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December 30, 2022

The top 10 Philly sports stories of 2022

The year 2022 was a whirlwind for Philly sports fans. From an unexpected Eagles playoff berth, to a disappointing season for the Sixers and Flyers, to a Phillies World Series run for the ages and all the way through the Birds becoming the best team in the NFL, sportswriters in the city have written about the full gambit. 

A few exciting things had to be left off this list, including St. Peters incredible run advancing and then ending in the Elite Eight.

Here's a look at the 10 most memorable stories in the Philadelphia sports world from the year 2022 that was that did make our list:

10. Farewell Claude Giroux

Unfortunately, we kick things off on a somber note, as the city bid farewell to a beloved figure and the longest tenured city at the sports complex before the NHL's trade deadline last spring. The Flyers recognized Giroux when he played his 1,000th career game for the franchise, his last before being sent to the Florida Panthers. It wasn't exactly Cole Hamels' no hitter in Chicago but it was a special moment for Flyers fans and a sendoff to a legend.

9. Villanova's Final Four

Another goodbye tour ended in more appropriate fashion back in the spring, as the Wildcats made it to the Final Four yet again before legendary head coach Jay Wright hung up his whistle for the last time. Nova's barrage of three pointers and sound defense was not enough to overcome a more talented Kansas squad.

8. Sixers end Ben Simmons saga with James Harden trade

This one was so painstaking it actually began back in 2021, when Simmons essentially refused to play for the Sixers and said he was going to holdout from the team for mental health reasons. It was sort of a disaster, as the Sixers had to tread water without their All-Star point guard for most of the season. After months of agony and rumors, Sixers' president Daryl Morey pulled a rabbit out of his hat, swapping Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond for James Harden. The move ultimately produced the same result for the 76ers — a second round playoff exit.

7. Rob Thomson comes out of nowhere

The Phillies were 22-29, riddled with injuries and looking at another lost season. That's when the front office decided to shake things up, letting World Series-winning manager Joe Girardi go and turning to long time assistant coach Thomson on the interim. All the Phillies did was go 65-46 the rest of the way and win the NL Pennant. Many in the clubhouse credit the turnaround to the new manager — who would go on to sign an extension to remain the Philly skipper. Thomson proved to be a player's manager, and a guy who got the younger players on the field and contributing.

6. Union make epic run

The Phillies weren't the only team to make it a stone's throw from winning a title. The Union were one of the best teams in MLS all year in 2022, and faltered in dramatic fashion in one of the most incredibly entertaining soccer matches you'll ever see.

5. Joel Embiid's near MVP run

Embiid finished 2021-22 with his second consecutive runner-up finish for NBA MVP to Nikola Jokic, and this one stung a little more than the prior one. The big man won the NBA's scoring crown with 30.6 points per game along with 11.7 rebounds per game. If we include the rest of the calendar year in this assessment, Embiid is once again leading the NBA in scoring in 2022-23, with a monster 33.7 points per contest. The NBA is so chock full of talent that Embiid may never win the hardware that he might rightfully deserve, but he is one of the most dominating figures in the sport and was at his peak in 2022.

4. Phillies become major players

Due to MLB's labor lockout last offseason, we're able to combine two significant achievements for Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies front office. Prior to the 2022 season, the Phillies went big on offense, signing Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber to rich multi-year deals. Both were key contributors to the pennant winning Phils, and after finishing the year two wins from a championship, the Phillies went big in this most recent offseason as well. The Phils made a giant splash adding stud shortstop Trea Turner, as well as several big name pitchers. Hopefully these mercenary signings will produce a similar result in 2023.

3. Howie Roseman's epic offseason

It would take a while to list all of the impressive moves the Eagles GM made to assemble the 13-2 Eagles. We'll highlight a few of them here:

• He acquired the Saints' 2023 first round pick essentially for nothing
• He later swindled the Saints again, trading for C.J. Gardner‑Johnson (who leads the NFL with six interceptions)
• He traded 1st, 3rd round picks for WR A.J.Brown, who signed a 4-year extension (who already has 1,000 yards)
• He signed Haasan Reddick (who already has 14 sacks)
• He signed pro bowl CB James Bradberry
• He traded up in the draft for run-stuffing Jordan Davis
• He stole Nakobe Dean in the third round
• He bolstered the defense by bringing in Ndamukong Suh and Linvall Joseph

And this is like half of his accomplishments. Well done Howie.

2. Eagles all around domination

If you are reading this article you are no doubt already aware of how good the Eagles are this year. And even with some recent injury setbacks, they're one win away from securing an NFC East title and first round bye. Nick Sirianni is the leading candidate for NFL coach of the year, and Jalen Hurts should rightfully be the NFL MVP. The 2022 Eagles will ultimately be judged on whether they can make it to — and win — the Super Bowl, but regardless, this is a team loaded with stars at the heights of their powers and a season that will not be soon forgotten.

1. Phillies World Series run

The highlight of my career as a sportswriter in this town was covering the Phillies playoff run this season. I was in college for the 2008 team and there's something about baseball that has always been more special to me than the other sports. The 2022 team had no business being anywhere near the fall classic. The following all needed to happen for them to win the NL pennant:

• MLB had to expand the postseason so the Phillies and their 87 wins could make it as the 6-seed.
• MLB added a universal designated hitter, which allowed Bryce Harper to stay in the lineup despite an elbow that kept him from throwing a baseball.
• A ridiculous 6-run ninth inning in St. Louis in the Wild Card round to gave the Phillies full control of the three-game series.
• One of the greatest home runs I have ever seen in my life, off the bat of Rhys Hoskins helped them beat the defending World Series Champions from Atlanta.
• An insane 4-run comeback in Game 4 at home for the Phillies in the NLCS, before one of the greatest baseball games ever played in South Philly in Game 5, ending with Harper’s two-run homer to win it in the eighth.
• An extra-innings go-ahead homer won them Game 1 in Houston before they basted five home runs in Game 3 (in a 7-0 win) to put the Phillies in control of the series, 2-1.

They then were no-hit in Game 4 and completely ran out of gas against the Astros. We've detailed some of the more memorable moments from this memorable run here.

Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy

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