By Sean Gregory
May 4, 2016

The tweet, in true American fashion, started out facetious. On May 1, with his Atlanta Braves sitting in last place at 6-18, Brandon Moore—a training analyst at a Georgia power company—posted the following:

Moore had no reason to actually believe it. Sure Leicester City, which the next day clinched the first English Premier League title in its 132-year history, did beat those outlandish 5,000-1 odds. But the Braves are far from winning 14-straight division titles, which they did in the 1990s and 2000s. Quick, name Atlanta’s starting pitchers. Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler, and Jhoulys Chacin are no Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz. Chipper Jones gave Atlanta 19 Hall of Fame years at third base. Adonis Garcia has hit one home run this year.

Then Moore, a soccer fan since he was young—Manchester United is his favorite team—started pondering the meaning of Leicester’s feat. Sure, the inspiring underdog tale can be a tired cliche. But what’s wrong with taking a brighter view? “We get so hung up on the day-to-day wins and losses,” says Moore. “But what about the potential? I mean, Leicester City was a real-life fairy tale. It’s restoring my hope in the Braves. It’s restoring hope in the whole sports world.”

Hey, why not run with this? Can we give the sports bitterness and cynicism a rest, for a few days at least? Across social media, fans compared Leicester City’s victory to a Braves World Series. (Both Atlanta and Philadelphia entered this season as 500 to 1 shots to win it all. The Phils are 15-11. Maybe they’re about to enjoy their Leicester moment). Or a Cleveland Browns Super Bowl (a 200-1 chance). Or a Philadelphia 76ers NBA title (the 76ers were a 300-1 shot entering the 2015-16 season, and have finished the past two years 18-64 and 10-72, respectively). TIME reached out to the Braves, Browns and Sixers to see if Leicester has inspired their front offices or locker rooms. All three declined to comment. “Unfortunately, we don’t have anyone available on the basketball operations side who follows the Premier League closely enough to discuss Leicester City’s accomplishments,” a Sixers spokesman wrote in an email.

Fans of bad NBA teams shouldn’t get too amped up about Leicester. The Sixers aren’t winning an NBA title anytime soon. (OK, the cynicism break didn’t last long). In basketball, superstars can most exert their will on a game. They can put the ball in their hands, jump over their defenders, and make shot after shot. Consider: over the past 35 years, each NBA Finals has featured at least one of just nine players: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron James.

Football’s more likely to produce a Leicester, though it helps to have a quarterback named Brady, Manning, or Roethlisberger: 12 of the last 13 Super Bowls have featured at least one of those four QBs (Manning = Peyton or Eli). A few true long shots have won the World Series, like the 500-1 Minnesota Twins in 1987, or the 100-1 Miracle Mets of 1969. The game’s best starting pitchers go every five days; its best hitters step up to the plate once every nine turns through the order. A team with overachieving role players can stand out.

Moore, the Leicester-inspired Braves fans, believes his team with follow the blueprint of the first-place Chicago Cubs: nurture young talent, and surround it with the right veteran free agents. And about those starting pitchers: Teheran is 25, Wisler is 23, and Chacin is 28. Who’s to say they’re not a foundation?

So really, does Moore really think the Braves can pull the Leicester-like shocker, and win it all as soon as this year? “No,” says Moore. “I’m a realist.”

Hope is one thing. But Leicester’s still a long way away.

Write to Sean Gregory at


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