Over the next few weeks at The700Level, we'll be posting poll matchups as part of our Philly March Madness competition. Examine the cases of the two fine Philadelphia athletes below, and cast your vote at the bottom as to which you think should advance to the next round. And as always, feel free to explain your selection and/or debate the choices in the comments section.
Mark Recchi spent parts of 10 seasons with the Flyers and still holds the team record for points in a season (123), a mark he set in 1992-1993. The diminutive winger, now 43 years old and still a valued member of a Stanley Cup contender, has been a member of two championship teams, although neither were in Philadelphia. Still, Recchi’s blend of grit with pure offensive skill and a trademark ability to create his own shot in a split second made him a fan favorite in Philadelphia, which he continues to be despite playing so many fruitful years of his career as a member of conference rivals Pittsburgh, Montreal, and now Boston. Some Flyers career milestones include five 25-plus-goal seasons, with 40- and a 53-goal campaigns that also saw him top the 100-point mark, and being a member of the “Crazy Eights” line along with Eric Lindros and Brent Fedyk. Recchi is also well known for being involved in two of the most significant trades in Flyers history. First, he came to the Flyers in a deal that sent Rick Tocchet, Kjell Samuellson, and Ken Wregget to Pittsburgh, and he was dealt to Montreal as part of a deal that returned two other members of our field of 64, Eric Desjardins and John LeClair. He was later traded back to the Flyers for Dainius Zubrus. It takes a special kind of player to be loved in Philadelphia long after you’ve left and played for several hated rivals (and become something of a Flyer-killer), but Recchi earned that respect during his time here. -Matt P.
Although his career is still on its upswing, Cole Hamels has achieved something even some of the greatest pitchers in the game have only been able to dream about. In 2008, Cole pitched his way into Phillies history by earning the NLCS and World Series MVP honors while helping to break a decades-long championship drought in Philadelphia. In his five playoff starts that year, he posted a 4-0 record, a sub-2.00 ERA, and a 0.91 WHIP. When Philadelphia needed him most, he was at his best. There is little else he needs to accomplish to earn the love of city, but we often have an odd way of showing that. Although Hamels has had a few statements and actions that fans haven’t appreciated, most were insignificant; his continued on-field progress has most people seeing that despite his California calm, Cole is a fierce competitor with a skill set to back it up. Now seated among the four aces, he has had no problem losing sole ownership of the starting pitching spotlight he had just two seasons ago. With Hamels now throwing four pitches well, including a knee-buckling change-up, we have a feeling we’re in for many more years of highlights, possibly even a Cy Young, and hopefully another parade. -Matt P.