The Sports Bash Top 10 Philly Sports Stories of 2019
Another year of Philadelphia sports is in the books.
After a miserable 2015 for Philly sports, 2016 at least had some positive vibes, 2017 was the year of turning the corner and in 2018 we saw the Eagles bring the first Super Bowl to the city of Philadelphia.
As for 2019, it was a mixed bag for the Philly sports teams, the Eagles returned to the playoffs, as did the Sixers, losing on a memorable bounce...or four. The Phillies made maybe the biggest free agent splash in its history, while the Flyers changed course with a new coach.
Locally, we saw a football team come...and go. We saw local champions and more!
So what were some of the top moments (in no particular order) of the year? Let’s take a look back at 201
1. Phillies Sign Bryce Harper
In what was at the time the biggest MLB signing in history, the Phillies spent "stupid money" on free agent Bryce Harper. Maybe the most recognizable player in the game, Harper signed for 13-years, $330 million. He backed it up in year one, hitting .260 with 35 home runs and a career-high 114 RBI in his first season in Philadelphia.
He provided some memorable moments along the way, including maybe his most memorable Phillies blast to date, this second-deck, walk-off grand slam against the Chicago Cubs in August.
2. The Eagles upset the third-seeded Chicago Bears 16–15 in the Wild Card round to advance to the Divisional round.
For many this game is referred to as the Double-Doink, as former Eagles kicker Cody Parkey hit the left upright, then the crossbar, causing his 43-yard field goal to be no-good, sending the Eagles to the New Orleans to face the Saints.
In what was the final victory for Nick Foles in a Eagles uniform. he hit Golden Tate for a two-yard touchdown with just 56 seconds to give the Eagles the lead, setting up the memorable miss by Parkey.
3. Sixers lose on Quadruple-Doink, three-point basket by Kawhi Leonard
While the Eagles prospered from the Double-Doink to advance in the NFL Playoffs, it was a Quadruple-Doink that sent the Sixers packing in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. Then Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard hit a corner three-point shot over Joel Embiid at the buzzer and after four bounces to give Toronto a 92-90 series sealing victory over the Sixers.
While the shot sent the Sixers home, Toronto went on to beat the Milwaukee Bucks and then the Golden State Warriors to win their first ever NBA Title.
4. Phillies Fire Manager Gabe Kapler and Hire Joe Girardi
After two disappointing and mediocre seasons, on October 10, the Philies fired manager Gabe Kapler and on Oct. 24 the Phillies replaced him with former Yankees manager Joe Girardi. In 10 seasons as New York’s manager, Girardi won 910 regular-season games and won a World Series in 2009, beating the Phillies.
In two seasons with the Phillies, Kapler compiled a record of 161-163, but he wasn't out of work long. On Nov. 12 the San Francisco Giants announced Kapler would be their new manager, replacing long-time manager Bruce Bochy, who retired.
5. Sixers Sign Tobias Harris to Max-Deal, Add Al Horford in Free Agency
In yet another attempt to find the right mix around young starts Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, the Sixers made the decision to move on from Jimmy Butler, and elected to give Tobias Harris a max-deal to return to Philadelphia.
The Sixers acquired Harris on Feb 6 along with big man Boban Marjanovic and forward Mike Scott in exchange for Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, Philadelphia's 2020 first-round pick (protected) and an unprotected 2021 first-round pick via the Miami Heat. The Sixers will also send 2021 and 2023 second-round picks to the Clippers via the Pistons.
On June 30th, the Sixers made two major moves, adding former Boston Celtics forward Al Horford in free agency. On the day Horford inked a 4-year, $109 million deal, the team struck a deal with the Heat, sending Jimmy Butler to Miami.
6. Sixers trade Jimmy Butler to Miami
The Sixers made the decision to move on without Jimmy Butler. sending him to South Beach on June 30 in exchange for Josh Richardson as part of a four-team deal.
So far in Miami, Butler has been a success, scoring 20.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.7 assists, along with 2.1 steals per game for the surprising Heat. As of this writing, Miami is currently 24-8, good for the No. 2 seed in the east, with a impressive 15-1 home record.
