This has been my first year writing for PSB. In my six months I have penned 90+ articles covering all kinds of stories, issues, controversies and moments.
Most of that work has been focused on the Philadelphia sports scene primarily covering the Philadelphia Eagles and Philadelphia Phillies. So I thought it would be rather festive to lay out for you a dozen or so of my favorite moments and stories from the year that I feel are gifts for we Philadelphia fans and sports fans everywhere. In the spirit of the Twelve Days of Christmas and the holiday season, I give you my Twelve Days of “Sportsmas” that Philly gave to me…
TWELVE Eagles Draft Picks (well, 13 but only 12 have seen action) this was the largest number of draft picks for the Eagles since 1994 and the most for any team in the 2010 draft Training Camp Preview: Eagles Must Get Defensive Quickly http://prosportsblogging.com/nfl-football/philadelphia-eagles/training-camp-preview-eagles-must-get-defensive-quickly/ July 16. 2010
ELEVEN wins for Eagles (projected as 11 wins will secure the Eagles as the #2 NFC seed) 10th win coming Dec. 19 vs. NY Giants. Atlanta has the #1 seed but the Eagles have already beaten the Falcons this season. New Miracle New Meadowlands http://prosportsblogging.com/nfl-football/philadelphia-eagles/new-miracle-new-meadowlands/
TEN which was the number of wins and losses for Cole Hamels when he finally evened his record (10-10) in September. Cole Hamels needed to toss 25 scoreless innings to reach the .500 mark because his run support averaged about 1.5 per game over the season. September 10, 2010 BY THE NUMBERS, PHILS SEASON BETTER ADD UP http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/philadelphia-phillies/by-the-numbers-phils-season-better-add-up/
NINE postseason games for Phillies featuring a Roy Halladay No-Hitter in NLDS Game One, a sweep of Cincinnati and a tough tilt with the San Francisco Giants in NLCS. Roy Oswalt also threw eight solid innings in Game 2 of the NLCS. October 18 and 19. Wizard of Oswalt Dazzles, Phillies Beat Giants to Tie NLCS (http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/philadelphia-phillies/wizard-of-oswalt-dazzles-phillies-beat-giants-to-tie-nlcs/)
Twenty-EIGHT-Point Comeback (Eagles vs. Giants Dec. 19, 2010) in New Meadowlands Stadium. Philadelphia Eagles came into this game sporting the worst-ranked Red Zone defense in the league. For the better part of three quarters, the New York Giants took advantage of this Philadelphia deficiency. New York manhandled the Eagles offense while Eli Manning and Mario Manningham picked apart a patchwork Eagles defense (decimated by injuries to Stewart Bradley, Brandon Graham and rookie safety Nate Allen) which featured rookie Jamar Chaney making his first start at middle linebacker. First half ended 24-3 Giants and heading into the fourth quarter it was 31-10 Giants. Thanks to a successful onside kick combined with Brent Celek’s 65-yard catch and run TD and Michael Vick’s 3rd down 35-yard scamper (followed by a QB draw into the end zone from the 4), the Eagles came all the way back to tie it 31-31. With 14 seconds remaining, rookie Giants punter Matt Dodge was instructed to punt toward the sideline. Instead, the punt went directly to DeSean Jackson – who promptly fumbled it, picked it up, bobbed and weaved his way through traffic and then kicked on the afterburners.
Not only did Jackson take it to the house for the winning score, he added insult to injury by flamboyantly running along the goal line before darting into the end zone, making sure there was no time left. New Miracle New Meadowlands http://prosportsblogging.com/nfl-football/philadelphia-eagles/new-miracle-new-meadowlands/
SEVEN years, $126 million Jayson Werth claims that he enjoyed his time in Philadelphia then surprisingly Werth and his agent, Scott Boras announced he will sign with Washington Nationals. Goodbye Greedy. You could have been a contender in Philly (again)! WERTH SIGNS WITH NATIONALS December 5, 2010 http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/philadelphia-phillies/werth-signs-with-nationals/
SIX which is the number of games in which a healthy Michael Vick has both started and finished for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010. He is putting up MVP numbers, has revived his reputation as “The Human Highlight Reel” and has carried the Eagles on their improbable playoff run. SIX is also the number of wins I predicted for the Eagles in 2010, as they entered the season with a slew of rookies on defense, a QB named Kevin Kolb (remember him?) and a gaggle of critics demanding the head of Andy Reid. Vick the player has been incredible, throwing for 2,775 yards, 20 TD/5 INT, adding 613 yards (6.7 yard average) & 8 TD on the ground and truly being the heart, soul and leader of this Eagles team.
FIVE reminds us of Donovan McNabb, who was traded on Easter Day in the Redskins “Jesus Trade” in exchange for a second-round draft pick. That 37th overall pick eventually became Safety Nate Allen and ended the 11-year relationship between Head Coach Andy Reid and QB Donovan McNabb. During this time the team went to FIVE NFC Championships and one Super Bowl but never managed to hoist that elusive Lombardi Trophy together. McNabb’s last two games wth the Eagles were a pair of successively embarassing debacles against Dallas (complete with McNabb’s air guitar solo) to end the regular season and again the following week in a Wildcard Playoff Game. Now McNabb has soured on the Redskins and looks for another opportunity in 2011.
