With the end of 2022 on the horizon, it’s time to look back at what has arguably been one of the most exciting years from a sporting perspective in a long, long time. The City of Brotherly Love has seen it all this year and whether you’re a five-for-five superfan or just leave screaming ’Go Birds’ on a Monday morning, this year had something for everyone.
What a year it’s been for the Philadelphia Eagles. They sit firmly atop the NFC East and are coasting to the #1 seed in the NFC on the back of a monumental leap from Jalen Hurts. Howie Roseman went all-in on the young quarterback this offseason, surrounding him with electric talents such as A.J Brown. That decision has more than paid dividends, with an NFL-leading eight players headed to this year’s Pro Bowl games.
GM Howie Roseman saw a weak schedule on the horizon and with it an opportunity. By signing a myriad of plug-and-play free agent stars such as James Bradberry and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Roseman bolstered the roster knowing that if he can assemble a team of great players, that will be more than enough to win the division provided Hurts took a step forward. It just so happened that the young signal-caller would turn into an MVP candidate within a matter of months.
Nick Sirianni has done a fantastic job coaching this Eagles team in what has been a year of many firsts. Miles Sanders eclipsed 1,000 yards for the first time, the Birds still own the Saints’ 2023 first-round pick, Jalen Hurts broke numerous franchise records, and the Eagles are first in both the NFC and the NFC East.
There’s a long way to go until this fairytale comes to an end, but the story so far has been nothing short of magical. Jalen Hurts carries the hopes and dreams of Philadelphia on his shoulders and he makes it look effortless. This team is a joy to watch and hopefully, 2023 will continue in a similarly exciting fashion. Who knows…we may even see another trip to the Super Bowl…
The Philadelphia Phillies captured the hearts of just about everyone in 2022. From firing their manager after a dismal start to the season, to a late-season rally under Rob Thomson that not only saw them clinch a playoff berth, but somehow to go on to clinch a spot in the World Series, this season was truly special.
The 2022 Phillies ended an 11-year playoff drought, won three playoff series’ and the National League pennant. This season was a success the moment they somehow made the postseason, and everything that transpired after the Cardinals series just added fuel to a burning fire. The Phillies were not only a playoff team, but a competitive one. Citizen’s Bank Park was a fortress and some of the best teams in baseball ended up falling shy of expectations to Bryce Harper and his team of underdogs.
When the dust settled, the Philles went out of their way to sign Trea Turner, sending a very aggressive message to the rest of the MLB for 2023 and beyond. They’re not just here to make noise in the playoffs and upset a few teams while ‘Dancing on my own’ bellows from every street corner. They’re here to win it all.
What a year it was for the Philadelphia Union. After years of battling mediocrity, it finally all came together. They ripped through the MLS and finished second in the Supporters Shield only to LAFC because they had two fewer wins. But their +46 goal differential says all you need to know. They scored 72 goals and only conceded 26. At home, there was no team as dominant. The Union were a force to be reckoned with who were able to utilize newly-signed talents like Daniel Gazdag (22 goals) and Julian Carranza (14 goals) and turn them into stars.
The moneyball mantra was in full flow. The Union’s way of signing Carranza was unlike anything else the league had seen before. And when you factor in their ability to grow youth players like Leeds United’s Brenden Aaronson and turn those profits into more impact players, you have a real formula for success.
The Union feel heartbreakingly short of their first MLS cup, losing on penalties to LAFC after the most chaotic extra time period imaginable. But this was a Union side moneyballing its way to a Cup Final against a team packed with so much money and star-power that it felt like a real David vs Goliath tussle.
The only thing missing from this euphoric season was a piece of silverware. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and this Union team has the blueprint to come back even stronger next year.
A lot has changed in 2022 for the Sixers. Their 2021-22 campaign received a jolt of adrenaline when Daryl Morey traded for James Harden in a move that also brought the troubling Ben Simmons era to a much-needed close. Joel Embiid then put together an MVP-level campaign for the ages and the Sixers won a total of 51 games.
Disappointingly, they still crashed out of the playoffs in the second round of the NBA playoffs. Many expected the Sixers to build on this new foundation, however, with the trio of Embiid, Harris, and Harden leading the charge while a revitalized bench and exciting young player in Tyrese Maxey solidify the core for years to come.
That hasn’t gone to plan. The Sixers battled some crushing injury blows early in the season and despite a recent resurgence, they’re still someway off being the team that everyone hoped they would be by this stage. Here’s to hoping 2023 holds much better fortunes for a team that has all the makings of a real championship contender.
Well, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The Flyers will best be remembered for being disappointing in 2022. Whether it was a preached rebuild that ended up in expensive veteran contracts, or simply a product on the Ice that inspired very little, the Flyers well and truly lost their identity. The hiring of John Tortorella at least went someway in hitting the reset button, but until that vision is matched by the front office, the clash of mentalities is only going to hold this team back.
It feels like forever ago that the Flyers were competing in the COVID-plagued playoffs. A lot has changed since then and while some of those players still remain, like the Carter Hart’s of the world, the heart of the roster has slowly been gutted.
The city of Philadelphia deserves a competitive hockey team. I don’t know when the Flyers will get back to that level, but I think we can all agree that not having an exciting Flyers team to watch is saddening.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire