Is this the worst of times in Philadelphia sports?
They celebrated the past at Ponzio's Diner in South Jersey on Thursday afternoon.
The FM station - WIP-FM (94.1) - that was an AM station - WIP-AM (610) - for most of Charlie Manuel's tenure with the Phillies showered the recently dismissed manager with praise. In a classic made-for-radio event called A Tribute to Charlie, the station that belittled Manuel for most of his early years as manager made sure he left town as one of the most beloved figures in Philadelphia sports history.
"I find that amazing," Manuel said.
It truly was a remarkable reversal of fortune.
But the best of times are behind us now, and the Phillies are as much a part of the city's changing and depressing sports landscape as the Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers.
It could be argued that we are in the worst of times.
The Phillies are about to finish below .500 for the first time since 2002. The Eagles were so bad that they landed the fourth overall draft pick. The Flyers failed to make the playoffs for just the second time in 18 seasons. The Sixers, a team that has finished above .500 just twice in the last 10 years, have entered tank mode in the hope they can land a franchise player in the 2014 draft.
Unless the Eagles make the playoffs, this will be the first year since 1994 without one of the four major Philadelphia franchises participating in the postseason.
Watching losers is never fun, but watching winners develop can be.
It really is quite odd for everyone involved right now to walk into Citizens Bank Park and not see Manuel sitting in the dugout.
It's equally strange to walk into the NovaCare Complex and not see Andy Reid.
"It's a whole new world here," said Derek Boyko, the Eagles director of football media services.
At this point, things are far more interesting on the Eagles' side of Broad Street. Most people were burned out on Andy Reid's efforts to "put the players in better positions," and everyone is eager to see Chip Kelly's fast-paced system at work.
Kelly has a cockiness about him that will be embraced as long as he is successful. He showed a glimpse of it Thursday when asked about the demands his up-tempo offense will put on his own defense. He took the opportunity to rip apart the notion that time of possession is an important statistic.
"It's about plays run," he said. "I've heard the question about time of possession. Time of possession is how much time the other team can waste. Most games, we lose the time of possession, but it's how many snaps do you face, and I think in both games we've played, we've played more snaps than the other team."
The Eagles ran 14 more offensive plays than the Patriots and 11 more than the Panthers in their first two exhibition games.
"We played a game against UCLA a couple years ago, [in which] time of possession was 40 to 20," Kelly said. "They had 20 more minutes of time of possession, and it was 73-71 snaps."
It was actually 73-70 in favor of Oregon. The final score of that 2010 Pac-12 game was far more lopsided: Oregon 60, UCLA 13.
"So all I gathered was that they stand around a lot more than we do," Kelly said. "Plays run are what I look at because you're not exerting any energy if you're just standing in the huddle. Now if it's drastically different and teams are snapping the ball and getting 80 snaps against our defense, and we're putting 50 snaps up offensively, then it's an issue.
"If you're doing things the way we're supposed to be doing them on offense, then we need to teach our defense how to stand around better."
It's interesting to hear Kelly talk about these types of things, which obviously worked for him at the college level. It's also fascinating to tour the NovaCare Complex, where the rules, and lots of other things, have changed. Drink machines line the hallways to the locker room because Kelly believes nutrition is as important as an up-tempo offense. Players no longer are assigned lockers based on positions because Kelly believes a mix is better for team chemistry.
"Why not give it a shot?" quarterback Michael Vick said. "That's what I was telling guys all spring when some guys complained. What do we have to lose? It sounds good. Let's try it. It only took two weeks for everyone to buy into the program, and now we enjoy it. It's a great environment to be in."
Ryne Sandberg's job as Manuel's replacement is more challenging because he inherited a soiled slate in the middle of a rotten season. But he, too, is trying to change a culture and convince players his way of doing things can work. Brett Brown will attempt to do the same with the 76ers when he opens his first training camp as coach.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, meanwhile, has become the dean of Philadelphia coaches as he prepares for his fourth full season with the team. The last Flyers head coach to have the most tenure in the city was Mike Keenan in 1988.
The sports landscape around here is barely recognizable, and the challenge all around is to make sure it doesn't remain barren for too much longer.
Contact Bob Brookover at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @brookob.