Sports

Who will be the next champion in Philly?

We’ve now entered the dog days of summer here in Philadelphia Sports. The Flyers and Sixers are now in the midst of the free agent period of the off season as they prepare to fill out their rosters for 2012-13. The Eagles are now in flux as they prepare to enter training camp at the end of the month. Then we have the Phillies who appear to have made plans already for the off season. With that said I began thinking which of the 4 major teams in Philadelphia have the best chance at bringing the next championship to town. I decided to rank them from 4 to 1, 4 being the furthest away 1 being the closest in my opinion. For all the Union and Soul fans out there hopefully they’ll gain enough popularity to make it to this list one day but for now we’re keeping it to the 4 major pro teams in town.

4. 76ers

The Sixers are young and on the rise at a very slow pace. Many people around town enjoyed their playoff run at the end of last season but let’s face it they had some serious luck along the way. If the Bulls never lost Derrick Rose to injury the Sixers would have been finished after one round. They got through and took Boston to 7 games but in the end their lack of experience in big games showed.

So far the Sixers haven’t done much to improve this offseason instead letting pieces go such as Elton Brand and Lou Williams. I for one actually like what they’ve done. They continue to shed salary in preparation to make a serious run in free agency hopefully after next season. While the immediate future doesn’t look like much of an improvement I do think the Sixers will make a climb up this ranking sometime in the next few years. Until then their lack of experience and a big time power forward/center keep them as the long shot to be the team in Philly to win the next championship.

3. Phillies

If you asked me to rank the teams at this time last year I wouldn’t even hesitate to consider the Phillies as the next team to win a championship in town. But a 102 win season later we have what appears to be one of the biggest disappointments in the history of baseball. Injuries aside this team has no heart or personality right now. Every night it appears as if they are just going through the motions and when that begins to happen nothing a coach says can help. The team aged at a rapid pace since last year and the lack of future prospects make this franchise a great possibility to fall to the number 4 spot by this time next year.

Right before the All-Star break the Phillies lost their 50th game of the season. In 2011 the 50th loss of the season didn’t happen until September. Right now 102 losses aren’t out of the question. I feel for this team because they captured our hearts and were the pulse of sports in this city for the past 5 seasons and just like that it all fell apart. Hopefully things will turn around for them but unless I begin seeing a miraculous change of events this team is on the decline and will surely begin selling off parts as the trade deadline approaches which basically means we’re in rebuilding mode when it comes to baseball in this town. For those of you Phillies fans out there who just jumped on the bandwagon in 07 pull up some tape from Phillies games in the 90s because that’s what you’re about to see if these guys don’t turn it around.

2. Flyers

This was a tough decision. I went back and forth on this one. The Flyers seem to be in the Stanley Cup mix every season. The one thing that really stood out to me when deciding where to rank them was their overwhelming amount of youth on the roster. The Flyers as they stand now still have some growing up to do. They have a ton of young talent that will surely dominate for years to come given time to grow together but right now they aren’t quite ready to win it all. They made a bold move last summer trading away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter and it appears those moves are going to pay off down the road. Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier impressed in their first year in the league and I anticipate them eventually reaching the same status as Claude Giroux. If the Flyers can continue to grow this young talent together I can see them without a doubt winning a Cup sometime in the next few seasons.

Last season was a great experience for the young guys on the team. The played a tough series against the rival Penguins in the first round of the playoffs and prevailed before getting beaten in 5 games by the Devils. Several years back in the early 90s a young group of Flyers led by John LeClair and Eric Lindros also took a beating to the Devils in the playoffs. Two seasons later that team went on a Stanley Cup run only to be defeated by the Detroit Red Wings. So far this off season the Flyers haven’t made any major acquisitions. They took a run at the top two free agents in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and missed out. Sure landing those two would have been nice but at the end of the day you still have your core group of young guys. If Ilyia Bryzgalov manages to have a bounce back season in 2012 this team without a doubt can go further than they did last season. I see nothing but big things for this team in the near future as long as they stay healthy and continue to grow together.

1. Eagles

As much as I don’t want to rank the Eagles number 1 on this list because they’ve done nothing but give us heartbreak over the years right now they are the only logical choice for the team with the best chance at bringing the next championship to Philadelphia. The offense has the potential to be one of the best in football. If Mike Vick can get his act together and stop turning the ball over this offense has a chance at being unstoppable. The offensive line will be a huge question mark as they enter the season without Pro Bowler Jason Peters. If the O-line and Vick stay healthy and play like their capable of with all the other skill players on offense this team will put up a huge amount of points week in and week out.

The defense should be improved after last year’s disastrous campaign led by defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. The addition of DeMeco Ryans at middle linebacker will give the Eagles a much needed improvement in the linebacking position. With the departure of Asante Samuel the Eagles should see a huge improvement from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who last year was stuck playing the nickel corner most of the season which isn’t his natural position.

Given the fact the Eagles have had an entire off season to work out and practice together under the guidance of the coaching staff this team has the potential to make a run this year. Let’s face it last year with the lockout this team had no time to work together and get comfortable with each other especially given the fact so many new faces were starting out with the team. Barring any major injuries I see this team going far in 2012. I’m NOT saying they’ll win the Superbowl but they have potential to at least win a playoff game or two. Compared to the rest of the teams in town the Eagles truly do give you the best chance at bringing the next championship to Philly. The majority of the roster is in its prime entering 2012 and they have some of the best skill players in the league on offense.

So there you have it my rankings of who has the best shot at bringing the next championship to Philly. Feel free to agree or disagree.