Four-for-Four: The Spring Cleaning Edition

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Mar 21, 2014; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies mascot drives a fan around the field before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After a week-long respite, the Four-for-Four is back with a vengeance and bringing with it the harmonious bliss that is Spring. Sure, it looks as if there may be yet another wave of snow hitting the Delaware Valley next week, but for this weekend at least we can all stick it to that miserable groundhog in Penguins country and soak up some shorts and sandals weather.

Especially after the misery that has been the winter of 2014, one has to cleanse themselves and his or her environment of all the filth they let build up while fighting the cold. Whether it’s going on a diet, hitting the gym, emptying out the junk drawer, etc. Spring is upon us and, unfortunately, people care how you look and present yourself again.

Especially in the past couple of weeks, the area’s sports teams seem to be following suit and attempting to look their best for when the sun is shining brightest. The Flyers have actually been in Spring cleaning mode for the better part of their season. They let themselves go in a big way over a month before the winter started, piling up losses like a jilted lover eating his or her emotions and tacking on pound courtesy of Ben & Jerry’s and Funyuns. At a certain point, though, the team and the organization saw the light and told themselves they would no longer be a victim. With a couple of savvy moves on the blue line and a few rebound dates in the form of the inspired play of their captain Claude Giroux, the Flyers are once again a major player on the social scene that is the race for the NHL playoffs.

For a decade, the 76ers were a meaningless face in the world caught in a rut. They would follow the same routine every year, trying to convince themselves that the occasional tip-toe out of their comfort zone (signing Elton Brand), was enough excitement they needed to justify their mundane approach to life in the NBA. Crushed after their biggest fluctuation in 10+ years, the Sixers decided it was time to reinvent themselves and start grabbing life by the horns. With Andrew Bynum’s terrible haircuts served as a motivating factor in their journey towards the promised land. With new GM Sam Hinkie playing the ‘Hitch’ to the 76ers Albert Brennaman (last good Will Smith flick IMO), the organization has had to dive head-first out of their threshold in attempt to snare their Allegra Cole. Try not to picture Andrew Wiggins as actress Amber Valetta, just appreciate the metaphor. Nevertheless, the Sixers have dealt with all the same embarrassment and humiliation that Kevin James’ iconic character did, under the notion that all of it would lead to happiness and nirvana in the form of a roster loaded with young talent and a chance to re-ascend to upper echelon of the NBA.

The Phillies continue to find themselves in uncomfortable territory when it comes to the arrival of the Vernal Equinox. For half a decade, they could fight off the malaise that was winter and storm into springtime full bore while every other team was trimming the fat. After building themselves up to arguably the most dashing dame of the ball, the Phightins had relied on reputation and bankroll to maintain their lofty status among the socialites of Major League Baseball. But they got lazy. Blinded by their own success, the Phillies soaked up the spotlight in a way that fueled division rivals to dethrone the Alpha male team from Philadelphia. Unwilling to make the difficult decisions necessary to remain at the top, instead the organization continued to patch things together with cheap make-up when in reality a full-body make over was in order. Now, as the team continues to collapse under its own dead weight, one cannot help but wonder just how bad things can actually get. Their attempts to finally ship off the first of the pieces that helped bring them to their previous perch only bring more darkness on the organization, as the Jimmy Rollins-Ryne Sandberg saga continues to build to what can only be an unceremonious head. The Phillies, right before our eyes, are becoming an example of what happens when you take years off from spring cleaning. Even if the clutter is minimal, it still has the chance to build to something putrid if not addressed.

Then there are the Philadelphia Eagles. Aided by a innovative new approach to life in the form of new head coach Chip Kelly, the Birds were able to bring themselves out from under a similar situation as the Phillies. A little self-awareness, honesty, and a tactical approach to life morphed the crumbling Eagles into an ‘After’ picture in a Proactiv commercial. Continued steady use of the same medication would most likely reap the results desired from the Eagles front office, but there is a problem. As they see it, there is one blemish the franchise is unable to live with. Almost no one else makes much of it and, as far as the outside world knows, it is something the team can work around and still get to where they want to be. But apparently the presence of DeSean Jackson in the Zen temple that is the Eagles locker room is too much for Kelly and GM Howie Roseman to bare without considering drastic techniques. While ridding themselves of Jackson could ultimately be the necessary step towards providing the franchise with its first Super Bowl, it could also be a drastic misstep that sets the team back to the early Andy Reid seasons, pining for a dynamic weapon on the outside. As speculation continues to swirl, will the Eagles cave in and undergo the lazer skin treatment that would be trading Jackson? Or will they stick with what got them to this point and ride it out with their mercurial receiver, trusting the stability around him and hope it is sufficient to avoid a flare up that fissures the locker room? I know the entire city cannot wait to find out.