City of Losers?
Flyers fans gather before playoff game (Source: iMryanmac on Photobucket)
As a diehard Philly sports fan, it pains me to point this out, but after nearly two days of hearing way too many Philly fans taking the Flyers loss in stride, it put me over the edge. I've heard too many fans say some version of "it was a great season", "nobody expected them to get that far", "they played hard", "I'm proud of them", "we'll be back next year", etc. Some of that may be true. Back in early April when they barely made the playoffs, nobody saw a historic comeback from a 3-0 series deficit to Boston or a Conference championship in their future. There is no doubt there were some great memorable moments.
But ultimately they didn't get it done. They had plenty of chances to win this series and didn't. They were inches away from possibly winning three of the four games they lost. For too many years, whenever one of our four pro sports teams loses late in the postseason, the fans seem way too grateful and accepting of the outcome, for all teams except the Eagles of recent years, that is.
I've seen plenty of scrappy Philadelphia sports teams have unexpected deep playoff runs, capture the sports fans' hearts, but ultimately fail to win the championship – the 1993 Phils, 2001 and 2008 Eagles, 1985, 2000, 2004, and 2010 Flyers, etc.. I've seen this movie too many times already. Literally…that was Rocky. And that's why that movie so perfectly captured Philadelphia since he lost the first fight to Apollo Creed. Hoosiers happens in places like Indiana. Philadelphia has Rocky.
Here are some other numbers to consider. Since the Flyers won their 2nd Cup in 1975, the 4 Philly sports teams have combined to have a 3-15 record in championship playoff rounds. That is by far the worst winning percentage in championship rounds of any city who has had teams play in at least five final series. The Phillies have faired the best with a 2-3 record in the World Series. The other teams have been much worse. The Flyers are 0-6 in Stanley Cup Finals since then, the Eagles are 0-2 in Super Bowls, and the Sixers are 1-4 in NBA Finals.
During HBO's Broad St. Bullies documentary, Anthony Gargano of WIP noted that right before those beloved Flyers teams won, Philadelphia was considered "the city of losers." The Eagles had won in 1960, but had stunk ever since. The Sixers had won it all in 1967, but then Wilt left and they were 9-73 shortly after that. And the Phillies had been pretty bad since the early 1950's except for 1964, when they were merely good enough to be in 1st place until a few games were left in the season and then put their fans through the worst collapse in sports history prior to the 2007 Mets. It was against that backdrop that those Bullies teams won the city's hearts just by, well, winning.
But we've only had one championship in the last 27 years and only three in the last 35 years since the Flyers last Cup. In the 27 years preceding the Flyers' first Cup, the city had experienced 6 championships (3 by the Eagles in 1948, 1949, and 1960, 2 by the Warriors in 1947 and 1956, and 1 by the Sixers in 1967). If we were the "city of losers" then, what are we now? Our teams have just been better lately and get tantalizingly closer to winning it all. But the results are mostly the same: they rarely ever win the championship. When everyone was hung up on the championship drought that started in 1983 and finally ended in 2008, I thought, "If this is a drought, when was there ever a lot of rainfall before?"
Overall, going back to the A's repeat World Series title in 1930, the town has only experienced 11 championships in the last 80 years. Eleven! So that's 77 Eagles football seasons, 24 A's baseball seasons, 80 Phillies baseball seasons, 43 Flyers hockey seasons, 16 Warriors basketball seasons, and 47 Sixers basketball seasons. That's 287 sports seasons with 11 championships.To put that in perspective, right now the Lakers are going for their 10th championship in their last 31 seasons.
I understand people feeling good about what the Flyers did this season. But when I take the long view, it's just yet one more time when a Philadelphia team came up short. It's getting old. But what else are we going to do, watch soccer?