Friday, July 30, 2010

Comparing The Phillies To The Mets And Yankees

The Philadelphia Phillies just acquired yet another ace in Roy Oswalt, thus giving them a top 3 rotation of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Naturally, given that, the fact they have won the NLCS in the past 2 years, made the playoffs the last 3, and have a bunch of big names on their team now, the comparisons are going to come that the Phillies are the next, Mets and Yankees, at least in the mind of the casual fan. But the question remains, are the comparisons valid? Are the Phillies the 2nd coming of teams most casual fans hate?

I will answer this by comparing how the Phillies acquired the top players and starting pitchers and closer on their current roster in comparison to the top players and starting pitchers and closer on the other teams' current roster. Up first, how the Phillies acquired their players (yes, I am aware that there are more players than this on the teams; this piece concerns the big names and the regular starters when everyone is healthy, not the role players, bench players and the fill-ins for injury, i.e. Wilson Valdez).

Carlos Ruiz: Signed as an amateur free agent in 1998.
Ryan Howard: Drafted in the 5th round of the 2001 draft.
Chase Utley: Drafted in the 1st round of the 2000 draft.
Jimmy Rollins: Drafted in the 1st round of the 1996 draft.
Placido Polanco: Signed as a free agent (for the 2nd time) in 2009.
Raul Ibanez: Signed as a free agent in 2008.
Shane Victorino: Drafted by the Phillies in the 2004 Rule 5 Draft.
Jayson Werth: Signed as a free agent in 2006.
Roy Halladay: Traded by Toronto to Philadelphia in 2009.
Cole Hamels: Drafted in the 1st round 2002 draft.
Roy Oswalt: Traded by Houston to Philadelphia in 2010.
Joe Blanton: Traded by Oakland to Philadelphia in 2008.
Kyle Kendrick: Drafted in the 7th round of the 2003 draft.
Brad Lidge: Traded by Houston to Philadelphia in 2007.

Phillies totals
Amateur Draft: 5
Amateur Free Agents: 1
Rule 5 Draft: 1
Free Agency: 3
Trades: 4

New York Mets
Rod Barajas: Signed as a free agent in 2010.
Ike Davis: Drafted by in the 2008 draft.
Luis Castillo: Signed as a free agent in 2007.
Jose Reyes: Signed as an amateur free agent in 1999.
David Wright: Drafted in the 2001 draft.
Jason Bay: Signed as a free agent in 2009
Angel Pagan: Traded by Chicago Cubs to New York Mets in 2008.
Jeff Francoeur: Traded by Atlanta to New York Mets in 2009.
Carlos Beltran: Signed as a free agent in 2005.
Johan Santana: Traded by Minnesota to New York Mets
Jonathon Niese: Drafted in 7th round of the 2005 draft.
Mike Pelfrey: Drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 draft.
R.A. Dickey: Signed as a free agent in 2010.
Hisanori Takahashi: Signed as a free agent in 2010.
Francisco Rodriguez: Signed as a free agent in 2008.

Mets totals
Amateur Draft: 4
Amateur Free Agents: 1
Rule 5 Draft: 0
Free Agency: 6
Trades: 3

New York Yankees
Francisco Cervelli: Signed as an amateur free agent in 2003.
Mark Teixeira: Signed as a free agent in 2009.
Robinson Cano: Signed as an amateur free agent in 2001.
Derek Jeter: Drafted in the 1st round of the 1992 draft.
Alex Rodriguez: Signed as a free agent in 2007.
Brett Garnder: Drafted by Yankees in 3rd round of 2005 draft.
Curtis Granderson: Traded by Detroit to New York Yankees in 2009.
Nick Swisher: Traded by Chicago White Sox to New York Yankees in 2008.
Jorge Posada: Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 20th round of the 1990 draft.
Andy Pettitte: Signed as a free agent in 2006.
Javier Vazquez: Traded by Atlanta to New York Yankees in 2009.
CC Sabathia: Signed as a free agent in 2008.
A.J. Burnett: Signed as a free agent in 2008.
Phil Hughes: Drafted by the Yankees in the 2004 draft.
Mariano Rivera: Signed as an amateur free agent in 1990.

Yankees totals
Amateur Draft: 4
Amateur Free Agents: 3
Rule 5 Draft: 0
Free Agency: 5
Trades: 3

I wanted to add the Red Sox in here, but frankly, I need to get up at 6 AM, and it is getting late and I am running out of time. Maybe sometime tomorrow after Oswalt's debut I will add them in here.

But as far as the straight up comparisons with the New York teams, I think the numbers speak for themselves. The Phillies main core of players consist of 3 free agents whereas the Mets have 6 and the Yankees have 5. Halladay and Oswalt were both acquired through trade, whereas Burnett and Sabathia were both signed directly through the dollar-dollar bills (though in fairness, the sticking point of the Halladay trade was the immediate contract extension the Phillies were able to offer him). And while it kind of looks like egg on the face of the Phillies that they got Jayson Werth through free agency, it should be known that when they signed him, no one knew he would end up being such a star that he is. Heck, in 2008 he started the season platooning with Geoff Jenkins in right field before winning the job outright towards the end of the season.

It should be noted that in addition to less free agents, the Phillies have more trades than each of the 2 New York teams and more draft picks than each of the 2 New York teams, though credit must be given as the Yankees really know how to score with the undrafted amateur free agents.

Again, hopefully I will be able to do the Red Sox tomorrow, but I am out of gas and in need of sleep before waking up at 6 AM to go to work for the whole day (I can taste the coffee from here). Unrelated to the Phillies and baseball, but the Eagles have signed their 1st round draft pick Brandon Graham late this evening. Just thought I should let you know before I go to bed.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


The Philadelphia Phillies have upped the amount of Roy on their team by 100%. Last last night, it was reported that the Phillies had an agreement in place to acquire Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros, pending Oswalt's approval. After a long wait and a conversation with his former teammate and close friend, Brad Lidge, Roy Oswalt waived his NTC, thereby agreeing to the trade that will send him to the Phillies in exchange for Jay Happ, Anthony Gose, and Vance Worley Jonathan Villar (note: this is as of yet unconfirmed, but the most prominent rumor; the biggest news for the Phillies is Jonathan Singleton is NOT involved). Happ is a major-league ready pitcher who most will argue is more lucky than good. Vance Worley is a prospect who up until a week ago, had never played a game above the AA level. He was then called up by the Phillies, pitched an inning in relief in a blowout win against the Rockies, and sent to AAA Lehigh Valley immediately after. He projects as a bullpen pitcher, but if he stays on the current path he is on of starting pitcher, projects as a Happ-type pitcher. Jonathan Villar is a single-A shortstop prospect with not a lot of power and not very good defense. The power can improve over time and the defense will improve as he progresses through the system and plays on better fields, but losing a prospect who is years away and currently struggling is by no means a huge loss. Anthony Gose is a speedy outfielder, but is nothing special or unique. The Phillies are deep in the outfield at this level, and while some of that depth is taken away by losing Gose, this is nothing catastrophic.

As if this trade could not get any better, the Astros are eating $11 million dollars of Oswalt's contract.

This trade is official. I will update this post with a link to a report of the official deal. Also, because you know that people are going to throw the Phillies in there with the Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox in terms especially after this trade, I will examine how each team acquired their current starters and see if such comparisons hold any merit or not.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Steve "Bulging Dick" Levy Accurately Describes The Mets' Stadium

For the 80 bajillionth day in a row, ESPN has been switching back and forth from its regular scheduled programming to the Yankees game every time A-Rod has an at-bat to ensure that all of America gets the opportunity to see a cheater set a milestone that will be marked with an asterisk in a few years. Understandably, the constant back and forth can be a little tiresome on the studio guys, especially when the venue you throw it back to changes every night. Thus, it can lead to mistakes. And when you are Steve Levy (most famous for his "bulging dick" blooper) throwing it back to Citi Field, well, this slip-up can happen.

"A double for Alex Rodriguez, now let's get you back to Shitty Field." - Steve Levy

Completely ignoring the fact that that is an accurate description of the Mets new stadium, that is just too funny. And hey, any time someone on ESPN curses, it is a funny blooper worth replaying over and over again, right?


He's a Philadelphia Phillie now.
Awwwwwwwwww Yeah!

