Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sixers Win; Santana Deal Sinks In

I was all set to sit down and write poetically about how enthusiastic am I to have a young player like Thaddeus Young on the Sixers to watch for the next 10 years or so. Young and the rest of the Sixers just walked all over the Milwaukee Bucks (who, admittedly, were missing Michael Redd and looked like they would rather be at the Borgata than in South Philly) by a score of 112 - 69. Young had a fantastic game, with 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. The kid looks like a real keeper.

But sadly, that's not what's on my mind today.

The deal the Mets made to get Johan Santana sunk in while listening to the Sports Guy podcast on the way into work today.

I would file the decision to listen to that podcast under "Big Fucking Mistake". Just listening to those guys go on and on about Santana put me in a miserable mood on a day where I have no real reason to be miserable. I'm going to the Flyers game tonite against the Rangers and I'll have a blast, so I have every reason to be feeling good. Unfortunately, I allowed 30 minutes of Bill Simmons patronizing a Mets fan get in the way. Ugh.

When listening to the podcast, you'll be reminded that:

1.) The Mets gave up almost nothing to get Santana. I mean, less than nothing. They gave up a ball of dryer lint (pictured) for the best left-hander in baseball. Fuck.

2.) Santana is left-handed,and the left-handed hitting Utley and Howard are going to face this guy about 20 times each. Not a great matchup for the Phils.

3.) There is a complete lack of respect for the Phillies from some corners in baseball and Mets fans are the worst offenders. Whichever one of Simmons' dorky friends that Simmons was interviewing that was a Mets fan did not once mention the Phillies in any context of being a "threat". There was barely a passing mention of the Lidge acquisition and that was it. The last two MVPs in the NL play for Philadelphia and a third player, Chase Utley, happens to be the best 2nd baseman in baseball, yet for some reason, they don't see a threat. Wow.

4.) By the way, if you're a Boston hater, it is nauseating to listen to Simmons wax on poetically about how the Yankees NOT getting Santana was another victory for Red Sox nation. I don't know what was worse: hearing about something else go right for the Boston sports fan or hearing Simmons slobber the knob of a Mets fan. I felt like emptying my hot travel mug of coffee into my lap for relief.

So, do yourself a favor; ignore the lastest Sports Guy podcast if you're a Phillies fan.

Instead, check out this video of Thaddeus Young, from a high school all-star game from a couple of years ago:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hartnell Scores Winner; Mets Get Santana

Scott Hartnell scored the game winner in OT as the Flyers beat the Kings 3 - 2. Martin Biron was in goal and looked pretty good making 29 saves. While the Flyers outplayed the Kings in the first period, I thought the Flyers looked tired and passive for most of the 2nd period. They were able to turn it up by the end of the second period and played pretty well for most of the third. All in all, it was a win and good warm up for when the Rangers come to Philly this Thursday.

Did you notice?

- Steve Downie: only 8 minutes of ice time. Hmmmm.....

- During the broadcast, Bill Clement told people bashing the all-star game to "get a life". Really? Bill, don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining. The NHL All-Star game is a joke and everyone knows it. It doesn't even come close to representing good hockey.

- It might have been Braydon Coburn's best game as a Flyer, scoring a goal and making several really good plays in his own zone. A well-earned #1 star.....

- Hopefully, the PPG scored by Gagne pulls him out of post-concussive funk. He doesn't look terribly aggressive with his offensive game out there right now.

Mets Get Johan Santana

The Mets, in a effort to keep up with your division champion Phillies, went out and traded 4 prospects for Johan Santana yesterday in the blockbuster trade of the MLB offseason. Assuming that the Mets starting pitching staff can stay healthy (and that's a big "if"), they probably have the best rotation in the NL East, with the Phils and Braves following.

I was really surprised that the Mets were able to do this without giving up Jose Reyes. I don't think any of the prospects they gave up (Phil Humber, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra) are any great shakes. I guess the juice lies in the fact that the Mets now have to pay this guy like $25 million dollars per year for the next 7 years. It's a real good deal for the Mets; giving up no frontline players to get perhaps the best pitcher in baseball. At money like Santana is asking for, however, they better hope Santana stays healthy and motivated to pitch. For the Phillies sake, let's hope Santana likes the New York nightlife more than is healthy.

Not a good day if you're a Phillies fan.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

NHL Kisses Penguin Ass Again!

According to the fine writers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (possibly the biggest homers you'll ever read), goon Georges Laraque will not be suspended for his hit on Steve Downie again. Personally, I think Colin Campbell has fallen asleep this year. He went out of his way to screw over and stigmatize Steve Downie with an (unwarranted) 20 game suspension and now he doesn't suspend an obvious goon for what was an obvious boarding call. There is little doubt that had a Flyer player committed the same offense, a Flyer would have been suspended.

I am waiting the NHL to order Detroit to give Pittsburgh one of their goaltenders, because...y'know....Pittsburgh doesn't have a good one. I mean, it's only fair that the league make sure Pittsburgh is well-stocked with talent and is able to keep the team in a market that doesn't adequately support the team.

Flyers 2nd Half Begins Tonite

The 2nd half of the Flyers' 2007-08 season begins tonite with a home game against the L.A. Kings. While the first half was a welcome departure from last season's woeful performance, there is still much to do in the 2nd half of the season. The Atlantic Division is hyper-competitive with the division leading Flyers being seperated from last place by only 5 points. The following are some of the issues that could impact the Flyers' performance down the stretch this season (in no particular order):

1.) With the success of Steve Downie, what happens when Joffrey Lupul returns?

Since Downie's recall on December 5th, Downie has gone on to record 8 points in 13 games. He's added energy and physicality to the lineup that wasn't there before and let's face it: I think opposing players don't quite know what to make of Downie. When Lupul went down, Downie moved up onto a line with Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell and the line looked like it didn't miss a beat.

Now that Lupul is returning, does Downie return to his 4th line role or does Lupul get shuffled onto either Carter or Briere's line? I think I'd leave Downie on Richards' line and move Umberger off of Briere's line to play with Jeff Carter, replacing Umberger with Lupul.

The lines would then look like this:


Extra: Cote

2.) So, what's with all of the Peter Forsberg talk?

I couldn't be more surprised, both positively and negatively, that Peter Forsberg is looking to get to the NHL with the Flyers.

I am happy that Peter liked his time here. It shows the league that Philly is a good place to play, despite what most (uninformed) national media thinks.

On the other hand, Peter's diva-like behaviour with his foot last season basically kept the team in neutral all last year and was a definite factor in the team's downfall. Does the lockerroom need the distraction if Forsberg has to traipse across the globe again because his foot doesn't feel quite right? Furthermore, what do you do with the lines if Forsberg comes back? That is a whole blog entry in and of itself.

I guess this is a bridge the Flyers will cross when they come to it (if Chuck Gormley is to be believed...and I say that he is....Forsberg coming here is a foregone conclusion), my guess is at least one forward will be dealt for defensive help(Knuble? Upshall?), one might move to another position (Jeff Carter's skills dictate he should be a wing, not a center) and another (Jim Dowd) will probably end up either on the street or with the Phantoms.

3.) Will Derian Hatcher's knee hold up?

Hatcher logs about 20 minutes of ice-time per night. Pairing him with the much faster Braydon Coburn has enabled the Flyers to get something out of the significant investment they made in Hatcher when they signed him a couple of years ago.

The problem with Hatcher is he's already missed time with a bad right knee and he's not getting any faster or younger. Why don't they give this guy a game or two off? It would allow his knee to rest and it would give Lasse Kukkonen some much needed ice time. Chances are, the Flyers won't be fully healthy on the backline dlown the stretch and will probably need Kukkonen at some point.

4.) What about the goalie situation?

