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thekrisheim’s 2011 Year in Philly Sports

Dec 31, 2011, 1:20 PM EDT

2011 had its highs and lows in the Philly sports world. Longtime Level commenter thekrisheim takes a look back at the year that was.

For the fourth straight year, we’re honored to have long-time reader and commenter extraordinaire thekrisheim here to post his Philly sports year in review. His previous editions can be reviewed here (2008, 2009, 2010), and they’re definitely worth a look back.


The gleam of 2008 is gone. Don’t fool yourself. You’ve let your old self creep back in — the sun isn’t as bright each morning, the newspaper isn’t as fun, we’re heading back. You know it, I know it. Who’s leading us out? Mike Vick? An injured and often scrutinized Ryan Howard? The young naivety of Evan Turner or Claude Giroux? Maybe. Whoever it is, they’re going to be greeted with the praise and thanks of three million strong.

2011 wasn’t that great. Outside of the actual action on the field, there were labor strikes, court cases and scandals that took precedence over everything that happened. Unfortunately. The year was set up to be joyous, but outside of a historic Phillies regular season, the year was filled with rebuilding, under-performing, death, unforeseen scandal and collapses. We’re gonna try to put a smiley face on the best of 2011, but for me, it is time to move on…

Penn State
What else is there to say? This is our region’s biggest story from 2011 and will continue to be until the courts have their say. Fans want to get into the details of what happened, how and why – to me that is useless. The tens of thousands of people that the Penn State Football Program have supported or helped over the course of Joe Paterno’s reign, and make no mistake it was a reign, are meaningless in comparison to just one of the children’s life that was changed forever, if proven guilty, by Jerry Sandusky. No one—fans, administrators, employees, coaches or players alike—should confuse the issue right now, no matter how much it affects their own personal situation.


The 1%
2011 was dominated by labor disagreements in two of its largest sports.  For 18 weeks the billionaires and millionaires presiding over North America’s most profitable game argued over how much each other’s side was going to take home. The prospect of missing the start of actual NFL games was never really in doubt despite what ESPN told you, but for 18 weeks the fans of a sport that owes its entire lifeblood to them were treated as an afterthought. Similar feelings surrounded the NBA lockout, which lasted 21 weeks, but the NBA lockout chose a cloudier path as fans and non-fans argued mainly about being apathetic toward the actual disagreement.  The biggest takeaway from the NBA strike for me was the idea that it gave supposedly non-fans the chance to be vocal about their hate for a game that they openly welcomed back into their life that fateful night when David Stern decided to move on.

The Year In Bad Trades, Free Agent Signings and Possible Trades
1. Kris Versteeg – You know you thought this average player was a sign that the Flyers were “All-In” for the playoff run. What did we get? I still don’t know.
2. Luis Castillo  – You remember him? The stopgap replacement for the ailing Patron Saint of Philadelphia Chase Utley. Don’t you want those 2 weeks back that you actually thought about Luis Castillo?
3. Vince Young – If it weren’t for a controlled victory against the NY Giants, Vince would be one of the most hated players in this down. Providing the “Dream Team” fodder is going to take years to wash off this current roster and this from a guy who’s legacy as an Eagle will not outlast his “Dream Team” statement.
4. Steven Stamkos – Do I really need to bring this up? Congrats on clicking on all the links and providing the pageviews.


The Year In Ryan Howard
Starting to convince myself that Howard is the new McNabb. He is carrying the weight of the entire city on his back and has been rewarded handsomely for this responsibility. Sing his praises? You’re a hack fan that doesn’t know anything. Question his contract or his “statistics,” and you’re a bad fan. Who wins? No idea, but what I do know is for a baseball player he delivers just enough to keep these two sides of the argument alive for years to come.

