I WENT TO SLEEP early on Christmas Eve, which for me is around midnight. I did so, because we were all getting up early to open presents with my grandson Dean, who wakes up around 6.
Dean is 18 months old and doesn't fully understand Christmas, but he does love anything and everything about "cars." When he wakes up, his first word is "car" and, in fact, with the possible exception of "truck" or "bus," that is his entire vocabulary for the day. As usual, I had eaten too much and had a little indigestion as I went to bed.
I quickly fell into a deep sleep and began to dream. I was visited by the Sports Ghost of Christmas Past. Aaaaagh! The Ghost took me first to Connie Mack Stadium in late September, triggering memories of the Phils' legendary 1964 collapse. Next the Ghost whipped me to Veteran Stadium during the two-win Eagles season of 1972 coached by Eddie Khayat. We arrived during a news conference during which Khayat kept insisting that the Birds were "mighty fine." Helppppp! The next thing I knew, we were in the old Spectrum and the year was 1973. I was watching the terrifying sight of Roy Rubin's Sixers, a team that would go on to finish 9-73, do battle with the Celtics. We were trailing, but Donnie May cut into the lead by canning his patented lefty bank shot. Oh, my God, I realized that AI hadn't even been born yet! Finally, mercifully I woke up.
I made myself some tea and went back to bed, secure in the knowledge that it could never be that bad again. I soon dozed off. This time I was visited by the Sports Ghost of Christmas Future. I was apprehensive, but I figured that it had to be better than my first trip. Our first stop filled my heart with joy. We were in Cowboys Stadium and even though it was midway through the fourth quarter, the stands were half empty. I was perplexed until I looked at the giant scoreboard, which read Eagles 38 Cowboys 10! Oh, happy day!! I grabbed onto the Ghost's robe and the next thing I knew it was freezing cold and snowing like crazy - we were in the Meadowlands and the NFL, afraid of being called wusses, had allowed the Super Bowl to go on. The game was nearly over and Jeff Lurie was on the sideline with tears of joy streaming down his face - the new Tom Brady (Nick Foles) had outplayed the old Tom Brady, Shady McCoy had run amok, and the Birds were about to capture the Lombardi Trophy. Way to go, Chip!
Off we went and it was November of the same year, still cold and we were in Comerica Park, watching Jonathan Papelbon end Game 7 of the World Series by blowing a 97-mph fastball by Miguel Cabrera. This capped off a season in which Ryan Howard had blasted 51 home runs, Chase Utley won the batting title, and Jimmy Rollins hit 30 homers and stole 32 bases. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels each won 20 games! Holy Ponce De Leon! We sped through time to June 2016 to the Bank of America Center (formerly the Citibank Center, formerly the Wells Fargo Center). It was Game 7 of the NBA Finals and the Sixers were leading the Miami Heat, who were trying to win their fifth straight championship. The game was tied, and the Heat had the ball with time running out. LeBron James was careening down the lane for what looked like a certain tomahawk dunk. Out of nowhere flew Nerlens Noel to swat it out of the King's hands to Michael Carter-Williams, who sped up court with only seconds left. He spied Jabari Parker open on the wing and hit him in stride for a catch-and-shoot that hit nothing but net. Sixers Win, Sixers Win, Sixers Win!!
It couldn't get any better than this, could it? Well it did! As the Ghost and I were leaving, I saw a crumpled-up front page of the Daily News with Ed Snider beaming as he held aloft the Stanley Cup. A warm glow came over me. I had lived long enough to see Philadelphia become the sports capital of the world. Then I woke up.
As I lay there in bed, I thought what a shame it was that it was only a dream. But as I thought about the direction that some of our teams are headed, I couldn't help but be optimistic that at least part of this great dream might just come true. It starts tomorrow night, as Kelly lays the foundation for an era of Eagles greatness by leading the Birds on a romp over the Cowboys in which Foles puts any debate over his franchise quarterback status to bed. Not a bad start at all.