FOUR Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Cliff Lee returns to the Phillies via free agency nearly one year after being traded. Lee had been obtained in July 2009 and helped lead the Phillies on their return trip to the World Series. Six weeks later he found himself in Seattle and on December 14, 2010 he agreed to a 5-year, $120 million contract with the Phillies. This effectively gives the Phillies four aces among their starting rotation Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and takes some of the sting of losing Jayson Werth to free agency. Cliff Lee Once and Future Phillie http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/philadelphia-phillies/cliff-lee-once-and-future-phillie/
THREE Phillies swept Cincinnati in NLDS 3-0 featuring a Roy Halladay No-Hitter in NLDS Game One Red October: Phase One Complete http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/philadelphia-phillies/red-october-phase-one-complete/
TWO wins in Texas (Eagles beat Houston and Dallas in successive weeks). Playing just four days after a disappointing loss to the Bears in Chicago, the Eagles improved to 8-4 this year and 4-2 at home and finished 3-1 against the AFC beating the Houston Texans. They maintained control of the NFC East, which they lead by half a game over the Giants. The Texans fell to 5-7 after a 4-2 start and have now lost four straight road games. They fell to 0-3 all-time against the Eagles and have been outscored 59-27 in those games. EAGLES DO TEXAS TWO STEP BEFORE SHOWDOWN WITH GIANTS http://prosportsblogging.com/nfl-football/philadelphia-eagles/eagles-seek-texas-two-step-before-showdown-with-giants/ One week later, the Eagles faced longtime division rival Dallas Cowboys in part two of their Texas two step. Eagles defeat Cowboys and Ghosts, Prepare for Showdown in Meadowlands Eagles beat Cowboys 30-27. First and foremost, the ghosts of 2009 are dead. The bitter rival who beat the Eagles three times including a wildcard round playoff embarrassment causing Philadelphia roster overhaul have been defeated. http://prosportsblogging.com/nfl-football/philadelphia-eagles/eagles-defeat-cowboys-and-ghosts-prepare-for-showdown-in-meadowlands/ December 13, 2010
ONE Cy Young Award for Phillies Roy Halladay. While the Phillies fell short in the NLCS, Roy Halladay threw the 20th Perfect Game in Major League Baseball history and crafted just the second postseason No Hitter in Game 1 of NLDS vs. the Reds. “Doc” was the unanimous choice for NL Cy Young Award receiving all 32 first-place votes. He is the 13th unanimous NL winner and the fifth pitcher in major league baseball history to win Cy Young awards in both leagues, joining Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens. Halladay previously won the 2003 American League Cy Young with the Toronto Blue Jays. Halladay is the fourth pitcher in Phillies history to win the award, joining Steve Carlton (1972, 1977, 1980, 1982), John Denny (1983) and Steve Bedrosian (1987). Halladay went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA in 33 starts this season. He led the league in wins, complete games (nine), shutouts (four) and innings pitched (250 2/3) and finished second in strikeouts (219). November 16, 2010. Halladay Unanimous NL Cy Young http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/philadelphia-phillies/halladay-unanimous-nl-cy-young/
For those who insist on the song… (ahem… pitch pipe):
Twelve Eagles Draft Picks
Eleven wins for Eagles
Ten wins for Hamels
Nine postseason Phils wins
Twenty Eight point comeback (New Miracle New Meadowlands)
Seven Years for Jayson (Werth Washington)
Six Healthy Vick Games
Five… Jesus Trade…(McNabb)
Four Phillies Aces
Three Phils Sweep Cincy (NLDS)
Two wins in Texas (Eagles)
and ONE NL Cy Young Award (Roy Halladay, two no hitters in one season)
It has been an excellent, exciting, tumultuous year in Philadelphia and across the sports landscape. We all enjoy following sports, writing about sports, reading about sports and arguing about sports. How fortunate are we to be free and prosperous enough to spend our time in these pursuits. Happy Holidays to all – no matter which holidays you choose to celebrate – and may the fortunes of the season be kind to you and all that you hold dear. If it was a championship year for your team then fortune has smiled upon you. If not, there’s always next year!
The History of the Holiday
The Twelve Days of Christmas are festival days, also known as Christmastide, starting from the evening of Christmas Day and lasting until the morning of January 6, known as the Epiphany. Throughout history, Christians have celebrated this festive season with various traditions including 12 days of feasts, hanging wreaths, giving gifts, lighting candles, singing songs, and lighting a Yule Log on the first Christmas night. Commercialization of the holiday has shrunk the celebration to one night, followed by a fast transition to the celebration of New Years. However many faithful Christians around the world continue to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas in the traditional way.
The History of the Song
No one knows where the song The Twelve Days of Christmas originated, although it was used for many centuries throughout many traditions starting in the 16th century. The earliest recorded history of the song was its first known publication in 1780 in a children’s book called Mirth without Mischief. Many Christians have adopted the song as their own, and there is now a myth circulating that the song was used by early Christians who could not openly practice their faith in those locations where Christianity was outlawed. The actual known origin of The Twelve Days of Christmas prior to 1780 is that it was used as a memory game where players would sit in a circle and take turns singing the song, one verse longer than the last. The first player to forget the words would have to pay a penalty (offering a kiss or a sweet) and the game continues.
The myth is somewhat accurate, however, because the song is based on the Christian holiday. In fact the earliest origins of the song convince most historians that the song is actually of French origin, and originally had seven gifts which were all types of birds.
Related Article: A Solemn Wish for Christmas http://prosportsblogging.com/nfl-football/new-york-jets/a-solemn-wish-for-christmas/
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org