Monday, November 29, 2004
Cursology 101: Phinding The Phoundations of Philly Phailure
The matter's resolution may be found in Philadelphia, where they now have the curse of Billy Penn to explain the idiocies of Larry Bowa and Ed Wade:
Perched atop the City Hall building at Broad and Market Streets in Center City, Philadelphia is a statue of William Penn, universally regarded as both the founder (and namer) of the city, and the founder of the then-British colony of Pennsylvania, the name of the latter itself meaning "Penn's Woods." By tradition — although not by law — no building in the city could ever rise above this statue; however, in March of 1987, a glass skyscraper, known as One Liberty Place, was opened for business approximately three blocks away. It dwarfed the City Hall building, exceeding its height by a whopping 397 feet (121m), reaching 945 feet (288m) compared with the latter's 548 feet (167m).The mystery, then, is why the statue is not raised atop One Liberty Place, thereby neutralizing the Curse. I throw out the suggestion, and pass on.
Meanwhile, the city's sports teams had, up until then, enjoyed an admirable run of recent success, as in 1980 Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies had won their first World Series title ever....
Following the opening of One Liberty Place, Philadelphia's sports teams commenced a pattern of narrow failures to win a championship: The Flyers have lost in the Stanley Cup finals twice since the skyscraper's construction (in 1987 — a mere two months after One Liberty Place opened — and again in 1997), the Phillies lost the 1993 World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays, and the 76ers lost the 2001 NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers. But perhaps the most excruciating near-misses of all have been contributed by the Eagles, who lost the NFC Championship Game (the winner of which meets the winner of the corresponding game played in the AFC in the Super Bowl) three years in a row starting in 2001....
With four appearances in championship finals since 1987, the theoretical odds against the Philadelphia team losing all four were 15 to 1 — yet this is precisely what happened, and this does not even factor in the numerous semifinal-round losses the city's teams have suffered over this period.
Second: curses are one-hundred-per-centum BS. It's easier to believe in a curse than to realize that the GM is a chucklehead, the team has a racist owner who overlooks all the quality talent coming from the recently deceased Negro Leagues because he's a redneck, your owner is a newspaper that doesn't especially care about winning, etc.