We Aren’t the Champions
Good day, co-residents of one of the worst sports cities in America, where we wake up every day perusing websites, television, radio and newspapers reading about how awful things are!
“Hope.” It is one of the most relevant words in the English language and here, in Philadelphia, we search every day for it, much like the farmer who tries to find his wife’s needle in the horse manure. Today’s column is about that hope, about analyzing which of the four major sports team brings us the most hope for a future championship – or at least SOME kind of success.
I will break this down analytically based on the following factors: strength of ownership, strength of management, strength of coaching, and finally, strength of talent. And I will rank the teams in order as they accumulate points in my head.
Life is so bleak on the Philly sports scene right now, that my number one team, so far as hope is concerned, starts with this:
• Phillies. Yes, you read that right. The team that just lost 99 games is the number one team for which I have hope. Why
Ownership is strong. Now that John Middleton has seized control from four other majority partners (even though he doesn’t own a majority of the team), he has been a front man for stopping the madness. He has hired a pedigree baseball man in Andy MacPhail, who was responsible for turning around at least one major league team, the low-budget Minnesota Twins. MacPhail’s goal is to put an emphasis on the farm system and hopefully produce results similar to the Houston Astros, who built a playoff team with young, talented players (But doesn’t it PISS you off that the Astros are in the playoffs after having 111 losses just two years ago while this group of Phillies are home in their living rooms waiting for the check to arrive?)
• The Flyers. OK, I’m caught up in it too: Ron Hextall is a Flyer hero so he must be a good general manager who can rebuild a Flyer team that Paul Holmgren ruined with big contracts. But Holmgren did this under the leadership of Ed Snider, who allows his Flyers heroes to do pretty much whatever they want. Snider is a strong personality but a WEAK owner, who needs to step completely out of the picture and stop looming over this franchise with his signature sneer. Move back to California Ed, and we’ll e-mail you the results. In the meantime, “Hexy,” show me something different than “Homer.”
• The Eagles. I’m not ready to give up on Chip Kelly, but let’s go through the analysis here. Jeff Lurie is a weak owner. Lurie sat in HIS foyer and allowed Chip Kelly to convince him that he was ready to be the total architect of an NFL football team even though he was just two years removed from college. He allowed Kelly to jettison a starting offensive guard. Why? Shouldn’t he have said: “Chip, are you letting this player go because he rubbed up against your ego, because we’re certainly not better off without Evan Mathis and I’M the one who’s signing the paycheck and I don’t mind doing that. So if you’re doing this because of your ego, get the hell out of my foyer and make it work!” But see, Lurie is a pacifist. Meanwhile, Kelly is overmatched as a GM. Having 83 players on a college roster, with one high school all-American backing up another, is a lot easier to coach from. In the pros, you cannot make a mistake because ”next man up doesn’t work in the NFL.” The owner is weak, management is weak, coaching is weak, and the talent is weak. Other than that, the Eagles are in great shape.
• The Sixers. I’m a believer in Sam Hinkie’s “tanking” plan to get high first round picks. But somewhere along the line, Hinkie is going to have to scurry through the bushes to find young, under the radar players who can actually play along WITH these high draft picks. This year’s Sixers roster is loaded with young players who CAN’T play. The Sixers have Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel and a bunch of crap. JaKarr Sampson? Hollis Thompson? Isaiah Caanan? Scottie Wilbekin? Dude, seriously? This Sixer team will lose more games than they lost last year. And oh by the way, I don’t think Joel Embiid will EVER play for the Sixers.
“Hope.” It’s a great word. And it doesn’t apply here in Philadelphia. Sorry to say.