Picture Of The Day

Picture Of The Day
Flyers Stanley Cup Champions Parade From The '70s

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Philadelphia Sports Year In Review: 2008 and the 2008 South Broad Street Yearly Awards

Year after year went by with the same old story and same old saying of "When's Our Turn?!" from every Philadelphia sports fan.
It became habitual. It became accepted. We got used to being losers. 

I am sorry to say, but the Bird's, Bryant's, Gretzsky's, Carter's, Brady's and what have you became cemented in the horror of Philadelphia professional sports.

But then, a magical year rolled around. It dawned the numbers of 2008. Nobody knew what this year would bring upon us. To tell you the truth, the most talked about thing as the year began was if the Flyers or Sixers do not pull out a championship in 2008, the city will have gone through exactly 25 years of a championship drought. We'll talk about that a little later though.

The year started off just after the Eagles ended a disappointing 2007 campaign. The team that finished 8-8 was getting a lot of criticism and displeasure towards them.
People wanted Andy Reid gone. People wanted Donovan McNabb gone. People wanted a top notch wide receiver, as always.

Well, the wide receiver part never happened. Instead, they drafted a 5 foot 10 inch 175 pound wide receiver/punt returned from California named DeSean Jackson.
People only expected him to be on the special teams and help out with the offense sparingly. Instead, he became a starter at wide out and the teams leading receiver.
Another key addition in the off-season was the signing of Asante Samuel. This lead to a lot of controversy on what would happen to Lito Sheppard. 
Ultimately, Sheppard stayed on the team as a nickel back, but saw less and less playing time as the 2008 campaign rolled along.

As far as the 2008 campaign goes, it was without question a see-saw year. For a while, the Eagles had problems completing 3rd and 1's and 4th and 1's. They could not get anything going in the red zone. It was completely frustrating and led to a lot of Philly fans calling for change–the exits of McNabb and Reid once again.
During an awful game by the entire team in Baltimore during Week 12, Reid benched McNabb at halftime and put in second year quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Well, Kolb was just as bad, if not worse, and the Eagles got annihilated 36-7 to fall to 5-5-1. Yup, that's right, they tied the lowly Bengals the week before.

It really looked like the McNabb era might be over. Fans were sick and people were sick. However, McNabb was put back in and the Eagles won four of their last five games and got some really lucky and miraculous help from other teams around the league to push themselves into the playoffs as the 6th seed in the NFC. A 44-6 butt whooping of the Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field capped off the regular season and 2008.
Now, 2009 starts off with a date with the Vikings out in Minnesota for the Wild Card Round. The question is–Do You Believe?
Photo Is From Comcast SportNet's Philadelphia Based Web Site

As far as the 76ers 2008 ride went, it started off on a slow start. The Sixers were at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division standings and it looked like they would miss the playoffs for the third year in a row. Head coach Maurice Cheeks job was definitely on the line. 
But somehow, the Sixers turned it around and won 21 of their last 28 games to finish 40-42 and claim the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers were back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05.
Once again though, they had to face the powerful Detroit Pistons in the first round. But as a matter of fact, they ended up taking a 2-1 series lead after three games, winning Games 1 and 3.

Yet, the powerful Pistons woke up and won the next three games, closing the 76ers out in six. It was obvious the team lacked the half court offense needed to go deep into the playoffs.
That is where Ed Stefanski, the Sixers general manager comes in. Along with re-signing Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams, as well as bringing in a bunch of role players, Stefanski made the big off-season splash and signed free agent forward Elton Brand to a hefty contract.

The Sixers were expected to be one of the beasts in the East for the 2008-09 season. However, it has not worked out that way so far. Brand's half court, non-running style of play, and the rest of the teams up-and-down style of play, have not meshed. The team got off to a slow start and Cheeks was fired. He was replaced by interim head coach Tony DiLeo, long time front office guy with the team.
Although DiLeo got off to a 3-0 start with the Sixers, they have struggled since and have fallen to even harder times at 12-18. Brand is currently out with an injury and the team has just dropped four in a row. Without question, they are underachieving and without question you expect better things from them in 2009. Will it happen though? Who knows.

The Flyers, on the other hand, are a much different story from the Sixers. In 2006-07 they suffered their worst season in franchise history. Nobody knew what 2007-08 would bring. However, at the All-Star break, the Flyers were rolling at the top of the Eastern Conference Standings. It seemed as though second year head coach John Stevens turned the team and franchise around back to prominence. 
But, after the break, the team went on a huge rut and had a streak of about 10 games or so without a win. They had fallen way down the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division standings and it was possible that they could have missed the playoffs. 

Yet, they changed locker positions and seemingly picked it up near the end of the season. Go figure. Also, the Carolina Hurricanes had a huge collapse. Thus, the Flyers were in the playoffs as the 6th seed and Stevens could catch his breath as his coaching position was definitely saved.

The post-season was one heck of a ride. They defeated the Capitols in seven games, with two of those games going to overtime, one even double overtime.

In the second round, they squared off against the top seeded Canadiens. Amazingly, they won that series in five games, behind the brilliant goal tending of Martin Biron and play of R.J. Umberger.
People were starting to think–could this be the year? Could this be the year the drought finally ends? It looked possible, but it was not meant to be. 
The Orange and Black lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games.
As far as this current season goes, the Flyers got off to a really putrid start, but have without question picked it up recently. They are one of the top teams in the East with a lot of young talent, such as captain Mike Richards and the NHL's leading goal scorer, Jeff Carter. The year of 2009 should hopefully have a lot come from this gritty, talented squad.