Update: Click here to watch Domonic Brown's 1st MLB AB. (If that alone does not exicte you, then let me whet your appetite even more by telling you that it is an RBI double full of awesomeness!)

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 17

Part 17: Where The Fog Bowl Concludes

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pam Ward Wants To Be An NFL Play By Play Announcer (For Realz!)

And you thought that it was bad enough having Pammy do Big 10 football games every Saturday afternoon. She has not achieved her lifelong goal yet as that is to one day broadcast NFL games.  From the Washington Post.
The Mitchellville native and University of Maryland graduate obviously was gratified to have been presented the award at COSIDA's national convention in San Francisco on July 6. But [Pam Ward] also will admit to a certain amount of frustration that she still has been unable to fulfill one of her own lifelong goals. Plainly put, Ward has always dreamed about wanting to do play-by-play on NFL games, the better to prove once and for all that a woman doesn't have to be solely restricted to studio or sideline work at the highest level of the sport.

She also is a realist. At her own network, Mike Tirico, one of the best in his business, is firmly entrenched as the play-by-play voice for "Monday Night Football." At NBC, the great Al Michaels isn't going anywhere anytime soon for Sunday night prime-time games. And at CBS and Fox, each employing six full-time announcing crews for Sunday afternoon games, there has been little turnover in recent years, with few openings expected in the near future.

"The NFL is something I've wanted to do since I was a little kid," Ward said in a recent interview, adding that she remains undeterred in trying to fulfill that quest despite years of hearing network executives insist there are only so many jobs out there and the pool of "qualified" female candidates makes it even more difficult to pull the trigger on what surely would be an extremely controversial hire.
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"Maybe that's true," Ward said, "but I wonder why no one has even bothered to at least talk to me about the possibility. I don't really see what the big deal would be."

Make no mistake: Ward loves her job at ESPN, which also includes a hefty load of women's college basketball and plenty of radio and television studio work involving the NFL and the NBA, among many other duties she's performed since joining the company in 1996.

But play-by-play remains her great passion, and she's starting to wonder if she or any other woman will ever get a chance to regularly call NFL games in her lifetime.

Harold Bryant, vice president for production at CBS Sports, said in an interview that "it is coming in the future. As soon as we find the right person, we'd give her a shot. It is still a hurdle we have to overcome. It's something we want to happen and we will try to make it happen. Unfortunately, right now there aren't a lot of women out there doing it. I do know Pam Ward is one of them, and I think she's very good."

Ed Goren, president and executive producer for sports at Fox, also said he was familiar with Ward's work and "she does an extremely professional job. She has the appropriate voice quality. She's prepared. But we haven't hired a play-by-play announcer in quite some time; I can't remember the last time we did.

"Anytime there is a breakthrough, it takes the right individual to make it work, and one that the audience will accept. Branch Rickey had to pick the right person when he brought Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers. It's not a simple issue. Sometimes you only get one shot, and if you fail, then what?"

Ironically, there is something of a Catch-22 situation at work for Ward, as well. CBS and Fox both have a small stable of part-time announcer teams for weekends when they are televising more than six games around the country, which occurs three or four times during the regular season.

But because Ward is under contract to ESPN, it seems highly unlikely the Worldwide Leader would allow her to moonlight elsewhere. And it would probably be professional Russian roulette for Ward to sever her ties with ESPN for a chance to do three or four NFL games a season, contests that no doubt would match bottom-feeding teams with a minuscule viewing audience.

Ward clearly could have gone to a major network as a sideline reporter on NFL games, but she tried that genre once early in her career and despised the job. These days, she also hates the fact that when she speaks to young women on campuses around the country with an interest in doing sports on television, "they all want to be sideline reporters because that's really all they ever see," she said. "I tell them don't pinhole yourself, don't limit yourself. But they see it as their only way in, and that's a shame."
I respect the hell out of Pam Ward for what she has achieved and what she tries to inspire in young college women across the country, but Pam Ward, um, er, well, she is not very good at play-by-play. Now I am glad that she has a dream and a goal that goes beyond the point she is at now (especially as the spot she holds now is revolutionary), and to an extent I hope that she can realize it, but Pam needs to be working on her skills as an announcer if she wants to make the jump and be embraced by the American public. Personally, I hope she does do that and she can improve and she can work NFL games without the football knowledgeable public laughing at her, but I would be lying if I told you that that ideal is ever going to become a reality.

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 16

Part 16: Where The Fog Bowl Becomes A Source Of Heartache For Eagles Fans

Monday, July 26, 2010

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 15

Part 15: Where The Fog Allows The Referees To Spot Penalties Only Against The Eagles

Sunday, July 25, 2010

MLS Forgets The Philadelphia Union Exist

This is the pennant for the 2010 MLS All-Star game. Displayed in the pennant are the logos of 15 MLS franchises. Just one problem. MLS has 16 teams. Missing from the pennant? The Philadelphia Union. Yep, Sebastian Le Toux will be representing a league who forgets to add his team's logo to their special All-Star pennant. A soccer league that on a daily basis is competing for viability and legitimacy among both diehard American soccer fans and to an extent the soccer world has forgotten to include one of its teams' logo on the All-Star pennant. That's unfortunate.

(Hat tip to Brotherly Game)

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 14

Part 14: Where Randal Cunningham Tries To Take Over

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Phillies Blogger's T-Shirt Gets Taken Everywhere By Jim Tracy; Showcased On Fox

One year ago, ZWR did not have a blog bolg. Now, the shirts he sells on said bolg are being seen on Fox. The last time the Phillies played the Rockies, the whole Phillies sign stealing controversy erupted. ZWR made a shirt about it reading:

"We Have:
84 Home Games
Roy Halladay
Your Signs"

The shirt had been spotted in Ryan Spilborgh's locker once before, but never did anyone realize the extent of the impact the shirt had on Jim Tracy and the Rockies until this came up on Fox during this afternoon's Rockies-Phillies game. (As a blogger who loves his readers dearly, it is quite necessary that I warn you that the following clip is from a game announced by Dick Stockton and Tim McCarver).

Too funny. For all the crying that Jim Tracy does, it is nice to see he has the ability to take a joke and even embrace it.

Holy Butt! (The Time ZWR's Shirt Was Featured On Fox) (I Want To Go To The Zoo With Roy Halladay)

(Thanks to cease and desist letters from MLBPA's attorneys, the Roy Halladay part has now been replaced with "You Know Who," so the shirt is not exactly the same now as it was when it was purchased by the fan and sent to the Rockies. But you can still buy the edited version along with all of ZWR's other cool shirts here.).

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 13

Part 13: Where A Ban On Sideline Reporters Causes CBS To Improvise

Friday, July 23, 2010

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 12

Part 12: Where Verne Lundquist And Terry Bradshaw Give Us This Insightful Commentary During A Play
Lundquist: "Cunningham will throw.....or run. Sacked for the fourth time. Ah, wait a minute....
Bradwhaw: "He got rid of the ball, Verne."
Lundquist: "He must have and completed it to somebody."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wikipedia Has An Interesting Take On The Phillies Firing Milt Thompson

A few moments ago, the Philadelphia Phillies surprised a lot of people by firing their hitting coach Milt Thompson, who in some shape or form, has been with the organization since 2003. And while the move was certainly unexpected, the logic behind it could not have been more clear. The Phillies offense is slumping and someone needs to take the fall. And since you can't fire a team, you fire the coach. Now how much of the Phillies offensive slump is Milt's fault, no one can say for sure, but if nothing else, this move certainly sends a message to the rest of the team and maybe even the rest of the coaching staff, who could use a fire lit up their ass (yes, I'm looking at you Charlie "I Leave Ice Cream Joe For Too Long Every Time And Lose The Game For My Team Because Of It" Manuel). But if you ask Wikipedia, they have a whole different take on Milt Thompson's firing. (hat tip to WholeCamels on Twitter)

I think I will refrain from further comment on this one.

Danny Knobbler Would Like To Cause A Frenzy In Philadelphia

I believe I've gone on responsible reporting rants before so I won't do too much with this one other than point out the irresponsible reporting on the part of CBS's Danny Knobbler, who in writing about the Phillies interest in Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt has caused quite a bit of anger amongst Phillies fans. Which would be fine, if for a few seconds Knobbler thought about what he was writing and how he was writing it, something he clearly did not. That is not to say that reporters and columnists can't say bad things about Philadelphia, they can, but it has got to be something better than this, and something that can be proven as factual. From
Astros owner Drayton McLane told the team's website that "nothing's imminent" on the trade front, and suggested that any deal would wait until closer to the July 31 deadline.

