Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Eagles Could Learn a Thing Or Two from the Phightin' Phils

By Michoel Botwinick: When was the last time you saw the Eagles drive down the field with two minutes remaining and score the TD to come within one point, then go for the two point conversion and complete a comeback for the ages?

OK—that might be pushing it—but when exactly was the last time you saw the Eagles actually get into the touchdown when it really counted, at the end of a long and frustrating game, and given four downs to do so?

Lastly, can you even remember the last time they won a game decided by three or less points?

I can't.

Yes, that's how frustrating Philly's favorite team can be; but on closer look, Philadelphia's other beloved team, the Phillies, tends to be quite the opposite.

While I, like many Philadelphians, am as die-hard an Eagles fan as there are in any major league sport, I do enjoy turning on a Phillies game whenever I get a chance. And what do I see?

I see comeback after comeback—clutch hitting, ninth-inning homers, crucial hits, outstanding defense—so, yeah...the team just doesn't quit. In fact, had Phillies games ended after the seventh inning all season long, we wouldn't be seeing a division-leading playoff team, but instead a third-place Phillies, seven games back of the hated Mets.

Year after year, the Phillies are near the top of the league in come-from-behind victories. They play well when they need to, they can go on a hot streak when all seems lost—they play all twenty-seven outs of a game, and make opponents' bullpens pay for it. They always seem like they can be in it—not because of sheer talent, but instead a willingness to play and keep fighting with a heart unmatched by any other baseball team of the modern era.

However, from a statician's point of view, the Eagles may be one of the best teams on paper in the NFL. Still, they could go from a sure playoff contender to the "best" 2-2 team (like they are now), to the "best" last-place team, to the "best" team to not make the playoffs—and go absolutely nowhere, all while still being the best at doing nothing of any importance.

More specifically, however many wins Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb may have together (175 to be exact), in the last quarter of the game, with everything on the line, the Eagles came up short on four downs. This, in my opinion, epitomized the Eagles of the last decade. So close, but no cigar.

Yesterday, it was a glorious Sunday for the City of Brotherly Love. For the second straight year, and just the second time in fifteen years, the Phillies had clinched the N.L. East and were on their way to the playoffs. But that night, the Eagles went nowhere and took another tough loss, reminding beleaguered Eagles fans of the disastrous 2007 season.

No matter what may happen to the Phillies in the upcoming weeks, they have earned Philadelphia's respect for the second straight year. Meanwhile, the Eagles—who had played with no passion whatsoever—were, like the Mets, coming home again to lie low until the next game—whenever that would be.

Were they deserving of the loss? Absolutely.

In retrospect, everything was the way it should be.

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