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Happy the Sixers Prolong the Playoff Season, But Not Drinkin’ the Philly Sports Kool-Aid This Time

May 12, 2012 1 comment

Andre Iguodala stepped up to the free throw stripe. He huffed and puffed a deep breath, and he calmly sank two foul shots in the final seconds of the game, hauling his Sixers team right into Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs.

Sounds like an excerpt plucked from a book in the fantasy section of Barnes & Noble. But it actually can be considered a piece of journalism, a factual account of how this professional basketball team advanced to the second round for the first time since 2003.

If this is Carlos Boozer’s face before Iggy stepped to the line, what do you think it looked like after he actually made both FTs?

If you were to have polled a slew of Sixers fans prior to that first foul shot, what percentage would you say would have predicted that Iggy would knock down both shots? 5 percent? 10? The pessimism bouncing around in the heads of the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center, and the negativity reverberating in living rooms throughout the Delaware Valley at the moment the ref raised his arm, were crucial to Iguodala’s metamorphosis into author of the latest chapter in the city’s compendium of playoff poetry.

If you look at this story collection chronologically, Iguodala’s recently penned entry follows an epic Flyers chapter, its ink still drying and its impact still etched in the fan base’s psyche. Yet, at the same time, the hockey team’s victorious march through an emotion-heavy slugfest with its cross-state rival seems like a bygone tale from a distant past.

Thanks to the way the schedules are stacked, the Sixers have sort of played this role all year. They have been the team the city has turned to and dumped their hope into. Today I reviewed some still un-erased, midseason notes on my work station whiteboard, most likely from early February when the Flyers were slipping a bit and the Sixers were starting to convince their city:

Just when another team fades, the Flyers shortcomings perhaps weaning them off from the list of Cup contenders, another team emerges to inject that ever-persistent dose of hope to the town’s sports junkies. So Philly.

 Even the Sixers, counted on to be embarrassing in recent years, are now right back in the mix of this cycle. But fans really have a chance to detour away from Letdown City if they keep their expectations right where they were to start the season. Winning a playoff series was the goal at the outset and should remain the goal. The problem is teams around here rarely exceed the fans’ expectations because the passionate followers adjust those expectations midway.

And thus the Philadelphia sports samsara goes on. Put hope in a team, team wins. Put even more hope in a team, it loses. Don’t put much hope in the next team, team wins. Now put hope in that team, team loses.

For me, the Sixers have been tough to put much optimism into, as I find it difficult to get excited about a team you know does not have the tools to win a championship. Not even the divine intervention that placed Iguodala’s two foul shots through the hoop is going to change my stance on that. But the blessing of this position is the ability to step back and acknowledge that one of our teams reached its realistic goal. I have no problem putting the Bulls injury circumstances aside and enjoying the accomplishment. But I don’t want my tempered expectations to be misconstrued as dissatisfaction.

I have no problem clenching a fist over a Sixers playoff series win. But that’s about as far as I’ll go.

In the postgame minutes of Thursday night, I tweeted that I felt good for Andre Iguodala, and implied that I felt good for his team as well. However I also went on to post the following message on Facebook:

 The Sixers advancing is like being given a few extra drops of water as you are starting to cross the desert. You undoubtedly want them, but the impending doom of a whole summer of just Phillies is still staring you smack in the face and you know you’ll be out of agua soon.

A non-Philadelphian reacted to my comments and the supplementary comments of my fellow Philadelphians by calling into question our ability to be pleased. “Flyers out, obviously a bummer. Sixers move on, also a bummer?” he asks.

Quite the opposite, I say. I am happy and truly thankful of what the Sixers have accomplished. I will call their season a success with a straight face, and I will be rooting for them like crazy to take down the Celtics tonight in Game 1. I am just unwilling to recalibrate my scale of expectation this time around. I am heeding my own midseason advice this time, unwilling to roll up my sleeve and shoot up with what I know is another lethal dose of hope.