A deal for Oswalt remains complicated, for all the reasons we explained last month and more. reported Wednesday that Oswalt would require a team to pick up his 2012 option as part of agreeing to any deal, and sources said the Phillies aren't inclined to do that. Oswalt may not really want to pitch in Philadelphia in any case, having told people in Houston that he would rather not go anywhere with a large and aggressive media contingent.
Notice something missing? Like, oh, I don't know, A DIRECT QUOTE! I have checked Houston media sources and Astros beat writers and I am yet to find anything about Oswalt not wanting to play for Philadelphia because of the "aggressive media." Knobbler indicates his source as "people in Houston." Well? Who are these people? Where can I go to confirm that Oswalt said such a thing?

And while the Oswalt-St.Louis trade talks may be very real, I am left wondering whether or not this would actually happen. After all, St. Louis has Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and rookie sensation Jaime Garcia in their starting rotation. The last thing the Cards need is another starting pitcher, especially when their offense outside of Albert Pujols is not a very good one when facing teams not named the Philadelphia Phillies.

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 11

Part 11: Where The Eagles Take Their Costly Mistakes Into The Fog

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 10

Part 10: Where The NFL Begins Considering Calling The Game Because Of Fog

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Does The Simon Gagne Trade Justify Deserting The Flyers?

With the events leading up to the Simon Gagne trade and the actual trade itself, talks have begun about deserting Flyers fandom. Homer is an incompetent moron, yes, but his incompetence is causing people to want to leave Flyers Fandom, desert the team, boycott the team until Homer is fired, etc. As you may remember, such talks revolved around the Eagles when they did not re-sign Dawkins last off-season, when the Eagles signed Michael Vick last pre-season, and as mentioned, Homer has driven some people to that edge with this off-season.

And once again I find myself needing to re-iterate I do not think completely deserting a team over off-season moves is ever justified. That’s not to suggest that some people won’t get away from the sport and the team over time, that happens, but to go from completely supporting the team to no longer supporting the team over 1 move and/or a string of moves in a single off-season is ridiculous for me. When the Eagles signed Vick, James Craven decided to “boycott” the Eagles over it, did not watch a single Eagles game last year, and will not watch one until Vick is off the team. To me, something like that is completely ridiculous. Not every move a team we support makes is going to be a good move, but when the bad ones or the controversial ones come along, that does not mean one should forget about them completely.

Another thing about boycotting and/or deserting the Flyers is that it takes you away from the other players on the team that you love. Now whether or not the Flyers are a better team now than they were in June can be a point of great contention, but this still is a talented team with Pronger, Timonen, Richards, Giroux, Leino, JVR, Lappy, Betts, Briere, Carbomb, etc. Just because Homer backed himself into a corner and traded Gagne to get himself out of it, does not mean you should give a big “fuck you” to the entire organization, which would extend to the above players who at some point or another last year we grew to really love watching.

That being said, I think there is room for 2nd team fandom. I know that not every sports fan believes in this, but personally I always find room for 2nd teams, especially when Philly teams are out of it. That is not to say it can or has to take anything away from one’s Flyers fandom, but supporting an additional team, especially one like Tampa Bay (though the cities have had pretty interesting relationships in sports this past decade) where there aren’t any harsh feelings, isn’t out of bounds. The Hurricanes were my 2nd team in the Eastern Conference for the past decade or so (Brindy FTW!), and now that team is Tampa Bay. It does not take away from my Flyers support, it does not take away from reveling in the Flyers achievements past and present and future, it does not take away the pain of being so close in 2004, but it gives me another team to be happy for when they succeed. And I truly believe this Tampa team will be a force to be reckoned with this coming season.

Leonard Weaver Can Sing

This video may be 3 weeks old, but for some reason, Leonard Weaver just drew attention to it now on his Twitter account today. If you want to know more about Leonard Weaver, such as what he is eating for dinner on a partuclar night or when he stops at Wawa to pick up a tuna hoagie, you can follow Leonard Weaver on Twitter, though it should be known as Church Van's Personal Diary Of His Miscellaneous Daily Activities.

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 9

Part 9: Where It Seems Like This Fog Won't Be So Bad After All....At Least Until It Gets So Much Worse That Sideline Cameras Must Be Used To See The Game

Simon Gagne Traded

Coming into today, Simon Gagne had the distinction of being the longest current tenured athlete in Philadelphia sports. That distinction currently belongs to Philadelphia Eagles kicker David Akers. An era has officially come to an end today with the announcement that the Philadelphia Flyers had traded Simon Gagne. The return is not exactly one that we should be jumping up and down about, though it is one we all could have and should have expected. For Simon Gagne, the Flyers received from Tampa Bay defender Mike Walker (and his $1.7M cap hit) and a 4th round draft pick. Yep. That's it. Why? Were you expecting something else? Bernier? Quick? Simmonds? Some other young stud?

To expect that at the start of the off-season the Flyers would be in line for one of the above players was certainly not unreasonable. The Flyers had some cap room, they had Mike Rathje FINALLY coming off the books after spending most of his time in Philadephia on long-term injury reserve, and let's face it, they had money to play with. But let's see where all of that went.

Overpaying Andrej Meszaros.
Overpaying Braydon Coburn.
Overpaying Jody Shelley.
Signing Nikolai Zherdev.

The signing of Zherdev was a good signing and not an overpay, but the timing of it was terrible and the signing is only good in a vaccum, something I will examine a little later. Paul Holmgren managed to create a situation where he had absolutely zero leverage and traded away the face of a franchise, a phenomenal 2-way forward, and a great guy off the ice for a hill of beans. That is not an indictment on what Homer did today, but the position he put himself in where he was literally backed into a salary cap corner and got out of it by bullying Simon Gagne into giving in into waiving his no-trade clause. The return is a complete joke. In addition to the draft pick, they managed to come up with their 8th defenseman. Matt Walker now joins Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Sean O'Donnell, and Oskars Bartulis. Homer now has 2 more D-men than the number that regularly appear in games. Now I understand the concept of keeping a 7th defender, but Homer has once again create himself another unnecessary hole in who is he going to cut? Carle? The recently signed O'Donnell? Bartulis? It is a never ending chain of stupidity and self-made holes. The Flyers and Homer had 10 million dollars to re-sign Carcillo and Powe, get a 3rd line winger, upgrade the 5th and 6th defenseman spot, and get a goalie. Let's analyze what Homer did and how this mess could have been avoided.

He needed a 3rd line winger: He massively overpaid Jody Shelley at 1.1M per year for 3 years and in addition signed Zherdev for 2M.
Upgrade the defense: He traded a 2nd round draft pick for Andrej Meszaros with a huge $4 million cap hit (when perhaps better free agent options were settling for that much or less), signed gritty veteran Sean O'Donnell, and re-signed Braydon Coburn at an expensive price.
Goalie: Re-signed Michael Leighton for 2 years at $1.55MM per year when better and cheaper options were going for less than Leighton (I am looking at you, Ellis and Mason).

Of these moves, the ones that stick out as the huge missteps are trading for a 2nd round draft pick for a 5th defender with a $4M cap hit when cheaper (and even better options) were available, signing Jody Shelley to a $1.1M cap hit (for my Shelley vs. Carcillo breakdown, see here), signing Zherdev when Homer did, and signing Michael Leigthon at a $1.55M cap hit when options like Ellis and Mason are better and were going for cheaper amounts.

The Flyers have young talent that will be a year older and (hopefully) a year better come this coming season (Giroux, JVR, Leino, etc.). Skill-wise, the 5th-6th defense pairing (however grossly overpaid Meszaros is) is improved from the disaster that was Krajicek/Parent. Nikolai Zherdev may be a bit of a head case, but his offensive potential is great, though his defense is a huge question mark. Are the Flyers a better now than they were in June during the Stanley Cup Finals? It is not a clear cut answer. Maybe they are, maybe they are not. Their goaltending (as always) is a major weakness. Chris Pronger may be great, but he can't cover Leighton's 5-hole, nor can he be a GM with a fucking clue on how to handle the NHL's salary cap. The Flyers paid the price for Homer's miscalculations when Gagne was traded. Everyone saw it coming, but it all could have been avoided.

