Philly Sports Guide

The Eagles ruined Christmas, the Flyers lose to a team with the mumps: How to talk Philly sports in January

You don’t realize this because you don’t follow sportsball, but the Philadelphia apocalypse is nigh. Think I’m kidding? Not one bit. You’ve probably seen hints: Your sports-loving friends have been sad, nay, downright distraught these last couple weeks, unwilling to share their true, heartbroken feelings in a way you understand. Why is everyone so blue around here?

Look, you’ve heard the Sixers are bad, right? Well, our own #LOLSixers are the best thing this city has going for it right now. That’s right — the team that’s near the bottom of the NBA standings has had a better month than the Flyers and the freakin’ Eagles. Way to ruin Christmas, guys!

It’s hard to digest all of this sporty stuff, sure, but don’t worry, Billy Penn is about to break down Philadelphia sports in the January guide for people who don’t know anything about sports.

#LOLSixers

Update: Yep, #LOLSixers go first because, as mentioned above, they’re somehow Philadelphia’s most relevant professional sports team right now. Monday night, they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were considered at the beginning of the year a favorite to win the NBA championship. There’s a slight catch. The Cavaliers took the court without the injured LeBron James, an alien who is better at basketball than everyone else in the universe. But who cares. Don’t dwell on the Cavs’ shortcomings from that night. Celebrate a rare victory for the #LOLSixers.

What You Can Praise: Top 2014 draft pick Joel Embiid is back to doing what he’s doing best: committing acts of hilarity on Twitter. After the #LOLSixers upset the Cavs, he trolled LeBron, whom Embiid jokingly recruited to join Philly last year.

Unfortunately, Embiid might not get to play this season because of an injury. But even without basketball, he’s presented himself as the best #LOLSixer.

What You Can Criticize: The #LOLSixers are failing at their grand plan of being the worst team this year; they’re getting out-#LOLSixered by the New York Knicks. The #LOLSixers (5-29) are no longer in dead last. The Knicks (5-33) are. Repeat: The Knicks have proven that no matter how deep the basement is, there’s still room for a dungeon underneath. (The Knicks are so bad, the New York Times is crowdsourcing a good time for its beat writer to cover instead of the home team.) Assume that #LOLSixers general manager Sam Hinkie is super jealous. He’s been trying to revolutionize losing and is still a step behind (to the team of choice for his finance pals, no less). Be mad at Hinkie, too. He’s failing to provide the absolute degree of awfulness he promised.

Learn Something Cool About a Player: The myriad of players we’ll never get to see. Since December, the #LOLSixers have traded for three players — Andrei Kirilenko, Ronny Turiaf and this week Dante Cunningham — who they have waived or in Cunningham’s case plan to waive before they even play a game for the team. They’re trading for empty roster spots.

So, learning about a #LOLSixers player will only lead to a broken heart because by the end of the season the entire team will be traded away for a Bloomberg Terminal and 200 shares in an IPO of a company to be named later.

This is what the faces in the #LOLSixers’ team photo look like:

How to Really Impress Somebody: Take the man or woman you’re into on a date to a #LOLSixers game. With few other people around, mood lighting during pregame and halftime entertainment and a near guarantee you can creep close to the on-court action, there’s no setting as intimate as Wells Fargo Center on #LOLSixers game night. The only drawback is the $9.50 beers. And the fact that you’re $9.50 beer might get spilled on you by a stray basketball.

Eagles

Update: The Eagles’ football season was basically the embodiment of this meme:

They went from having the playoffs in the bag to falling apart in the month of December worse than any other NFL team. The bright side is the Eagles have still gone 20-12 the first two seasons under head coach Chip Kelly after going 4-12 in 2012.

What You Can Praise: The Eagles are properly valuing Kelly rather than general manager Howie Roseman. Kelly is considered one of the most innovative coaches in the game. Roseman is a suit (albeit a nice one). And they weren’t getting along. Last week, Kelly basically went to owner Jeffrey Lurie and told him to pick him or Roseman. Roseman got demoted. And Kelly got more power. Now, Kelly will not only be calling the plays on the field, he’ll have the most say of anyone in drafting or trading players and signing free agents. Dan Wetzel is the one of the smartest people writing about sportsball in the country, and he loved this move:

It’s a bit early to declare him a “great” coach, but the 51-year-old is certainly a unique figure in football – innovative and daring, charismatic and extremely confident. He has shown a high level of potential. Some of it may be marketing. Some of it may prove to be less cutting-edge than it currently appears. It’s clear, however, Philadelphia has something intriguing.

