Posted tagged ‘Sports’

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.


Phils’ Romero, Lien both to blame

January 7, 2009

Phils’ J.C. Romero came out Tuesday and defended his actions in using an over-the-counter supplement that turned out to contain a banned substance and has resulted in the reliever’s 50-game suspension.


The bottom line, based on Romero’s comments to Phil Sheridan in the Inky, is Romero and Phils strength coach Dong Lien erred here.


Romero, as can be understood, wasn’t sure if the product contained anything illegal so he took it to Lien. Lien, in turn, said Romero should get a second opinion, so Romero took it to his personal nutrionist. Meantime, Lien sent the product to MLB for testing.


Stop right there.


Shouldn’t Lien have sent the product to MLB right away and advised Romero to hold off on using it until he got a response? I don’t understand how a strength coach would proceed otherwise. And I don’t understand how Romero, knowing that MLB has cracked down on this whole thing, wouldn’t want to first get the OK from MLB. Forget about his “personal nutrionist.”


I’m willing to take Romero at his word that he didn’t know what he was using was illegal. But I’m not willing to relieve, no pun intended, him of blame. This case should be a lesson to all pro athletes – and athletes at every level – to be sure to get proper approval before ingesting anything into their bodies.


And of Lien, he should have provided better advice for Romero. I can’t believe that the Phillies (that’s organization and players) can trust him going forward.


On another note, the Phils have signed Marcus Giles. The former Atlanta 2B gives the team some insurance should Chase Utley’s recovery from hip surgery linger and should rookie Brad Harman struggle as Utley’s fill-in. Giles’ offensive decline is a concern. He’s a career .277 hitter but here’s a closer look at his average:







2008-Out of baseball


There could be a reason for the decline. I won’t speculate but I have my own suspicions for the dropoff. I’ll leave it at that. Still, I think it’s a good signing for the Phils.


Next up: Spring Training, February


Sixers story (14-20): While Tuesday’s 104-96 victory over Houston was encouraging, the Sixers’ 1-5 Western road trip was not. Philly looked much better Tuesday, but not sure what to make of the 21-15 Rockets.


The Sixers have major flaws that need to be addressed at the trade deadline, none more glaring than their inability to shoot the 3. They are last in the NBA at a woeful 29.4 percent from the arc. The lack of a 3-point threat hurts the Sixers because teams consistently can play under the pick and roll, which takes away the drive to the basket. Let’s hope Ed Stefanski can add a few pieces at the deadline.


So, Tony DiLeo’s record stands at 5-6 after Tuesday and the interim coach says he sees the Sixers going in the right direction. I haven’t seen it. Still, the league – and especially the Eastern Conference – is so mediocre that they still have plenty of time to find a groove and make the playoffs – for whatever that’s worth.


Oh, and Elton Brand could be back in two weeks. I’m interested to see if DiLeo’s input will have a positive effect on Brand.


Next up: at Milwaukee, 8 p.m., Wednesday.



That’s all for now.

Back on the beat

December 30, 2008

This blog hasn’t gone away, just been in hibernation for a few weeks thanks to work, fatherhood and the busy time of the holidays. My goal is to post on a more regular basis from this point.


Sixers story: Mo Cheeks might not be Red Auerbach, but Cheeks got a raw deal when he was fired Dec. 13. The Sixers were struggling at the time, but it was expected since they were coming off a tough stretch with games against Cleveland, Detroit and the Lakers.


You want to fire Mo, fine. But you’ve got to give him a chance against teams with which the Sixers can compete. The bottom line with the Sixers is they just don’t have the talent – with or without Elton Brand in the lineup. They don’t have a legitimate 3-point shooter, which is a sin in the NBA (Example: The Sixers didn’t hit their first 3 in Monday’s loss to Utah until there were two minutes left in the game). Shame on Ed Stefanski for not finding one this offseason.


They are athletic, but that athleticism strangely doesn’t translate on the defensive end. This team still can make the playoffs, mainly because the Eastern Conference is so bad. But there’s no chance the Sixers are anything more than a first-round team.


And Tony DiLeo isn’t the answer. I wasn’t surprised to hear the praise heaped on DiLeo after the Sixers started 3-0 under him. But I knew it wouldn’t last since those wins were against Washington (twice) and Milwaukee. Since, the Sixers have dropped four straight against some real competition – vs. Indy and on the road against Boston, Denver and Utah.


Prediction: Jay Wright will be on the sidelines next September.


Next up: At Clippers, 9:30 p.m., tomorrow.



Eagles story: I was as shocked as anyone with Sunday’s 44-6 dismantling of the Cowboys that sent the Eagles to the playoffs. Truth is, I stopped paying close attention to the Eagles a month or so ago, so infuriated with Andy Reid’s coaching style, personality and reluctance to run the ball.


