By: Jeff Lingard
I was listening to Matt Moore of CBS interview Tim Donahue of the Indiana Pacers blog Eight Points Nine Seconds a couple of weeks ago and I was intrigued by something Tim said when asked about a grade for the Pacers’ offseason. I was intrigued by Tim’s point about expectations. The Pacers are not a championship contender this year unless everything goes right for Indiana and almost everything goes wrong for the NBA’s elite teams but Tim was ok with that. The Pacers have put together an interesting team that will be fun to cheer for this year and that is good enough for him. This was a refreshing take on expectations for me as none of my teams are championship contenders and are all 3 to 4 years away from being considered an elite team. I asked myself “is it really realistic to expect a championship from your team year after year?”
As always the answer is “it depends”. If you cheer for teams that have significant market advantages in their sport and generally have a smart front office then it is reasonable to expect a division winner and a high playoff seed each year. Note that I didn’t expect a championship. The North American playoff system for the four major professional sports leaves the determination of a winner to luck and chance as much as skill. The Yankees have significant market advantages, a smart front office and a strong roster and have won 2 World Series since 2000. The St. Louis Cardinals have been a mid to upper market team and have gotten hot at the right time twice and have also won two World Series since 2000.
I wonder if some fan bases should not worry about ever expecting a championship. I’m an Indians fan and my expectations the last two years have simply been a .500 season because that means for 81 mornings this baseball season I can wake up knowing the Indians won last night. That is a good feeling. The Indians are the opposite of the Yankees with a small market, bad attendance and a front office that have missed on their latest rebuilding effort leading the team to be 4 or 5 years from playoff contention. The odds are stacked against any team winning a World Series in a 30 team league with short playoff series. The odds are even more stacked against a team like the Indians because they do not have much of a margin of error. It is true teams like Oakland, Minnesota and Tampa have overcome these odds but for every one of these teams there is a Kansas City or Pittsburgh who have been hopeless for a long time now.
Do you think that fans sometimes expect too much from their teams? Or should a fan simply expect a team that is fun to root for? I think the Cavs are going to be fun to root for this year and they will be lucky to make the playoffs. The Browns on the other hand do not have me wanting to order NFL Sunday Ticket anytime soon.
What do you expect from your teams? Do you think it is realistic to expect a championship at some point? Or would that be gravy. Considering none of my favourite professional teams have won a title in my lifetime (35 years and counting!) I’ve moved beyond championship expectations to settling in and enjoying following my teams. Except when that team loses more games in a month since before the First World War. Thanks Indians!
Leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter @jefflingard. Thanks for reading.