PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JUNE 03: A general view of a Liberty Bell is seen during the fifth inning of a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Angels at Citizens Bank Park on June 03, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Last October was one of the greatest “moments” in Philadelphia sports. I’m not sure calling it a moment is fair. It was a celebration of baseball that carried on for five weeks. It was one of the greatest joy rides as a fan that I can ever remember. One thing I expected to receive when we didn’t get an early November parade was a quality hangover. That hasn’t happened. This Phillies team appears to be still drunk from the numerous champagne celebrations they had and sobriety doesn’t appear any closer to reality.

The last two years the Phillies were (25-29). Last season after falling 8 games below .500 the Phillies reached the even mark at (29-29). This team doesn’t seem to have comparable resilience to previous models. In 2022 they had Wheeler and Nola both pitching well. The fact that this team hasn’t completely fallen out of contention is somewhat of a miracle. Whether it means they are going to be in the wildcard race in August is yet to be seen. Paint me less than optimistic. The 2022 Braves won the division and didn’t reach .500 until they were (27-27). In 2021 the Braves were World Champions and were (44-45) at the All Star Break! Overreacting to the Phillies record on June 1st should be a cautionary tale, but something just doesn’t feel right. If Alec Bohm is truly injured one of their most productive bats going missing could be a death blow.

I spoke on the air on Tuesday that I’m willing to give this team until the 4th of July to get things figured out. If I’m not feeling it then I’m going to be convinced that last Fall was nothing but a mirage. The 2022 Phillies wouldn’t even have made the postseason unless there was a collection of good fortune that fell into their laps. First of all, MLB had added a 3rd wildcard team that allowed a berth that hadn’t previously existed. Then the Milwaukee Brewers proceeded to lose their hold on the 3rd wildcard spot by losing 10 of their last 14 games. The Phillies went an unbelievably mediocre (4-8) just to back into the spot. Unlikely would be an understatement.

Being shut out in Game 1 at St. Louis until the crazy 9th-inning comeback rally was just the start of the fun. The Phillies caught fire and went on an October run that saw them knock off three teams as an underdog. They were unbeatable at home and the momentum for the franchise appeared real. At the very least, this year’s squad doesn’t seem to have learned anything from it.

Rob Thomson pushed all the right buttons in October but this year appears to be fumbling with the remote. They are a 4th place club playing without confidence or a high baseball IQ. They run the bases poorly, rarely have a shutdown inning after taking a lead and fail to mount comeback rallies often. It’s got to change soon.

Everyone wants to believe. The fans have been showing up in droves. The response from the roster has been tepid. If things don’t turn quickly it will be easy to assume that last year was nothing but a mirage. One of the greatest unlikely joy rides ever in Philadelphia sports ensued. Sadly, I’m not feeling it this time around.

More Philly Sports:

7 Philadelphia Athletes Who Have Proven Themselves, And 7 Who Haven't

On paper, we should be in a very good period of Philadelphia sports. There is seemingly more talent than ever across most of the teams, Flyers excluded. The Eagles? Stacked. The Phillies? Stacked. The Sixers? Well, we don’t really know what to think about them anymore. The Phillies came out of the gate slow, but have turned it around. The Sixers just had their 5th second round exit. The Flyers are a joke. But the Eagles, even if they lost the Super Bowl, still give us a lot of hope.

There are 3 guys in Philadelphia who have either won their league’s MVP or who have been in that conversation at least. Joel Embiid and Bryce Harper won it. Jalen Hurts was in the running before his late-season injury. Trea Turner is bad this year but has played at an MVP level in the past. And around those guys, are a lot of other guys with either star-level talent or at least that potential for it.

Philadelphia athletes have the star talent now, apart from the Flyers. Even the Union has star talent. But it has not led to hardware. Some of those stars have come up small. Others played great, and their team just came up short around them. We have now seen the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Union all come up short when it matters. Eagles Phillies and Union in their championship game. And the Sixers didn’t even make it that far. Despite the Talent, none of them have given us a parade, yet.

So which stars have earned our trust? Which ones still have to prove themselves when it matters most? Let’s look at all the Star talent we have in Philly, and if they have lived up to that billing so far.

