Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were out of the lineup with
injuries for the first half of 2012, and the Phillies wound up missing the
playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
The Eagles finally bottomed out under Andy Reid last season,
their 4-12 record costing the long-time head coach his job and launching the
franchise into a rebuilding process.
Expectations suddenly soared for the 76ers when they acquired
Andrew Bynum over the summer, but he won’t even so much as suit up for a game
this season, perhaps ever.
After enduring a long, bitter lockout that lasted into
January, the Flyers have massively underperformed and appear to be destined to
join the list of recent disappointments.
Usually at least one of the local professional franchises
can stand tall. One club is left to carry the torch, to lead Philly sports
fans through the dark tunnel that is our sports landscape, offering some form
of hope – even when we know it’s only the false kind.
But with the Flyers tumbling further and further down the
standings, it looks like the home teams are going to let the people down in a
way they haven’t in nearly two decades. The last time Philadelphia went a full
calendar year without a single representative in the MLB, NFL, NBA, or NHL
playoffs were the 1993-94 seasons.
The streak began with the Eagles in ’93 after they lost
Randall Cunningham four games into the season, continued into the summer of ’94
for Flyers and Sixers franchises that were in transition, and extended into the
fall when Major League Baseball players went on strike and cancelled the World
Just to put a cherry on top, the Birds missed the
tournament again under head coach Rich Kotite in ’94 despite a 6-2 start. Eric
Lindros would finally come to the city’s rescue, helping the Flyers reach the
postseason for the first time in six years – but only after the NHL endured one
of its vintage lockouts first.
It’s hard to argue any period in Philly sports has been
worse since then. The Flyers were just beginning their run as a perennial
contender, and a short time later the Eagles would follow suit under Reid. Even
the Sixers provided some excitement during the Allen Iverson days, and more
recently the Phillies turned into a powerhouse.
The closest we’ve come to having a lost season like this was
‘04-05. A lockout cancelled hockey season, the Phils were still treading water,
and the Eagles collapsed briefly after making a trip to the Super Bowl. Only
the 76ers made the playoffs, but there was a faint glimmer of hope there with
A.I. and first-year head coach Jim O’Brien.
Naturally O’Brien was fired after a first-round playoff
The worst part is there is no definitive end in sight to the
current playoff-less streak. The Phillies return their key players, but it’s an
aging core and the front office had a polarizing offseason. Who knows how long
it will take Chip Kelly to clean up the mess Reid left behind for him at the
NovaCare Complex. The Sixers are either starting from square one, or re-signing
a head case with no knees. The Flyers’ roster is loaded with young talent, but
the organization is up against the salary cap which makes it difficult to
address their immediate needs.
Wow, that’s depressing.
The truth is the Phillies could return to prominence this
year, the Eagles could become competitive again in one offseason, and the
Flyers seemingly have too much talent to stay down in the dumps for too long.
Only the 76ers are seemingly in hopeless territory, but they'll have some
Who knows, maybe there truly is no place to go but up from
here. After all, it doesn’t get a lot worse than this, and the pain can only
last for so long.
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