Things in Sports That Totally Let Us Down
As a lifelong Cubs fan, I know a little bit about hope and a whole lot about disappointment.
Year after year, I enter the baseball season with unbridled optimism and unrealistic expectations, only to let reality pick me up and throw me back to the ground over and over and over again.
We Cubs fans, however, are not alone.
Whenever sports fans place their trust in a team or an athlete, they are setting themselves up for disappointment. Whenever the media showers an individual with hype, it is writing the script of another young man or woman who couldn't meet expectations.
Time and time again, our heroes let us down.
The games aren't as good as we hope. The players aren't performing to the best of their abilities. The storylines lack the excitement we were promised.
The following slides contain a few of the players, teams and stories that have let us down the most over the past year.
Just don't expect too much out of this list. I don't want you to be disappointed.
Yasiel Puig's All-Star Week
"Puig's gonna win it! He's bound to! He just has such a good stinkin' time out there. This Home Run Derby is right up his alley!"
That's the kind of talk that flooded radio stations and the Internet in the days leading up to baseball's All-Star week.
But when it came time to put on a show, the most enthusiastic, energetic and entertaining ballplayer on the planet hit as many balls out of the park from home plate as I managed to hit from my living room couch.
If you missed it, I'll give you a hint: less than one.
Yasiel Puig got a chance to redeem himself at the All-Star Game the following night, and in his three at-bats, he managed to put the ball in play as many times as I did from my living room couch.
Catch the pattern?
I'm sure it was a memorable experience for the young outfielder. Between the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby, he got a chance to swing at and miss a bunch of pitches from three of the best in the league—and from some guy throwing batting practice.
Tiger Woods at the British Open
Every time Tiger Woods sets foot on a golf course, especially at a major, we wait with bated breath to see if the Tiger Woods of old will finally come back to complete his destiny and finish his quest for 18 major championships.
This time around, it was worse than ever.
After a first round at the 2014 Open Championship that saw Woods only three shots off the lead and in perfect position to content for a victory, Woods suddenly imploded, barely making the cut and finishing the tournament ahead of only three players: Martin Kaymer, Matt Every and Rhein Gibson.
Jack Nicklaus should be sleeping easy this week.
And for the rest of Tiger's eroded career.
NBA Free Agency: Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh to the Rockets.
Carmelo Anthony to the Bulls.
The end of the NBA as we know it.
After LeBron James fled Miami for Cleveland, all indications were pointing toward a seismic shift in the balance of power in the NBA, with Bosh and Anthony all but certain to be leaving their teams.
The Bulls would be the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Rockets would challenge in the West.
And then, all of a sudden, just when it was getting interesting, the rumors were replaced by boring, pesky facts.
Bosh staying in Miami.
Anthony staying in New York.
Come on, guys! Hasn't LeBron taught the two of you anything about how to create a good story?
Super Bowl XLVIII
It was a dream come true for the NFL.
No. 1 seed vs. No. 1 seed.
The best team in the AFC all year long against the best team in the NFC all year long.
The best offense in years against the best defense in years.
Final score: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8
After watching the game, I was almost expecting a commentator to come on the screen and tell us that the whole thing was an April Fools' Day joke and that the real game would be aired a few hours later.
But alas, it really was just that pathetic.
One of the most hyped Super Bowls in recent memory became one of the most boring football games ever played.
Is it time for the 2014 season yet?
Lionel Messi in the World Cup Final
Lionel Messi came into this year's World Cup with only one goal: winning at all costs.
A championship at the World Cup is one of the only accomplishments to have eluded Messi in his brilliant and decorated career, and the Argentine star did not disappoint at first, scoring four goals in three group-play matches.
Unfortunately, when it mattered most, in the World Cup final against a stronger and deeper Germany team, the magic disappeared.
Messi hardly made his presence known during the match, squandering his one golden opportunity at scoring the winning goal when he missed wide right early in the second half.
No victory. No glory. No coronation for Messi among the undisputed greats.
Instead, Messi controversially received the Golden Ball award for the most outstanding player in the tournament.
Must have felt about as nice as being named employee of the month an hour after getting laid off.
Under Armour's Game-Changing Speedskating Suits
Under Armour promised the world that it would be revealing the future of speedskating when it presented the U.S. team with special, advanced, never-before-seen (or practiced with) uniforms before their first race at the Sochi Olympics.