But, the exit from the playoffs last season made it official. Exactly 25 years had passed since Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Billy Cunningham won the NBA Championship, the city's last championship.
People were starting to wonder if this drought would ever end. 

But then, a team in red and white pinstripes came along. A team came along that had been around since 1883 and had only won one championship. A team came along that was led by a talented shortstop who likes to speak his mind and back it up on the field. This team was lead by a humble, soft spoken, player's manager. This team was the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies.
Just the year before, they had won the division and made the post-season for the first time in 14 years. However, it ended with an early exit after getting swept by the eventual National League Champion Colorado Rockies in the NLDS. 

People expected bigger and better things from this 2008 team. That is exactly what they got. They got a good start in April (finally) and a squad that was in first place for most of the year. Also, for the first time in a long time, the Phillies were not only a hitting squad. They had a solid pitching staff, led by two left-handed arms, Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer. Also, the bullpen was one of the best in baseball, anchored by new closer Brad Lidge, who came over in a trade from Houston. 
Still, along with this great pitching staff, the Phils were hitting like crazy, putting crooked numbers up on the score board for several games. However, there was a stretch during the middle of season where they couldn't by a hit or run. 

That big lead they gained on the hated New York Mets was shrinking fast and come late August/early September, the Mets were in full control of their destiny, with a fairly comfortable lead in the NL East again. It looked less and less likely history would be repeating themselves and the season was being dubbed a failure.

Yet, there was one particular series in early September that turned the promising and seemingly disappointing season around. The Wild Card leading Brewers came into town with a four game lead over the Phils and a four game series a head. 
Behind the sudden power surge of Ryan Howard, a.k.a. Mr. September, the Phils swept the Brewers and became tied at the top of the Wild Card standings.

At the same time, the Mets began their usual down fall. Could it be? Could those Metropolitans from the North collapse again?

Well, they did and the Phils regained the NL East lead as the season began to close. They had the chance to close it out on the second to last day of the regular season. Well, they did not disappoint. 

The Phils went into the top of the ninth against the Nationals with a 4-2 lead and Brad Lidge 40 for 40 in save opportunities. They guy who had been perfect made it scary, allowing the Nats to score a run and load the bases with one out. Ryan Zimmerman came up to the plate looking to make Lidge 40 for 41. Well, on a one-one pitch, Zimmerman hit it up the middle, Jimmy Rollins made a great diving stop and turned the double play with Chase Utley and Howard. Lidge stayed perfect–41 for 41.

But, it was not good enough. They needed to go farther this year. They needed to not have an early exit like in 2007. Could they end the drought? Was this the team? Is this our year?


The Phillies went 11-3 in the post-season, defeating the Brewers 3-1 in the NLDS, the Dodgers 4-1 in the NLCS and the Rays 4-1 in the World Series.

Highlights of the post-season included a Shane Victorino grand slam off of C.C. Sabathia in Game 2 of the LDS, a Matt Stairs launching of a home run in Game 4 of the NLCS, a Joe Blanton home run in Game 4 of the World Series, an incredible defensive play by Chase Utley in Game 5 of the World Series and Brad Lidge striking out pinch hitter Eric Hinske to close out the World Series and go a perfect 48 for 48 in save opportunities.

All of this culminated in a joyous parade down Broad Street two days later, 25 years in the making.
What Utley said that magical day, October 31, 2008, is all you need to know. That sums up 2008 right there for Philadelphia Sports.

"World Champions...World FUCKIN' Champions!"


Eagles-DeSean Jackson
Flyers-Luca Sbisa
Phillies-J.A. Happ
76ers-Thaddeus Young

Eagles-Quintin Mikkel
Flyers-Martin Biron
Phillies-Jayson Werth (Had Jamie Moyer earlier but I realized I wanted Werth originally and didn't know why I put Moyer)
76ers-Louis Williams

Eagles-Reggie Brown (L.J. Smith a very close second)
Flyers-Danny Briere
Phillies-So Taguchi
76ers-Samuel Dalembert 

Eagles-Andy Reid (Not a player but I expect him to run the ball against the Vikings)
Flyers-Ryan Parent 
Phillies-Carlos Ruiz
76ers-Elton Brand

Eagles-Brian Dawkins
Flyers-Riley Cote
Phillies-Shane Victorino
76ers-Reggie Evans

Greg Dobbs

Maurice Cheeks

Shane Victorino: 2008 NLDS Game 2 Grand Slam Off Of C.C. Sabathia

Chase Utley: 2008 World Series Game 5 Throwing Out Eric Bartlett At Home Plate

December 28, 2008 Eagles vs. Cowboys 44-6 Win

Pat Gillick

Charlie Manuel

Eagles-Brian Dawkins
Flyers-Mike Richards
Phillies-Jimmy Rollins
76ers-Andre Miller

Eagles-Brian Westbrook
Flyers-Jeff Carter
Phillies-Brad Lidge
76ers-Andre Miller

Brad Lidge

First Win of "Disney on Ice"

The Flyers just pulled out a "hold your breather" in Vancouver over the Canucks 3-2. All I can say is that was the longest last minute of the third period I have ever seen. 

This Is Why Cowboys Fans Are Idiots

I was at the game this past Sunday and made sure to make my usual stop to the 610 WIP Gameday Tent. Well, the Gameday Pregame Show Crew decided for a brief moment to bring two cockroaches (a.k.a. Cowboys fans) onto the show to let their ridiculous voices be heard.

Let me say this–they got OWNED! Glen Macnow, Hugh Douglas, Joe Conklin and Rueben Frank absolutely owned these two morons. And then at the end, you could hear me start an Eagles chant. Oh boy, it was fun. Here is the footage:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

5 Things To Consider For Eagles/Vikings

1. The Vikings have the No. 1 rush defense in the NFL.

Does this mean that Andy Reid is going to avoid the run?