1. The at-bat of the year, don’t kid yourself
2. The “who knew he could top last year’s last out of the season?” at-bat of the year, don’t kid yourself
3. Down a run?
4. He still goes Oppo-boppo in the big comeback games
5. Clutch

Top 3 Non Ryan Howard Phillies Moments
102 wins, some people may call them meaningless, these are my favorites…
1. Shake him off, Wilson
2. The other guy we got from Cleveland


Last year’s Flyers team crashed and burned out of the NHL Playoffs.  The league’s best team for months fell apart and was dismantled in the second round by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion.  The first round of the playoffs included an embarrassing merry-go-round of goalies that only a team like Colum
bus could muster up.  The off-season brought about swift and drastic changes including revelations that the or-gan-eye-za-tion might have asked its players to commit to a “dry island.” Regardless of fans’ sentiment or the media coverage, the team went into quick Extreme Makeover mode shipping Mike Richards and Jeff Carter out of town and signing the best goalie available on the free agent market.  Outside of the off the ice entertainment that Ilya Bryzgalov has brought to the town, he has been a disappointment but overshadowed by the emergence of Claude Giroux and the surprisingly solid play from Jaromir Jagr. 


The Fold Standard
The Eagles remain the biggest story in Philadelphia. Mike Vick is the biggest athlete this town has to offer and everything that has transpired for the team since DeSean Jackson treated MetLife Stadium (Then Giants Stadium) as his own playground has for the most part gone wrong…

- December 28th – Eagles lose Tuesday Night Football to Joe Webb and the Vikings and their chance for a playoff bye goes with it
- January 9th – Eagles lose to eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers in a tight game where David Akers misses crucial field goals
- January 15th- Fire Sean McDermott as Defensive Coordinator
- February 2nd – Promote Juan Castillo to Defensive Coordinator
- July 28th – DeSean Jackson Starts his holdout leading to a disappointing 2012 season
- July 30th – DREAM TEAM comment
- August 29th – Mike Vick signs a new contract that could be worth up to $100m over 6 years and goes on to miss 3 games
- September 29th – Rookie Casey Matthews demoted from starting LB position
- October 2nd – Ronnie Brown does what?

And the rest of the story sorta writes itself from there, even the “We’re Not Dead” Andy Reid staple of his tenure – the late December charge.  Who knows what 2012 bring for the Eagles, anyone who says they know doesn’t.

Sad Thoughts
Each year is not without significant losses to the Philadelphia Sports Community some more significant than others…
1. Smokin’ Joe
2. Christina Taylor
3. Leonard Weaver


2011 could prove the year that the Philadelphia Union truly cemented its place in the “4-sport” dominated Philadelphia sports scene. A legit TV deal, a national presence via their on the field performance, a first class facility and a core fan base were just a few of the things that the Union displayed in 2011. The marquee additions of guys like Faryd Mondragon and Freddy Adu created an excitement with soccer and on-soccer fans and the continued home support of a second year team can only lead to bigger things and larger expectations. Despite a perplexing and frustrating exit from the equally perplexing MLS playoffs, 2011 could prove to be the year that the Union are a part of the ongoing Philadelphia sports dialogue.


Doug’s Boys
The Sixers gave the Miami Heat a battle in the playoffs, and treated us to a most awesome Lou Williams shot, but were eventually outmatched by a more talented title contender. The strike shortened the first half of their 2011-12 season, but all signs point in a positive direction under Collins’ guidance. Will Jrue Holiday turn into an All-Star? Will ET have a breakout second season? When will Andre Iguodala finally be traded? Will there be Moose in 2012?

Year in Quotes
1. “Dream team,” – Vince Young
2. “Whatever…” – Cliff Lee
3. “We carry 23 players and there wasn’t 23 numbers up there.” – Paul Holmgren
4. “Just finishing our breakfast.” – Lebron James
5. “We can all count. Those points would have helped.” – Andy Reid
6. “Wait, I’ve got one.” – Joe Blanton
7. “Let’s Go Eat.” – Hunter Pence

2011 Under Appreciated List
For every flavor of the month like John Mayberry, another player goes someone unnoticed or under appreciated
1. Brad Lidge
2. Elton Brand
3. Kimmo Timonen

2012 Predictions
1. Howard Mudd retires, Juan Castillo transitioned from Defensive Coordinator to Offensive Quality Control/OL Coach, Steve Spagnuolo becomes highest paid Defensive Coordinator in NFL
2. Asante Samuel traded to the Kansas City Chiefs or Denver Broncos for draft pick
3. Vance Worley wins 17 games
4. JVR traded to the Carolina Hurricanes or New Jersey Devils
5. Domonic Brown is not traded, but John Mayberry hits .230 with 10 HRs
6. Philly Live does not open in April


Many thanks to thekrisheim for his great roundup. Here’s to a brighter 2012.