PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 07: Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies stumbles as he runs out of the box on his ground out for the final out of the game as they lost 1-0 against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Five of the National League Divisional Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 7, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Fans have begun piecing together the last few weeks, wondering how Philadelphia could have fallen so far, so fast.
The hangover still pulsates throughout my body. The pain of a weekend I will not soon forget. I walk through life, a shadow of my former self...Listless and numb. Everyone I pass meanders around in a similar way. Despite the proximity to the holiday season, red and green have disappeared. Is this Philadelphia...or is this hell?
What just happened? A month ago things were looking so good. The Phillies were consensus favorites to win the World Series, Eagles were consensus favorites to win, at the very least, the NFC East, and Philadelphia fans were sitting on a very high pedestal. To steal a line from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, "If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now."
Now fans have begun piecing together the last few weeks, wondering how Philadelphia could have fallen so far, so fast.
It began with the Phillies, perched atop Major League Baseball's standings, the magic number counting down like the launching of a rocket ship. Each day inching closer and closer to home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Finally with two weeks remaining in the regular season, the celebration commenced. Champagne was popped, congratulations were extended, and Chris Wheeler, once again was given an alcohol bath.
Five years in a row the Phillies presided over the National League East, the previous four all producing diverse post season results. Despite all their successes only one parade has passed down Broad Street. That is not acceptable. Not for this team. Not this year.
But as the season neared its conclusion, the Phillies bats suddenly went anemic. Fans hoped this was just a small roadblock on the way to postseason glory. But the concern quickly turned to panic as the offense produced lackluster results, inning after inning.
Soon everyone's worst fears were realized, as the offensive implosion continued into the postseason. An offense, which a month ago was considered to be one of the best in baseball, suddenly became undisciplined. Fans grimaced as our hitters took wild hacks in hitters counts, yet let straight strikes pass by without resistance.
As Howard crumpled into a heap at home plate, the entire Delaware Valley did the same. The season of destiny was over.
The Eagles took a different path on their road to disappointment. Unlike the Phillies, they never lived up to their preseason hype, stumbling early and often, en route to an unimpressive 1-4 record.
Like their baseball counterparts, mistakes and lack of discipline contributed to their downfall. So who's at fault in Philadelphia? The manager, the coaches, the players, the owners, or according to Jimmy Rollins...the fans?
The coaching staffs deserve their share of the blame. Usually I do not chastise coaches for their decisions. As a fan you have limited knowledge of the facts. However, the coaching staff needs to be held somewhat accountable.
Despite Andy Reid and Charlie Manual being two of the most successful coaches in the history of Philadelphia, both recently have made key mistakes, contributing to Philadelphia's sporting woes.
Although both coaching staffs have taken the brunt of Philadelphia's anger, the players deserve most of the blame. The Phillies began slumping at the worst possible time, playing well below their potential. Playing not to lose, as opposed to playing to win. The Eagles continue to make the same mistakes game in and game out. Mistakes most players are taught to avoid in high school.
While the players and coaches should share the blame, I still blame myself. Blame myself for going all in emotionally. Letting myself become so invested 167 times this year. Philadelphia sports are my drug of choice. It has given me incredible highs and crushing lows...Especially this year.
This Columbus Day Weekend, which began with a 1-0 deficit en route to the Phillies Game 5 loss in the NLDS, and ended with Juqua Parker jumping offside to end the Eagles game, is one to forget. Supplement that with David Stern's deconstructing of the NBA in two week increments and it may be the worst ever.
As we move forward into a long dark winter, Philadelphia fans find solace in the undefeated warriors wearing orange and black. Holding onto hope, the Philadelphia Flyers can succeed, where the rest of Philadelphia has failed.