The Flyers won last night, but they’ve been a massive disappointment this year.
That’s why we’re honoring them on a Negadelphia Friday, and going with a topic that Russ suggested for the weekly Mount Rushmore column. He wants me to compile the most disappointing seasons in Philadelphia sporting history.
And holy shit have there been a lot of them. There isn’t enough room on Mount Rushmore to fit them all. We’d need an entire mountain range to display those shortcomings, like the Himalayas or the Swiss Alps. So what we did was instead cut the timeline down and pull the four most disappointing seasons since 2000, which takes us back two full decades now. No disrespect to the 1979 Phils, who were a big let down.
Here’s our list:
The season itself was totally enjoyable. They won 102 games. We got to watch Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt do their thing. It was the “Four Aces,” back when everybody wanted to talk about the Phils on the radio and the Eagles were a distant second, if you can believe it.
But man, that playoff series against the Cardinals. The NLDS. Just brutal.
They won the first game 11 to 6, giving Roy Halladay run support to take a 1-0 series lead. Then game two was the 4-0 lead that Cliff Lee blew, getting lit up in the 4th inning, which allowed St. Louis to come back and tie the series 1-1. They got one back in game three (the Ben Francisco home run game), but then dropped game four with Oswalt going up against Edwin Jackson.
Then, game five, and we don’t need to relive it. Halladay went eight innings and gave up just one run, but the Phils couldn’t do anything against Chris Carpenter. Just three hits. It was terrible, like watching a slow-moving train wreck and you can’t avoid it. Ryan Howard tore his Achilles on the final out and that was the end of the Phils’ “dynasty,” if we can even call it that.
The “Dream Team” Eagles
What a nightmare this was.
They canned Sean McDermott in the offseason and moved Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator. They brought in Jim Washburn and Howard Mudd. They went out and signed Vince Young, Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, and Ronnie Brown. They traded Kevin Kolb for DRC. Then they added STUDS like Danny Watkins and Jaiquawn Jarrett in the draft. This was coming off a 10-6 season in which Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jason Peters, and Asante Samuel all went to the Pro Bowl.
Instead, they went 1-4 out of the gate, then stumbled to 4-8, and ultimately finished 8-8, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007. It was an unmitigated disaster of a season that gives me heart palpitations when I think about it. It was jinxed from the start by this:
The sad thing is that there was dispute over which Flyers season to add to the list. 2021 definitely has a case. 2011-2012 was bad, after the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter trades.
But we’ll go with 2006-2007, because this team was supposed to be a contender and instead ended up being one of the worst squads ever, winning just 22 games. That’s the third-worst win total in franchise history.
The killer is that they were coming off a 45-win season, with a prime Simon Gagne joined by then-veterans Peter Forsberg and Mike Knuble. Richards and Carter were in their early 20s and showing promise. They were supposed to turn a corner, but did not. Kyle Calder was a flop. Forsberg only played 40 games. Antero Niittymaki gave up 166 goals. They offered Ryan Kesler but Vancouver matched. It seemed like everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong.
Ultimately, they finished with the worst record in the NHL, at 22-48-12, and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1994. Bobby Clarke resigned and Ken Hitchcock was fired. Forsberg was ultimately traded. It was “turrible,” as Charles Barkley would say.
The Sixers were fresh off a NBA Finals appearance, in which Allen Iverson and a bunch of role players stole a game from the Lakers before ultimately going down 4-1 to Kobe and Shaq.
There was a lot of excitement for the following season, to see what they could do. In that offseason, the team went out and traded for Derrick Coleman and Matt Harpring and signed free agent Derrick McKey. Outgoing were George Lynch and Tyrone Hill. They took Sam Dalembert with the 26th pick in the draft.
One of the problems was early injuries, and they started 0-5 with Iverson, Aaron McKie, and Eric Snow dealing with various issues. Matt Geiger then abruptly decided to retire at age 32. But they rallied to win 43 games and earn the #6 seed in the playoffs, where they ultimately fell to the Celtics, 3-2.
That series was frustrating, because Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker were scoring at will. Pierce averaged 30 and Walker nearly 25, and the Sixers just didn’t have a ton of firepower outside of A.I. They were getting 13 and 9 from Coleman but beyond that were getting barely 10 points a game from the likes of Harpring, Snow, and McKie. The bench scoring was limited, with Speedy Claxton and Corie Blount offering very little. It came down a game five where the Celtics dropped 120 on the Sixers, as Pierce went for a career-high 46.
honorable mentions: all of the Eagles NFC Championship game loss years, 2015 Eagles, 2018 Eagles, 2019 Eagles, 2020 Eagles, the Horford Sixers, every Union season from 2012 to 2018, ten straight years of Phillies baseball, 2021 Flyers, all of the Hakstol years, etc