About those predictions? Now, it's time to confess

ON BASEBALL

October 01, 1995|By BUSTER OLNEY | BUSTER OLNEY,SUN STAFF

This forum is often used for predictions. Many predictions. Hundreds of predictions. It is time, therefore, to examine the record, to own up to what was written here on April 25, 1995, the day before the Orioles' season began.

Prediction on the division winners: Atlanta, Cincinnati, San Diego, Seattle, Cleveland and (ahem) the Orioles.

Confession: Didn't take a brain surgeon to pick the Braves, Reds and Indians. Plus, fourth place was predicted for the Red Sox.

Excuse: Who would've guessed that Sid Fernandez wouldn't come through with his usual 18-20 victories?

Prediction on AL Cy Young Award: 1. David Cone; 2. Mike Mussina; 3. John Wetteland; 4. Randy Johnson; 5. Jason Bere.

Confession: Included Bere because I thought it would be cool to note an up-and-comer.

Excuse: Who would've guessed Cone would've played for such a crummy team for three months?

Prediction on AL MVP: 1. Kenny Lofton; 2. Ken Griffey; 3. David Cone; 4. Frank Thomas; 5. Albert Belle.

Confession: Mo Vaughn was listed as the fourth-best first baseman -- in the AL East.

Excuse: Who picks a member of the Red Sox to win anything?

Prediction on NL MVP: 1. Greg Maddux; 2. Moises Alou; 3. Fred McGriff; 4. Barry Bonds; 5. Jeff Bagwell.

Confession: Got a chance with Maddux, but not even close with Alou and Bagwell.

Excuse: Who would've guessed the Alous wouldn't get along?

Prediction on NL Cy Young Award: 1. Maddux; 2. Jose Rijo; 3. Andy Benes; 4. Doug Drabek; 5. Steve Avery.

Confession: Only complete dolts didn't pick Maddux.

Excuse: Benes, Drabek and Avery were typos. No kidding. Seriously.

Prediction on the most underrated player in the majors: Montreal's Wil Cordero.

Confession: He's so underrated that the Expos are thinking about releasing him in December.

Prediction on managers who could fall asleep in the dugout a week straight and they still would be on solid ground: 1. Jim Leyland; 2. Tom Lasorda; 3. Tony La Russa.

Confession: Wrote this knowing that Lasorda actually does fall asleep in the dugout.

Prediction on five teams on the decline: 1. Royals; 2. Giants; 3. Astros; 4. Athletics; 5. Expos.

Confession: Royals, Astros and Athletics all competed for wild-card bid. Then again, maybe that's a sign a team is in decline.

Prediction on three most boring teams: Pirates, Brewers, Twins.

Confession: Right on the money.

The ballot's in the mail

This writer's Most Valuable Player ballot tumbled into one of those blue curbside mailboxes yesterday morning, and these are the contents. With explanations.

1. Mo Vaughn, Boston. Tough call between him and Albert Belle. The Cleveland left fielder has better numbers -- 50 homers in a 144-game season is amazing -- but the award goes to the most valuable player. Had Belle had a mediocre season, Cleveland still would have won the AL Central. Without Vaughn's awesome contributions, however, the Red Sox would have fallen apart in the early weeks, when Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco and Aaron Sele were hurt. Vaughn and shortstop John Valentin have been Boston's only constants.

2. Belle. Incredible season.

3. Edgar Martinez, Seattle. When Griffey broke his wrist, silent Edgar stepped up. One of baseball's best right-handed hitters for average in his generation.

4. Randy Johnson, Seattle. He'll win the Cy Young Award. And all year, when he has pitched, the Mariners have won. Without him they wouldn't make the playoffs, and without him the future of baseball in Seattle may have been lost for sure.

5. Frank Thomas, Chicago. Continues to put up the numbers, even though there's no help in the White Sox's lineup behind him.

6. Jose Mesa, Cleveland. The big question about the Indians going into this year was whether they would have a suitable closer. Safe to say the answer is yes.

7. Rafael Palmeiro, Orioles. Can you imagine what the Orioles' season would've been like without the consistent contributions of Palmeiro and Mussina. Yeesh.

8. Jay Buhner, Seattle. An awesome offensive season, and he's having a terrific year in the outfield as well. Maybe he did deserve all the money the Mariners gave him last fall.

9. Tim Wakefield, Boston. Pure and simple, he saved the Red Sox's pitching staff. He may be having his troubles now, and he may be terrible in the postseason.

10. Cal Ripken, Orioles. He meant more to baseball this year, in the aftermath of the strike, than any other player has meant to the sport in almost half a century. Here's hoping that the owners and players association don't destroy the momentum created by Ripken and an interesting season; hopefully, they'll get a deal done before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report in February.

Smith as GM has ups, downs

Should the Orioles decide to replace Roland Hemond, Randy Smith, who turned in his resignation as the Padres' general manager last Tuesday, becomes the front-runner to be the next GM. What is interesting is that Smith is leaving San Diego because of a poor relationship with former Orioles president Larry Lucchino -- who was involved in the hiring of Hemond before the 1988 season.

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