Admit it, Sunday was a tough day. No Eagles football or the anticipation of a game the following week was a tough pill to swallow. Granted, these are first-world sports fans problems. Winning your first-ever Super Bowl should carry Birds fans a long way. But it was a weird reality to come to grips with. Guess what? If this is the harsh reality of the Philadelphia sports landscape, it ain’t all that bad.
The Flyers and the Sixers have gone a combined 7-0 since the Eagles beat the Patriots. Phillies pitchers and catchers report for spring training on Wednesday. And barring a collapse or more injuries, Villanova projects as a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Jinxed? Cursed? Negadelphia? Not even close.
The Sixers have won three straight heading into action Monday night vs. the Knicks. That includes nine in a row at home. They are 13-6 since Dec. 30. They are currently the 8-seed in the NBA Eastern Conference but are just two games out of the 5-seed and 2½ back of the four spot. They’ve accomplished this despite not having Markelle Fultz for virtually the entire season.
Knocking on the biggest 2x4 I can find, Joel Embiid has been relatively healthy the entire season. Minute restrictions are a memory and he is now playing back-to-backs. He has been a dominant force on both ends and is an All-Star. Ben Simmons should be the Rookie of the Year. He should be playing in this weekend’s All-Star Game but he is not. Despite the early calls for his head, Brett Brown appears to be able to coach. Funny what some talent will do.
After losing 10 straight in late November into December, the Flyers have gone 20-8-2. They just knocked off a Las Vegas team on the road that had been 19-3-2 at home. The same Golden Knights team was 22-2-0 when scoring first. The Flyers allowed the first goal, then ripped off four unanswered to win on the strip. They’ve won four straight overall and sit in third in the Metropolitan Division.
Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and Ivan Provorov have had monster seasons. But the biggest difference in this club now compared to earlier in the season is the contributions from guys like Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick. Credit Ron Hextall for standing by his man, Dave Hakstol, when the heat was on a couple of months back.
Just the mere mention of spring training warms the heart. The Phillies' lineup will be very intriguing with the emergence of Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams last year to go along with Odubel Herrera. That’s a young, strong outfield nucleus. Add a veteran bat like Carlos Santana to go along with Caesar Hernandez, J.P. Crawford, and Scott Kingery, who we will be seeing at some point early in the season, and 1 through 8 in this lineup has the potential to be legit.
The bullpen also looks to be a strength. Yes, there are a ton of questions regarding the starting rotation beyond Aaron Nola. We have no idea what kind of manager Gabe Kapler will be but the needle appears headed up for the Phils.
Villanova being in the national championship conversation every year is now commonplace. A credit to the machine Jay Wright has built. It just needs to get healthy to make another run. And don’t look now but Temple has heated up to the tune of eight wins in its last 10. The Owls are firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Penn is tied atop the Ivy once again. We could be looking at three or more local teams in the Big Dance.
So while it may not be the Eagles, things are pretty darn good in the world of Philadelphia sports. How many days until training camp?