With the arrival of the baseball season and the Phillies looking less than stellar to start their season, I wanted to look back at a troublesome winter — sports-wise. The weather is supposed to warm up and there’s no snow in the forecast (not until Halloween anyway), so let’s examine a phrase I heard quite often here in the Eastern Pennsylvania region during the last several months, and decide if this truly was the “winter of discontent” for Philly sports fans. Let’s examine the pro sports happenings this winter & decide which event(s) was the most mentally draining for us:
1. On the NHL side, we first had to endure (yet another!) lockout. After months of arguing … sorry, “negotiating,” and a supposed deal that collapsed, followed by several more weeks of going back-and-forth, an agreement was reached. Then the remaining pieces of last year’s Flyers disappointing season were supposed to mix with alleged upgrades and Ilya Bryzgalov was supposed to have a bounce-back year. Then the teams who you knew were going to be good (Tampa Bay) were even better than expected and shook off the rust with ease. The teams the Flyers were supposed to be better than (New York), lit up the scoreboard on Bryz and the Flyers defense way too often. The Flyers even struggled to beat the mediocre teams or would lose in shootouts to horrific teams like the Florida Panthers. Their chances of making the playoffs are now slim, and they also don’t have the abundance of youth that one could hope for. The fact that they’ll start next season on time may be the biggest bright spot for next season
2. Andrew Bynam. Do we have to say much more when it comes to talking about the 76ers’ woes this season? Everything was built around a player who ended up never playing a game for the team. Add the double-double performances of the dispatched Nik Nucevic and the usual, better-than-average consistent effort by Andre Iguodala, mixed with the less than spectacular additions of Dorell Wright, Kwame Brown, the injury-riddled Jason Richardson and the inconsistent Evan Turner, Swaggy P and the like made for an absolutely abysmal season for the Sixers—and an abyss of questions, unknowns and I-don’t-want-to-think-about-thems on the roster for next year.
3. The Eagles came off their worst season under Andy Reid, and soon afterward dismissed the head coach. Despite a wave of more popular and NFL-proven commodities, Jeff Lurie, in his infinite wisdom went outside of conventional thinking and hired Chip Kelly. His under-the-radar free agents and his seemingly solid assistant coaching staff have given Birds fans reason for optimism, but the unpopular decision to bring back Michael Vick and his completely unknown ability to draft well (something his predecessor struggled mightily with) still have many faithful followers uneasy heading into the spring.
4. Last and maybe, in terms of this blog query, the least — the Phillies. They were coming off their first season since 2006 in which they not only failed to make the playoffs, but barely reached the .500 mark. With the trades of mega-millionaires Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, and Hunter Pence, the Phightin’s were free to spend boffo-dollars to sign BJ Upton, Michael Borne, Nick Swisher, Annibal Sanchez, et al to fortify the troops and make a grand rush for the playoffs before the potential departures of free agents-to-be Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, and Carlos Ruiz. Instead, we got Michael Young, Delmon Young, John Lannan and Ben Revere (at the expense of Vance Werley and Trevor May). While we have to give due diligence to see if these deals work out, none of the moves were the ‘big splash’ we were all hoping for, and it can certainly be argued that the outfield and starting pitching (pending Halladay’s health) is actually WORSE than it was heading into last year.
Was it the worst winter in recent memory for Philly pro sports? And how would you rank these events in order of your frustration and angst? Post your comments and send us an email to RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com to let us know how you feel, and join us on our next “SportsTalk” show on Thursdays, live at 6 pm to discuss your sports opinions.