I know that John Stevens won a Calder Cup with the Phantoms with Antero Niitymaki as his goaltender. I know that Stevens is the type of guy who definitely has a soft spot for his former Phantom guys (*cough*Randy Jones*cough*cough*), but why screw around with Martin Biron by playing Niitymaki so much lately?

The organization made a 3 year commitment to Biron as their goaltender, and in the beginning of the year, Biron kept the team afloat while they found themselves defensively. Now that the Flyers players seem more accustomed to one another, now is the time to establish Biron between the pipes and to quit screwing around with the guy's confidence. During the stretch when Niitymaki was getting all of the playing time, you could tell from Biron's body language and his play (leaving rebounds all over the place) that he was somewhat disengaged from things.

Let me be clear: I think Biron is the better goaltender overall, with his positioning and control of rebounds. Niitymaki probably is the better athlete and has better reflexes but does not have the command of the crease I think Biron has.

If Stevens played Niitymaki to give Biron some rest for down the stretch (Biron is a skinny little guy despite his height), I'm ok with that. If he did it just to nudge Biron, whose play was perhaps sagging, I'm ok with that too. But let's hope Stevens is not harboring delusions that Antero Niitymaki is the starting goaltender on this team, because he's not.

5.) What will it take to get past the New Jersey Devils?

God-forbid if the Flyers meet the Devils in the playoffs. They are 1 - 5 against the Devils and make guys like the Devils' Johnny Oduya look like Brian Leetch. The angst amongst local hockey fans will go off the charts if these teams meet in the playoffs..

Figuring out what it will take to get past the Devils is what will seperate this team from first-round also-ran to Cup contender.

Monday, January 28, 2008

And So It Begins....

This week marks the official start of putting Super Bowl hype into overdrive. I confess I am somewhat of an expert at ignoring this crap. If you already (obsessively?) follow sports on a daily basis on the internet, through podcasts, etc., there is not one single angle to the Super Bowl that you don't already know.

I will confess, however, that I am a sucker for those media day stories; the jackass quotient of the media involved goes through the roof on that day. Super Bowl media day is the orgiastic day where every dickweed with a media pass gets to ask inane questions of grown men staged in football jerseys, who clearly would rather be out trying to bang Gisele's sister. There is always a story of the one media type who, intentionally or otherwise, asks the dumbest fucking question imaginable.

Media day also brought to the American vernacular the question "How long have you been a black quarterback?". You'll recall that this was allegedly asked of Doug Williams during the run up to Super Bowl 22. Again - if you know anything about the internet - you'll know this is really an urban legend debunked by Any event or happening that facilitated the need for to look into it can't be all bad.

Naturally, I can't wait for this event to occur. Otherwise, the rest of the week is a huge waste of time, unless someone gets arrested for propositioning a hooker (which could happen because this article builds up this week to be the woodstock for paid sex workers - link via

The only other real piece of Super Bowl business that I personally have this week is to decide who I'm rooting for. This year, that is easy. As an Eagle fan, there is no fucking way I can rationalize rooting for the New York Giants. Now or ever. I definitely feel dirty rooting for the Patriots. They are a loathesome group, with the Machiavellian Bill Belichick and his perfect stepford team that only Ira Levin could be proud of. But, the evils of the Perfect Pats winning another Super Bowl outweighs what would occur should the Giants win the game. Raw, uncut obnoxiousness would just pump out of New York and North Jersey at such a high rate as it would probably blot out the sun and bring about the end of civilization as we know it.

I'd hate to see the end of civilization, what with NHL playoffs coming up and the Flyers having such a good shot this year. So, I guess this means I'm rooting for the Patriots.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Iggy Soars!

Anyone else see this dunk last night?
Impressive. Most impressive. How much did this guy get robbed at the slam dunk contest that year?
The Sixers beat Charlotte in Charlotte last night by a score of 103-96. Iggy had 33 points to key the effort. According to yahoo sports (via, the Charlotte coach was upset because he felt his guys gave less than a stellar effort.
One way you could look at something like that is that Mo Cheeks does have these guys playing hard, despite having less talent than most teams they face. Charlotte was without Ray Felton, but who cares? A win is a win.

Why Wasn't St. Joe's/Temple On Last Night?

I knew that St. Joe's and Temple were playing last night, and I simply assumed that the game would be on Comcast SportsNet since this was a truly local matchup (played at the Liacouras Center) that occurred during a time (6pm) when CSN would usually struggle for programming on a Saturday.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

After checking out all of the usual suspects for the location of this game, I go to the St. Joe's schedule, only to find out that the game was on ESPNU.


How in the hell can this be allowed to happen in this sports market, where the NHL is off on it's midseason break and the NBA team is, to put it charitably, not good. I mean, what self-respecting Philadelphia sports fan wouldn't have wanted to watch the streaking Hawks, winners of 7 of their last 8, against the resurgent Owls under the watchful eye of Franny Dunphy?
From what I have come to understand in the past 24 hours on this issue is that it has to do with the TV contract that the A-10 has with CSTV, but I could be wrong. I do intend to find out more on this. While I may not know the ins and outs of the A-10 TV contract, I do know that of the roughly 20 billion college basketball games that were played last night (all of them seemingly on TV), the one I wanted to watch that was played right in the Delaware Valley featuring two local Universities was NOT on local TV last night.
That is nothing short of a travesty.

Friday, January 25, 2008


- The Sixers lost to the Knicks last night by a score of 89 - 81. Call me when the Andre Miller trade is finalized.

- Fallout from the Flyers-Pens game.

- If you think the imminent demolition of the Spectrum is a good idea (and I do), there are some Phantoms fans who would like to have a word with you.

- In honor of this post, I had to go straight to YouTube and find some Daryl Dawkins footage. You really do forget how athletic and powerful he really was as a younger player.

- Side note: These Sixer uniforms (prominently worn in the Dawkins video above) are definitely my all-time favorite NBA jersey:

- Apparently, Brian Westbrook thinks getting some more playmakers for both sides of the ball is a good idea.

The. Penguins. Suck.

Last night's Flyers game was pretty much the reason why I continue to fork over money for seasons tickets. I don't go to every game, but man, the raw emotion and the intensity of big games is the reason that I continue to be a fan of the NHL.

However, when you watch the NHL, one of the things you do have to get used to is officiating, which is beyond subjective. Some nights, like last night, it reminds me of when I was a kid and watched professional wrestling and used to get angry when the bad guys used to take hold down Bob Backlund or Hulk Hogan and beat them up when the referee's back was turned. You get to thinking, "How do referees miss that?" as the Iron Sheik or Roddy Piper pound away at your hero as the hero's manager is futilely talking to the referee.

Everything that is unique about the NHL was on display at the Flyers-Pens matchup last night.


There was enough emotion down at the Wachovia Center to fill psychiatrist's dance card for about a month. There was joy when the Flyers scored, anger when Steve Downie got hit from behind and they counted that bogus goal, and self-righteous fulfillment when Downie fought Ryan Stone and the Flyers battoned down the hatches for the final 1o minutes of the game.

Crappy Officiating:

That 3rd Penguins goal wasn't a goal now or ever. Why it was counted is a fucking mystery, what with:

1.) The Penguin player (Jordan Staal) launched himself straight into the net, which should have, at the very least, been a goaltender interference call by the official.

2.) The net was clearly knocked off of it's moorings by the Penguins player because he consciously flew into the direction of the Flyer goaltender and knocked the goal off of it's moorings. I didn't even know you could count a goal scored when the goal itself is knocked off it's moorings. Now that the Flyers know this is legal, this is a tactic they need to employ against the Devils.

