Read My Lips

May 28, 2006

Last week KentDesormeaux (above), Sweetnorthernsaint's jockey, issued a proclamation beforethe Preakness: "I guarantee I won't be worse than second." Desormeauxmade good on his promise, placing 5 1/4 lengths behind winner Bernardini (page40). It wasn't the boldest prediction ever, but Desormeaux was smart to allowsome wiggle room. Guaranteeing victory isn't always a wise move. Consider:

2006 RasheedWallace
With Detroit up 2-1 in its conference semifinal series with the Cavaliers, thePistons' forward declares that Game 4 in Cleveland will be "the last gamehere in this building for this year. You all can quote me." Dulychallenged, the Cavs win two straight. The Pistons eventually win in sevengames (page 36)--but without much help from Wallace (right), who turns hisankle in Game 4 and struggles for the rest of the series.

2006 DonWaddell
In February the Thrashers' G.M. promises that the franchise will earn its firstplayoff berth. "If you want to write guarantee, I have no problem withthat," he says. But despite a strong finish, Atlanta misses out. "Therewas so much pressure," says Waddell. Now why would that be?

2005-06 ChadJohnson
Before a showdown with the 9-0 Colts, the Bengals' wideout (left) backs into aguarantee: "There's no need for me to guarantee a victory," he says,cockily. And in a way he's right: Cincinnati loses 45-37.

2004 Tony Peña
The Royals' manager makes a bold--and bullheaded--prediction when, with K.C.'srecord at 7-15, he vows, "We are going to win the Central." When theseason ends, Kansas City is in last place, and Peña (right) resigned thefollowing May.

2004 CarmeloAnthony
Before the Athens Olympics, the second-youngest player on the U.S. hoops teamsays, "We're guaranteeing a gold medal. We're bringing it back." Thegold winds up in Argentina, while Anthony (left) and friends bring back littlemore than snapshots of the Acropolis. The U.S. finished third.

2002 LonKruger
The Hawks make like Ron Popeil and offer a money-back guarantee: If they don'tmake the playoffs, season-ticket holders will get a $125 refund. The fans gettheir money. Kruger is fired and was last seen selling Showtime rotisseriegrills. (O.K., not really, but he was fired.)

2000 MarkMessier
Feeling flush after his 1994 playoff guarantee against the Devils paid off, thecenter (right) celebrates his return to the Rangers with another vow: "I'llguarantee you we'll make the playoffs." Not quite--the Blueshirts finish in10th place in the conference.

SPORTS GUARANTEES

PHOTOPAUL J. BERESWILL (MESSIER) PHOTOMATT STROSHANE/GETTY IMAGES (ANTHONY) PHOTOED ZURGA/AP (PEÑA) PHOTODAVID BERGMAN (JOHNSON) PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (WALLACE) PHOTOAL MESSERSCHMIDT/WIREIMAGE.COM (DESORMEAUX)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)