2. Brad Childress used to run the Eagles offense (to an extent...remember...Big Red has the Big Say).

Does this mean Childress has the Eagles down pat?

3. According to Howard Eskin on 610 WIP earlier today, there are 20,000 seats available in the Metrodome for this Sunday's playoff game.

Can we expect a lot of green and white to fill the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome?

4. Donovan McNabb has not played in a playoff game since Super Bowl XXXIV.

Can we expect a big game out of No. 5?

5. It is very possible the 44-6 annihilation of the Cowboys last week was purely off of adrenaline.

Are the Eagles going to have a major hangover?

You figure it out.

Sixers and Flyers Struggling

The Flyers just recently came off getting shut out in Columbus 3-0 and the Sixers follow that up by losing another game, this time to the Jazz in Utah 112-95.

It seems as though the only thing to smile about these days other than the Phillies winning the World Series is the Eagles unbelievable triumph into the playoffs.

Yes, the Flyers were on a great hot streak, but they just dropped two in a row. They play Vancouver tonight so hopefully this rut can end.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Timmy Kelly

Kate Smith may be the Flyers good luck charm, but Timmy Kelly is without question the one for the Eagles. 

Some say the Eagles never lose when he sings. Although I have found no hard facts on that, I can honestly say I have never been to an Eagles game where Timmy sings and the Birds lose. In fact, he is the one who sang the Star Spangled Banner when the Eagles defeated the Falcons in the NFC Championship.

Yesterday, he once again rocked the Lincoln Financial Field crowd with another stirring singing of our National Anthem. Although this video is not from yesterday, it is from when the Eagles beat the Cowboys at home in 2006. Take it away Timmy!

Courtesy of the700level.com

Love The Beard Jeff, Just Gotta Work On The High-Five

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Just When You Thought You Had Seen Everything...

I am still in shock.

Here's ten observations from today's unforgettable action:

1) As my good friend Dave would say, you are never, ever done. It's not over until the final bell rings. Like everyone else in Philadelphia, I doubted our chances following the Redskins debacle. I should have learned my lesson during the Phillies' playoff run, in particular during Game 4 of the NLCS. The Phils were down 5-3 in the bottom of the 8th and the Dodgers were on the verge of establishing momentum by tying the series. And then...BOOM. Victorino and Stairs, just like that. Ladies and gentlemen, the tide may be turning in Philadelphia.

2) This 2008 Eagles team remains a mystery. You have ugly losses against Baltimore and Washington, a tie against Cincinnati. On the opposite spectrum you have impressive performances against Arizona, the Giants, and this Cowboy victory. Although I agree that nothing matters other than the upcoming Minnesota bout, we are still guessing as to which team will show up week to week. As The Inquirer's Phil Sheridan points out, the Eagles we saw tonight are capable of beating any team in the NFC playoff field. We just have to hope they come out each week with a balanced attack and intensity.

3) For God's sake, give Buckhalter the ball more often. You gotta love the guy, he is always ready to come in and contribute. His line for the night:
  • 13 touches, 122 yards, TD
4) Offense balance:
  • 36 runs, 21 passes
Need I say more?

5) Tonight's game cleared up two lingering questions:
  • Tony Romo is the most over-hyped and overrated quarterback in the league. I love nothing more than seeing him wriggle around on the field, head in hands after another fumble. You know you've got a problem when you have more on-field crying sessions than playoff wins. Have a fun offseason, Jerry Jones and company! I'm glad we could send you back on the early flight to Dallas.
  • Brian Dawkins may well be the greatest human being in the history of the world. Ok, maybe not, but he is the heart and soul of this team. How could you not have goosebumps watching Fox's cameras follow him prancing about the field, laying punishing hits and forcing multiple fumbles. The man loves to win and has fun doing it. A Hall of Famer in anyone's book, Dawkins can still play high-caliber football.
6) I should preface this by stating that I love Donovan McNabb. He is the greatest QB in Eagles history and I do not want to see him go. However, I must admit that he has frustrated me (and many others, surely) time and again throughout the year. I struggle with the notion of Kevin Kolb at the helm; only time will tell. But, tonight, for the time being, McNabb silenced his critics. He was smart and efficient, providing a number of outstanding throws. The best came with about 4:00 minutes left in the first-half. McNabb dropped back and floated a picture-perfect pass into the arms of DeSean Jackson. The play set the stage for Buckhalter's 4-yard touchdown catch that made the score 17-3.

7) Believe it or not, this will be McNabb's first trip back to the playoffs since the 2004 Super Bowl run. For some reason, this feels more real than Jeff Garcia's cinderalla run in '06. Hey, that was great too, don't get me wrong. I guess a lot of us were just happy that we had made it and went on beat the Giants before falling to the Saints.

8) Every Eagles fan is now required to send a belated holiday gift to the Oakland Raiders and the Houston Texans. Thanks guys, we truly appreciate the effort.

9) Just for a moment tonight I caught myself feeling bad for the 11-5 New England Patriots. They won their final game, yet did not make it to the playoffs. They will sit and watch (the first 11-5 non-playoff team since the 1985 Denver Broncos) as the inferior Chargers and Cardinals participate for a chance at the title. There was a glimmer of "oh, that sucks," until I reminded myself that it was the cheating Patriots. Karma, Belichick, karma.

