So apparently this summer happened.
All of the writers on this site are college students and with finals, graduations, move-outs, and the general malaise that comes with summer, we have missed a lot here. Not an excuse, but I’m just sayin:’ c’mon give us a little break.
Anyway, let’s catch up our ten loyal readers on everything that’s happened in Philly sports in the long summer months, May through the end of July.
It would be downright silly to mention anything before mentioning the Flyers. One of the greatest postseason stories in recent American sports, the Orange and Black squeezed into the playoffs by way of an overtime shootout and rode the 2007 Rockies playoff momentum/mojo train all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
On the way they did a number of things, including making it to the Finals despite being the 7th seed out of 8, making Martin Brodeur (on the short list for the best goaltenders of all time) look like Martin Gerber (229th on career Playoff Goals Against Average), and knocking off the Canadiens in a hard-fought series. Oh, and they beat the Boston Bruins after being down 0-3 in a best of seven (aka first to four wins) series, while surviving injuries to two of their first-line forwards and their starting goalie. There were a few weeks there when people were more excited to watch the Flyers than the Phillies.
They ended up losing the cup in a fashion as tragic as their run to and through the playoffs was improbable and impressive, with Michael Leighton letting in an unforgivable goal to clinch Game 7 for the Blackhawks in what was an entertaining but disappointing Cup Finals. It is worth noting here that in the time since, the Blackhawks have Florida Marlins-ed the hell out of their roster, firing their GM and trading or dumping a solid 80-90% of the players that really contributed to their championship run. The Flyers traded Simon Gagne, and probably made some other moves I didn’t care enough to find out about, but from what I understand they are still looking for a goalie.
On the baseball front, holy bejeesus has it been a weird year. Since Jimmy Rollins went down with an injury in mid May, it seems like the Phils have not played a full series with their whole lineup healthy. Whether it was J-Roll, Placido Polanco’s forehead, Chooch Ruiz, Chase Utley, Shane, or now Ryan Howard, injuries have totally rattled this lineup with key members not being able to play. The other thing that has really killed the team so far this year is the fact that the players on the team through most of May, June, and July just downright sucked. Hey Jayson, how about we stop trying new facial hair looks and we get in the batting cage to figure out how not to strike out 4 of every 5 at bats? And Raul, sorry but you’re just old. It caught up to Jamie this year and for the most part I think it’s catching up to you too.
Conversely, Domonic Brown is the outfield version of Ryan Howard, the absolute stud can’t miss prospect that the Phillies trap in the Minors behind an established major leaguer who is over the hill (Thome/Ibañez…I don’t care that they’re both playing now, if it hadn’t been for Raul Ibañez and his huge contract Dom Brown would have been in the majors in May) and then delivers on every iota of the hype when he gets up here causing people to wonder “Did we really need to wait all season to bring him up? Isn’t he clearly better than the person who was in his way?”
The rest of the team has been pretty predictable, with Roy Halladay up to 13 wins with an ERA just north of 2, with 8 complete games to show for it, one of which was the second ever perfect game in Phillies history. Cole has been better than his 7-7 record suggests, getting hosed by a few bad bullpen outings and a ridiculous lack of run support. The rest of the rotation has been pretty wacky, but overall has ended up okay, with the departures of JA Happ via trade and Jamie Moyer via injury being more than made up for with a surprisingly effective Kyle Kendrick and the addition of the best NL pitcher since 2001, Roy Oswalt.
The Phightins are gearing up now for the run towards the playoffs and ideally through the month of October. While their replacements have played well, the team should be re-energized by the additions of Howard, Utley, and Victorino back into the lineup.
The Eagles have been a wild ride this offseason, as they parted ways with arguably the two most consistent and impressive performers by trading Donovan McNabb and cutting Brian Westbrook, but were shrewd and savvy enough to hang onto the convicted felon who is their backup quarterback despite him being totally uninvolved in the shooting that took place outside of his birthday party. On the field, the Birds enter the season with a new quarterback slated as the starter for the first time since 2000, as Kevin Kolb will take over an offense loaded with talent and hopefully ready to grow out of the stagnancy and boom-or-bust approach that came with McNabb to produce more consistently in Andy Reid’s West Coast system.
If anyone cares, the Sixers lucked out like crazy and got the number two pick, which they eventually used on Evan Turner from Ohio State. They fired Eddie Jordan, hired Doug Collins and got rid of Sam Dalembert’s ridiculous contract. Unfortunately, this still leaves them with Andre Iguodala’s ridiculous contract, Elton Brand’s ridiculous contract, and Willie f-in Green. In loosely related news, that crazy Russian dude in New Jersey hired Billy King as his GM. So at least the Sixers will be better than the Nets for a while.
The Union is a real team now. They play games and stuff. Soccer.