Needless to say, the future is bright for the Philadelphia sports scene. Not too long ago back in December, the Philly faithful were preparing for another year of lofty expectations and failed dreams. To end 2017, Carson Wentz tore his ACL for the remainder of the season against the Los Angeles Rams, Brett Brown was having trouble managing the bench rotation and the Flyers were coming off of a 10-game losing streak. Now in 2018, this city is arguably having its best year since 1776, and with the summer months right around the corner, more championship parades are on the horizon.
It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to bring you weekly updates on all of our favorite Philadelphia sports franchises this past semester. With that being said, I would like to close out this column by giving some final predictions for the remaining Philly teams still in action as a sound off to what has been a blissful past few months.
Starting with Gabe Kapler’s Phillies, this group has found their stride early as they have in years past. However, this young and fiery squad has the talent and the drive to carry their momentum to the all-star break and beyond.
Going into the 2018 Major League Baseball season, the Washington Nationals were the clear-cut favorite to win the National League East. Surprisingly, the New York Mets currently sit at first place in the East with 16 wins and 9 losses, and the Phillies are close behind at 16-10. Although its still fairly early in the season, these two squads look to be the frontrunners coming out of the East, and we could see a classic Mets/Phillies race for the National League East.
Star pitcher Aaron Nola has yet to allow more than two runs in any of his five starts, Scott Kingery and company have delivered runs when it counts (The Phillies are 4-0 in extra inning games) and Kapler’s analytical process looks promising; especially with relievers like Pat Neshek soon to be at full health. This team is looking to recapture the heart of a city that was once a full-fledged baseball town only a decade ago, and this appears to be the summer they can do it. Expect the Phillies to sneak into one of the two National League Wild Card spots come October.
As for the Philadelphia Union, their recent struggles may bring even more attention and viewership to the Phillies this summer after the Sixers finish out their season. Unless the Boys in Blue sign a top quality striker during the summer transfer window, the offense will continue to struggle in a 4-2-3-1 formation that has been too played out in recent years. If manager Jim Curtin doesn’t mix things up, and fast, this squad will be destined for a bottom of the table finish, and Curtin may be out of a job before the season comes to an end.
In addition to the Phillies, Sixers and Union, there is another professional sports franchise that typically dominates the summer months in the City of Brotherly Love: The Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League. The Soul, led by veteran quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, are coming off of back to back championship seasons and are looking to go for the first dynasty in Arena Football League history. If you’re in need of a football fix between now and September, look no further because the Soul have a realistic chance to go undefeated on their way to a third consecutive Arena Bowl Championship.
Last, but surely not least, the Philadelphia 76ers are the real deal in the Eastern Conference. While Brett Brown’s ballers were once the laughing stock of the NBA, “The Process” has now come to fruition and the sky is the limit for where this team can go moving forward.
Remember when it was a big deal for the Sixers to win just one game? Me too. Watching “The Process” unfold has been one of the most exciting turnaround stories in all of sport’s history. Don’t be surprised if the Sixers shock the world and upset the Golden State Warriors in game seven of the NBA Finals; with this team, anything is possible.
Andrew Heller is a first-year graduate student majoring in English. ✉AH804286@wcupa.edu.