10) After a wild day, one for the history books, here's a few predictions for next week:
  • Baltimore ends Miami's comeback season
  • Manning and the Colts keep on rolling past the Chargers
  • Matt Ryan pushes the Falcons by the slumping Cardinals
  • As for the Eagles, it's simple. Take one game at a time. Slow Adrian Peterson and we can move on. I am thinking McNabb has a big game against the Viking's poor pass defense and the Eagles defense does enough to frustrate Peterson. I will take the Birds, 27-17.
So, in review, I will take both sets of fifth- and sixth-seeds (AFC: Colts and Ravens, NFC: Falcons and Eagles) over the third- and fourth-seed teams to setup Eagles @ Giants, Falcons @ Panthers, Ravens @ Titans, and Colts @ Steelers.

One last note...

As FOX's cameras panned across the Eagles sideline in the final moments of the game, owner Jeffery Lurie could be seen embracing Donovan McNabb and motioning to his quarterback with four raised fingers. You could even make out the words by watching his lips: "Four more," he said.

After watching what transpired today, crazier things have happened. Like the Phils winning the World Series.

Let's go Eagles. This, now, is your time. Just win.

"Let's Go To Minnesota"

They're In!

I'm not going to take a shot at this underachieving team (except for right there). 

Forget about the "shouldas." Forget about the "couldas." Forget about the "wouldas."

They're in and it is beautiful. The Eagles are in the playoffs after trouncing the Dallas Cowboys 44-6 at the Linc tonight and it is absolutely B-E-A-utiful.

Tonight, everything clicked on all cylinders.

The play calling was balanced. Donovan McNabb was hitting his receivers. The special teams were good enough. And lastly, the defense was the dominating Eagles defense we revel about in our dreams.

What happened in the past is history. The first Dallas meeting–history. The Bears debacle–history. Both Redskin embarrassments–history. The first Giants meeting–history. The annihilation by the Ravens–history. And the tie to the Bengals–history. 

The new season starts now. Each team (while some have a shorter road to get to the promise land) are 0-0.

I do not care about the McNabb benching. I do not care about the dropped passes. I do not care about the awful play calling. I do not care about the cornerback controversies. I do not care about all of the drama that went on in the past.

All I care about is the Minnesota Vikings. That is it.

Fellas, tonight was great and there is definitely more to come later this week. However, let's get another and kick the mess out of those freaky yellow haired, goldy locks, stupid hats, funny accent and ugly mustaches Vikings.


An Extended Thank You

Fellow Philadelphians across the greater metropolitan region were going to watch the Eagles game, whether or not it had any playoff implications. It would have stung the hearts of millions to see pretty boy Tony Romo and his Dallas Cowboys (or better yet, Cowgirls) play in the postseason. The scenario to make this game count for something wasn't as extreme as some were putting it. Simply put, one of the two playoff hopeful teams from the NFC North (Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears) had to lose in tandem with a loss by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to give the Eagles a chance to play for a playoff spot.

The efforts put forth by the Houston Texans against the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cannot be understated. These two teams full of young talent did not fold in their last games, but triumphed for their own sakes to showcase what could be future playoff material.

Matt Schaub played one of the best games of his career, throwing for 328 yards and finding one of the young WR greats, Andre Johnson for nearly 150 yards and 2 scores. Up 31-17 at one point, the Houston Defense held a late surge by the Bears offense to one touchdown, leaving the final at 31-24.

Browsing on NFL.com, I saw the Bucs/Raiders score on Gamecast as 14-14 late in the 3rd quarter, and was thus comelled to quickly make moves to turn on the game. Tampa Bay took the lead early in the 4th quarter on a 29 yard Matt Bryant field goal, making the score 17-14. On the ensuing drive, Oakland took the ball to roughly the twenty-five yard line. Second year quarterback JaMarcus Russell threw an errant floater in traffic that was intercepted and returned 84 yards, setting up an easy Cadillac Williams touchdown run, putting the score at 24-14 Tampa Bay. The Raiders failed to quit, putting together a quick 3 play, 66 yard touchdown drive aided by a 40+ yard pass interference coming from a passing attempt by running back Michael Bush. On their ensuring drive, Tampa Bay marched down the field and were well on their way to at least a field goal following a 24 yard run by Cadillac Williams. However, he seemingly tore his knee and had to leave the field under the manpower of two trainers.

Veteran Warrick Dunn gained 6 yards on first down to the Raiders' 33, but could get no further than the line of scrimmage on second. The story may have been different had Cadillac been in the game. On third down, Jeff Garcia scrambled right and threw a strike to his tight end Alex Smith at the 3, but one foot landed inches out of bounds. Because kicker Matt Bryant had missed his last 7 consecutive field goals of 50 yards or longer, the Bucs elected to go for it on fourth down. Garcia threw a pass that was a tad behind Antonio Bryant but still fairly catchable and he just dropped it. On the next play, Michael Bush bulldozed his way through the Bucs defense and 67 yards later found himself in the end zone, putting the Raiders on top 28-24. This was definetely the turning point of the game. The Bucs had the playoffs within reach, but this spectatular rush from the 3rd string Bush sucked out all the energy from the Bucs players and fans alike. It was quite noticeable watching the game.

On the Bucs first offensive play of the next drive, Garcia threw an interception. The Raiders collectedly ran the ball down the field, taking precious time off the clock and setting up a Janikowski field goal, making the score 31-24. With a 1:09 on the clock and no time outs remaining, Garcia proved to be human once and for all, and the Raiders triumphed in one of the most thrilling games of the afternoon.

With thanks and good fortune, these games set up an unprecendented Eagles victory which we shall hear more about later this evening.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Recap of Last Night in Philly Sports

Two losses.

The Sixers and Flyers  both dropped games last night with the Sixers doing so in Denver and the Flyers in Chicago.

Both were very disappointing.

