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Best of the Decade – Philly College Basketball

Posted by Roman Zubarev On February - 6 - 2010

Guest post by Joe Gallagher:

With March Madness around the corner, let’s do a recap of the last 10 years of Philly college bball. Over the course of the past decade, the landscape of the Big Five (actually we’ll call it the ‘City Six’ just for you, Drexel) has changed dramatically. Villanova has gone from mediocre to powerhouse under Coach Jay Wright. Temple, after some early decade success, underwent a changing of the guard, shifting from legendary coach John Chaney to Fran Dunphy. The Owls have gone from the class of the Big Five to pedestrian to perhaps right back on the brink of being in elite company. St. Joe’s, under Phil Martelli, has seen one heck of a magical season end only a jump shot away from the Final Four. Penn, with former Coach Dunphy, was excellent – dominating the Ivy League for much of the decade. Still, as of late, Penn hoops is experiencing a dry spell, having lost their first ten games and firing Coach Glen Miller. Then you have Drexel, whose magical 2006-2007 season arguably should have ended in the NCAA tournament, and not the NIT. Lastly, lowly LaSalle lugubriously loses a lot. Do not fret, the definition of lugubrious can be found here. Lugubrious aside, LaSalle has struggled with inconsistency over the course of the decade. Even so, it is clear that the city’s beloved sport of basketball is getting back its signature ruthless tenacity. With the 76ers struggling, it appears that the Big Five and company are poised to emerge back to the head of the Philadelphia basketball setting. That’s right folks, Philly Basketball is back!

So let’s hand out the hardware.

All Decade Team:

In honor of “All-Decade Team” Coach Jay Wright (and not at all because I could not think of many great players at a position other than guard) the All-Decade Team will be running a Four-Guard Lineup! And special apologies to Nehemiah Ingram and Coach John Chaney! Due to lack of space (some sort of NCAA sanction – I don’t know, talk to Calipari), we do not have a roster spot for a goon…

PG: Jameer Nelson, St. Joseph’s (2000-04) – right up there with Tom Gola, Lionel Simmons, Mark Macon, etc. among the greatest Big Five players of all time. Hear that, Kanye? OF. ALL. TIME.

G: Lynn Greer, Temple (1997-2002) – Earlier in the decade he took a relatively ordinary, but scrappy Temple team on his back and led them to the Elite Eight, where they lost to the eventual National Champion, Michigan State Spartans.

G: Delonte West, St. Joseph’s (2001-04) – Well, if it weren’t for Jameer, this guy could have contended for National Player of the Year. His fine stroke spread the floor for the hard-nosed legend that was Nelson.

G: Randy Foye, Villanova (2002-06) – the prototype of the “Villanova Guard.” The 6’4 guy, who, when told Villanova would be running a four guard set as the starting lineup, went to the dentist to get a mouthpiece fit just so he could cover the opposing power forward. This guy was tough and his tenacity is something Coach Wright has tried to breed in all of his guards since.

C: Dante Cunningham, Villanova (2005-09) – To be honest, it was very difficult to think of a great big man in the past decade of Big Five (and Co.) hoops. Let me know if I’m missing anybody. Sure, there are PLENTY of guards. There have been so many guards that I could probably craft three or four whole lineups of them. Still, I cannot think of many players who were more underrated in their tenures than Cunningham. “ D.C.” (no, you don’t have to shield your eyes, not Derrick Coleman) was not asked to be a star until his senior year – and up until that point he was the perfect role player – unflinchingly doing whatever Jay Wright asked. Dante rode off into the sunset with a Final Four, proving that perhaps Villanova is not all about the guard. (Nova has several big man prospects who have signed on since, so his impact has reached off the court)

Coach: Jay Wright – Well what’d you expect? Before 2004 maybe it was Fran Dunphy. I mean he is Frantastic. You can see with what he’s doing with Temple and what happened to Penn when he left, that – in short – he’s a great coach. Or maybe it is Philadelphia University coach Herb Magee. “The Shot Doctor” is one of the winningest coaches of all time. Still, Jay Wright is the great adapter. When Villanova loses big men, he says, “No problem, I’ll go 4 guards AND make it work!” Secondly, and in some circles most importantly, Jay takes home best-dressed as well. His Armani collection is top of the line. The charismatic Coach Wright continues to shock the country with the powerhouse program he has built and the true grit his players display. As long as this guy is around, it appears Villanova will be a force to be reckoned with, both locally and nationally. Here’s to you, Jay.

