Picture Of The Day

Picture Of The Day
Flyers Stanley Cup Champions Parade From The '70s

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Philadelphia Sports Year In Review: 2008 and the 2008 South Broad Street Yearly Awards

Year after year went by with the same old story and same old saying of "When's Our Turn?!" from every Philadelphia sports fan.
It became habitual. It became accepted. We got used to being losers. 

I am sorry to say, but the Bird's, Bryant's, Gretzsky's, Carter's, Brady's and what have you became cemented in the horror of Philadelphia professional sports.

But then, a magical year rolled around. It dawned the numbers of 2008. Nobody knew what this year would bring upon us. To tell you the truth, the most talked about thing as the year began was if the Flyers or Sixers do not pull out a championship in 2008, the city will have gone through exactly 25 years of a championship drought. We'll talk about that a little later though.

The year started off just after the Eagles ended a disappointing 2007 campaign. The team that finished 8-8 was getting a lot of criticism and displeasure towards them.
People wanted Andy Reid gone. People wanted Donovan McNabb gone. People wanted a top notch wide receiver, as always.

Well, the wide receiver part never happened. Instead, they drafted a 5 foot 10 inch 175 pound wide receiver/punt returned from California named DeSean Jackson.
People only expected him to be on the special teams and help out with the offense sparingly. Instead, he became a starter at wide out and the teams leading receiver.
Another key addition in the off-season was the signing of Asante Samuel. This lead to a lot of controversy on what would happen to Lito Sheppard. 
Ultimately, Sheppard stayed on the team as a nickel back, but saw less and less playing time as the 2008 campaign rolled along.

As far as the 2008 campaign goes, it was without question a see-saw year. For a while, the Eagles had problems completing 3rd and 1's and 4th and 1's. They could not get anything going in the red zone. It was completely frustrating and led to a lot of Philly fans calling for change–the exits of McNabb and Reid once again.
During an awful game by the entire team in Baltimore during Week 12, Reid benched McNabb at halftime and put in second year quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Well, Kolb was just as bad, if not worse, and the Eagles got annihilated 36-7 to fall to 5-5-1. Yup, that's right, they tied the lowly Bengals the week before.

It really looked like the McNabb era might be over. Fans were sick and people were sick. However, McNabb was put back in and the Eagles won four of their last five games and got some really lucky and miraculous help from other teams around the league to push themselves into the playoffs as the 6th seed in the NFC. A 44-6 butt whooping of the Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field capped off the regular season and 2008.
Now, 2009 starts off with a date with the Vikings out in Minnesota for the Wild Card Round. The question is–Do You Believe?
Photo Is From Comcast SportNet's Philadelphia Based Web Site

As far as the 76ers 2008 ride went, it started off on a slow start. The Sixers were at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division standings and it looked like they would miss the playoffs for the third year in a row. Head coach Maurice Cheeks job was definitely on the line. 
But somehow, the Sixers turned it around and won 21 of their last 28 games to finish 40-42 and claim the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers were back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05.
Once again though, they had to face the powerful Detroit Pistons in the first round. But as a matter of fact, they ended up taking a 2-1 series lead after three games, winning Games 1 and 3.

Yet, the powerful Pistons woke up and won the next three games, closing the 76ers out in six. It was obvious the team lacked the half court offense needed to go deep into the playoffs.
That is where Ed Stefanski, the Sixers general manager comes in. Along with re-signing Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams, as well as bringing in a bunch of role players, Stefanski made the big off-season splash and signed free agent forward Elton Brand to a hefty contract.

The Sixers were expected to be one of the beasts in the East for the 2008-09 season. However, it has not worked out that way so far. Brand's half court, non-running style of play, and the rest of the teams up-and-down style of play, have not meshed. The team got off to a slow start and Cheeks was fired. He was replaced by interim head coach Tony DiLeo, long time front office guy with the team.
Although DiLeo got off to a 3-0 start with the Sixers, they have struggled since and have fallen to even harder times at 12-18. Brand is currently out with an injury and the team has just dropped four in a row. Without question, they are underachieving and without question you expect better things from them in 2009. Will it happen though? Who knows.

The Flyers, on the other hand, are a much different story from the Sixers. In 2006-07 they suffered their worst season in franchise history. Nobody knew what 2007-08 would bring. However, at the All-Star break, the Flyers were rolling at the top of the Eastern Conference Standings. It seemed as though second year head coach John Stevens turned the team and franchise around back to prominence. 
But, after the break, the team went on a huge rut and had a streak of about 10 games or so without a win. They had fallen way down the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division standings and it was possible that they could have missed the playoffs. 

Yet, they changed locker positions and seemingly picked it up near the end of the season. Go figure. Also, the Carolina Hurricanes had a huge collapse. Thus, the Flyers were in the playoffs as the 6th seed and Stevens could catch his breath as his coaching position was definitely saved.

The post-season was one heck of a ride. They defeated the Capitols in seven games, with two of those games going to overtime, one even double overtime.

In the second round, they squared off against the top seeded Canadiens. Amazingly, they won that series in five games, behind the brilliant goal tending of Martin Biron and play of R.J. Umberger.
People were starting to think–could this be the year? Could this be the year the drought finally ends? It looked possible, but it was not meant to be. 
The Orange and Black lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games.
As far as this current season goes, the Flyers got off to a really putrid start, but have without question picked it up recently. They are one of the top teams in the East with a lot of young talent, such as captain Mike Richards and the NHL's leading goal scorer, Jeff Carter. The year of 2009 should hopefully have a lot come from this gritty, talented squad.

