's why.
This is the time of the year when editors, fans, family members and friends all have the same questions: How are the Yankees going to do this season? How many wins? Will they win the division? Or -- gasp! -- miss the playoffs altogether?
I hate to tell the truth, because I cover them for a living and am supposed to be omniscient in all things Yankee. But the truth is, I have no idea.
And neither do you, or anyone else, be they so-called experts or just casual fans.
And the reason is simple: With 25 players on a team, 162 games in a season, 30-plus preseason games preceding them and who knows how many bad hops, errant pitches, clumsy slides, thrown bats and other random things that can happen on a ballfield, it's simply impossible to make an intelligent prediction on the outcome of a baseball season.
Coming into 2013, there were plenty of questions about the Yankees' health, but all of them surrounded older players and/or players with histories of injury -- Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte.
But now, barely two weeks into spring training, the Yankess have had Phil Hughes, 26 and seemingly healthy, go down with a back injury suffered in an innocent fielding drill, and Granderson, as fit an athlete as I've ever seen in any sport, lost for 10 weeks to a broken arm in his first at-bat of the spring.
Of all the predictions I could have made about the Yankees, I can assure you I would have missed out on those two.
And the odds are that the ones I might have made, such as Rivera being ineffective at 43 or Jeter being unable to play shortstop everyday coming off his broken ankle, may never come to pass. For all I know, Pettitte may win the Cy Young Award. But there's no way I would predict it.
The injury to Granderson, and the presumed loss of at least some of his expected 35-40 home runs, might affect the Yankees profoundly. Or (as Granderson himself would say), then again it might not.
The Yankees might win 95 games and the AL East all over again. A-Rod might come back in the second half and hit 25 home runs, sparking an offensive resurgence. Michael Pineda might rejoin the club in July and reel off 10 straight wins. Mo might close games like it's 2005 again. Jeter might hit .325 and win a batting title and a long-overdue MVP. They might have to close down lower Broadway this October for a parade.
As Joe Girardi likes to say, I don't have a crystal ball. And yet, any day now, some editor or fan or friend is going to demand that I gaze into one and tell him, or her, or you, how the Yankees will finish up in 2013.
I'm telling you right now, I have no clue.
And whether you want to believe or not, neither have you.
QUESTION: In spite of the previous 500 words, I command you to gaze into your crystal ball and tell me how the Yankees will do this year. Now, isn't that fun?
UP NOW: A Grandy Extravaganza, with my news story on Granderson's injury, and my column on why a busted arm may help Curtis hold onto the center fielder's job. Plus, a blog on that forgotten event of yesterday, namely, the game with the Blue Jays.
COMING SOON: A busy morning, clubhouse open at 8:30 a.m., followed by live BPs thrown by CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera. Then, we jump into our rental cars and drive to Sarasota for this afternoon's game against the Orioles. LHP Vidal Nuno to start and no radio or TV, so only my Twitter feed, @ESPNNYYankees, to keep you up to speed. Check in often and as always, thanks for reading.