Philadelphia’s Seven Best Sports Moments of 2011

The swings, throws, shots and trades that carried us through the tears

Philadelphia sports had so much promise in 2011. The Phillies were the best team in baseball until they weren’t, the Eagles returned from the lockout with the “Dream Team,” the Flyers had momentum after the Sabres series, and the Sixers made the playoffs.

While the year turned out to be candy corn in our advent calendar, 2011 did offer the city some memorable moments on the field, court and rink. Here are 2011’s seven best moments in Philly sports for you to ponder while you watch Dallas and New York compete for the booby prize that is the NFC East title.

Temple Hits Buzzer-Beater Over Penn State. As a PSU alum, I was less than thrilled watching it at the time. But, man, what a shot.

John Mayberry Jr. Hits Walkoff on Opening Day. So much promise. So much potential. The entire year ahead of a city, team and fanbase that felt as if the World Series was rightfully ours. A ninth-inning rally—complete with a walkoff hit just over the glove of Michael Bourn in center field—was a great way to start the 2011 season.

Sixers Avoid Sweep With Late Threes Against Team LeBron. Few things brought joy to NBA fans more than watching LeBron struggle and the Heat lose in 2011. While Miami cruised through the Eastern Conference before losing to Dallas in the Finals (How’s my Dirk taste?), Philly was able to come from behind in Game 4 with an underdog, statement win for a nucleus of young Sixers.

Flyers Battle Back, Best Buffalo in OT. Briere scores two. Hartnell knots it up at four. Leino with the game-winner to force a Game 7. Sure, the Flyers were smoked by the Bruins, but with their backs against the wall they were able to stave off elimination with some clutch, springtime hockey.

Phils Win in 19 and Valdez Gets the W. Who would have thought that, with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt in the starting rotation, Wilson Valdez would provide one of the most memorable moments on the mound for the Phillies this season? He actually shook off Sardinha.

Chase Hits a Roundtripper, Worley Throws First Complete Game. The year started with Utley on the shelf and the Four Aces media bonanza. Yet, come mid-July, it would be Utley’s legs and an unknown arm that had the city buzzing after a revenge-fueled win over the Giants.

Within Hours, Eagles Sign Asomugha and Phils Get Pence. I was visiting friends in Pittsburgh for the weekend when the Birds locked down the top defensive free agent and the Phils added the missing piece to the offensive puzzle. To say that I quoted Joshua Lyman once or twice would be a gross understatement.