The curtain is almost down on 2021, and that means it’s time to reflect on everything that made the last 12 months in Philly sports such a wild ride. Sportswriters love best-of lists, including columnist Mike Sielski, who chronicled 2021 through the best Inquirer sports stories of the year.
He had lots to choose from like Carson Wentz’s trade from the Eagles, to Ben Simmons’ falling out with the Sixers, to an epic season by Bryce Harper.
And as we look ahead to 2022, David Murphy offers up some New Year’s resolutions for Eagles fans.
Speaking of 2022, we asked you on Thursday for your biggest sports wish in the new year. Here are a few of your responses:
That the Phillies open the checkbook and sign a top-shelf power hitting left fielder, a top-shelf starter, and a top-shelf reliever. Let’s put an awesome team together to give Bryce Harper some help. He deserves it. — Joseph R.
MLB players and ownership would get their heads out of their butts ... in God we trust! — Joseph G.
Happy New Year!
— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport
Tell us: Which Philly athlete will have the best 2022? Send your pick to email@example.com
How is Jalen Hurts’ ankle feeling over the last two games in which he has rushed a combined 10 times for 45 yards? “It’s been good enough for us to get two wins,” the Eagles quarterback said. Fair enough. But if the Eagles’ ground game is going to continue to be the best in the NFL, it will need the dual-threat QB to get back to his running ways, starting on Sunday against Washington.
With the playoffs within reach, coach Nick Sirianni said he doesn’t see “there being any restrictions moving forward” on Hurts, who leads an offense that is 160 yards away from breaking the franchise record for rushing yards in a season.
Next: The Eagles play the Washington Football Team at 1 p.m. Sunday at FedEx Field (Fox29).
Off the Dribble
The Sixers have had to make do without almost every player on their roster because of COVID-19, including Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and more. Now they will have to navigate life without their head coach. Doc Rivers was placed in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Thursday and will likely be away from the team for 10 days.
Assistant coach Dan Burke will take over the reins as acting coach in the meantime, and that started with the Sixers’ 110-102 victory against the Brooklyn Nets. If Rivers does spend the entire 10 days in isolation, he could also miss games against the Houston Rockets (Monday), Orlando Magic (Jan. 5), and San Antonio Spurs (Jan. 7).
Next: The Sixers return home to play against the Houston Rockets at 7 p.m. Monday at the Wells Fargo Center.
On the Fly
This could be the final season Flyers captain Claude Giroux plays in an orange-and-black sweater, but let’s appreciate his greatness in the interim.
With an assist on Wednesday, No. 28 moved into sole possession of second place on the Flyers’ all-time scoring list with 884 points. Consistently great over the last decade-plus, Giroux deserves to be remembered as one of the franchise’s all-time greats, whether he ever wins a Cup or not, Sam Carchidi writes.
Why? First, the soon-to-be-34-year-old, who has 26 points in 30 games this season, is building a legitimate Hall of Fame case — if he continues his current production level for another four seasons he will eclipse 1,150 career points. How many Hall-eligible forwards have done that and not been inducted? The answer is just five.
“But he hasn’t won a Cup.”
It’s hard to win the Stanley Cup — only one team wins every year and let’s remember the Flyers haven’t won one in 46 years, for Chickie’s & Pete’s Sake!
Giroux is one of the best players in team history and has been nothing but loyal to the Flyers and the city of Philadelphia. It is about time we all started repaying the favor.
Next: The Flyers are back in action Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings at 10:30 p.m. (NBCSP).
Worth a look
Cooperstown call: The Inquirer’s Marcus Hayes decided it’s time he exercise his vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame. But he has some specific criteria. Check out the 10 names on his first ballot.
How to bet the College Football Playoff semifinals: Ed Barkowitz likes an underdog to win outright in one of Friday’s two semis.
“He’s our guy”: Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour spoke Thursday about giving football coach James Franklin a 10-year, $75 million extension last month and said she and her coach are aligned in their vision for the program.
We asked you on Thursday about who said, “I might sound negligent, but I really don’t read or care about stats.”
The answer? Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who said only two numbers matter when evaluating his defense.
We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Mike Sielski, EJ Smith, Jeff McLane, Josh Tolentino, Keith Pompey, Gina Mizell, Marcus Hayes, Sam Carchidi and Joe Juliano.