Peaks and valleys. Highs and lows. The essence of sports, yet another way in which they mirror life.
Who's riding high? Who's stuck in a rut? Let's take a quick sweep of some recent headlines.
Niners, Raiders drop exhibition openers: We all know there's very little to glean from the first game back. It's not even a glorified scrimmage. Players whose names we actually know make more than perfunctory appearances in a scrimmage. Nonetheless, these games make a ton of money for the NFL, so endure them we must. And because we must endure them, we must also take something away from each of them.
It's tough to take anything away from the Niners' thrashing at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, although you have to be pretty certain that Jim Harbaugh took away a pretty mean aggravation headache. He'd never admit it, but you know it chapped his ass to high heaven that his brother got the better of him again.
Beyond that ... eh. A few newcomers looked good, particularly Carlos Hyde, and that was certainly a welcome development. We've been waiting for Frank Gore to run out of gas for some time now, and with the stable of running backs looking pretty empty at the moment, Hyde coming on hard is imperative. As for Gore, better safe than sorry. If he carries more than 20 times this preseason, it'll be borderline negligence.
The Raiders lost, too, of course. Not much to write home about there, either. But admit it: Had the Raiders come out and looked like a juggernaut, would that change your preconceived notion regarding their outlook for the season? Hell no. Nothing in this franchise's recent or even semirecent history suggests anything other than 6-10 at best. In fact, 6-10 would be deemed a massive improvement, and that pretty much says it all.
Dennis Allen, we've been led to believe, has at least this year to show and prove. Don't buy it. If that nasty season-opening stretch doesn't provide more than a glimmer of hope, he'll be gone by Game 8.
Rory McElroy is the next Tiger: I was almost embarrassed to be a journalist when I started seeing stories making this claim. I was embarrassed for Jack Nicklaus when he suggested that Rory could one days break Jack's record of 18 majors.
Everyone settle down. Yeah, Rory's a likable lad. And he's got crazy game. But nobody will ever impact the game of golf the way Tiger Woods did in his prime, and the fact that Tiger has flamed out so dramatically is what's going to prevent Rory from transcending. The general public has been bitten once, and now it is twice shy.
Not Jack, though. Jack's all-in. Hook, line and sinker. But you know what? Maybe we shouldn't be embarrassed for him. Maybe he's just trying to be what he thought Tiger would be: The greatest ambassador for the game that's ever lived. What do ambassadors do? They promote? Hence, Jack's hype for Rory.
Cavs get Love: Good luck to you, Steve Kerr. Had the Warriors traded for Kevin Love (instead of the Cleveland Cavaliers), you'd have truly been starting fresh. Sure, there would have been great expectations, but you'd have been dealing with an unknown dynamic, and falling short of expectations could have been shrugged off by citing a number of factors. A butt-hurt superstar, sour about his backcourt mate getting traded against his very public wishes, might have headed the list.
Now Kerr gets the same old crew with which Mark Jackson worked wonders. Fall short of expectations now and it's all your fault.
Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of "Inside the Bigs," which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ "The Game" (95.7 FM).