Philadelphia has long been considered a football city. And let’s face it–most local ..."/> Philadelphia has long been considered a football city. And let’s face it–most local ..."/>

Are the Phillies Giving Philadelphia Back to the Eagles?


Philadelphia has long been considered a football city. And let’s face it–most local fans have long been passionate to the brink of insanity when it comes to the Eagles. And I’m not talking insane like pissing in sinks, beating the shit out of anyone wearing the jersey of a different team, or screaming obscenities while wearing face paint at a local news camera urging the team to fire its head coach. That stuff is all good. When I say insane, I’m talking about an interest that borders on obsession. Despite the growing void created by the absence of a Super Bowl, that passion and insanity has only grown since Jeffrey Lurie purchased the team in 1994 as the Eagles have emerged as one the league’s premiere franchises during that time frame.

Some of the naysayers might shrug off such a distinction, but it would be wrong to do so. While frustrations and expectations at are an all-time high, and patience is at an all-time low, interest in the Eagles remains fervent. Since the turn of the century, the Eagles have possessed some of the most high-profile names in the game. They are consistently in playoff contention. And they are regularly featured three to four times a year in prime time action. Are they a perpetually disappointing franchise? Yes. Are they stubborn and infuriating? Absolutely. But none of this changes the fact that they are one of the most popular teams in America’s most popular sport.

But the debate over which of Philadelphia’s four professional sports franchises owns the city rages on. And don’t think for one second that this is some fictional competition, or that there isn’t a sense of competition between these teams. Former Eagles’ president Joe Banner was notorious for calling local media outlets to bitch about the lack and/or type of coverage the Eagles have received in recent years. It’s long been speculated that those who work within the walls of the NovaCare Complex are less than happy that they’ve taken a backseat to the sprouting empire at One Citizen’s Bank Way.

Historically speaking, the Eagles have reigned king over Philadelphia at points over the last 50-plus years, and while there have been temporary lapses in this power, the most legitimate threat to the Eagles’ supremacy has been this current run by the Phillies.

Ask people that have been around awhile and they’ll tell you how this was once a baseball town. As the Eagles have sputtered in the clutch and grown tiresome, the Phillies have been a breath of fresh air, restoring order back to the times when baseball reigned in the 215. Look around–there are Phillies shirtseys, jerseys, hats, car decals, and lawn ornaments everywhere. They have a 258-game sellout streak. And it’s really not that hard to understand how they’ve gotten to this point. Build a beautiful stadium, develop likable homegrown superstars (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Cole Hamels), back that with an ultra-aggressive front office that addresses weaknesses in grand fashion (Brad Lidge, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Jonathan Papelbon), and, most important, win a championship. That doesn’t just put a team back on the map, it’s going to take over the map. And that’s what the Phillies have done in the wake of their 2008 World Series title.

But here we are nearly four full years removed from that euphoria and the afterglow of that parade down Broad Street has all but dimmed. The three seasons following 2008 each possessed championship promise, but instead ended in torturous fashion. Now, in the midst of what has been thus far a disastrous season, the Phillies’ aging superstars are either struggling or injured and the chances of the team reaching its sixth-straight postseason are growing more grim by the day. And you can’t help but wonder–are the Phillies giving it all back to the Eagles?

That impressive sellout streak mentioned earlier? It’s going to end soon. The tickets may have been sold, but people aren’t showing up. Tickets that used to draw $30 or $40 through resales on StubHub are now drawing $10 or less. There’s an awful lot of blue in the seats lately, and it’s not hard to see why. The Phillies appear to be a team on the decline, while the Eagles have retooled their roster, restructured their front office, and in the process have re-energized a fanbase that once again has big expectations in 2012.

The Phillies aren’t done yet, but their chances are fading fast. Chase Utley has performed admirably in his return while Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard may not be far behind. But if they have any intention of pulling off what is becoming an improbable turn around, it needs to happen now. There’s much at stake for the Phillies over their final 81 games–and much of it has to do with their increasingly unstable footing atop the Philadelphia sports hierarchy.