My Sister’s CD Collection as the Philadelphia Sports Scene

She was kind enough to welcome me into her lovely home, so naturally I have rifled through her things....
"What are you talking about? I AM SMILING." [Flyers Fan Central]

She was kind enough to welcome me into her lovely home, so naturally I have rifled through her things.

Sixers–Les Miserables: The Complete Soundtrack

Loosely translated, the very title of “Les Miserables” probably means “The miserable (plural).”  Granted, that’s based on my limited knowledge of “words” and “words that look like other words.”

But this possibly incorrect interlinguistic barrier is reflected in the nature of the musical’s story.  Just look at the iconic image they chose as the… logo… or whatever the equivalent term is for a Broadway musical.

Yeah, it’s a little girl in tattered clothes standing in my old elementary school’s library, on the verge of taking the rest of the week off to sob into her hands.  That’s Cosette; she’s eight years old, and she’s being forced to work her hands to the bone by a greedy innkeeper in early 19th century France.  The play opens in a prison.  There’s a character who loses her job and becomes a prostitute and is then arrested.  Jean Valjean is imprisoned for 19 years for stealing bread to feed his starving sister and has a ridiculous repeating name.

It is a catalog of struggles, and some of the most depressing shit you’ve ever seen sung jovially by everyone in theater school who didn’t wise up after the first two years.

Now, imagine if that same awful, collection of child labor, wrongful imprisonment, and sex for money played out in front of you, except instead of singing and dancing, all of the characters were playing basketball in Philadelphia 76ers uniforms.

Welcome to the Wachovia Center, 2009-10.

Les Mis ran on Broadway for a staggering 25 years; it was in Andre Iguodala’s 25th year of life on earth in which the Sixers ran out the gate, immediately face planted, and dragged themselves to the finish line, one handful of grass at a time.  There are songs illustrating the depth of misery (“Fantine’s Death: Come to Me,”  “Night of Anguish,” “Javert’s Suicide.”) in Les Mis. There are blogs named after the hopelessness of this past Sixers season (And couldn’t you say that blogs are the songs of the internet?  Absolutely not.)

In either case, you find a form of art reflecting on the tragic events of history, whether those be from the French Revolution, or a 27-55 basketball season.

At the end of this horrible story, both of them, we are given several flakes of hope.  Cosette and Marius wind up together, the final rendition of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” instills hope, and Jean Valjean commits suicide.  But its really nice.  He gets led to heaven by some ladies.

2010-11 will, at the very least, end better than 2009-10.  Andre Iguodala will be playing the right position.  Jrue Holiday will probably be the same level of “promising.”  And Evan Turner’s here!  That’ll be good.  Hell, what if they actually snag Carmelo Anthony?

Look, like watching France burn behind people as they sing to you, things at least have a hint of being better than before.

[Images courtesy of Wikipedia]

Eagles–Blessed Union of Souls:  Home

Maybe, on the back-ass etchings of your brain, you remember this band because of that “hit” they had with all the fast-talking.  But this isn’t even that album.  It’s the other one.  The one that, until this very moment, you had no idea even existed until my paltry, rhythmic words danced across your pupils.  And if you think that’s huge (Who wouldn’t?!?), let me blow your mind a bit further:  The band is still together to this day and released their sixth album in 2008.

They’re a band you can almost remember, but missing the key component that made them at all memorable.

Well hello there, Mr. Converging Metaphor

In April 2007, a 15-acre estate in Surry County, Virginia was searched by state and federal agents.  They reported nothing out of the ordinary, except for the over 70 pit bulls simultaneously bleeding to death.

Long story short, Michael Vick was signed by the Eagles two years later.  And when the most recognizable face on the team, QB Donovan McNabb, was ushered out the door as Eagles brass cleaned house after the 2009 season, there was nothing stopping Vick from taking the reins of another NFL franchise.  Except for Kevin Kolb, the backup QB, who took McNabb’s spot.

Vick was promoted from backup-to-the-backup, a position that is never as glamor-filled as your high school baseball coach/father will try to convince you, to backup-to-the-starter.  He was a bone fracture away from getting to take those “Michael Vick, Starting Quarterback” business cards out of retirement, after whiting out all the Falcons logos and blood stains of course.

Who’s got two thumbs and suffered a brain-rattling concussion last Sunday?!

This guy. NOT PICTURED: Thumbs

Blessid Union of Souls; a band you heard of that one time as you were turning off the radio, because of that single recognizable tune, and the Philadelphia Eagles, a team without Donovan McNabb and his trademark smile, the name that will always come up first in future discussions of the last era of Eagles football.

One gaping difference being that although both seem to be limping into the future, Blessid Union of Souls’ last album has never been accused of dog fighting, or steroid use, or flipping off a stadium full of fans.  Or declared bankruptcy.  Or averaged almost eight and a half yards per carry.  Or givien somebody genital herpes.  [Images courtesy of Babble and Life]

Flyers–Lauryn Hill:  The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

“When some women are pregnant, their hair and their nails grow, but for me it was my mind and ability to create.”