Butler was traded to Philly in November in exchange for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick. Butler's time in Philly lasted 55 games, many of which were memorable. hitting some big, game-winning shots and scoring 18.2 points per game. He also played in 12 playoff games for the Sixers, upping his scoring to 19.4 per game.
7. Flyers hire Alain Vigneault as their Head Coach
After firing both coach Dave Hakstol and GM Ron Hextall at the end of 2018, on April 18, the Flyers hired Alain Vigneault as head coach. So far the results have been positive with Vigneault bringing a fast, exciting and aggressive team to the ice that is in the playoff mix after missing the post season last year.
The team also turned over the No. 1 goalie reigns to 21-year old Carter Hart at the end of 2018, and he has been brilliant at times, giving Flyers fans hope that their woes in goal are finally behind them.
Prior to the start of this west coast trip, Hart has a 13-7-3 record with a 2.27 GAA and .916 save percentage in 25 games this season.
8. Ben Simmons Finally Hits a Three-Point Shot
He entered the season 0 for 17 from 3-point range.
On Oct 8, Ben Simmons calmly stepped into a 3-point shot, and swished it, for his first NBA three-pointer in a regular season game. He did it once this year in a preseason game, in the win over the Knicks was his first official NBA 3-point make.
He has since did it one other time, in a win against the Cavs, but Sixers fans are still waiting for Simmons to start to shoot more frequently.
Even his coach as asked for Simmons to start shooting the ball more, asking for "a 3-point shot per game,"
“This is what I want,” Brown said. “I want a 3-point shot per game, minimum."
He hasn't shot another one since.
9. Sixers part ways with Markelle Fultz
He was the No.1 overall pick in the draft, and was supposed to be the final piece of "The Process". Instead Markelle Fultz appeared in just 33 games with the Sixers over two bizarre seasons. During his 33 games, he averaged just 7.7 points per game, before being traded to Orlando for Jonathan Simmons, a 2019 2nd round draft pick (Carsen Edwards was later selected) and a 2020 protected first-round draft pick.
The Sixers famously traded up with Boston to draft Fultz, while the Celtics added another first-round pick and drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick. Tatum has become a very good player, Fultz is a starter for the Magic scoring 11.5 points per game.
Fultz was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome — which involves compression or irritation in the area between the lower neck and upper chest last December and never played for the Sixers again.
While he might never be the player experts projected him to be, he seems to have found a role in Orlando.
10. AC Blackjacks came, and went....
The Arena Football League made a stop in Atlantic City, and then it left.
On Jan. 22nd it was announced that Atlantic City would play games at Boardwalk Hall for the upcoming 2019 season. On Jan 31 it was announced that two-time AFL coach of the year Ron James would be the teams first coach. On March 7 it was announced that after after contest for fans to name the team, they team would be called the "Blackjacks".
On Saturday April 27, the Blackjacks traveled to Philadelphia to face the Soul, losing 48-41 in the franchise first ever game. The team played their first home game, and won for the first time ever, at Boardwalk Hall in Week 2, hosting the Columbus Destroyers in front of 6,139 fans.
Attendance for the six home games for the season was 5,430 with a high of 7,104.
It seemed like the team was a success with fan support growing and season ticket sales for season two pacing ahead of year one.
However on Oct. 29th the league announced it was in trouble, per a report from the Albany Times union, the Arena Football League was suspending operations and might be gone for good.
That report became true, as the final nail in the coffin came on November 27, when league commissioner Randall Boe announced via Twitter that the league had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, dissolving the league for the second time.
And just like that, after one seasons, the Blackjacks left Atlantic City.
Some other stories from 2019
Local football teams win titles as Holy Spirit won a State title beating St. Joe's at Rutgers. Cedar Creek and Hammonton each won sectional titles, before falling in the regional title games at Rutgers
December 9, Zach Wheeler signed a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies.
March 13, the Eagles traded a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for WR DeSean Jackson and a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.