Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Fly High

The Flyers were eliminated from the post-season today, on the last night of the regular season.

Like most of their games this year it was a hard-fought contest against a better opponent. The Flyers never quit, never stopped working, never gave an inch, and were in it right up to the end. It all became moot with about four minutes to go when another game that the Flyers needed to go their way didn’t, but that didn’t change anything in how they played.

They were a fun team to watch this season.

John Tortorella should get Coach of the Year. The fact that he had this undermanned, overmatched team two years into what everyone admits is a five-year rebuilding plan in a playoff position with six games left in the season and not eliminated until the last four minutes of the year is nothing short of miraculous. They were picked to finish in the bottom three of the league by every Sports Knob who paid attention to hockey last summer – right where they finished the previous season – but held onto a playoff position for most of the season anyway.

They also have the best mascot in professional sports.

I don’t expect victories. Not in sports, not in anything. I don’t expect championships. I’m from Philadelphia and pessimism is my birthright. Even if it happened before you were born – which, statistically, is now most people from Philadelphia these days – the epic collapse of the 1964 Phillies is engraved on the soul of everyone from that city. It defines our world view and gives us that sharp edge that so many outsiders find objectionable. So be it.

I want to be entertained when I watch sports. I want to see a team that goes down fighting, that concedes nothing, that opponents don’t want to play even if they’re pretty sure they’ll win.

That’s how you win fans in Philadelphia. That’s who we are.

The playoffs start next week, and the first round of the NHL playoffs is one of the most glorious times in all of American sports. I’ll probably watch, even if my team won’t be there. I’m used to that, and the game is fun no matter who’s playing.

And I’ll look forward to next season.

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