Things Sports Fans Are Way Too Excited About

Matt HaupertFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2014

Things Sports Fans Are Way Too Excited About

0 of 10

    Aaron Josefczyk/Associated Press

    Look, I'm not trying to play Debbie Downer here. I'm just trying to temper your expectations with a harsh little dose of realism.

    Sports fans must, by nature, be optimists.

    Every first-round draft pick is going to be the savior of your franchise. Every prized minor league prospect is going to lead your team to multiple World Series titles. Every glimmer of hope is a reason to believe that greatness is on the horizon.

    Sports fans, by nature, also have a tendency to get just a liiiiiiiittle bit ahead of themselves.

    First-round draft picks quickly become busts. Prized minor league prospects don't pan out. Glimmers of hope all too soon dissolve into memories of what could have been.

    I'm a Cubs fan. I get disappointment. I understand heartbreak. And it's no fun.

    So think of this article as an act of love.

    Think of this article as my way of reminding you, as my readers and my friends, that the harder you hope, the harder you fall.

    And I'd hate to see you fall too hard.

Chicago Cubs: 2016 World Series Champs

1 of 10

    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    If Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell and Starlin Castro all blossom into superstars and reach the height of their astronomical potential, the Chicago Cubs will have one of the best offenses the National League has seen in many years.

    If all turn out to be complete flops (though Rizzo and Castro have more or less proven themselves already), the team will not be a single step ahead of where they were when Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took the reins.

    In all likelihood, neither of these will happen.

    One or two will become stars. A couple will turn out to be productive contributors. Some will never make an impact in the big leagues.

    I love the Cubs, and I hope from the bottom of my heart that in a few years, they have a lineup of eight MVP candidates.

    Thinking realistically—not a strong suit for Cubs fans—it might just a little too early to purchase those World Series tickets.

Andrew Luck as the Face of the NFL

2 of 10

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Andrew Luck is really good. That much we've known since he played at Stanford and went on to become the undisputed No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

    But is Andrew Luck that good?

    According to Albert Breer of NFL.com, Colts coach Chuck Pagano claimed Luck would "go down as probably one of the best, if not the best, ever to play this game when everything is all said and done."

    Mike Sando's recent quarterback rankings placed Luck in Tier 1 along with Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.

    Per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson compared him to Michael Jordan.

    Whoa.

    Hold on.

    Michael Jordan?

    Luck had an 87.0 passer rating last season. He had a 76.4 passer rating in the postseason. He has one career playoff victory.

    I'll say it again: Andrew Luck is really good.

    But let's not start calling him Michael Jordan just yet.

    Right now, let's just let him be Andrew Luck. For the Colts, that's more than enough.

Rory McIlroy as the New Tiger Woods

3 of 10

    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Golf needs a new hero.

    Since he won his first major in 1997, Tiger Woods has been the sole reason that most people have even tuned in to watch the sport. They wanted to see Tiger dominate his sport like no athlete before had ever done.

    And now, as his legend comes crashing down to earth with each passing reminder that the Tiger of old never made it out of his infamous scandal alive, the sport faces the frightening possibility of irrelevance.

    Unless, of course, it can anoint a new Tiger.

    Rory McIlroy is young. He's winning—a lot. He's the clear No. 1 in the world, and his potential is untapped.

    Rory McIlroy will also be the first to tell you that calling him the next Tiger Woods might be too much, too soon, as reported by Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports:

    Sometimes I feel that people are too quick to jump to conclusions and jump on the bandwagon, jump on certain things. I'm not necessarily sure you can call that an era or the start of an era, but I'm just really happy with where my golf game is at the minute and I just want to try and continue that for as long as possible.

    There's a little much-needed perspective on Boy Wonder's rise to the top, from, ironically, Boy Wonder himself.

    Before we call this the beginning of an era, let's just let the kid play golf.

    The history books will write themselves.

Chip Kelly's Offense

4 of 10

    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Chip Kelly powered the Eagles into the playoffs last season with the unique brand of fast-paced offensive scheming that made him a hit at Oregon.

    The Eagles ended up with one of the best offenses in the league and won the division. His philosophies worked. Defenses couldn't slow them down.

    But is this the future of the NFL? Or simply an aberration, similar to the Wildcat fad—a brand of offense that was too different, too soon for defenses to figure out and stop?

    Year one showed us that defenses weren't ready for Chip Kelly. This year, they will be.

    I'm not including Chip Kelly's offense on this slideshow because I think it's destined to fail, or because I think it's overrated.

    Last year, it worked. This year, it might.

    If the Eagles continue steamrolling defenses in Kelly's sophomore campaign, then we'll have something worth talking about.

    Until then, it's just another new idea that nobody was prepared to stop.

Cavaliers' Big Three

5 of 10

    Lori Shepler/Associated Press

    If recent reports are true, Kevin Love is headed to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a future pick, forming perhaps the most dominant big three in the NBA: LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.

