It’s 1980 and the sporting world is on the cusp of watching an accomplishment never before seen happen before their very eyes.
No city in the history of sports has ever seen each of their major sports franchises come away with a championship in the same season.
The Flyers, Sixers, Eagles, and Phillies each making trips to the championship of the game of their respective sport, however, Philadelphia was on the brink of history.
Of course, the Phillies would go on to become the only team in the city to take advantage of the opportunity, this could consider the most successful time period in Philadelphia sports history.
However for much of the early 21st century, aside from another Phillies World Series pennant in 2008. Major success had evaded the city of Philadelphia.
“No other city in pro sports has underachieved more on the championship front, based on the number of actual titles won and the number we’d expect.” – FiveThirtyEight
Well, the year is 2018 and the Philadelphia sports scene is as hot as it’s been since the aforementioned 1980 season. The Eagles are coming off the first Super Bowl in franchise history. The Sixers are primed and ready to introduce their new dynamic duo to the general public with a playoff berth. While the Phillies have a young and promising core with help soon to be on the way, by the way of a five-time All-star and former MVP.
Finally, the stage was set for Philadelphia’s opportunity to get the proverbial monkey off its back. Carson Wentz, Carter Hart, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Bryce Harper.
These are the franchise players tasked with leading Philadelphia sports to the promised land.
Young, talented, and full of potential; the future of Philadelphia sports seemed to be in good hands for the foreseeable future. Well, what if I told you that the empire being build on Broad Street crumbled before could ever even think about reaching the pinnacle? Crushing the hopes and dreams of a fan base, wasting the prime years of superstars, and spotlighting the ineptitude of three different front offices all located in the City of Brotherly Love.
This isn’t a 30 for 30 folks but someday it will be. Until then your great friends here at PHLSportsNation will debate seeing which collapse was the worse.
Thus we present to you; Three Processes, Same Result.
– Andrew Robinson
During the late 2010s in Philadelphia, three of the main teams – the Sixers, Eagles, and Phillies – have embarked on rebuilds varying from mini (Eagles) to revolutionary (Sixers). The Phillies fall in between the two.
The Eagles and Sixers have shown varying signs of success with their rebuilds, with the Birds getting a Super Bowl win following the 2017 regular season (though it’s looking like another rebuild is going to be necessary just three years later), and the Sixers getting two generational talents in NBA drafts.
The Phillies? Well, they have the second-longest playoff drought in all of baseball (they haven’t made the postseason since 2011) and have underachieved relative to payroll in the past two seasons.
The Phillies’ front office – led by managing partner John Middleton, President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail, and GM Matt Klentak – has failed the team time and time again during this rebuild.
Let’s take a look at some things they have done since MacPhail and Klentak joined the team in 2015.
The Phillies have not even posted an above-.500 record in any single season. This is despite signing Bryce Harper to a then-record $330 million deal following the 2018 season and making win-now moves such as trading stud prospect (now stud pro) Sixto Sanchez and catcher Jorge Alfaro for J.T. Realmuto in that same year. With Realmuto now an unrestricted free agent, the Phillies run the risk of not retaining his services beyond two years of non-playoff baseball.
Former manager Gabe Kapler was Klentak’s handpicked man to lead the Phillies out of a long rebuild. Suffice to say, Kapler faltered in Philly. He made it just two seasons of horrific managing before being fired following a disappointing 2019 campaign.
Then there are the ill-advised free-agent deals. After a decent 2016 season, Klentak extended a qualifying offer to starter Jeremy Hellickson, with the hope that Hellickson would decline the 1-year/$17 million deal and test free agency, allowing the Phillies to recoup a compensatory draft pick. Rightfully, Hellickson accepted the big-money deal and proceeded to be terrible for the Phillies in 2017, resulting in a midseason trade. Remember the Michael Saunders era? I bet you wish you didn’t. Klentak gave him $9 million to bat .205 with a .617 OPS before being released 61 games into the 2017 season. Then there’s Jake Arrieta, who was signed to a 3-year/$75 million deal following the 2017 season. He went 22-23 with a 4.36 ERA in the subsequent three years. Carlos Santana was also signed following the 2017 season, which was mind-boggling at the time because Rhys Hoskins was entrenched at first base. Santana lasted one frustrating season with the Phillies and was traded following the 2018 season.
