"The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles."
That little axiom is credited to none other than William Penn. Residents of the eastern portion of the commonwealth that bears his father's name would do well to heed that advice at this dark hour. South Jersey, too.
We understand: Even fortified by the wisdom of the most famous Quaker, it's hard to give thanks as the Puritans' holiday draws near.
The Eagles are losing. The Cowboys are winning. Super Bowl LII feels as long ago as the MCMLX and that NFL championship game everybody's grandpa watched. In person.
It's hard to forget that the Phillies lost nine straight in late September. It's hard to believe that the Flyers still don't have a goalie. It's hard to watch Markelle Fultz's free throws.
But 'tis the season — almost, anyway — so, if it's hard to remember all the good things on the Philadelphia sports-scape, we'll help.
The Birds will still be Super Bowl champions for the next 12 weeks. You'd better enjoy those weeks. Carson Wentz is healthy and, until Sunday, he was having a spectacular season, thanks in large part to Zach Ertz, the best receiving tight end in the league. Fletcher Cox and Lane Johnson look like an all-time Eagles greats. The number of injuries has become comical, and the schemes are shaky, but, as Jeffrey Lurie has told us over and over again, Doug Pederson is so full of emotional intelligence that he will guide this battered ship through these stormy seas and start afresh next September.
Most likely, with two new coordinators.
Be thankful for Joel Embiid and Brett Brown. Basketball can be pretty simple, really. Embiid was an All-Star last season, which was his first full season. He led the Sixers to the playoffs, helped them win a round and should be an MVP finalist this season. If you support The Process, support Brown, because he has been its one true architect.
No, Ben Simmons still can't shoot, and neither can Fultz, but both are only playing in their second season, so there's plenty of time for them to become at least as fine a shooter as Nerlens Noel (shudder).
Also: Santa came early and left Jimmy Butler.
They might or might not have the right coach, or even the right general manager, but they do have a wave of young talent. Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Travis Konecny should fully blossom by the time the franchise goalie arrives and we realize The Promise of Carter Hart.
Which also sounds like a movie on Lifetime.
You start with Aaron Nola, who finished third in the National League Cy Young Award voting. You continue to Rhys Hoskins, who not only hit 52 home runs in his first 203 games with an .889 OPS (Mike Schmidt had 33 homers in his first 203 games) but did it while being moved from first base to left field in the major leagues — which is like doing it while standing on your head. It now sounds like he'll be moved back to first, so be thankful for that, too. You continue to Gabe Kapler, the quirky manager who seems underqualified. He had early success, then faded. That sounds a lot like Doug Pederson's first season. That has worked out OK.
You finish, of course, with John Middleton, who overhauled the entire organization. He so badly wants to be Jeffrey Lurie that he's willing to overpay Bryce Harper for the slightest of chances. That's not a criticism.
We never blame owners for spending lots of money.
Jay Wright stayed at school, where he'll try to become a basketball legend at Villanova instead of chasing money and fame like Rick Pitino did with the Knicks and John Calipari did with the Nets. Wright & Co. got walloped by Michigan, but he sent four players to the NBA last season, so he needs time to reload. Ashley Howard stayed in Philly, where he'll coach La Salle and chase Wright, his former boss.
We get to see Fran Dunphy, the most Philadelphian coach of his era, exit gracefully from Temple, where he will be succeeded by Aaron McKie, who is exactly Philadelphian enough for the job.