Lauryn Hill

Wow!  Science sure is lopsidedly selective!

I have nothing but fond memories of summers as a child; playing flashlight tag with the neighborhood toughs, taking batting practice with my dad, playing video games until three in the morning, getting impregnated by Bob Marley’s son, and big family barbecues.  Lauryn Hill is no stranger to the majesty of the season, having experienced very similar things while on tour with the Fugees.  Of course, her involvement with flashlight tag, BP, video games, and barbecues are pure speculation.

But it was during this pregnancy that Hill was inspired to–and stop me if you’ve heard this one–filter her music through her rawest emotions in an attic studio in South Orange, New Jersey.

Speaking of orange–and black–and boy these transitions just keep getting better–the Flyers training camp starts September 17.  Today, I guess.  Pregnant with a 65-man roster, including the likes of Bobby Guerin, who apparently wants to be more than just a skating buddy with the Flyers now, are trying to incorporate different styles of players into a victorious squad of doom.

There’s Chris Pronger, the vicious attack goon for hire, there’s Mike Testwuide, the rookie with something to prove, there’s Michael Leighton, the recipient of a two-year deal that caught some of us off guard, and there’s coach Peter Laviolette, who just wants to get along with everybody.  Just kidding, he’s a murderer whose strategy leans on puck movement.

"What are you talking about? I AM SMILING."

Lauryn Hill is no stranger to throwing it all in the pot and stirring.  Her Miseducation is an amalgamation of her favorite sounds; blues, R&B, hip hop, gospel, and reggae.  It’s all in there.  And it a lot of it works–the album got swaths of good press.

One can only hope Laviolette hears his favorite sounds this season as well; unfortunately, one of them is “guy getting his skull flattened between another skull and a thick layer of ice.”  [Image courtesy of Flyers Fan Central]

Phillies–Alanis Morisette:  Jagged Little Pill

The Phillies run September.  When you flip to it on your calendar, Ryan Howard rips the month off and eats it whole before you can even schedule an eye doctor appointment.  And your driving’s only getting worse at night.

Careful!  He’s hungry for October, too.  HA!  That actually made sense.

It currently requires little more than a peep to put the Phillies offense on red alert; a state in which the night is ridden with salvos of crowd-igniting fireballs.  Their rotation features three headliners with a combined 465 strikeouts on the year (210 of these belong to Roy Halladay alone and there’s 585 total if you count the K’s Roy Oswalt piled up while rolling his eyes in Houston for half the season).  Placido Polanco has been sneaking one of the best years of his career right by you (PAY ATTENTION, DAMN IT).  And Chase Utley, after spending a month or two most likely screaming at his ankle in the shower while outside, terrified teammates question the existence of God, has ripped the lid off 2010 and his RBIs are getting everywhere.

But when this story started, it had a lot of shit staining its pages.  First, there were dead people everywhere.  Well, not dead, but injured, and they weren’t actually around, they were rehabilitating.  The point is, all the wounds, inconsistencies, and Jasyon-Werth-falling-down previously in the season were working as a natural deterrent to the playoffs.  This was pretty early, early enough for the damage to remain reversible, but that didn’t stop people like drunkards and homeless people and me from assuming all was lost.

With their sluggers invisible, the Phillies turned to their stack of boiling hot starters.  Yes, often, the shrunken lineup would leave a brilliant start wanting.  But they slowly evolved into a team of small-ballers, realizing they really only needed a run or two to backup Roy, Roy, or Cole as they spent nine innings skewering an opposing lineup.

During production of Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morisette was mugged at gunpoint, and spent the remainder of the year having daily panic attacks.  The album she wound up producing with Glen Ballard afterward acted as therapy, as she was hospitalized and underwent therapy, though none of it seemed to help, until she used her new recording to vent out her anxiety.  Ballard apparently taught her to use her emotions in her craft, which she had never heard before (though I could have sworn that was #2 on “Top 1,000 Things Non-Artists Think Artists Should be Doing,” right after “Getting a real job”).

Jagged Little Pill was a shift from her original tone, a lurch in a new direction.  After giving the entire city of Philadelphia an endless series of panic attacks, the Phillies stopped trying to hit the ball like Ryan Howard, because at that point he was out with a sprained ankle, so none of them were him.  Their reliance on barrages of hitting changed to a shifty game of get-the-run-in, a quieter, strategic method of play that got them runs, and more importantly, wins.

Something both the Phillies and Alanis have taught us:  Change is good, but being able to adapt is good change.

[Image courtesy of Black Fitness]

Wings–Soundtrack to Nutty Professor II:  The Klumps

I tend to forget these even exist, let alone that somebody in my bloodline paid money for one of them.

Justin is the lead writer for That Ball’s Outta Here, one of the Top 32 Phillies blogs on the ‘net, as well as some sort of weekly columnist for Call to the Pen and Sports Talk Soup He is also an attack clown for hire.