Sunday, March 10, 2013

Discontent

One of the most clever signs ever hung in a store window was the following in a Detroit sporting goods store:

Now is the discount of our winter tents.

I was reminded of witty sign when considering the sports landscape in Philadelphia this winter.  It could not be more bleak except for some college hoop teams.

The professional hoop team is pitiful.  The promise of last season and optimism regarding the acquisition of Andrew Bynum have long since evaporated.  The players are mostly over-matched and the coach has become increasingly vocal and irritable about their efforts.  Daily News writer Rich Hoffmann had a particularly poignant line about Doug Collins' public lamentations:  "He bought the groceries and burned the dinner.  He can't now blame the stove."  Collins had a lot to do with the makeup of this team.  He also must have had some role in the due diligence on Andrew Bynum.

Bynum joins a particularly select group of players who arrived in the City of Brotherly Love damaged goods and tantalized (taunted, really) the local faithful with rumor after rumor he'd be back in the lineip at some later date.  Now, if not earlier, it is clear he was never going to play a regular season game in a Sixers uniform.  Good riddance, Andrew.  They team cleared some salary cap with your acquisition.  Some legacy.

Drue Holiday has continued to emerge for the Sixers, but Evan Turner has been impressively unpredictable.  Thad Young is a gamer, but just about everyone else on this club seems to be treading water.

Meanwhile, the Flyers began the truncated season ineptly and except for one day thus far, have been below .500.  Currently, they are three games under .500 and playing with little heart.  There were reasonably high hopes for this club, except for worries about the defense, but some players have been hurt (every team has injuries in this rough and tumble sport) while others have disappeared.  The coach is on the hot seat with an owner not known for patience.

Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is still utterly unpredictable except for his mood, which seems to have gone from cheerful and eccentric when he arrived with much fanfare last season to gloomy with each defeat this year.  Goalies are only as good as the defense in front of them, and the Flyers don't have a good one.  On the other hand, he can be brilliant one night and give up soft goals the next.  One would guess much of his and our frustration could be alleviated if the team scored a few goals, but then, the other night they took a huge first period lead over the Penguins and then surrendered it and, finally, the game.  Bryzgalov, staked to a three-goal lead that night, had to be yanked after giving all of it up.

While GM Paul Holmgren struggles to find answers, the Flyers made at least two moves this season that are characteristic of them.  They reacquired two players whom they traded or otherwise moved previously.  I haven't the inclination to look it up, but the Flyers must lead the league in reacquisition.  (Corrections to this perception can be delivered in the comments section.)


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