YOU WANT ANSWERS on how we got to this point, 25 years between major titles? Frank Deford, the distinguished writer and commentator, has as many suggestions as anyone else. Born and raised in Baltimore, he has come here often as an athlete ("Even played in the

Palestra once. Princeton JV") and a journalist.

It's fascinating: 98 seasons without a title, yet only a few teams that have either challenged for a title or dropped into the abyss. As Deford noted, sometimes a future champion has to hit bottom first. The Marlins twice proved that theory.

"I just think it's the 'Curse of the Pretty Good' that kills ya," he said by phone. "You don't get the best draft choices. You just sort of stay pretty good. Everything just flows along . . . and that may be the worst thing of all. That, to me, would account for it as much as anything."

Or, Deford said, perhaps it can all be traced back to the Phillies' lone title in 1980.

"There was some deal with the devil or something," he said, laughing. "Maybe Billy Penn made this up in heaven, or hell. 'If you can just give us one Philadelphia championship, we'll never ask for anything else again in the history of sports.' "

And his explanation then for the Sixers in '83? "That was grandfathered in before William Penn made the deal. That was a codicil to the will."

The last word on this streak

Beyond the drought, this town has gotten only a few sniffs of a title. In the last 33 years (that's more than 12,000 days), there have been only five mornings that a Philadelphia sports fan awoke with a chance to win a major pro title that day:

* Oct. 21, 1980 (Phillies win World Series)

* Jan. 25, 1981 (Eagles lose Super Bowl)

* May 31, 1983 (Sixers win NBA title)

* May 31, 1987 (Flyers lose Game 7 of finals)

* Feb. 6, 2005 (Eagles lose Super Bowl)

And if any team is going to break the title drought, it might want to get a move on. With this year's NBA and NHL titles out of reach, there are only 17 crowns that will be up for grabs before Dec. 21, 2012. That's the day former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton says the world, as he knows it, will cease to exist.

Now that's something to shoot for. *

- Paul Vigna and Bob Vetrone

ANSWER THIS


Name the season over the last 25 years (such as the 2000-01 Sixers) that you found the most fun to follow as a fan, and your favorite memory from that season. Send your e-mail to vignap@phillynews.com and we'll post the best responses next week.