The Worst Philadelphia Sports Moments of 2011

Or: How everyone from Vince Young to Cliff Lee ruined our year

In Philadelphia, 2011 wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns for sports fans. Another year without a championship in Philly was marked by missed opportunities, shortcomings, and media gaffes. Here’s a list of some of the worst moments in Philadelphia sports that 2011 had to offer. Just remember, though, that 2012 is only a day and a half away and the Flyers are in first place. Oh, and—for those of you keeping score at home—50 days ’til pitchers and catchers.

Game 5. Holy shit was that brutal. We had it all worked out—the deciding game at home, Doc on the mound, Citizens Bank Park sold out. And then the Phils go down 1-0 and can’t get a single guy across to knot it up. I was at Cavanaugh’s on Rittenhouse and the room was completely deflated when Ibanez’s ball didn’t have enough to clear the wall in the fifth. Then, as our hopes and dreams ruptured with the final out, so did Ryan Howard’s achilles tendon. October 7th sucked.

Game 2. This game seems to get lost in the misery of the entire series, but the truth is that the Phils had a 1-0 series lead, a four run lead in the fourth, and Cliff Lee on the mound. Lee locks that down 101 times out of 100. There was no way the Phils could lose that game. Welp, the Cards posted three in the fourth, one in the sixth, and one in the seventh to take control of the series with a 5-4 victory.

Joe Frazier Died. In the third episode of 24/7 on HBO, a scene on Christmas eve showed Philly fans jogging up the Art Museum steps and hoisting their arms like Rocky. Which is great, except for the fact that the city’s true boxing legend still doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Smokin’ Joe won 32 fights—with 27 knockouts—and only lost four times (twice to Ali and twice to Foreman). Frazier died at 67 and was honored in a ceremony at the Wells Fargo Center where thousands of fans, Mayor Michael Nutter, and rival Muhammad Ali were able to pay their respects to the late legend. Rest in peace, Joe.

Vince Young Says the Words “Dream Team.” Seriously, I don’t think a Philly athlete, even Ricky Watters, was ever able to stick an entire city’s worth of feet in his mouth this quickly. Training camp was still in it’s early stages and the entire league circled Philadelphia on their schedules when the team’s new backup quarterback called Philly a “Dream Team.” First of all, there is and forever will be only one Dream Team. Secondly, he forced the entire city to defend his statements right before the Eagles started into one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory. Although, at this point, they’re all kind of a blur.

Bruins Sweep the Flyers. Philadelphia had the momentum. They beat Buffalo with a dramatic, come-from-behind, Game 6 overtime win and then handily beat the Sabres 5-2 in the deciding game. But, as is evidenced by the teams’ contests in 2011, Philly just can’t beat Boston. The Flyers have struggled with the Bruins ever since mounting the incredible comeback in 2009. The sweep last season epitomizes that sentiment.

Child Molestation Allegations. The Jerry Sandusky scandal had very loose ties to Philadelphia. His lawyer was a Philly guy. At least one of the victims lives in the Philadelphia area. But, with the large contingent of Nittany Lion alumni in the area, the city was glued to television sets as Sandusky denied his attraction to young boys with a statement that seemed to be punctuated with a question mark. Then, two weeks ago, a handful of adults came forward alleging that longtime Daily News columnist Bill Conlin had molested them in the 1970s. If these allegations are true, it’s great that the victims had the strength to come forward and identify their supposed perpetrators. And, obviously, the victims are the most important factor in these instances. But, as a city, I think the fact that it isn’t easy to talk, think or write about is pretty transparent. Watching the city’s teams lose games and falter in the playoffs is tough, but nothing in comparison to waking up every day for two months and reading about the alleged abuse of innocent children. Seriously, there’s a day and a half left in 2011, and it can’t be over soon enough.