Monday, October 21, 2013

The Haunting of Philadelphia Sports Teams

Andy Reid's Chiefs are now 7-0. Shane Victorino hits grand slam to propel Red Sox to World Series. What will happen next? The town has been notorious for getting the wrong brothers DiMaggio (Vince instead of Joe), Maddux (Mike instead of Greg) and Giambi (Jeremy instead of Jason). Will Charlie Manuel end up managing the Nationals to a World Championship? Will something happen on the journey to Andrew Wiggins that let's lightning strike the best team in the lottery and give them the first overall pick? The Eagles passed on both Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson to take Nick Foles. The Eagles rejoiced when they "found" USC QB Matt Barkley on the fourth round, despite the pronounced lack of success of any Trojan QB during the past 15 years save a season of Matt Cassel in New England and some moments of brilliance (too rare) from Carson Palmer. Barkley threw three interceptions in relief of Foles yesterday. As for the Flyers, they still have the big dinosaur-like player approach that might have worked when vigilante justice did in the NHL. Two seasons ago, castoffs named Richards and Carter led the Kings to an NHL title. Both were good players; both underachieved in Philadelphia. Too frequent trips to the Jersey shore to party were attributed to their lack of focus, but who can argue that Southeastern PA area offers more distractions than Los Angeles? So, again, what will happen next?

Monday, October 07, 2013

"Flyers Hockey" is a Tired, Old Cliche

Welcome to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mike Sielski.  My guess is that the Flyers' brass will give you the Tim Panaccio treatment and try to have you sent to cover the Lingerie Football League as punishment for daring to assault such an icon as Ed "Mister" Snider.  Great column today.

And you are absolutely right.  It is time for the Flyers to change their approach.

But, instead, they trotted out another old Flyer to coach the time, one whose bona fides are that he's paid his dues, played for the franchise and is loyal to Ed Snider, who some locals reverently refer to as "Mister Snider" as if that were the utmost in respect they could show the man.  Snider should be loyal to Comcast's shareholders, to whom he does owe a legal duty, as opposed to his former players, to whom it is nice to be loyal, for sure, but at the end of the day when you haven't won a title in forty years you should try to change it up a bit.

Mike Sielski says it better than I could, and his column is a worthy read.  Flyers' fans -- a small and perhaps shrinking number -- should wonder whether it's wise to practice hockey's version of idolatry versus questioning whether "Flyers hockey" -- a bunch of dedicated, if too big and too slow players -- play physically but seemingly haven't adapted to more modern styles.  Instead, they'll continue to worship the man who brought two consecutive titles in the mid-1970's (before many fans were born).  Make no mistake, Snider's achievement was great, but it happened generations ago.

All institutions that thrive do so because they consistently emphasize what worked while concurrently trying to adapt and challenge old assumptions.  The Flyers -- the well-capitalized Flyers -- do not do any of that.  Snider to continues to run the franchise the way he wants to, and it looks like he will continue to do just that.

Expect to see former Flyers continue to populate important positions, a perpetual "Old Timers' Day" if there ever was one.

Just don't expect a title any year soon.