Then there are the trades. After being hurt for much of the first half of the 2017 season, Klentak gave up on Howie Kendrick, trading him to the Washington Nationals. In the 3 1/2 seasons since, Kendrick has slashed .316/.361/.511 and has a World Series title. With the Phillies threatening to make the postseason in 2018, Klentak decided not to trade for any big names, instead of grabbing Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Justin Bour, and Wilson Ramos. Only Ramos was highly successful, though his defense and baserunning left much to be desired. The Phillies faltered down the stretch and finished 80-82.
When 2019 rolled around and the Phillies were in the same position, Klentak did the exact same thing. Despite being fresh off signing Harper and trading for Realmuto, Klentak opted only to add names such as Jay Bruce, Corey Dickerson, Sean Rodriguez, Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Jason Vargas, and Drew Smyly. Dickerson, Bruce, and Miller performed well. The other four were horrific. Once again, Klentak decided not to go after big names, and, once again, the Phillies faltered down the stretch and finished a distant 4th in the NL East.
Then there’s 2020. Despite having a great offense and good starting pitching staff, Klentak put together what is the second-worst bullpen in baseball history by ERA, resulting in so many blown leads that the team appeared to simply give up hope.
Some leads blown by the Phillies in 2020:
7/26 vs MIA – 4 runs
8/11 vs BAL – 3 runs
8/20 (2) vs TOR – 7 runs
8/22 vs ATL – 4 runs
9/10 vs MIA – 3 runs
9/16 vs NYM – 4 runs
9/17 vs NYM – 3 runs
9/25 vs TAM – 3 runs
This doesn't include the five other leads of 2+ runs they blew.
— Jonny Heller (@JonnyHeller) September 26, 2020
You truly can’t make these things up.
Finally, there’s the J.T. Realmuto trade. Realmuto is without a doubt the best catcher in baseball. However, the Phillies gave up Sixto Sanchez, their #1 prospect, and the best prospect of the decade in order to get him. When they traded for Realmuto, the thought was that they would immediately sign him to an extension. They didn’t.
Now, two seasons later, Realmuto is a free agent and it looks likely that he will leave the team. Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Sanchez went 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA during the regular season, flaunting a 100+mph fastball and absolutely devastating breaking balls.
This prompted Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, quite possibly the most dominant right-handed pitcher the game has ever seen, to say:
“When I watch him, I’m able to see what I was never able to see — myself pitching in a game… I think this kid is that special.”
This writer finds it hard to believe that the Phillies couldn’t get Realmuto without giving up Sanchez. Adonis Medina and Spencer Howard were big names in the organization at the time and even giving up one of them plus a few lottery ticket prospects would have been better than giving up one of the best prospects the team has ever seen. Klentak’s failure to immediately lock Realmuto up after the trade is biting the team now, as the Phillies traded for two years of control over Realmuto that have now expired. Meanwhile, Sanchez is set to pitch his first playoff game on Friday, October 2nd.
(Editor’s note: Sanchez went five scoreless innings in his playoff debut, pitching the Marlins into the Divisional Series).
Philadelphia is used to bad front offices. But it is hard to be just as bad as Klentak and Co. have been since 2015. The hits have been small – though the Harper signing is admittedly the best move the Phillies have made since trading for Roy Halladay – and the misses have been devastating. For the Phillies to have a real shot at contending during the early years of the Harper deal, they will need to overhaul the entire front office.
Step aside, Eagles and Sixers, Flyers, and Union. The Phillies boast the most incompetent front office in Philadelphia.
– Evan Carroll
The 76ers front office has been a trainwreck in wake of the now completed “Process”, maybe the worst in Philadelphia.
We can argue whether or not “the Process” was a good idea or not, but the idea of losing on purpose to accumulate draft picks isn’t unheard of. What was unheard of is an ownership group being open with the media about their willingness to lose, it was almost like throwing games.
So what makes the 76ers front office the worst in Philadelphia?
The very thing that we were told to believe in, “the Process”.
We were told to “Trust the Process” but in what world has the 76ers organization given us a reason to trust them?
The hiring and firing of Sam Hinkie, “Star-hunting”, sticking with Brett Brown too long, you name it and the 76ers front office butchered it.
