Smallwood: Cycle of losing goes on and on in Philadelphia

112916_eagles-fans_1200
Eagles fans boo during a game against the Packers.

IT WAS ONLY a brief respite for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but at least the Flyers have delivered some postseason experience in two of the last three seasons.

Considering the Union draw 16,000 to 18,500 fans per game, I fully acknowledge them as part of the major league sports scene, but I understand that many others don't.

Still, no matter how you slice it, the postseason professional sports scene in Philadelphia has been bleak, and this year seems as if it will only add another chapter of darkness.

There was a brief moment in January when fans dared to hope that somehow the Sixers might scramble into an unexpected playoff bid. That faded as Joel Embiid's knee injury grew increasingly mysterious before he finally was shut down for the remainder of the season.

Now, just as it has been for the previous four seasons, the highlight of the Sixers' campaign will come down to how the pingpong balls bounce their way during the NBA lottery on May 16.

Technically, the Flyers aren't out of this season's Stanley Cup playoffs yet, but won once on their just-completed four-game road trip, dropping five out of possible eight points during the stretch that they claimed would determine their postseason fate.

There have been no recent signs that this team can get on a run over the final stretch that will allow it to make up six points and jump three teams to reach the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Hopefully, the kiddie corps in the minors is as good as advertised and change for the better will come soon.

Philadelphia is realistically looking at the Wells Fargo Center being dark this spring for the third time in the last five seasons, with the Flyers and Sixers.

The Phillies are in spring training, but are rebuilding and make no pretenses about being playoff-ready for at least a few more seasons.

The Eagles have had a nice period of free agency and are looking to add more in next month's draft. Still, while things can happen fast in the NFL, the 2017 seasons looks like another in which progress toward the postseason is a more realistic goal than actually participating.

The Union, as is the normal for midmarket teams in Major League Soccer, have gone through another roster transition, so, while the expectations are that they will make the playoffs for the second straight year, it's too early to tell how the players on the roster will mesh.

The last time a Philadelphia major pro team advanced out of the opening round of the playoffs was in 2012, when the Sixers beat the Chicago Bulls and the Flyers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Both lost in the next round.

The Eagles have not won a playoff game since beating the New York Giants in the 2008 NFC divisional round.

The Phillies have not won a playoff round since beating Cincinnati in the 2010 National League Division Series.

The Union are winless in their two MLS playoff appearances.

If the Flyers don't pull off a miracle by making the playoffs and winning at least the opening series, it will be five sports cycles and 25 combined seasons since one of the Philly majors has tasted any level of playoff success.

The only major professional championship team I've covered since coming to the Daily News in 1994 was the 2008 World Series Phillies, but there have been playoff wins. If you count the Union losing U.S. Open Cup finals in 2014 and 2015, all five pro teams have played for a title.

I'm sure lots of people with deeper roots to Philadelphia sports have suffered through worse, but I've never seen a period when no team has advanced in the playoffs for a span of five cycles.

I'd say that should be a statistical impossibility, but then again, we are talking about a city where the Flyers have won only two Stanley Cups in 48 NHL seasons, the Sixers have won only two NBA titles in 53 seasons, the Eagles won three NFL titles in 84 seasons including 0-for-51 in chances at a Super Bowl championship, and the Phillies two World Series in 134 seasons.

If you throw in the Union, who have played in seven MLS seasons, the teams currently representing Philadelphia have won only nine championships for the city in 320 combined seasons.

By comparison, the Yankees have won 27 World Series while representing New York in MLB for 104 seasons.

The Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cup titles for Montreal in 98 seasons of hockey, predating the founding of the NHL in 1917.

The Celtics have won 17 NBA titles for Boston in 70 NBA seasons.

The Packers have won 13 NFL championships for Green Bay 97 seasons.

Heck, the Los Angeles Galaxy have five MLS titles and MLS is only 20 seasons old.

Alas, none of this comes as a surprise to anyone even remotely affiliated with Philadelphia sports. The subject has been broached as often as throwing snowballs at Santa Claus.

Still, as the Flyers fade from playoff contention and another Philadelphia sports cycle speeds to an end, it is appropriate to bring it up again, because, while Santa Claus is just a myth, the constant losing is an all-too-familiar reality.

smallwj@phillynews.com

@SmallTerp

Continue Reading