    And that makes Cleveland the favorites to win this year's NBA Finals, right?

    Not so fast.

    David Blatt has never coached in the NBA. Love and Irving, with all of their talent, have never played a minute of postseason basketball. Without Wiggins and Bennett, the team loses a lot of depth, and a lot of defense.

    And this Big Three has even less experience playing together than the trio James formed in Miami four years ago. And remember—that Big Three wasn't enough to get past the Spurs last season, and those Spurs won't be going away any time soon.

    In fact, with the return of Derrick Rose and the additions of Pau Gasol and rookie Doug McDermott for the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland might not even be the favorite to win the East.

    No doubt this is the best shot any Cleveland team has had at winning a title in a long, long time.

    But don't hand over the trophy just yet. That's going to have to get settled on the court.

The New-Look Oakland A's

6 of 10

    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Jon Lester. Jeff Samardzija. Sonny Gray. Jesse Chavez. Scott Kazmir. Jason Hammel.

    After a flurry of blockbuster July trades, the Oakland A's now have the one thing that has prevented them from going all the way in each of their recent playoff runs: dominant starting pitching.

    In fact, one could argue that the A's now have the best starting rotation in the Major Leagues.

    But will it be enough?

    In six games since the trading deadline, when cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes was sent to Boston for Lester, the A's have scored more than three runs only once.

    The pitching is great, but will they ever score enough to win, especially against a Tigers rotation that has arguably an even better starting rotation and a batting lineup centered around back-to-back MVP Miguel Cabrera?

    The A's have definitely gone all-in this year, putting all of their faith in the well-accepted philosophy that pitching wins in October.

    Here's hoping it works.

Geno Smith Leading the Jets to the Playoffs

7 of 10

    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    According to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, you heard it from Mike Vick first: Geno Smith is 10 times better than last year and well on his way to becoming one of the greats in the league.

    But do you believe it?

    Smith has gotten bigger, and he's booming with confidence, but after a rookie season in which he threw 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, he's got a whole lot to prove.

    It's easy to look like a pro during training camp. Preseason games over the next few weeks will reveal whether or not he can look like anything close to a pro in games.

    Before worrying about taking his team to the playoffs or establishing himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Smith might want to focus his energy on keeping his starting job, as the elusive veteran Vick will be breathing down his neck all season.

Jabari Parker's Rookie Season

8 of 10

    NBA Photos/Getty Images

    Jabari Parker, the No. 2 pick in this year's NBA draft, has quickly become the consensus early favorite for the Rookie of the Year award.

    He's "NBA-ready," whatever that means, and he's already going to be the top option on the talent-starved Bucks.

    But is Jabari Parker really the answer?

    Parker turned the ball over a lot during Summer League play and only shot 41.9 percent. Worse than that, experts like Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman worry that his "lack of elusiveness and bounce could weigh on him as a rookie [and keep] him from dramatically improving in the long term."

    Parker got a lot of easy buckets at Duke.

    But watch out—the heralded NBA-ready prospect might not have what it takes to ever make it in the NBA.

Johnny Manziel as Cleveland's Savior

9 of 10

    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Johnny Manziel has brought a sense of excitement and optimism to the city of Cleveland that no man not named LeBron James has ever brought before.

    The future is suddenly looking so bright, in fact, that according to ESPN.com, cornerback Joe Haden has proclaimed the Browns will be racing against the newly LeBron-led Cavaliers to be the first to bring the city a championship.

    There are two problems:

    1. One player does not win championships by himself. Remember that in all of his college glory, Johnny Football couldn't carry Texas A&M anywhere near the title game.
    2. He hasn't even looked that good in camp. Brian Hoyer is probably going to start the season because right now, he gives the team a better chance to win.

    Manziel brings a lot of excitement. He brings a lot of possibility.

    What he doesn't bring is a guarantee. Many quarterbacks before him have tried and failed to carry their skills into professional football.

    If Johnny is going to be Cleveland's savior—and by all means, he very well could be—he's still got a long way to go.

Soccer

10 of 10

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    American fans flocked to their television sets like never before during this year's World Cup, instilling some hope that perhaps the sport was finally on its way toward relevance in the United States.

    Fans of the sport claimed this was the beginning of a new age for soccer. Haters of the sport reluctantly admitted it wasn't always that boring. And MLS vehemently pushed for fans of the World Cup to continue watching their favorite players, like Clint Dempsey of the Seattle Sounders, in MLS matches.

    It seems like just yesterday that everybody cared about soccer.

    And yet, it seems like so long ago.

    The buzz has already died off, and it would be crazy to think it will pick up again any time before the World Cup comes around again in another four years.

    So don't get too excited, folks. Soccer isn't here to stay.

    At least not yet.


    Mad at me for being such a buzzkill? Let me know on Twitter.