Also, the following penalties were assessed by officials Dan O'Halloran and Greg Kimmerly, and I'm not terribly sure why:

1.) The Kimmo Timonen holding call at the end of the first period, which allegedly occurred right in front of my seats are. He and Jarko Ruutu were essentially battling one another for the puck and there were a couple of questionable tactics used by each player, but none I would consider a real penalty on one side or another or, worst case scenario, you could take both players off the ice.

2.) The Mike Knuble holding the stick penalty in the second period, where I'm not even sure that Knuble touched the player from the Pens involved in the penalty, let alone touched that guy's stick.

3.) Please explain what Riley Cote did to earn a 10 minute misconduct at the end of the 3rd period. I'm dying to hear what rule he violated. Is threatening mediocre players, like Greg Malone, now a penalty? What page of the rule book is that on?

Flyers Turned it Up

The Flyers themselves seemed to find themselves during the course of the game; especially after the Downie fight at the 5:34 mark of the 3rd period. Take Mike Richards, for example. I know his numbers haven't trailed off too much, but if you've watched his play of late, it's been a bit on the ragged side. Clearing attempts he got out the zone earlier in the year have been getting picked off. Lately, when receiving a puck on the fly, he hasn't been handling it cleanly. Those pucks he was kicking from his skate to his stick earlier in the year? Hasn't been happening lately. Maybe he's worn down a bit.

Anyway, after the Downie fight, the entire team took things to the next level and seemed energized. They looked the most determined as I've seen in awhile as they checked the Penguins out of the building. Richards and his line was zipping around the ice and threatened to score again on a couple of occasions. Players like Sami Kapanen and Scottie Upshall demonstrated a great deal of speed and grit as they attacked the Penguins' zone. You could feel in the arena that the Pens could not match the intensity as they seemed to play almost robotically in Sidney Crosby's absence. Even Martin Biron, who looked strangely disengaged through much of the game (you could argue he was outplayed by the Pens' Ty Conklin) was thoroughly in control by the end of the 3rd period such that you just knew the game was sewn up. It was a good win and I hope the Flyers take something from this win and apply it in the second half of the year.

Other observations:

- If Georges Laraque gets less than a 10-game suspension from his blatant boarding offense against Steve Downie, then Colin Campbell will show himself to be a total hypocrite after going out of his way to call out the Flyers as an organization for what he considered a pattern of dirty play. Laraque is a total knuckle-dragger, who allegedly no longer has a place in the new NHL. His hit on Downie was malicious and intentional and he needs to go down.

- Simon Gagne is still playing very tentatively. He got crushed along the boards with a high hit towards the end of the game and most people whom I sat around swore he was probably hurt again. Right now, I get the same feeling when Gagne gets hit that I used to get when you saw Eric Lindros get popped like "Oh Crap, how long will he be out for this time..."

- RJ Umberger was the number one star in the game and rightfully so. Someone should take whatever game schedule he follows and simply fill in "Pittsburgh" for every opponent, because he clearly turns it up a notch against the Pens. Scott Hartnell continued his hot play with 2 assists.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Larry Brown as George Costanza

George: "You have no idea of the magnitude of this thing.
If she is allowed to infiltrate this world then George Costanza as you know him
ceases to exist. You see, right now I have Relationship George. But there is
also Independent George. That's the George you know, the George you grew up
with... Movie George, Coffee Shop George, Liar George, Bawdy George."

Jerry: "I love that George."

George: "Me too, and he's dying. If Relationship George
walks through this door, he will kill Independent George. A George divided
against itself cannot stand!"

- From the Seinfeld episode
"The Pool Guy" (thanks to
this site for
the exact quote)

Two of Larry Brown's former teams met last night in what could best be described as an exhibition game for the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons allowed the Sixers to hang around for awhile, but looked highly disinterested en route to a 86-78 victory. Rip Hamilton shot 9 of 12 for 21 points and seemed to do just about whatever he wanted to do offensively. Willie Green paced the Sixers with 16 points and inexplicably, someone allowed Samuel Dalembert to take 11 shots (he made 4 of them).

The game itself was fairly trivial and sort of boring. What was far more interesting than Basketball Yoda's former teams colliding is the Philadelphia magazine article by Anthony Gargano, where Larry Brown reveals (note: all of the daily locals mentioned this article today):

- He wants to coach again, but he has no desire to coach the Sixers as long as Mo Cheeks is the coach saying he "could never stab Mo in the back like that".

- He talked Allen Iverson into buying a suit for his press conferences. Iverson, obviously not liking the suit, took it off, balled it up, and threw it in a locker. Brown and a trainer picked up the suit and straightened it out.

- If he was going to write a book, he would call it "I’ve Been Motherfucked 1,200 Times", because "he coached Allen Iverson for 600 games, took him out of a game two times, and both times, Iverson called him a motherfucker 600 times."
Very good article by an underrated write (Gargano should write more often). Larry Brown is as conflicted a human being as there has ever been in sports. He's just like George Costanza.

You see, there is Coach Brown and Larry Brown. Larry Brown goes to quaint bagel shops with Anthony Gargano and Calvin Booth and waxes poetically about how much he loved Allen Iverson, wishes he had stayed in one place his whole career, and could never stab Mo Cheeks in the back.

Coach Brown, on the other hand, quits jobs before things become too difficult, runs from long term job commitments despite expressing a desire to retire from whatever "dream job" he had at the time, and had absolutely no problem stabbing Rick Carlisle in the back when he took the Detroit job, and had no issue with talking to Cleveland about their coaching vacancy when he was still Detroit coach and fresh off of a championship.

If Coach Brown had walked into that bagel shop and saw Larry Brown talking to Anthony Gargano, he would have killed Larry Brown, marched into Ed Stefanski's office and practically demanded the job. You see? Larry Brown just can't help himself. He's a man divided. As George Costanza taught us, a George divided against itself cannot stand. So it is with Larry Brown.

I'm not saying he will be the Sixers coach or that he's even angling for the job, but I am saying is the man is slightly full of shit. No Sixer fan would bat an eye if Brown was given the job because he's that good, but how long would he be here before he picked up and went somewhere else to be given more power, more money, more talent to work with, or because it was somewhere else? Again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Be-Deviled Once Again

The Devils may one day fall to the depths of the NHL like the Flyers did last year. Their power play could fall to last in the whole NHL. Martin Brodeur could suddenly get old and have a weaker 5-hole than Lindsay Lohan.

But the second the Devils face-off against the Flyers, the Devils turn into the 1978 Montreal Canadiens.

The Devils went 5 for 8 on the power play and that proved the difference at they went on to beat the Flyers 7 - 3. I suppose you could complain about the penalties (15 power plays between the two teams), but why bother? The Devils have one of the worst power plays in the league. The Devils came into the game 0 for their last 15 power play opportunities. Yet, they still found a way to get it done against a Flyers penalty killing unit that usually isn't too bad.

Maybe it had to do with this game being the third game in four nights. Maybe. Maybe when you "have two number 1 goalies", it really means you don't have a number 1 goalie. Even as bad as the Flyers' effort was in front of Niitymaki and Biron, neither of them looked very good in this game and I wonder if either are really the answer. I just don't know.

I do know that Johnny Oduya (1G, 3A) of the Devils is not Paul Coffey or Bobby Orr. I do know that of Dainius Zubrus' 8 goals this year, 4 of them are against the Flyers. I also know the Devils' talent on defense just isn't that great (Johnny Oduya, Mike Mottau, and Vitali Vishnevski would not even make the Flyers' roster) to warrant the sort of domination over the Flyers that the Devils have shown. I know all of these things.

But you know what I want to know? Does John Stevens have what it takes to devise a game plan against this team? Can either goalie step up and take the job?
Most importantly, can the Flyers ever beat the Devils?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I Hate Chris Webber Even More Now

The Sixers lost and a former coach unloads on an ex-Sixer not named Allen Iverson.

