Philly Sports Rejuvenation

Jake Ruderman ’26

Sports Editor

In the middle of last May, morale was extremely low in Philadelphia. The Sixers had just lost convincingly in the second round to their old friend Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat, the Eagles had been obliterated at the hands of Tom Brady’s Buccaneers in the playoffs only a few months earlier, and the Phillies were off to a lackluster 13-17 start to the regular season. Problems that had plagued Philly for years seemed to carry over every season – star players’ health issues, head scratching coaching decisions in big moments, straight-up underwhelming performances in the playoffs, and multiple public spats between star players and the front office. The Philly sports scene could be summed up as a chaotic jumble of polarizing rosters, aggravating star players, missed opportunities, and lots of disappointment, year after year.

All of a sudden, things turned themselves around. The Eagles shuffled things around, trading their starting QB and trading down in the draft, giving them three first-round-picks in 2022. In the midst of a strong draft, they pulled off one of the biggest blockbusters of draft night, trading the 18th overall pick along with a third-round-pick for Titans’ receiver A.J. Brown. Suddenly, the Eagles roster looked a whole lot deeper, with better top end talent and better depth. These moves came at the perfect time, as second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts had gotten some necessary experience the season prior and was ready to take a leap in his third season. What better way to compliment a young QB than by pairing him with an elite wide receiver like A.J. Brown and his former Alabama teammate and standout receiver Devonta Smith (whom they drafted the year earlier). Led by head coach Nick Sirianni, who guided Philadelphia to the playoffs in his rookie season, momentum has continued in the right direction, with the Eagles starting off this year an impressive 6-0 as the #1 seed in the NFC. With a remarkably favorable schedule the rest of the way, and their key players still healthy, the Eagles will look to maintain their success and keep pace as the NFC’s #1 seed for the rest of the season and into the playoffs. 

The 76ers have been a confusing team for a long time. In the wake of the ‘Process’ era, the Sixers built themselves into a solid roster, anchored by the Process’ crown jewel, back-to-back MVP runner up and superstar center Joel Embiid. Embiid has recently become the living embodiment of Philly sports, carrying the 76ers to the playoffs for the last few seasons. But despite Embiid’s elite play on the court, Philly’s roster has lacked stability in recent years. Former all-star Ben Simmons demanded a trade last offseason, but Sixers’ GM Daryl Morey waited and managed to move Simmons, along with fan-favorite Seth Curry and a couple of first round picks, for All-NBA guard James Harden. As any mid-season acquisition goes, Harden needed time to settle into the Philly game plan and establish chemistry with Embiid, leading to a disappointing playoff loss in the second round. But over the offseason, Harden cemented his commitment to Philadelphia, agreeing to take a salary cut in order to help the Sixers more adequately fill out the roster around him and Embiid. Despite a disappointing 1-3 start to this season, expectations are high for the 76ers, who come into the year as one of the title favorites. With Embiid, Harden, and the emergence of young guard Tyrese Maxey, the 76ers have a talented roster, and can certainly compete with anyone in the league. It remains to be seen if they’ll keep it together for an entire season, and if their lack of recent playoff success will be turned around this year.

The Phillies easily had the most out-of-left-field transformation in all of Philadelphia this year. After a solid offseason which saw the signings of OF’s Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber, Phillies fans had rare optimism about their team despite their 10-year playoff drought. But a measly 22-29 start saw the firing of manager Joe Girardi, and a late June injury to superstar Bryce Harper seemed to all but take the Phillies out of playoff contention. But lo and behold, the Phillies rallied behind new manager Rob Thomson and turned their season around. Spurred by an impressive trade deadline which saw the acquisitions of pitchers Noah Syndergaard and David Robertson, OF Brandon Marsh, and INF Edmundo Sosa, the Phillies got hot at the perfect time and stayed afloat until Bryce Harper returned. Philly remarkably hung in there all the way, finishing as the #6 seed in the new playoff format. With their miracle playoff run to the World Series, this Phillies team has cemented itself as the most fun Phillies team since 2011, and is looking to make history in the World Series.

Images courtesy of Eagles Wire – USA Today

Categories: Sports

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