"The uniforms will make you faster," they said.
"The uniforms will give you an advantage," they said.
"The uniforms will revolutionize the sport," they said.
Fast-forward a few days, and nobody on the U.S. team finished better than seventh place, the team's worst finish in 30 years.
Needless to say, anyone who was hoping to see a bunch of guys shatter world records by zipping around the ice in magical booster suits that cut times in half was sorely disappointed.
Well, looks like the future isn't here yet. Maybe Under Armour can steal a line from the Chicago Cubs: Just wait 'til next year!
2013 NBA Draft Class
The 2013 NBA draft class didn't have a whole lot of hype in the first place, so the fact that it qualifies as a "letdown" is a testament to how profoundly awful the players were in their first year.
We're talking about a draft class in which the No. 1 pick averaged fewer than five points per game and almost got sent to the D-League. The most impressive player was probably Nerlens Noel, who sat out every single game, allowing us to at least imagine what he might have done had he been on the court.
If this is the future of the NBA, basketball fans might want to start looking for a new favorite sport.
Bryce Harper's Third Season
Remember when Bryce Harper and Mike Trout were the "next big things" in baseball, destined to be linked and compared for the duration of their presumably long and illustrious careers?
Three years in, one of them is the greatest player in the league and the other is struggling to make an impact.
I'll let you do the research to figure out which is which.
Every year, we go into the season expecting it to be the season in which Harper finally breaks out. After two nearly identical seasons of around 20 home runs and a batting average just shy of .275, this, again, was supposed to be the year.
What did we get?
A stint on the DL, a .272 average and three home runs in 39 games.
Yawn. Anyone know where I can purchase another Trout jersey?
2014 NBA Finals
The Heat's quest for a three-peat. The Spurs' shot at revenge after a heartbreaking defeat in Game 7 a year earlier.
It was the rematch everyone was hoping for, but it quickly turned into a series that didn't quite have the dramatic luster of Heat vs. Spurs Version 1.0, as Miami was thoroughly destroyed and never really had any chance of winning it after Game 3.
In fact, this LeBron team actually put up less of a fight than his Cavaliers squad that got swept by San Antonio in 2007. At least those games were close.
Apparently, the years of hard work and the relocation to a superior team with superior teammates didn't pay off for LeBron this time around.
Tracy McGrady's Baseball Career
Well, that was a waste of everyone's time.
Tracy McGrady's short-lived career as a minor league baseball player wasn't particularly good. Or interesting. Or entertaining. Or newsworthy in any way at all.
McGrady made four appearances for the Sugarland Skeeters, compiling a 6.75 ERA. McGrady then started the All-Star Game, got one strikeout and promptly retired.
What seemed like a marginally intriguing premise at the outset proved to be nothing more than a little ego boost for the former basketball star who missed the spotlight.
Andrew Wiggins' Freshman Season
As soon as the above video was posted to YouTube, the expectations for Andrew Wiggins were absolutely unreachable.
When he entered his freshman year at Kansas regarded as the greatest basketball prospect since LeBron James, there was simply no way for him to live up to the hype.
And that's exactly what happened.
Wiggins was far from bad at Kansas, averaging 17.1 points per game, but he was also far from the best player in college basketball. He never really blew anybody away and couldn't get his second-seeded Jayhawks into the Sweet 16.
Expectations are hard. Sometimes, unless you're LeBron James, living up to them can be impossible.
Shaun White at the Sochi Olympics
The Sochi Olympics didn't really give us a whole lot to be excited about. Shaun White, perhaps the greatest snowboarder of all time, was supposed to put on a show worth watching.
Instead, White rode his way to a shocking fourth-place finish, the result of an entirely unimpressive run on the half-pipe.
For those who think White followed up this defeat by heading straight back into training, think again.
Instead, White will turn to music, focusing his time on his band, Bad Things.
It must be nice to be famous. Next time you have a bad day at work, tell your boss you're going to spend some time touring with your buddies. See what kind of reaction you get.
In the meantime, I'm out. I scored tickets to a Bad Things concert, and I'm really interested to see if White is as much of a letdown on the guitar as he is on the half-pipe.
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