Philly Sports Will Still Suck in 2012
To say that the past few months of sports have been brutal would be analytically dismissive. It’s not as if our favorite team lost and we’re pissed about it. A more apt description of the past few months would involve some sort of metaphor comparing the current Philadelphia sports landscape to the Biblical apocalypse.
Late August held so much promise. The Phils were in first place. The Eagles had signed Nnamdi Asomugha and every other coveted free agent they even remotely desired. They turned Kevin Kolb into a Pro Bowl cornerback and a second-round pick. All signs pointed to Chris Pronger being healthy to open the season with the Flyers. Then September, October and November happened.
On October 7th, 2011, the Philadelphia Phillies—who touted the best record in Major League Baseball’s regular season—were eliminated from postseason play in a 1-0 Game 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals. This was happening as the Eagles—advertised as “the Dream Team” before the start of the 2011 season—started the year 1-4. The fourth quarters of Eagles games this season make it look like Andy Reid and company are acting out the entire Sophocles catalog.
Flyers captain Chris Pronger will be on the shelf for the next month—and his status for the Winter Classic is unknown—as he undergoes knee surgery today. Ilya Bryzgalov—Philadelphia’s $51 million goalie—has started only two of the team’s last seven games and has given up three or more goals in eight of the team’s 24 games.
The Philadelphia Union were bounced from the playoffs in the first round. Temple football lost to Ohio, again, ensuring they wouldn’t bring home a MAC title, and Villanova’s status as an elite basketball program is in jeopardy after the Big East was dismantled faster than the Spectrum. The Wildcats just lost to Saint Louis and Santa Clara.
And if the Sixers had taken the court this fall, I’m sure they’d have found a way to disappoint us, too.
The sky isn’t falling—it’s plummeting toward Broad Street. We might as well have a “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” billboard on I-95. Maybe this is our fault. Maybe the 2008 World Series championship clouded our judgment. It is very possible that one parade, when combined with a slew of NLCS appearances on the back of a handful of NFC Championship games (and a shot at a Super Bowl) mixed with the ’01 Sixers and a six-game Stanley Cup finals loss to boot, helped Philly fans forget that their teams never prevail.
The Flyers are in second place, the Sixers start their season in less than a month, the Eagles haven’t been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention and the Phillies organization just signed a franchise closer and is preparing to participate in the annual winter meetings. Things may not seem so bad today. Don’t forget that they are that bad. Don’t forget that these teams have only come through for the city once in the past 28 years.
For the past month, the only sports-related conversations I’ve had have either been about Philly teams not getting it done or about the ongoing sexual-abuse scandal at Penn State. It has, without a doubt, been the most depressing season to care about sports in this region that I can remember. You’d think that horrific and disgusting allegations of child rape at your alma mater might trivialize another team’s elimination from the playoffs. As a fan, it turns out it all just compiles. And festers.
I’m not suggesting that we grow apathetic and start leaving games early or, worse, not going at all. I just think that right now it’s important to realize that everything sucks and, chances are, that most of it will get worse before it gets better.
I’m still going to care, but I won’t let myself be caught off guard when one—or all—of these teams kicks me in the pants. Next year, I’ll be wearing a cup.