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Are Philadelphia sports teams even worth getting excited about anymore?


Yeah, yeah, the Philadelphia Flyers are off to an awesome start  this season with 3-1 record.

Excuse me for not being that excited.Flyers photo: www.gcobb.com

 Believe me, I’m not trying to suck all the fun out of the room here. It was vital that the orange and black play strong out of the gate after a tumultuous off-season, and so far things look promising. The high expectations set for the Phillies  and Eagles are now nothing but a distant memory, and right now it’s really all we have as Philly sports fans.

No matter how well the Flyers play from October to April however, it’s not how you start, or even if you’re consistent throughout the course of a season. It’s the team who is the healthiest combined with who has the most momentum going into the playoffs, and I will refuse to get my hopes up about a Philly sports team’s expectations right now with what has transpired over the last several years. All you need to do is just get into the playoffs and roll the dice.

As Philadelphia sports fans, we’ve seen both ends of this spectrum (no pun intended) since 2010. You had a Flyers team who snuck into the playoffs on a shootout, rally from an 0-3 hole to beat the Bruins  in the second round, and reach the Stanley Cup. The next season, the team appeared to be well on their way to winning their elusive third championship, when suddenly everything went south  and the team was humiliated by the Bruins in the second round of the playoffs

Look on the bright side, they got farther than the Phillies did. Yes, the same Phillies who (for the most part) steamrolled over Major League Baseball to the tune of 102 victories this year.Ugh......

Well in the words of the late Chris Farley "Well, la-di-frickin-da!"   In the last two playoff loses for the Phightins, they’ve been beaten by teams who clinched playoff spots on the season’s very last day.

Pathetic. Jason Motte and his Bruce Sutter/Jeff Reardon wanna-be beard. What IS it with these closers the last two years in the playoffs?!  Basically, if you have a great regular season, you more than likely will get bounced out of the playoffs. If you get hot near the end of the year, you can ride the wave. How many teams with baseball’s best record have actually won the World Series in the last ten years? Exactly.

Then there’s the Eagles, who pretty much redefine disappointment as far as sports are concerned in this town. For a decade, we’ve been fed the same garbage about how ‘competitive’ they are. Guess what, the St. Louis Blues are competitive, too. From 1980 to 2004 they were in the playoffs every year. Guess what they have in common with the Eagles: they also go home empty handed every year.  

And by the way Jason Kelce, you only apologized for allowing Michael Vick to be manhandled every week. You haven’t lived through what we’ve lived through as Eagles fans, and we’ll put up any damn sign we want.Keep the sign up if you want guys! Photo: http://sportsradiointerviews.com

But I digress.

For the die-hard fans like yours truly, your time is spent throughout a long season hoping (in a realistic manner) that maybe, just maybe, this will be our year.

Emotions run wild, your overall energy is drained, and by the time the season ends, you’re exhausted. And, with the exception of 2008, chances are your team will be ring-less.

The Flyers had high expectations going into the 2009-2010 season, made a coaching change, played up and down hockey for most of the year, and suddenly found themselves in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. We lived and died with the 2011 Phillies dominating almost everyone and everything for eight months, only to see them meekly bow out to the Cardinals in a five-game series? The vibe in this town suddenly went from “Nobody’s gonna beat us!” to the all-too familiar “Oh sh*t, here we go again” mentality that was buried for a few years. I know, I know, that’s baseball, but I can’t help but think of another eight-letter word that comes to mind instead......

By now it’s obvious that these ‘team’s of destiny’ reside in other towns not named Philadelphia. If you can’t win the World Series with a team like the 2011 Phillies, just who in the hell can you win a championship with? You can’t blame Phillies’ management for that debacle last week. But nonetheless, the Phillies’ performance last week kind of dims the lofty expectations once set for the team.

And how can it not?  I know last Friday is still lingering, but if you’re going to sit here and tell me you are just as optimistic for 2012 as you were for 2011 for the Phightins, you’re dreaming. This was the year everyone. This was the year. And I’ll tell you something else too: don’t expect this sell-out record to continue if the Phillies continue to regress.If this play doesn't sum up the Eagles season so far, I don't know what does.

As for the Eagles, 2011 was the final nail in the coffin for a large portion of the fan base. At 1-4, this so-called “Dream Team” is nothing but a rudderless ship that shows no signs of finding any direction. Despite the off-season additions, there were holes this team that still needed to be addressed and were ignored.  

Eagles ownership should thank their lucky stars the Phillies didn’t win the World Series, or there would have been riots at the Linc. If this season turns out to be a waste, it gives the Eagles' brass the perfect excuse to plead ignorance and say the best way to build a contender is to build from within, as opposed to the free agent frenzy like the one you saw last July and August.

I guess the only realistic hope now for our teams is for the Flyers. Who knows? Maybe they’ve got it right this time. But if there is one thing the last few years have taught us, it’s that we’ll have no idea how good they really are until after the puck drops and the NHL Playoffs begin.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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