And the top moment that I experienced live amongst the Big Five this decade, drum roll please… goes to…

The Holy War, 2003

The Scene: the sold out and rockin’ Palestra – arguably the finest venue to watch a basketball game in the world.
The Happening: St. Joe’s, led by the legendary Jameer and Delonte tandem, jumped out to a 41-10 lead over the beginning of the Wright dynasty. The Hawks did not let up, harassing the young ‘Nova squad all the way to victory. The Palestra kept rockin’ (at least for you St. Joe’s fans) and the intensity was exhilarating. The experience of a night of basketball in the Palestra is truly unmatched in all of sports – when these guys scuffle, you better be ready to play or else…

So the decade is coming to an end. And that is only MY finest memory. Even as a Nova fan, I’ll never forget the passion in the chants back and forth – truly unforgettable. Please do not hesitate to post your own out of the plethora of memories that City basketball has provided this decade.

I leave you with one last thought: for all the ups and downs Philly basketball has experienced this decade, from “goon-gate” to March Madness success, the passion is there, the energy is there, you’ve got to be there! And here’s to another decade of bloody lips and ruthless hustle.

You stay gritty, Philadelphia. I’m Joe Gallagher?

Best of the Decade – 76ers

Posted by Dany Sloan On January - 4 - 2010

This past decade began with the highest of highs for the Sixers, but ended with a dwindling fanbase that mostly ignored the antics of a terrible team. The return of Allen Iverson hasn’t even been enough to get people interested in a unit with few bright spots. While the end of the ‘00s have left us fans with little to cheer about, the decade as a whole has seen some great play on the court and the superhuman efforts of the franchise’s one true marquee player of the past 10 years.

All-Decade Team

PG: Eric Snow (2000-2004)
SG: Allen Iverson (2000-2006, 2009)
SF: Andre Iguodala (2004-2009)
PF: Kenny Thomas (2002-2005)
C: Dikembe Mutombo (2001-2002)

6th Man: Aaron McKie (2000-2005)

Honorable Mentions: Andre Miller, Chris Webber, Samuel Dalembert, George Lynch, Thad Young

Head Coach: Larry Brown

Top 3 Players of the Decade

1. Allen Iverson - As the last decade began, Iverson was at the apex of his career. The Sixers were one of the best teams in the NBA, and while it wasn’t always easy, they muscled their way to the Finals that year against heavy favorites the Lakers. He led the team with his play and his heart, and Philadelphia loved him until the day he quit in ’06. He was the league’s MVP in 2001 and made the All-Star team each year with the Sixers. His monster year came in ’05-’06 when he scored 33 points per game, had 7.4 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.9 steals on shooting that sat just below 45%. We all know how good he was and those of us who thought he would be a distraction when he returned to the team this season are probably surprised that he’s just one of the guys. It seems that our AI has grown up.

2. Aaron McKie – Philadelphia born and raised, this is my sentimental pick, but with good reason. A good team needs dependable guys on the bench, and while he was with the Sixers, McKie was a guy that you could depend on. He picked up the 6th Man award in ’00-’01 with some absolutely stellar play. He played in all but 6 games, and averaged 11.6 PPG, 4.1 assists, and 5 rebounds, with a 77% success rate from the free throw line. Now a coach with the team, he’s a guy that always played hard and made a difference every night.

3. Andre Iguodala - I didn’t know what to make of him when he was drafted, and although he will never be a player of the other AI’s caliber, Iggy has show growth over the past 5 years. He’s been the face of the franchise for the past few years, and a player that had steadily improved to become a star. Over his career here, he’s started in all but 6 games. Discounting his first 2 seasons, his PPG has held court around 19 on a 43% average. His other numbers are just as strong: 1.8 steals, 4.5 assists, and 5.8 rebounds. Although he’ll never be a true #1, he has shown the ability to lead the team.

Top Moments of the Decade

The run to the 2001 NBA Finals – This run was full of highlights, and it was the last Sixers team to really bring the entire city together. We all know how huge Iverson was, but the reason the team got as far as they did was due to the contributions of everyone on the team. Mutombo was a beast at center whose finger-wagging after a block was just as memorable as the act of sending the ball the other way. Eric Snow and Aaron McKie were role-players who elevated their games to new levels. And finally, you can’t forget the excellent job Larry Brown did as coach.

Iverson steps over Tyronn Lue (June 6, 2001) – Iverson has never been better than he was in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. After he crossed-over Tyronn Lue and hit the jumper, Lue fell down only to have AI step over him. It was a brilliant moment. If it happened now, it would likely result in a technical.