The Sixers have been bad with drafting and bad with free agency signings, leaving a once-promising team nearing complete disaster.
How can we start a conversation about the Sixers drafting without mentioning Markelle Fultz first? The Sixers traded up from 3 to 1 to draft Fultz with the first overall pick in 2016. Markelle Fultz had Derrick Rose comparisons coming out of college and seemed like a consensus pick at number 1. Fultz never looked all that promising, missing the majority of his tenure with a mysterious shoulder injury that eventually turned out to be Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Fultz struggled mightily fitting into the Sixers offense with Embiid and Simmons when he could not shoot the way he could in college.
Markelle Fultz was supposed to be the perfect complement to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, thus completing “the Process”, but instead turned out to be the beginning of the end of “the Process”.
After the Sixers drafted hometown hero Mikal Bridges it was a surreal moment. His mother worked for the team, he was from the area, he was a lifelong Sixers fan and now he was a Sixers player… until he wasn’t. The Sixers traded the draft rights to Bridges for Zhaire Smith who was picked by the Suns. Bridges found out his 10-minute tenure with the Sixers was over while he was doing an interview telling how much it meant to him to be a 76er.
Zhaire Smith missed his entire rookie season after having complications with his soy allergy (you can’t make this up) and has spent the majority of his time in the G-league. The frustrating thing about the Sixers drafting is that they constantly draft players that do not fit their team, Smith is a prime example.
You knew it was coming. Big Al has been a big waste of money. Talk about a player that does not fit your team, Al Horford is exactly that. The Sixers signed Horford away from the Celtics the last offseason and his first season with the team went pretty much how you thought it might when you first heard about the signing, horrendous. The worst part is, that this is a 4-year contract worth $109 million.
I’m not sure if the front office misevaluated what they thought Horford still had left or if they got caught up with trying to spite the Celtics, but either way, this is an all-time bad free agent signing by Elton Brand and the Sixers front office.
Tobias Harris was acquired in a deal with the LA Clippers two years ago, the Sixers were all in after trading for Jimmy Butler prior. Harris was in the midst of a career year and has failed to reach that caliber of player with the 76ers.
Harris resigned at the end of the year for a 5-year $180 million, a max contract. I’m sure Harris would have gotten a max contract somewhere else that was desperate but the team backed themselves into a corner when they let Jimmy Butler go in a sign-and-trade with the Heat, to the point where they were almost forced to sign Harris.
“The Process” when it started, gave the Sixers Joel Embiid then Ben Simmons and the future looked bright. The team had 2 max contract slots and a plethora of draft picks. Well, “the Process” has officially been completed and has netted the Sixers two max contract players that are stealing paychecks and 1 or 2 decent complementary pieces to the Sixers big two stars.
The Sixers brass chose Harris over Butler, drafted an all-time bust, and has committed time and time again to the wrong man in charge of the day-to-day operations at General Manager. There is negligence and then there is the Sixers ownership, making them the worst front office in all of Philadelphia.
– Mar’Quell Fripp-Owens
Generally, the discussion surrounding a franchise and its mishaps, usually begin with “how did we get here”? Well, the Eagles committed to changing the culture of the team back in 2016. So, Howie Roseman left behind his broom closet and calculators in exchange for the role of Executive VP of Football Operations (basically the general manager).
The first order of business finding a head coach; insert the upstart Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. Okay, so next up is finding a franchise quarterback, right? Well, why not push all your chips into the center of the table and go all-in on that gunslinging kid out of NDSU (No, not Trey Lance you fools), Carson Wentz. Coach, quarterback, and it doesn’t hurt when the legend of #HowieSZN is looming. The Eagles had the entire blueprint in place to ensure future success.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when you see that the Eagles bought home the first Super Bowl in franchise history back in 2017. In fact on top of the Lombardi Trophy, the Eagles have made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. So is it truly plausible to say that the Eagles have underachieved during this stretch? I mean Doug Pederson made a promise to the fanbase that he has yet to break, the new norm of January football in Philadelphia.
