As the winter chill fills the Philadelphia air, there’s finally a warm feeling about the city’s hungry sports scene.
You’re waking up Monday mornings after thrilling Eagles wins, led by a stud 24-year-old quarterback with the intelligence of a 10-year vet, legs of a mobile threat and arm of the greats whom preceded him.
About a month into the season, the 76ers are above .500 with two transcendent players whose ceilings aren’t even close to being reached.
And the Phillies are developing a core that can possibly emulate the World Champion icons of the previous decade.
Even if only two of those three succeed (notice I omitted the boring and directionless Flyers on purpose), then you’re covered with competitive sports for most of the calendar year.
What a refreshing feeling after dealing with the stench of multiple seasons of no playoff success between all the teams.
So, with Black Friday being next week, the time when millions of Americans start shopping for the holiday season to receive the best deal possible, what if there was a universal professional sports store for teams to accomplish goals that should be conquered in the not to distant future?
If possible, what should the four Philadelphia sports teams do?
The 8-1 Eagles should go for the Lombardi Trophy this season. The 76ers should look to exceed realistic expectations. The Phillies should not hesitate to bring up their youth. The Flyers should find a way to become interesting.
Let’s break it down team-by-team.
Who in the world predicted second-year head coach Doug Pederson, with his improved 7-9 Eagles roster from a year ago, would be 8-1 with the best record in the NFL heading to Week 11?
Hard to believe there’s anyone who did.
Regardless, the Birds are the real deal. Each phase of their football team is excellent, rarely showing signs of lacking during their seven-game winning streak.
Despite overachieving, at this point, anything less than a legitimate Super Bowl would be disappointing. In fact, capturing the Lombardi Trophy shouldn’t be icing on the cake, it should be their priority.
Based on Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas acquiring Jay Ajayi and adding veteran names to positions depleted by injuries, there’s no question the 2017 Eagles own aspirations of Minnesota and a parade down Broad Street.
What they need is home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Pederson’s Eagles are 11-2 at home during his tenure and 4-8 on the road. Those numbers are incomplete because they’re 3-1 away from The Linc this season, but facts are facts.
Meantime, hard to argue against the numbers of the last 19 Super Bowls dating back to the 1998-99 season. Every team from the last four Super Bowls played with home field advantage during their conference playoffs, even if they didn’t own that privilege going in. Not to mention, at least one team from 18 of the previous 19 “Big Games,” played with home field leading up to Super Bowl Sunday.
Minnesota, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Rams are lurking behind the Eagles at 7-2 a piece, with the Seahawks being 6-3.
Hard to believe anyone would want to play at the Saints, Seahawks or Vikings for a trip to the Super Bowl. Those are tough road matchups and being in those situations likely means the Birds slipped a little bit with the other team thriving.
Thus, it’s essential the Eagles make sure the NFC Playoffs go through South Philadelphia.
The NBA’s Eastern is a pile of gluttony. No team really stands out or scares you. Boston is on a 13-game winning streak as of Thursday afternoon, but the Sixers nearly beat them in the home opener and probably should’ve. The 8-6 76ers defeated the Pistons, the current second place team in the East, Rockets who are in second in the West, while sticking with Washington and for the most part, being competitive in almost all of their games.
No more moral victories are acceptable. The 76ers possess the talent with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to run with anyone unless a game gets out of hand like it did in Golden State.
Therefore, the Sixers should aspire for a five seed in the Eastern Conference, looking to upset a team in the first round of playoffs, just like Allen Iverson’s 1999 squad did to three-seed Orlando.
It’s fairly evident these current Phillies are not your high spending squads during the most recent golden years. As general Manager Matt Klentak apparently possesses no urgency to trade for Giancarlo Stanton and uses the phrase “positional flexibility” to describe his infield log jam, his continued patience should mean more call-ups sooner rather than later.
He should flush years of organizational control down the toilet. Scott Kingery should make the Phillies right out of spring training, and be the headline among many other young prospects to get their first crack of the majors in April.
It’s time to expedite this rebuild and be tolerable in 2018. That’s what the Phils were when they finally promoted the likes of Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams and J.P. Crawford. Don’t hesitate to give guys like pitcher Tom Eshelman a chance sooner rather than later.
Put an emphasis to make the ball club watchable for six months of the season, rather preach patience, patience, patience.
Can you believe the Flyers are tied for last place in the Metropolitan Division going into Thursday’s game Winnipeg? How does a team that looks so good against the Blues and Blackhawks, fail to score against the Wild, or lose at home to the lowly Avalanche? How is it possible the Orange and Black are winners of two in a row only once 18 games into the season?
I’ll write it once, I’ll write it again.
This is hockey team is young and talented in many aspect, but sluggish too often and boring as paint drying on a wall. It appears to start with head coach Dave Hakstol. How can a man who exudes such little emotion when he speaks publicly motivate his players to play Flyers hockey the way it was meant to be?
Until this team starts winning consistently, I’ll always look at Hakstol based on his lackluster personality.
For yet another time, yawn.