Time to give thanks to Philly sports figures


Now is the time to look around and give thanks for all that we have, time to take a break from the criticism and cynicism that we all get caught up in and spin positive.


So, here are some Philly sports figures for whom I’m thankful:




Charlie Manuel: The manager put aside the criticism and directed the Phils to their second world title, ending the city’s 25-year title drought. Enough said.


Ryan Howard: The big man persevered through an early-season slump and delivered when it mattered, finishing with a league-best 48 homers and 146 RBIs. He came up huge down the stretch, too, hitting .352 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs in September. Worth every penny of that $10 million!


Chase Utley: The epitome of a Philadelphia athlete … tough, clutch, determined, ferocious. Played with an ailing hip for most of the season and still hit .295 with 33 homers and 104 RBIs. More than his numbers, Utley’s intense approach to the game is contagious amongst his teammates.


Cole Hamels: Earned legendary status with his beyond clutch postseason performance, going 4-0 in 5 games with a 1.80 ERA, 30 K’s and 9 BB’s. That’s the definition of an ace.


(Update 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Shame on me for accidentally leaving closer Brad Lidge off this list. Mr. 48-for-48 has to be here.)




Brian Dawkins: Age has slowed Dawkins, but there hasn’t been a better Eagles safety in the team’s modern history (sorry Wes and Andre). He’s still exciting and fearless.


Jon Runyan: Like Dawkins, age has had an effect on him this year. But is there anyone tougher in pro football? Runyan has played in 139 straight games … and counting. Good enough to get him on this list.




Mo Cheeks: He has directed the Sixers with the same class and poise with which he played. Cheeks got through to his young players last season with his upbeat approach, and led the team on an unlikely run into the playoffs.




Paul Holmgren: While hockey isn’t my forte, I’ve always admired the Flyers’ willingness to go for it all year in and year out. In Holmgren, the team has a GM who has been able to get the team back on track after Bob Clarke burned out.


College hoops


Phil Martelli, Jay Wright, Fran Dunphy: Put them all in one category. The coaches of St. Joe’s, Villanova and Temple, respectively, are three of the best in the business. That they all ply their trade within 10 miles of one another is a stroke of luck for Philly.


Media outlets


Comcast SportsNet: CSN has the Philly sports fan covered, whether it’s Daily News Live, Post Game Live or SportsNite. Plus, you go here to watch the Phils, Flyers and Sixers. No Philly sports fan can do without CSN.


950-ESPN and 610-WIP: I’ve heard sports radio criticized as an evil in sports. Perhaps there is some merit there, but I view sports radio as an outlet for fans. When the teams are struggling, the radio gives fans a voice for their displeasure. And when the teams are going well, it’s a place for fans to rejoice.


Note: CSN and 610-WIP both appeared on a similar list in my Courier-Post sports media column on Nov. 24, 2006.


TV/radio personalities


I like media members who are objective, straight with fans and not afraid to ask tough questions and tackle tough issues. These gentlemen embody that for me:


Ray Didinger: Eagles analysis always is on point.


Michael Barkann: Makes Daily News Live what it is.


Jody McDonald: As knowledgeable as anyone.


Mike Missanelli: Entertaining and opinionated.


Glen Macnow: On the fans’ side.


Anthony Gargano: Like listening to your friend.


Angelo Cataldi: Over the top at times, but holds people/teams accountable.


And here are the announcers I most enjoy in Philly:


Harry Kalas: Nothing like his voice on a warm, summer night.


Scott Franzke: Never thought Kalas would have an equal in the radio booth – until now.


Merrill Reese: No home team announcer is more objective.


Note: Barkann, Didinger, Kalas and McDonald appeared on a similar list in my Courier-Post sports media column on Nov. 24, 2006.



Who are you thankful for? Tell me.





Sixers tonight: I’ll be at the Sixers-Magic game Wednesday night. I’ll give my thoughts about the game here Thursday. Speaking of the Sixers, two new gigs for ex-analyst Steve Mix.



Wednesday sked



Orlando at Sixers, 7:30


Flyers at Carolina, 7

College hoops

Saint Joseph’s vs. Alabama in Maui, 2










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