PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 23: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a two run home run during the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres in game five of the National League Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 23, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

2022 was a wild year for the city of Philadelphia, for better or worse. Two teams made their respective Championship, though they each fell short. The Eagles have had one of the best regular seasons in franchise history. There have been massive trades made by our teams. People lost their jobs. There were moments of pure joy and moments of absolute heartbreak. And we saw a once proud Flyers franchise fall to perhaps its lowest place in franchise history. But what were the biggest single moments in Philly Sports this year?

I put together a list of the biggest moments this calendar year in Philly Sports. And to be clear, these are just singular moments. The Phillies World Series run is not a moment. There are moments in that run that made this list, but the run as a whole is not eligible. Likewise, the Eagle’s regular season is not a moment. We are talking about singular moments. One pass, one move by the front office, one swing of the bat. Things that could be captured in a headline.

There are of course a couple of more days in 2022. But it’s doubtful there will be any major moments in a regular season Flyers or Sixers season. Unless the Sixers randomly decide to fire Doc Rivers off the back of an 8-game winning streak, there will be no Earth-shattering moments in Philly Sports before the ball drops in Times Square.

And biggest moment does not mean only good moments. While there was a lot to cheer about this season, there was also heartbreak. This list will be mostly positive, but there are some moments that we do not look back on with fondness. It would not be a Philly sports year if there was not a roller coaster of emotion. But without further ado here are the 10 biggest moments from Philly sports in 2022. Starting with the honorable, and dishonorable mentions.

 

  • Honorable Mentions

    Phillies Get No-Hit in World Series

    It is more of a game than a moment, which why is does not make the list proper, but it still needs to be mentioned. It was a gut punch coming off the jubilation of the game 3 win where they teed off on the Astros in what was more of an HR Derby than a World Series game. I remember the day of the game well. Everyone, myself included, was so sure that we would have a parade after game 3. Then the next day it felt more like a funeral. It was only to tie up the series, but I don’t think I have ever seen a bigger mood swing from Phillies fans from one day to the next. And the mood never really lifted after that with the Phillies losing the following two games.

    Jalen Hurts Sprains His Shoulder

    Thankfully it is not that serious of an injury. But there was a moment of genuine panic where Eagles Twitter was convinced Hurts broke a collar bone and the Eagles’ season was over. A wild swing in some Vegas lines had doomsayers out on the street warning us of the Eagles apocalypse. But it turned out it was a sprain. Which while not ideal, is not a season-ender. It remains to be seen if it will have an impact on their chances to win it all though. But the moment between the Vegas line changing, and the news of the sprain coming out, was slightly harrowing.

    Union Choke Away OT Lead on a Gareth Bale Goal

    The MLS Cup was a wild back-and-forth game. There were times when it looked like the Union were out of it, and times it looked like LAFC was out of it. The game would go to OT. And it looked like the Union were going to get the win they not only took the lead but the LAFC goalie got injured and earned a red card, forcing them to play down one man. But a collapse on defense gave Gareth Bale a chance at an equalizer, and he did not miss. The game went to penalties, and the Union’s effort there left a ton to be desired.

    LAFC won it all, starting off a day that would only get worse with the Phillies being eliminated that night. The Union’s run was incredible, but it ended in heartbreak. And unfortunately, with the new MLS streaming deal meaning you have to pay for an extra service just to watch the games, along with the ugly end to the Union’s run, they might not get back to the same popularity they had around the city next season.

    Phillies Sign Trea Turner

    Unlike a certain team in this town (we will get to that in a bit) when the Phillies have a target, they seem to always get it done. And this year that target was Trea Turner. They needed a Shortstop, he was the best on the market, and they signed him to a reasonable AAV considering what players are getting paid in the MLB right now. The only thing that keeps him from cracking the actual list is that we don’t get to see him play this year. But if someone else put this move on the list, even high on the list, it would be hard to argue against. And by midseason, if Trea Turner is playing as well as he can and keeps the Eagles near the front of the NL East even with Bryce Harper out, I may look back and regret leaving the signing off of my list.

     

     

     

     

  • 10) Flyers Don't Sign Johnny Gaudreau

    The Flyers had to make the list in some way, and it was never going to be for anything good. Johnny Gaudreau signing with anyone but the Flyers is emblematic of the incompetence of the organization overall. You had one of the best young players in the game. He wanted to come here. And they somehow could not get that done. This Flyers team is severely lacking in talent. Especially offensive talent. Having Johnny Gaudreau around would not fix their issues, but it would at least give them one piece besides the goalie fans can get excited about. 

    The Flyers’ front office has failed in every aspect to put a winning team on the ice. We thought prior regimes were bad, but Chuck Fletcher and Co. may be the worst front office I have seen in Philly. At least in my lifetime. And mind you Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail are right there as their competition. That is the level we are operating on.

