In Major League Baseball, teams will play their top minor league affiliates from time to time in exhibition games. As a Mets fan, you'd hear they dropped a decision to the Tidewater Tides on a WFAN 20/20 sports update, giggle, and then start thinking about games that matter again.
These meaningless contests would only act as a harbinger of doom if you believed your team was, in fact, that kind that couldn't defeat its own minor league affiliate nine times out of 10. Or, in other words, you were a Mets fan.
The Philadelphia Flyers were a conference finalist last season, and they're our pick to win the Atlantic Division. Saying they're a better team than the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms is like saying the U.S. Army has a slight tactical advantage over the military of Aruba.
Perhaps it's because the regular season is so close, or because the game last night was the finale at The Spectrum, but the Flyers' 4-2 defeat to the Phantoms has become a bizarre point of ridicule this morning for Philly-bashers and sullen Flyers fans.
Joe Dumas, Off Wing Opinion: "I just want to know what you do after that. Do you trade teams? Stick the Flyers in the AHL, and promote the Phantoms? Do you just trade all the players? All I know is that the Flyers open up against the Rangers in a few days. And I'm pretty sure the Rangers are just a little bit better than the Phantoms."
The Two-Line Pass: "If you're on the Phantoms, you're feeling pretty good right now. If you're Dany Briere, you might want to consider killing yourself. This might be the funniest thing that happens all year."
All Things Philly: "Exhibition or not, the Flyers should be embarrassed to lose a game to a bunch of minor league veterans and rookies. And, hockey's not like other sports where the back-ups play most of the game. The Flyers back-ups all play for the Phantoms, so the starters got beat by the back-ups."
Seriously, folks? We didn't watch the game. Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News did, and his assessment was that more focus was placed on Andre "Moose" Dupont, Ed Van Impe and two Stanley Cup banners than it was on a worthless game. From the Daily News:
The matchup featured the usual preseason storylines: players battling for jobs, young players begging to earn their rite of passage. But the atmosphere was more like an All-Star Game, with little - if any - physical play and a creative license on offense.
And while we're all having a laugh at the expense of the Flyers, here's another important point: The Phantoms had a ringer! Antero Niittymaki was their goalie last night, on a rehab stint on the way back to ... wait for it ... the Flyers' bench. You can't respect a win with a ringer! Has "Cheers" taught us anything?
We imagine our Internet brethren are goofing around, and don't seriously believe the Flyers are a team that would, under other circumstances, fail to blow the Phantoms off the ice. This isn't Mystery, Alaska; mostly because you can't see Russia from the rink.
Of course, a loss to an AHL team does make the argument for a "5 Ways I'd Change the NHL" pipe dream: Relegation ...