Monday, December 31, 2007

Year In Review - WTF?

After months of neglect brought on by the blocking of and other favorite websites by a former unnamed employer (who is now currently getting karmic justice in business circles), I'm back to salvage my poor neglected blog. They are a New York based company, so perhaps the propeller-head who manages the web blocking software was a Mets fan. Regardless, I'm in a better place now.


How screwed would we be as Philadelphia sports fans without the Fightin' Phils?? Yeah, I know they got their butts kicked by Colorado in the playoffs, but for crying out loud, they not only got to the playoffs, but shut the collective piehole of one of the most annoying fanbases on the face of the Earth in the process....the New York Metropolitans. Good stuff.

And it's a good thing too, because the rest of the Philadelphia sports scene was a steaming pile of cat excrement.

The Eagles managed to find a new and exciting way to aggravate their fanbase (misuse of the draft) to go a pedestrian 8 - 8 (I predicted 10 - 6 when the schedule came out). Their on-field issues were constantly overshadowed by the issue with Andy Reid and the behavior of his fuckhead older kids, Garrett and Britt. Let's also not forget about the thin skinned nature of their franchise quarterback, Donovan McNabb. The Sixers continued their rebuilding process (begun when they traded Iverson over a year ago) by firing incompetent GM Billy King and hiring local boy Ed Stefanski, all while remaining a sub-.500 team in a bad conference. The Flyers finished in dead last in the NHL and couldn't even bring themselves to get the first pick of the NHL draft (which they lost to Chicago).

In light of this somewhat dismal view of the local sports scene, I want to do a quick overview of the chances each franchise has to bring the local fanbase the championship they richly deserve. Each franchise is listed in the order in which I believe they can win it all.

The Phillies

Love the Phillies chances next season to do some further damage. Yeah, I know they lost Aaron Rowand, but I don't believe he will replicate his numbers from last year (a career statistical career). Love the acquisition of Brad Lidge, because it enables Brett Myers to move back to the starting rotation. As I opined on several occasions last baseball season, Brett Myers needs to be in the rotation for this ballclub to succeed. The whole deal with moving him to the bullpen worked last year for the most part, but the Phils had a patch work rotation down the stretch that was begging for a starter of Myers' status to come to the fore. As currently constituted, the team is already better now than it was heading into the playoffs this year. Phils: Trending upward.

The Flyers

The Flyers almost completely overhauled their team this past offseason and really, they had nowhere to go but up. But even the most dyed-in-the-wool Flyers fan couldn't have foreseen bagging Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, and Kimmo Timonen to shore up what was a team sorely lacking in actual hockey talent. How much better is this Flyers team than last Flyers team? They've already traded their self-proclaimed "most improved player", the middleweight enforcer formerly known as Ben Eager. Doubt they would have considered that option if they didn't feel they were in better shape talent-wise. The only fly in the ointment so far has been the slow start of Scott Hartnell (6 G, 8 A in 35 games) and the extended absence (20+ games) of Simon Gagne, due to post-concussive symptoms. They've barely treaded water since he's been out, but I believe they will seperate from the Atlantic Division pack when he returns. He should inject some life into a moribund offense that is living off of the 2nd ranked power play in the NHL.

Don't rule out a trade of goaltender Antero Niittymaki for a veteran scoring forward rental type-player at the trade deadline next year should minor-leaguer (and former NHL starting goaltender) Brian Boucher pan out down with the Phantoms and current Flyers incumbent goaltender Marty Biron continue his fine play. Also - don't rule out the firing of John Stevens if the team's play does not get a bit more consistent in the month of January. Yeah, I know he just got a year's contract extension, but this organization is not shy about paying former coaches to go away and is probably still paying Craig Ramsey for the "coaching job" he did 6 years ago. Flyers: Trending upward.

The Eagles

Where to start with this bunch? Their coach has to get undistracted from his home life and get this franchise back on the right track. Who will their QB be next year? Can they draft guys and actually put them on the field? Will they realize in a passing offense that having elite receivers is a good thing? Will they realize that their best player is, in fact, a running back? I think Andy Reid, in the coming year, will, at the VERY least, be fighting for the right to maintain control over the football operations of the franchise. I think he's ready to get the full Mike Holmgren treatment, where Holmgren gave up the football operations side of his job and concentrated solely on coaching.

Another big question: What are the Eagles going to do with McNabb? Most pundits have him going out of town, but if this was so, why did McNabb play in meaningless games down the stretch? What do we make of McNabb's year this year? I know his stats look great, but if you watched him, you can tell he holds the ball way too long, he still does not have the mobility he will need long term, and his accuracy has not improved with age. Also: Brian Dawkins is not getting any younger. Eagles: Plateauing

The Sixers

Finally, in the waning days of 2007, they fired Billy King. Other than the fact that he was well-dressed and the WIP morning liked him because he kissed their ass, what did he do right?



Yeah, kind of what I thought. This franchise has been an afterthought since the Iverson trade (a move I still say was the right thing to do) and the move to new GM Ed Stefanski was the right thing to do as well. He immediately went about the business of moving the bloated contract of overrated Kyle Korver for an expiring contract and a first round draft pick. The next best asset he has for trade is Andre Miller, probably the Sixers' most consistent player. He must also figure out what to do with Andre Iguodala (whether to sign him long term and for how much) and the rest of the swing guards Billy King compiled over the last few years; I'm sure some of them can actually play. Stefanski has stated he wants the Sixers to be a player in free agency next summer and I'm not really sure why. I can't think of a team that acquired a franchise player through free agency and flourished afterward, with the exception being when Shaq left the Orlando Magic to play with the Lakers. I really believe this franchise will not flourish again until they hit rock bottom, which, unbelievably, they are not at right now. At least at the bottom, there will be redemption in the form of a franchise player in the draft. Sixers: Trending downward.

Best Philadelphia Athlete: JRoll. For his NL East predictions. For his MVP. For delivering in the clutch.

Most Disappointing Philadelphia Athlete: This could go to anyone. I'll go with Jevon Kearse. I know he was coming off of an injury, but he has never matched his rookie year promise (and he probably never will).

Figure on the Hot Seat Going into Next Year: The aforementioned Andy Reid, who is due for a demotion to "just coach".