By: Matthew Nadu
We’ve fallin’ on hard times in Philadelphia.
The once promising talks of the Four Aces, the ultimate Dream Team and the NBA seem like childhood fictional characters that we eventually learn are make believe, imagined as hopeful illusions to fill our voids for something bigger and better.
That’s what the Phillies, Eagles and 76ers have done to this city.
Devastation, strike and failure have beaten us hard. Yet in our most vulnerable time, one team who’s been on the cusp of greatest and has gone through its own offseason mayhem, may have finally captured the heart of Philadelphia. At 4-1, Avalon may never be the same, but the Mike Richard and Jeff Carter-less Flyers have proven so far that they’re the real deal.
So, in this week’s Nadu’s Niner, I break down why Philadelphia may finally be a Flyers town.
9. Merchandise: Their new retro wardrobe is awesome. Just ask Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko who mentioned it every chance possible during Comcast SportsNet’s Meet the Flyers.
8. The “Wide-9” defense: We still don’t know what it is and apparently it’s not working. Not even with 500 Pro Bowlers utilizing it.
7. Ryan Howard’s Achilles tendon: Two seasons in a row Mr. Howard and his $100 million plus contract couldn’t save the Phillies return to glory. By no means is the season on his shoulders but … First it was a Brian Wilson curve on the outside corner during the NLCS that froze him straight through winter. Then it was an MVP like Game 1 and 2 and BOOM his performance exploded like his Achilles as he scrambled out of the box for the final out in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS. It’s as if all the force from every Phillies fan glaring at No. 6 were concentrated on that heel forcing it to burst right before he dropped. The slugger will be out at least six months. Hopefully shorter. Yet around the same time the Flyers should capture their first Stanley Cup Championship in over 35 years.
6. The Strike: Is there still an NBA? Seems like it hasn’t been in Philly since the departure of Allen Iverson. With the sale of the 76ers to a new ownership group headed by UPenn grad Joshua Harris, there is finally a sense that the Sixers could be fun to watch again. If the new ownership is anything like Mark Cuban over in Dallas, expect some good basketball in the near future. The organization is already slashing ticket prices by 50 percent, you know, the tickets you can’t buy because of the lockout.
5. Andy Reid: In hindsight, this probably should have been No. 1 on the list. Enough already Andy, whatever play you’re going to call, do the opposite. That seems to be your excuse during every post game conference for the last THIRTEEN years. At least Peter Laviolette is so intimidating no one ever questions his answers. Perhaps more slick back less ‘stache.
4. Rumors, Rumors, Rumors: Villanova you’ve shamed your city. Dirty little secrets to The Big East may keep Temple University out of the conference. Temple has been taken the high road by avoiding the fact that the fellas on the Main Line don’t want the Owls swooping into their territory, but come on now. It’s about time to speak up. Nova is scared they’ll lose their basketball recruits and football, er, wait they don’t have a Division 1 football team. Now I see why they’re crying. Think about it Philly, two Big East teams in one city. At least Temple has home conferences, when the conference realignment is all said and done the Big East might just be a big bust.
3. Eagles: What is there to say here? Dream Team, ah, more like nightmare on Broad Street so far. There’s no doubt on paper the Eagles have one of the best teams in the NFL. The team is loaded with talent, but at 2-4 this team has been a major disappointment unlike anything we’ve seen in the Reid Era. Still being in a shaky NFC East and heading into a bye week, the Eagles will have a chance to rest up and make a playoff run. Until then, they’re the second biggest disappointment in the city.
2. Phillies: How could this have happened? Seriously, we weren’t talking about a one-peat, two-peat or three-peat, with this team it should have been a minimum World Series eight-peat. The pitching was there but the bats just couldn’t come around. Even the spark of giddy Hunter Pence couldn’t get the Phils out of the first round. There may be a lot of changes this offseason, primarily centering around the future of free agent and fan favorite Jimmy Rollins. Now we’re forced to watch rally squirrels as Tony “Squirrel Under My Hat” LaRussa scurries into his sixth World Series.
1. The First Line: The Flyers first line is like Just For Men. Ample dark hair, highlighted by upcoming superstars Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk, with a touch of grey that is Jaromir Jagr. Essentially these guys know what they’re doing and right now they’re doing it all as the Flyers first line of offense. They may not be the best overall line in the NHL yet, but by the end of the season, they could be one of the best the organization has ever seen. The Flyers currently sit one point back from the top spot in the NHL and with Chris Pronger as the new captain, the addition of Wayne Simmons and the first star goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov since Ron Hextall, the Flyers could have one magical season.
Then again it’s not like we haven’t heard that before.
Follow Matthew Nadu on Twitter @matthewnadu