Here are the Philadelphia Stars That Have, and Have Not Proven themselves:

  • Jalen Hurts- Proven

    Jalen Hurts has not won it yet. But to no fault of his own. Jalen Hurts gave us one of the best performances from a QB on the losing team ever. Every time they needed a response, Jalen Hurts provided it. Yes, his fumble led to a TD. And sure if you took that away the Eagles technically would have won. But what that ignores is that he made up for that on the very next drive. And then multiple more times after that. With the Eagles trailing by 8 late in the game, Hurts took them down the field, scored the TD, and the 2pt conversion to tie it up.

    He never got a chance to win it because the defense couldn’t get off the field. But if he got the ball back in time, given how he was playing, there is a decent chance he would have gotten it done. Hurts went toe to toe with Patrick  Mahomes and looked like he belonged on the same field as him. Hurts had a lot to prove going into last season. But he proved it.

  • Joel Embiid- Not Proven

    There is a lot good to say about Joel Embiid. In terms of talent, you could argue he is one of the most talented guys to every play in Philly period, let alone just the Sixers. 3 straight seasons as an MVP finalist, and he won it this year. And before the Celtics series, many would have said he was the Philly athlete they trusted the most. But there is no ignoring what happened this season. When the lights shined the brightest, he could not live up to the lofty expectations.

    15 points in an elimination game. The biggest dropoff in scoring in the playoffs by an MVP ever. He let his team drop 2 straight games after they led 3-2. It was unacceptable. Enough with the excuses. Joel Embiid needs to step up and get the job done the next time he gets the chance. Until then it will be hard to forget how badly he played when it mattered most.

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 14: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts on the bench against the Boston Celtics during the third quarter in game seven of the 2023 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden on May 14, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts.

    (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

  • Bryce Harper- Proven

    We dont have to wonder what Bryce Harper will do when the lights come on. Because even if the Phillies came up small in the World Series, he gave us a playoff run for the ages last season. His line in the playoffs last year was .349/.414/.746/1.160. He hit 6 home runs and 7 doubles. Drove in 13 RBIs. And of course, his biggest moment came in game 5 of the NLCS. The Phillies had blown the lead. They trailed in the bottom of the 8th. Then Bryce Harper had the swing of his life, as Joe Davis put it.

    And he was struggling going into the playoffs. He was ice cold. Ever since he came back from an injury, he had a hard time finding his rhythm. That changed in the playoffs. It started with an HR in game 2 vs the Cardinals. Then he never slowed down from there.

  • Carter Hart- Unproven

    Carter Hart was supposed to be the next great Flyers goalie. And so far, he has kind of lived up to it. Hart has played well, considering everything else around him. The defense in front of him in his young career has been putrid. Hell, the whole team has been. This is not a, he has not done well enough thing. But more of he has never had a chance to live up to the hype. He looked decent in his one taste of the playoffs. Had a save percentage of .926 in 14 games.

    Hopefully, soon enough he will get more of a chance. Ideally, Keith Jones and Danny Briere will finally build a good team around him, and give him a chance to grow into the guy promised as a generational goalie. We need to see it before we say he has proven anything though. We have seen goalies carry their teams in the playoffs. Can Hart do that? We don’t know yet.

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - MARCH 17: Carter Hart #79 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Buffalo Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center on March 17, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

  • Aaron Nola- Unproven

    The former Cy Young candidate has a lot to prove. Because as of now, it is hard to trust him. Every season he fell apart in September. He waited until October last season. Nola was awful in the World Series. Both of his starts were a major disappointment. Especially Game 5 with the season on the line. His ERA in his two World Series starts was 8.64.

    To make it worse, he has had a very uneven start this season. Nola has to be paid after this season. As of now, he has not done a thing to justify giving him star pitcher money. We see the stuff at times. Its clear he is capable of being that guy. But until he proves it, it is impossible to trust him.

  • Jason Kelce- Proven

    Yea, this guy has nothing left to prove. Kelce hasn’t given up a sack in years. He gave up none in either of the two Super Bowls he played in. Last year’s All-Pro selection was the 5th of his career. He will walk into the Hall of Fame one day. This is probably his last year. Once his career is over, we may look back at him as one of the greatest Eagles of all time.

