"Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
For too many years now, the Phillies have been Philadelphia's only legitimate championship contender.
Because of that, the city's sporting attention has turned hypercritically toward a team that until very recently was a consistent producer of postseason moments.
Unfortunately, 2013 looks to be more of the same, as the wreckage of the seasons of the other major Philadelphia sports teams smolders in the frigid winds of March.
Not that long ago, you could count on the Philadelphia Eagles to contend year in and year out.
Andy Reid's perennial playoff teams with Donovan McNabb, Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook and the rest knocked on the door many times but never quite got in.
Today, to quote Buck Weaver at the end of Eight Men Out, "those guys are all gone now."
In their place? Chip Kelly and remnants of a team that finished a 4-12 season by laying down in the Meadowlands and losing 42-7 to the New York Giants.
The Philadelphia 76ers entered this season with all sorts of hope. In August, the team had a press conference at the Constitution Center to welcome center (and centerpiece) Andrew Bynum to the club.
Almost seven months later, Bynum has not played one minute for the Sixers and it looks like he never will (per USA Today). The Sixers have fallen out of the playoff hunt and, save for Jrue Holiday, the future is bleak.
As for the Philadelphia Flyers, the names on the backs of the jerseys change but the story never does.
In other words, it's the same Flyers team you've been watching for 30 years.
Because of the foibles of the other three franchises—below .500 this year, all of them, including the 4-12 Eagles—the Phillies are once again burdened with the hopes of a million or more fans who just want to see a team win.
Before their .500 campaign in 2012, the Phillies had won five straight division titles, two pennants and a World Series in five years.
Their last losing season came in 2002—when they were 80-81.
This, and the aforementioned failures of all the other teams in town, at least partially explains why Phillies fans were so sour about 2012, and why ticket sales are down.
This reaction from Phillies fans is like punishing your reliable A student for getting a B- while your other three kids have dropped out of school entirely.
In 2013, the Phillies figure to have plenty of difficulty chasing down the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves as they try to squeeze one more playoff run from the core of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rollins.
The climb will be all the more arduous with the weight of expectation added from the other Philadelphia teams' repeated disappointments.