It definitely has been a long couple of years in the city of brotherly love. We have gone through many blunders and mistakes by the management of our clubs, as well as an array of losses we all can still feel. As a person in his late 30’s, I vividly remember the same times of heartache before that left us searching for answers. If you are in the same group you remember too…….
The Phillies looked to never be able to catch the Atlanta Braves with their Aces, the New Jersey Devils with Scott Stevens and Marty Brodeur were tag teaming our Flyers, Bubby Brister and Rodney Peete were leading our Eagles, and Charles Shackleford was still trying to figure out why he was on the 76ers roster. We could sit here for hours and bring up all the names of the late 80’s and early 90’s flops that we had to watch for our respective teams. Thankfully the pendulum swings back from time to time to give us something to get excited about and like John Cena says, “That time is now!”
The rapid developments of our franchises are not a secret anymore. We have begun to move past the process and now are beginning to build towards a promising future. Let’s start with our Philadelphia 76ers. I beg to differ with the opinion of any when I say Sam Hinkie should have a statue in this town for what he built. For all the naysayers and non-believers just look back and remember the post Allen Iverson era. Yeah, the memories last that quickly.
Billy King continued to try and vie for the 8th playoff spot in the East every year just to be knocked off the throne and sent packing by the #1 seed. It was time for a change in theory and that’s what Sam brought to town. Sure the losing stung a little bit, but in the end it will all be worth it. If anyone witnessed 5 minutes of a summer league game then they know Ben Simmons will be something to get excited about. His court vision and willingness to distribute the ball is something this town has not seen in a LONG time. Are we going to compete for the Eastern Conference this year? Of course not. However, with Noel, Saric, Embiid, and Simmons games will definitely be talked about on a daily basis. I can already feel the Sixer love beginning to take over.
As another process we should trust, The Philadelphia Phillies have turned a minor league farm system from happy hour joke material to a respectable topic on MLB Tonight. It was about 8 years ago when the nucleus of the Phillies took over the NL East and fought through the wicked rains of October to give this town a championship. Unfortunately, they were never able to capitalize on that talent again. For those of you who follow me and read my articles know I do not hold Ruben accountable. As much as you disagree, I remain comfortable with my opinion. He tried and he tried. He assembled, what should have been the best rotation in baseball. How did he know it wouldn’t work out? Did he trade away Cliff Lee prematurely? Sure. However, this is the same guy that gave you Roy Hallady. All things considered he drained our farm system dry with his single most destructive move being letting go Mike Arbuckle. Mike went to Kansas City who won a world series. Yeah, enough said.
After years of knowing it was time to rebuild, the Phillies assembled a front office with guys who had a proven track record. Andy MacPhail comes from the Orioles and will always be remembered for making a slew of headline trades with one of the biggest being the move that consisted of the following…..
Orioles trade to Seattle: Erik Bedard
Orioles get from Seattle: Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, Kam Mickolio, Tony Butler
Even now, this trade is so good that you almost can’t even fathom how much of a rip-off it has turned out for the Orioles. Without even going into statistics, all you need to know is that Bedard bounced around and had more injury plagued seasons than Mike Hampton and Adam Jones, along with Chris Tillman (14-3 so far this year) are two of the biggest reasons for Baltimore’s turnaround.
Andy MacPhail looks to have rewritten his fairytale with the Cole Hamels trade and the hiring of Matt Klentak from the Angels organization seems to be another well calculated move. Matt has been talked about as the next young mind in baseball to succeed and has done some good things already. Just looking at the farm system we have assembled, we are only a few years away from contention.
Now onto the orange and black. As we still lay to rest the beloved Ed Snider, Gm Ron Hextall and Head Coach Dave Hakstol are putting together a plan to make you get behind. Hakstol has single handedly changed the style of this team and continues to bring the same development success he had with players such as Jonathan Toews and Zach Parise to the Flyers forefront. With the stocked farm system the Flyers have it won’t be long before they are atop the Eastern Conference. GM Hextall continues to make trades to wash away all the past salary cap destruction all while hanging his hat on prized prospects like Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Sam Morin. It won’t be long before they are skating around the Wells Fargo Center.
We saw the first stage of the plan when Shayne Gostisbehere took the NHL by storm and Nick Cousins proved he can be player you can rely on in the future. As the Flyers’ young players continue to emerge, the Wells Fargo Center will be rocking night in and night out.
As we dwindle down the list of the top 4 we can’t forget our beloved Eagles. Wow, what a few years it has been for the midnight men in green. Do we all remember that moment when we found out Chip Kelly was coming? We went through weeks of speculation when the chants for the Gus Bus came to a screeching stop. It was the simple text message that was received by Howie Roseman minutes before Gus Bradley was ready to sign on the dotted line that said, “I’ll take the job!” With that came the Chip Kelly era that began with a very weak, “Yo Philly” chant from the Chipster himself at his first appearance during wing bowl. Did Chip get out of dodge because of the sanctions came down by the NCAA? This is something we will never be able to get a definitive answer on. However, the path of excitement that turned to emotional devastation will forever be remembered by all who follow the team on a consistent basis.
It started out as the most exciting 1st half in sports with the unleashing of the hurry up offense on national television. The Washington Redskins didn’t know what hit them, while Al Michaels couldn’t read his script fast enough. One thing is for sure, Chip Kelly made the entire NFL go back to work. From referees to camera guys, everyone needed to be in tip top shop in order to call an Eagles game.
Unfortunately, the success never turned into a consistent formula and the team became a mockery of what it once was. It was obvious the owner’s patience was wearing thin as it was evident the team had given up on the once heralded coach.
We now are introduced to the Dougie P Era and one that will definitely bring with it tons of criticism. Will Doug work out as a HC? It all remains to be seen. My theory still remains that Jim Schwartz only picked Philly because he felt it was his quickest path to become a HC again. I just cannot help but think the main reason for Doug’s presence was his knack for not rocking the boat. Between him and the beloved Howie Roseman, there will always be a story to report on or a move to criticize.
Either way, the keys to our future are in the hands of Carson Wentz. It took one snap and 30 seconds into the first public training camp practice to hear the chants of, “We want Carson.” Just wait until Sam Bradford gets his arm stuck in his big sleeves and throws his first wobbler to a wide open receiver. Those chants will get louder and more passionate.
Carson Wentz is the single most important figure in Philadelphia Sports right now. He will either lead us to success or failure over the next 10 years. What end of the spectrum we will be on remains to be seen. However, the one thing we have that we didn’t for years is the hopes of stability in the pocket.
As we look over the landscape of Philadelphia Sports we can always agree that the passion is what gets us through the bad times and strings of bad luck. We have certainly endured a long period of losing in all areas and a time period we want to leave in the dust. The end looks to be finally approaching with a glimmer of hope sprinkled into the mix. It won’t be long until we are on the national viewing scene once again as we get treated to the criticism of an overrated Joe Buck as he talks about things he can only look up on the internet and a bunch of rookie reporters bringing up the booing of Santa Claus. In the end it will be worth it as we will be cheering once again!
Tony Cutillo (@TCutillo23)