THIS JUST IN! 2020 has SUCKED! Hasnt been fun. Not one bit. And as we usher out the year and move ahead to 2021 (and hopefully not an even worse year. I dont want to be sitting here in March talking about how dragon pigeons have taken over Houston and are flocking towards our under ground bunkers in the Catskills.)
But lets end with some positivity. Because even though its been a ROUGH year for most of the teams in this city, there have been glimmers of hope.
THIS “LIST” IS IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER. DONT READ INTO THE NUMBERS AS SOME SORT OF RANKING
1. The Sixers revamped front office.
We entered 2020 STRUGGLING as Sixers fans. Sure, they shot the lights out on Christmas Day…..but then followed it up with 4 straight losses. The goal posts kept getting backed up for this team and then the pandemic hit. There was a real concern that, believe it or not, the pandemic would save Brett Brown’s job. It didnt.
Sixers moved on from Brett Brown. Moving on from their developmental coach and hiring a veteran (with a ring) in Doc Rivers. Rivers isnt perfect, but hes definitely an upgrade and, maybe most importantly, hes a different voice. Something this team needed. They then rounded it out with Daryl Morey who, teamed up with Elton Brand, have been extremely impressive early on.
2. Oskar Lindblom’s return to the ice
3. The Philadelphia Union’s Run
Post pandemic, the city of Philadelphia NEEDED the Union. We needed to doop. Because the Sixers were busy getting swept by the Celtics, and the Flyers had come up short in the playoffs. The Phillies bullpen was giving up runs at an historic rate. But Jim Curtin’s group of home grown talent performed great at the MLS IS BACK cup down in the Disney bubble. They returned and were unbeatable at Subaru park. They won the Supporters Shield, given to the team with the best regular season record in the MLS. They added a much needed jolt to sports fans looking for a winner.
Ultimately they fell short, losing to the New England Revolution in the playoffs. But the teams success, especially at the academy level, is something you can look at as a new norm (not a Doug P new norm but an actual new norm.) The team sold Brenden Aaronson to Austrian club RB Salzburg for a historic $9 million dollar fee. They also signed his younger brother. The future is bright in Chester.
4. The Emergence of Jordan Mailata.
I got shredded when the team took Andre Dillard and I didn’t jump for joy. It wasn’t like I knew anything about the guy. I’m not dialed in to Washington State football. It had to do with this
I no longer think 21 year old Aussie LT Jordan Mailata is going to be a starting LT in the NFL.— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) August 31, 2018
I think he's going to be All-Pro.
Borderline obsessed with this dude at this point. This is crazy.
Eagles are going to go right from Peters to Peters Jr.
.@Eagles #JordanMailata has improved more than ANY football player I have ever watched in 4 months . He has everything it takes to be a dominant player, except experience. Amazing transformation. #BaldyBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/gurmylW6jB— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) August 24, 2018
There are many more examples I could provide, but these are two former offensive linemen praising Jordan Mailata. Saying if youre just patient, the kid is going to be really good. Combine this with the fact that he’s actually 2 years YOUNGER than Dillard…I just didnt understand the pick. So allow me to pat myself on the back a bit (because I’m rarely right)
But it appears the Eagles have their heir apparent to Jason Peters. Maybe Dillard can play LG. Jason Kelce has been contemplating retirement for the past few seasons and the thought is that Issac Seumalo would move to center. So maybe the ship hasn’t sailed. But at least thats one question that we can put to rest. Mailata is it.
5. Carter Hart is the REAL DEAL
How many years have Flyers fans been waiting to have a franchise goalie?
He faced his child hood idol in the playoffs and out-dueled him. Posting back to back shutouts. The kid seems unflappable. And a goalie can still many many games in the league.
6. The Phandemic Krew
Baseball said “you cant come to games” and Philadelphia said “HA! Ok bud…” and then they proceeded to show up, down at Citizens Bank Park EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.
They brought the energy, the masks, the air horns, and the hand sanitizers. They tried bringing some normalcy to the team by cheering on their team and also getting in the head of opposing teams (mainly the Yankees) and they showed the baseball world that Phillies fans weren’t about to be silenced.
In a tough season, I loved hearing those air horns go off. And I know the Phillies players did too. Kudo’s to the KREW!
7. Chris Daukas Makes UFC Debut.
Philadelphia is a fighting city. Theres a little indie movie called “Rocky” that shows the fighting mentality of the city. But when it comes to mixed martial arts Philadelphia is well represented.
Eddie Alvarez was the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. He’s currently set to fight for the ONE championship lightweight belt. Sean Brady is an undefeated prospect with the thickest Philly accent. And then theres the Daukas brothers.
From Northeast Philly, Chris and Kyle Daukas both made their UFC debuts in 2020. Kyle had a super tough test in his debut and took his first loss, but he rebounded with a run in 2020. His brother Chris though is 2-0 and a PROBLEM in the Heavyweight division
He then headed to Fight Island for his next fight. But it was the same exact result
How did Chris celebrate his wins? By going to work. Unfortunately the UFC doesnt pay these guys too well, and some, like Chris, still have their day job. Chris is a Philadelphia police officer, keeping the city safe. Taking out scumbags by day, and fighters at night. A true renaissance man.
8. The Al Horford Contract is GONE
Elton Brand tried something bold. As the league went more towards pace and space and three point shooting, Brand built a roster to play bully ball. I dont know if anyone told Brett Brown this, because Al Horford looked LOST last season.
I still believe Horford can play. But it just wasn’t a great fit. And Morey and Brand were able to rectify the mistake and ship Horford off to Oklahoma City in a decent deal. Shedding that contract was no easy feat. But I’ve seen GM’s in all sports make mistakes and instead of realizing it, and switching course, they double down. Elton Brand didnt do that.
9. Alec Bohm
Stop me if youve heard this before; “The Phillies system sucks.” Hell, youve probably heard it from me. And for the most part, its been true. Giving Jalen Ortiz $4 million dollars instead of Juan Soto, or Vlad Guerrero Jr. or….anyone above High A…
For the most part its as if Howie Roseman has been running things. I still think its WAYYYY too early to cast out guys like Adam Haseley and Mickey Moniak. Moniak, in particular, is still 22 years old. 2 years younger than Alec Bohm. But the big difference is we dont know if Moniak can play. We KNOW BOHM can rake.
He should’ve won Rookie of the Year. His slash line of .338/.400/.481 was damn impressive. At times, when the Phillies needed a big hit, the former 3rd overall pick came through.
I’m not here to tell you the Phillies prospects are strong. But in this particular case, it seems like the franchise hit BIG TIME on the Wichita State product
10. The Flyers loaded young core
I wrote about Carter Hart already, but hes just ONE of the young guns. Travis Konecny made his first all star game at 23. He put up 61 points in 66 games. Ivan Provorov is a stud on D, entering his 5th season….at the age of 23. Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee, Oskar Lindblom, Philippe Myers. You can even include reigning Selke award winner Sean Couturier who is 28.
Now I think the Flyers should’ve taken Cole Caufield in the draft, but that doesnt take away from the fact that Cam York, the captain of Team USA’s World Junior team, is an EXCITING young player. I just thought Caufield’s scoring ability is something the team shouldn’t have passed up. Oh, and Bobby Brink had a great first season at the University of Denver.
Ron Hextall had his faults as a GM, but his eye for talent and the development of that talent while he was here should be praised. Hextall set this team up for success for a LONG time. Think Ed Wade with the Phillies. The Phillies got Pat Gillick to get them over the hump, and hopefully Chuck Fletcher can do the same.