Romancing the Sixers — for now

Andre Iguodala #9 of the Philadelphia 76ers dunks over Carlos Boozer #5 and Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls.
Jesse D. Garrabrant

The 2012 Sixers are reminiscent of the Oscar-winning movie “Titanic.” They are thoroughly engaging and often exciting,  but we all know how it’s going to end. They’re going to slam into an iceberg and sink.

If there was any genuine hope that they could steal a championship in this lockout-shortened NBA season, it was demolished Friday against a real title threat, the Miami Heat, at the Wells Fargo Center. Miami has now beaten the upstart Sixers by 20 and 21 points, home and away, with and without Dwyane Wade. Miami is better. A lot better.

Even a win over Atlanta on Saturday (and another over the reeling Lakers last night) didn’t change the impression that the Sixers are not the miracle New York Giants of the NBA, and this leads to an interesting question about Philadelphia and its bottom-line sports fans: Can we remain in love with a team that we know — absolutely know — cannot win it all?

And make no mistake; this city is in the first blush of a romance with its basketball team. Attendance is skyrocketing, and TV ratings are already approaching a 10-year high. Especially appealing is the blue-collar, underdog nature of the club. They have won by outworking opponents, actually showing determination on the defensive end of the floor.

The only real personality on the club is straight out of central casting. His name is Doug Collins, approaching 60 now but still as aggressive and indomitable as he was when he helped lead the 1982-83 Sixers to their last championship. Collins is the anti-Andy Reid — honest, self-effacing, even funny. When he was asked last week what he’s been saying at halftime to spark his team to huge third quarters, he quipped: “I’ve been married for 40 years, and I haven’t inspired my wife yet.”

But is good good enough for fans who still remember the Phillies parade of 2008? Is a second-round playoff ouster enough progress for one year? Does a team like the Sixers, with energetic new owners, need only entertain us this season, not provide hope for the ultimate celebration?

The answer is yes, to a point. The novelty of this unexpected reawakening by a dormant franchise is bright and fresh, so we can shrug at a crushing defeat or two. But history shows that our lust soon turns to contempt.

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon — never my intention, but often my fate — I hereby warn the Sixers and their impressive new owners that this honeymoon won’t last forever. They’ll be lucky if it survives the current season.

The Sixers are going to need something more than great buzz if they want to win back our love for more than a few fleeting weeks. They’re going to need some better players.

Phillies relying on old heads

Is Geritol a performance-enhancing drug? If it is, the Phillies may be in serious trouble. Their acquisitions of Chad Qualls, 33, and Juan Pierre, 34, were the latest in a stunning commitment to the old and the over-the-hill. The Phils are not getting better; they’re getting older.

Don’t forget that before this latest wave of senior citizens, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. had already signed Jim Thome, 41, and Ty Wigginton, 34. Add to those new names Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Cliff Lee (all 33), Roy Halladay (34) and Jose Contreras (41), and what you have is the composite age of a slow-pitch softball team.

Domonic Brown is the best example of this negative trend, a much-praised prospect who has produced next to nothing. He will be 25 next season, and has a .236 average and seven home runs in 246 at-bats. Still, he remains the best young player in the system, the tallest midget in the circus.

The Phillies, unofficially, are the oldest team in baseball. The bats cannot go silent the way they did last year. The starting pitchers must fight age for one more year. For the Phillies of 2012, this may well be their last chance to win it all.

Birds fans not fooled

An amazing and ominous thing happened right after Andy Reid broke his 30-day silence and talked about his most disappointing season. There were no cries of anger, no threats of boycott, not even a quiet murmur of discontent. No one cared.

This apathy is a new twist in Reid’s 13-year tenure, and the most compelling sign yet that the fans are through with the coach, even if his bosses aren’t. On the morning after Reid’s kinder, gentler — but no more revealing — news conference, callers on my WIP show were far more interested in talking about the Sixers or even our silly Wing Bowl.

The last sustained outpouring of calls on the Eagles happened five weeks ago today, when owner Jeff Lurie announced his decision to bring Reid back. Since then, no issue has connected with the fans, including Juan Castillo’s return, GM Howie Roseman’s vow to remain competitive, or even DeSean Jackson’s impending free agency.

Fans have checked out and Reid’s evasiveness provided no reason to return. Calling Castillo “a great coach” after five blown fourth-quarter leads didn’t win Reid any attention, nor did his mixed messages on the four-game winning streak at season’s end or the recent failure of his drafts.

Yes, Reid smiled more, never resorting to his tired tradition of snapping back at reporters. But it’s too late for a change of manners. The silence of the fans was a clear indication of that. The only thing that will truly revive the interest of Eagles fans now is a change of coaches.

– Angelo Cataldi is the host of 94 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Send submissions to lettersmetro.us.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

PHOTOS: Who is Alix Tichelman?

Who is Alix Tichelman, the high end call girl who allegedly murdered a Google executive?

National

Washington state approves first producer of pot edibles

  A Seattle-based company that makes marijuana-infused drinks and candies has become the first business in Washington approved to make edible pot products for the…

National

Florida cat owners call 911 after Russian blue…

By Barbara ListonORLANDO Florida (Reuters) - Kush the cat was quarantined in central Florida after her owner called 911 over the weekend for help, saying…

Local

Times Square costumed characters under scrutiny

Costumed characters in Times Square are under scrutiny after a string of incidents involving Elmo, Woody, Mario and Spider-Man.

Going Out

What to do this week in NYC: July…

Le Fooding Beach Club Presents: San Pellegrino Fruitstock at the Rockaways Friday-Sunday, Noon; $40 Beach 97 97-01 Shorefront Pkwy., Rockaway Beach Picnic on the beach…

Going Out

Where to eat on Bastille Day in NYC

We had ours on the Fourth of July, now it’s time for France’s equivalent on July 14. Go out and show your solidarity with the…

Books

What to eat while you read

A smudge of chocolate on a page never hurt anyone.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, July 9: 'The Bridge,'…

See Diane Kruger solve some mysteries in the second season premiere of "The Bridge."

World Cup

Argentina prevails in penalties, advances to final

The drama never seems to subside as the World Cup finally has its final two.

MLB

A Joffrey Ballet dancer threw the most beautiful…

http://youtu.be/Hg61JOZJrYM?t=29s While asked to throw a first pitch at a baseball game can be a treacherous and/or embarrassing experience (see Cent, 50), sometimes everything can…

World Cup

World Cup semifinals preview: Holland vs. Argentina

The second semifinal pits another South American soccer power against a European one.

MLB

MLB power rankings: Athletics cement spot on top,…

The Athletics cement spot on top of our MLB power rankings with a huge trade, while L.A. teams follow.

Travel

Amsterdam is known for sex and drugs, but…

Amsterdam is arguably best known for its red light district and cannabis coffee shops, but the city on the banks of the Amstel River is…

Wellbeing

What eye symptoms need emergency attention?

Many people experience temporary eye-related problems such as pink eye (conjunctivitis) from a cold virus or a scratched cornea resulting from an object coming into…

Wellbeing

Sugar isn't making anyone's life more sweet

Not so sweet. Anne Alexander, author of “The Sugar Smart Diet,” tells us where sugar is hiding and how it’s making us sick. Bet that…

Wellbeing

This will take more years off your life…

  Obesity can cut life short by causing strokes and other illnesses, but a new study quantifies the toll: The most extreme cases cut a…