Monday, April 27, 2009

Truths that need to be told

By Jeff Glauser
The Phanatic Magazine

I hate to say it, but it needs to be said.

I’d like to say it pains me to say these things, but, as a Philly-area guy, many of us somehow seem to rise to the occasion when it comes to bitching and moaning about something. It’s the reason why talk radio and blogs work so well around here: There’s always something to complain about.

So as the World Series hangover continues to fade and we become a little bit more lucid each day, some things that have been gnawing at me for a while need to be expressed, if only for my own personal catharsis:

Sixers fans should be ashamed of themselves
It’s been a roller coaster ride of a year, where expectations started high with the acquisition of Elton Brand, then shot down way low when a disappointing slump cost Maurice Cheeks his job and an unavoidable (but perhaps predictable) thud to the floor cost Brand his healthy shoulder and the rest of his season. After backing into the playoffs, it’s safe to say postseason expectations were even lower than last year’s bunch which scared a sleepwalking Detroit team into actually giving a damn just in time.

With that said, to badly paraphrase an old local icon who himself has recently helped to lower his own expectations: We’re talking playoffs now. Not a game. Playoffs.

So for a city with such an enormous basketball tradition, with such a traditionally loyal and passionate following, to see chunks of open seats at a home playoff game is simply inexcusable.

This isn’t Miami or Los Angeles, where the fair-weathered fans crawl out of their fake, plastic shells to come out in droves when it matters. This is Philly, where heart, drive, determination and character go a long way. It’s the land of Rocky, where we love to see the underdog take continuous shots to the gut and keep bouncing back. It shouldn’t matter whether or not we believe our boys are going to win this fight. The fact that they’re fighting it should make all the difference in the world.

The Phillies’ luck is wearing out
Okay, if one team in town gets a mulligan right now, it’s these guys. But with that said, how they have a winning record at this point when yesterday was the first time all season they won again without being behind, without needed to resuscitate themselves in the ninth inning, is beyond me. Yesterday was also the first real quality start by a pitcher – 17 games in – and it had to come from a guy practically on Social Security.

Luckily, the rest of the division is either underachieving (Mets, Braves), coming back to earth (Marlins) or sucked to begin with (Natiionals). Last season, this team never really dominated, but got hot at the best possible time and rode that wave of momentum all the way to the finish line. But this current ensemble, very much the same as that one – can’t expect to catch lightning in a bottle twice – certainly not with this starting pitching rotation laid out as it is right now.

The Eagles have done well this offseason
Now why would I hate to say something as positive as this? Probably because, in recent years, this organization has become so divisive to its fanbase that we run into the paradoxical conflict of loving the team and despising how its run. We find ourselves so close to tasting success, only to come up with a mouthful of crap every time. We don’t appreciate a perceived quasi-effort to win it all from a team which hasn’t done so in nearly a half-century, especially when the opportunities to go all-in at the table and clean house seem to be there. And when the cards are folded, we really don’t appreciate getting patronized as to why it made more sense to do so.

With that said, it’s hard to complain about what the team has done. Boldin or no Boldin, Edwards or no Edwards, Gonzalez or no Gonzalez, The Birds’ brass went out and filled the needs we were craving to be filled. There were no high picks needlessly spent on O-Lineman and D-Lineman to add to the redundant roles already filling out the roster. Running and receiving slots – too often passed over as non-essential by Reid, Banner and the boys, were addressed. Yes, contract drama remains with disgruntled players (fastly becoming an annual tradition), but this time around, we’ll give them some leeway for heeding our call.

The Flyers may be coming the new Eagles
How many times lately have the Flyers now fallen short in the postseason because of the same reasons: Lack of defensive depth and lack of a clutch goaltender? True, management here usually doesn’t have a problem opening up its wallet for whom they believe was the right fit, but the prior two areas were simply not addressed going into this season. The departure of Jason Smith hurt times two, because his talent nor his proven leadership were completely replaced.

And it’s been clear to many for a while now that Marty Biron is of the good-not-great mold where he is unable to stand on his head a win a couple on his own in the playoffs, seemingly a requisite lately for Stanley Cup winners – unless of course you have crazy offensive talent like the Red Wings, which the Flyers do not.

So now that it’s all been said, I can relax a little…and begin searching for the next thing to bitch about…

Champs Sports

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