Tom Ricketts found David James “fascinating.”
How does James, a professional and very successful sports prognosticator, work his magic? And how did James size up the Cubs’ chances before the 2011 season?
As usual, James was spot-on during his happen-stance meeting with Ricketts at the 2011 owner’s meeting at Camelback Ranch.
He assured the Cubs newly minted owner that his team, hampered by albatross contracts and underperforming stars, was heading in the wrong direction, destined for a spot near the basement of the NL standings.
A disappointing 91-loss season confirmed James’ prediction.
Of course, any Cubs fan could predict last year’s team wasn’t in line for greatness, but James doesn’t make his name stating the obvious.
I recently interviewed James about his success predicting both the potential success and failures of professional athletes. What is his method, and what’s in store for the Cubs in 2012?
James’ answer to his method wasn’t what I expected–that being some secret formula of statistical calculations. Rather, James focuses his attention on a player’s “it factor.”
So what exactly does that mean?
“Some guys have it, some don’t,” said James. “I do look at stats, but it’s not the end-all, be-all of my decision.”
In fact, what James does isn’t any different than what General Managers of pro sports franchises do on a daily basis.
He evaluates an individual player’s make-up such as personality, where he’s from and what sports programs he ascended through, stats included.
The difference with James, however, is his accuracy of making correct predictions.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always right, but I am most of the time,” said James.
Specifically, James has a knack for identifying diamonds in the rough and vital role players such as Tom Brady’s talents long before he was the Patriot’s starting quarterback leading them to multiple championships, and encouraging Phillies GM Pat Gillick to sign Pedro Feliz, a crucial role player on Philly’s world series winning club.
These days James is frequently called on by GM’s in all four North American sports leagues–NFL, NBA, NHL & MLB—all in search of the next best fit to their organizations.
“I never touch or interfere with with the direction of a team’s front office,” said James. “I simply give my opinion when asked…and it’s not always popular.”
“I’ve had front office execs tell me I’m flat-out wrong, some have screamed at me to ‘get out’ while others have walked out of the meeting,” said James.
David also makes it clear he doesn’t predict ‘winners’.
“What I do is provide a service to guide teams, coaches and players to make an organization the next winner,” said James.
And he’s been doing it for ten years professionally since leaving the music industry as a talent scout (most notably discovering LL Cool J) to follow his life long passion for sports.
Guest appearances on national sports radio put James on the map and earned him the nickname ‘The Predictor’.
It first caught the attention of the San Diego Chargers, who hold the distinction of becoming the first professional sports team to personally seek James’ advise.
Eventually, more teams came calling sending James on coast-to-coast trips from his home base in L.A. to sports organizations across North America. But I was curious to know why hadn’t one team hired James full-time?
“There’s been that offer, from a Super Bowl winning team no less, asking me to join full time,” said James. “But that’s not what I want to do.”
Instead, James comfortably remains in L.A. with his business having grown to a staff of five employees who assist evaluating players, forming predictions and sharing them when called upon.
As for the 2012 Cubs?
“Cubs fans need to hang tough,” said James. “The Cubs will again finish way down in the standings.”
James went on to say pitching is Chicago’s biggest weakness. But he does predict surprisingly productive seasons from Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto, both of whom have put together noticeably good spring training numbers.
As for resigning Kerry Wood?
“Bringing back Kerry was a smart decision, said James. “And that said, I really like what Ricketts has done revamping the front office.”
So how long before the Cubs are contenders again?
“They’re still a few years out, but they have some good young talent on the way up,” said James.
So it seems the Cubs are finally headed in the right direction, which is a relief coming from ‘The Predictor’.