The Sixers lost yesterday in an afternoon matinee to the very mediocre Indiana Pacers by a score of 110 - 103. Andre Iguodala paced the Sixers with 23 points and 5 assists. The Pacers shot an astounding 56% from 3-point land to further enhance the losing. Just another loss for a team that is rebuilding; nothing more.

The real story, however, was former Sixers coach, and current Pacer coach Jim O'Brien, who unloaded on former Sixer Chris Webber:

"In one of the first conversations I had with Chris Webber, I said, 'This is one of the ways we're going to use you offensively (down low with Kyle Korver on the outside),' " O'Brien said. "And he said, "Coach, I don't do the low-post thing anymore."'

Before you get angry, save your bile.....there is more:

"Webber didn't practice at all that year prior to coming to us," he said. "He
was just at the point where he didn't necessarily feel he was in need of
practice, or could practice. It became apparent that he was not going to give
the Philadelphia 76ers everything that we had hoped for."
It is just unbelievable that Billy King kept a job as long as he did for bringing in turds like Chris Webber and it goes a long way in explaining why absolutely nobody cares about this franchise in it's current incarnation. The new GM might have his work cut out for him, but truth be told, it really can't get any worse. This just adds more credence to the fact that the players (mostly AI) had been running this franchise since Larry Brown left for whatever was his latest dream job at that particular time.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Wins All Around and A Doozy of a Trade Rumor

If you're waking up slightly hung over like I am, you didn't imagine things; the Pats are still undefeated and the Giants are in the frigging Super Bowl. Ugh.

It was a good weekend for the home teams as the Flyers peeled off two wins, beating the Islanders on Saturday by a score of 5 - 3 and the Senators last nightn by a score of 6 - 1. The Sixers beat the Raptors 99 - 95 on Saturday. Scott Hartnell, who earlier this season couldn't have scored at the Bunny Ranch with Ed Snider's credit card, had another hattrick on Saturday and added another goal for good measure last night.

Last night's Flyers game against the Sens was supposed to be the game where the Sens gave Steve Downie his comeuppance from nailing Dean McAmmond in preseason. Nothing happened to Downie, but Senators tough guy Brian McGrattan, who had a lot to say about Downie when the incident occurred, got tuned up in a fight with Riley Cote.

Unbelievable doozy of a trade rumor emanating from Toronto in an article written by Bruce Garrioch. This article speculates that if Forsberg does not end up with the Flyers, that the Flyers would be willing to deal Jeff Carter and a first round pick for Mats Sundin. Interesting rumor, but I think that asking price is a bit high for a guy who is going to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sixers Lose; Harbaugh Gone; Flyers to Catch Break?

The Sixers lost to league darling Boston Celtics 116-89. The score was not indicative of what happened in the first half, where the Celtics were either asleep or they were just getting beat to the punch by the Sixers as the Sixers led this game 57-54 at half. The Celtics must have simply woke up at halftime as they left tire marks on the Sixers in the second half. Ray Allen was high scorer for the Celtics, posting 23 points and Andre Iguodala paced the Sixers with 17 points.

Of note from the diaper set for the Sixers, Jason Smith scored 10 points in 18 minutes of action. I know it's repetitive, but the Sixers simply do not have the horses to compete with the NBA elite, but they did throw a nice scare into Boston in the first half.

John Harbaugh Gone

John Harbaugh, long time assistant with the Eagles, has accepted the head coach job with the Baltimore Ravens. Harbaugh, a finalist for the UCLA coaching job, is a big loss for the Eagles as he led the special teams for several years in Philly and is considered one of the more energetic young coaches in the league. I haven't read anything with respect to who will replace Harbaugh as coach of the d-backs for the Eagles. Eagle fans should also worry about which assistants Harbaugh will cherry pick for himself from the Eagles staff as he now has to build his own staff as Ravens ownership cleaned house with respect to coaches when Brian Billick was fired.

Flyers to Catch Break?

In a season where they have been missing their best winger for most of the season and lost a player who got hit by a teammate, some of the Flyers' upcoming opponents are going to be missing some very important components as they come to Philly.

The first of two highly anticipated NHL matchups concerning the Flyers is on Sunday against the Senators and it appears as if they will be missing their best player. Daniel Alfredsson suffered a hip flexor on Thursday night such that his status is day to day. The Sens are already without Dany Heatley, who is out for 4 - 6 weeks with a seperated shoulder. The Sens may have revenge on their minds as this is the first match up with the Senators since Steve Downie put Dean McAmmond out for 10 games with a concussion. For a reminder, I give you the following:

Even bigger than the Sens injuries is the injury that occurred tonite in Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby apparently incurred the dreaded high ankle sprain and did not return to action as the Pens got shut out by the awful Tampa Bay Lightning 3 - 0. This probably means he will miss next week's grudge match against the Flyers and miss another opportunity for Mike Richards to minimize his impact on the game. I guess if I were Bill Simmons, I would presuppose that Crosby got hurt on purpose, but I know that ain't so. Actually, if I were Bill Simmons, I'd thank my upright walking God for my shangri-la of a life, but that's a subject for a different post. Anyway, it doesn't look like Mr. Crosby will make next week's matchup. The thing to look for if you do follow the whole NHL is to see how well Evgeni Malkin does in Crosby's absence. No doubt Malkin is talented, but how much of his success to date is due to his presence on Crosby's line?

Meet The Flyers STH Event

Last night, I went to an event sponsored by the Flyers for season ticket holders to come down to the Wachovia Center to meet the team. Basically, it's one big 3 hour autograph session. It's not possible to actually meet the whole team, mind you, but if you plan things out right, you can meet about 12 guys.

Usually, these "meet the team" events consist of a lot of standing in line, waiting for your turn to get your autograph from the player and have a brief exchange that goes something like this:

Fan: Hey (insert player's name or nickname here)! How's it going?

Player: Good thanks.

(player mindlessly scribbles his name and looks for the next thing to sign)

Fan: Thanks (insert player's name or nickname here)!

(fan shuffles along like cattle)

Believe me, I'm not complaining about the event. It's a tribute to the Flyers marketing department (South Jersey boy Shawn Tilger specifically) that they think enough of their season ticket holders to hold free events like this. But honestly, when it comes to interacting with the players, there just isn't a lot to say to some of these guys and it's obvious that some of these guys would much rather be enjoying their evening off chasing college poon down at Plough and the Stars or the Irish Pub.

Now that I'm getting on in age, married, with a young son of my own (btw: he's still too young to enjoy these events), I don't get the same thrill out of meeting some of these guys as I might have when I was younger. The fact that I'm older than most of them is a bummer, so getting autographs from a guy 10+ years younger than me is a bit weird. I have nothing against collecting autographs as long as it's done tastefully and autographs are not solicited out in public. I have a decent size autograph collection, but most of the autographs I have fall into one of two categories:

1.) Autographs I obtained before the age of 18 from baseball card shows (I worked for a baseball card dealer in high school).
2.) Autographs I obtained from Flyers season ticket holder events since 1998.

I am not the kind of weirdo to go up to these guys when they are out and about doing their thing. I think it's ridiculous that people think they can just button hole these guys and nag them for their autograph.

Anyways, I figured I'd go check this event out, if for no other reason, than to do some people watching, because the Flyers have a very diverse fan base (everything from puck bunnies to Flyers fan club dorks). Not only that, I really needed a night out of the house, which is probably how some of the married players feel, because they seemed to be interactive with the fans.

Some observations:

- I was early getting to the event, that started for some at 6pm (full season ticket holders?), but only for some people. For most, the event started at at 6:30pm (partial season ticket holders?). I didn't know this until I got to the event and let me tell you: this pissed off the 6:30 people greatly. They didn't like playing second fiddle for getting in lines to meet their favorite player and I guess I don't blame them. They should have made the 6:00pm enter through a seperate entrance, just the 6:30 folks would not know until they were already in the building.