A. The 76ers had a large lead in the third quarter and dropped off as the game neared its conclusion. It was almost an exact replica of the Indiana game last week. The Sixers had the lead with few seconds remaining and then the Nuggets gained it back right away. This time, instead of a jumper in Andre Inguodala's face, it was a nasty slam dunk on Samuel Dalembert's head. Then, Iguodala had the ball at the end to try and win it (like the Indiana game) and traveled. The Sixers fouled Chucky Atkins and then Andre Miller got called for a technical foul because he walked in front of Atkins before the first foul shot and the referees though Miller was taunting Atkins. Final score: 105-101.

B. The Flyers just got man handled 5-1.

However, they can redeem themselves in about 40 minutes out in Columbus against the Blue Jackets.

Get it down boys!

Friday, December 26, 2008

On This Day In History: December 26

Twas the day after Christmas, 48 years ago in 1960. 

Monday, December 26, 1960.

This was the season Eagles center/linebacker Chuck Bednarik put that nasty hit on Giants Frank Gifford.

People were filing in to the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field.
They were looking to see their overachieving Eastern Conference Champion Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) defeat Vince Lombardi and the Western Conference Champion Green Bay Packers (8-4) in the 1960 NFL Championship game.

The boys in green and white were coached by Buck Shaw.

The game began at noon due to the lack of lighting in the old-fashioned stadium.

The Birds had clawed and scrapped all season to get to this particular point and on this frigid day in Philadelphia, their season long story stood true to form.

The Eagles offense, led by legendary quarterback Norm "Dutch" Van Brocklin, got completely out played statistically and non-statistically wise despite having great players to compliment him–Tommy McDonald, Pete Retzlaff and Ted Dean.

But, as the Eagles did all season, they came back in the fourth quarter. Van Brocklin put the team a head 17-13 and it looked like they could close the remainder of the game out easily.
However, a young Bart Starr drove the Packers back down the field with very little time remaining in the game. 

As the seconds ticked down, he completed a pass to Jim Taylor, who marched his way into the Eagles red zone. It looked like he might score, but Bednarik, who was 35 at that point, added one more moment to his legendary list and tackled him to seal up the title.

And then he once again screamed, "This FUCKING game is over!"

It was Lombardi's only post-season loss and of course as we know, the last pro-football championship the Eagles have ever won.

The 1960 Eagles will forever be loved in this town. If only today's team could reach the heights they did. Sure, it was not the Super Bowl back then because the Super Bowl did not exist yet. But, it was the big one and we won it.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Speaking of Underachieving Eagles teams...

I was perusing through YouTube to find some Eagles videos for tomorrow's special post and I came across this. 

Make of this what you want. After watching it a couple of times, I actually think it is pretty cool. Wish these guys could've won a freaking playoff game though.

Philadelphia Eagles 1988:Buddy's Watchin' You

Fortunately, the proceeds of this went to charity.

Merry Christmas...

...I'm Jewish...but I still got the holiday spirit. 

Anyway, what other news is out there other than Scottie Upshall got injured a few days ago and the Phillies signed a relief pitcher who has a chance to the make the big club to a minor league contract? Oh yeah, and Donovan McNabb thinks he has been playing rather well, which in my opinion he has. He needs some darn receivers who can catch. But that is another story for another day.

There is none that really comes to mind revolving around these four teams.

The Flyers are on a role...still. The Sixers are struggling somewhat...still. The Eagles are the most frustrating and underachieving team in all of sports...still. And the Phillies are awesome...still.

As far as my 2008 Chanukah goes, it came two months ago when the Phillies won the World Series. How much money I spent on merchandise will remain undisclosed. 

So basically, on a day that should be filled of talking, talking and more talking, just ends with...Happy Holidays!

A special post is coming tomorrow and a YEAR IN REVIEW post is coming early next week.

A Christmas Story of Awards

It is Christmas Eve (soon to be Christmas) and to honor everyone's favorite Christmas Classic, A Christmas Story, I will give out my year-end awards with regards to Ralphie and his world.

The Leg Lamp Smash Award: 
Did the old man really think that he would be able to get away with showcasing his beloved leg lamp in his window for all of Cleveland Street to see? He had to know that one day soon his "major award" would come to a major downfall. The Eagles were just playing too well. We were running the ball like a normal team. We were beating the teams we were supposed to beat, and even ones we weren't (the Giants). All we had to do was win our two last games. We were looking forward to playing the Cowgirls next sunday to decide our playoff berth. We shouldn't be concerned the the Redskins. Losers of 5 of their last 6? The self-proclaimed "worst coach in the world" in Jim Zorn? Come on. We went down to the basement to play with that dadgummit, blasted, stupid furnace. As soon as we got into our fight with the furnace, Andy Reid decided to play the part of Ralphie's mom. He picked up his water can and smiled a sly smile and walked to the living room. Sure, he wants his team to grow emotionally and intellectually. Why not pour some water on them to further their growth? While "watering" his team he accidentally smashes the leg lamp. And with the lamp goes the Eagles' playoff hopes.

The Aunt Clara's Bunny Costume Award: 
Sunday, November 23, 2008. Andy Reid brings in Kevin Kolb to replace Donovan McNabb. Philadelphia freaks out. ESPN freaks out. The sports world freaks out. Is the McNabb era finally over? Is this is how it is going to end? Yep, Ralphie has to wear the costume. We are forced to see our beloved protagonist wear an energizer bunny costume - the same 9-year-old who we see as a cowboy brandishing Red Ryder's peace-maker in his kitchen. Frankly, it is demeaning. Ralphie barely has time to say a word before the old man asks him if he wants to take it off. Andy Reid gives Kolb 2 quarters of misery before pulling the plug. McNabb comes back in and leads the team to victory three straight weeks. Ralphie gets his BB Gun.

