5 Things to be Thankful for in Philadelphia Sports

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As this Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we are encouraged to review our lives and see what we are thankful for.  At the top of my mind are the upcoming plates full of turkey and stuffing, but as I delve deeper, I have found 5 things that I’m grateful for in Philadelphia sports.

5.  Youth: There is no energy like that of exuberant youth.  Across all 4 major sports teams are those bursts of young energy.  The Phillies are the most veteran of all the teams, but as configured currently Dominic Brown looks to be the starter in right field.  A potential 5-tool stud, he could be a staple of this Phillies team for a long time.  Plus, the reemergence of a still young Cole Hamels gives this team a bona fide top of the rotation left-hander for years to come.

The Sixers have been tough to watch so far, I’m not going to lie.  Jrue Holiday looks to be an emerging star point guard.  Evan Turner has shown flashes of why they made him the number 2 pick.  Maurice Speights and Thaddeus Young have been inconsistent as coach Doug Collins figures out his rotation, but they represent a hope that we haven’t seen in Sixer-land in a long time.

The Flyers have Claude Giroux as an emerging superstar and “The Bob” in net is quite impressive as a rookie.  Finally, if any team represents youth, it is the Philadelphia Eagles.  They are one of (if not) the youngest team in the league.  Offensively, all of their key pieces  are under 25 with the exception of Michael Vick, and the defense is getting a lot of key contributions from young players like Stewart Bradley and rookie Nate Allen.

4. 4 Great Coaches: I can’t remember a fearsome coaching foursome the likes of what we currently have.  You’d have to go back to the late 70s and early 80s to find the last time all the teams were successful.  Doug Collins is obviously struggling, but the Sixers are certainly a work in progress.  Andy Reid, through his ups and down, has been the longest tenured coach in Philadelphia this side of Connie Mack.  He is showing that he is great coach especially this year, with this young team I referenced before.  Maybe Reid was held back in prior years by the former QB who was at the helm.

Peter Laviolette comes off that unbelievable playoff run last year is doing another great job of coaching so far this year.  And that playoff run … that was some of the best coaching I have ever seen.  Finally, there is Uncle Charlie.  Yes, they came up short this year.  The way they went down was so frustrating.  However, with all the injuries and inconsistency that the team showed, the coaching job Manuel did this year is highly under-appreciated.  Which brings me to:

3.  The Phillies: They didn’t win it this year, and blew a tremendous opportunity.  I know.  Think back though.  I remember so many years of horrible baseball in this town.  I remember how hard it was to go from the end of winter sports in May or June if you are lucky to the Eagles season in September.  I mean hell, there were years where the Sixers and Flyers were not good, where all you had to look forward to after Eagles season was the following Eagles season.  It was football 24-7-365.  Now we have “Hot Stove” and Pitchers and Catchers in February and we go all the way up to October (and hopefully November Baseball).  Yes, there are still a lot of questions with this team, but you have to think that even without a big time free agent signing that this team will be right back in the mix next October.

2.  An Expected Eagles Season: Most people expected a bit of a down year this year for the Eagles.  I heard a lot of 8-8 or 9-7 or even7-9.  With a first year starter in Kevin Kolb, I could see that as well.  I had thought with the firepower on offense that they still could win 10.  With Michael Vick’s unexpected resurgence, this season has gone from lost to the the top of the NFC East.  Plus, their 3 losses have been to Green Bay in the first game, to Washington after Vick was injured, and a disappointing loss to the Titans.  However, their wins include impressive victories against the Colts, the Giants, and current NFC leader, the Falcons.  It should definitely be interesting the rest of the way.

1.  A New Golden Age: I reference earlier in the post about the late 70s and early 80s.  The Flyers were winning titles, the Eagles went to the Super Bowl in 1981, the Sixers went to a couple finals and broke through in 1982-83 and the Phillies won their first World Series in 1980.  After that Sixers win their was 25 years (or most of my life) with a few flirts with championships, until the Phils finally broke through mercilessly.  Today, the Sixers still have a long way to go, but they are headed in the right direction — down.  They need a top pick and a star; you can’t win it all in the NBA today without a star (if not a couple).

The Flyers almost stole one last year, but this year look to be a top contender again.  The Eagles are right up amongst the contenders to go to the Bowl in the NFC.  It will come down to these last few weeks to see who gets home field and the precious bye.  And the Phillies have gone from “small market” to the NL’s Yankees — well alright, not quite.  They are still talking about Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth returning as possibilities, though the truth is that the chances are slim.  Just a few years ago, it wouldn’t have even been a possibility back when Danny Tartabull was a big acquisition.  All I can say is live it up now while you can.  We might not see this happen again, until 2050.

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