Let’s look back at a joyous, hilarious, sobering, and silly sports year, focusing heavily on the pros.

Top performances

· The year belongs to Nick Foles. He opened 2018 with three playoff wins, which included the most memorable acting job and reception ever by a quarterback in a Super Bowl. Foles can close his remarkable 2018 calendar year by leading the Eagles to an unlikely playoff berth, but he’ll need help.

» READ MORE: Relive the Super Bowl here

· In the three playoff games in January and February, Foles threw eight touchdown passes and one interception and completed 72 percent of his passes. In his two starts in December, he has four TD passes, two picks, and a 74 percent completion rate.

· The Sixers closed out the 2017-18 regular season by winning a franchise-record 16 consecutive games to finish 52-30, their first 50-win season since 2000-01.

· Rhys Hoskins hit 20 bombs in the semifinals of the Home Run Derby, but lhe ost out when the Cubs' Kyle Schwarber hit his 21st on the final pitch. Schwarber lost in the finals to Bryce Harper.

· Aaron Nola was the Phillies' first homegrown pitcher to finish in the top three in Cy Young voting.

· Patrick Robinson’s 50-yard interception return turned the NFC championship game around. The Eagles were trailing, 7-0, before Robinson’s electrifying touchdown, the first of 38 consecutive points.

· Ben Simmons was the 2017-18 NBA rookie of the year.

Ben Simmons (left) averaged 16-8-8 and was the league's rookie of the year.
Steven M. Falk
Ben Simmons (left) averaged 16-8-8 and was the league's rookie of the year.

· Joel Embiid was the first Sixers All-Star since Jrue Holiday in 2013 and the first voted to start since Allen Iverson in 2010.

· Villanova won its second men’s basketball championship in three years. The Wildcats won their six NCAA Tournament games by an average of 17.7 points and had four players selected within the first 33 picks of the NBA draft in June. Mikal Bridges (10th), Donte DiVincenzo (17th), Omari Spellman (30th), and Jalen Brunson (33rd).

· Penn, which also made the 2018 NCAA Tournament in March, snapped Villanova’s 25-game Big 5 winning streak in December.

· The Eagles' postseason run started with a victory over Atlanta that was part divisional playoff win, part three-hour root-canal. Jalen Mills helped break up a potential TD pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones in the final seconds.

· It was a mostly forgettable season for Carlos Santana, except for that night he homered for 13-year-old leukemia patient Anthony Garcia. “I said, ‘Thank you, God,’ for letting me do that," Santana said. “Everything I do, I do from my heart.”

· The Sixers beat the Heat in five games for their first postseason series win since 2011.

· The Phillies tied a franchise record with seven homers in a win against the Reds. Nick Williams, Rhys Hoskins, and Maikel Franco hit two each. Carlos Santana hit the other.

· Jimmy Butler hit two game-winning three-pointers in eight days for the Sixers.

· Brian Dawkins' Hall of Fame speech was as passionate as we all expected.

· Ben Simmons became the third rookie in NBA history to register 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, and 500 assists. Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson are the others.

· Brandon Graham will never be haunted by Earl Thomas again.

· Sean Couturier had five goals and nine points in the Flyers' six-game playoff series loss to the Penguins. He played the final two games with a torn knee ligament after colliding with Radko Gudas during a mid-series practice.

Unfortunate flubs

· Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo was forced to resign after an investigation following a report by The Ringer revealed that his wife was using anonymous Twitter accounts to leak sensitive team information and make derogatory comments about players and team executives.

· The Eagles hovered around .500 for most of the 2018 season. They let games against Tennessee and Carolina get away and now need a win and a Vikings loss to make it back to the playoffs.

· The Phillies had to postpone a game against the Nationals in September because of heavy rain the days before. The grounds crew tried to use blow torches to dry out the field on the day of the game, but it didn’t work. According to RetroSheet.org, it was the first time in 31 years that a major-league game had to be postponed because of wet grounds.

· Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel scored four goals in Game 6 as the Penguins eliminated the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

· Whaddaya mean there was no “clear recovery"? The Eagles got jobbed when they recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff against the Cowboys, but the officials ruled otherwise.

· The Phillies were 15 games above .500 on Aug. 7 (64-49) but finished 16-33 and well out of the playoff race.

· The Phillies lost the opening game of a doubleheader to the Mets, 24-4. They salvaged a split in the nightcap.

· How different would the Eagles' situation be this year if defensive back Rasul Douglas had knocked the ball down in overtime against Dallas? Instead, the ball ricocheted into Amari Cooper’s arms for Dallas’ game-winning touchdown. It was really more of a bad bounce than a flub.

· The Flyers lost all four games during a swing through western Canada in December, by a combined score of 22-8, and fired coach Dave Hakstol.

· The Sixers lost the first three games of their second-round series to Boston, which eventually won the series in five games. Game 2 was particularly crippling as the Sixers blew a 22-point lead.

· The Sixers played their first overseas regular-season game, a loss to the Celtics in London in January. They led by 22 in the second quarter there, too.

· The Eagles were drubbed, 48-7, at New Orleans, the worst loss ever by a defending Super Bowl champion. The Saints have been chirping ever since.

· Mitch Walding became the first position player in baseball history to strike out in his first seven plate appearances. Walding was 1-for-17 during the season with 12 strikeouts. His only hit was a home run, which came off Bryan Holaday, a Marlins catcher who was pitching during a blowout in September.

· The 2018 Phillies were cheered during introductions at the home opener, except for first-year manager Gabe Kapler. He was booed after a rough series at Atlanta in which (among other things), he tried to put in a pitcher who hadn’t warmed up yet and pulled Aaron Nola after just 68 pitches.

Notable additions

· Eagles: Michael Bennett, Cameron Johnston, Jordan Matthews, Haloti Ngata, Golden Tate, draft picks Dallas Goedert, Avonte Maddox, Jordan Mailata, undrafted free agent Josh Adams

· Sixers: general manager Elton Brand, Jimmy Butler, draft picks Landry Shamet and Zhaire Smith, and veterans Marco Belinelli (unsigned for 2018-19) and Ersan Ilyasova (unsigned for 2018-19).

· Phillies: Jake Arrieta, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, Asdrubal Cabrera (unsigned for 2019), Carlos Santana (traded after one season), Alec Bohm (first-round pick).

· Flyers: general manager Chuck Fletcher, coach Scott Gordon, Carter Hart, James van Riemsdyk, first-round picks Joel Farabee and Jay O’Brien.

· Colleges: Manny Diaz, Temple football coach; Ashley Howard, La Salle men’s basketball.

Notable departures

· Eagles: Beau Allen, LeGarrette Blount, Trey Burton, Brent Celek, Donnie Jones, Mychal Kendricks, Patrick Robinson, Torrey Smith, assistant coaches John DeFilippo and Frank Reich

· Sixers: general manager Bryan Colangelo, Robert Covington, Dario Saric

· Phillies: J.P. Crawford, Carlos Santana

· Flyers: coach Dave Hakstol, general manager Ron Hextall.

» READ MORE: Dave Hakstol, unmasked

· Colleges: Geoff Collins, Temple football coach; John Giannini, La Salle men’s basketball.

· Also: It was announced in October that Wing Bowl had come to an end.

Friends we’ve lost

· Walter Bahr, 91, a Philadelphia native and world-class soccer player. Bahr assisted on Joe Gaetjens' goal when the United States stunned England in the 1950 World Cup, 1-0.

· Rasual Butler, 38, former Roman Catholic High and La Salle star who played in the NBA from 2002 to 2016.

· Ray Emery, 35, fiery goalie who played three seasons for the Flyers, ending in 2014-15.

