When You’re Wrong, You’re Wrong
Sportswriters spend much of their time telling coaches, managers and general managers when they are wrong. It is part of their job.
Rarely, however, does a sportswriter admit when he, or she, is wrong.
Well, I’m here to tell you today that I was wrong about something. Absolutely, irrefutably, dead wrong.
I thought Vladimir Guerrero was done. OK, not exactly done, but definitely on the downside of a great career. I watched him carefully a year ago with the Angels, and he was nothing like the MVP-caliber player he had been most of his time in Anaheim.
This Guerrero was 33 going on 43. His body was breaking down, his bat speed had slowed, his battered knees made it look painful for him to run and he was flailing at pitches he used to crush at the plate. Every time you looked up, Vlad seemed to be hitting into another rally-killing double play.
He still had so much natural ability he managed to hit .295, but his slugging percentage, which used to be close to .600, had plummeted to .460 and his home run (15) and RBI (50) totals were far from what Angels fans had come to expect.
So when the club decided not to offer him a contract after he became a free agent this winter, I heartily agreed. He was no longer worth that kind of money. And when Hideki Matsui, the World Series MVP with the Yankees, was signed to replace him, it seemed to be a definite upgrade.
Well, shows you what I knew. Guess it shows what the Angels knew, too.
Guerrero signed a new deal in Texas, and while everyone realized he always hit well in Arlington, no one expected this. Guerrero seems to have reinvented himself with the Rangers, hitting .339, slugging .556 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs already. If the season ended today, he’d probably be among the top three in the MVP balloting.
Matsui, meanwhile, has been an early disaster with the Angels. After a solid start, he’s hit .159 in his past 25 games and, suddenly, he looks like the one who is not aging very well, with his own shaky knees and a swing that appears completely out of whack.
So how exactly did this happen? No one is quite sure. How did Guerrero manage to turn back the clock? And make no mistake, he has done that. When you watch him now, he’s even running better, looking more spry by the hour, it seems.
Maybe it was just a matter of health. Maybe some of those nagging injuries of a year ago simply healed. Or maybe, with his future on the line, Vlad worked harder in the off-season and got himself in better shape.
Whatever it is, the results are there for everyone to see.
Somehow, some way, Vlad Guerrero is back in his old, Hall of Fame form, and those of us who never could have predicted it now have to stand up and admit the obvious. Better yet, let me spell it out for you.
I was w-r-o-n-g.
— Steve Bisheff