By Zach Haines
The great city of Philadelphia is highly regarded as one of the unluckiest sports towns in the country. We can all count on two hands the number of championships all current standing teams have as a whole, being spearheaded by the Eagles with a resounding none. But, as 2008 proved more than anything with the Phillies winning the World Series, things change and champions will eventually rise, even if it takes 25 years. The question now looking at the future of the city’s franchises is: who among them will see a reign as champion first?
Look, I’m going to be blunt and forward and say it isn’t going to be either the Phillies or the Flyers. Those two franchises have their own respective hurdles to get over before they even sniff being a legitimate contender in the leagues they compete in. The Flyers are plagued with inconsistency. They can go on a ten-game win streak and then lose the next twelve, and in any sport, there is no way to win if that is the reality you are trying to fight. Additionally, they just aren’t the best team in the Eastern Conference. The conference is dominated by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, and in spurts even the Boston Bruins. Until the Flyers can reach a level where they can say with legitimacy that they are better than any of those teams, they may have a shot at winning a title. Unfortunately, that won’t be for a while.
Then there are the Phillies. I’m not the biggest Phillies fan in the world, in total honesty. I also have nothing against them, so I view them in near total objectivity since I have no eggs in either basket. So when I say the Phillies are MLB’s equivalent to a dumpster fire, it’s coming from the heart. They are just a bad organization. I’d even go far enough to say they are an abysmal organization. No one can hit, no one can field, errors are made, and they get humiliatingly defeated much more often than any team wants to. There is literally no one on that team that can claim superstar, or even star status in the league. Maikel Franco was supposed to be an MVP candidate coming into this season, but talks of him being shipped down to the minors are becoming more frequent just because he’s literally that bad. They’re just bad, and I can’t even imagine the next time they’ll be a contender for anything. They have to get out of the basement of the standings before anything else.
Now that all that unpleasantness is out of the way, let’s look at the remaining two teams that will be champions in Philadelphia sometime in the much nearer future than the prior two teams. Looking at the Eagles, I’d say they are certainly on their way. They had a great offseason in terms of free agent acquisitions and draft picks, and it really shows that they are tailoring the team to fit the skill set of quarterback Carson Wentz. They have a shot at being playoff contenders this upcoming season, but in the NFL nothing is guaranteed. Even if the Eagles survive the war zone that is the NFC East, the single elimination playoff format is a haunting shadow over their Super Bowl hopes. Choking has been nearly synonymous with the Eagles over the past handful of decades, even when the franchise was a near regime in the 2000’s. There’s something about the big game that shakes the team to its core, and makes them forget who they are. Whether the lights are too bright, the stage is too big, or any other x-factor unbeknownst to us, they aren’t the same team when it matters most. And with the team being built around youth, that’s a sure sign that they aren’t hyper-focused in a “win now” mentality, it’s more of a “win in a handful of years” mentality. A handful of years is a generous guess as to when the Eagles will evolve into serious contenders for a championship, and barring any injuries or stupid trades, that should come true.
So now, I might as well just say it. The next team to win a championship in Philadelphia will be the Philadelphia 76ers. That’s right, I said it, and you heard it here first. The only thing standing in the Sixers’ way of glory is themselves at this point in their development. People don’t think they’re even close to being a contender yet, but they’re much closer than anyone would even guess. The future lies in the hands of their definite foundation in Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric. That is a front court that will make teams fearful much, much sooner than later. Plus, A good draft pick here and there, a few solid free agent acquisitions (they’re coming, and the Sixers have the money for it), and the Sixers will be a monstrous team. Another great thing for the Sixers is when they gather all of this high caliber talent, they can be the team that takes advantage of the extremely weak Eastern Conference because, let’s face it. Lebron isn’t getting any younger. The 76ers are almost there, if they don’t see gold by the end of this decade, they’ll see it in the next.