    Failing to sign Gaudreau would be like if the Phillies had failed to sign Bryce Harper. The Phillies were in a quite similar spot back then. Horrible front office. Years of losing hanging over the organization. But the one thing the Phillies got right, is they got their star player. It did not fix things right away, but it did eventually help get them back to the playoffs. The Harper move helped attract more talent. And yea it is under a different front office, thankfully, but the Harper move worked. The Flyers failed. Unless they get lucky in the draft, there may not be another star player on the horizon to help turn this franchise around. 

    Cutter Gauthier may be that star if his play in College is any indication. But wouldn’t it be nice if he had someone of the caliber of Gaudreau to pair with when he does eventually get here?

     

  • 9) Jalen Hurts Hits Quez Watkins on a Deep Pass in Vikings Game

    This one may seem like an odd choice at face value but bare with me here. Yes, it was in a week 2 regular season game, so the play itself lacks the impact of many of the other moments on this list. But it is what the play revealed that earns it a place on my list. Because that was the moment I realized that Jalen Hurts made the jump. A big issue all last season was Hurts couldn’t get that deep ball right. His timing was often off, and he struggled to get the ball deep enough.

    But when he hit Quez on that deep pass vs the Vikings, I realized that all his work in the off-season paid off. In the week 1 game vs the Lions he showed the arm off a little bit, but it was mostly his legs that did the work in the win. But the Vikings game and this play in particular showed that he was ready to wow with his arm too. Sure it was to a wide-open Quez, but that play would not have been automatic in 2021 for Hurts.

    And sure enough, he went on to flash his arm off for the rest of 2022. He made many passes even more impressive than this one. But this pass made the list because it was the moment of realization that this may be a special season for Jalen Hurts. And with how great Hurts has been, he needed to appear somewhere on the list.

  • 8) Joe Girardi Fired

    It seems crass to say, but Joe Girardi being fired was the catalyst for the Phillies’ World Series run. People tried to convince us that firing a manager wouldn’t change much, but in Philly, we knew the truth. Girardi was an anchor weighing down this team. His uptightness kept this team stiff, and it was why they were struggling early in the season.

    Then they replace him with Rob Thomson, and the team came to life. They went on an extended winning streak. And even after some key injuries, they kept playing well. Apart from an ugly stint in September that almost cost them a spot in the playoffs, they were among the best teams in Baseball after firing Joe Girardi. Rob managed the team all the way to game 6 of the World Series. Yes, they came up short, but Girardi and Gabe Kapler before him could barely manage a winning season let a lone a playoff appearance. He was the perfect manager for this team. His laid-back style let the personality of the team shine. We saw that on full display in the playoffs.

    Usually, if you are talking about a coach losing their job it would not make it on a list like this as a good moment. But Joe Girardi being fired genuinely saved the Phillies’ season.

  • 7) Embiid Fractures His Orbital Bone

    Near the end of the final Raptors game in the playoffs, spirits were fairly high. The Sixers were about to clinch the series and looked pretty good doing so. But then one play, in a game that was already over, changed everything. Pascal Siakim threw an elbow that connected with Embiid’s face. We didn’t know it right away, but it would be a major blow to the Sixers’ chances to win in the next round.

    The blow fractured his orbital bone and gave him a concussion. He would eventually return in game 3 vs the Heat, but he was not the same Embiid. While he gave it his best. The eye injury, on top of the thumb injury he was already battling through, prevented him from being the dominant force we were used to.

    Would they have won with a healthy Embiid? Who knows. But given how much better they played with Embiid at 50%, I think they would have stood a decent chance. But the 0-2 hole they fell into without him was too deep to dig out of. Embiid injuries derailing a season is nothing new. But this was one was a big blow. Embiid was playing some of the best Basketball of his career. And the supporting pieces, outside of the bench, were all there. It’s a shame a freak injury ran it off of the rails.

  • 6) Jay Wright Retires

    I was shocked when I remembered this happened in 2022. So much happened since Jay Wright shocked the College Basketball world by hanging up his blue suit to call it a career. But it was just a little over 8 months ago when that breaking news came out.

    This may be the most shocking moment of the year for Philly Sports. Not many outside of Wright’s circle saw it coming. The hall-of-fame coach is only 61 years old and could have feasibly had another decade of dominance at Nova. He didn’t have the year-long retirement parade fellow retiring head coach Mike Krzyzewski had. He just announced it one day, with a replacement already in place. Clearly, it had been his plan for some time, he just kept it hidden from us until he was ready to actually retire. 

    Wright turned Nova into a Basketball powerhouse. And he didn’t do it just by getting the number 1 recruits in the nation, or with one-and-done players. He brought guys in and developed them over 4 years at a time. Even Temple fans have to admit to his greatness. We will have to wait and see if Kyle Neptune can fill the massive shoes he left behind. But there is a chance that Nova won’t be the dominant team in Philly Basketball they were under Jay Wright. The local champagne market will not bode well.

  • 5) Rhys Hoskins Bat Spike

    There is a lot that built up to this one moment. Rhys Hoskins may have been the least popular man in the city leading up to the game. His multiple errors in game 2 vs the Braves cost them a chance at coming back to Philly up 2-0. And he was not making up for it with his bat before that point either. But with a single swing of the bat and a powerful bat spike, he went from zero to hero. He crushed a 3-run shot into left field off of Spence Strider to put the Phillies up 4-0 in game 3.

