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Bird at Play: Getting paid to predict

If I could do things over again I've always said I would be a salesman for cigarettes and makeup. The market is always there and there's a constant need for replenishment. You can make a lot of money selling those two things.

Then again, maybe I'd want to be a weatherman. What other job can you get paid good money to stand in front of your listeners and tell them there's a 50 percent chance of rain? I can tell you from my kitchen table that there's a 50 percent chance of rain EVERY DAY because it's either going to rain or it's not. If the weatherman is wrong, they've got pretty good job security. I can't say I've ever heard of a weatherman being let go because he was wrong on half of his predictions.

Based on the preseason predictions of the so called "pundits" of Major League Baseball this year, I think this is the year to be a sportswriter. As I was combing through the MLB standings today to see how the Orioles did last night in Oakland, I couldn't help but smile over something none of us have seen after May 1 in a long time. The word "Baltimore" being at the top of the pile in the American League East.

Just for my own entertainment, I decided to go searching for someone, anyone that had predicted that the Orioles would be at or near the top of the standings this late in the year. A quick search of Sports Illustrated's top sportswriters' predictions showed that not one of their "experts" picked the Orioles anywhere near the top. The bleacherreport.com said that this year would be a dogfight between the Yankees and the Red Sox with no mention of the Orioles as possible contenders. Predictionmachine.com had the Orioles as cellar dwellers. Baseball America picked the Orioles to finish last in the five team American League East division with the best case scenario allowing for a few more wins out its young rotation and giving hope for the future. Out of the 28 writers for Baseball Prospectus, 28 of them - 100 percent - picked the Orioles to finish last.

They don't ask me for my opinion as it relates to professional sports. If they did, I'd have been right there with them. One of the reasons they probably don't ask me is they know I'm such a homer. I always pick the University of Kentucky to win the March Madness pool, I think Notre Dame football should be ranked No. 1 in the country every year, the Celtics will make it to the NBA Finals and the Ravens are by far the best team in the NFL. But like many others, I had practically given up on ever seeing the Orioles sitting atop the AL East.

Somehow this year the sports world has been turned on its head. These guys get paid a ton of money to use their game intelligence and inside scoop to make predictions for the upcoming seasons and in many, even in most, cases they're wrong.

As major league baseball player and manager Casey Stengel once said, "Don't make predictions, especially about the future".

Unless you get paid to do it.

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