The You'll Shoot Your Eye Out Award: 
This is presented to Andre Iguodala. Rather than taking that step forward that we all expected after the great second half run the Sixers had last year, Iggy melted away in the playoffs. No matter though. Iggy was able to shoot our eyes out - it became hard to watch - and come up with a great icicle lie to keep his days in Philly for 5 more years, just as Ralphie was able to keep his BB-Gun. One new contract later, Iggy has continued to shoot our eyes out, it becomes more painful to watch each and every day. Congratulations to Andre Iguodala.

The Ooohhh Fudge Award: 
Here's to Chase Utley. "World Champions. 
World FUDGING Champions!" Only he didn't say fudge. He said
the word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the
F-dash-dash-dash word. But as Utley later said, kids shouldn't curse, but if they are 29 and won the World Series, they can say that (and just to clarify, it wasn't Ralphie's fault that the nuts and bolts went flying everywhere. His dad knocked them out of his hand).

The Scut Farkus Affair Award: 
If the sports Gods are Scut Farkus, Ralphie is our Phillies. Scut Farkus has been the Penguins, Devils, Red Wings, Patriots, Cowboys, Mets, Marlins, Rockies, Lakers, Pistons, etc. over the years. The Phillies finally stood up to Scott Farkus and looked him in his yellow eyes. He had yellow eyes. SO HELP ME GOD YELLOW EYES! The Phillies beat the odds after Johan Santana was brought to New York to bring the Mets back to the top. They beat the unbeatable C.C. Sabathia with the most crushing grand slam in Phillies history. They beat the Dodgers with an entire team effort, capped by the moment Matt Stairs drove the ball deep into right field - also the moment blood was drawn by Ralphie from Scut's nose. And they beat the team of destiny when Ralphie raised his Red Ryder BB Gun in his living room - the World Series Trophy in Citizens Bank Park.

The It's a beautiful turkey, it really is, but it's smiling at me Award:
Alexander Ovechkin had himself one hell of a year. A year for the record books. 65 goals. Good job. But as soon as the playoffs started and every analyst possible picked Alexander the Great and his Capitals to win the series, a fire was lit under the Flyers. By the time game 7 rolled around, they had enough of Ovechkin's toothless smile.  "It's a beautiful turkey, it really is, but it's smiling at me..." said thousands of Philadelphians. Joffrey Lupul and the Flyers listened carefully, took a knife and chopped that Turkey's heads off. Montreal Canadians, here we come.

The Bumpass's Dogs Award and the But it was gone, all gone! No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey hash! Turkey a la King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, ALL GONE Award: 
To the Penguins and Flyers respectively. Game 5 of the 2008 NHL Eastern Conference Finals. The Penguins had picked at our turkey for days. They took little bits of it while we were out of the room tending to BB Gun shot out eyes.
Then we sat down to read the paper. We should relax right? We just won game 4 in convincing fashion, a 4-2 win. The Bumpass's dogs came in while we were reading the paper and scored a quick goal or two. Did we notice? No, we continue to read the paper. Then the rest of the Bumpass's Dogs come in and tear the turkey apart. We get torn apart to the tune of 6-0 and that is the end of the Flyers season. While we may have been introduced to Chinese Turkey, we didn't get all of those damn delicious leftovers. 

The Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra Award:
To Tadahito Iguchi, So Taguchi, and Arron Asham.

The Santa Boot in the face Award: To injury prone and career loser, Elton Brand. Baron Davis decides to sign with the Clippers, seemingly to play with one of the best power forwards in the game. One would not just sign with the Clippers for fun, it just doesn't happen. Brand puts on Santa's shiny black boot and kicks the franchise in the face. He signs with the Sixers and a few months later he finds himself in that poofy pool of fluff that Ralphie finds himself in. The injury bug has kicked him in the face with that same boot. Ho! Ho! Ho! Not so jolly.


Feel free to offer up your own awards by commenting on this post. I hope everyone has themselves a great 24 hours of A Christmas Story, a great Christmas, some tasty food, not too many bellyaches, some useful presents, and a Happy Chanukah as well.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Stubel is Right...

Phil Sheridan in the best columnist in Philly today. Here's why:

Great stuff Phil!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Tale of Two Totally Different Sports and Teams

What a difference-the Flyers and Sixers. 

Sure, it was against the best team in the league, the Celtics, who made history tonight by winning their 19th in a row or something like that, but still, the Sixers are now 12-16 on the season, while the Flyers are picking it up and moving their way up the standing.

The fact of the matter is, these two teams are a representative of two different sports (obviously) and statuses within this city.

The Flyers fill the Wachovia Center for every game, while the Sixers cannot even put 15,000 in each night. The Flyers sold their "Spectrum Game" tickets rapidly, while the Sixers probably will not even have the place a third of the way full come March 13. 

When you go to the Flyers Web Site, you go straight the page. The Sixers have so many damn promotions that it is irritating after a while. Don't they realize that even with all of these promotions, people still do not go?

You want to know why people do not go to Sixers games? 

A. This town is not as wired for professional basketball as they are the other sports.
B. The Sixers do not sell their product cheap either. 
C. The Sixers are the worst team in the city (yes...even worse than the Eagles) and the Flyers have a promising team that can go places.

There are other reasons, but these are the basics.

Personally, I like both teams equally. I like all four teams equally and in their own way. I root for all four. But I'll tell ya, the Sixers are a freaking hard team to root for. 

The Flyers–I do nothing but smile.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nothing To Say...

...all I can say is that sucked yesterday.

