When Was the Last Time All Four Philly Sports Teams Failed to Make the Playoffs in Succession?

When Was the Last Time All Four Philly Sports Teams Failed to Make the Playoffs in Succession?

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
Series.

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
exit.

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
options.

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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Today's lineup: Jorge Alfaro makes second straight start

Today's lineup: Jorge Alfaro makes second straight start

Catcher Jorge Alfaro is making his second straight start after Saturday's 10-8 win.

Alfaro, the Phillies' top catching prospect, has gone 0 for 11 with a walk in his three career starts, all coming in the last two weeks since he was called up. Alfaro was acquired in the Cole Hamels trade last July and is 1 for 13 with a walk in five games. 

The 23-year-old will catch Jake Thompson in a game that means a lot more to the Mets (1:10/CSN).

Giving Alfaro playing time allows Phillies fans the chance to get a glimpse of the future. Roman Quinn has received plentiful playing time after was called up in the mid-September and Alfaro, like Quinn, is trying to leave an impression on the Phillies' brass before spring training.

Quinn is not in the lineup on Sunday as Aaron Altherr and Cody Asche man the corner outfield spots. Freddy Galvis moved up to second in the lineup after staying in the bottom half of the lineup in recent games.

Ryan Howard will bat fifth, playing likely his final game at Citi Field with the Phillies. While he has batted just .203 in 52 career games at Citi Field, he alos has 11 home runs there after smashing 12 homers at Shea Stadium, the Mets' previous stadium.

Here's the full lineup that will oppose Robert Gsellman and the Mets.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cody Asche, LF
7. Aaron Altherr, RF
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Jake Thompson, P

For more on today's game, check out Steven Tydings' game notes

Phillies-Mets 5 things: All the pressure on Mets, Gsellman

Phillies-Mets 5 things: All the pressure on Mets, Gsellman

Phillies (70-85) at Mets (82-73)
1:10 p.m. on CSN

After two rough losses for the Phillies and their pitching staff, the offense picked them up and came through with a 10-8 win. 22-year-old Jake Thompson takes the hill this afternoon while Robert Gsellman starts a crucial game for the Mets.

Here are five things to watch on Sunday.

1. All the pressure on New York, Gsellman
The Mets remain 0.5 games up on the final National League playoff spot. 

While their pitching staff was falling apart at the seams going into (and during) this series, the one saving grace for New York was its soft schedule, facing the Phillies seven times in its last 10. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals have to deal with the MLB best Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants end the year vs. the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.

However, a loss on Saturday (thanks in part to Noah Syndergaard getting scratched with strep throat) puts the Mets in a precarious position. They're tied in the loss column with the Cards and Giants while fighting for one of two playoff spots and their rotation most closely resembles their Triple A team from Opening Day. 

Gsellman is one of those pitchers who started the year never having tasted the major leagues. In fact, he started the year in Double A. His first career start came at Citi Field last month against the Phillies and resulted in his first career loss after he allowed four runs in six innings. 

He's been better since that start, carrying a 3.13 ERA into Sunday. The 23-year-old righty will likely start vs. the Phillies again next weekend, meaning the Mets' season rides in part on a rookie with just 31 2/3 innings in the majors. 

2. Young man on a roll
While Gsellman lost his last start, Thompson has won his last two starts. The young righty is on a hot streak as his season nears an end.

Thompson's ERA has goe down in each of his last five starts, a stat made less impressive by the fact that he began that run with a 9.78 ERA. He has gone at least five innings in his last eight starts and has shown glimpses of why he was such a valued prospects.

In September, Thompson is 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA over four starts. He's still allowed 33 baserunners in 23 1/3 innings during that span, but it's been much better than his lackluster August.

While Thompson is in line to start next weekend against the Mets as well, today could be his final start of the season. He has already set a career-high in innings and the Phillies may not want to extend him one more start.

3. What to look for in the season's final week
Including Sunday, the Phillies have just seven games left in their season. They're eliminated from playoff contention, but there's still plenty to watch as the Phils take on Braves and Mets.

Ryan Howard's final fairwell: With his five-year, $125 million deal coming to a close this year, Howard is almost certainly playing his final games in Philadelphia next week. He'll get plenty of starts and may even face the Mets' Bartolo Colon, who he's smacked three home runs off of in his career.

Playing spoiler: As mentioned above, the Mets have everything on the line both today and next weekend in Philadelphia. There are few better ways to end a postseason-less season than knocking a rival out of playoff contention.

More looks at the kids: Roman Quinn's emergence over the last two weeks has been fun to watch and Jorge Alfaro may get more chances in the last seven games. Beyond them, Thompson, Tommy Joseph and others close out a nice first season. 

4. Players to watch
Phillies: Maikel Franco has looked more like his 2015 self over the last few weeks. He's batting .310 in September with three home runs, matching his August total. His 15 RBI this month are his most in a month other than July. 

Mets: Asdrubal Cabrera has been on fire this month as well. After battting .405 in August, he's batting .333 and has five home runs, including the walk-off homer on Thursday. He's slugging .628 this month after putting up a .786 slugging percentage in August. 

5. This and that
• In Gsellman's August start vs. the Phillies, he only allowed one run while he was in the game. However, he left the bases loaded in the 7th with no outs before A.J. Ellis knocked in the decisive two-run double to give the Phils a lead they would not relinquish.

• Six different Phillies batters had hits off Gsellman, including Jimmy Paredes who went 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI. 

• Despite pitching injuries, the Mets have the eighth-best team ERA in September with a 3.64 average. The Phillies are 15th in baseball with a 4.10 ERA this month.

• The Phillies are 6-9 against the Mets this year. They're already ensured of a better finish than last year's 5-14 mark vs. New York.

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