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The Depressing Tones of Eagles-Bills Post-game/Pre-game “Trash Talk”

October 9, 2011 1 comment

Although it has rained pretty much every day on the East Coast since my last post on this site, it has somehow been unable to end the massive writing drought that Blog of Brotherly Love has seen. Well, I’ll pick up where I left off–with another great football-related dialogue. Find below an exchange, which speaks for itself, between one of my favorite Bills fans (who runs a brilliant site of his own) and myself this past Monday. Perfect lead-in to a few hour block during which we’ll see whose smidgeon of optimism can be shattered:

me: I was at both the Eagles game and Phillies game yesterday, worst day of my life
Bills fan: Haha oh shit what a terrible day
me: horrifying
  rough 14 hours at the sports complex
  at least the tailgate was good
Bills fan: Man, so glad upstate NY doesn’t have any other teams for me to give a shit about
  Couldn’t take a double hit like that
me: yeah
  haha
  it was a huge risk going in
  mood on the subway home could not have been more depressing
  i turned to my friend and said “Think about how all of this would be so much better if we just didn’t care about sports”
 Bills fan: Ugh
  I can’t even imagine the person I would be
 me: yea
  haha
 Bills fan: I’d have so much more optimism
 me: me too
  think about all the philly team disappointments that have shaped my identity
  so foolish but unavoidable
  well it’s bills-birds next week right?
  good for you, we are such shit
 Bills fan: I don’t know, looked like last year’s Bills this week
 me: I would say it’s dangerous for you because it is a bounce back must win game for us
  but that was yesterday for us too!
  and we were home
  and still looked awful
  so i’m convinced we are bad
 Bills fan: What’s their problem though?
 me: coaching
  is the biggest problem
  undoubtedly
  such a talented team
  used so improperly
 Bills fan: What’s that fat fuck doing wrong?
 me: both with regards to technical Xs and Os and also motivation
  everything
  starting with making his offensive line coach from last year our D coordinator this year
  he is retarded
 Bills fan: Haha that makes no sense
 me: the fat fuck is also atrocious in the draft
 Bills fan: Yeah I just saw your FB post
 me: yeah
  also atrocious
  they are not using Asomgha properly
 Bills fan: I don’t know who any of those people are
 me: the playcalling continues to be absurdly illogical
 Bills fan: Saw that, he’s in the wrong kind of coverage scheme
 me: McCoy came into yesterday as the leading rusher in NFC, he has been dynamite
  he wasn’t part of the gameplan at all
  he rushed the ball 8 or 9 times I think
 Bills fan: That’s never good
 me: we had a 20 point lead in the second half, yet Reid is passing on every play in the 4th
  not even making the Niners work against the clock!
 Bills fan: You’re making me feel so much better about this weekend
 me: not only did they come all the way back, but it wasn’t even up against the wire
  they did it with time to spare b/c Reid literally doesn’t even consider the time in the game as an important unit of measurement     that relates to a football game
 Bills fan: Haha
 me: we cannot score a TD in the red zone
  and he says every week we have to get better
  but he has no idea what to do
  he calls an option play from the 1 yard line
  Ronnie Brown actually tries to execute the play which never has any business of even being practiced, the result, another red       zone turnover
  of which we have sooo many in just 4 weeks
  and then Reid continues to have the nerve to be an arrogant prick to the media
  the ratio of arrogance to amount of success he’s had is a broken equation
  i’ll stop
  Come to Philly next week and watch the game with me here….
 Bills fan: Haha amazing rant
  and no way
  I can’t be around non-Bills fans during Bills games
 me: great comment
 Bills fan: Seriously
  We went to a non-Bills exclusive bar for the first time in awhile yesterday
  There wasn’t a single Bengals fan there
  But I was enraged and ready to fight the fans of other winning teams if they so much as looked at me
 me: hahaha
  so maybe it’s not a good idea
  but come to philly anyway sometime soon
  casino is walking distance now
 Bills fan: I’d def like to come before the cold really sets in
  I’ll talk to the guys about it
 me: good
  i’m gonna run
  catch ya later
 Bills fan: See ya
Categories: Eagles, Our Teams Tags: , ,
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