Perhaps there’s no moment in which a Philly team becomes beloved in the truest sense more than the one in which it breaks hearts across the city.
So in that respect, the 2021 Union have now entered the pantheon of Philly teams in which their fans can recall moments on the verge of prideful tears. A magical season hit by a fateful pandemic scourge seemed as if it was still headed for a miraculous victory in the Eastern Conference final against NYCFC, but the dream died hard when reality won out in the end.
Speaking of reality, the Eagles are now coping with the fact that Gardner Minshew indeed appears to be a better passer than Jalen Hurts. Minshew provided a competent performance against the Jets and there may be rumblings beginning over who should start after the team’s bye week.
For the Flyers, there’s the ongoing heartbreak of a continued losing streak, which is now taking a toll on goaltender Carter Hart, who was pulled after giving up five goals in an eventual 7-1 defeat to the Lightning.
Still, perhaps the saddest of all the losses for Philadelphia sports this weekend was that of the late Phillies great Dick Allen, who fell only one vote short of making the Baseball Hall of Fame. Again!
— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport
Tell Us: Which was the greater injustice, Dick Allen not making the Hall of Fame, or the Union not being granted a rescheduled game after 11 players were ruled out due to COVID-19 protocols? firstname.lastname@example.org
The Eagles decided to make Jalen Hurts inactive because of an ankle injury, and then the magic happened. Gardner Minshew got the start, got on a roll, and by the end of it had thrown for 242 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ easy 33-18 win against the Jets.
Is this a start of a quarterback controversy? Nick Sirianni says that Hurts is the starter even though the passing offense looked great with Minshew at the helm against the Jets. As for columnist Marcus Hayes, he prefers Minshew because he’s actually a good passer.
The Eagles’ ground game did continue to be productive despite Hurts’ running threat missing from the offense. Miles Sanders and Jason Kelce left the game with injuries, but both will have the bye week to rest.
The late Dick Allen was among the greatest players in baseball during a 15-year career that included two stops with the Phillies. However, he came agonizingly close and failed to make the Hall of Fame for a second time on Sunday.
All that was needed was 12 votes from a 16-member Golden Days Era committee that included former Phillies teammates Mike Schmidt and Ferguson Jenkins. Allen received 11. Among others, the committee elected pitcher Jim Kaat, who played four of his 25 big-league seasons with the Phillies.
Off the Dribble
Tobias Harris has been so reliable in his career that his nickname, “The Machine,” perfectly fit his clean bill of health and calm demeanor on the court. In fact, before Harris missed 10 games last season, he had played every game on the schedule for three years straight for the Sixers and Los Angeles Clippers.
That changed this year as Harris experienced fits and starts that mirrored the Sixers’ early season. He has missed time for knee and hip injuries and experienced a long bout of COVID-19. That all came before he missed Friday’s game in Atlanta with a 104-degree fever.
Needless to say, Harris, who has already missed nine games, is frustrated with the beginning of his 2021-22 season. While he’s hopeful that his personal setbacks are behind him, Harris was honest in an interview with The Inquirer’s Gina Mizell, sharing that he’s hard on himself and hasn’t been satisfied with his absence-laden season so far. He added: “When I do get the opportunity to play a bunch of consecutive games and gather my rhythm and my flow, I think everything will come together for me.”
Next: The Sixers are set to play at 7 p.m. Monday against the Charlotte Hornets, who will be shorthanded after placing multiple players on the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols list, including young stars LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier.
On the Fly
Not even Gritty donning his swim trunks for “Shore Night” could lighten the mood at the Wells Fargo Center, as the Flyers lost their eighth straight, 7-1, to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Boos rained down on goaltender Carter Hart when he was pulled in the second period after giving up five goals on just 15 shots, including one for the blooper reel. The boos only got louder from there as the Flyers continued to fish the puck out of their own net.
Things don’t get any easier either, as the Flyers are right back in action tonight against one of the league’s best, the Colorado Avalanche.
Next: The Flyers will look to finally get back in the win column when they host the Avs at 7 p.m. on Monday (NBCSP+).
Eleven players. That’s an entire starting roster in soccer, and for the Union, that’s how many players were suddenly unavailable because of COVID-19 protocols for the most important game in the club’s entire history. Those unable to play included the goalkeeper hero of the playoffs, Andre Blake, as well as the team’s captain, Alejandro Bedoya.
The game couldn’t reasonably be rescheduled because of the looming MLS Cup final, so the decimated Union soldiered on. Amazingly, they even led the game for a time. But, as our soccer reporter Jonathan Tannenwald documented, the miracle was ultimately not to be.
Hope dashed during the match made it doubly heartbreaking for the Union fans who followed the team this special season, even for the ones who only recently became supporters. Whether longtime or recent, Union followers will be lamenting for a while over what might have been, Mike Jensen writes.
Worth a look
A New Year’s bowl: Penn State will take on the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 in Tampa, Fla.
Quakers struggling: Penn’s women suffered their fourth straight loss as unbeaten Duke posted a 77-55 victory at the Palestra.
St. Joe’s snaps: The Hawks women were able to break their losing streak against Yale.
The overwhelming majority of Sports Daily readers don’t sympathize with either MLB owners or players in the ongoing lockout, pointing out instead that baseball fans are affected most while having the least say in the return of games. Of those who did pick, they were inclined to side with the players. A sampling:
Why should the fans care who wins — millionaires or billionaires? — Ray C.
Neither. Both are being exceptionally greedy. — Jeff M.
Players, of course. Even if the merits are not with them. — Wayne D.
Neither. It’s like two spoiled brats arguing over who’s getting more M&Ms. — Dave D.
Today’s newsletter was created in collaboration with the Inquirer sports staff.