The grim Philly pro sports landscape
None of the four major teams has made the postseason in the last calendar year, and the future doesnt look much brighter.
I FEAR for the children.
Specifically, the ones coming of age over the next few years, when lifelong sports memories and loyalties are often forged. Who will reach their teens over the next 11 years.
I fear for the ones too young to have seen Brad Lidge drop to his knees, Allen Iverson break Michael Jordan's ankles, the Flyers rally from an 0-3 hole against the Bruins, the Eagles finally make it to the Super Bowl.
And that's just for starters.
If your kids are anywhere from 18 to say, 28, they have enjoyed one of the better eras in Philadelphia sports history, full of stars and story lines, each season bringing with it a healthy level of anticipation and suspense.
There was even a parade, 7 short years ago.
But now? Now, we are about to finish a full calendar cycle in which none of our professional franchises reached its postseason, and one of them, the Sixers, didn't even try to. Their bold master plan of accumulating enough high draft picks to eventually leapfrog over the middle of the pack and straight to the top is authored by a man without any championship pedigree, just a math plan.
Even more disconcerting is this: that general manager, Sam Hinkie, can't even tell you when they will try, only when they finally do, "You'll know. We'll all know."
Put that on a T-shirt.
I could live with that, you too probably, if that was the only uncertainty to deal with. But it isn't, not by a long shot. The Phillies finally have given up that one-last-shot-at-a-title philosophy for a rebuilding one, talked Pat Gillick into taking a more active role, and openly shopped every remaining hero from that 2008 championship and 5-year stretch of division titles. But Pat says he's one-and-done after this season, which means the task of rebuilding again will fall on the shoulders of Ruben Amaro Jr. - the same guy whose little-in-return trades might have accelerated the team's demise, the same guy who championed the one-last-shot philosophy over the last two seasons, defying some obvious and stark realities.
All of that's bad enough. What makes it worse is that a town to our northeast - no, not hapless New York, farther northeast - had similar situations with the basketball and baseball franchises just a year ago, and now fans there are brimming with optimism. The Red Sox, who lost more games than the Phillies last season, are not only planning to contend in 2015, they are pursuing Cole Hamels to bolster those chances.
"There's no better feeling than to have a chance to win every year, and they give you that chance," Hamels told USA Today this offseason, which on the surface sounds odd given that the Boston has finished last in its division two of the last three seasons.
But, of course, there was that championship year in between, and a perception at least that this season's edition will be much stronger than the last. The Red Sox have players and prospects, and like the Phillies of that golden era, they will part with a buck to push their team over the top.
To be fair, spending money is still not a problem for any of the current local franchises.
Spending it wisely - ah, there's the rub.
There's a lot of dead dough lying around between the Phillies and the Flyers in this era of caps and taxes, making trades hard and rebuilding harder. If his trade-deadline deals are a lasting reflection, Flyers GM Ron Hextall seems to have a handle on the task ahead. But even with seven draft picks among the first 101 this June, the Flyers seem eons away from the elite status Hextall professed to be his objective when promoted last summer.
Which takes us to you-know-who, the football coach who appears and disappears from the public eye as if he was Beetlejuice. Chip Kelly made a few things clear this offseason. One, he sure does love those Oregon players. And two, he views a long-term plan in the NFL as one that lasts a calendar year.
As such, he is our greatest hope - and greatest fear - for the immediate future. In acquiring not one, not two, not three, but four potential impact veterans with recent histories of serious injury - three to multiyear deals - Kelly is clearly going for broke this year.
And if they all stay healthy, he will seem like more of a genius than he seems now.
But if it blows up on him? He's got an escape hatch in every major NCAA conference. We do not. We will have a team hogtied over those next few years by those soured deals, its competitiveness challenged the way the Phillies are now, and look to be for the next few years.
On Twitter: @samdonnellon