Super Bowl Sunday is upon us. Sunday night, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will play the biggest game in a uniquely American sport to decide who the world champion will be. With Baseball’s Hot Stove at a simmer and Spring Training still a few weeks away, it is decidedly a dead period in baseball. However, the Super Bowl always begs the question of how close your team is to winning their respective championship.
To answer the title question: no. When juxtaposed against Philadelphia’s other three major professional sports franchises (76ers, Eagles, Flyers), it is argued here that the Phillies are far and away the furthest team from winning their league’s next championship.
First, a cursory glance at the other three teams to put this in perspective. Once a team has aged out or it is clear that the current roster will not win, typically two things happen: a coaching change and a roster overhaul. Over the course of the past calendar year, all four teams have replaced their head coaches, signaling change. Not coincidentally, last year was the first year in many that Philadelphia did not see a playoff game. Looking around the city, each of the four teams is at a specific stage in the rebuilding process.
The Sixers discovered last season that their current formula was not working and needed to reboot. As a result, they committed to going young and fired their head coach. This season, while being wretchedly awful, they are gathering the resources to inject the team with youth next season and provide hope for the future. While it is currently bleak, the team has a plan and it is evident.
The Flyers, meanwhile, are on the next step of their evolution. Coaching decisions in the NHL don’t follow normal patterns established by the other sporting leagues, so the timing of their coaching replacement will not comport to the outlined structure. However, after failing to win the Stanley Cup in 2010 and coming to the realization that the team as then-constructed was not going to net the team a Stanley Cup, GM Paul Holmgren decided to blow it up and collect as many young studs as he could.
For the most part, this has been a successful venture and similar to the Sixers, one can see a plan in motion that will generate wins and playoff births in the future as the young players mature. They are definitively one step ahead of their Wells Fargo roommates.
A step ahead of them yet are the Eagles. After a surprisingly positive and successful season resulting in a division title and a home playoff game, the Eagles appear to be the team most on the rise and closest to making the next big step in terms of championship prospects. Replacing their head coach and completely overhauling the roster to focus on a rebuilt defense and young All-Stars at the skill positions, the Eagles are already one of the better teams in the NFL and are seeing their young players perform at a high level and bring success to the franchise and city.
Where the Sixers are on the eve of collecting young players, the Flyers are sorting through theirs and the Eagles are thriving with them, the Phillies are clearly one step behind their basketball-playing brothers. A new manager is certainly a promising start, but the team’s refusal to accept the fact that the team as currently constructed is not going to produce a World Series Championship is preventing them from making the appropriate steps to begin building the next competitive Philadelphia Phillies team.
Until affirmative steps are taken to show their fans that they understand the predicament that they’ve cornered themselves into, as well as look beyond their own nose to observe that the successful major league teams are succeeding on the backs of graduated prospects, the Phillies are and will remain the furthest Philadelphia sports franchise from winning their league championship.