But, the exit from the playoffs last season made it official. Exactly 25 years had passed since Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Billy Cunningham won the NBA Championship, the city's last championship.
People were starting to wonder if this drought would ever end. 

But then, a team in red and white pinstripes came along. A team came along that had been around since 1883 and had only won one championship. A team came along that was led by a talented shortstop who likes to speak his mind and back it up on the field. This team was lead by a humble, soft spoken, player's manager. This team was the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies.
Just the year before, they had won the division and made the post-season for the first time in 14 years. However, it ended with an early exit after getting swept by the eventual National League Champion Colorado Rockies in the NLDS. 

People expected bigger and better things from this 2008 team. That is exactly what they got. They got a good start in April (finally) and a squad that was in first place for most of the year. Also, for the first time in a long time, the Phillies were not only a hitting squad. They had a solid pitching staff, led by two left-handed arms, Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer. Also, the bullpen was one of the best in baseball, anchored by new closer Brad Lidge, who came over in a trade from Houston. 
Still, along with this great pitching staff, the Phils were hitting like crazy, putting crooked numbers up on the score board for several games. However, there was a stretch during the middle of season where they couldn't by a hit or run. 

That big lead they gained on the hated New York Mets was shrinking fast and come late August/early September, the Mets were in full control of their destiny, with a fairly comfortable lead in the NL East again. It looked less and less likely history would be repeating themselves and the season was being dubbed a failure.

Yet, there was one particular series in early September that turned the promising and seemingly disappointing season around. The Wild Card leading Brewers came into town with a four game lead over the Phils and a four game series a head. 
Behind the sudden power surge of Ryan Howard, a.k.a. Mr. September, the Phils swept the Brewers and became tied at the top of the Wild Card standings.

At the same time, the Mets began their usual down fall. Could it be? Could those Metropolitans from the North collapse again?

Well, they did and the Phils regained the NL East lead as the season began to close. They had the chance to close it out on the second to last day of the regular season. Well, they did not disappoint. 

The Phils went into the top of the ninth against the Nationals with a 4-2 lead and Brad Lidge 40 for 40 in save opportunities. They guy who had been perfect made it scary, allowing the Nats to score a run and load the bases with one out. Ryan Zimmerman came up to the plate looking to make Lidge 40 for 41. Well, on a one-one pitch, Zimmerman hit it up the middle, Jimmy Rollins made a great diving stop and turned the double play with Chase Utley and Howard. Lidge stayed perfect–41 for 41.

But, it was not good enough. They needed to go farther this year. They needed to not have an early exit like in 2007. Could they end the drought? Was this the team? Is this our year?


The Phillies went 11-3 in the post-season, defeating the Brewers 3-1 in the NLDS, the Dodgers 4-1 in the NLCS and the Rays 4-1 in the World Series.

Highlights of the post-season included a Shane Victorino grand slam off of C.C. Sabathia in Game 2 of the LDS, a Matt Stairs launching of a home run in Game 4 of the NLCS, a Joe Blanton home run in Game 4 of the World Series, an incredible defensive play by Chase Utley in Game 5 of the World Series and Brad Lidge striking out pinch hitter Eric Hinske to close out the World Series and go a perfect 48 for 48 in save opportunities.

All of this culminated in a joyous parade down Broad Street two days later, 25 years in the making.
What Utley said that magical day, October 31, 2008, is all you need to know. That sums up 2008 right there for Philadelphia Sports.

"World Champions...World FUCKIN' Champions!"


Eagles-DeSean Jackson
Flyers-Luca Sbisa
Phillies-J.A. Happ
76ers-Thaddeus Young

Eagles-Quintin Mikkel
Flyers-Martin Biron
Phillies-Jayson Werth (Had Jamie Moyer earlier but I realized I wanted Werth originally and didn't know why I put Moyer)
76ers-Louis Williams

Eagles-Reggie Brown (L.J. Smith a very close second)
Flyers-Danny Briere
Phillies-So Taguchi
76ers-Samuel Dalembert 

Eagles-Andy Reid (Not a player but I expect him to run the ball against the Vikings)
Flyers-Ryan Parent 
Phillies-Carlos Ruiz
76ers-Elton Brand

Eagles-Brian Dawkins
Flyers-Riley Cote
Phillies-Shane Victorino
76ers-Reggie Evans

Greg Dobbs

Maurice Cheeks

Shane Victorino: 2008 NLDS Game 2 Grand Slam Off Of C.C. Sabathia

Chase Utley: 2008 World Series Game 5 Throwing Out Eric Bartlett At Home Plate

December 28, 2008 Eagles vs. Cowboys 44-6 Win

Pat Gillick

Charlie Manuel

Eagles-Brian Dawkins
Flyers-Mike Richards
Phillies-Jimmy Rollins
76ers-Andre Miller

Eagles-Brian Westbrook
Flyers-Jeff Carter
Phillies-Brad Lidge
76ers-Andre Miller

Brad Lidge

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Nice post. Good blog. 2008 was a good year in Philadelphia sports! WORLD SERIES CHAMPS!