The State of Philly Sports

Wait, things are actually ... good?

Ok, now I really know I woke up in Bizzarro World. People are talking about the Philadelphia sports scene in the context of accomplishment instead of bad fan behavior.

I know this because the top stories in this area are the Phillies’ great start, the Flyers getting ready for another Stanley Cup run, and even the Sixers exceeding all expectations and making the playoffs. They’re going to get smoked in the first round, but that’s not important for the purposes of this conversation. Sports Illustrated last week did a story on the amazing job done by Sixers coach Doug Collins. The last story SI did on the Sixers might have been the time Allen Iverson, stoned, dazed and confused, talked about “practice.” And nationally, folks have been actually been talking about bad fan behavior in the previously underplayed cauldron of bad fan behavior, Los Angeles.

The following is my stream of consciousness on Philadelphia sports right now. Allow my mind to run free without judging me.

Phillies. Their new found offensive approach has been refreshing. The Phils are no longer sitting back as an offense, waiting for guys to hit home runs. That’s because they only have one guy who can actually hit a home run. But that’s okay. Over a span of 43 innings this season the Phillies put their leadoff man on 27 times. That’s amazing. And when you put your leadoff man on, it usually means you’re going to score a run. The pitcher has to go into the stretch, where he’s less comfortable. Infielders have to move around to different positions, etc., etc. In the recently completed Braves series, Shane Victorino went 9 for 13 in the leadoff spot. I love it. The Phils are even winning without their new number three hitter, Jimmy Rollins, having even one RBI. All right, there have been a couple of shaky starts by the pitchers. And I guess the people who thought Joe Blanton was the “best fifth starter in the league” are feeling a little foolish right now. And Jayson Werth stuck it in their keister a little bit in Washington. But otherwise, things are pretty much all good for the Phillies, and I defy anybody to find a competitor who’s going to beat them for the National League pennant. Does it really matter right now if Brad Lidge is going to be back as the closer? My hunch is that they are better off with Jose Contreras and Ryan Madson for the long haul anyway.

Flyers. I don’t get all the panic: the Flyers are fine. Don’t judge the hockey team by how lethargic they were over the last few weeks of the season. It’s a long season. Playing for the number one overall seed isn’t that big of a deal and they knew it. They saw the end of a regular season and looked what was coming up over the horizon: the playoffs. The Flyers, from what they did last year, have a playoff pedigree. That doesn’t disappear just because they lost to the Ottawa Senators in the last week of the regular season. The only question is whether Chris Pronger will be ready for the second round of the playoffs. I think they beat Buffalo with or without Pronger. But they’re not going to handle the Boston Bruins in the second round without their impact defenseman. And speaking of Pronger, the snide act with reporters is getting way old. Change it up Skippy. And while I’m at it here, why does Mike Richards have to be so miserable all the time? Christ, the guy is a captain of an NHL team. He’s young. He has a fun night life. Why does Richards always equate talking to the media like sitting in a dentist chair. Come on Bro, lighten up.

Sixers. It’s been a really decent season. Nobody expected the Sixers would win more than 40 games this year, and the fact that they have is attributable to Collins. But the run ends here. I seriously doubt if the Sixers can win A game against the Miami Heat. They just don’t match up very well. The Heat take the Sixers game right away from them. They get the ball down the floor much faster than the Sixers. And even if you think Andre Iguodala can decently defend LeBron James, Dwayne Wade kills Jrue Holiday and Chris Bosh overmatches Elton Brand. What did the Sixers show us this year? They were spunky, they played hard, they defended. But unless they find miracle transition with personnel, they will be no better than the fifth, sixth or seventh playoff seed. They need a major trade to acquire a blossoming NBA player ready to become a star. And it would help if they found SOMEBODY in the draft who can turn out to be better than your average middle teens pick. Another Marreese Speights isn’t going to cut it.

Eagles. The league is on lockdown, the NFL draft has become irrelevant to all of us and Andy Reid is still making fat jokes to deflect himself away from giving real answers to real questions. Asked about whether he ever anticipates getting coaching burnout, Reid said recently, “The only time I might get burnout is when I make that fifth visit to the buffet.” Haha. Hysterical. I’m sure your heart appreciates that comment, Captain.

Closing Thought. Wasn’t the Masters great? I loved the fact that Tiger Woods faltered over the back nine because I can’t stand the guy. The winner was a small, slender guy from South Africa named Charl Schwartzel. And I couldn’t help but notice in the interviews afterwards that Schwartzel talked just like the villain in Lethal Weapon II. Remember him? He used the words “caffer” a lot in the movie and at the end told Danny Glover he couldn’t shoot him because he had “diplomatic immunity.” Glover fired and told him that it had been revoked. Classic schmaltz.