October 31 2008, that is a day that still rings in the minds of the all Philly Phans. In case you don’t remember what happened on that date, it was the day that the Phillies had that great march down Broad Street holding the 2008 World Series trophy. It was the first championship parade I had ever witnessed and it is a day that I will never forget. The sea of red is still in my mind as millions came out to honor the team that broke the curse of William Penn. Without trying to sound too dramatic, it was honestly one of the best days of my life. Today is just the end of another season that doesn’t end in a parade for a Philadelphia team.
Since the Moses Malone led 76ers won the 1983 NBA Championship. There have been 110 combined seasons in the 4 major sports, and only one of those seasons ended in a championship. The only championship was obviously the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies. Over those 109 other seasons there have been many great teams and great moments. The Phillies went to the World Series only to lose in 1983, 1993 and 2009. The Eagles lost in the Super Bowl in 2004-05. In 2000-01 the Allen Iverson led Sixers shocked the Lakers in game 1 of the NBA finals but then dropped the next 4 games. And the Flyers have lost in the Stanley Cup finals twice, they were swept by the Red Wings in the 1996-97 season and they lost a hard fought final against the Black Hawks last season.
The last few seasons by our teams have been filled with a lot of excitement but they all ended in disappointment. The Phillies, Flyers and Eagles seasons were filled with a lot of optimism and hope, at one point in their respective seasons the Philly Phaithful were convinced that it was there year. But in the end all three ended in an almost identical sudden way. Whether it was game winning goal by Kane that we didn’t know went in, to Howard having a chance to redeem himself only to be left starring at strike three to Vick leading the team down the field for a potential game winning drive only to throw a game ending int. All three seasons had great moments but left us still with the hunger for another championship. But this is not meant to be a bitter reminder of our team’s lack of championships. I want to take a Mark McGwire approach and talk about the future of the four teams. How would I rank the 4 team’s chances at winning the next Philadelphia Championship?
I went back and forth on what team I would put number 1. In the end I ultimately chose the Phillies over the Flyers. The Phillies have been the most successful team in baseball over the past three seasons. They have one World Series Title, 2 National League Championships and 3 NL Eastern Division Championships. The addition of Cliff Lee to an already loaded rotation, will give them one of the best rotations in baseball history. A lot has been made about the potential for the lack of offensive production from a lineup without Jayson Werth. But it is still an offense that ranked second in the NL in runs last season. They were able to endure injuries to almost every player in their everyday lineup and rarely fielded their opening day lineup. Even without Werth, they still have one of the best offensives in the NL. The majority of the pre-season predictions will have the Phillies facing the Red Sox in the 2011 World Series.
I almost put the Flyers ahead of the Phillies but I ultimately decided that the Phillies have a slightly better chance. A reason I put the Flyers second was due to the unpredictability of the NHL Playoffs. Last season the 7 and 8 seeds played each other in the Eastern Conference finals and the last time a number one seed won the Stanley Cup Championship was the 2007-2008 Red Wings. Another reason is due to the lack of a legitimate number 1 goalie. Cups have been won by a goalie going on a hot run and completely shutting teams down. But this doesn’t mean that I don’t like the Flyers chances of winning this season. They have possibly there best team since the Cup winning teams of the 70’s. The balance and depth the team has is un matched in the NHL. They currently have the most points in the Eastern Conference and should carry that success into a long post season run this season. But even if they don’t get it done this season, they are loaded with young talent who will only continue to improve. I think it is just a matter of when not if the core of this team will win a championship.
It doesn’t seem long ago where the Eagles where the team of the city that everyone was proud of. But ranking the Eagles third here is not a knock against them, it is more the great teams that we have in our city. Last season the Eagles were one of the youngest team’s in the NFL and fought the inexperience enough to win the NFC East. This team is loaded on offensive with great young players at their skill positions. Vick gave most fans a newly found hope and optimism in our Eagles. Despite the struggle the team had on defensive and the offensive line, they were one late drive away from beating the eventual NFC Champion and possibly Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. The team’s offensive explosiveness keeps them in every game. If they are able to sure up the defense over the offseason, they will go into the 2011 season as one of the favorites to win the NFC.
The 76ers are the fourth and final team on the ranking. They are a lot further away from a championship than any of the other teams but they are not as far away as some may think. Coach Doug Collins has infused new life into a team that looked lifeless under Eddie Jordan. They have a lot of young talent that will only continue to grow over time. The most crucial part of the teams future is the development of the former number 2 overall pick Even Turner. He has not had the immediate impact that most people thought he would have. But he has shown some flashes in the recent weeks of why he was drafted so high. Realistically this team is still a few years away from competing for a championship, but I think they do have the ability of winning a playoff series this season. Depending on who they face, I would like their chances of upsetting the Bulls, Hawks or maybe even the Magic in the first round this season. This is still a very similar team talent wise who gave the Magic a serious run in the first round 2 years ago.
On a day where another team will get to hoist a Championship trophy, it is hard to remain optimistic about our Philadelphia sports Teams. But there is a lot reason to have hope about the future of our teams. At least 3 of the 4 teams will be in the at least in the talk in their next or current seasons. And possibly two of the teams could be the odds on favorites. I believe that the next Philly Championship is just around the corner. This year could bring us more than just one parade. I believe we are in or about to enter some of the greatest few years in Philadelphia Sports History.