Posted tagged ‘Philadelphia fans’

A familiar feeling for Birds fans

January 19, 2009

Learning how to deal with disappointment is part of learning how to be an Eagles fan, something my 1-year-old son found out today.


(OK, maybe he didn’t know what was going on, but I’ll tell him about it in a few years.)


Sunday’s 32-25 loss to Arizona was disappointing, but not surprising.


I’m 32 years old and have never seen a title for the Birds. My fondest memories of the Birds growing up are of Buddy Ryan’s Gang Green machine – and they never even won a playoff game despite a defense that always ranked among the NFL’s best.


The dominant Eagles teams of the early 2000s under Andy Reid should have won a Super Bowl or two or three, but only played in one and we all know the outcome there.


I, like many pundits, figured the Eagles would cakewalk past the Cardinals, not the least of which because they are the, you know, Cardinals.


But somehow the men in red managed to disappoint us all again. That’s OK because we know the feeling. It’s part of bleeding green, right?


Here are some thoughts on the Eagles’ fourth NFC title loss (frown) in their last five visits:


–Donovan McNabb played a decent game at QB, but he continued his frustrating track record of not being able to take the team on a winning (or, in this case, tying) drive. All of the great ones did it (and some not so great, see Eli Manning in 2008 Super Bowl), but McNabb doesn’t come up large in big spots.


The Birds trailed by 7 with 2:53 left and needed McNabb to take them 80 yards for the tying score. He got the Cards’ 47, but that was it. Certainly it’s not all on McNabb’s shoulders, but you have to find a way to get it done if you want to be great and he didn’t – and hasn’t in the past.


–Did someone forget to tell the Birds’ defense the start time? Brian Dawkins’ bunch didn’t show up until after halftime. By then, it was 24-6 in favor of the hosts. Then, whether it was halftime adjustments or whatever, the Eagles came out flying after the break and shut the Cards down in the second half – until it most mattered.


Down 1 with 10:45 left, Cards QB Kurt Warner marched Arizona 72 yards on 14 plays, chewing up 7:52 of the clock to put the hosts back in front. The defense looked like its old, first-half self on that drive.


When the Eagles really needed a big play to hold the Cards to a field goal, no one stepped up and Tim Hightower scored on a perfectly executed screen pass from 8 yards out.


–The Eagles caught a huge break when the refs ruled that Victor Abiamiri muffed the kickoff and the ball touched out of bounds, giving the Birds the ball on their own 43 with 3:06 left in the first half.


The Cards tried to challenge but were denied because the ball was ruled out. Replays showed that the ball never touched the sideline, and also were inconclusive whether Abiamiri even touched the ball.


It didn’t end up mattering, but it was a break nonetheless – something you can point out to Birds fans who feel the refs are always against the Eagles.


–On that same play, was Troy Aikman saying the Cards intentionally kicked the ball short to attempt to recover it? The noise level in my parents’ house got raised at the time so I didn’t hear him clearly, but I thought that’s what he said.


I would guess that the Cards were just trying a pooch kick to prevent any kind of long return.


Here are some more random thoughts after watching the game…


–DeSean Jackson is good; Greg Lewis is not.


–Ridiculous penalty by Quintin Demps. Deserves a fine.


–Chris Myers is useless as a sideline reporter. Pam Oliver is OK.


–Brian Westbrook looked old and slow. Correll Buckhalter still has some jump.


–Hank Baskett can block … but can’t catch.


–Kevin Curtis is better than I thought.


–Awful hold by Rocca on Akers’ missed extra point.


–Larry Fitzgerald is a beast … but Sheldon Brown and Demps need to be better in coverage.


–Kurt Warner is tough.


–Remember all the talk about the D-line’s resurgence? Maybe it got to their heads.


–FOX graphics needs an editor. It’s “McNabb” not “McBabb.”


–Brent Celek will soon make us all forget L.J. Smith.


Moving on…


The Sixers have put together a nice, little streak of seven straight wins – as Elton Brand still sits and watches.


I’ll be in the big house Monday to see how they fare against the Mavs.



That’s all for now.


Time to give thanks to Philly sports figures

November 26, 2008


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










Defending Philly sports fans

November 25, 2008

It’s a tired argument when you hear over and over again how Philadelphia athletes’ undoing are a result of the town’s “tough” sports fans.


I buy tickets and sit in the stands next to those so-called “tough” fans. I’ve been going to sporting events my entire life in this town, listening to sports radio, reading the papers and have worked in the media business here.


My take on Philly sports fans: They demand effort, they want a winner and they care about their sports as much as anyone in the country.


If anything, that makes them the best fans in the country – not the worst. Just ask the teams’ owners, who get rich based on the interest of the fans.


Do Philly fans boo? Absolutely. But so do fans in every other city in the country (OK, maybe not St. Louis!HaHa!). The bottom line is there are a few jerks in the crowd at every game, most of the time helped out by an adult beverage (or two, three, four or five).


But Philly fans are great fans and it’s bothersome to constantly hear them derided by people who don’t know what the heck they’re talking about…


Like some blogger named Tom Peters, who rips Philly fans on PCP Sports.


Here’s some of what Peters says:


“You’ve made (Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb) more unpopular than the current President”


“You don’t need a quarterback taking you to four straight NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl.”


My take: As for the first argument, fans have not made Reid and McNabb unpopular. Fans have questioned Reid’s coaching and McNabb’s play, especially lately, when they deserved to be questioned.


Have Reid and McNabb ever really been embraced in this town? No. Why? Because Reid and McNabb, through their press conferences, have made themselves very difficult to embrace. Reid comes across as arrogant and McNabb as aloof, making it hard for fans to like their personalities. Regardless of that, Philly fans would love the duo if they ever brought the town a championship (see Charlie Manuel).


As for the second argument, this is something you hear all the time. The Super Bowl was four years ago and those NFC Championships were four-to-seven years ago. That’s an eternity, especially in NFL years.


Sure, those guys have had success but you can’t base your present judgment on past success. That goes for anything, especially professional sports.


Moving on…



Sal Pal on Eagles: Sal Paolantonio, one of the best ESPN reporters, said on Mike Miss’s 950-ESPN radio show Monday that the Eagles’ decision to start McNabb Thursday is all about money.


He said management wants McNabb to start Thursday to ensure that fans will show up, reasoning that Kevin Kolb in the starting lineup will make the game seem like an exhibition and, thus, fans would stay home – especially given that it’s Thanksgiving.


And he felt the team needed McNabb to play to improve his trade value in the offseason.


My take: I like Paolantonio, but I think this is a stretch. I believe Reid is starting McNabb because he thinks it’s the best way to win. It probably is but, as I’ve said, I think the best thing for the organization is to end the Reid/McNabb era and see what Kolb can do.



(Update, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday)


FredEx delivers bashing: Ex-Eagle Freddie Mitchell criticized Donovan McNabb yesterday on 950-ESPN. I missed the interview but you can read about it here or listen here.



(Update 1 p.m. Tuesday)


Who are you thankful for? I’m going to do a Thanksgiving bit on Philly sports people I’m thankful for. Let me know who you are thankful for and I’ll include yours.

(update 4 p.m. Tuesday)

College hoops news: Darrin Govens hit a career-high seven 3s to lead St. Joe’s over Indiana today. Of course, it’s Indiana in name only this season.

Also, the A-10 has made some changes to its postseason tourney starting in 2010, with the big news being the final will be broadcast on CBS.



Tuesday sked


College hoops

Monmouth at Villanova, 7:30

Penn State at Penn, 7:30

Saint Joseph’s vs. Indiana in Maui, 1:30