I always wondered what the purpose of this pseudo holiday was. Is it just another Hallmark creation to spark up greeting card sales? Or is it another watering down of the true meaning of Christmas? Well during the latter stages of July 2011 (and a few days into the start of August) I finally figured it out. It was created for us Philadelphia sports fans and the wonderful week or two that we have just experienced.
It started with the NFL and their 136 day lockout coming to an end. The Eagles brass spoke all during the lockout about how they poised themselves to be ready for an aggressive approach to reshaping their roster when it finally ended. But after the first two days came and went without any deals, including quarterback Kevin Kolb not being traded, the fan blogs were incensed. Joe "Nickels" Banner, as he has been nicknamed by the current regime haters, were having their field days about the "Gold Standard" being all talk and no action. How could every other team be making moves but the Eagles be too cheap and all talk to get into the fray?
However, over the next few days, the Eagles shook off the rust, traded Kolb, and signed highly ranked defensive end Jason Babin. It culminated last Friday with the coup signing of top free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha that no one expected after already landing another pro bowl cornerback in the Kolb trade.
Friday July 29th may go down as one of the most memorable days in Philly sports history and it was not even for what happened on any field. In a matter of hours the Eagles landed Asomugha, that turned into one of those moments where you will always remember what you were doing when you found out, and the Phillies finally got the big right handed bat that they have been coveting. In a surreal moment, as the Phillies were playing the Pirates, a TV report from Milwaukee broke in and showed former Phillie Jason Michaels replacing Hunter Pence in right field - in the middle of an inning no less. It was obvious that the long rumored trade between the Astros and Phillies had been consummated. It turned out to be one of those great days that sports fans remember forever and Pence has quickly become a fan favorite. Not only that but as of this writing (August 5th) the Phillies haven't lost a game since this great July day.
Not to be outdone, the Eagles decided to continue to make headlines and acquisitions in their new "all-in" approach to free agency. On Saturday, they signed highly touted pass rush specialist Cullin Jenkins from the Green Bay Packers. They also added more offensive and defensive line help, a strong safety safety, a new back-up quarterback and claim they might not be done yet. National writers have now descended onto camp Lehigh like ants on a cookie crumb and odds makers have cut the line for the Birds to win the super bowl in half.
I know that championships for baseball and football are not won in July. I know that you can be the best team all year and still lose in the end. I also know that both teams have put themselves in great positions to win in 2011. And if either or both of them do, I will definitely remember this Christmas in July as being a big reason why.