We will never forget you, Simon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Someone Tell Jon Miller The Puppet In This Disturbing Photo Is Not Bert Or Ernie

(Hat tip to the Twitter account of Jayson Werth's Beard)

Dwayne Wade Puts Things In The Right Perspective

It certainly appears as if landing LeBron and Chris Bosh in Miami has gotten to Dwayne Wade's head a bit. Now I can understand why he would be happy to have played a big part in forming a super team in the town where he is loved in Miami, but sometimes it is best not to let said expectations get the best of us. And I think that is exactly what has happened to Dwayne Wade. How else can you explain the following quote? From NBA Fanhouse
"We're going to be wearing a bullseye,'' Wade said. "But that's what you play for. If we lose a couple in a row this season, it will be like the World Trade (Center) is coming down again. When the schedule comes out, people will be looking for the Lakers and Heat, to see when they play us. I feel like I'm a new player in Miami. That's how excited I am.''
Dwayne could be referring to one of 2 things.

1. If the Heat do that ever so unthinkable deed of losing 2 games in a row this season, the media will quickly turn against the team and write about them as though they were the collapsing World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In which case, Dwayne Wade is an idiot. The media will do one of three things if the Heat lose 2 in a row this upcoming season. a). Make excuses and blame poor officiating and/or the other teams getting all the fouls (though with the NBA so determined to give LeBron, it would likely be a BS excuse, but regardless, it is an excuse the media would make), b). Criticize the team (which, believe it or not, can happen without drastic comparisons to world changing events), or c). State the team is crumbling just like the levees in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

2. If the Heat do that ever so unthinkable deed of losing 2 games in a row this season, Dwayne Wade will personally take it like the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. In which case, this whole Wade/Bosh/LeBron thing has caused Dwayne Wade to suffer from delusions of grandeur and is the biggest idiot in basketball.

Update: Nice one Fanhouse. You misquoted Dwayne Wade. Here is what he really said.
"We're going to be wearing a bullseye. But that's what you play for," Wade said. "We enjoy the bullseye. Plus, there's going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it's not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games.
Yep. Nothing to see here. Carry on.

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 7

Part 7: Where The Painful Memories Of Listening To Billy Packer Are Invoked

6ABC Sets The Record For Most Middle Fingers Seen In One Shot During A Soccer Match

I am guessing that some Toronto FC fans were acting up or doing some provocative things as those middle fingers are not directed toward the field of play.

And while the TFC fans may have been living and successfully getting on the nerves of the least impressive crowd at PPL Park to date after TFC tied it up late in the game, the Union fans would be the ones with the last laugh after the Union were rewarded a penalty kick in stoppage time for a TFC handball in the box. Sebastian Le Toux proceeded to show Asamoah Gyan how it is done and the Union came away with a 2-1 victory.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Philadelphia Union Vs. Toronto FC Live Blog

The Philadelphia Union look to climb out of last place with a huge victory against a Toronto FC squad surprisingly in 3rd place. Despite their last place status, the Union have played very well at PPL Park, going 1-1 this year with the lone loss being a tough one where they thoroughly outplayed the San Jose Earthquakes. The Union have the momentum though as they are coming up a 1-0 win over Celtic FC in an international friendly earlier this week.

Live blog after the jump!

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 6

Part 6: Where The Eagles Squander Yet Another Opportunity To Score A Touchdown In The Sunny Sky Portion Of The Game

Friday, July 16, 2010

Old School Live Blog: Phillies @ Cubs

It is a Friday afternoon, the Phillies are on, and I have nothing to do, so I figured why not put up an old-school AA-style live blog. The game is starting at 2:20 ET and can be locally on CSN Philly and CSN Chicago. For those out of market, you can take advantage of MLB Extra Innings' Free Preview week. I don't know about other cable outlets that carry it, but it should be 721 (CSN Philly feed) and 722 (CSN Chicago feeed) on DirecTV.

Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.41) and Ted Lilly (3-8, 4.08) are the starting pitchers. Translation: This game could set the season high for most runs scored in a game.

Good news for the Phillies: Chase Utley has had the cast removed from his thumb and should be able to resume baseball activities in 3 weeks. Placido Polanco can return to the Phillies as early as tomorrow or Sunday.

Live blog after the jump!

Soneone At ESPN Was Lacking A Brain Last Night

(Hat tip to Meech on Twitter)

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 5

Part 5: Where Figuring Out Whether Or Not The Ball Is Across The Marker For A First Down Is A Difficult Challenge

Thursday, July 15, 2010

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 4

Part 4: Where Terry Bradshaw Explains That 27 Is Greater Than 19

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 3

Part 3: Where Anthony Toney Costs The Eagles Big Time In The Chicago Sunlight

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Omaha Nighthawks Of The UFL Will Be Fielding A One Man Team This Season

I can see it now. Ahman Green. The UFL's foremost quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive guard, offensive tackle, defensive end, defensive tackle, linebacker, cornerback, safety, punter, AND kicker! Can you say Omaha Nighthawk championship?

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 2

Part 2: Where A Touchdown Is Scored In Broad Daylight

Monday, July 12, 2010

The New NCAA Tournament Format Has Been Unveiled

The final four at-large teams and final four automatic qualifiers in the newly minted 68-team NCAA men's basketball tournament field will meet for the right to enter the traditional 64-team draw, tournament selection committee chairman Dan Guerrero announced Monday.

The "First Four" will be played either the Tuesday or Wednesday after Selection Sunday. The winners of the four games will advance to what will now be called the "second round" on either Thursday or Friday. The newly named third round -- with 16 games -- will be Saturday and Sunday. The rest of the tournament -- regional semifinals (Sweet 16) and regional finals (Elite Eight) -- will remain as they have been, as will the Final Four, which is set for Houston in 2011.

The games will be televised on TruTv (formerly CourtTV), which is available in 93 million homes, said NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen, who manages the NCAA tournament. CBS, Turner, TBS and TruTV are in their first year of a $10.8 billion, 14-year television agreement. ESPN had carried the tournament's opening-round game in previous years.

Dayton, which had been the host site for the opening-round game, is the likely destination for the games but there could be other sites looked at for future First Four games beyond 2011, Guerrero said. When the winners would play in the second round is still to be determined but one aspect is certain: If teams meet on Tuesday they would feed into a Thursday format, and the Wednesday winners would play on Friday if the First Four is split into two days.

This is the first time the last four at-large teams will be revealed publicly. Traditionally, the at-large teams are scattered throughout the seeding process, rarely going past No. 12, making it relatively easy to identify them. Yet the committee now will formally announce the last at-large teams by putting them in the first round.

Guerrero and Shaheen said the last four at-large teams would be put on the seed line the committee decided they earned. So, this could mean that two could be considered No. 12 seeds playing for the right to play a No. 5 and two could be No. 11s vying to play a No. 6 in the second round.

In its news release, the NCAA listed the 10th seed as a possible destination for the last at-large teams, something that has occurred in past years. It is unlikely that the committee will have one team seeded 10th, 11th or 12th to avoid having teams seeded differently playing in a First Four game.

"The teams selected for these games will be like teams," Guerrero said. "We felt if we were going to expand the field it would create better drama for the tournament if the First Four was much more exciting. They could all be on the 10 line or the 12 line or the 11 line. We won't know until the seeding takes place and the principles and procedures are used and the teams are slotted appropriately."

Shaheen said the process will follow the same model used to select the previous 34 at-large teams, with the number now 37. Committee members go through a series of ballots, moving teams into the field and eliminating others by voting privately on a computer to determine the last at-large teams. The seeding and bracketing takes place once the teams have been selected to the field of 68.

Guerrero and Shaheen said they don't anticipate a problem in accommodating the principles and procedures of bracketing, such as repeating regular-season matchups in the second round (formerly the first round) or pitting teams from the same conference earlier than a regional semifinal.

The bracket on Selection Sunday will have both teams listed for the same seed line, just like it has for the two teams playing in the opening-round game between Nos. 64 and 65 since that game's creation in 2001.