    He went on to hit many more home runs over the course of the playoffs. But none will be remembered better than this one. It catapulted them to a game 3 win, and eventually a series win over the Braves. It will be the play that defines Rhys Hoskins’ time in Philly, even if he does eventually leave in Free Agency next offseason. That bat spike will go down with Matt Stairs moonshot, and a Bryce Harper home run we will discuss in a moment, as one of the most iconic home runs in modern Phillies history.

  • 4) Sixers Trade Ben Simmons for James Harden

    A move years in the making. Sixers fans wanted to trade Ben Simmons for James Harden for a long time. But it took Ben Simmons refusing to play for the Sixers, and James Harden refusing to play for the Nets, to finally make it happen. And while the season ended in the same disappointment as usual, when the move initially happened it was a party.

    Sixers fans had not been that excited about a move since the Sixers traded up to number 1 for Markelle Fultz, which is obviously another move that did not work out. But at least this one still has a chance to work. James Harden is not the unstoppable scorer he once was. But he is still a very dangerous player. Since he returned from injury he has led the NBA in assists per game, while still averaging over 20 pts per game.

    But perhaps more important in this moment than the acquisition of Harden was that it ended the Ben Simmons era. It is weird to say now, but Ben Simmons was once billed as the franchise savior with Embiid as the Robin to his Batman. But Embiid turned out to be the far better player, while Simmons was a massive disappointment in Philly. The relationship could not survive how that Hawks series ended. Simmons passed out of an easy dunk, refused to take responsibility for his awful play in the series, and pouted all offseason.

    If he had recognized his flaws and adjusted, the way we have seen Embiid do, it could have been water under the bridge. But that did not happen. Ben Simmons stomped his feet and acted like he was the one being wronged, and became public enemy number 1. And that storyline finally had its ending when the Sixers moved him to acquire James Harden. We couldn’t have a list of the biggest Philly moments without the departure of Ben Simmons, and the entrance of James Harden.

  • 3) Eagles Trade For AJ Brown

    We knew the Eagles would be busy on draft night. What we did not know was how great of a night they would have. Instead of using that second first-round pick on a rookie Wr who may or may not break out right away, they flipped it for an already established elite WR in the NFL. They acquired AJ Brown from the Titans, who immediately became the best WR to wear Eagles green since Terrell Owens.

    We have seen several good WRS come through Philly. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and a rookie Devonta Smith. But it had been almost two decades since they had someone you could call a borderline top 5 WR in the whole game. And we have seen that move pay off since then. With a healthy Jalen Hurts, the Eagles have arguably the best offense in the league. And while a ton of credit goes to the jump Jalen Hurts made, the addition of AJ Brown is also a massive reason for that.

    Having that elite threat opened things up for everyone. DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert got more one on ones. Opposing teams can no longer stack the box to stop the run. Even when he is not catching the ball, Brown’s impact on this team can be felt all over the field. It could very well go down as one of the best moves of Howie Roseman’s career.

  • 2) Embiid's Game Winning 3pter

    We covered the ugly part of the Sixers’ postseason run, now we can get to the best moment of it. This very well may be the best moment of Joel Embiid’s career so far. The Sixers were 2.6 seconds away from having to go to a second OT in game 3 vs the Raptors. But the Sixers had the ball, with a chance to inbound it for one final shot. The shot they got was perhaps not the one you would draw up.

    Embiid has turned into a decent 3pt shooter, but it is certainly not the best part of the game. But with two defenders around him, he sank it, and the Sixers walked off with the win. I remember exactly where I was at the time. I was in our studios cutting highlights for the game. I think it probably took me 5 minutes to actually cut that highlight because I was far too busy running around our office celebrating like a madman.

    And mind you he did this with a torn tendon in his thumb. It is easy to forget about this moment now after everything that followed in that postseason. But none of that should take away from how great that single moment was. It was easily my best moment of the year until Bryce Harper one-upped him in October.

  • 1) Bryce Harper Has The Swing Of His Life

    This may go down as the best sports moment from one of my teams in my lifetime. Not counting plays that won a championship because that is obviously a different weight class. The Phillies were 6 outs from losing game 5 and having to go back to San Diego. And while chances are they would have won one of those games, it was a risk no one wanted to take. And clearly, Bryce Harper had no interest in flying back to San Diego either.

    With one swing, he turned a 1-run deficit, into a one-run lead. I don’t think there was a single person sitting down for at least 10 minutes afterward. The top of the 9th got a little more stressful than it needed to be, but it would eventually be the game-winning and series-winning hit. And while things did not go their way in the World Series, we will always have this magical moment to look back on with fondness. Bryce Harper had probably the best postseason run of any player in Phillies history. And this HR was the peak of that.

    I dont think there is an argument for anything else to be at the number 1 spot. The Phillies’ run was the most fun I have had since the Eagles’ Super Bowl run. And this moment was the best moment of them all in it. A decade from now people will still be talking the time Bryce Harper hit this HR.