· Oscar Gamble, 68, played for the Phillies from 1970 to 1972.

· Buddy Gardler, 72, Catholic League basketball coach.

· Hal Greer, 81, a 10-time All-Star who still holds the Sixers franchise record for games played (1,122).

· Tom Heckert, 51, Eagles general manager and executive during the Andy Reid years.

· Wes Hopkins, 57, an Eagles safety who hit like a freight train.

· Mik Kilgore, 48, former Temple basketball star.

· Mike Labinjo, 38, special-teams player for the Eagles during the 2004 Super Bowl season.

· Darryl “Doc” Lee, 63, star football and basketball player for Camden High in the 1970s. Played at Grambling with Doug Williams.

· Kristian Marche, 18, Imhotep High athlete headed for Penn State on full scholarship.

· Tommy McDonald, 84, star wide receiver for the Eagles and a member of the 1960 championship team.

· Jack McKinney, 83, a product of St. James High School and St. Joseph’s University. McKinney laid the foundation for the Lakers dynasty in the 1980s.

· Joe McNichol, 77, area high school football coach.

· Al Meltzer, 89, Philadelphia broadcaster.

· Rene Portland, 65, former star at Immaculata College and Penn State coach.

· Dutch Rennert, 88, umpire who was behind the plate for Game 5 of the World Series when reliever Tug McGraw walked four and struck out five in three heart-stopping innings to put the Phillies within one game of winning the first championship in franchise history.

· Tim Rossovich, 72, an eccentric Eagles linebacker from 1968 to 1971.

· Wally Triplett, a Penn State running back who was the first African-American player drafted to play in the NFL. He was 92. (George Taliaferro was the first black player drafted, but his NFL debut came the following season in 1950. Taliaferro also passed away in 2018 at age 91.)

Buses holding the Eagles players and coaches travel toward the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the Super Bowl parade on Feb. 8.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Buses holding the Eagles players and coaches travel toward the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the Super Bowl parade on Feb. 8.

Miscellaneous

· Jason Kelce, wearing a suit borrowed from the Avalon String Band, delivered his epic Sermon on the Steps at the Eagles' championship parade.

» More on the speech: Transcript | Video

· Legalized sports betting came to Delaware and New Jersey in June. SugarHouse opened in Philadelphia on Dec. 13. The first official bet in the city was made by Councilman Mark Squilla, who put 20 bucks on the Eagles' getting 13 points against the Rams. They won the game outright.

· Temple’s football team played in a bowl game for the fourth consecutive season, extending a program record.

· Gabe Kapler’s house in Malibu was among those destroyed by the devastating California fires in November.

· Joel Embiid continued to dominate Twitter. He was part of an NBA excursion to Africa, where he also helped build homes. He posted a picture of himself hauling a wheelbarrow and having a little fun at his own expense. “Laying out these bricks before the season starts so I don’t miss game-tying shots in the playoffs,” he wrote.

· The Flyers had 679 penalty minutes in 2017-18, easily the fewest in franchise history – and that includes the two seasons cut nearly in half by labor stoppages.

· The Eagles, unlike the Sixers, won their game in London. The Birds beat the Jaguars in their first regular-season game outside the United States. Four Jacksonville players were arrested two nights before the game following a bar brawl.

· It was announced in the spring that Fran Dunphy, 70, will step down as Temple coach after this season. Aaron McKie will take over.

· Carter Hart became the youngest Flyers goalie to win his first start (20 years, 127 days).

· Sixers fan Asher Raphael paid for three billboards near the Cavaliers practice facility hoping to lure pending free agent LeBron James. One of the messages was “Complete The Process.” Alas, James signed with the Lakers.

· The Flyers and Sixers were unbeatable immediately following the Eagles' Super Bowl win. The Sixers won seven in a row, the Flyers went on a 10-0-1 run.

· Seth Joyner and Clyde Simmons were inducted into the Eagles’ Hall of Fame.