Eagles/Redskins Week 16 Thoughts

We all know what happened. If you don't...then where have you been. The Eagles 10-3 loss to the Redskins in Washington should be no secret. The awful play calling should be no secret. The lack of help for Donovan McNabb should be no secret. While McNabb had no help, the handful of under thrown balls should be no secret. Lastly, the resiliency and toughness of our defense should without question be no secret.

The fact of the matter is, this was another one of those games where while the Eagles did get outplayed, there is NO reason they should have lost.

The dropped balls were awful. The lack of intensity and sense of urgency was awful. This game left such an empty feeling in my stomach that all of the hype and excitement leading up to it went completely away.

Do not blame this loss on McNabb. While his numbers were not great and a handful of his throws were awful, his supporting cast today stunk.

I don't know where people get the idea that his wide receivers are good this year. Were they good the previous three games? Yes. But there are more than three games in an NFL season.

Number 5 had no legitimate threat to throw to today. Let me say this and make myself very clear: regardless of how many catches this kid has this season and regardless of how promising he may be, DeSean Jackson is NOT  a playmaker. He is not. He is a good, not great, wide receiver that can stretch the field.

"Tiny" cannot take a hit and he cannot make a tough catch. He dropped two...count em' TWO...touchdown passes in today's game. 

People want to blame Donovan. People want to say it has been 10 years and nothing has been accomplished. People want to say that he is not a big game quarterback. Well, let me say this–put McNabb on the Dallas Cowboys with Terrell Owens and Roy Williams and he will make Tony Romo look like a college quarterback. Put him on the Patriots with Randy Moss and Wes Welker. He will easily have a 30 plus touchdown season. 

Brian Westbrook is a great player and a good compliment to McNabb, but it takes more than one other guy to win in this league. Not to mention, Westbrook is so injury prone that it is ridiculous. It is absolutely ridiculous.

I am so mad over this game and so fuming that I probably have to stop this post before I get way too ahead of myself. 

Let me just close it out with this: if one more person says the season is over...I am going to flip out. THE SEASON IS NOT OVER! First of all, we have to WIN next week. NO MATTER WHAT. Then, if Tampa Bay loses again and Chicago loses at least one of their next two games (they play the Packers on Monday night this week) then we are in. I have heard so many people say the season is over (Merrill Reese included). It is not over until the fat lady sings and as far as I am concerned, I have not heard any fat lady sing. I'll leave it at that.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sixers Lose Heartbreaker and Utley Gives Phillies Another TYIB Award

The Sixers lost a real heartbreaker last night to the Pacers at the Wach, 95-94. They had a big lead early and then Indiana came back late, eventually winning it in the final seconds.

The Sixers were down one and Jarred Jack drove to the basket, but literally threw it away into the waiting arms of Lou Williams, who finished his fast break with a dunk.

Sadly, T.J. Ford hit a clutch jumper in Andre Iguodala's face leaving only three seconds left on the clock. The Sixers gave the ball to Iguodala who made a nice move to get to the basket and shoot a close-range floater with his left hand. The ball rimmed out and that was all she wrote.

Even though the Sixers blew it, which is very discouraging, the most upsetting thing about last night's loss was the fact that the Pacers were missing Troy Murphy and Danny Granger, two of their best players.

New head coach Tony DiLeo is now 3-1 in his coaching career (and should absolutely be 4-0).

Now, let's finish this post out with some happy news.

Remember when Chase Utley made that incredible defensive play in Game 5 of the World Series, Part 2? He faked to first and then threw out Jason Bartlett at the plate, who was the potential go ahead run in a then 3-3 game. Well, that play was awarded "This Year In Baseball's" best post-season moment. It is the Phillies fourth TYIB award, as Brad Lidge locked up the best closer award, Charlie Manuel got the best manager award and Pat Gillick received the best executive award.

Oh yeah...and Flyers annihilated the Caps yesterday at home 7-1. Scott Hartnell posted another hat trick. More on this later from Tim.

Eagles Game Live Blog

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Flyers Re-"Cap"

There is a cliche saying in sports where you call a player a human highlight reel. Let me first preface this post by saying that Antero Niittymaki was exactly that today.

This was the meeting of the Flyers and Capitals since the epic battle that the two teams fought out in last years Eastern Conference Quarter Finals. From the physicality of this game it was obvious there was no love lost between the two teams.

Joffery Lupul got the scoring started for the Flyers in a game where it looked like goals for the Flyers would come at a premium.
The Flyers took a 1-0 advantage going in to the 1st intermission, despite the fact that they were out shot 25-6 in the 1st period. The 25 shots allowed by the Flyers was a franchise record for shots allowed in a home game in one period.

The second period would bring more of the same for the Flyers, being out shot 14-7, however once again the Flyers were the team scoring. Jeff Carter scored his 23rd goal of the season with about 5 minutes left in the 2nd period, then less than a minute later Carter lit the lamp again this time shorthanded for his 4th and the teams 13th (correction for my last recap that was the teams 12th not 11th) shorthanded goal.

The Flyers would continue with their theme of doubling there goal total from the period before. The Flyers put in 4 goals in the 3rd period, 3 of them courasy of Scott Hartnell. The Flyers offensive explosion came off the heals of a goalie change that the Captials made during the 2nd intermission. The Flyers would end up smashing Washington 7-1, in a game where they could of very easily lost by the same margin.

In a game which featured 8 goals scored the show was stolen by Niittymaki. Niittymaki made increadible stops look routine all afternoon and single-handedly maintained a Flyers lead into the 1st and 2nd intermissions. To add to this career proformace Niitty was was also made 12 saves on the leagues most dynamic offensive player, Alexander Oveckin. Niiitymaki had a super-star caliber start stopping an exposive Capitals teams riding a 5 game winning streak. Niittymaki stopped 47 out of 48 shots and earning himself the 1st star of the game.

