Now is the time for positive thinking.
Dr. J exemplified it when he told Sixers fans in 1977, "We owe you one."
A half-dozen seasons later, the team became NBA champs.
And the late '70s Phillies had lots of faith, first buoyed by Dave Cash's "Yes, We Can," then led by Tug McGraw's "You Gotta Believe" (even if he did coin it while with the Mets) to a World Series title in 1980.
Yes, fans, it's good to believe that these Phils are a team of destiny - lucky and good, with an assortment of unexpected heroes.
So why do I keep thinking about jinxes?
Hmmm ... am I seeing a catchy slogans trend? We have one, we win ... we don't, we don't?
[UPDATE: Maybe we do have a slogan. It's "Why Can't Us?" Check it out: http://www.the700level.com/2008/10/why-cant-us-mov.html]
Hope my paranoia doesn't annoy ya, but questions run through my mind. Like these ...
Are we beyond the Curse of Billy Penn? Maybe we dodged a bullet Thursday, when fans flooded Mayor Nutter's office with pleas: Don't put a Phillies hat on Billy Penn! In 1993, the city capped the Big Guy on City Hall before the World Series - and lost. A Flyers jersey in 1997 had the same result. So Nutter said no cap.
Further, could Penn's spirit finally be appeased? Last year, a little Billy Penn, strapped to a girder, was hoisted to the top of the city's tallest building, the Comcast Center. Has it already reversed the curse? The Soul won a championship this spring and the Phillies are in the Series.
Besides, aren't we in a period of curse reversal? Well, the White Sox were supposedly cursed by the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, but won the Series in 2005. Same for the Red Sox, who won the year before, after supposedly being cursed since trading Babe Ruth in 1920. Maybe this is the year that reverses the Curse of Billy Penn. So root for Philly, Cubs fans!
Should we beware a Florida curse? The Phils will face the Tampa Bay Rays, and Tampa has had our number before. In 2003, the Buccaneers broke fans' hearts here by beating the Eagles to reach the Super Bowl, which they won. The next year, the Tampa Bay Lightning zapped the Flyers to make the Stanley Cups Finals, which they won.
In other Florida frustrations, in 2003 the Phillies had a mid-September division lead, but the Miama-based Marlins prevailed, going on to win the World Series.
To push the point, the Eagles lost the 2005 Super Bowl ... in Jacksonville.
Isn't there some presidential election predictor? Yes, and, if polls are to be believed, this one favors the Phillies - although we're applying this in reverse. When the National League wins the Series, a Democrat usually wins the White House. This trend worked like a charm from 1952 to 1976, then got funky for a while. But in 2000 (Yankees) and 2004 (Red Sox), American League winners were followed by a Republican win. Currently, Democrat Barack Obama leads the polls - which kind of cosmically converges with a Phillies victory.
Does the AL East have the Phillies' number? Consider the locals' World Series losses: Red Sox in 1915, Yankees in 1950, Baltimore Orioles in 1983, and Toronto Blue Jays in 1993. Now the Phils face the Rays. These five foes have what in common? They're the exact five teams in the American League East today, points out Ray Sweeney of Lansdale. Of course, there was no American League East in 1915 and 1950, and its membership has changed a handful of times. So maybe all we have here are two examples masquerading as a trend. Then again, the only Phils title came in 1980 at the expense of the Kansas City Royals - then of the AL West.
How about numerology? That's odd. If the last non-zero digit of the World Series year is odd, the Phillies lose: 1915, 1950, 1983, 1993. But it's it's even, they win: 1980. This year, 2008, it's even! Plus, points out Tom Garvie of Harrisburg, '80 and '08 - same last two digits! Q.E.D., ergo, voila, ex post facto, we win!
What about the Devil factor? Last year, Tampa was the Devil Rays - and the worst team in baseball. This year, they drop the "Devil," and suddenly it's like God is on their side. Cue the eerie, Twilight Zone music. Ah, baloney. If anything, this should work against Tampa. Why? Well, the Los Angeles Angels won 100 games, the most in baseball this season, then got bounced in the first round. And hockey's New Jersey Devils didn't ditch "Devil," and they won Stanley Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
What about worst to first? Here's another trend that's in the Phillies favor. Look at 1993. The year before, the Phillies were worst in the National League (though not in all of baseball), then lost the '93 World Series. Tampa was worst in both leagues last year, so let's hope they follow in the Phillies footsteps. No "worst to first" team has ever won a title in one of the four major pro sports, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. The four before who came up short: the Atlanta Braves in 1991, the Minneapolis Lakers and the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1959, and the New York Rangers in 1950. Note: When the Phillies and Sixers won in the 1980s, they had been riding contenders for several years - just like the current Phillies team.
Is there an MVP jinx? Not since 1988 has a player won the MVP award and a World Series trophy, one Web site points out. Big whoop. If anything, there's a jinx for the MVP to even be in the Series. Only five of the last 36 MVPs made it that far. So Ryan Howard - who might win his second MVP in three three years - has already beaten the odds. Besides, the trophy could (mistakenly) go to the Dodger's Manny Ramirez anyway - who'll have to watch at home.
Who's on the Sports Illustrated cover? This jinx is overrated. But check out the last two baseball teams on it this season: The Dodgers, who lost to the Phils, and the Cubs, who lost to the Dodgers. So far, no Phillies or Rays. The issue bearing today's date showcases the Texas Longhorns.
How about a twist on the Madden curse? A bunch of football players who graced the cover of the Madden NFL video game then had poor / injury-shortened seasons. The manager of the Rays is named Joe Maddon. Make up your own funky mojo connection here.
What about the trend of overcoming curses? Hey, the White Sox were supposedly cursed by the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, but won the Series in 2005. Same for the Red Sox, who won the year before, after supposedly being cursed since trading Babe Ruth in 1920. Maybe this is the year that reverses the Curse of Billy Penn.
Isn't that more than enough? OK, OK. You're right. If this loopy list proves anything, people can find trends anywhere. Jinxes are superstitious hooey. Coincidental tommyrot.
But just in case: Pray a lot. Do a good deed - to improve the city's sports karma. And don't walk under any ladders.