Tuesday, August 05, 2008

25 Years of Philly Sports Hell: The Worst Moments, Parts VI-XXV

The latest in a series of of soul-cleansing moments for Philadelphia sports fans as we complete a 25 year cycle of unmatched sports futility. For a full explanation of this series, look here.

Hey, I have a life. Who knew?

It's been almost seven months without a post on a blog I once promised to update three times a day. Much has changed -- for example, Hillary Clinton was a Presidential front-runner, as was Mitt Romney. Britney Spears was still struggling with her life (um... yeah, I guess that hasn't changed). Tony Romo was still dating Jessica Simpson (okay, I guess that hasn't changed either). And John Edwards' alleged affair wasn't being covered by big media outlets (sigh... I give up). I think three people noticed that I hadn't posted in several months (of course, that would triple the daily readership of the blog).

I guess the more things change... the more they stay the same. Which is why I still don't have a Philly sports title to celebrate. [By the way, the Philadelphia Soul winning a title doesn't count. Granted, if the dam breaks and Philly sports teams celebrate multiple titles in the next few years, the Soul will likely take credit for breaking the curse. So will I, by claiming that I exorcised the demons by writing this series of blog posts. All I want is a seat in a float in the parade.]

But I should have published the full list of moments, just to get them out of the way. Other than the ones that have been detailed in great glory, here's the rest of the list, in no particular order, of the most painful Philly sports moments of the last twenty-five years. Yes, I'm aware that other websites have run their own version of the list, but mine is more heartfelt and painful, not to mention written far too late to get linked by mainstream blogs. Also, this list is personal, so don't expect anything about St. Joe's basketball to appear on the list -- the diseased pigeon-rat mascot can die right now, as far as I'm concerned. And in light of the fact that I didn't write a piece about each one, there are random observations about each item on the list.

So here we go...

1. The 2004 NFC Title Game: Carolina 14, Eagles 3. The legend of 4th-and-26 would be much more important if the Eagles had won this game and made the Super Bowl, which would have meant tons of Freddie Mitchell appearances. So count this as a disguised blessing.

2. Smarty Jones loses the Belmont. Because he's from Philly, he finished second, making it as tortuously close as he could.

3. Flyers lose the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals to Tampa Bay. This further contributed to my irrational hatred of sports teams from Tampa.

4. Johnny Dawkins tears his ACL. He went to Duke. That pretty much guarantees a pro career marked by injury or disappointment. Yes, I'm worried about Elton Brand.

5. Duke shuts down Mark Macon and #1 Temple in the Elite Eight. This was the first time Billy King, who tormented Macon in that game, screwed Philly sports fans. His later tenure as Sixers GM was just the cherry on the sundae.

6. The 2003 NFC Title Game: Tampa 27, Eagles 10. I continue to refuse to discuss this game. Ever.

7. Sixers trade Moses and the #1 pick for Ruland, Hinson and crap. Actually, it wasn't crap -- they also got the right to pay for several of Ruland's knee surgeries.

8. Jerome Brown dies before the 1992 season. RIP, Jerome.

9. McNabb breaks his leg against the Cardinals, regular season 2002. A healthy McNabb means the 2003 NFC Title Game (which I won't discuss) ends differently.

10. 1987 Stanley Cup Finals Game 7: Edmonton 3, Flyers 1. Probably the closest any Philly sports team was to a title in the 25 years. Unfortunately, they had to play one of the greatest dynasties in NHL history, when that team was at the peak of its powers.

11. Phillies trade Curt Schilling for Padilla, Figueroa, Lee and Daal. Curt has three titles since then for two different teams. I have the Philadelphia Soul.

12. Eagles draft Mike Mamula instead of Warren Sapp. Sapp is headed for the Hall of Fame and won a Super Bowl with Tampa. Mamula is probably headed to 7-11 to get a Slurpee.

13. Lakers 4, Sixers 1 in the 2001 NBA Finals. I think Shaq has had a weight problem ever since he ate Dikembe during this series.

14. UNC beats Villanova by one point in the 2005 NCAA Sweet Sixteen. Up yours, Raftery -- it was a friggin' foul.

15. The Cowboys beat the Eagles 34-10 in the NFC divisional playoff in January 1993. The last appearance of Reggie in an Eagles uniform. RIP, big guy.

16. Billy Wagner surrenders a key homer to Craig Biggio, September 2005. The Astros won the game and won the wild-card over the Phillies by one game, then went to the World Series. This is one reason I don't miss Billy Wagner closing games for the Phillies, and why Mets fans generally look like they're drunk with fear when Wagner enters the game. Well, other than the fact that they are drunk.

17. The 2005 Super Bowl. 'Nuf said.

18. Flyers get torched in the 1997 Finals, 4-0. Eric Lindros wasn't concussed at the time, but he acted like it.

19. Westbrook tears a tricep against the Redskins in the regular season finale, 2003. With a healthy Westbrook, Carolina is roadkill in the NFC Title Game three weeks later.

20. The Phillies lose the 1983 World Series. 4 games to 1, to kick off the title drought in style. At least the team didn't trade away a future Hall of Famer like Ryne Sandberg while building the aging roster that lost this Series. Oh, wait...

Wow, after writing that, I feel much worse. I'm glad I didn't write the whole list in detail, because I might have needed medication afterwards.

Here's a promise -- when we win a title, I will go back and find a positive about every moment on this list, even the 2003 NFC Title Game (which I refuse to discuss). Until then, be prepared for more bitching. Hey, we're champs in that department.



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