Many of the sports fans in the great city of Philadelphia are starting to moan that basically every major sports franchise we have are either in the basement or stuck right in the middle of the league standings. Yes, it’s only been 8 years now since the Phillies broke the “Curse of Billy Penn”, but for the fans that try not to miss a game these 8 years have seemed like an eternity due to the Eagles being highly inconsistent, the Sixers barely breaking into to double-digit wins, and the Phillies back to what they were before the glorious 5 years run led by Charlie Manuel. Luckily, the Flyers have been able to be consistent in making the playoffs most years; though they missed out on doing so at one point during these recent years as well. Philly sports fans need to now look back to Halloween of 2009, the day the storied Spectrum officially closed its doors.
Yes, that old building that didn’t fit in with our brand new stadiums in the complex. The building that was home to the Broad Street Bullies in the 1970s. The house where Dr. J, Mo Cheeks, Moses Malone, and Bobby Jones won their world championship and where Darryl Dawkins was throwing down powerful slam after slam. You can’t forget the vicious rivalry games between the Celtics and Sixers as well. The building that welcomed the Rocky statue when people claimed it wasn’t art and said that it belonged with the stadiums instead of the museum. This was arguably the second most historic arena in the city of Philadelphia.
Now we’ll go back to the infamous day where the doors were closed for good. It was the spookiest day of the year and weird things can tend to be. Philadelphia caught some of that spookiness. On that cold evening, the Phillies were tied 1-1 in the 2009 World Series, Brad Lidge came into the game for the save in the 9th inning and that’s where everything went wrong. Of course, Lidge wasn’t perfect in 2009 like he was the year before but he was still pretty darn good; this is where the curse came into effect.
Since that day the Phillies, who were in the middle of what was arguably the franchise’s best run, have regressed fully. 2009, they lost in the world series by dropping the series 4-2; which just happened to be the year after they won the world championship, and everyone knows it’s extremely tough to repeat. The following year the failed to win the pennant in 2010; this series ending in 6 games 4-2 too. The ending to the 2011 season was by far the biggest surprise, though; after winning a franchise record 102 games, they lost in the NLDS in game 5 on their home field. This was crushing to fans, especially since “The Big Piece” Ryan Howard blew out his Achilles tendon on the final out of the series. The next season in 2012, the Phils made a small run at the wildcard only to fall short and miss the postseason for the first season since 2006. The 2012 season firmly established the fact that the Phillies had gone down one step on the ladder each season since the 2008 world championship.
Now we focus our attention on the Birds. The season they were playing in while they closed the Spectrum, they finished with an 11-5 record and finished second in the NFC East; the team that won the division was the Dallas Cowboys, the team that the “Bird Gang” would be paired within one of the two NFC Wild Card playoff games. They lost to the Cowboys 34-14 in a game controlled by Dallas. The following season the Eagles finished 10-6 and won the division behind the speed-demon QB Michael Vick; they lost in the Wild Card Game one again, this time to the soon Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers by a score of 21-16. The next campaign they finished 2nd with an 8-8 record, next was the brutal part. The Eagles during the offseason leading into the 2012 season they went all out signing big name free agent Nnamdi Asomugha to a long lucrative contract, which ended up being a dud; along with that, they made trades and other signings that just didn’t work out. The finished 4-12, a record that was the worst for the franchise since 1998; this also led to Andy Reid, the franchise’s most winningest coach, getting fired. This led into the Chip Kelly era; this lasted a whole 3 seasons and he finished with a 26-21 record and one playoff appearance in 2013, a loss in the NFC Wild Card Round once again. Chip Kelly was fired after 15 games in the 2015 season.
Now to the 76ers, a team that name and colors represent our wonderful country have struggled tremendously since the end of the Iverson era. This only poured salt in the wound. Since the closing of the Spectrum, the Sixers have only appeared in the postseason in 2011 and 2012. In the 2012-13 season, the curse really hit the Sixers. They made a trade acquire Andrew Bynum, an All-Star Center from the Los Angeles Lakers, and swingman Jason Richardson from the Orlando Magic. The trade also sent forward Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets, Iguodala was the face of the franchise since the Iverson departure until the departure of his own. Bynum sat out all 82 games that season, and for a team built around him they held a 34-48 record and missed the playoffs. Since that season, the team’s record has dropped each year; all the way down the-the 10-72 record of the 2015-16 campaign, and that season was lovely to watch.
Finally, we reach the Flyers. In the 2009-10 season, they made one of the most dramatic runs ever in the NHL playoffs. Their first round series was against the New Jersey Devils, they won 4-1. Against the Boston Bruin, they went from down 3-0 to winning the series; the first NHL team to do such a thing. They beat the Canadiens 4-1 in the Conference Finals. The curse came into effect in the Stanley Cup Finals as they lost in game 6 on their home ice 4-2. Since that season the team has only made the playoffs 3 out of the following 5 seasons. All of those seasons were without championships.
It has only been 9 years since the Phils won the 2008 World Championship, which is definitely shorter than the length of the Billy Penn Curse, it’s a theory, though. It’s a simple thing to keep in mind as the years go on. I’m certainly going to root for the teams as much as anybody in Philadelphia, but the trend of all of our teams at the moment suggest no progress other than the Sixers draft pick palooza, the glimpse of Joel Embiid, the Phillies farm system being stockpiled from trades of the heroes from the 2008 team, the hope that Doug Peterson is the new Andy Reid, the hope that Wentz is as good as his potential and the hope that the Flyers can keep trending upwards. Unfortunately, though, the thought of the “Spectrum Curse” is hanging over the heads of Philly sports franchises.