Not to sound like a whining Philadelphia sports fan, but can anyone tell me when something is going to go right for one of my teams? Things are so bad right now that the best news I received in weeks came on Tuesday when the Eagles announced they were cutting defensive end Jason Babin.
That’s right, things are so bad that my favorite football team releasing a guy who had 18 sacks just a single season ago was met with celebration. Getting rid of a selfish malcontent, even if he is a good football player, is all I and everyone else have to cheer about currently. Sounds kind of odd, but can you think of anything else that a Philly sports enthusiast might have to look forward to right now?
The 76ers just finished perpetrating a fraud on their entire fan base. You cannot tell me the organization did not know until last week that Andrew Bynum’s knees were damaged to the point that he might miss the entire season. In the past four weeks alone, the Sixers’ brass has come up with three different explanations of Bynum’s injuries and timetables for the big man’s return. They allowed fans to think he would be ready in time for opening day during the offseason. Then when opening day was approaching they made people think he would be back in 10 games or so. Ten games quickly morphed into two-to-three months, and now he is labeled “out indefinitely.”
Just remember, the entire time the 76ers were giving their fans the runaround on when Bynum would be able to play, they were marketing the big man as the reason to buy tickets to see the team in person. It does not seem like an unreasonable leap in logic to assume the Sixers chose to mislead people in order to generate more revenue through ticket sales. After all, who else on this team would people actually be willing to pay to see play?
Meanwhile, the Phillies have signed absolutely no one as of yet, and don’t seem poised to do so anytime soon. Truth-be-told, the organization has made a big splash in each of the previous three seasons, and has nothing to show for it in terms of titles, so maybe laying low during this edition of baseball’s hot stove is not the end of the world.
If ever there was a time however, when the Delaware Valley could use the shot in the arm that Ruben Amaro Jr.’s bold, headline-grabbing personnel moves normally provide, it would be right now. Plus, coming off a .500 season, it is hard to imagine how the Phillies can get back to the playoffs without drastic improvements. Unfortunately the only news from the organization so far this winter came on Tuesday, and it was definitely bad news. The most popular player on the team, and the only consistent offensive threat in the lineup last season, Carlos Ruiz, was suspended for the first 25 games of 2013 by Major League Baseball for testing positive for amphetamine use.
Why is everything going wrong at once?
The one organization that could be salvaging our sports sanity right now is in the midst of the most insane act by a professional sports league anyone has ever seen. The Flyers, along with the rest of the NHL, recently cancelled all of their games through mid-December due to the ongoing lockout. If you’re asking why would a sport that endured a crippling work stoppage less than a decade earlier do the same thing just as it was starting to regain some of the popularity it had cost itself due to the first lockout, then you are not alone.
Hockey is approaching its death bed as one of the four major sports, and it is from self-inflicted wounds. Flyers fans, who may well provide the most loyal and passionate following of Philadelphia’s pro sports franchises, are the ones left suffering.
And then there is the Eagles. For so long the Delaware Valley has treated its professional football team like its favorite child. They get the most attention, the most money spent on them and even the most love. But just as when a favored child lets down its adoring parents, the city has been scarred by the way the Eagles have provided nothing but a metaphorical slap to its fans’ faces in the three years.
Seven consecutive losses have drained the will to even boo from Eagles fans. I was at the game on Monday night against Carolina, and while there were not nearly as many empty seats as I had anticipated, there was something far more meaningful in the air at Lincoln Financial Field. The apathy the patrons felt for the Birds was palpable.
For the entire first half the atmosphere was completely sterile. People do not like watching the Eagles play right now. It’s not just because they lose, but more because they don’t appear to care that they are losing. Missed assignments on defense, turnovers on offense, and head-scratching coaching decisions have left people numb at this point.
When the Panthers had the ball, normally a time when Eagles fans would crescendo to a frenzied pitch, there was honestly no noticeable volume difference inside the stadium whatsoever. When Philly allowed a pair of long touchdown passes- both courtesy of busted coverages- people booed, but it was evident their hearts were not into it.
That’s what the Eagles have found a way to do. Make people that care way too much about football, not really care at all about this team. Apathy is a miserable feeling for a sports fan, but what have the Eagles offered as an alternative?
But unfortunately they are just like all of the other pro teams which call Philadelphia home. It’s sad when you need a distraction from something that is supposed to be a distraction. That’s the state of Philadelphia sports right now.
The only good news is; it could be worse. We could live near Cleveland.