Mar 27 2014

Sunnergren: Finding Hope In a 25-Game Losing Streak

Fans, particularly those from Philadelphia, are almost always left disappointed when their teams fall short of the grand prize, a championship. Second-round Game 7 loss to the Celtics … as an 8 seed? Who cares. Four straight NFC Championships? So what. Back-to-back World Series appearances? We want a dynasty!

We, fans of Philadelphia, have expectations of our teams; some of them are rational, most are not. But an amazing thing has happened amid this tanked season, and specifically the 25-game losing streak. With no expectations, we’ve come to accept, if not embrace one of the worst professional sports teams we’ve ever seen.

Which all brings me to this: Over at TrueHoop, Tom Sunnergren wrote about the Hinkie Machine, and how a fan base — known more for its snowball throwing than its patience — has found hope in this throwaway season. Here’s the link to the post. I’d strong suggest checking out the whole thing, but this excerpt is a nice start.

There’s an angst, a deep-seeded dissatisfaction, that pervades Philadelphia sports culture. It’s so ambient and consuming, so normalized, that it’s difficult to really see or feel while you’re inside of it — to cut to the punchline of an old joke, what the hell is water?

“Passion” is what some Delaware Valley partisans attribute this cantankerousness to — “love” and “loyalty” are also frequently cited — but it’s probably best understood as a highly-developed palate for unhappiness.

All of which makes it strange and noteworthy that, with the 76ers poised to tie an NBA record for consecutive losses on Thursday, the modal attitude in this angsty, angry city, isn’t frustration, despair or apathy, but something that, if you squint just a little, looks suspiciously like optimism. Maybe even hope.

  • robbybonfire23

    The Eagles could salvage Philadelphia sports for the next 20 years with a couple of SB wins. If they get one, put me down as believing it will not be the only one. Chip Kelly has no ceiling for accomplishment.

    The Phillies are headed for where the 76ers are now, simply the most dreadful ownership-management “team” on the sports horizon, anywhere. You want proof? How about their bringing back, in some kind of “Good ole boy to have around” capacity, the ~worst~ manager in MLB history! That takes the all-time cake for sports black hole “inspiration.” RAJ should be pealing “seconds” in Atlantic City low-stakes poker games for a living. Or sprucing up the grounds around Penn Charter, at which he would not be over-matched.

    The 76ers are the major question in this town. We know that, starting next season, they are coming back with a vengeance, but how far? Playing .500 basketball may be their ceiling. Or, they could have a couple outstanding drafts, make at least one more blockbuster trade that works out, and just lose in the finals to the Western Conference championship on a 3-5 year run. Competitive, yes. The best there is? – probably no cigar.