- While waiting in line, someone was wondering whether or not recently-concussed Joffrey Lupul would be there signing autographs and if so, would he sign Eric Lindros' name?

- When they let people in, the guy everyone wanted to meet was Danny Briere, so I figured I'd start in that line first. The way the Flyers set this up is they station two (or sometime three) players at some location in the upper deck and club level and they attempt to pair really popular players (like Simon Gagne) with players who might not attract any fan attention (Denis Topelko, for example). Briere was paired with Jim Dowd, who is lucky to have a job right now. Briere looks even younger in person. He reminds me of the emo guy you might have in your group of friends that is always real sensitive around the ladies. The ladies, naturally, are all gathering for Briere.

- Next stop: Jason Smith and RJ Umberger. Jason Smith looks even more beat up in person. He was still sporting a huge shiner over his left eye and a huge bloody knot on the bridge of his nose. This guy has seen some battles this year. His hands were a gnarled mess. I wanted to break Umberger's balls about OSU getting beat again in the football National Championship game, but I couldn't come up with anything witty to say, so I thought it best to stay quiet.

- I discover they are selling beer at this event (for the low, low price of $6! WOOHOO!) and immediately grab one and get in line to meet Braydon Coburn, Steve Downie, and Mike Knuble. All of the players are cordial. Steve Downie looks like the kid that offered to cut my lawn last summer. Downie youth is evident in his face as you can tell he's still struggling with acne problems. He needs to hook himself up with some proActiv now that he's making that proverbial fat NHL cash. Knuble's lazy eye (old hockey injury?) is a bit disconcerting, but he seems like a nice dude.

- I buy another beer and figure out who to see next. I wanted to go see Kimmo Timonen and Derian Hatcher next, but went into the wrong line and ended up waiting for Jeff Carter and Riley Cote. Carter seemed the pleasant sort, but Riley Cote is a guy who seemed to like meeting the people. He was very free with the small talk and banter. It's kind of a stereotype with some of the NHL enforcers in that they are the gregarious sort, and I guess Cote fits that.

- It's getting to the point where I've been at this event for 2 hours and I'm getting tired of standing around. I figure, I'll wait in one more line and that's that. I pick the goalie line to meet Martin Biron and Antero Niitymaki. At this point of the evening, the place is packed and every line is full. I get another beer and settle in for about an hour of waiting. While in line, folks behind me relay a story about how when a few of the fans went through the Danny Briere line, that they told Jim Dowd they didn't want his autograph. I thought that was just fucked up. Why would anyone say that? Dowd's been around for 17 years and he's one of the few guys on the team older than me, so I'm sure he took it in stride.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sixers FINALLY WIN!; Harbaugh to Baltimore?

The local NBA team finally won a game last night, beating the Houston Rockets down in Houston by a score of 111-107, and in doing so, finally won their first game of the new year. The Sixers were led by Andre Miller, who had 26 points on 10 of 18 shooting to go with 6 assists. Just as important was the type of all-around game displayed by Lou Williams last night. Williams, who has shown numerous flashes of brilliance in his game, scored 18 points off the bench, shooting 7 for 13. In addition to shooting it well, he dished 6 assists and played great defense, collecting 3 steals, including a big time steal-and-breakaway to bring the Sixers within 3 in the fourth quarter.

This game comes on the heels of a solid effort in a loss the other night to San Antonio and it provided a much needed reward for the undertalented Sixers, who seem to play real hard, but have lately gone unrewarded. They play a slumping Celtic team this Friday in Boston.

Around the internet, some bloggers have some good stuff on the Sixers:

- Great interview with GM Ed Stefanski by "Depressed Fan" (via
- Nice little introduction to Thaddeus Young, whom everyone seems to like so far.

Harbaugh to Baltimore?

Apparently, since Jason Garrett left the Ravens complex after his job interview without the job in hand, it is thought by the Baltimore Sun that if Garrett turns down the job, that Eagles assistant John Harbaugh will almost certainly get an offer (that I would imagine he would accept). According to the article, every offer Garrett has received has been countered by Jerry Jones and I imagine Jones has designs on making Garrett his head coach in-waiting as Wade Phillips is not getting any younger or thinner. Losing an energetic guy like Harbaugh will be a blow to the Eagle organization as I'm not sure there are any real up-and-coming coaches on this staff that you could say could step in and be a credible head coaching candidate tomorrow. That includes both coordinators, by the way.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Spectrum and Scott Rolen

Quick: How can you tell the difference between Scott Rolen and the Spectrum?

Answer: One is solid, somewhat overrated, oft-injured, and high-maintenance and was, at one time, loved by the fans here in Philly. Economic realities and increased expectations forced things in a different direction causing a unsatisfying breakup at the end.

The other is the Spectrum.

Both are in the news, but I'll start first with the Spectrum.

It is possible that the Spectrum has seen it's last days. The scuttlebutt is that the Spectrum is going to be knocked down and the property on which it sits will be used for commerical development. While this is sad on some levels, I actually think it's a good idea. The area down in South Philly absolutely needs more in terms of things to do after the game. There are bars that are within reasonable driving distance, but that's just the problem; you have to drive to get there. No one wants to drive to these places after the game. It's much better to simply spill out of the arena or stadium and fall into a spot. However, there are two issues I have with the plan as currently laid out:

1.) The name "Philly Live!" reminds me of "Market Street Live!", which some of you may remember as the entertainment complex near the Galleria (4th and Market, I think?). It ultimately failed.

2.) I am worried about the chain type establishments that might spring up in this scenario. Any bar or restaurant that goes into this "entertainment center" should only be local businesses. The world does not need another fucking Chilis. They put a Chili's in downtown State College, and frankly, it looks fucking ridiculous.

Usually I'm the nostalgic sort about sports buildings, but I don't see another way to create things to do in South Philly after the game without levelling the Spectrum that don't involve the locals in the neighborhood down there, who might carp if something in the way of development occurred close to residential areas. And let's face, the Spectrum is a relic of another time, with respect to hosting 17,000 people. Sure, I went to a ton of events there and have some great memories. But the concourses are like the trench on the surface of the Death Star. It was to the point where you can potentially violate your marital vows as you negotiated past all of the other people just going to buy a beer. The bathrooms were a terrible joke. The lines were always long and I can recall numerous incidents of flooding in some bathrooms. I can remember being at some events where the seats were just broken and you had to call an usher, who would move you, which was undesirable if you came with a group of people. The place was just a dump at the end and we should be a bit more thankful for the Wachovia Center.

Interesting dilemma here, though. What will be done with the Phantoms? They still draw good crowds and Philly is considered a real good market for the AHL. My long term suggestion? Build the rink across the river in Pennsauken, NJ on the site of the old Pennsauken Mart.

Now, when last we left the site of the old Pennsauken Mart, it was going to have condos and such developed on that land. But that decision was done within the past 18 months or so. Now, the housing market is not what it was a couple of years ago.

I don't claim to know how that project is going, but I can't imagine this is a great economic environment to build a condo development, where the condos are going to go for $250,000 a pop in a not-so-trendy part of South Jersey.

A hockey arena, on the hand, built for about 10,000 or so people, makes sense. In addition to being the home of the Phantoms and Kixx, it can be alternate site for concerts and smaller conventions. It is located near most large South Jersey thorofares (notably, Rt. 73 and 130) and is right across the Tacony/Palmyra bridge.

This story is to be continued.....

