Wednesday, May 25, 2005
It was the greatest year possibly in the history of Philadelphia sports. The Eagles were in the Super Bowl. The Flyers played for the Stanley Cup. The Sixers went up against the Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Phillies won the World Series. It was a time of bliss and pride and excitement. And here we are. Twenty five years later we are in a quite different state of mind.
A lot has changed since 1980 to say the least. Players have come and gone as well as owners and coaches. Little success has come although chances have been given on occasion. The Sixers won the city's last championship in 1983. Since then the teams have had zero success in pursuit of a championship.
At the moment you might say that the fans of Philly are desperate and anxious for another championship to brag about and soak in. No championships since 1983. 1983! This is clearly an understatement. So how did a city who's teams were among the top of their leagues in the late 70's and early 80's become a city without a championship?
The Philadelphia Phillies, one of the losingest franchises in all of sports, are currently proving to be a huge mess. In 1980 hall of famers Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, along with the likes of Pete Rose and Tug McGraw, captured our hearts with an NLCS victory of the Houston Astros in the best playoff series in all of sports, ever. Now third basemen David Bell continues to find his way into the lineup despite his underachieving and poor fielding and injuries. The general manager, Ed Wade, clearly has been a failure who is misguided about the talent his club currently possesses. Manager Charlie Manuel continues to bumble and juggle his lineup, keeping the "future everyday second baseman" Chase Utley out of the lineup against every left handed pitcher. The Phillies will notch their 10,000th loss at some point next season, a mark unreached in professional sports so far. Is it any wonder the fans of Philly are down on the Phillies?
On the other end of the Philly Sports spectrum, and directly across the street, are the Philadelphia Eagles. In 1980 they played the underdog Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, it was the Eagles who were the dogs that day as Oakland won the Super Bowl as a wild card team. Today the Eagles are in the best position in the city to win a championship. However, history is not on their side as the losing team in the Super Bowl finds it near impossible to return to the game the following season, except for Buffalo of course. They are also in the middle of a standoff with Terrell Owens and his agent. Total dominance has been their trademark the past few years in the NFC East and the conference. Four straight NFC championship and a Super Bowl appearance are evidence of that. But this franchise hasn't won a championship since 1960...before there ever was a Super Bowl! With the high expectations placed on the charm of the city at the moment, it is no wonder Eagle and Philly fans are going nuts.
Then there are the Sixers. Twenty five years ago they played the Lakers in the Finals and were eliminated when rookie backup Earvin "Magic" Johnson stepped up and scorched the Sixers in Game Six. The Sixers hold the last sports championship, 1983, and are probably the most likely to win the next sports championship, as basketball can be easier to put together a winning team in the shortest amount of time. The days of Dr. J and Moses Malone are long gone. Today it is all about AI, the other AI and now Chris Webber. They just made a coaching change, bringing back fan favorite Maurice Cheeks, who is the inspiration for this very article. Cheeks will bring a new attitude that this team desperately needs and Philly may be witnessing an attitude not seen from the Sixers since 1983, or 2001. Cheeks will have this team playing like the old days when the players knew to play hard every minute of the game.
And finally, the Flyers. A team that has won two Stanley Cup Finals hasn't done so since the 70's. Since then the team has not changed their philosophy enough. When the NHL does come back, because this writer believes it will someday, you can be sure that the Flyers will still be lead by general manager Bobby Clarke, captain of the Broadstreet Bullies of the 70's. Clarke has continued to believe in the old theory that if you're bigger and stronger than the opposition you will win. But if you look at some of the recent Stanley Cup champs you will know that is not true. The Flyers unfortunately believe that they can win their way now because it worked for them twice before in the 70's. This is a franchise who is still living back in the Spectrum. They just play their games in the Center.
So here we are, twenty five years later. Two championships since 1980. New York has won with the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Islanders, and even the Rangers. Boston has won with the Celtics, Patriots and even the Red Sox. Los Angeles has won with the Dodgers and Lakers. Here comes the reality shocks though...
Tampa Bay has won two championships. Miami has two World Series championships. And the great metropolis of the Meadowlands has won three Stanley Cups.Will Philly ever win another championship? Sure they will. The question is, in another twenty five years will I be writing a story with the heading "Philadelphia Sports - 50 Years Later"?