Only 13 cities (including close surrounding areas) have professional sports teams in all four of the major professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL): Boston/New England, Chicago, Dallas/Arlington, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/Saint Paul, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco/Bay Area, and Washington D.C.
All those cities have had their share of success over the years, with Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia being the five that have a title in all four major sports. Over the last few decades Boston and Chicago have stood above the rest—especially Boston since the year 2000, as each of its four teams has won a title, and the Patriots have won five of them and also might have the best athlete and best coach of any sport together. Breaking it down by decade, and Boston might own each of the last two in terms of success with its sports teams.
If you break it down by month, Philadelphia’s month of February might be the greatest sports month in the history of a city.
I think everyone has heard about the Eagles’ win in Super Bowl LII against the Patriots (a Boston/New England team), which still doesn’t feel like it actually happened. The victory set good vibes for many people in the city and its surrounding areas, including with a parade that gathered millions of people on Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Broad Street, but it also seemingly set the tone for the other sports teams in their respective leagues.
Let’s start with the Phillies. The franchise was the most recent championship pride of Philadelphia after their championship-drought-ending World Series in 2008, but they’ve struggled over the last few years and have the lowest payroll in baseball right now—which no one is used to.
While he’s inexperienced and obviously is no sure-thing to be a success, new manager Gabe Kapler seems to be setting a positive tone, and he gave the team a mantra: Be Bold. As a former player, Kapler will hopefully be able to connect with the young and talented players like Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera, and J.P. Crawford. Kapler brought in Eagles center Jason Kelce to speak with the team after his rousing speech at the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade.
When I thought of writing this, I was planning on Jake Arrieta, who might have been the top free agent available this offseason, signing with the Phillies, which would have been a big win heading into the season. He didn’t sign yet, but the good news is they are in the mix to sign him.
They aren’t in season, but overall, there’s reason to be optimistic about the Phillies. Now, to the other teams that, like the Eagles, were actually on the field for real games in February.
The Sixers, who have had one of the most difficult schedules in the NBA this season, got hot and went 8-3 throughout the course of the month. Things could have been even better if they didn’t drop their last two games, but 8-3 is a really good record, and the best news might be that Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and company are all healthy and on the court—Embiid even participated in three different events during All-Star Weekend.
Also, LeBron James is seemingly at least intrigued by the prospect of joining the Sixers when he opts out of his Cavaliers contract this summer. Frankly, I’m not quite as hyped about LeBron potentially coming to Philadelphia because I think they are on the right track regardless, but there is no denying having one of the greatest players in NBA history being interested in your team is a good thing—and it could drum up interest in future free agents.
Finally, the Flyers have been the NHL’s hottest team over the last month, going 10-1-2 while climbing to the top of the Metropolitan Division (they are one point behind the Capitals, but with one less game played). The switch a couple months ago to separate Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, sending Voracek to the second line, has allowed Giroux and Sean Couterier to play better together and sparked the entire team.
After fans were calling for coach Dave Haktstol’s head a few months ago, he now has them looking like serious contenders for their first Stanley Cup since 1975. And because of injuries, the Flyers have done it with a few different goaltenders. Hakstol deserves a ton of credit for getting the team chemistry going in a positive direction after the team lost ten straight games before the top-line change.
Considering no city has had two franchises win a championship in the same month (NBA and NHL is the only possible combination that can make that happen), and no huge franchise-changing free agent signings like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, or Barry Bonds have happened in the same month as a title by another team in the city, the success of all four Philadelphia teams this month is stunning, and it’s difficult to argue with a .760 combined winning percentage including the first Super Bowl in Eagles franchise history.
You could say it’s pointless to just pick and choose just a month and talk about how good it was, but it was an historic month that could indicate where all four of the city’s main sports franchises are headed. Boston has the leg up since the start of the millennium, but it would not be surprising to see Philadelphia emerge as the next decade’s premiere sports city.