The outlook in the state of Pennsylvania’s sports scene has come to fruition recently with the success of both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia’s teams. For the last decade, it has been up and down for both cities as both have shared in minor successes but were unable to win a title since the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009. It wasn’t until the Penguins went on a hot streak at the end of the 2015-16 season that they earned a Stanley Cup championship, which got one of Pennsylvania’s two biggest cities back on the title track.
After winning the organization’s fourth Stanley Cup, the Pens shocked the world by winning a second straight Cup the next season in 2016-17, a tough goal to accomplish in the NHL. Pittsburgh has also celebrated solid seasons from the Pittsburgh Steelers, which have won their fair share of titles with their NFL-leading six Super Bowls but have failed to get over the hump of the AFC Championship game since 2010.
Pittsburgh also enjoyed some competitive years with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons, when the team snapped its 20-year playoff drought by reaching the National League Wild Card game in two of the three years and an NL Divisional Series berth in 2013.
As for Philadelphia, after enjoying the success of the Phillies from 2007 to 2011, which featured a World Series title, an NL pennant and three other trips to the postseason, it became a sharp decline following 2011.
The Philadelphia 76ers have been extremely disappointing to fans following “The Process,” which led to season-tanking in order for better draft positioning, as the team was one of the worst teams in the league from 2013 to 2017. The Flyers and the Eagles enjoyed success in the first decade of the 2000s but, like decades before, were unable to win a championship. In the 2010s, both teams have taken a step back, missing the postseason several times and rebuilding.
As for right now, however, it is all looking up for Philadelphia with the Eagles winning the organization’s first Super Bowl in February and both the Sixers and the Flyers reaching the postseason with a lot to look forward to in the coming years.
The Flyers and Pens in particular are in the middle of the spotlight in the Pennsylvania sports scene, with the current first-round playoff series, a series the back-to-back champs are leading, 2-1, with Game 4 set for Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
This is certainly exciting in and of itself, but also is a celebration of what the two great sports cities have been experiencing.
Philly, coming off a Super Bowl and on the rise in basketball, is squaring off with the Steel City, which is still enjoying its back-to-back Cups. It seems bragging rights are on the line.
Here at IUP, this is the first time students from both sides of Pennsylvania are seeing their teams square off with a cross-state opponent in some time. The last postseason matchup between the cities occurred in 2012, when the Flyers defeated the Penguins in six games. This time around, it appears that the Pens have the upper hand in the series after outscoring the Flyers, 13-6, in the first three games.
However the series turns out, fans of either city can enjoy the head-to-head matchups since it has not been often that the pair of cities’ sports success has overlapped one another. If things keep going how they have been, the cities might run into each other in the postseason more often, which can only help build one of the best rivalries in all of professional sports.