Missanelli: 2020 Is Going to Be Like 1980 for Philly Sports
If you can wait four more years until we get to 2020, sports in Philadelphia is going to be pretty good.
That’s what my crystal ball says. My theory is this: All four teams in Philadelphia right now are at the bottom rung of a ladder, but all four are on a plan to build up from scratch until they get to a championship level. By my estimation, that’s going to take four years for the Eagles, Flyers, Sixers and Phillies. But it’s going to be worth the wait. We’re going to wake up one day, and the year 2020 is going to be just like 1980.
The Phillies won the World Series over the Royals; the 76ers faced the Lakers in the NBA finals (where they came up painfully short, but set the stage for their eventual triumph in ’83); the Eagles were in the Super Bowl (though they painfully lost to the Raiders); and the Flyers were in the Stanley Cup finals (where they just as painfully lost to the Islanders). All four teams played for a championship that year. That was Philadelphia sports’ highest peak.
Let’s look at the state of Philly sports right now:
1. Eagles. Though not quite in a rebuilding mode, the Eagles have a new coach and a new system. The key here is the quarterback position. Will Sam Bradford be the guy the Birds build around? The feeling here is keeping Bradford is better than casting your lot with the likes of a Carson Wentz, who played at Division I-AA (or FCS as it’s now known), and who would have to be taken with their first-round pick in the forthcoming NFL draft. Like the Ravens did with Joe Flacco, the Eagles’ best strategy would be to build a great defense around the average talent of Bradford.
2. Phillies. A re–stocked farm system, new analytics approaches, and money to buy free agents in a non-salary-cap league gives the Phils a chance to be pretty good within the next four seasons. By the year 2020, third baseman Mikael Franco will be a consistent 35-40 home run guy.
3. Flyers. Ron Hextall has thusfar proceeded in a proper way, dealing with salary cap issues while preserving his core of players. The Flyers are stocked with defenseman prospects. If they can balance their other lines, they might be a Stanley Cup contender by 2020.
4. Sixers. Ask Philly sport fans about the Sixers, and because of the talent they are stacking, they will tell you that the hometown basketball team might be the first team to win a title. Consider attrition: By 2020, the league powers will have fallen back a bit — yes, even perhaps Golden State, but certainly Cleveland in the East. The problem with stacking talent is that they have to learn to play together. The Minnesota Timberwolves discover that every year.
So there you have it Philly fans. Go to sleep for four years. And when you wake up, you just might have a couple of champions in your hands.