Cherish Championships

The big 3

Addison Hunsicker

Winning a championship is the one goal every major sports franchise strives to achieve year in and year out. For some historically, such as the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and Montreal Canadians; and as of recently in the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Kings, and San Francisco Giants, those championships have come in bunches. Plenty of success has been had by numerous franchises, but as with every team, your star players age or like LeBron James in Miami, they move on elsewhere because they never had a connection to the city besides the championship. Winning just does not happen every year like fans want it to, and even for the historically winning franchises, there are years where the championships are not won.

The problem is, championships are not cherished like they should be. Once that first championship is won by any specific group of players, many are expected to follow, and rightfully so. Fans see that success and soak in the championship feeling when it happens and during the parade, and crave more – it is human nature. When those athletes fail to replicate the success they once had, or fail to come through in the championship game or series to bring home another title, the positive feeling the fans have towards slowly starts to crack, and crack, and crack some more. Simply put, at times fans forget what athletes have done for them while they are still here, and it takes that athlete or group of athletes leaving for them to remember what was done for them. The athlete’s career in that city is not cherished while it still exists, it only continues to boil from the lack of continued success until the career is no more.

There is a difference between living in the past of championship success, and cherishing one championship or championships. Living in past success means the fan is using the championships won by the franchise a decade or decades ago as a means to make up for the current downhill state of their team. Cherishing a championship is always remembering that moment of victory, but not using it to define the current team that may be stinking it up on the field on the daily. Imagine living in a city where a championship is almost as rare as Halley’s Comet. Out of the four sports franchises that make up the city of Philadelphia, and have existed for a combined 310 years, only five, five championships have been won (eight if you count the Eagles’ three NFL championships pre-Super Bowl era, but for the sake of this, those are not going to be counted).

Winning in Philadelphia is not a thing, it does not happen. To make matters worse, out of the franchises in the four major sports, 21 of them have five or more championships. Translation: 21 sports franchises have the same or more championships than the entire city of Philadelphia. You could call us “Loserdelphia”, because we never win, ever. We sit here today with the Eagles fresh off of a collapse from 9-3 to 9-6 and out of playoff contention, the Flyers once again in the middle of a mediocre/disappointing season, the Phillies making it publicly known that they are rebuilding, and the Sixers purposely putting their fans through horrendous losses in hopes to win in the future. What is “winning?”

Outsiders of Philadelphia have a negative connotation about who Philadelphia fans are – which is partly true. We are too harsh to opposing fans, especially those of our rivals, and we are an angry fan base. But look at the success of our teams and ask yourself: Would I be like that if my teams stunk every single year? The anger is a passion, a passion for championships. Just give us a championship, one, that is all we ask. The most recent ones to deliver the City of Brotherly Love a championship: the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies.

AP Photo

Now, that 2008 world championship team, is being depleted. Jimmy Rollins is gone to the Dodgers, and Phillies’ general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has expressed his interest in moving Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Cole Hamels too. Our only championship team since Dr. J’s 1983 76ers will soon be of no more, and the one thing that did not take place in this city while the years of having Rollins, Utley, and Howard came to an end, was the cherishing of the 2008 championship. When Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske on October 29, 2008, the city erupted. The streets of Philadelphia were flooded with people, light posts were climbed, and cars were flipped: it was a mayhem of happiness. On Halloween two days later, Phillies’ fans filed in to celebrate the victory with their team. There were so many fans who attended, Mayor Michael Nutter even considered shutting down the city for the day. That was cherishing the championship in the moment, which is what any fan base normally does. Since then, Ryan Howard has managed to become one of the most disliked athletes in Philadelphia, and before Rollins was traded, he was on the downwards path with the fans just like Howard was. What for? Father time played his cards, the two are clearly on the decline, and it is time for both of them to go, but why boo them while they are still here? Cherish what they did for us from 2007-2011, bringing us the only championship that generation of Philadelphia fans will ever see in their youth. As a fan, it is tough to see your favorite players, especially players from a championship team, struggle to succeed after they just gave you the five best years in your team’s entire 131 year history, but that does not mean you cannot always keep in the back of your head what they have done. Cherish them while they still play for your team.

Tim Shaffer/Reuters

Since then, Ryan Howard has managed to become one of the most disliked athletes in Philadelphia, and before Rollins was traded, he was on the downwards path with the fans just like Howard was. What for? Father time played his cards, the two are clearly on the decline, and it is time for both of them to go, but why boo them while they are still here? Cherish what they did for us from 2007-2011, bringing us the only championship that generation of Philadelphia fans will ever see in their youth. As a fan, it is tough to see your favorite players, especially players from a championship team, struggle to succeed after they just gave you the five best years in your team’s entire 131 year history, but that does not mean you cannot always keep in the back of your head what they have done. Cherish them while they still play for your team.

Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and even Carlos Ruiz were the best. Hamels is only the one with the chance to play on a winning ball club again, but the other four are at the end of their careers. Rollins, Utley, and Howard started more games together at their respective positions than any other trio in history, and Carlos “Chooooch” Ruiz was right behind the dish to catch most of those games. The years 2007-2011 will never be forgotten by the youth of fans who got to grow with this Phillies team, and the day October 29, 2008 will go down in Philadelphia sports history. Cherish your championships while your favorite players from those winning teams are still there, because you never know when the next group of guys will come into your city and win another one.

Featured Image Source: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

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