By John Papendick, firstname.lastname@example.org
6:01 PM EST, December 24, 2012
When you have worked in journalism for more than 30 years and have lived a lifetime of sports like I have, you make a lot of mistakes, say a lot of stuff you shouldn’t have said and make a lot of stupid predictions.
As my Christmas present to all of you, here are my 10 all-time most embarrassing predictions:
10. On Oct. 12, 1989, the Minnesota Vikings basically gave away the house to obtain Herschel Walker from Dallas in a trade that involved 18 players and draft picks.
I remember defending the Vikings vigorously.
Now considered one of the most lopsided trades in sports history by many, the fleeced Vikings featuring Walker went on to averageness while the Cowboys used their newfound gain to win multiple Super Bowls.
9. Willis Reed was severely injured in a 135-113 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the 1970 NBA Finals, tearing a muscle in his thigh.
When he limped out of the tunnel at Madison Square Garden in uniform for Game 7 on one of the three TV channels we sometimes got on the farm, I remember yelling at my family:
“What is Willis doing? What are the Knicks thinking? He can’t play.”
Reed started the game, scored the Knicks' first two field goals on his first two shots. It was his only points of the game, but his presence spurred an emotional New York team to a 113-99 win over the Los Angeles Lakers and an NBA title.
8. Earlier this summer, I said, “I think that the Twins having that young catcher (Ryan Doumit) learn to play the outfield is a good move.”
On Sept. 12 in a 10-5 Twins’ loss to Kansas City, the eighth inning couldn’t end for Doumit fast enough. With the Twins trailing 6-5, Eric Hosmer singled and Johnny Giovatella reached base when Doumit misplayed a fly ball hit to left-center for an error. Alcides Escobar singled to left, and Doumit misplayed that one too, for an error, allowing Hosmer to score. Doumit picked up the ball and threw wildly home for another error, allowing the runners to move up a base.
Doumit became the first Twin to commit three errors in one inning since Danny Thompson on Sept. 3. 1973, in Kansas City against the Royals.
Don’t feel bad, Doumit. In a Midget tournament at Canistota with the bases loaded and two outs in the final inning of a game Bridgewater was leading, I as a 11-year-old third baseman, fielded a ball cleanly and promptly threw it over the fence between home plate and first base to allow the winning runs to score.
7. Soon after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson tore his ACL and MCL against Washington on Dec. 24, 2011, Peterson predicted he would be back bigger and better for opening day of the 2012 season.
“Yeah right,” I said at the time. “He is done. NFL running backs don’t return to form after major reconstructive knee surgery.”
This season, Peterson is making a strong case for himself as league MVP.
6. Several years ago when high school soccer was in its infancy, I was set to pick “Hot Springs-Bison” in my state tournament predictions.
I was telling my teammates about how I was going to pick this co-op team of Hot Springs and Bison to win its first round game. They pointed out two very important facts to me before my prediction was published in the newspaper:
The South Dakota communities of Hot Springs and Bison were more than 200 miles apart.
The nickname of the high school team in Hot Springs is the Bison.
5. From 1995 to '98, Kristen Peterson of Arlington dominated high school girls’ Class B cross country in South Dakota. The four-time defending champion was going for another state title in 1999 during her senior year.
Naturally, I picked Peterson to win the state meet. I knew she was going to win.
I was covering that meet, and waiting near the finish line to get a picture of Peterson in her red Arlington Cardinals uniform. Trouble was, the person running toward the finish line was wearing a dark uniform. I pointed the newspaper’s telephoto lens toward the leader. As it focused in, I was still thinking about where Peterson was (she fell). I finally got focused on the fast-approaching runner only to read Edmunds Central (Roscoe and Hosmer) on her uniform as she rushed past me.
As I was focusing, I was thinking, “Edmunds Central, OK, that is … oh my gosh, that is in our area.”
I, of course, missed the shot, but luckily for me, someone at champion Jenny Aman’s school had captured an action shot of the new state champion crossing the finishing line that we were able to use in the next day’s newspaper.
4. Growing up, I loved the Oakland Raiders.
In 1970, I told friends that I was so glad that “the Raiders got rid of that old guy (George Blanda)” by cutting him in the pre-season. However, Blanda rallied that season to make a comeback with the Raiders at age 43 with one of the most remarkable five-game stretches in NFL history:
Oct. 25, 1970: Blanda threw for three touchdowns in relief of an injured Daryle Lamonica in a 31-14 win against Pittsburgh.
Nov. 1: Blanda kicked a 48-yard field goal with three seconds left for 17-17 tie against Kansas City.
Nov. 8: Blanda came off the bench to throw a TD pass against Cleveland with 1:34 left to tie the game. Then he kicked a 53-yard field goal with three seconds left for a 23-20 Raiders win.
Nov. 15: Blanda replaced Lamonica in the fourth quarter against Denver and connected with Fred Biletnikoff on a TD pass with 2:28 left for a 24–19 win.
Nov. 22, 1970: Blanda kicked a 16-yard FG in the closing minute to defeat San Diego 20-17.
Blanda went on to play until age 48, and I shed some tears when he retired.
3. In 2009, I heard a rumor that the North American Hockey League was looking to locate a team in Aberdeen.
The genius that I am, I wrote in a column that basically said such a hockey franchise would never be able to make it in a basketball town like Aberdeen.
Now in their third year, the Aberdeen Wings are thriving as they continue to have one of the best attendance records in the NAHL.
2. In 1984, I told people I liked the Vikings' move of promoting Les Steckel to head coach after longtime Minnesota coach Bud Grant retired.
“I like the way Coach Steckel emphasizes discipline,” I remember saying.
Steckel’s discipline was part of his undoing as he was fired after one season with the Vikings going 3-13.
1. On Oct. 30, 2002, I wrote a scathing column that basically said South Dakota State’s move to Division I was a stupid one and it would ruin Jackrabbits athletics.
SDSU teams are not only competing in DI, enrollment is bulging and the campus seems to be on a never-ending streak of constructing new buildings and facilities.
Huh, I didn’t see that coming.
John Papendick is the managing news-sports editor for the American News. Reach him at email@example.com.
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