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Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On May 22

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Sports fans in the Delaware Valley seem to have become more provincial. That’s not a criticism. It’s simply an observation.

Fans of Philly sports teams seem to care increasingly more about their teams, particularly in the four major professional sports leagues, than they do about national sporting events.

There was an exciting finish to the Preakness on Saturday, with 13-1 shot Cloud Computing coming from behind down the stretch to barely edge Classic Empire. But that Triple Crown race was barely a blip on the local sports radar.

Joel Embiid and Dario Saric being named finalists for the NBA Rookie of the Year Award seemed to be bigger news than the NBA conference finals. The French Open will start this weekend with little fanfare – at least in Philadelphia.

My guess is that before the Rockies arrived for a four-game series this week, most Phillies fans didn’t know that they were in first place. Let’s try an experiment – just between you and me. How many division leaders in Major League Baseball can you name?

Unless they play fantasy sports, most Phillies fans probably couldn’t name a starting infield or pitching rotation for more than two other teams in the majors (not counting people who are big fans of teams from other cities).

Flyers fans used to have a better knowledge of the entire NHL. Now we’re fortunate if fans know all of the Flyers.

The NFL is a different animal because of its incredible popularity, but an Eagle getting a jaywalking ticket is still bigger news than almost anything that happens in another NFL city. As college football, unless there is some local connection, it seems to have become a secondary sport.

The irony is that there is more information available than ever before. Maybe, however, that’s part of the cause of the change. Perhaps there’s simply so much information that it all blends into the background. There are too many teams with too many players with too many televised games for fans to know everything. It’s easier simply to follow your hometown team than to undertake the monumental task of trying to stay informed about the entire league.

Philly fans have clearly placed Philly first. It’s not as if nothing else matters, but everything else certainly seems to matter less.


GLIMPSE OF EAGLES: As if to confirm the previous item, compare the coverage of the Eagles’ OTA (organized team activities) this week to the Stanley Cup conference finals or the NBA conference finals. My educated guess is that the space devoted to the NBA and NHL playoffs combined won’t equal the space devoted to the Eagles’ OTA in local newspapers and Web sites.


NUMBERS DON’T ADD UP: Do you think there are people around the NBA wondering how the Sixers could have two rookie of the year finalists, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid, yet still only win 28 games?


CLEAN SWEEP: When Moses Malone uttered his famous “Fo, fo, fo” in 1983, predicting a sweep by the Sixers in each round of the playoffs, it was considered a bold prediction. Today, it might not appear to be so bold.

If the Warriors defeat the Spurs tonight (Monday) in Game 4, they will sweep their third straight series. That’s fo, fo, fo. And people seem surprised that the Cavaliers won’t have an opportunity at their third straight sweep, having been upset by the Celtics in Game 3.


BAD BREAKS: The path to a return engagement for the Cavaliers and Warriors in the NBA Finals became a little smoother after their opponents’ top scorers sustained serious injuries. The Celtics lost leading scorer Isaiah Thomas for the remainder of the playoffs with a hip injury. The Spurs lost leading scorer Kawhi Leonard, who re-aggravated an ankle injury, during Game 1 and hasn’t played since then. Amazingly, the Celtics rallied from a 21-point deficit to defeat the Cavaliers in Game 3 without their leading scorer.


BAD BREAKS II: The Celtics and Spurs weren’t the only playoff teams to lose their leading scorer. The Predators lost leading scorer Ryan Johansen due to emergency thigh surgery. Like the Celtics, though, the Predators responded with a win over the Ducks in Game 5, bringing them to within one victory of the franchise’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.


KONECNY ASSISTS CANADA: Flyers forward Travis Konecny opened some eyes by leading Team Canada with eight assists during the IIHF World Championships. Konecny didn’t score a goal, but his eight assists helped Canada reach the gold-medal game, where it lost to Sweden in a shootout. Even with Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol serving as assistant coach, none of the five Flyers in the lineup was chosen to take a penalty shot during the shootout.


PENGUINS ARE MURRAY: After falling behind the Senators, 2-1, in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Penguins turned to goalie Matt Murray. Marc-Andre Fleury stepped in and did a terrific job after Murray got hurt during warmups before the opening playoff game. But he gave up four goals in fewer than 13 minutes against the Senators in Game 3, leading to Murray starting, and winning, the next two games as the Penguins took a 3-2 series lead.


UNION KEEP ROLLING: The Union’s shutout streak ended, but their 2-1 comeback win over the Rapids on Saturday extended the Union’s winning streak to four games. The four wins come after a 16-game winless streak dating back to last August.


NASCAR COUNTRY: After Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR will make stops in Dover and Pocono the following two weeks. The AAA 400 Drive for Autism will be held on Sun., June 4 (1 p.m.) at Dover International Speedway. The following Sunday (June 11) at Pocono Raceway. These are prime opportunities for local NASCAR fans to see NASCAR up close and at least semi-personal.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 28 years, is rooting for anyone except the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs..


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