Friday, December 07, 2007

Philly's Horrible 25th Anniversary

25 years. That's a long time.

And yet, it's seemed even longer.

No, I'm not talking about the last time I blogged regularly. What I'm referring to is a soon to be infamous historic sports anniversary.

Come May 31, 2008, the city of Philadelphia will have gone 25 years without a major professional sports team winning a title (sorry, Phantoms and Wings and Stars and Kixx and Barrage fans). And barring some sort of miracle from the professional football franchise, there's no stopping the event, since the Sixers ain't winning anything, the Flyers can't complete a Cup run before that, and the current best team in Philly, the Phillies (words I never thought I'd type), will be about a third of the way through their season at that point.

If you're not familiar with the Curse of Billy Penn, you may consider this to be a minor event. Serious sports fans know better. Philly is the only city that has a professional team in each of the four major team sports to have gone this long without a title. By May, they will have 100 sports seasons without a championship. There's plenty of heartbreak in other towns, like Cleveland and Buffalo, but no one gets it four different times a year.

There are also sorts of explanations. Among them: the aforementioned curse of Billy Penn, the fact that nobody's won a title since WIP became the town's first sports radio station in 1987, Wilson Goode fire-bombing MOVE, Pennsylvania's failure to execute Mumia abu-Jamal (okay, I'm making the last one up... I think).

In the end, the explanations don't help. One thing would -- a title. The town went ape for Smarty Jones a few years back, just because he was from Bensalem. Hell, we're so desperate I think we'd adopt a NASCAR driver if we could.

But we're not getting one of those before the 25th anniversary passes. And it hit me today while discussing our sports futility -- we're 25 weeks from the 25th anniversary of the Sixers' title, of "fo, fo, fo" and Doc and Moses and Mo and Andrew and Billy and all the rest.

So what to do? Well, it's time to run down the 25 worst Philly sports moments of the past 25 years. One per week, for 25 weeks, until it's all over. These will be in no particular order, because I have no way of ordering these. For the record, these are moments we in the Philly Sports Legion recall with deep pain, not merely moments of regret (for example, the list won't include people cheering Michael Irvin's injury -- we may decry it, but it ain't causing me any pain today). I will miss a few moments that others will recall, I am sure. But I'm sure most Philly fans will find the items on this list to be the heartbreaking crap we all recall.

What's my aim here? Maybe part of it's a desire to wallow in the pain. But to tell the truth, I need to cleanse my soul of this stuff. It's all back there, surging back into my consciousness every time something bad happens to one of my teams. I've mentioned much of it before, but now I need to make a clean break from it. What I said before about being an Eagles fan applies on the whole to being a Philly sports fan:

We die a little death every year, but next year, we come back looking for more. We don't know any better, and frankly what we would do otherwise? I mean, what else can you do on a Sunday in the fall? And so we march forward once again, blindly following our team, waiting for that crucial moment when someone or some team rips our heart away, spits on it, stomps on it, sets fire to it and urinates on it before running it over with a steamroller. And what's truly frightening?

We still believe.

We may believe, but we carry the accumulated pain around with us. We need to get away from it, and the therapy is discussing it and getting past it. The Phillies suffered their 10,000th loss during the 2007 season... but capped the season with the greatest stretch drive in team history, allowing them to sprint past the Mets to a division title. Maybe cleansing ourselves of this crap means Marty Biron drinks from Lord Stanley's Cup next summer, or Jimmy Rollins dances with the World Series trophy next fall, or Kevin Kolb holds up the Lombardi Trophy next year.

Or maybe not. But we're used to it. The first one goes up later today.



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