Iggy hits game-winning 3-pointer (March 17, 2009) - As the season was winding down, the Sixers found themselves in playoff contention due to a once again weak Eastern Conference. In Los Angeles, they were in a tight contest against a lethargic Lakers, down by just 2 in the game’s waning moments. For the last shot of the game, Iggy was able to get open, grab the inbound pass, and drain the 3-poiners for a win. It was a gutsy move, but it worked and the Sixers solidified their grip on the 6th seed.

“We talkin’ about pracice” (May 8, 2002) - Despite his great play, Iverson was never a model teammate. He had run-ins with the law, arguments with coaches and teammates, and he frequently blew off practices and team events. This infamous press conference occurred after he skipped too many practices, and was called out by both coach Larry Brown and the media.

The Sixers in very early 2010 are a team in disarray – there’s no way around it. Eddie Jordan is doing an awful job coaching, Samuel Dalembert is an albatross contractually and on the court, and Iguodala is a very good #2 player, but not the star the team needs to guide it. Looking deeper, you can see a new nucleus forming that could be the team’s championship core of the future. Players like Marreese Speights and Jrue Holiday are young and hungry, and if they’re supplemented with the right coach a true #1, who knows where they could go?

Best of the Decade – Eagles

Posted by Dany Sloan On January - 1 - 2010


The naughts solidified the Eagles as Philadelphia’s team. Although they haven’t given the city that parade down Broad St. (yet), the team’s popularity is undeniable. The only people who will truly understand why we live and die with this team are those that have spent time in and around the city.

Over the course of the decade, the Eagles have gone to the playoffs 8 times, won the division 5 times, made the conference championship game 5 times, and the Super Bowl once. More importantly, they have been a model of consistency that has seen the same head coach preside over them for over ten years. They’re also a team that graduates assistants to other head coaching positions across the league, having a staff that is sought after because of their professionalism and remarkable football minds.

Franchise QB Donovan McNabb

All-Decade Team

QB: Donovan McNabb (2000–2009)
WR: DeSean Jackson (2008-2009), Terrell Owens (2004-2005)
RB: Brian Westbrook (2002-2009), Duce Staley (2000-2003)
TE: Chad Lewis (2000-2005)
OL: Jon Runyan (2000-2008), Shawn Andrews (2004-2009), Jamaal Jackson (2005-2009), Tra Thomas (2000-2008), Jermane Mayberry (2000-2004)

DL: Hugh Douglas (2000-2002, 2004), Trent Cole (2005-2009), Corey Simon (2000-2004), Mike Patterson (2005-2009)
LB: Stewart Bradley (2007-2009), Jeremiah Trotter (2000-2001, 2004-2006, 2009), Carlos Emmons (2000-2003)
CB: Sheldon Brown (2002-2009), Troy Vincent (2000-2003)
S: Brian Dawkins (2000-2008), Michael Lewis (2002-2006)

K: David Akers (2000-2009)
P: Sean Landeta (2000-2002, 2005)
KR: Brian Mitchell (2000-2002)
PR: Brian Westbrook (2002-2009)

Head Coach: Andy Reid
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Johnson

Honorable Mentions: Correll Buckhalter, Brent Celek, Lito Sheppard, Quintin Demps, Asante Samuel, Todd Herremans, Ike Reese, Quintin Mikell

Top 5 Players of the Decade

1. Donovan McNabb – He’s the franchise player that a lot of people didn’t really want, and no offense to the great Randall Cunningham, he’s the greatest quarterback that Philadelphia has ever seen and one of the greatest of the past decade in the NFL. Until he gets that Super Bowl ring, he’ll still have his doubters, but us fans with common sense know what he means to this team and city.

Dawkins during pre-game intros

2. Brian Dawkins – The emotional leader of the team for most of this decade, his presence was felt both on and off the field. His pre-game antics were legendary and his level of play was always inspired, which is why seeing him leave hurt so much. A total of 25 forced fumbles and 24 interceptions over that span is nothing to sneeze at either.

3. Brian Westbrook – This is a guy that has done it all – run the ball all over the field, catch passes at a remarkable frequency, and run back punt returns. Injuries may have slowed him down, but he’s a tough player in a tough position. From 2004 to 2008, he totaled more than 1,200 yards combined in both rushing and receiving. He had a career year in 2007 when he racked up over 2,000 yards.

