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SportsMonday: And The Winner Is . . .

I try to avoid previews.

When I read (or view) sports coverage, I'm looking for analysis, i.e., an assessment of what has already happened. I'm fond of plenty of other stuff as well, such as profiles of compelling sports figures or stories about unusual sporting occurrences.

But a great deal of standard sports media divvies up into review or preview. And I would much rather spend time on the former than on conjecture regarding future events.

Of course, decent pre-game stories contain information about what has happened before, especially in previous games featuring two teams that are facing off on a given day. But in the end, a prediction is required and that's when it all goes off track.

After all, if the predictions were any good with a high rate of consistency, it would do huge damage to spectator sport. Why bother watching if you know what's going to happen?

And then there's the whole sports betting business and how it would crash if prognosticators really did their job well. For a long time, I've marveled at the job requirements of horse-racing handicappers in particular. The bottom line is if they get too good, they take down the industry. Bettors would just take their picks and bankrupt tracks with their bets.

But these handicappers can't get them all wrong or it's just a farce. So their job is to strive for some sort of magical middle ground, where they get enough right to have at least a little credibility, but not so many as to do damage. It has to be a very strange existence.

At least there is some accountability. It is easy to keep track of horse-racing predictions and most charts predicting thoroughbred results feature some sort of tally of at least recent success rates. People who consistently botch previews of other sporting events, i.e., get predictions wrong more often than any sort of acceptable standard for that sort of thing, usually face no sanction.

So, most of the stuff I write is analysis.

But there is only one game in town at this point (and probably for the next few months anyway, given the way the baseball season has begun and the status of pro football in general). And the next chapter of the pro basketball postseason starts tonight when the Bulls host the Atlanta Hawks to start their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.

I'm sorry to disappoint but I'm still not going to "break it all down" like the hypemeisters on whatever overstuffed TV preview show.

Instead I'll just point out that there is no way the Bulls lose this one (I know that is an amazingly outrageous prediction - thank you, thank you very much - I'm here every week, almost). That is especially the case with Hawk guard and former Bull stalwart Kirk Hinrich almost certain to miss the series with a bad hammy. And that's the end of my Beachwood Bulls preview.

Bears Bull
There was also no way the Bears could give up that fourth-round pick for nothing late last week. Some people called for the team to do so after it botched the reporting of a trade with the Baltimore Ravens but this is pro sports we're talking about here, people, and pro sports is about winning.

Of course teams have to strive for victories while following the rules, but the rules made it very clear that the Bears' trade with the Ravens - in which the Ravens would have received a fourth-round pick in exchange for allowing the Bears to move up in the first round - was not official until both teams phoned it in. The Bears never phoned it in.

A sports organization has no chance to succeed consistently unless it prioritizes, and the first priority is improving the team on the field, plain and simple. Just giving away a fourth-round pick because it was perceived as the honorable thing to do would have been a mistake, plain and simple.

There was also some concern that Bear general manager Jerry Angelo will have a hard time making deals in the future because teams believe he did something underhanded here. Except the evidence is compelling that the Bears not reporting the trade was a simple mistake.

Potential trades with the Bears will still come down to whether people believe the assets the Bears are offering are of equal or greater value than the assets the other team would be giving up. Honor's got nuttin' to do with it.

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Comments welcome.

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