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Cynic. Optimist. Life of the Party

When I first heard of Branded Sports I thought it would be a perfect fit for my personality. In a PC world its refreshing to see there are still outlets out there that just let people be themselves and talk about the things that really make them tick. Too often these days people are afraid to speak up about what they really think because they are concerned with public perception. I’m here to say that I never really gave a damn about what other people thought about what I do and what I say, and that likely won’t ever change.

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Being a Philadelphia sports fan has hardened me not only to the world of sports but also the outside world. Twenty-six years of watching way more lows than highs really weighs on a person and I find it hard to ever have an optimistic view on what these teams I live and die for are doing. Case and point are the Philadelphia Eagles. February 4, 2018 goes down as the greatest day of my life. For months after that I was on a high that didn’t seem real and I thought would never end. For once I let my guard down, I let the Eagles fully into my heart. This has proven to be a mistake. If something seems too good to be true it more than likely is. Just nine months later the Eagles are clinging to playoff hopes, Nick Foles is back in a QB, and I’m in my familiar sky is falling mindset. Standing with a cold bottle of champagne on Broad St. back in February I thought we as a city had finally turned a corner and we were poised for several years of fortune and championship glory. I now cant help but think we didn’t turn a corner that night, but rather sold our collective souls to the sports devil. A day after Nick Foles once again performed his magic in an upset of the Los Angeles Rams all I keep thinking is that it’s just a blip on the radar and not the run we saw a year ago.

Speaking of being kicked in the balls, how about those Flyers? Yes, the one franchise in Philly where fans accept being almost good enough for 40 years is finally getting some blowback. If you believed former GM Ron Hextall, which you shouldn’t have, this year the Flyers were supposed to take a step forward. Rather than doing that they have taken about ten steps back. Hextall is gone, Hakstol has one foot out the door, and the team as a whole is as funny to watch as a George Carlin stand up special. The only good thing about this season so far is fans are finally pissed off. The arena is dead night in and night out except when those in attendance voice their displeasure for the clueless bench boss. The franchise has been two to three years away from winning a cup since 1975 and right now I’m thinking that’s one championship I wont be seeing any time soon.

Baseball is boring as hell and just about everyone under the age of 45 knows it. Call me a glutton for punishment but I still love the sport and the team wearing red pinstripes. I may have foolishly allowed optimism to creep into my mind as the off season began thinking there’s no possible way the Phillies don’t sign either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. The longer the sweepstakes goes and the more reports I read it seems more and more likely my optimism was once again poorly placed. Matt Klentak has made some improvements so far this winter, but the Braves, Mets, and Nationals all have a better roster as currently constructed. If the Phillies brass fails to land a big fish you won’t be seeing me down at Citizens Bank Park in 2019.

The Sixers are the lone bright spot in my life right now. Signing Jimmy Butler sent me into an orgasmic euphoria that I wish I could have bottled up and relive whenever the moment calls for it. Joel Embiid is the best thing going in Philadelphia and it’s not even close. He completely gets this city and is the perfect fit for us. Ben Simmons brings an element of celebrity to the team they haven’t had since Allen Iverson. Is that really important? Not really, but it is cool to see our star player all over TMZ. The team still pisses me off when they play down to trash teams and can’t seem to play up to the contenders in the league. I notice myself, probably foolishly, letting another team take me into optimism. I am not totally there yet. I see their needs to bolster their bench and I know that’s easier said than done. Plus there’s still the world’s softest player Markelle Fultz on the roster. I guess if you go to enough doctors with a phantom injury eventually one of them will have read a medical book that mentioned a condition that kinda matches your “symptoms”. In any event the longer he’s away from the team the better. Will the Sixers inevitably break my heart? Probably.

So, basically that’s me in a nutshell. If I’m not drinking myself numb on the weekends I’m watching one of these teams and ramming my head into the nearest wall. I will say this though. I believe it’s important to live in the negativity of sports and embrace it. Really let yourself feel the lows, because when the highs eventually come it makes them that much sweeter.

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Mark J. Giannone View All

Host of Gettin' Bullied Podcast. Contributor for phillyisflyer.com

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