4. Terrell Owens – T.O. was a narcissistic asshole (and still is), but when he was pulling down passes and fueling the Eagles run to the Super Bowl in 2004, fans didn’t care. He may have only spent parts of two seasons in Philly, but he was the only true star the Eagles had at that position this decade, at least until DeSean.

5. Jon Runyan – Runyan was born to play in Philly. He anchored the offensive line for years and played through what was surely some excruciating pain, but he loved playing football. There are few constants in life, but one of them was seeing Big Jon on the field every Sunday. He may have made just one Pro Bowl, in 2002, but his impact on the right side of the line was immense.

Plays of the Decade

1. 4th and 26 (January 11, 2004) – This is one of those plays everyone remembers where they were when this happened. After a bye week, the Eagles were facing the Packers in the divisional playoff games, and late in the 4th quarter they were down 17-14. After some penalties and a sack, the Eagles had a huge hill to climb with a 4th and 26 and no timeouts left. What happened next was something that every fan had playing in their heads, but no one expected it to happen. When McNabb threw the ball and Freddie Mitchell pulled it down, getting the first down, I couldn’t believe what I just saw. The Eagles fans crowding the NYC bar that was showing the game stared in disbelief at what had just happened, then started cheering. After several high fives and the tying field goal, we knew it would be ok. The Eagles pulled out the win in overtime, 20-17.

2. Brian Westbrook’s punt return vs. the Giants (October 19, 2003) – While returning a punt for a touchdown is special enough by itself, this return became a turning point for the team. After a dismal 2-3 start, this play sealed the win for the Eagles in the Meadowlands, who went on to win the next 9 games. They won the NFC East, got a first round bye, and made it to the NFC Championship game where the Carolina Panthers halted their fine season.

3. McNabb’s 14-second scramble vs. Cowboys (November 15, 2004) – One oft-forgotten skill of McNabb is his ability to avoid defenders in the pocket, and it was nowhere more evident than on his play against Dallas in 2004. Unable to find an open receiver and doing everything he could to avoid a sack, #5 ran back and forth for over 14 seconds until he threw the ball downfield to an open Freddie Mitchell. FredEx, who was again in the right place at the right time, caught the ball for a 60-yard reception, sealing the win against the Cowboys.

Lito Sheppard out-running the competition

4. Lito Sheppard interception + touchdown return (October 8, 2006) – Any TD against the Cowboys is a good one, but cornerback Lito Sheppard took rubbing it in to a new level with this pick. With the Eagles only up by 7 points, Dallas was inside the 10 and Drew Bledsoe fired a shot into the endzone that seemed to be on target until Lito Sheppard stepped in the way. He not only grabbed the interception, but he ran it back 102 yards for a touchdown, which sealed the game for Philly.
See video here

5. Benching McNabb vs. Ravens (November 23, 2008) – Even a franchise player can get benched, and that’s just what happened when the Eagles played the Ravens last year. By halftime, he was 8 for 18 for 59 yards and had two interceptions and a fumble. That’s a quarterback rating of just 13.2, which is absolutely terrible. The week before wasn’t much better as he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in an overtime tie (loss) with Cincinnati.

While you can blame the running game and defense as well, the truth was that McNabb was dismal, so when halftime rolled around in Baltimore Andy Reid benched him. It was a decision that was both expected and unexpected, especially given the relationship between these two. Apparently this was what McNabb needed to light that fire under his ass. Both his, and the team’s, season turned around dramatically as they closed out the season winning all of their games but one and making the playoffs. They lost in the NFC Championship game to the Arizona Cardinals.

This low point in McNabb’s career showed him, and the Delaware Valley, that he wasn’t untouchable. Since that fateful day, McNabb has been playing to the high level we’ve all come to expect from him.

The Next Decade

With the new decade beginning, the Eagles find themselves in the playoffs again, along with the possibility of yet another NFC East title. Sunday’s match-up against the Cowboys will be a fitting way to end the season. If anything can be said about the next 10 years, it’s that the Eagles are set up for the long term. Reid will be around to at least 2013, and the coaches have an uncanny ability of knowing exactly how to build a team, frequently bringing on young talent at the right time and nurturing players with promise. Players of the past couple years, like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, and Winston Justice are prime examples of this philosophy.

One thing’s for sure – although they can be frustrating at times, the Eagles remain a fun team to watch. Will the future bring us that long-awaited Super Bowl trophy? That’s impossible to say, but if any team is set up to do so, it’s these guys.