The 10-member committee spent the last two months debating how to format the larger field. The committee decided in April to increase the field from 65 to 68 with three more additional at-large teams (going from 34 to 37) at the same time it announced it had agreed on a new television contract.

Other options discussed during the committee's meeting in Chicago the last week of June were: the last eight automatic qualifiers -- the Nos. 16 and 17 seeds -- playing against each other for the right to be the 16th seeds; and making the last eight at-large teams playing for specific seed lines. The compromise was this hybrid model which Guerrero said evolved out of many discussions with committee members and among the NCAA Division I membership.

"There was no consensus," Guerrero said. "We selected a format that will break new ground. We're excited about the concept of the First Four. We think we've added value to the tournament."

The NCAA made clear it's not interested in hearing complaints from high-profile conference teams that have to play in the First Four.

"Three of the four teams that would be in these games [the two First Four games involving at-large teams] wouldn't have been in the tournament in 2010," Shaheen said. "The fact is they weren't in the tournament before."

Shaheen said the First Four should be a natural bridge from Selection Sunday to the second round of the tournament. He said the opening-round game was the only presence of the sport in years past between Selection Sunday and Thursday's first round.

Guerrero said there would be no limit as to the number of times a conference participates in one of the First Four games. Previously, the opening-round matched the two lowest-rated automatic qualifiers. That standard will still apply for the game between the last two automatic qualifiers for two of the No. 16 seeds.
Looks good to me. The NCAA could have bored us to tears by making this First Four round all about the final 8 automatic bids featuring 15 and 16 seeds, but instead, it looks like they are making this interesting. I am not sure I am completely thrilled about calling what was once the first round the "second round" and the second round the "third round," but if that is the price for not having a tournament expanded to 96 teams, it is a price I am glad to play.

So You Wanna Watch The Fog Bowl?: Part 1

The World Cup has just ended, you are all experiencing a football hangover right now as we speak. The good news is: I have found a remedy. Over the next 2 and a half weeks, you will be able to watch the infamous 1988 Fog Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears right here! The YouTube poster who set this up as this game split up into 17-parts, each of which are 10 minutes long. In order for the sake of easiness and because you all have lives outside of watching the Fog Bowl for a day, I will be posting one video a day. If you want to jump ahead, there is nothing preventing you from clicking the poster's YouTube Channel and doing so, but in order to draw this out and not overwhelm you at once, I am sticking to one a day here.

To start things off, here is Part 1: Where 2 Young CBS Announcers Who Sound Eerily Like Verne Lundquist And Terry Bradshaw Compliment Chicago's Gorgeous Weather

Saturday, July 10, 2010

On The South African Fans At The 2010 FIFA World Cup

I should preface this by saying that every sports town, and in this case, country, may have their own unique traditions and ways of voicing their pleasure/displeasure, but unless what the South Africans have displayed over the past month is exact opposite of what we are accustomed too, they should be ashamed of themselves. They have, in fact, embarrassed their country.

I could pinpoint several examples from what I have seen, but I am going to focus on three things, for simplicity's sake. They are also listed in order from least offensive to most offensive.

1. This is more of a nit-pick than anything else, but it seemed like attendance could have been better at some of the games. Granted South Africa is a mainly poor country and these World Cup tickets have to be quite expensive, but I still expected to see better than some half-empty stadiums. Granted not every game is an eye-catching thriller, but one would think that Slovakia and Paraguay could at least draw better than 28,043 fans. Just because it is Slovakia and Paraguay, does not mean it is any less important of a game or it should be ignored just because those 2 teams don't play the most eye-catching soccer in the world. Most games drew well, but for others like Slovakia and Paraguay playing in a barely 2/3 full Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, it was frustrating to watch. This is the freakin' World Cup. Any match should draw better than that.

2. South Africans are fair weather quitters. Like it or not, when Bafana Bafana were not doing well at all, most notably in their affair against Uruguay, the fans embarrassed themselves by the thousands by leaving the game in the 85th minute when it was only 2-0 Uruguay. This is the World Cup and even though South Africa was not playing their best soccer that night in Pretoria, that team still deserved better than to see their fans by the shitload walk out on them in a game that was not yet fully out of reach. It's not like it was a 7-0 stomping. 2 goals is manageable in the period of 5 minutes plus, especially if you get the first one right away. It may not happen often, but it can happen. Maybe I am in the minority here, but I was quite disgusted that so many fans would walk out on their home team in the midst of a World Cup game that they were not yet fully out of. Have some faith for goodness sakes. Believe in miracles. Don't just tuck your tails in and walk away like most American fair-weather fans would have done in that situation. Not for nothing, but in other games involving African teams on the losing side of the game toward the end, I noticed the fans leaving those games early as well. This is bad, but the worst came today in the 3rd place game.

3. "Africans booing Suarez shows complete lack of understanding of the game"


Those were the words Ian Darke used to describe the fans' treatment of Luis Suarez in this game. And quite frankly, he has never been more right in this World Cup. We all know what Luis Suarez did in the semifinal against Ghana, but the fact of the matter is he should not be vilified the way he has been wrongly vilified on that continent. Whether it was instinctual or not, only Luis Suarez knows for sure what he was thinking during that controversial moment, but the fact of the matter is he only did what just about any other professional soccer player would have done in that situation. He could not reach it with his head so he used any means necessary to prevent the ball from going in. Luis Suarez was rightly punished for that act with a red card and a penalty kick was rightly awarded to Ghana. Suarez is a complete after thought if that shot goes in. How on earth should Suarez be booed for Gyan's ineptness? But that did not even end the game. No, it went to PKs. How should Suarez be blamed for Mensah taking the worst run up to a penalty kick the World Cup has ever seen? How should Suarez be blamed for Richard Kingson guessing too soon and helplessly watching as Sebastian Abreu kicked the cheekiest penalty right down the middle to win the game for Uruguay? How is that Suarez's fault? Oh, but "he cheated." NO! Cheating is what you do when you get away with it. Suarez was given the appropriate punishment. Ghana was given the appropriate reward. Gyan choked. Mensah choked. Kingson choked. Ghana choked. Somebody tell me how that is Suarez's fault? Guess what, you can't. Because it's not. Suarez may have saved a goal by doing what any other professional would have done in the same scenario, but Ghana had every chance in the world to win it afterward. And they choked.

But the silliness of the booing does not even end there. Let's step back for a moment and journey into the Land Of What Ifs. What if this whole mess was completely reversed. Uruguay got the last free kick of extra time. Gyan's handball off the line prevented a winning goal for Uruguay. Diego Forlan inexplicably missed the subsequent penalty. Ghana won the game in extra time. Then what? Asamoah Gyan would be a hero all across Africa, that's what. Because guess what, he would have done it by doing what every other professional would have done in the same situation. He would have been properly punished for it. Uruguay would have been properly rewarded for it. And Ghana would have won it anyway. And the continent would celebrate Gyan like he was Nelson Mandela himself. It would have been because of him that Africa would have seen it's 1st ever World Cup semifinalist. And no African would have denied him his glory.

And the African fan idiocy in this situation does not even end THERE. Let's trace our steps back to the Ghanaian Round of 16 game against the United States. Let's re-visit extra time shall we, and all the events that happened after Asamoah Gyan's goal. Players laid on the ground much longer than they needed to, one guy even started to get up before embarrassingly going back down to lie on his back for another 2 minutes, Milovan Rajevac used a substitution to stall for time by bringing out the guy farthest from the Ghanaian bench who proceeded to stall even more by taking a leisurely walk to the bench rather than the much more traditional and sportsman like job. Now am I complaining about this, no. I understand it is part of the game, however cowardly it may be. But what African fans should understand is that they are essentially accusing Luis Suarez as an underhanded cheat when in the last round, they themselves were employing similar tactics! And for those of you who think I am barking mad for my above scenario in which Gyan would be a hero for the handball off the line, guess what, Ghana was met with nothing but love and support in South Africa after they "cheated" to beat the United States. But because the shoe is on the other foot, Luis Suarez is labeled the devil. It is, as Ian Darke said, disgraceful, embarrassing, and it completely illustrates a lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of these fans. And it's not that they booed Suarez once and that was it. They were booing him the whole damn match in Port Elizabeth! Suarez touch in the 3rd minute...BOO! Suarez touch in the 27th minute....BOO! Suarez touch in the 65th minute....BOO! Suarez touch in the 77th minute...BOO! If I did not know any better, I would have thought that Montreal Canadien fans had invaded the World Cup. Yes, it was that hypocritical. Yes, it was that embarrassing. Yes, it was that disgraceful.

