As death approaches, humans have a tendency to panic. The vice principal of my old high school once purchased a brightly colored middle age crisis-mobile and drove it around as if he were the chancellor of farm country; when in reality, he had reached a particularly less flexible age and wasn’t able to come to terms with the fact that “inevitable death” is a notion which no one can escape.
“Sure I can escape it; I just need a fast enough car!” he probably thought, as his family and friends watched in concerned humiliation while the once respected (well, not really) man mounted a manic, undignified resistance to the natural order.
Happens all the time. But in sports, its even uglier.
Millions of eyes upon you as you enter the league a brash young upstart, everything to prove, a city’s fantasies on your shoulders. Philly’s not chock full of youngsters in the current era, but we do have a small agglomeration of youth-spores sprouting near the sports complex in South Philadelphia.
One is named Bob.
Based on certain pronunciations, you may deduce that Sergei “Bob” Bobrovsky is a teensy bit Russian. It may be shocking to discover a young Russian man with a penchant for hockey, but that’s exactly why NHL teams weren’t interested.
Russian players were just hard to sign. They turned to the geographically convenient KHL, or they were framed as uncoachable prima donnas, or they’d over-tat themselves and confuse everybody, like a 12-year-old in the process of going goth.
The Flyers gleaned at Bob in 2006, then pulled away for exactly one or all of these reasons. In 2010, they saw him again, when he choked the oxygen out of their preseason schedule as a backup goalie while Michael Leighton’s discs bulged.
“Bob has been very good every day,” Peter LaViolette mused, curiously scratching his head upon the realization.
The observation stuck with him long enough to insert a 22-year-old whose name nobody wanted to pronounce into the opening day lineup over the clearly confused Brian Boucher. With Bob in the net, the Flyers kicked the doors in and ruined the Penguins’ housewarming party at the 3-2 Consol Energy Center, where the Flyers have roasted raw Penguin meat ever since.
There’s a saying in baseball: “Holy fuck, Dom Brown just skied that pitch 440 feet.”
A weird thing happened to the Phillies since about 2007, when this meteoric ascension from stagnant years of bloodless meandering about the division began: They aged. No, we don’t have a squad of decrepit, malnourished mossbacks, doddering about the infield and shitting on everything. But the median age is like 31.4 or something, which has led general manager Ruben Amaro on a crusade to revitalize his roster with youth.
Where did the youth go? Well, that’s a good question. A lot of it is in Toronto’s farm system; a few are populating Cleveland. Oh, and Houston. And Oakland’s Triple-A club, in Sacramento.
In exchange, we have Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt and not Cliff Lee. These two starters (Both over 30) have paid massive dividends, but they don’t chip any years off Raul Ibanez’s ticker. And I’m not sure if Jamie Moyer was still being factored into the math when that median age was calculated, but he certainly brought it up a decade. The majority haven’t seen the true affects of age just yet, but the future has gotten a little closer. Reassurance in the next generation would be appreciated.
The point is, the 23-year-old Dom Brown looked around one day and realized he was all alone.
So he was especially endearing to us when he finally surfaced as a Major Leaguer in 2010 during the close relationship with the DL the Phillies formed. He wanders into the batter’s box amidst raucous applause with runners on base, and cuts a two-run double off the outfield wall.
Dom didn’t even have a rampaging stint on the ML level after that (though the aforementioned 440 footer earned him a curtain call), but he didn’t have to in order to start get his own “DOMONATE” t-shirt (it was discontinued for legal reasons, but don’t worry, Bob’s is still totally available).
Here’s 22-year-old Evan Turner, a crisp new draft pick headed for Philadelphia; a fresh, familiar coach waiting to impart his wisdom upon him; a brink from which to claw back with a franchise tied to his ankle.
Watching the NBA draft order be selected, the Sixers’ kept not being called. Little by little, they drifted closer and closer into “John Wall” territory, as desperate fans dug fingernails into their couches. A #1 pick would be an unheard of retaliation to a shitty shitty shitball of a season. Well, the Wizards got it, but a #2 pick was almost just as pleasant, and it got us Evan Turner, The Villain out of Ohio State whose 6′ 7″ wearing a pair of shoes (which, while playing basketball, he often does).
A few months later, and the Sixers have the league right where they want it: Almost completely above them. See, part of basketball is lulling your enemies into a false state of long term security. If we can convince the NBA that we are absolutely no threat, it will be so much easier to attack when they’re backs are turned!
This is coming from a guy who knows close to nothing about basketball and takes all his basketball-related points from assumptions he makes regarding the motives of the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Sixers are no less horrified-gasp inducing than they were in 2009-10 yet. With Andre Iguodala out, Evan and Jrue Holiday are running the offense, and Doug Collins still has that head trauma to worry about.
Recently between black outs, Collins said he was worried about Evan; that he thinks too much. And while that may not be a boost of confidence, Evan’s rebounding (namely on defense) is his saving grace right now. While he develops, guys like Thaddeus Young or Lou Williams are having season highs all over the place, which is fun to watch. Then there are five-game losing streaks, which are more grating on the nerves.
Are there any talented young Eagles players? Probably. But I’m pretty sure that no one plays for the Eagles except Michael Vick anyway. Plus I’ve given the Eagles a lot of attention the past few weeks, so fuck it. Also, none of this is very impressive when you consider that the Union have like four teenagers on their roster.