· Claude Giroux became the first Flyer to score 100 points in a season since Eric Lindros (1995-96). His 102 points were second in the league to Edmonton’s Connor McDavid. Giroux finished fourth in the MVP voting.

· The Eagles received an invitation to the White House to celebrate their championship, but were then disinvited when Trump officials realized only 10 members of the Eagles entourage was going to show up.

· Roster manipulation in August cost Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin nine days of big-league pay. Eflin declined to gripe about the moves which allowed the Phillies to call up bench players and save $20,000 in Eflin’s salary.

· Flyers forward Jori Lehtera has been implicated in a cocaine ring in his native Finland. The trial begins Dec. 31 and Lehtera has denied the allegations.

· Markelle Fultz recorded a triple-double in the final game of last season in April. He’s hardly been heard from since.

· Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper mocked Fultz’s awkward free-throw form during a touchdown celebration.

· Phillies players got to wear nicknames on their jerseys during players weekend in August. Rhys Hoskins was “Big Fella.” Tommy Hunter was “Bigger Fella.”

· Fans circulated a petition trying to get Kendall Jenner banned from the Wells Fargo Center after she attended a game in which boyfriend Ben Simmons and the Sixers lost their first home game of the season – and to the lowly Cavaliers, no less.

· Gabe Kapler and Angelo Cataldi got into an on-air hissing match after Cataldi called Kapler “incompetent” in a magazine article. They have since made nice.

· Joel Embiid needed to wear a mask during the playoffs after fracturing his orbital bone toward the end of the regular season. He humorously tweeted out that he was the “Phantom of the Process.”

· Roy Halladay and Pat Gillick were added to the Phillies Wall of Fame. Brandy Halladay’s speech was unforgettable.

· Shayne Gostisbehere, who once attended the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, met with members of the hockey team in March a week after they won the Florida state title. Their emotional championship run came on the heels of a mass shooting in which 17 were killed. “I mean, I have to thank the Panthers for setting it up and obviously the Flyers for going with it. … They’ve had a rough couple weeks here, and just to get their minds off something and have some laughs” was important.

· Rhys Hoskins got into a tiff with a fan who was critical that Hoskins did not run out a ball. Hoskins immediately regretted the dust-up, which was notable only because Hoskins never loses his cool.

· A Phillies win in June was delayed twice when Brewers reliever Adrian Houser puked behind the mound.

· The Flyers retired Eric Lindros’ No. 88.

· Rhys Hoskins broke his jaw when he fouled a 95-mph pitch by Kenley Jansen off his face. Ouch.

· The autopsy on Roy Halladay showed that he had amphetamines, morphine, and Ambien in his system when he crashed his plane in November 2017.

Quotable

· "You want Philly, Philly?” Nick Foles to Doug Pederson during a timeout and just before the most iconic play of Super Bowl LII.

· "I just put too much pressure on myself. … I think the learning experience is to simplify everything. I think that the less you do, it can almost help you.” – Scott Kingery, who hit .226 as a rookie after signing a six-year, $24 million deal in March.

· ''It wasn’t enough. Next time I’ve got to get 50 and 25, I guess. It doesn’t matter what I had. At the end of the day, we didn’t come up with the win." – Joel Embiid after putting up 40 points and 21 rebounds in a loss to Indiana.

· ”I would love to do this forever. I know I can’t, so this is the transition that is going to be made now with Aaron [McKie]. I think it is terrific. I think the timing of it is good, that he will do a wonderful, wonderful job. So I am happy for him. I am happy for Temple. I am happy for the players. The transition will be smooth, and that is how I am looking at it.” – Fran Dunphy prior to this season, his 30th as a head basketball coach,

· The Phillies were swept by San Francisco in June. Pitcher Jake Arrieta, who accounted for the Phillies' only run of the series with a homer, ripped the analytics team. Gasp. “We’re the worst in the league with shifts. So we need to change that,” he said. “Copy the best. I don’t know. That’s not my job. Use your eyes make and adjustments and be better. We need some accountability all the way around. Everybody, top to bottom.”