When the moment first happened that fateful night in Johannesburg, I felt bad for Ghana. I was putting their tactics in the Round of 16 game behind me and hoping they would make African history. Looking back, I no longer feel remorse for them and that incident. The fans showed their true colors in that 3rd place game. And they were not the best colors South Africa has shown.


World Cup Finals Prediction: Because I correctly predicted the scoreline of the Germany-Uruguay game on Twitter, I figured to put myself out there on the blog this time and predict a 1-0 win for Spain in the championship on Sunday. You heard it here first.

Radio Announcer Scott Franzke Calls The Phillies Remarkable Comeback

Mike Leake hit an RBI single in the Top of the 9th inning to expand the Reds lead to 7-1 over the Phillies. At that stage, the Cincinnati Reds had a win probability of 99.7%. The Cincinnati Reds did not win the game last night. The Philadelphia Phillies had a 6-run 9th inning and a walkoff 2-run shot by Ryan Howard in the bottom of the 10th after Ryan Madson (finally back with the Phils after kicking a metal chair in San Francisco in April!). Of those 6 runs in the 9th, 5 of those were scored via homerun. Greg Dobbs (or some imposter wearing a Greg Dobbs jersey, the latter being the most likely possibility) hit a 3-run homerun to draw the game to 7-5 (Phillies got a small ball run earlier in the inning to make it 7-2). After a walk and a Brian Schneider fly out, Cody Ransom stepped to the plate with 2 down in the bottom of the 9th. The next thing anyone knew, the game was tied. Cody Ransom launched a 2-run bomb. From there on out, Howard's walkoff winner was academic. Given the fact that MLB are nasty with taking down videos, watch this while it lasts. Here is Phillies radio announcer Scott Franzke calling the 3 home runs last night.

Friday, July 9, 2010

ESPN Uses LeBron James Coverage To Take A Cheap Shot At Philadelphia Sports Fans

As if you needed another reason to hate ESPN, right? Sometime during the LeBron-a-thon, ESPN aired a video package which took a not-so-veiled cheap shot at Philadelphia fans. Not only do they cross sports for the cheap shot, but display an utter ignorance of Philadelphia sports culture. Check it out for yourself. (Hat tip to The 700 Level on Twitter

"It's the reason they never turned on him, unlike other cities who turned on their sports stars." - ESPN voiceover lady while showing a picture of McNabb.

I will say this simply, I will be direct, and I won't mince words. If you want to mistake a vocal minority of Philadelphia fans displaying their passion by booing sports stars who are paid lots of money to meet expectations and subsequently fail to meet them as an entire city turning on a player, then quite simply, you can go fuck yourself.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dan Gilbert Is The Greatest (Or Most Foolhardy) Owner Ever

As if this whole LeBron James circus could not get any crazier, this popped up tonight. In case you have been living under a rock, LeBron James said he was going to South Beach (someone tell him South Beach is not Miami) tonight to play with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, and in the process, and unnecessarily took a complete shit on his hometown and fans who supported him diehard through thick and thin on national television on a show so full of awfulness that it needed to be seen to be believed. But it only took a few hours for the Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to respond to LeBron James leaving. From the Cavs official website.
Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that's simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown "chosen one" sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And "who" we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called "curse" on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former "King" will be taking the "curse" with him down south. And until he does "right" by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day....

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue....

Dan Gilbert
Majority Owner
Cleveland Cavaliers
If my city was cursed like Cleveland and one of the biggest sports stars just took that dump on you on national television, yeah, I think I might do the same thing as an owner of the team. It shows the fans that you still have a passion, will propel forward without LeBron and will try to win a championship without him, regardless. And even if he can't, at least he can successfully create delusions that the team will be successful in order to save some of the surely falling ticket sales now in Cleveland.

Broadcast Information For The World Cup Finals This Sunday On ABC

From an ESPN press release.
ABC will provide live coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final Sunday, July 11, from Soccer City in Johannesburg. The one-hour pre-match show starts at 1:30 p.m. ET. Martin Tyler and Efan Ekoku will call the title match.

John Harkes and Ian Darke will work the 3rd place match between Uruguay and Germany on Saturday, July 10, in Port Elizabeth. The match will be broadcast on ABC with coverage starting at 2 p.m. In addition to ESPN’s roster of studio hosts and analysts, Harkes will join Bob Ley at Soccer City for pre-match, halftime and post-match analysis.
I hope you all like John Harkes!

On a more serious note, hopefully this 3rd place game will not be the last time that we hear Ian Darke on ESPN and American television. Whether they bring him in to call MLS, the upcoming Euros, or a future World Cup, he needs to be heard in the States again. He has been the best announcer of this World Cup by miles (and to think this is in the same category as Martin Tyler), and has been a complete joy to listen to.

I'll have a more elaborate preview post up sometime before the match starts.

Happy LeBron James Day!

Oh boy will this be a fun day!

People will speculate all day long and search for hidden clues that are not there and so on and so forth. It seems like the 4 options are New Jersey, Miami, Chicago, New York, and Cleveland. Eliminate New Jersey, Miami, and Chicago who at this point are seen by most as real outsiders, and you are left with New York and Chicago. Tonight at 9 PM, LeBron James will speak at a live press conference to be televised by ESPN. The world will stand still as LeBron James makes his announcement. Everyone wants to know who will be NBA champions in 2011 where LeBron James will play basketball next year.

Personally, I can't recall any player being so self-aggrandizing as to put such a decision on national television. Furthermore, this is not a one-way thing. Has a deal been agreed to? If so, how has someone not leaked this information? If not, then how can LeBron be so sure that His Decision will be final? Is it a secret agreement? Does LeBron just assume that the name of the team he says on ESPN tonight will be the team that caters to his every whim in the contract signing room? But for the sake of not complicating this and giving everyone a headache, let's assume that LeBron James and his agent have, at the very least, a verbal agreement in place with some team that miraculously has not been leaked over the internet.

LeBron James is making this national TV announcement in Greenwich, Connecticut, a city that is 30-some miles away from New York City. Which to me points to one thing and one thing only: LeBron is staying in Cleveland. LeBron is an attention loving, media whore. These are probably the best days of his lives. Yes, LeBron is an attention loving media whore, but a person who would go on National Television and essentially tell the part of the country he grew up in and spent virtually all of his life "you are not good enough for me anymore," is something that I just don't see happening.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yep, It Is Time For This Guy To Be A Full Time Phillie

Send Ibanez to the bench. Trade Werth for prospects. Put Victorino on the DL for his shoulder injury which still seems to be bothering him from a Spring Training injury. I don't care. But the fact of the matter is this team needs a change. The bullpen needs work, yes, but at this point, change and an injection of youth are what the Phillies need. The status quo can no longer satisfy. Domonic Brown dominated in Double A Reading, got promoted to Triple A Lehigh a couple weeks ago, and got at least 1 hit in every game he has been there except today. That streak may have been broken, but he made up for it by making an awesome home run saving catch. Come on Ruben. Unleash the #1 rated prospect in baseball today.

The future is now.

Halfway Through This Season, Are The 2010 Phillies Destined For Failure?

The Philadelphia Phillies may have the same record now as they did at the midway point of the 2008 season AND the 2009 season, but let's get one thing perfectly straight, the 2010 Phillies as they are now would not last 5 seconds in the playoffs. Injuries have hit the Phillies harder this year than at this point in the past 2 years combined in terms of number of games missed thus far (that's not hyperbole, that is a fact). But is that the real reason why they are the 2009 New York Mets of 2010? It is hard to say for sure. Their 43-39 record is the same record they had at this point in their past 2 NL championship seasons. But now they are in 3rd place and 4 games out of 1st place, as opposed to in 1st place, something that record was good enough for last year in the NL East.

So what has changed? Well, for starters, the competition has improved. Now how long the Braves can last with Troy Glaus as their clean-up hitter remains to be seen, but the Braves boast an excellent and deep pitching staff that can keep even their offense in games. And the Mets....well, as much as luck has factored into their equation (just ask Mike Pelfrey), they are not fielding their Double A squad as their major league squad right now. Epic win for them! Only time will tell if these teams keep it up, but barring a major choke or collapse, you can't deny they are ahead of the Phillies, both in terms of current record and outlook for the immediate future.

