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The Inside Track | Chris Dufresne SECOND THOUGHTS

He's None Other Than Nostradamus of Sports

May 19, 2003|Chris Dufresne

You may not believe it -- this is print journalism, after all -- but a mark-it-down predictions column I planned to run last fall before a computer virus swallowed it whole has been miraculously recovered by our experts in technology services.

I now offer this lost story, not as a completely contrived journalistic gimmick finished Friday in advance of a golf weekend, but rather to demonstrate just how hit-and-miss the prediction business can be.

The original work has only been edited for the airlines, with follow-up comments in italics:

Today's Second Thoughts is all about predictions you can take to the bank:

Prediction: The Mighty Ducks will advance further in the playoffs than the Lakers. Yep. You read it here first. If you can't trust me, you can't trust the New York Times. I told a buddy in Las Vegas to put his kids' college money on the Ducks taking the Stanley Cup, but he was talked out of it by a middle-aged man standing in the MGM lobby who claimed video poker is the only real way to beat the house. My friend swore the guy looked like "Book of Virtues" author Bill Bennett, but I said "not in a million years."

The Stanley Cup goes duck al' Orange County? It's just a gut feeling. The goaltender, a Quebec-born puck blocker whose name escapes me, has real potential and, more than that, it would be hilarious if both Anaheim teams won world titles the same year Disney unloaded both franchises to the lowest bidders.

I do not see the Lakers winning a fourth straight title or, in a phrase I have coined and should probably have copyrighted, "The Quest for Quatro."

Shaq putting off toe surgery tells you all you need to know. And what, you think hop-a-long Robert Horry is going to make every clutch three-pointer? Call me in May and I'll provide you the Horry details.

If Slava Medvedenko is playing meaningful minutes in the team's most important game of the season, you'll know I'm right.

The San Antonio Spurs have everything I look for in a champion -- a nucleus built around players from Cal State Fullerton, Paris, the U.S. Naval Academy, Argentina, Drexel and the Virgin Islands.

The Spurs have that added extra something -- even the coach, Popovich, spells Gregg with two "g's".

Postscript: Wow. My prediction here was eerily accurate.

Prediction: Annika Sorenstam will play in a PGA Tour event. She has won every purse they carry on the women's tour, so why not tee it up with the big boys? There will be howling from the Old Boys' cloak room on this -- my best guess is Jeff Maggert. Frankly, the only opinions I solicit from tour pros are what irons they use on approach shots and what red wine goes best with prime rib.

Postscript: Sorenstam will play in this week's Colonial; but I got the player wrong. It was V.J. Singh who provided the sling. We believe this is same Singh who, before Julie Krone rode the Belmont Stakes winner in 1993, said, "I hope she misses the turn."

Prediction: V.J. Singh will miss the cut at the Masters after hitting into a big trap.

Postscript: Singh will skip the Colonial after opening his big trap.

Prediction: Mike Price will lead Washington State to the Pacific 10 Conference title and a Rose Bowl bid. He's the most underrated coach in the country and deserves a job in a bigger market, but I just can't see Price leaving Pullman. It's the perfect place for him. Expectations are reasonable and no one there goes snooping into your private life.

Postscript: Instead, Price got washed out with the Tide.

Prediction: Georgia will capture its first Southeastern Conference football title in 20 years. Bulldog players will cherish this moment the rest of their lives and one day show their SEC championship rings to their grandchildren.

Postscript: Georgia won the SEC but several players sold their title rings on EBay. Thankfully, Uga, the school mascot, was talked out of pawning the commemorative SEC title chew toy he received as a gift from Herschel Walker.

Prediction: Los Angeles will, at long last, put aside petty politics and present a united effort to bring the NFL back to Southern California. City leaders will finally realize the folly of trying to sell three separate plans to the NFL.

Postscript: I may have taken one too many dips from Tommy Chong's tobacco pouch. This week, three competing plans -- Rose Bowl, Coliseum and Carson -- will make pitches at the NFL owners' meetings in Philadelphia. At this pace, expect the L.A. Logjammers to open play in 2525.

Prediction: Melissa Stark will leave her sideline job with ABC on Monday Night Football. I saw Stark on air last Monday and just got this feeling it was time for her to start a family.

Postscript: Stark announced this week she was leaving MNF to start a family. Her decision was supported by CBS' Andy Rooney, who says while he will miss the way Stark matched her lipstick with the home team's colors, the NFL sideline is no place for a woman.

Prediction: Mark Cuban will purchase the Angels from Disney. The out-front Dallas Mavericks' owner will replace Mickey Mouse as the team mascot, dance on the dugout between innings, insert himself as a pinch-hitter a la Eddie Gaedel and make Angel players wear bang haircuts.

Postscript: Sorry, it was a Mexican American who purchased the Angels, not a Cuban. This is the last time I rely on Jayson Blair's sources.

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