Best of the Decade – Flyers

Posted by Chris Shafer On December - 31 - 2009

The decade for the Flyers will forever be described by the ups and downs. The organization went in as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and would roll out as such by the end of 2009 despite great periods, slumps, dramatic turnarounds, and even the worst season in franchise history.

The Flyers All-Decade Team

W -- Simon Gagne (2000-Present): 692 GP -- 270 G -- 261 A -- 531 P

Future hall-of-famer Mark Recchi scored the second most points for the Flyers this decade.

W -- Mark Recchi (2000-2004): 451 GP -- 142 G -- 255 A -- 397 P

W -- John LeClair (2000-2004): 350 GP -- 124 G -- 124 A -- 248 P

W -- Mike Knuble (2005-2009): 334 GP -- 120 G -- 115 A -- 235 P

W -- Jeremy Roenick (2001-2004): 252 GP -- 74 G -- 120 A -- 194 P

W -- Danny Briere (2007-Present): 163 GP -- 66 G -- 76 A -- 142 P

W -- Scott Hartnell (2007-Present): 224 GP -- 67 G -- 69 A -- 136 P

W -- Sami Kapanen (2003-2008): 364 GP -- 53 G -- 76 A -- 129 P

C -- Mike Richards (2005-Present): 358 GP -- 103 G -- 171 A -- 274 P

C -- Jeff Carter (2005-Present): 375 GP -- 133 G -- 127 A -- 260 P

C -- Keith Primeau (2000-2005): 370 GP -- 99 G -- 148 A -- 247 P

C -- Peter Forsberg (2005-2007): 106 GP -- 34 G -- 89 A -- 123 P

D -- Eric Desjardins (2000-2006): 437 GP -- 54 GP -- 164 A -- 218 P

Kim Johnsson was an important part of the Flyers' blueline for a number of years.

D -- Kim Johnsson (2001-2006): 324 GP -- 42 G -- 116 A -- 158 P

D -- Kimmo Timonen (2007-Present): 215 GP -- 14 G -- 100 A -- 114 P

D -- Derian Hatcher (2005-2008): 224 GP -- 10 G -- 28 A -- 38 P

D -- Joni Pitkanen (2003-2007): 227 GP -- 25 G -- 96 A -- 121 P

D -- Braydon Coburn (2007-Present): 236 GP -- 24 G -- 69 A -- 93 P

G -- Roman Cechmanek (2000-2003): 186 GP -- 101 W -- 23 SO -- 2.17 GAA -- 0.917 SV%

G -Martin Biron (2007-2009): 156 GP -- 76 W -- 9 SO -- 2.78 GAA -- 0.913 SV%

G -Robert Esche (2002-2007): 153 GP -- 73 W -- 8 SO -- 2.87 GAA -- 0.902 SV%

There is likely some dispute about Biron and Esche, but since both have similar goaltending stats as well as great playoff runs (Esche 2004, Biron 2008), I thought they both deserve a shot to make the team.

Honorable Mention: Justin Williams (2000-2004)  and Chris Therien (2000-2006).

Top 3 Players

Keith Primeau became a Philadelphia legend during the 2004 playoffs.

Keith Primeau -- Say what you want about his salary or his return investment on the scoreboard. Keith Primeau rode into Philadelphia on the Rod Brind’Amour trade. Brind’Amour, a fan favorite of many Flyers fans, was lost in a trade with plenty of rumors swirling around. Primeau caught the wrong end of that, but if he came into Philadelphia as an almost unwelcome salary forward, he certainly left as a legend. In the magical 2004 playoff run he carried an entire team on his back running on heart alone. The old man still had some fight left, and as captain, he brought the team within one win of making it back to the Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately the Tampa Bay Lightning, who beat the Flyers in seven games during that final Eastern Conference Final of the old-era NHL, would go on to win the Stanley Cup. With the lockout destroying any hope for a 2004-05 season, many of the Flyers legends including John LeClair, Mark Recchi, and Jeremy Roenick would move on or retire. Primeau stuck with the team and accounted for a goal and six assists in nine games during the 2005-06 season before a concussion ended his career. He coached high school hockey in the area before taking a player development position with the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL. He remains one of the game’s foremost spokesmen for concussion protection and is even donating his brain to science upon his passing. He remains a legend in Philadelphia.