What You Can Criticize: The Eagles still have quarterback Mark Sanchez on their roster. And they still have quarterback Nick Foles, who hasn’t done much more than prove he doesn’t suck as bad as Sanchez. There’s a small possibility this will change. Back when Kelly used to coach in college at Oregon, he recruited quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota is now the Heisman Trophy winner and expected to be a top draft pick. The Eagles have the 20th pick, probably too late to get him. Sports writers are speculating the possibility of Kelly trading up to get Mariota. But it will probably be impossible. So, sorry Eagles fans, you’re most likely stuck with a quarterback better known for potential than production and the butt-fumbler backing him up.

Learn Something Cool About a Player: Darren Sproles. Sproles made the NFL’s All Star game this year, the Pro Bowl, for the first time in his career after scoring eight touchdowns and gaining over 1,200 yards from running, catching and punt returns. He’s fun to watch because he’s 5-6 and still does things like this against NFL players.

Funny thing is, Sproles’ nickname is actually “Tank,” dating back to his birth. He weighed 10 pounds when he was born, so he wasn’t always so small.

How to Really Impress Somebody: Cheer like mad against Chris Christie this weekend. Not even the Dallas Cowboys, Philly’s most hated rivals. Cheer against Christie, who loves the Cowboys because he became a bandwagon fan back in the 70s or something. Really original, Chris. And cheer against Christie not only because he’s arrogant enough to not care he’s pissing off the Eagles and New York Giants fans that make up the state he governs but because, as the International Business Times reports, Christie lobbied for a firm co-owned by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to land a lucrative business deal with the Port Authority. Really sketchy, Chris.

Flyers

Update: The Flyers were supposed to be just boring and mediocre, not embarrassing like the rest of Philadelphia’s teams as of late. But that’s just what they have been. They’re so bad that coach Craig Berube might get fired in the middle of the season. Vegas even thinks so. The gambling site Bovada has odds on the next NHL coach to get fired and Berube is the favorite to be canned.

It’s not entirely rare for a coach to get fired in the middle of the season, but if the Flyers were to fire Berube he would be the second coach in a row they’ve fired midseason — and in consecutive seasons. The Flyers fired their previous head coach three games into the 2013 season. Lots of patience with this organization!

What You Can Praise: The Flyers’ marketing department. Unlike nearly everything else in Philadelphia professional sports right now, they’ve been clicking on all cylinders this year. In October, former Flyer Brian Boucher rode in an Uber, surprising fans. For Halloween, they released this video of players getting pranked by fake snakes in a Gatorade cooler.

The masterstroke came earlier this week. After the cutest Flyers fan of all time got super pissed when he received a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey for Christmas, the Flyers sent him an autographed Claude Giroux Flyers jersey, other team memorabilia and a VIP invitation to a game. And somehow the cutest Flyers fan of all time got even cuter.

What You Can Criticize: The Flyers can’t even beat a team badly afflicted by a disease from a couple of centuries ago. The New York Rangers have had three players test positive for the mumps in the last month and a half, including one who did before New York was set to play two consecutive games against the Flyers. Not surprisingly, the Flyers lost both games.

This was the scene from New York’s locker room before the first game.

Rangers player: I have a highly contagious 18th century disease you’ve only heard of because of Oregon Trail. No way I can skate tonight.

Rangers coach: Don’t worry, we’re playing the Flyers.

Learn Something Cool About a Player: Because the present is so bleak, let’s learn about the future. In the future, everything might not suck for the Flyers because of prospect Shayne Gostisbehere. His nickname is Ghost, which is pretty sweet. He’s been considered one of the top young talents for the last several years and led his college team, Union, to the national championship last year.

These being the recently-cursed Flyers, though, Ghost tore his ACL a few months ago and hasn’t played this season. The good news? He returned to skating this week.

How to Really Impress Somebody: As we all freeze, tell your friends we’d actually be warmer if we lived in the sheet of ice at Flyers’ games than in Philadelphia. The temperature of the ice sheet for NHL games is about 22 degrees. That sounds balmy compared to the weather of the last three days that has gone under 15.   

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