As for the other part of my intro, there is Scott Rolen. You may recall Rolen as the diva who wanted out of Philly, because, well, for a number of reasons, probably not the least of which was he just didn't like the area (although I admit that is conjecture, but most people kind of affirmatively nod when you mention it). I also will admit that management was asleep at the wheel at that time and did not do the right things to get talent in here, which was one of Rolen's beefs, but it's a beef that I believe Rolen did not have the clout to use (unlike, say, Curt Schilling, was already an accomplished pitcher by that point).
To quickly review, Scotty got his wish and got shipped to St. Louis for 10 shiny rocks and future AL All-Star Placido Polanco (don't get me started). All was supposed to be "baseball heaven" for Rolen in St. Louis. The corn-fed midwesterner seemed to find his niche and get away from the evil denizens of nasty ole' Philthadelphia, who seemed to want more out of dear Scott than he could reasonably provide.

Well, it seems Rolen is at it again. He has worn out his welcome in baseball heaven as he diva'd his way right out of baseball heaven and was traded to cold-ass Toronto for Troy Glaus. The arrogant bastard was essentially battling with one of the most accomplished managers in the game, in the organization he called "baseball heaven", basically because they wanted Scott to play better. Fuck you, Scott. Time to grow up.

Wait till Rolen sees what Toronto is like. Nice city with nice people, but with weather witchtit cold and the very definition of "non-traditional baseball market". Toronto is 18th in average attendance, sandwiched between Texas and Colorado; the very definitions of non-descript baseball markets. I hear they have turf in that dome they play in. That will wreck havoc on Rolen's back, knees, and shoulders. Ouch. Also, the dome they play in? Not a hitter's park, apparently. Also, last I checked, Albert Pujols does not play there to buttress Rolen's offensive numbers. Sound like baseball heaven to you, Scott?

Memorable Part of '93 Phils Gone

Johnny Podres, the pitching coach from the 1993 Phillies and the hero of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers World Series win, passed away yesterday at the age of 75. He was the Phillies pitching coach from 1991 to 1996, when he left the day-to-day job of pitching coach due to health concerns. After 1996, there still always seemed some random report of Podres being in Phillies camp to tutor Phillies major and minor leaguers as a special instructor. I don't know if he had an official role with the club, but still always seemed to be around, despite his obvious Dodger ties.

Podres was an underrated part of the success of the 1993 Phillies as he guided a pitching staff of cast-offs, has-beens, and never-weres into a cohesive staff that pushed the team into the 6th and fateful game of the World Series in 1993. It's obvious from looking at some of the pitchers from the 1993 staff and what some of them went on to become that Johnny Podres was a helluva pitching coach:

Tommy Greene: Mostly a bullpen guy when the Phils got him from Atlanta, Greene went on to pitch a no-hitter for the Phils in 1991, Pods' first year with the Phils. Had career best 16-4 in '93 with 167 Ks. Won only 2 games in 3 years after that one.

Curt Schilling: Perhaps Podres' most famous pupil. When the Phils got him in 1992, he was a screw-up in the Baltimore and Houston organizations. In 1992, Schilling began the transformation from mediocre long reliever to money starting pitcher, when he 14 - 11, with 10 complete games (unheard of in today's game). In 1993, Schilling had what was, to that point, a career best year, going 16-7 in '93 with 186 Ks. Schill bviously went on to greater successes.

Danny Jackson: Had been on the scrap heap of baseball since '89 before he came to the Phillies in '93 and went 12 - 11. In 1994, Jackson was arguably their best pitcher (including Schilling), going 14 - 6 with 129 Ks in a strike shortened season.

Terry Mulholland: In addition to Greene, perhaps the first Phillies pitcher to benefit from Podres' tutelage, when Pods came on board in 1991. Mulholland won a career high 16 games in 1991, in addition to 8 complete games. In 1993, Mulholland won 12 games (completing 7) and provided a quiet consistency to an otherwise, young rotation.

Ben Rivera: Career best 13-9 in '93. Out of MLB in '95.

As could be expected, Curt Schilling says some very nice things about Pods in his blog today.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Flyers Beat Rangers; NHL All-Stars announced; Football Schadenfreude

The Flyers went up to MSG, spotted the Rangers 2 goals, and still proceeded to smoke the home team by a score of 6 - 2. After the 10 minute mark of the first period, it was really never that close. There was plenty of credit to go around last night:
  • Scott Hartnell, flat-out snake bitten earlier this year, potted a natural hat-trick to bring his goal total to 10 for the year.

  • Mike Richards had 3 assists, while Danny Briere and Steve Downie each had 2 helpers.

  • Antero Niitymaki stopped 39 of 41 shots for his 3rd straight win

  • Simon Gagne scored in his first game back from a 26 game hiatus due to post-concussive syndrome.

The win gave the Flyers 5 wins from their 6 game road trip; good enough to keep them in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division still with 2 games in hand. The Flyers need to get their mojo going at home, as they'll be hosting significant Atlantic Division games at the end of the month (1/22 vs. NJ, 1/24 vs. Pitt., 1/31 vs. NYR).

As for the slumping Rangers (3-5-2 in their last 10 games), they look to me like a team looking to get their coach fired. They played hard the first 10 minutes, but they did not get great offensive pressure from their big 4 (Jagr, Drury, Shanahan, and Gomez) and the loss dropped them to the 8th position in the Eastern Conference playoff positioning. Keep an eye on this situation as Tom Renney, to me, looks like he might be on the hot seat shortly if he's not already.

Richards, Timonen All-Stars

According to (via, Mike Richards and Kimmo Timonen will represent the Eastern Conference in the 2008 NHL All-star game to be held in Atlanta (where hockey lives!).

Richards is currently enjoying quite a season as he is scoring with regularity (47 points in 41 games) and scored a huge contract extension (12 years, $69 million). There was little doubt as to his inclusion in this game as Richards plays in all phases of the game and has basically relegated Danny Briere to a 2nd line center role.

Timonen was a bit of a surprise, but if you think it through, there is probably not that many better defensemen in the Eastern Conference than the quiet Finn. Timonen has 20 points to date, but is a -2 rating, which isn't as bad as you think considering that he does get put out on the ice against other teams big lines. He has been everything that was advertised when he came to the Flyers and his presence was missed when he was out with back spasms earlier in the year.

Football Schadenfreude

This sentiment is probably cliche at this point, but this weekend is one of the greatest football watching weekends you can ever have. The 8 best teams in the NFL play this weekend.....4 games in 2 days and it's all on network television. It's also one of the last real football bacchanals of the year. After all, Championship weekend is only 2 games, which leaves you wanting more and the Super Bowl is two weeks after that, is only one game, and almost never lives up to the hype unless it was your team that won (a feeling, as an Eagle fan, I know nothing about).

So, with the football extravaganza to be had this weekend, the following is my feeling on the games in one sentence assessments.

NY Giants at Dallas: Rooting for numerous injuries and a 2 -2 tie game going into overtime.

San Diego at Indy: Norv Turner and Phil Rivers are involved, so the Chargers will go home.

Jacksonville at New England: Brady and Co. will win, but injuries will be incurred such that this pyhrric victory may cost them next week's game and immortality.

Seattle at Green Bay: Brett Favre will win and John Madden nods approvingly.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sixers Lose; Clarkie Likes the Rough Stuff

The Sixers lost again last night, this time to Toronto by a score of 109 - 96. The game was a 2-point game at half-time until Toronto turned things up a notch in the 3rd quarter and ran away with it. The Raptors shot an astounding 55% (43 for 78) in a game where the Sixers were spread out and promptly dissected. Willie Green had 18 points to lead the Sixers.

Who Woke Up Bobby Clarke?

Since stepping down from his GM duties, Bob Clarke has been doing some TV work with TSN, which is the Canadian version of ESPN (Huh? a sports channel like ESPN that actually cares about hockey? Perish the thought...).