But it should not be about the competition. Even if the Braves and the Mets are better, they certainly are not great. And after all, the Phillies are supposed to be great, right? So what's the matter here? Why are have the Phillies fallen off the radar?

Injuries will certainly be a scapegoat and is certainly a contributing factor, but it is not the million dollar answer. The million dollar answer is Ruben Amaro, the bullpen, and Charlie Manuel.

Even if they are not having the world's greatest year, the Phillies offense has the talent to compete with any team against any pitcher. I am not that worried about the offense. As much as I have been against such a move all year long, Domonic Brown has dominated Triple A like none other. He was a beast in Spring Training and has been amazing all year in the Minors. Keith Law has him rated as the #1 prospect in all of baseball. Maybe sending Raul Ibanez to the bench and calling up Brown to be the starting left-fielder may not be the worst thing in the world. As Dash Treyhorn explained to me on Twitter, "He can help the team now. What is an extra month or so in AAA going to do?" What I am worried about is the Phillies bullpen, Charlie Manuel's ignorance in terms of handling his pitching staff, and Ruben Amaro's refusal to rectify the real problem this team has.

When Jose Contreras is your best reliever, you know that you have bullpen problems. Brad Lidge is as inconsistent as the day is long and Ryan Madson is too big of a crybaby to shrug a few bad outings off. Instead, he kicked a chair in San Francisco, broke his toe kicking the chair, and still has not returned to the Phillies. You can blame injuries all you want, but when one of your top relievers (provided he is not pitching the 9th inning) injuries himself for nearly 3 months, you have no one to blame but yourself. It was immature, irresponsible, and downright stupid. Surely one has to know that an inherent risk of kicking a metal chair is the metal chair getting the better of your body.

When Danys Baez is signed by your team, you know you have an incompetent general manager. As blasphemy as it may seem to the ignorant Phillies fan, (and if you think this is blasphemous, wait until I blast a World Series winning manager later on in this piece), Ruben Amaro has not done a good job taking over as the Phillies manager after Pat Gillick retired in 2008. Like he is approaching Ed Wade levels of awfulness. The problem with the Phillies is their inability to close out games. Their bullpen is awful. I've covered that. We know that. It's a fact. Yet, for some strange reason, Ruben Amaro's primary focus this trade deadline is to focus on STARTING pitching. Starting pitching is the furthest thing from this team's problem. I don't fault Ruben Amaro for trading Cliff Lee. Heck, I think the Halladay-Lee fiasco is one of the better things he has done this year, with his only slip-up being trading Lee too soon and trying to squeeze some more, if not better, prospects out of Seattle or any other AL team that could not hurt the Phillies this year. I won't be upset if the Phillies bring in Dan Haren at the right price (oh boy, is that key; if Ruben Amaro ever thinks for a second he is going to trade Domonic Brown for a starting pitcher this summer, he should be banned from standing within a 500 mile radius of the city), but starting pitching is not the problem. Another ace would be a nice luxury, but improving the bullpen is a necessity if this team is going to compete. Just look at 2008. The Phillies did not lose a 9th inning lead all season long. In 2009, their lack of ability to hold onto leads cost them the World Series. In 2010 and at this rate, their lack of ability to close out leads is going to cost them a spot in the playoffs.

But there is another problem. And he comes in the form of a World Series winning manager named Charlie Manuel. Let's face facts. The only thing Charlie Manuel knows about pitching is how to hit it. In the finale against the Pittsburgh series, he left Joe Blanton in the game an inning too long and they ended up blowing a lead. Was fear of the horrid bullpen part of that decisio? I am sure. But you have to know your starters. Joe Blanton is not the type to go very long into games, regardless of how many pitches he has thrown. It was a disaster just waiting to happen. Last night, I was there at Citizens Bank Park sweating it out in the ever-dreadful 9:00 PM 95 degree heat as Charlie Manuel had Cole Hamels pitch the 7th inning after he threw 100 pitches in the game's 6 previous innings. Cole Hamels was 1 strike away from getting out of the inning until Matt Diaz launched one to give the Braves a then 3-2 lead (the Phillies would ultimately tie it in the bottom of the 7th, only to lose 6-3 in 11; for those deeply wondering, the heat and the return of the loud, obnoxious drunks who were only there to, well, drink, caused us to leave after the 7th inning). To make this whole thing worse, instead of pulling him, Charlie Manuel let Cole Hamels lead off the bottom of the 6th inning. Words can't describe how stupid a managerial decision that was, even if it meant turning to a lousy bullpen. At least they would have pitched the 7th not having thrown 100 pitches in record heat.

Now calling for Charlie Manuel to be fired would be a hopeless call of futility. This is MLB, where managers are not often fired. He won a World Series in 2008. A change is very unlikely in the near future. But I will say this, if Charlie does not get a clue in how to deal with his starting pitchers, and if Ruben Amaro does not get a clue that the real problem with this Phillies team is the bullpen, then I will guarantee you that the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies will not make the playoffs.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Very Quick Semifinal Predictions

My poor life decision of buying FIFA World Cup South Africa for my PS3 has resulted in an unhealthy addiction to a video game I have not experienced in quite a few years. As a result of said addiction, I really did not have time to fully predict the games like I had hoped to. Regardless, I know you all want to be spoiled as to who will play for the World Championship, so I will tell you what the results will be.

Netherlands 2, Uruguay 1: A Suarez-less Uruguay will spell their doom. Diego Forlan will be able to muster 1 goal and the Uruguayan defense (consisting of Philadelphia's favorite soccer player, the Flyin' Uruguayan Mauricio Victorino) will hold the Dutch in check for the most part, but a break through from Robben and a goal from Dirk Kuyt will be enough to send the Netherlands to the World Cup Finals for the first time since 1978. Click here for a Uruguay-Netherlands live blog

Germany 3, Spain 1: Germany may be without Thomas Muller, but this is one of the most dangerous and exciting counter-attacking teams I have seen in the past 2 World Cups. They are down right nasty and despite his lack of production in club play, Miroslav Klose is a deadly striker when he puts on the German kit. The Germans may be without Muller, but as far as Spain goes, nothing I have seen from them has impressed me that much. They are a passing team and they have done that well, but defensively they have had lapses that their past 2 opponents failed to capitalize on and offensively, the only player that can score is David Villa. The German back line is their weakest point and incredibly they have conceded more shots in their past 2 blowout wins than they actually put on themselves, but they have been good enough to get the job done. And with only 1 of Spain's offensive threats showing up for this World Cup, there is a good chance Germany will be good enough to contain Spain while once again unleashing their deadly counter attack. Villa gets a 6th goal in 2010, but Klose will surpass Ronaldo and Ozil will bury the dagger late in the game to send Germany to the finals to give us a Dutch vs. Deutsch final.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Have A Safe And Wonderful Fourth Of July Halladay!

Have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July, but most of all, don't be like TBS. Don't do anything stupid.

(Hat tip to The Fightins for the photo)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Your Philadelphia "What The Fuck" Moment Du Jour?

How? Why? The Flyers have practically no cap room, and in order to make room, they would have to likely trade Gagne and Carter just to clear cap space. The problem with this is Gagne and Carter can play defense. Granted Kovalchuk can skate through a defense like no one else out there, but he is terrible defensively. He is an asset just as much as he is a liability and for the Flyers to trade away 2 very solid 2-way forwards for just to clear the cap space to sign Ilya Kovalchuk would be absolute madness. This is a guy who wants mega millions over mega years. Just last night it was reported the Islanders would be willing to give sign him for 10 years at 10 million dollars per year. One. Hundred. Million. Dollars. That is the money Kovalchuk commands. Why would the Flyers want to do this? Why? Why? Why?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Biggest Choke In World Cup Sports History?

As an American, I must admit, I got an odd sense of schadenfreude in what just happened in Johannesburg, even though I was admittedly rooting for Ghana. The team that knocked the United States out on an unfairly given penalty in 2006 the team that knocked the United States out in 2010 in extra time after pulling every little cheap, cowardly trick in the book (that's not to say that other teams wouldn't have done it, but as a U.S. fan, it was incredibly irritating to watch), just got the world's harshest comeuppance in an ending that no one will ever forget.

