Down and Out in Philadelphia

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Down and Out in Philadelphia
IconIt's the worst place to be a player. Or a fan. Or a vegetarian.

Philadelphia has always lived up to its reputation for late-game choking and perennial failure, and it's still THE city for pessimists and masochists alike.
But just what is it about Philly sports that's so awfully, well, god-awful?

Phans seem headed for yet another a playoff-free season, this time the 2006 baseball edition; look for autumn to be highlighted by debates about which AL teams the Phils could've beaten had they somehow advanced to the World Series.
Oh, and don't forget those diehard Eagles fans: they haven't got the memo that the fad is over, and reportedly will continue drunken E-A-G-L-E-S chants well past the date on which the Iggles clinch third place in the NFC East.
If the food wasn't so good, in fact, there'd be no reason to attend Philadelphia sports games at all. As it stands, at least we can take down a Yuengling lager, some pretzels, and a Geno's steak (but only if it has American cheese, onions and 'shrooms) while we stew in our premature bitterness. And by premature, I mean it comes before that fantasy league draft, when the one player whose team is always called FLYAZFOLYFE or EAGLES16-N-0 doesn't shut up about his boys winning it all.
The problem, of course, is that he's a Philly fan, and deep down, he knows they can't.

Cheesesteak hats aside, the best deal at Lincoln Financial Field this season remains your fellow-season-ticket-holder-friend's Flyers tickets for "that week they'll be out of town." The only Philly product since Smarty Jones with a potential for greatness, this year's Flyers seem raring to go. Although they lost veteran captain Eric Desjardins, solid lines will at least keep fans looking at the Wachovia Center ice for the entire game.



Such a letdown, they don't deserve capitalization. The philadelphia phillies already put the punctuation on this season by letting go of Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle, and shipping GIDP-machine David Bell, mercifully, to anywhere but the Linc. The semi-fire sale was reminiscent of the Florida Marlins' post-World Series massacres in 1997 and 2003, except there was no championship afterglow in which to bask (and, in fairness, the Phillies held onto their All-Stars). Note to the Phils' front office: dealing a quarter of your starting lineup probably isn't a good idea when you're only 2.5 games out of the Wild Card race.

PHILS PHINISH 82-80, 3rd in Wild Card and 2nd in NL EAST


Everybody seems to love the Eagles...and I just don't get it. They lost their 4 chances to win the Vince Lombardi, and they don't appear any luckier this year. In the cutthroat NFC East, it's possible for every team to go 3-3 in its divisional games—except Philly and Dallas. As much as fans are craving a Brian Dawkins crippling of TO, we all know deep down inside that it won't happen. Hypocrisy is one of the Phans' best traits: we loved the resilience an injured Owens showed when bouncing back in time for the Super Bowl, and how he never seemed to hit the turf for more than 2.3 seconds before righting himself almost instantly. Why would that change now? I for one couldn't tell you. After the fire has been lit under TO to perform at or above perfection against the Eagles, there's no way to keep the guy down. After all, take it from Owens: the SB loss two years ago was McNabb's fault anyway. DMC's still in Philly, by the way.



An old story here: premier superstar, no supporting cast. The same problem befell Vince Carter in Toronto and Dominique Wilkins in Atlanta. Sure, Morris Peterson got "holla'ed at" by Stuart Scott on a weekly basis and Spud Webb could 360 tomahawk at 5'7", but VC and The Human Highlight Reel were one-man shows. Glenn Robinson is still on the roster (You haven't noticed? Me neither), but he's staring at retirement in the near future, and the Kyle Korver-Sammy Dalembert-Chris Webber trio doesn't perform nearly as well on the court as it does on paper. With 33 ppg and 7 apg in 2006-07, Iverson will produce 47 of the Sixers' 85 nightly points...which sounds great, until you remember the league average is 95. A worse scenario: the 31-year-old Iverson gets hurt (or even slowed down a bit), and the season goes down in flames. 'Nique didn't win any championships with Spud, so why should AI with fellow rim-rocker Andre Iguodala? The Sixers will be a 7th seed in the East at best, but expect number 3 to lead the NBA in scoring.


So Delaware Valley inhabitants, be warned. Until next baseball season, you'll probably be better off watching Jeopardy! or The King Of Queens during prime time, if only to minimize the pain that local sports broadcasts are sure to bring you.
Although you can always have the wistful optimism of Red Sox fans (circa just after World War I), Philadelphians hate change (hell, they'll probably cry when somebody else is wearing Desjardins' C), and you shouldn't break a thing that isn't fixed. Or something like that.
In any event, you can count on this much: if any of the four major Philly squads show signs of promise, their GMs will almost certainly tweak the winning formula before hopes get too high. So don't worry, hard working, blue-collar Philadelphia 9-to-5er's. Your teams will continue to leave you with the feeling that hits midway through the weekly grind, when you realize that Saturday's Sixers game and Sunday's Eagles game have absolutely no playoff implications. So it goes, right?
Same $#!+, different season.

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