Saturday, January 13, 2007

AN ANNUAL FEATURE: I don't mind losing to another good football team on the road, but I mind losing like this. So, while this city foolishly builds one more tower higher than William Penn's head, we turn once more to the Five Stages of Eagles Grief:
DENIAL: Hey, we won a lot of fun games this year, and we still have the Sixers to look forward to. Oh, wait. Well, the Flyers . . . no . . . okay . . . um . . . . well, all we have to do is convert this fourth and fifteen, while we still have the ball, and, um . . .

BARGAINING: So, we learned that we can win without Donovan, but apparently, not without Shawn Andrews at right guard. Keep him healthy, and, of course, keep Correll Buckhalter healthy for another sixteen games next year, and, really, I'm only asking for one title. (And a Democratic president on 1-20-09.) We're not New England fans here.

ANGER: WHY ARE YOU PUNTING? WHY ARE YOU PUNTING? Did they think they could stop the Saints running game? Andy, they couldn't stop Deuce McAllister all night long. WHY ARE YOU PUNTING?

DESPAIR: Let's review. The last Eagles title was during the Eisenhower administration. The Phillies have won fewer World Series in their 120-year history (1) than the Florida Marlins in fourteen years of existence (2). The last time a Philadelphia team won a title, the 1982-83 76ers, it was so long ago that Cheers was in its first season. How long ago? I go back to this: when the Sixers won the title, no one in Philadelphia yet knew that Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia were siblings, because that was the week Return of the Jedi debuted in theaters.

You want despair? Since the last time a Philadelphia team won a professional title, New York-area teams have won ten -- heck, even Boston has seen six champions (three Super Bowls, two NBA and a World Series) emerge since we last won one. And that's Boston, which was supposed to be the pinnacle of sports disappointment. Please. No franchise in professional sports history has lost more games than the Phillies. No one. Hell, if the Phillies won every single game for the rest of this decade, they still would be a sub-.500 team for their history.

You want despair? I didn't hear Brian Dawkins' name once during this game.

You want despair? Get me talking about our mayoral candidates.

You want despair? We just got beat by Billy Miller, a guy who wasn't good enough to play for the Houston Texans.

You want despair? The thing Philadelphia fans get to hope for over the next four months is that the basketball team keeps losing.


ACCEPTANCE: Ever since McNabb went down, this season was all gravy and icing -- joyous bonus wins extending a season that no one thought was meant to be. This franchise is the gold standard for being good enough to get to the playoffs every year, and, some day, we'll be healthy enough, good enough and smart enough to win a title.

Pitchers and catchers report in thirty-two days. In less than three months, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley re-open Citizen's Bank Park, and not a moment too soon. A long winter beckons.

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