The last two seasons have been positively dreary for Philly sports fans. The years 2014 and 2015 caused the entire Delaware Valley to become just a little but more pessimistic in their world outlook, and perhaps caused more than a few sports fans to find other outlets for their time.
But it looks like the good times have come a little earlier than expected. In pretty much none of the following cases did the majority of local sports fans expect success — and in each of them the teams that play their home games in Philadelphia made sports fun again.
Sure, during the regular season the Wildcats looked like an NCAA Tournament contender, but aside from those who attend college on the Mainline or have a degree from Nova, very few thought Jay Wright’s crew would actuallytake home the title.
Fast forward all the way to April, when the Cats faced powerhouse UNC in the championship game in Houston. Up until Kris Jenkins found nylon with a game-winning jumper it seemed like a Philly championship was just a fantasy. Finally something to celebrate.
Unexpected rating: Parents forgot to pick you up from soccer practice because they were buying you a dog
The Flyers were rebuilding and pretty much everyone knew it. But once beloved team founder and owner Ed Snider passed away toward the end of the regular season something clicked.
Actually, something clicked a bit before that as the team was able to clinch an unexpected playoff spot. And less expected that that was the way they played, overcoming three straight ugly losses against the best team in the East to force Games 5 and 6, the last of which they lost 1-0.
It’s some ammunition now for young and up and coming Flyers like Shayne Gostisbehere going into next season.
Unexpected rating: Getting a snow day the night before and getting no snow whatsoever
The Phillies were picked to be the worst team in baseball yet again. But they weren’t.
The long, marathon 162-game season has worn the team down, but the first two months of the season were thrilling. The team was within a stone’s throw of first place and boasted some of the best pitching seen in South Philly since the four aces. Remember Vince Velasquez’ 16 strikeouts?
The carousel of prospects has shown glimpses of the greatness to come (we hope) and after taking Mickey Moniak first overall in June with J.P. Crawford and an army of high-ceiling pitchers in tow, the future actually looks palpably bright.
Unexpected rating: Finding a crisp $20 bill in your jeans after doing laundry
There are two things at work hereas the 3-0 Eagles head into the bye week. First, the fact that the team is 3-0, based on magnificent defense and play-calling by Doug Pederson.
The Eagles lead the NFL in point differential, have yet to allow a passing touchdown and haven’t turned the ball over once.
Then there’s Carson Wentz. When Sam Bradford was sent to the Vikings for a first round pick, it was a pleasant surprise (thanks to the genius of Howie Roseman) that is exciting enough to make this list by itself. But Wentz has been incredible, winning Rookie of the Week in Week 1 and Offensive Player of the Week in Week 3. All signs are toward the QB being a staple in South Philly for a long, long time. And to think, on September 2 he was going to be sitting out the entire season.
Unexpected rating: You play golf for just the second time this year, tee it up on a par 3 and fly it in the cup for a hole-in-one