· ”Whoever’s watching that in New York should stay off the bottle.” – Safety Malcolm Jenkins after replay officials concluded the Eagles did not recover a fumble on the opening kickoff return at Dallas.

· “Ultimately, Bryan offered his resignation, realizing the detrimental way that these circumstances impacted our organization and his ability to do his job effectively.” – Sixers owner Josh Harris following the resignation of general manager Bryan Colangelo.

· “It’s sad. It’s sickening, to be honest.” – Nick Williams after eight students and two teachers were killed in a school shooting in May at Santa Fe High School near Houston, a rival of Williams, who played at Ball High.

· "It was extremely important for them to be part of the playoffs and get a little taste of how the level changes. And just how fast a playoff series can move.” – Then-coach Dave Hakstol after the Penguins eliminated the Flyers

· "Gabe, I’m a New Yorker. I don’t think anybody can be that positive.” – Phillies president Andy MacPhail on forever optimistic manager Gabe Kapler.

· “Just like Mr. Lurie said, we are not done yet, This is our new norm, to be playing football in February.” – Eagles coach Doug Pederson during the championship parade

· “It’s a blue-collar city. It’s a city that respects guys who play hard, guys who want to win. I feel like I did that when I was here.” -- retiring second baseman Chase Utley during his final visit to Philadelphia as a player.

· “I was hoping to finish my career here. I didn’t see this coming in any way. I was shocked.” ­– Former general manager Ron Hextall, who was fired in December.

· “If the 2018 Phillies will be remembered for anything, it will be for giving us ‘Gabe Ball.’ Will the national pastime ever be the same around here?” -- Phillies writer Matt Breen

· "An area where we clearly fell short was in appropriately preparing our players for the grind of a pennant chase in August and September. The preparation for August and September of 2019 is beginning now.” – Phillies manager Gabe Kapler at the end of the season.

· "Tom Brady, pretty boy Tom Brady -- he’s, hey, the best quarterback of all time. Nothing more I would like than to dethrone that guy.” – Offensive lineman Lane Johnson the night the Eagles clinched a berth in the Super Bowl, where they’d play defending champion New England.

· "I feel just so excited to see him play NBA basketball and show why he was the first player chosen in the NBA draft. And I have tremendous optimism and confidence that he’s going to have a hell of a year.” – Sixers coach Brett Brown in July, talking about Markelle Fultz.

· “This city is a special place to me. If I ever have the opportunity to be here for my career or long term, I would 100 percent want that." – Rhys Hoskins, shortly after switching agents to Scott Boras.

· “I guess the computers are making [the lineup]. I don’t know.” – Phillies outfielder Nick Williams, who started the opener, but was out of the lineup for the next week after.

· “I think if everybody on our roster takes a small step forward, we have an opportunity to shock people. That’s the message we’re going to convey in camp.” – Phillies manager Gabe Kapler in February.

· "Just to see everyone celebrating and obviously the thoughts are ‘What if it was us?’ It’s great for the city ... and obviously we want to emulate what happened and keep the party going.” – Shayne Gostisbehere, the day after the Eagles won the Super Bowl.

· “We’ve seen [Tom] Brady on the MVP stage. This was [Nick] Foles’ moment, on the first step, wife Tori just beneath him, with 7-month-old daughter Lily in his arms.” -- Eagles beat writer Zach Berman wrote immediately after the Super Bowl win.

· "That’s what life’s all about, right there,” Foles said. “Time does stop when you look in your daughter’s eyes and celebrate this moment.”

Philadelphia Eagles Nick Foles kisses his daughter after the Eagles won 41-33 over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl LII.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Philadelphia Eagles Nick Foles kisses his daughter after the Eagles won 41-33 over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl LII.