The Flyers look to contine their scoring spree as they travel up the turn-pike for divison throwdown with the Devils, Sunday 1pm.

An Era In Phillies Baseball Over: Pat The Bat

OK, so this took a little while for me to finish...sorry. I have been pretty...well relatively...well actually extremely busy of late. Anyway, here is the Pat Burrell post I promised shortly after the Phils signed Raul Ibanez:

I remember when he got called up to the "Bigs." The Phils were in the lean years and we all wanted to see this guy named Pat Burrell, a No. 1 overall pick that we drafted. 

At first, we could not figure out how to say his name. Is it Burl or is it Burr-ell? But after a little bit, we realized what it really was–"Pat The Bat." 

At first, he lived up to everything we hoped. Here was a guy who smacked the ball out of the park and played hard everyday. 
According to baseball-reference.com, in 111 games in 2000, Burrell's first year in the show, he hit .260 with 18 homers and 79 RBIs. His on-base percentage was .359.

I do not know how many people remember this, but Burrell actually played more games at first base his rookie year than he did left field. The Phils were not sure when he was coming up from the minors whether he would be a first baseman or a left fielder. Obviously, they figured that out fast enough.

I am not sure if this is another thing people do not remember, but I believe just in his rookie year, he wore the number 33...haha.
As Burrell's early years transpired, his stats got increasingly better and in 2002, he posted the best statistical year of his career. Sporting a .282 average (the highest it ever got), he smacked 37 out of the park, along with driving in 116. His slugging percentage was. 544. Pat the Bat should have been an All-Star that year.
At this point, without question, Burrell was the face of the franchise.

But somewhere along these lines he got a lucrative long-term contract and former Phillies hitting coach Greg Gross decided to screw around with his swing and mechanics. Why? I don't know. But in 2003, he had his worst season ever. I honestly do not feel it was because of the contract. People think he was a contract year player. I honestly feel Gross screwed his stuff up.
Burrell hit only .209 in 2003 with 21 homers and just 64 RBIs. 
This is when the boo birds started to flock Burrell. Left field became a house of "Burrell You're A Bum!" Was this also the year that Burrell started to act like he was playing in Miami again? Notice the really blonde hair?

Regardless of his hair color, Burrell was still getting booed for most of the early years of CBP. People wanted him out. People wanted him traded. People did not like the fact he was making a whole crap load of mullah. 

Still, Pat wanted to stay here. Burrell wanted to be in Philadelphia wearing red pin stripes. He did not want to leave the city. Why with all of the abuse? I don't know. But I sure do have a lot of respect for him for doing so.

The booing of Burrell lasted through 2006 and the beginning of 2007. All people were remembering him by was his inappropriate yet awesomely great gesture towards the Red Sox clubhouse.
But then, all of a sudden and out of no where, Burrell started to pick it up halfway through that magical 2007 season. Without him, the Phillies would not have been able to win the division that year. He was a spark plug that contributed to their success. Forget the numbers. They were not glaring. But, he still hit balls out of the park. He still played through the abuse and criticism. In the end, he helped the Phils go the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Oh yeah...and he was the first guy to run out to Brett Myers and start the celebration.
And then came 2008...ahh...2008. While it was not his best statistical year, it was definitely his most memorable in Philadelphia. Yeah...obviously we all know why. But, put that aside for a second. Remember the homer he had against the Giants?
Remember all of the outfield assists he had? 

Remember all of the errors he DID NOT have because he knew his limits and never did anything that would allow extra bases. He was not the greatest fielder. Actually, he was not a good fielder. But, he was a smart fielder.

Remember the All-Star voting campaign that he got snubbed in?
Remember all of the "Man or Machine" t-shirts worn by fans?
Remember all of the curtain calls?
Remember the great game he had in Milwaukee to shut the door on the Brewers?
Remember Game 1 of the NLCS when he sent the go ahead run over the left field fence?
Remember the 400 foot double that eventually lead to the go ahead run to win the World Series?
It was his last at bat as a Phillie. I always wonder what it would have been like if that would have cleared the fences. I just wonder...it would have been legendary. Not that it already is not....but can you imagine? Fathers would have the chance to tell their kids before they went to bed about how Pat Burrell's homer gave the Phillies the lead that eventually won them the World Series.

But instead, they can say how Pat Burrell's 400 foot double was the eventual go ahead run to bring home the title. 

And then, like I said...this happened...
And look at Burrell. The first person he hugged was the guy who came in the game to run for him...Eric Bruntlett. Burrell had a feeling that hit might have been the last time he was in a game wearing a Phillies uniform and while he would have liked to stay in the game, it was always "team first" for number 5. 
Lastly, remember that parade down Broad Street? Remember he led it? The most tenured member of the 2008 World Championship Philadelphia Phillies...Pat Burrell.
(That is me with the red Phils cap on)
Now, I am not saying that Burrell was the greatest Phillie of all time. He probably does not even make a Top 25 list. He was not the best hitter. He was not the best fielder. He for sure was not the best runner.
But, Burrell is the man none the less. He is one of the four guys on the 2008 team who we could call a superstar. 

He helped this team end its long and suffering pain. He helped this city end its long and suffering pain that nagged and nagged and nagged for 25 tumultuous years. 
This guy is a hero. This guy is a legend. This guy is, even though he will be wearing a different uniform next year, is a Phillie for life. It was never about the money to him and that is what makes him "Pat the Bat."
Thank You Pat!