But see that’s just the problem, Doug Pederson has been the glue that has kept the Eagles together over the last three seasons. It was Doug Pederson who was the catalyst to the Eagles improbable Super Bowl run and it was Doug Pederson who has been the face of the “Underdog” Eagles team every time the stakes get raised a little higher. What Pederson has also done to an extent is mask the issues surrounding the rosters put together by Howie Roseman. Of course, there isn’t a fan on the face of the planet that would trade in the one and only Super Bowl title the city has craved since the beginning of time (or the NFC/AFC merger). However, the argument can be made that the Super Bowl victory has come at an expense.
You see, Howie Roseman had a recipe that led to the Eagles unexpected run in 2017. Take a flyer on proven veterans that could be considered ‘cast-offs’ and get the most out of them on a one year deal. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, brilliant right? Alshon Jeffery, LeGarrette Blount, Torrey Smith, Patrick Robinson. Each of these players initially came to Philadelphia on one-year deals and became a catalyst to the epic 2017 run. Well, the very same ideology that helped win the Eagles a Super Bowl is what has them in this position now to begin with.
See here is the problem: Ever since the ball hit the turf in U.S. Bank Stadium on Tom Brady’s Hail Mary attempt the final play of Super Bowl LII. Roseman has become infatuated with validating his victory and proving his doubters wrong. Instead of continuing to build a team for the future, Roseman opted for a ‘win now’ method. Which in turn resulted in numerous swings and misses during the past few years of free agency, the Eagles now find themselves with a roster that seems to underachieve yearly due to the lack of depth. This tends to happen to players that cannot seem to stay healthy, something Roseman has acknowledged is his fault. Oh and all of the young talent that the city seemed so excited about back in 2016? Nonexistent, thanks mostly to Howie Roseman’s disastrous draft selections. It also doesn’t help when trying to be the smartest man in the room, results in your franchise being in salary cap hell heading into the 2021 off-season.
The aforementioned wave known as #HowieSZN seems to have bypassed and the boy wonder who restored stability back in Philadelphia has seemingly lost the Midas touch that made him such a hot commodity after the 2017 season.
Howie Roseman's neglect and mismanagement of the wide receiver position is playing out on a national stage tonight
— James Seltzer (@JamesSeltzer) October 5, 2020
Over the last three seasons, Roseman seems to have reached a crossroads.
Often questioning what’s best for the team or what’s best for the player, when a player should be rewarded and when a player should be released, and most importantly how to build a roster meant to compete but now and in the future. Why else would you annually bring back a tackle who has clearly lost a step, masked behind the “fluid agility and movement, Peters has at this age” that only he can see.
Or why would you allow the most reliable player on the defense; a man who has only missed 90 snap out of 5,669 taken in six years walk away in free agency after he restructured his deal in good faith thinking he would be repaid when the time came. So how surprising is it really when you see that Roseman is in danger of repeating the same cycle, this time with his quarterback’s most reliable target.
In the past three seasons…
- Carson Wentz has played with 20 different wide receivers. Agholor, Ward, Jackson, and Tate have missed 16 of the last 20 games. Alshon Jeffery who was signed to be WR1 has missed 10 out of the last 20. Of the remaining 15; 10 of them are no longer in the league and the other five have a combined 25 career catches.
- The Eagles are 16-16-1 in Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz’ last 33 games
- Rank about 20th in average roster age since 2018. Including ranking 31st in 2019
Each of these are Howie Roseman’s problems, and have been for a while.
“I think when you have a disappointing season, it’s not just on the players or the coaches. It’s also on the front office. That starts with me.” – Howie Roseman
Based on the continued limited success the Phillies and Sixers have had in recent years, it’s understandable why they should have considerations for the worst front office in the city. However, based on the catastrophic collapse and regression that almost no one saw coming that has taken place in the Novacare Complex since the aforementioned Super Bowl championship.
It’s hard to argue against the Eagles front office being the worst in Philadelphia.
To call this the biggest collapse in sports history might sound like an overreaction. But this is Philly, we live for overreactions. Either way, you put it by mid-2018, each of the aforementioned franchises were in the position to dominate their respective sports for years to come. Three teams, three different ‘processes’, yet somehow three years later here we are with the same results.
The life of a Philly fan, huh?
Well, now that you’ve seen each side of the argument, we’ll let you guys decide which front office has failed the city of Philadelphia the most.
Featured Image: The Philadelphia Inquirer