  • Zack Wheeler- Unproven

    Going into the World Series last season, Wheeler felt like the sure thing. But now? It’s a bit questionable. He was not as bad as Nola in the World Series. It would be hard to be worse. But his 5.23 ERA was still bad. His first start was a blowup. The 2nd start was better, but he couldn’t get through 5 innings. Not good enough from an Ace. To make it worse, he has been a bit shaky this season, even if he has turned things around recently.

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 5: Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies walks to the dugout after the third inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park on May 5, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Red Sox defeated the Phillies 5-3.

    (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

  • Darius Slay- Unproven

    We all love Slay. Him coming back, is a good thing. Between him and James Bradberry, they were one of the best, if not the best, cornerback tandem in the league. But the defense is a big reason why they lost the Super Bowl. In fact, it is the reason they lost. And Slay was getting picked on a little bit. You could say the same about James Bradberry, but Slay is the one who is the team leader and the most recognizable face on the defense. The defense needs to be better next time. Starting with him.

    PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 07: Darius Slay #2 of the Philadelphia Eagles speaks to the media during the Philadelphia Eagles media availability at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass on February 07, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona.

    (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

  • Lane Johnson- Proven

    Pretty much everything said about Jason Kelce, applies to Lane too. He has fewer All-Pros. But lately, he has maybe been even better. In the playoffs, he faces Nick Bosa and Chris Jones at times. He still gave up no sacks. That was while playing on an injury many thought would keep him out. He is the best Tackle in the NFL, and played like it in the big moments. Like Jason Kelce, he will be a Hall of Famer one day. And in both Super Bowls, he played at an elite level.

  • Ranger Suarez- Proven

    Okay, Ranger is not a star. But I felt the need to shout him out here. Ranger was great in the playoffs. A 1.23 ERA in the playoffs. He battled in those starts. Got himself out of some tough jams. Got the Phillies a couple of wins. he closed out the NLCS clinching game. Where the Phillies’ two aces came up short, he buckled down. Ranger is not a star, but he pitched like one. His July has been a bit shaky. But in July he looked like one of the best pitchers in the league.

  • Tyrese Maxey- Unproven

    Maxey is still young, so he deserves a bit of a break. We have seen him show star potential in the playoffs in the past. But we have also seen him disappear in games too often. Maxey looked great in games 5 and 6. But was a non factor in games 2, 3, and 4. Embiid and Harden rightfully took most of the heat for the Playoff collapse.

    Going forward, Maxey needs to be more reliable. It doesn’t need to be a 30pt night like in game 5. But can he average 20 pts a game in the playoffs like he does in the regular season? They are going to need him to. The excuses that he is young and inexperienced won’t fly past this season. With a larger role likely coming for him, he needs to step into it if the Sixers are going to fix this.

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 14: Tyrese Maxey #0 of the Philadelphia 76ers celebrates a basket against the Boston Celtics during the first quarter in game seven of the 2023 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden on May 14, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts.

    (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

  • AJ Brown- Proven

    No one can say AJ Brown did not do his part in the Super Bowl. 6 catches, 86 yards, and TD. And that one TD was an impressive one. 45 yards, in double coverage, and he tracks down the ball to put the Eagles up 14-7. If the Eagles get back there, we wont need to worry about if he will step up in the moment. The lights were not too bright for AJ Brown.

  • Devonta Smith- Proven

    The same goes for the Eagles other WR 1. Devonta Smith played just as well as AJ Brown did in the Super Bowl. 7 catches for 100 yards. No TDS, but he still made quite the impact. We have seen time after time Devonta Smith come down with circus catches. He is a star in the making. He could be the best WR on several teams. Here he is the 2nd best, but only because he is playing alongside a All-Pro in AJ Brown.

  • Trea Turner- Unproven

    Trea Turner is certainly a star. He has been the best SS in the MLB at times. But he has yet to really prove he can be the guy when it counts here, or elsewhere. His first season here has been a disaster so far. it looked like things were turning around in June. But in July he went right back to swinging at every pitch out of the zone. To make it worse he is even hurting them in the field. They need him to be a star. So far, he hasn’t even been good.

    rea Turner #7 of the Philadelphia Phillies tosses his bat after hitting a two run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park on May 24, 2023 in Philadelphia,

    (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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