Literally at the end of extra time, Ghana was awarded a free kick that resulted in a chance that was cleared off the line. The rebound went to a Ghanaian player who would have surely had a goal had it not been for a Luis Suarez handball on the line. The referee red-carded Suarez and awarded Ghana the penalty. Gyan, who had made 2 penalties already in this World Cup, stepped up to take this one. The last kick of the game. The one that would finally send an African team to the semifinals of the World Cup.........


Uruguay won the penalty shootout, 4-2. Uruguay is going to Cape Town to meet the Netherlands in the semifinals of the World Cup.

It may be soccer and it may not be grained in the American fiber as sports such as baseball and American football are, but being this happened in the quarterfinals of the biggest sporting event in the world, surely it has to be one of the biggest chokes in the history of sports, does it not? Missing a PK in the dying seconds of extra time to send the game to a PK shootout which you go on to lose? Simply one of the most stunning moments you will ever see in sports.

(Hat tip to the front page for the screenshot).

Diego Maradona: Soccer Legend, Argentina Coach, Cigar Smoker

What could possibly be better than Diego Maradona coaching Argentina? Diego Maradona smoking a cigar during a recent training session with Argentina!

It's not everyday that you can make smoking a cigar look hip, but I think Diego somehow managed to pull it off.

Argentina plays Germany tomorrow at 9:30 AM ET on ABC. Germany will no doubt be Argentina's toughest test to date, but with the power of Diego Maradona and His Cigar, Argentina might just be able to get Sergio Romero and that Argentina back line to play the game of their lives and pull off the win and advance to the semifinals to meet the winner of the Paraguay-Spain snoozefest.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Recapping A Big Day In FlyerLand: Defensive Upgrades, Offensive Regressions, And A Murdered Salary Cap

Seeing as the Flyers made 50 bajillion moves today and I am too lazy to link specific articles, I will just encourage you all to check out Broad Street Hockey, as all the Flyers moves and rumors have been documented and appropriately cited in both the articles and the 2,000 comment discussion threads.

The Flyers started the day by making sure they had the best defense in the NHL. And to a man, I think they may have accomplished exactly that, even if they spent a bit more than most would have liked them to in getting there. They traded a 2012 2nd round draft pick for Andrej Meszaros. Meszaros is a big-bodied guy who per some has some turnover problems. The good thing is that he is 24 and I see no flaws that are uncorrectable. Originally, it seemed like a bad thing as not only did the Flyers take on his huge contract, but it also seemed to hint that the Flyers would not re-sign Braydon Coburn. By all indications, Meszaros would be a downgrade to Coburn. But that was not to be as the Flyers did re-sign Coburn to a 2-year deal, that once again, featured seemingly an overpayment. He went for 3.3 million a year, whereas most thought 3 per year would be the max. But regardless, Coburn may not always know how to use his big body and he may have some head-scratchingly awful bad games, but when he is on, he is pretty damn good.

In addition to extending Coburn and trading for Meszaros, the Flyers followed Chris Pronger's advice and signed 38-year old defenseman Sean O'Donnell to a 1-year contract. O'Donnell will fill the role of Flyers 6th defenseman and by all accounts, he is a gritty and tough player, much like the beloved Ian Laperriere, only Lappy is a forward whereas O'Donnell is a D-Man. What it boils down to is this, the Flyers have upgraded their 3rd defensive pairing from Lukas Krajicek and Ryan Parent to Andrej Meszaros and Sean O'Donnell. That, my friends, is a massive upgrade. Krajicek likely won't be back with the team whereas Broad Street Hockey's favorite Latvian Sea Wolf, Oskars Bartulis will likely be the team's 7th defenseman.

But the Flyers' head-scrather du jour came shortly afterwards. The Flyers inked Jody Shelley (yes, THAT Jody Shelley) to a 3-year, 3.3 million dollar contract. Let that sink in for a minute: Jody Shelley is making 1.1 million dollars a year to be Riley Cote Version 2.0. I just don't get it. Sharks fans and Rangers fans basically want to give the guy a freakin blow job, yet all I see is a $600,000 raise to Riley Cote. The only thing I can surmise is that Carcillo was asking for too much money and the Flyers are not going to bring him back (though CSN Philly's Tim Panaccio has tweeted that this move had nothing to do with Carcillo and he is still pending). He is slow, does not score (Carbomb can score), and can sometimes fight. We've seen this player before. His name is Riley Cote and he spent most of last season in the press box for a damned good reason. He is a completely useless player. If they thinking of putting Shelley on the 4th line, that means it will be a 4th line consisting of Blair Betts, Ian Laperriere, and Jody Shelley. Those are tough guys, but a line with 3 slow skaters is completely useless, especially in this version of the NHL, thus making the Shelley signing a bad move. If they don't play him, then we will be paying an additional $600,000 to a guy sitting in the press box doing nothing. In that situation, the move is even worse, especially seeing as this completely drained the Flyers of cap space to sign a goalie and will almost certainly have to dump someone. And if the rumors are true that person is fan favorite and Hero Of The Boston Series, Simon Gagne. Why Homer would want to trade Gagne with an NTC as opposed to Carter without an NTC is utterly beyond me, but thus are the rumors at this time.

Unless trading Gagne somehow lands the Flyers a goalie better than Leighton in addition to either Maxim Afinogenov or Bobby Ryan, the day Gagne gets traded will be an extremely sad day for Flyers fans. In a town known to be very tough on athletes who don't perform (see: Burrell, McNabb, Brand, and the rest of that list), never once has Simon Gagne, a man who has spent the entirety of a 10-year career in Philadelphia, drawn that ire. That being said, at the right price, it might be worth it if the Flyers are dead set on not wanting to trade Carter (who you could probably fetch more for anyways in a trade).

But I guess I have to look on the bright side of all this. At least the Flyers did not sign Derek Boogaard to a 4-year contract at 1.65 million PER YEAR. LOL Rangers!

World Cup Quarterfinal Announce Schedule And My Predictions

July 2
Quarterfinals: Netherlands vs. Brazil 10:00 AM (Port Elizabeth) (ESPN - Martin Tyler and Efan Ekoku)
Quarterfinals: Uruguay vs. Ghana 2:30 (Johannesburg SC) (ESPN - Ian Darke and John Harkes)

July 3
Quarterfinals: Argentina vs. Germany 10:00 AM (Cape Town) (ABC - Martin Tyler and Efan Ekoku)
Quarterfinals: Paraguay vs. Spain 2:30 (Johannesburg EPS) (ABC - Ian Darke and John Harkes)

Netherlands vs. Brazil: This is certainly one of the most intriguing quarterfinal matches this year. The Netherlands is a team that has never been overly impressive, but at the same time, have done what was required to get the job all done and all the while never being in any serious jeopardy of losing a match or allowing a lesser team to draw them. Brazil had a shaky start against the North Koreans, demolished a very good Cote d'Ivoire side, played a foreign game unknown to man against Portugal, and tore apart a Chilean team who does nothing but attack. This game will provide each team with their biggest test thus far, and unless the Netherlands can pull it all together, something they have been teasing us with but not yet accomplished, I don't see them beating Brazil. Final prediction: Brazil 1, Netherlands 0

Uruguay vs. Ghana: Ghana has the chance to be the first African team to ever advance to the semifinals of the World Cup. Uruguay has a chance to be in the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1950. History will be made in Johannesburg, and even though Suarez and Forlan can are dangerous up top, I am not really feeling Uruguay in this game. Their defense looked rather shaky against South Korea, and if that continues, Ghana is a much more physical side that is better at creating opportunities and ultimately, scoring goals. Final Prediction: Ghana 2, Uruguay 1.

Argentina vs. Germany: I am trying to prevent my biases from clouding my judgment, but I have a hard time trying to picture a scenario where this is not the best game of this round. Both offenses are dynamite and both back lines can be shaky and suspect. My heart is telling me that Messi will finally score and lift his team to victory, but my head is telling me that Germany will be too much for the Argentina back line and Sergio Romero. Final Prediction: Germany 4, Argentina 2.

Spain vs. Paraguay: Zzzzzzzzzzz. Final Prediction: Spain 0, Paraguay 0 (Spain wins on PKs).