Philadelphia's "Every Fourth Year" Curse

Kevin LagowskiCorrespondent INovember 5, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 31:  Starting pitcher Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies walks off the field against the New York Yankees in Game Three of the 2009 MLB World Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 31, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The Phillies have just completed a great ride back to the World Series, ending up just two games (or three Cliff Lee clones) short of repeating as champions.


But don’t be surprised that they didn’t bring the trophy back home.  They were just the latest victim of Philadelphia’s “Every Fourth Year” (EFY) Curse.


And you thought the Curse of Billy Penn was bad. At least the Phillies eventually broke that.


The EFY Curse has proven completely unbreakable and has taken turns stifling each of our four professional sports teams on multiple occasions.


It all began in the year 1977.


Philadelphia had just been the focal point of our nation’s bicentennial celebrations and was enjoying a period of sports prosperity, with the Flyers having made three consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup Final (two wins) and the Phillies in the midst of several division titles.


In that spring of 1977, the Sixers made the NBA Finals and led the Portland Trailblazers two games to nothing before being overwhelmed by Bill Walton and company, losing four straight.


And so it began.


Fast forward three years later to 1980, as the Flyers and Sixers both fell in the finals. But this was not the EFY Curse at work, as the Phillies were victorious in the World Series later that year. Instead, the EFY Curse reared its ugly head just three weeks into 1981, with the Eagles losing to the Raiders in Super Bowl XV.


The Curse would lie dormant as the Sixers lost the NBA Finals in 1982 and then finally broke through for a title in 1983, but it reached out and bit the Flyers in 1985.


When the Flyers lost to the Edmonton Oilers again in the 1987 Stanley Cup Final, it appeared that Philadelphia no longer needed any opposition from the EFY Curse to lose a finals series and it had all merely been a coincidence.


The pattern appeared to be broken for good in 1989. None of the teams made it to the finals, with the Flyers falling a round short. Maybe the Eagles were ticketed for the Super Bowl that year, but the Fog Bowl on December 31, 1988 made sure that wouldn’t happen.


Little did anyone suspect that the 1993 Phillies would come out of nowhere to play in the World Series. But we all know what happened there.


The Curse was reborn.


The city’s next chance at glory came four years later, in 1997, but the Flyers were swept quietly aside as the Stanley Cup eluded them once again.


Four years later, the upstart Sixers met the mighty Lakers for the NBA title. They managed a game one win, but were ultimately no match for the Curse.


The Eagles had a strong 2004 NFL campaign. But when the playoffs arrived and the calendar turned to 2005, the EFY Curse kicked in, denying the Eagles in their Super Bowl bid again.


Fortunately for all of us fans, the Phillies were able to break through and triumph in the 2008 World Series, impervious to the EFY Curse.


But it sat there, just waiting for 2009.


It has been claiming them in order recently, ever since Macho Row and the ’93 Phils.


The 1997 Flyers.


The 2001 76ers.


The 2004 Eagles, playing in the 2005 Super Bowl.


It was once again the Phillies’ turn this year. There was no stopping it.


And so you see, we are still cursed.


Yes, our teams are still able to make the championship round, and even win it, as the Phillies did last year.  But every fourth year? Forget about it.


Since 1977, the EFY Curse is an undefeated 8-0.


Teams making the finals in other seasons since then are 3-4. Not great, but better than zero.


With the World Series having come to a sad conclusion, Philadelphia’s fans turn the page on a very good season, but one that ultimately came just short.


Still, one of our teams will be back in this position soon, with a chance to give us a title and a parade and that warm feeling we all had last year.


Let’s just hope it happens before 2013.


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