Simon Gagne -- Simon Gagne has seen all of Flyers’ hockey for a decade. Often though, he is an afterthought. Even with injuries he has made his way into the Flyers’ all-time scoring lists, and his love for the city remains even when the fans sometimes forget him. He was a promising young rookie when Brian Boucher carried the Flyers into the 2000 playoffs. He was there to watch Lindros’ career fall apart because of concussions. He was there with Desjardins and LeClair. He fought through the 2004 playoffs of legend and returned to play with the Peter Forsbereg, the one that got away, even through the black season. He’s seen the movement of many friends and teammates, the fall of the Flyers’ greats of the 90′s, and the rise of the new generation post-lockout. Gagne may not be the toughest or most hard-nosed Flyer ever to suit up, but he has seen this team through thick and thin; through injury, defeat, and heartbreak as well as victory.

Mike Richards - The advent of Mike Richards in Philadelphia was nothing short of a phenomenon. After the black year, it was Richards’ complete game that brought this team back to winning. Flyers hockey was once again, fast, hard-nosed, and high scoring. Richards played the game with a lot of heart, and everyone loved him for it. He was rewarded with a contract lasting until 2020 as well as a ‘C’ on his chest. When the team started to appear as if it was lacking heart though, the young captain was the first to take the blame. He reacted defensively when the media prodded into his partying lifestyle away from the rink. It was Richards and his good friend, Jeff Carter that took the fall for the slump of November 2009 whether it was their fault or not. Their scoring, along with some help from Briere and Gagne, would bring the Flyers back into a winning streak to close out 2009. The fans are still not sure what to consider Mike Richards just yet, but there are a lot of expectations on his shoulders.

Honorable Mention

  • Danny Briere -- After the black season the Flyers acquired Danny Briere to put Philadelphia on the hockey map once again. Despite questions about injury and salary he continues to play hard on every shift. The midget scoring machine is easily one of the reasons the Flyers were successful in the latter half of the decade whether people believe it or not.
  • Peter Forsberg -- Forsberg did not stay long, but the great “what if” had come back to Philadelphia, the team that traded him for Eric Lindros right after the draft, for another shot. Injury issues caught up with him once again, but for a short time, when he was on the top line with Simon Gagne, the city of Philadelphia fell in love with him. He remains a fan favorite despite his short stint with the orange and black.
  • Chris Pronger -- The Flyers had come full circle by the end of the decade. They had been the favorites, had gone through the stages of an underdog, had dropped to the league basement, and even returned brighter than ever. Chris Pronger was acquired in a trade on draft day 2009 to get the Flyers over the hump. He was inked to a long-term contract and has so far been as advertised. Many have said that the Flyers and Chris Pronger were a match made in heaven…possibly hell. So far they have been right, but the results will have to speak for themselves.

Top 5 Moments

2004 Playoffs -- The entirety of the 2004 postseason was absolutely magical for the Orange and Black. It was the stuff of legends that will be told in Flyers history for years. Captain Keith Primeau brought a fire that Philadelphia had not seen in a long time, and even though it did not end in victory, it will forever be known as the highlight of the decade.

Lupul Lifts Flyers Back To Top - The 2006-07 season was the worst in franchise history. The black season had ripped a whole in Flyers hockey that many worried would last a long time. The Flyers had not missed the playoffs many times in their history, but that season in particular was terrible. The organization immediately tried to get back on top. They moved Forsberg for Upshall, Hartnell, and Timonen. Coburn was acquired from Atlanta. Biron came in, and the organization signed Briere. The Flyers came out hot in 2007-08, but almost immediately Gagne was lost for the entire season. That was when Richards emerged as a Flyer and, along with many new acquisitions, carried the team back to the playoffs. The orange and black were still not legitimate though. They were not a team to be feared again just yet. They entered a tough series against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. It raged on until the overtime of game seven where a goal by Joffrey Lupul announced the Flyers’ return to the NHL spotlight.

Flyers vs. Senators Roster Brawl 2004 -- Possibly the most memorable fight in all of Flyers’ history. Everyone knows where they were and what they were doing when this massive brawl broke out.

Hartnell Leads Great Comeback in 2008 -- On December 11th, 2008 the Flyers fell down 5-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes by the 3rd period. Hartnell had a huge fight as well as a hat trick as the orange and black came back to win the game in a shootout. It marked the biggest comeback in Flyers’ history.

