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Philadelphia Sports Teams Could Compete For Years To Come

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For the first time in what seems like years, Philadelphia sports are majorly relevant, and on a national scale!

 

Despite the Flyers early playoff exit (more on that later), the Phillies, after a rough start, seemed to have momentarily turned the corner under new skipper Gabe Kapler, the Eagles won a pretty big game in February, and the Sixers could be embarking on a historic playoff run. Some have even included the Villanova Wildcats NCAA championship into the mix. Even this St. Joe’s Hawk will admit that Villanova’s college program might be the best in the NCAA, they are NOT a Philadelphia team (no matter hard how the national media tries to group them in), but I digress.

Eagles Super Bowl parade

 

With so much to talk about and so little time to do it, here’s my recent take on all this. You may agree or disagree, so let’s discuss!

 

 -By design, the NFL is not structured for teams to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. After all, there’s only been eight of them over the course of 52 Super Bowls. They have a tougher schedule the following year (along with a lower draft pick), injured players who miss a considerable amount of time on contending teams (ie: Aaron Rodgers) return, role players who might have had big moments for the championship winning team (ie: Trey Burton) get better offers, balancing the salary cap is always a task, and the overall talent of competing teams (Rams, possibly the Giants) can catch up with you. In short, it takes a LOT for things to go right just to win one Super Bowl, including team chemistry, which can help or possibly hinder a team with the addition or subtraction of a single player. Nobody knows this better than Eagles fans.

 

 That being said, if a team CAN win a second consecutive Super Bowl, they are in exclusive company. The odds are against the Eagles to do what they did again. But then again, the odds were seemingly stacked against them last year, and we all know how that ended.

 

 -Claude Giroux, while not a superstar, has been a nice player for the Flyers over the course of the last decade. In addition, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing him and he’s a really solid guy. That being said, for him to signal out the fans’ booing as a possible reason for the team’s lackluster play at home during the playoffs against the Penguins is baseless. Can you imagine an Eagles player blaming the fans for their lackluster play? Wrong thing to say, Claude, especially for a franchise who forever seems to be stuck in limbo and hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since my parents were newlyweds. Truth be told, the Flyers were a long shot against Pittsburgh. Knowledgeable Flyers fans already know this. We hate Pittsburgh, we despise Sidney Crosby, but they’re not back-to-back Stanley Cup champions for nothing. Maybe one day, the Flyers will equal their success….when I’m 60.Odubel Herrera

 

 -You haven’t heard many boos directed at Gabe Kapler lately, which, in my opinion, were a little premature anyway. That’s because winning cures a lot of things. Do you REALLY think Allen Iverson was on time for that entire 2000-2001 Sixers dream season? Hardly.

 

Sure, the Phillies beat mostly minor league versions of major league teams during their recent winning streak (except the Pirates), but there’s reason to believe this team is on the rise. Jake Arrieta seems to be back to his dominant self much quicker than most thought he would, Aaron Nola continues to impress, as does Nick Pivetta. Jerad Eickhoff is scheduled to return in May, starting pitching could serve as a strong suit for the team moving forward.

 

The offense is another story, and there’s good news and bad news here. The Bad: This team has multiple position players Kapler inherited, and it’s impossible for them all to get consistent playing time. Carlos Santana hasn’t shown what he’s capable of, but his track record shows he’s less of a question mark. Meanwhile, rookies J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro continue to struggle offensively. Nick Williams, who had a productive 2017 after his mid-season call up, is only hitting .216, and rookie Scott Kingery is mired in a 2 for 25 slump. Aaron Altherr has turned things around of late, but he’s still well below the mendoza line, and is anybody convinced Maikel Franco will be anything more than an average player who never fulfills his potential?

 

Meanwhile, Rhys Hoskins hasn’t had the historic start to his season that he did last year (not that anybody thought he could repeat that anyway), but his on base percentage is still high, and he’s on pace for close to 30 home runs. While Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez have probably been the Phillies most consistent hitters, their lack of natural baseball instincts are concerning—and it’s already cost the Phillies some games.

 

The good: The Phillies are in a great financial position to make a big free agency splash this upcoming offseason. Yes, any possible free agents wouldn’t arrive until next year, but we’ve waited long enough to see this team compete again. I think we can hold out for one more year. Ben Simmons

 

 -No matter what happens from this point on this season, the Sixers have indeed arrived. It’s safe to say “The Process” has officially been trusted. Ben Simmons is showing the dominance of a young Magic Johnson, and Joel Embiid hasn't even shown his true potential after coming back from that freak injury he suffered in March.

 

The best part of all of this is that they’re only going to get better, and even though they’ve currently won just one round, it’s not a stretch to say they could possibly represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals if they continue their dominance. While Miami was physical, upcoming teams will be more talented, and the Sixers still have holes. Their perimeter defense can be an issue at times, and a solid three-point shooting team could give them problems. Moreover, turnovers seem to plague this team for certain stretches. People will probably grill me for this and call me a buzzkill, but any Western Conference team could give them a serious challenge—although the Sixers did hold their own against the Houston Rockets this season, and that was before the team found their groove.

 

If that’s not enough, consider this. Since 1980, every professional sports team that played for a championship in the wake of a previous championship has lost. Consider the following:

 

1980 Phillies (W) 1980 Eagles (L)

 

1983 Sixers (W) 1983 Phillies (L)

 

2008 Phillies (W) 2009 Phillies (L)

 

Of course, this is just a pattern here. It’s not etched in stone. Keep in mind I’m the same guy who thought the Eagles didn’t have a hope in winning it all without Carson Wentz. Guilty as charged.

 

 For the record, it would be great if the Sixers got that far, and it would be even better if they won it all. I’m a selfish Philly sports fan, and so are you. Our teams have been down for quite some time. Let’s make it two titles in one year!

 

 Three if you’re a Villanova fan.

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

 

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