Well, Clarke created quite a little shit storm in Canada with his latest remarks on the TSN show "Off the Record" where he essentially endorsed the Steve Downie act of aggression against Jason Blake that shook the sovereign nation of Canada to it's very core:

"When he went after Blake, I loved it," Clarke told TSN.

Playing in just his fourth NHL game since serving a 20-game suspension
for a pre-season hit on Ottawa's Dean McAmmond, Downie punched Blake in the face
while the Leafs' winger was being held by an official.

"Blake was a guy who had no problem going out and saying (Downie) should be
suspended for life or suspended for the year," he explained, referring to
Blake's reaction last September to the McAmmond incident. "When you say
something that stupid, why shouldn't this kid go after him for it?"

Clarke even went on to criticize Colin Campbell for the 20 game suspension he laid on Downie earlier this season:

"My own personal feelings is that Colin Campbell overreacted," he said
regarding the 20-game suspension.

Wow, did someone take a piss in Clarke's oatmeal? I don't mind the fire at all, but where was this verve at the very end of his GM tenure? Also, since he's still a member of the Flyers organization (Senior VP), I can't help but wonder how Holmgren feels about his predecessor taking a front and center role in the press like this.....that is, unless, this was an organizationally mandated press maneuver designed to take some heat off of Downie and the rest of the Flyers, as the team is definitely playing tentatively in some ways (for fear of drawing penalties), which could account for the fact that this team gives up so many shots.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Flyers Win; Sixers Lose; McNabb Speaks

The Flyers' road trip continued in Atlanta, where they won last night by a score of 4 -1. Scott Hartnell, playing what I felt was his best game since coming to Philly, had a goal and 2 assists. Jeff Carter had 2 goals within a 13 second span during the second period and Antero Niitymaki made 27 saves in his second consecutive start. Scourge of the Canadian people, Steve Downie, also scored his second goal in as many games. I fully expect Downie to be blamed for the earthquake in western Canada that occurred today with the way the Canadian hockey press unfairly played up the scrum between Downie and Jason Blake.

The Flyers play again on Thursday in New York, against the Rangers. This is the supposed return of winger Simon Gagne.

Sixers Lose; Can't Shoot From 3

The Sixers lost at home to the Bucks by a score of 87 - 83. The Bucks were without Michael Redd, so they relied on the vaunted Andrew Bogut-Charlie Villaneuva combination, who averaged a double-double for the Bucks.

High scorer for the Sixers was Andre Iguodala, with 21 points, but he shot 0-5 from 3-point land. As a matter of fact, the Sixers, as a team, shot 0 - 13 from beyond the arc. This does not mean people should be whining about the Kyle Korver deal. This team is not good and anything past picking up a guy off of the street who could just shoot 3s, would be like painting a turd at this point.

I can't wait until the off-season for this team to be somewhat remolded and clearly, I'm not the only one. When the telecast panned on the crowd, the Wachovia Center looks empty. Even during halftime, when the camera does a close-up on the broadcasters, it seems Comcast throws up a black drape in order to not show the empty seats behind the broadcasters. Ed Stefanski clearly will have his work cut out for him this off season.

McNabb Blogs; Does Management Listen?

In a story that actually had yesterday, ESPN has finally caught up to blog entry that McNabb has made, where he requests that management actually bring in some play makers in all phases of offense, defense, and special teams.

That's great that McNabb feels that way. I share the same opinion. But I don't have any power in the Eagles organization (I'm an idiot with a free blogger account). McNabb, on the other hand, can march into Jeff Lurie's office and read off his wish list in person and have Lurie say "Thank You" when he's done. What fan wouldn't want that power?

Donovan, from one blogger to another, my advice to you would be to get an appointment with Mr. Lurie and go over the Fat Man's head with this request. Maybe Reid will then acquiesce to finally making some free agent moves or actually drafting players who can help right away. But just blogging about it won't do.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Eagles Officials Jumping Ship?

Two members of the Eagles intelligentsia have been looking to open the next chapter of their respective careers.

Tom Heckert, the titular GM of the Eagles, is interviewing with the Atlanta Falcons about their vacant GM position. This is a good move for Heckert; he's done his time with Andy Reid having final say over personnel. Heckert would probably like this power so that can he can really make his bones as a GM in this league. Unfortunately, Heckert's leaving would put a newbie in the position of GM of the Eagles, and give Andy Reid another guy to run roughshod over with respect to personnel decisions. I don't think losing Heckert would be a huge loss, but at least he had experience in the job such that he probably felt comfortable with some level of constructive conflict with Reid. I'm not in love with how they've handled the draft in the last couple of years, but I never considered Heckert to be the main problem with the draft. Expect more uncertainty and misuse of the draft going forward from the Eagles, with or without Tom Heckert.

The other member of the Eagles staff interviewing for a new gig is secondary coach John Harbaugh, who is interviewing for the Baltimore Ravens job. While Harbaugh, mostly a special teams coach with the Eagles, probably isn't quite ready for a head coaching gig, he isn't any less ready than Reid was when he took the Eagles job. At the very least, Harbaugh is positioning himself to leave the Eagles nest to become a defensive coordinator somewhere else, with the thought of becoming a future head coach. Harbaugh is young and energetic and would a big loss for the Eagles.

Monday, January 07, 2008

AI drops 38; Downie protects self, a nation mourns....

Former 76er, Allen Iverson, scored 38 points while shooting 14 of 25. He claims it's no big deal that he was able to be so offensively dominant, but I call bullshit on that one. He even had 8 assists to make it seem like he wasn't totally hogging the ball all night. You could always tell when AI felt his game was slighted, because he would go out of his way to kick up his assist numbers on a short term basis before backsliding into hogging the ball and taking it to the hoop while getting the crap kicked out of him.

Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed the Allen Iverson era in Philly, but I think people have short memories about the Iverson era. All that is talked about is how much heart and determination he showed during games and he had both of those things when he played here; not a single Iverson critic can take that away. But the guy has no concept of being part of a team......people forget things like his complete inability to show up to practice on time (or in some cases, at all), the years where he didn't take care of himself, the late night partying, the "posse showdowns" back in the Jerry Stackhouse days, all of the trouble the Sixers went through to get a #2 scoring option only for Iverson to never give that person the ball. Or how about the perpetual shit storm he kicked up during the Larry Brown era? Parking in the handicapped spot at Friday's? I could go on and on. For good measure, here is the famous "talkin' bout practice" clip in case your forgot about his commitment to the franchise:

Andre Miller had an uncharacteristic evening shooting 9 of 21 (too many shots) and a 3-2 assist to turnover ratio (not good). Marcus Camby blocked 7 shots to key the Nuggets defensive effort.

Flyers win; Downie in trouble again?

The Flyers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 3 -2 on the strength of a late power play goal by Mike Richards and a stellar effort in goal from Antero Niitymaki, who made 54 saves. You'd think that would be the focus of the conversation, but all anyone north of the border could talk about was a punch thrown by Steve Downie at Leafs winger Jason Blake during a scrum. Now, understand that it was Blake who attached himself to Downie during this scrum and both guys were being actively seperated by linesmen. Unfortunately, it appeared as if the linesman holding Downie was not doing a great job and Downie got off a punch to Blake's eye, giving him a nice little mouse under his eye.

Now, do I think that Steve Downie is possibly the unholy spawn of mating Theo Fleury and Darcy Tucker? Yeah, probably. He's already shown himself to be more than willing to antagonize and has top shelf offensive skills to go with his more aggressive traits. But does this little punch deserve the hue and cry of the entire nation of Canada (check here, here, and here for some of the most outrageous whining I have ever read about an athlete not named Barry Bonds)? Absolutely not! Remember, it was Blake who grabbed Downie and it was the linesman who failed to restrain Downie. What was Downie supposed to do? Would it have been better if Downie waited until Blake got free of the linesman that was trying to tie him so Blake could get off a punch? Screw that. I don't blame Downie one bit for this one and if Colin Campbell suspends him, this is a case of unfairly targeting Downie because of his reputation.