Primeau 5 OT Goal in 2000 -- On May 5th, 2000 Primeau worked his magic to win the longest running game in NHL history in the 5th OT over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Future

Under a new head coach, Peter Laviolette, the Flyers are trying to regain their composure as a legitimate Stanley Cup favorite. The core is set up on the blueline and in the offensive zone. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, and James vanRiemsdyk have bright futures ahead of them. Even Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, and Ryan Parent still have some growing to do. Meanwhile veterans like Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, Chris Pronger, and Kimmo Timonen will keep this team together.

The season right now is still a question mark, but could this be the generation that brings the Stanley Cup back to Philadelphia? We’ll find out in the next decade.

Best of the Decade – Phillies

Posted by Kieran Kelly On December - 31 - 2009

utley.jpg(Even though the decade doesn’t end until next year, I’ll still join the party and contribute)

Simply put, this has to be the best decade in Phillies’ history. On top of winning their 2nd World Series, the Phillies won 3 NL East titles and won the National League Pennant twice. The team had a record of 850-769 from 2000-2009 with only one losing season mixed in. (They went 80-81 in 2002, but didn’t make up a game, so I’m not counting that one) After finally getting over the hump in 2007, the Phillies have been dominating the National League. With no one having an Atlanta Braves-type NL East dominating run, I’d think it’s fair to say that the Phillies were the team of the decade in the East.

Let’s start off this Decade Recap by naming the Phillies’ All-Decade Starting lineup, brought to you by our own David Foley.

C -- Mike Lieberthal (2000-20006) 719 G, .279/.345, 83 HR, 359 RBI

1B - Ryan Howard (2004-Present) 732 G, .279/.360, 222 HR, 640 RBI

2B -- Chase Utley (2003-Present) 891 G, .295/.379, 161 HR, 585 RBI

3B -- Scott Rolen (2000-2002) 379 G, .284/.370, 68 HR, 262 RBI

SS - Jimmy Rollins (2000-2009) 1406 G, .274/.329, 146 HR, 621 RBI, 326 SB

LF -- Pat Burrell (2000-2008) 1195 G, .257/.368, 233 HR, 748 RBI

CF -- Shane Victorino (2005-2009) 607 G, .289, 44 HR, 220 RBI, 102 SB

RF - Bobby Abreu (2000-2006) 1050 G, .298/.412, 158 HR, 647 RBI

Bench -

OF -- Jayson Werth (2007-Present) 385 G, .276, 68 HR, 215 RBI

OF -- Aaron Rowand (2006-2007) 270 G, .290/.353, 39 HR, 136 RBI

OF - Doug Glanville (2000-2002, 2004) 532 G, .259/.291, 30 HR, 150 RBI

C - Carlos Ruiz (2006-Present) 366 G, .246,.337, 22 HR, 138 RBI

1B - Jim Thome (2003-2005) 361 G, .260/.386, 96 HR, 266 RBI

SS -- Eric Bruntlett (Kidding!)

2B - Placido Polanco (2002-2005, Present) 344 G, .297, 38 HR, 160 RBI

Starting Rotation -

Brett Myers (2002-2009) 1183.2 IP, 73-63, 4.40 ERA, 986K, 21/24 SVO

Cole Hamels (2006-Present) 736 IP, 48-34, 3.67 ERA, 686 K

Randy Wolf (2000-2006) 1053.1 IP, 63-51, 4.06 ERA, 855 K

Vicente Padilla (2000-2005) 741.1 IP, 49-49, 3.98 ERA, 496 K

Jamie Moyer (2006-Present) 609 IP, 47-31, 4.49 ERA, 376 K

Bullpen -

Brad Lidge (2008-Present) 128 IP, 153 K, 72/83 SVO

Jose Mesa (2001-2003, 2007) 242 IP, 188 K, 112/129 SVO

Billy Wagner (2004-2005) 126 IP, 146 K, 59/66 SVO

Rheal Cormier (2001-2006) 358.1 IP, 28-21, 246 K

Geoff Geary (2003-2007) 267.1 IP, 13-4, 173 K

Ryan Madson (2003-Present) 516.1 IP, 95 HLD, 15 SV, 421 K

Now, I’m sure there is going to be some disagreement, but here are what I consider to be the top five players and top five moments for the Philadelphia Phillies from 2000-2009.

Top 5 Players

Chase Utely- After being named to Sports Illustrated’s All-Decade team, how could the man responsible for coining the most iconic Phillies phrase, World Fucking Champions, not be the top Phillie of the decade?

Jimmy Rollins J-Roll has been the face of the franchise for the past few years. His personality defines this team. Ever since he declared the Phillies “The Team to Beat,” they’ve backed up their leader with their play on the field. While not the prototypical leadoff hitter, Rollins has put up the offensive numbers and was named NL MVP in 2007. This has been J-Roll’s team for the past five years and will continue to be until Rollins eventually retires as a Phillie.

