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Receiving yards for Cowboys’ Amari Cooper during Sunday’s 29-23 win over Eagles

Title envy

Posted by Eric Fisher On June 6

Fisher column logo2Either Cleveland or Oakland is about to end a long championship drought.

If the Cavaliers prevail in the NBA Finals, it would be the franchise’s first championship. Even more remarkably, it would be Cleveland’s first championship since the Browns won the 1964 NFL Championship. That’s an incredible 147 seasons for Cleveland teams without a championship.

If the Warriors prevail in the NBA Finals, it would be their first championship since 1975. Oakland’s last championship came in 1989, when the A’s swept the Giants in the famous “earthquake” World Series.

While either Cleveland or Oakland will see its title drought end, Philly fans will go yet another year without a title.

Philadelphia’s drought doesn’t quite match up with Cleveland. After all, the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. But that title, just the second in franchise history, is the only championship won by one of the city’s four major pro sports teams since 1983.

Some have suggested that if the Warriors earn their NBA rings, it will count as a partial championship for Philadelphia because of the franchise’s roots in the City of Brotherly Love. Sorry, that doesn’t count any more than the World Series titles by the Oakland A’s, who were a juggernaut at one point during their 54-year tenure in Philadelphia.

We can’t share in its championships, but we do share some similarities with Oakland. When the Warriors won their last title, in 1975, Oakland was in the midst of a decade during which the Raiders and A’s also won titles. That same year, the Flyers were winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup, starting a decade in which the Phillies won their first World Series, the Sixers appeared in three NBA Finals before finally winning in 1983, the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals two more times and the Eagles appeared in their first Super Bowl.

There are also some similarities with Cleveland. The Eagles’ last championship, as is the case with the Browns came during the 1960s. The Eagles’ championship drought is four years longer than the Browns’ drought. Unlike the Eagles, though, the Browns have never played in a Super Bowl, one of only four teams to share that dubious distinction.

This week the New York Times compiled a list of the most cursed sports cities. Cleveland was No. 1. Oakland was No. 9. Philadelphia was No. 7, but would have ranked higher if the Phillies’ 2008 title hadn’t interrupted what otherwise would be a 32-year championship drought.

What stings for Philly fans is that Cleveland and Oakland both seem closer to ending their droughts than Philadelphia. While the Cavaliers and Warriors are competing for a title, we’ve gone a full calendar year without one of our four major sports teams even reaching the postseason.

Quite frankly, our teams don’t seem close to ending the championship drought any time soon.

The Phillies have admitted they are years away from being a contending team. They held on to the stars of the 2008 championship team for far too long. The Phillies are caught in a downward spiral in which they take a step backward every year, going from winning the World Series to losing in the World Series, to losing in the NLCS to losing in the Divisional Series to missing the playoffs to finishing in last place.

The Sixers can’t even achieve success in their quest for the worst record in the NBA. They finished with the NBA’s worst record during the 2013-14 season and with the third-worst record this season.

Even general manager Sam Hinkie won’t put a timetable on when the Sixers will be contenders. When head coach Brett Brown suggested that next season would be the one in which wins and losses start to matter, he quickly backtracked from that comment, perhaps after a conversation with Hinkie. Translation: it could be a long time before the Sixers climb above .500.

The Flyers, who, with apologies to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, are generally the gold standard of success in Philly, have missed the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. A Cup run seems unlikely until they turn over their defense. In a best-case scenario, it will take two or three years for their young defensemen to develop and for the Flyers to be Cup contenders. The hiring of Dave Hakstol as head coach seems like a step in the right direction, but there’s the nagging fact that Hakstol didn’t win a championship in seven trips to the Frozen Four with the University of North Dakota.

The Eagles seem to be the franchise closest to winning a championship. But the Eagles haven’t won a playoff game since the 2008 season. It’s sad when the team without a playoff win in its last six seasons is a city’s best hope for a championship.

There also is a concern that, unless Sam Bradford is break his pattern and remain healthy, the Eagles will enter the third year of the Chip Kelly regime without a quarterback who can lead them to the Super Bowl. If the Eagles can’t acquire that quarterback during the next two or three years, there is a concern that Kelly will finish up his five-year contract and head for, if you’ll excuse the expression, greener pastures.

Either the Warriors or Cavaliers will end a long championship drought by winning the NBA Finals.

Meanwhile, in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Blackhawks are shooting for their third title in six seasons, a streak that began in 2010 with a victory over the Flyers in the finals. The last time the Lightning won a Stanley Cup was in 2004. The Lightning reached the finals by defeat the Flyers in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals.

At this point, we would settle for the close calls the Flyers had in 2004 and 2010. We’d be happy simply to have a Philadelphia team make the playoffs.

It’s no wonder we have a well-developed case of title envy.

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