And if Campbell is in the mood to suspend someone, how about Leaf Pavel Kubina for his hit from behind on Braydon Cobourn? Or an elbow to the head that Scott Hartnell took in the 3rd period? Anytime a US-based team plays in Canada, it seems the officiating is dicey in favor of the home team, but on Saturday, it reached outrageous proportions (6 Leaf PPs to none for the Flyers until mid-way through the 3rd period).

Friday, January 04, 2008

Same old, same old....

Another trip to North Jersey for the Flyers, another loss. Ho-hum. The Flyers lost 3 - 0, but I thought they deserved better. They played well, but each goal could be attributable to some bad break or lucky bounce that went against them, whereas the Flyers seemed to get no bounces go their way.

In a weird twist that's being reported in the press, but that I didn't notice in the game, was that Derian Hatcher (allegedly) bit Devils forward Travis Zajac during a scrum at some point during the game. At least the Flyers got one good one before losing to Martin Brodeur (again).

As a side note to this game, it appeared as if a lot of the younger players like Steve Downie, Denis Topelko, and Stefan Ruzicka received alot of ice time; a move that I applaud. With the waiver of veteran defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick, expect Phantom defenseman Alex Picard to start seeing increased minutes with the big club.

The Sixers also took a beating last night, losing to the hated Lakers by a score of 124 - 93. The Lakers shot an astounding 66% in this game, and Kobe Bryant only took 9 shots. I fully expect the apocalypse to begin on Monday as a result. Lou Williams was the high scorer for the Sixers with 17 points.

Public Service: Recommended TV This Weekend

As the Iggles are not in this year's playoff picture, I'd submit the following TV watching agenda for your approval for all viewing starting this evening:

Friday, January 4th:

Tonite is sort of obvious.

The Flyers play the Devils in NJ at 7pm on CSN.

What to look for: See if Steve Downie takes a shot at Martin Brodeur!

The Sixers play the Lakers on CSN following the hockey game.

What to look for: The game's in LA, so there will be plenty of big shots at courtside. Check out this game to see if the star of CaddyShack 2, Dyan Cannon, will be present at the game.

Saturday, January 5th:

US Army High School Football All-Star Game 1pm on NBC and the ESPNU High School All-Star Game at 2pm on ABC.

Depending on how your college and pro football rooting interest, you could be watching the following in these games:

1.) The guys that will all spurn Penn State for Michigan and Ohio State

2.) The guys that Andy Reid will draft and ultimately, cut, during training camp.

Washington at Seattle 4:30pm on NBC.

This is arguably the most boring playoff matchup of the weekend and I couldn't care less who wins as long as it's not Washington. I'll probably watch if for no other reason that football is a finite entity at this point of the year.

Alternatives: Louisville/Kentucky on CBS at 4pm....a classic college basketball matchup and totally acceptable to watch as we are now past Christmas and college basketball begins to actually matter.

Flyers at Maple Leafs 7pm on CSN.

Always a good matchup. The Leafs' main pest, Darcy Tucker, is always much more feisty at home than he is on the road, perhaps to impress those fine ladies north of the border. Probably won't watch this whole game in it's entirety, because you'll want to watch the 8pm football game. You should catch the first period and you'll want this in your "previous channel" queue so you can flip back and forth.

Jaguars at Steelers 8pm on NBC.

A definite must-watch, if for no other reason, than to be armed with facts to taunt any loser friends of yours who happened to be Steeler fans when the Steelers get their lunch handed to them in this matchup. I, unfortunately, have a lot of these Steeler fans in my life and I hate everyone of them as they all feel as if they are personally responsible for all 5 Steeler championships. Fuck them, their championships, their gay mascot, and their shitty Iron City beer.

During stoppages, flip back and forth between this game and the Flyers game. Maybe Coatsey's Corner will teach us how to sharpen skate blades again.

Sunday, January 5th

Pittsburgh at Villanova Noon on WPHL (old channel 17)

Again, good opportunity to start following college hoops and another opportunity to root against a Pittsburgh sports team (such as "Pitt" is a sports entity). Keep in "last channel" queue to check in on during stoppages during the 1pm football game.

New York Giants at Tampa Bay 1pm on Fox

An easy one for any Eagle fan. You're rooting for former homeboys Jeff Garcia and Jon Gruden against the Giants, an inferior team that plays for a city that couldn't really care as much about football as they do about baseball. The Giants don't deserve playoff success while the Eagles are out of the playoffs. Fuck the Giants, their fans, and their stadium that's not even in New York, but in North Jersey (an equally reprehensible zip code).

Tennessee Titans at San Diego 4:30pm on CBS

I like Jeff Fisher as a coach, but hate Vince Young as a quarterback. It was fun to watch the guy who drafted Vince Young with a high pick in my fantasy league cry watching VY's performance this year. I hope San Diego wins, if only because they would be a stronger potential opponent for New England down the road. The entire focus of my rooting interests this year will be to root against New England winning the Super Bowl. I realize that this is not a unique idea, but I couldn't care less. The Boston sports fans have been spoiled long enough. Time for the Pats to go down and for Kevin Garnett to blow out both knees.

Be Careful!: This game has blow-out potential according to some pundits, so I've also dug up alternate programming to flip to during this game should it get as ugly as everyone thinks:

5:30pm: CSN: "Beyond the Glory"....the topic according to Sex and Sports. Um, you have my attention.

5:30pm: FCS (channel 264 on Comcast if you have the premium sports package): A replay of the 1994 Washington University vs. Miami Hurricanes, where the 'Canes' 58 game home winning streak ended. The height of the Hurricane's thuggeration should be on full display in this game....a college football fans' delight.

6pm: Encore (channel 158 on Comcast in South Jersey): "The Buddy Holly" story. This is the movie that gave Gary Busey a ton of acclaim and it's obviously before he started heavily abusing drugs.

Sixers at Nuggets 8pm on CSN.

Watch Allen Iverson learn to pass the ball strictly out of spite for Sixers fans. Seriously, if Iverson jacks up less than 25 shots in this game and drops less than 35 in this one, I'll be sorely disappointed.

There you have it. I've planned out your entire TV watching weekend. Now go out, buy beer, and run those annoying errands so your wife won't bother you.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Resolutions - Philly Style

Happy New Year! Hopefully, you made it home with your criminal records unblemished and your hangover today isn't so bad.

The making of New Year's resolutions is as time honored of a tradition as is the breaking of the same resolutions sometime by the end of January. In the spirit of self-improvement and change, I have a few suggestions for some of Philadelphia's athletic warriors:

Lou Williams - G, Sixers: Less Allen Iverson in your game; more Andre Miller.

Ed Stefanski - GM, Sixers: Vow not to waste cap space and give bad contracts. Are the Sixers done paying Matt Geiger yet?

Andy Reid - Coach, Eagles: Learn that running the ball is OK and that an elite receiver could be useful.

Donovan McNabb - QB, Eagles: Learn to not care what people think.
Jimmy Rollins - SS, Phillies: Vow not to hit the rubber chicken circuit too hard as MVP. It cost Ryan Howard some focus at the beginnning of last season; let's hope it doesn't happen to JRoll.

Cole Hamels - P, Phillies: Learn to not speak to the media when feeling especially truthful.

John Stevens - Coach, Flyers: Learn to shake up lines when things aren't going well. I think Stevens, as an ex-player, can be a bit too empathetic with the players and needs to learn that shaking things up when things aren't going well is his job despite whether or not the players like it.

Simon Gagne - LW, Flyers: Vow to protect self on the ice from further concussions. Would hate to lose a player of his caliber at such a young age to post-concussive syndrome.