Ryan Howard Ever since winning the NL ROY in 2005 after playing half a season, RyHo has been one of, if not the, best power hitters in the game. Following his ROY with a league MVP award in 2006 just reaffirmed his rapid ascent to the league’s elite. Tailor made to hit in Citizens Bank Park, he was the quickest player in major league history to 200 home runs, ending 2009 with 222 home runs. While he missed some time due to Jim Thome blocking him, Howard isn’t wasting any time catching up on that missed time.

Bobby Abreu While everyone in Philly knocked him for his lack of hustle, it’s hard to ignore his offensive production. During his six full seasons here, he averaged 25 HR, 97 RBI, 31 SB, and 110 walks while batting .300. Abreu was an offensive machine and will probably always be under appreciated here. During the early part of the decade, Abreu was the offense. He was extremely consistent, but he wasn’t’ around for the franchise’s turnaround. Trading Abreu was the catalyst that enabled the team’s younger core of Rollins, Utley, and Howard to take over the leadership and change the atmosphere around in Philadelphia. Trading Abreu was tough, but it led to the franchise’s revival.

Cole Hamels/Brad Lidge: I’ve combined these two, based on the recommendation of another Philly blogger, because without them, the 2008 World Fucking Champions probably wouldn’t have happened. Their impact over the course of the decade is arguable, but the World Series was a huge part of that decade, and without these two, we’d be in an entirely different discussion right now.

(Honorable Mention: Pat Burrell,  Shane Victorino, Mike Lieberthal, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson)

Top Five Moments: These aren’t necessarily the “greatest” moments of the last ten years, just the top five memorable moments, from my perspective.

1. Winning 2008 World Series. No words needed.

2. Winning 2007 NL East. After a few years of hanging around in the Wild Card hunt, the Phillies finally made a push and won their first NL East title since 1993. With Opening Day starter-turned reliever Brett Myers on the mound, the Phillies capitalized on a monumental collapse by the New York Mets to overtake them on the final day of the season. Even though the Phillies were swept in the playoffs by the Rockies, this was a sign that the Phillies had finally taken that first step towards winning a championship.

3. 2003 signing of Jim Thome. Philadlephia was always the place where free agents didn’t want to come and homegrown stars like Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen wanted out. This all changed when Jim Thome came to Philly. As CSN Philly’s John Finger put it:

Jim Thome’s arrival was bigger yet. Not only was Thome the biggest name on the free-agent market, but also he was a symbol that there were big changes coming.

Even though Thome was traded to make room for Ryan Howard, his arrival signaled a change in how Philadelphia was perceived. With a young core of talent and a new ballpark, this was a team on the upswing. It could only go up from there.

4. 2008 NLDS Brett Myers’ at-bat, Shane Victorino Grand Slam. When the Phillies made it back to the playoffs in 2008 few knew what to expect. Facing the Milwaukee Brewers and baseball’s hottest pitcher in C.C. Sabathia, it was going to be a challenge. Up 1-0 in the best of three NLDS, the Fightins’ were facing Sabathia at CBP. Pitching on 3 days rest for the 4th consecutive time, the Phillies finally broke him. With the game tied at 1, Brett Myers came to the plate. With chants of “C.C….C.C..” raining down from the largest crowd in CBP history, we all know what happened next…

…which led to this…

…which led to the Phillies ultimately winning the World Series.

5. Aaron Rowand runs into the wall. Philly has always been known as a blue-collar town, so when Aaron Rowand came over from Chicago in the Jim Thome trade, he seemed to fit right in. He elevated himself to legendary status in Philly with his catch on May 11, 2006. Due to MLB being a jerk about YouTube videos, you’ll have to make due with this picture.

Or, you can head here and watch the video from MLB.com. This is a catch that will be talked about forever.

(Honorable Mention: Kevin Millwood’s no-hitter, Winning 2008 & 2009 National League Pennant, first game at Citizens Bank Park, Last game at Veterans Stadium, Matt Stairs’ NLCS home run that still hasn’t landed in LA)

Heading into 2010, with Roy Halladay now on board, the Phillies seem to be in perfect position to continue their run in the National League.  The franchise is due for some turnover in the next few years, with some veteran players getting older, but with some solid prospects in the minors, the Phillies will likely extend their time as the best team in the city for a while.

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