Sports are a mystery when you don't have a clue

March 30, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

The best thing about sports is that, when it comes to knowing what will happen when the athletes take the field, court or track, no matter how hard certain people may try to convince you, absolutely no one has a clue.

Sure, before any event, I can get all the statistical information I need to make a prediction in five minutes, tops. That's the wonder of the Internet age. And the other wonder of the Internet age is that, armed with all these facts and figures, my prognostication percentage still stinks.

That bit of wisdom that says the more information you have, the better your decision will be? Baloney. I'm 4-for-4 on my brackets the last four years - All four years it's been in the trash before the first weekend ended.

I can turn on the TV and listen to all sorts of "expert" opinions from all sorts of "expert" analysts, a large percentage of whom seem to get regular paychecks from ESPN. Then I can relax on my sofa and watch every expert's opinion go up in flames the moment George Mason wraps up a Final Four berth.


All this not knowing - it's a wonderful thing.

If it wasn't for upsets, stunners, shockers and miracles, sports would be dramaless. They'd have all the appeal of watching paint dry - or worse, watching an old World Series of Poker rerun without seeing the hole cards.

Frankly, if looking like a fool on every prediction I ever make ensures I'm on the edge of my seat every time I watch an event, I'm willing to embrace my wrongness. "There's Dan Kauffman. He's 0-167893789 on his picks this life. And he's happy as can be."

(Actaully, I'm 1-167893789. I got my wife right.)

This phenomenon, thankfully, affects more than just events of national interest. That's right, surprises don't just happen on our TV screens, they also happen close to our backyards.

At about 3:30 p.m. Monday, I was sure I was about to watch Greencastle's softball team, armed with 2005 Herald-Mail Player of the Year Sarah Signore and All-Area First Team members Kris Root and Brittany Main, defeat Waynesboro and the freshman pitcher it was sending to the circle - and throwing to the wolves.

Little did I know, Taryn Ashway was the wolf. Nasty trick, that was. It took all of one inning for me to lean back in my folding chair in resignation, knowing what I thought I knew was, once again, wrong.

Ashway had three hits - falling a home run short of the cycle - and struck out 15 Blue Devils, earning her first varsity victory in her first varsity start. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess it's the first time a freshman making her debut defeated the reigning Herald-Mail Player of the Year.

If this sounds like I'm piling on Signore, I'm not intending to. She's an awesome player with awesome talent, and come June I'm going to be looking at her stats and shaking my head in disbelief, just like I did last June.

But on Monday, the Golden Rule of sports - when you think you have it all figured out, think again - reared its head in Greencastle. The result - a compelling, enjoyable contest - once again made me glad I know nothing.

Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at

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