The absolute worst time of the year for all of sports is amongst us, and there is virtually nothing to talk about. Aside from the MLB, all professional sports are in the dull stages of their offseason. The NBA and NHL initial days of free agency have passed where big names seem to never stay put. By now almost all the star players have found a new home and there isn’t much to discuss there. The NFL is holding camps, but the preseason hasn’t started yet so there isn’t a lot of excitement there. So logically, the only exciting thing left to talk about pertaining to sports is… how great a time it is to be a Philly fan.
#TrustTheProcess. I felt like I had to start with this team just from all the attention they’ve drawn in the last year. The team has been in rebuild mode for about five and some change years now by consistently being bottom dwellers in the league. I have to admit, I was skeptical of the whole “process” thing at first since year after year they would land high end draft picks but still manage to finish in the basement of the standings. Now however, it all seems to be panning out. With all the recent additions of Saric and Redick, on top of number one draft picks in Simmons and Fultz, there’s reason to believe. And how can we forget about our superstar center Joel Embiid. I know it took forever for him to play some games but I mean, how do you not like this guy? The team is built for success, and with literally everyone leaving the East, playoffs look like more and more of a possibility this year for the team of youngsters.
Fun Fact: The Flyers have made it to the conference finals in their 50 year history more times than they have missed the playoffs. This team has been a staple franchise in the NHL for quite a while, so the recent disappointing seasons are huge WTF to Flyers fans as this has really only happened once before in the early 90’s. However, since Ron Hextall became General Manager in 2014, he has given the Flyers a “Trust the Process” of their own. He accumulated prospects such as 2016 Rookie of the Year Runner-Up Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Alex Lyon, Nolan Patrick, German Rubstov, and much more. The prospect pool of the Flyers ranks top-5 on any expert’s list. Their young defense corps has been preached for years, it’s just a matter of time until they crack the roster since Hextall believes in keeping the kids in the minors until they’re fully developed. Well… the time has FINALLY come. He has burned some bad contracts and let players walk in free agency while proving to be a wizard of trading to clear up room for them. This coming year it is projected we will see SIX top-tier rookies on the squad with a boat load more to come in years to follow. You don’t know how exciting that is? Check out what the Leafs did this year with their youth-injected lineup. The team wont make as much of an immediate impact as the Sixers will since their division is the hardest in the league will, but look for them to make deeper playoff runs in a few short years with the core of Giroux, Simmonds, and Voracek leading the way for the kids. Is it October yet?
Wentzylvania baby. Yeah there definitely is a lot of hype for a guy that was no more than average after his first four starts. But if you’re an Eagles fan who watched every game, you know Carson’s rookie problems were more because of his team than his actual skills. They already improved by signing Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and LeGarrette Blount. DGB is gone thankfully, and Ryan Mathews figures to get less touches so he cant blow anymore games with his fumbles (@ Detroit 2016). According to PFF, this team has the best offensive line in the league, so up yours Dallas. That’s to compliment what I think is a top-5 front seven. The defense is the most underrated aspect of the team (minus the corners). You have absolute machines in Brandon Graham and Jordan Hicks. Hicks was rated the best linebacker in coverage and Graham, despite only 5.5 sacks, put more pressure on the quarterback than anyone in the league last year besides Khalil Mack. That’s to go along with Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, and newly acquired Tim Jernigan. This team has much to prove but all the pieces to be a legit contender.
For the first time in over a decade the Phillies opening day roster didn’t include Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, or Ryan Howard. All the players from the 2008 team are gone and it’s a little depressing. They may take the most time to be competitive out of all the Philly teams, but they have shown some promise. The team is young and includes future star players like Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, and an absolute stud in Aaron Altherr. Many question marks surround the team and some of their youngsters like shortstop JP Crawford, but they do have some depth in the farm system and reasons to be optimistic. It seems like every game the Phillies are in it until about the 6th or 7th inning when they let the game slip away which is not a bad sign for a young team. More experience and a couple new faces should bring them back to their old winning ways.
The youth movement in Philly is in full effect. The Sixers have had a top three pick for the last four years. The Flyers scored a number two pick with a little bit of luck thanks to the lottery after being completely robbed of Patrick Kane in 2007 by that same lottery system. The Eagles had the number two pick in 2016 and the Phillies had the number one pick in the same year. With all the high draft picks, the teams all seem to have a face of the franchise set for the future. Philadelphia is in a nine year drought since their last championship, and before that, well… it’s been a while. Now I’m not going to pull a typical Philly fan and say we’re winning the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, NBA Championship, and World Series this year, but boy do we have some good young teams that might take us there in the near future.