As a fan, I’ll follow the Eagles and root for them to beat the Vikings Sunday. But I can’t say that I think them making the playoffs is the best thing that could’ve happened for the franchise’s long-term success. They might just go out and win the Super Bowl and I could look foolish for writing this, but I truly believe the Eagles need a major overhaul, from the front office, to the coaching staff and, yes, to the quarterback for this organization to take a real step toward contending for a title.


I hoped that a loss to Dallas would signal a time for change. We all know what happened. Now, there’s no chance Lurie and Banner will make any changes – and, honestly, nor should they after what transpired Sunday. Somehow I think Sunday’s victory, while amazing and great for the city, will come back to haunt the Eagles.


Next up: At Minnesota, NFC Divisional playoffs, 4:30 p.m., Sunday.


Phillies story: Not much happening on the Phils front, other than Chase Utley saying he doesn’t regret dropping the F-bomb in the post-victory speech. It must be something in pro athletes’ DNA, that they never regret anything. Remember how Jimmy Rollins didn’t regret calling Philly fans “front-runners?”


Maybe it’s what makes players like Rollins and Utley so great, that they don’t look in the past and have regrets. But, really, would it have killed Utley to say he shouldn’t have used that word in front of so many kids in such a public setting? I’m not his judge or jury and I can handle him dropping the F-bomb, but as a parent I would prefer he would’ve been a bit more careful. That said, he’s not a druggie, a gunnie (a word?) or a womanizer. Bottom line, there are worse things he could’ve done than drop the F-bomb. Just wish he would’ve said he would be more careful next time.


On another note, anyone who’s seen the Phillies DVD probably will agree with me that it’s very well done. Brought back some great memories for me. How about you?


Next up: Spring Training, Februrary, Clearwater, Fla.


Flyers story: Word is that the Flyers are crashing frat parties and getting stalled on runways in Chicago. I also hear Jeff Carter is having a great season. Next up: At Vancouver, 10:30 p.m., tonight.



College hoops report: Here’s a quick look/update at the six Philly D-1 schools:


Drexel (3-6). The Dragons ended a five-game losing streak with Saturday’s 76-70 win over Rider. The victory came just in time, too, as the Dragons had the dubious distinction of landing in Sports Illustrated’s “Not Hot” list. Bruiser Flint, who could be on thin ice on 33rd and Market, didn’t even get to share the sideline with good bud and Memphis coach John Calipari for the Dragons’ game against the Tigers Dec. 22 after getting ejected from Drexel’s loss at Bucknell Dec. 20. Good thing, though, since Memphis buried Drexel, 87-49. Next up: At St. Joe’s (Palestra), 5 p.m., tomorrow.


La Salle (6-5). This team has some serious talent, as I saw first-hand in the Explorers’ 92-75 dismantling of Rider on Dec. 17. And La Salle pushed UConn to the limit in an 89-81 loss Nov. 21. Still, it’s hard to know much about the Explorers because they continue to play nobodies. Too bad. A decent nonconference schedule would get La Salle battle-tested and probably ready to contend in the weak A-10. As it is, the Explorers likely will be a run-of-the-mill conference competitor. Next up: Vs. Manhattan, 4 p.m., tomorrow.


Penn (1-7). The Quakers continued their struggles, getting blown out, 81-64, by Central Florida Monday to drop their fifth straight. Glen Miller’s job was in jeopardy prior to the season and Penn’s shaky start can’t be helping his job security. Miller hasn’t endeared himself to the Penn faithful but, in fairness, he had a very tough act to follow. Next up: Vs. Lafayette, 7 p.m., Jan. 6.


St. Joe’s (5-6). The Hawks inexplicably blew an 18-point, second-half lead at the Palestra Sunday night in a loss to Siena. The Saints are a very good team and a perennial MAAC contender. But the key word there is “MAAC.” If you’re St. Joe’s and you want to be any good, you can’t lose to a MAAC team. The Hawks haven’t had any wins of significance (please don’t give me Indiana, a team of walk-ons) this year, and they haven’t had any really bad losses either. SJU played well in a 59-56 loss at Villanova Dec. 11, but you know what they say about being close…only good in horseshoes and hand grenades. Next up: Vs. Drexel (at Palestra), 5 p.m., tomorrow.


Temple (5-6). The Owls followed their eye-catching 88-72 win over Tennessee on Dec. 13 with three straight losses, at Kansas (71-59), at Long Beach State (76-71) and at Villanova (62-45) Monday night. Fran Dunphy’s squad still looks like an A-10 contender. Next up: Vs. Kent State, 7 p.m., Jan. 5.


Villanova (12-1). Monday’s impressive 62-45 blowout of Temple capped Nova’s nonconference schedule. The Cats played a bunch of patsies. Now they enter the incredibly tough Big East portion of their schedule. No less than seven Big East teams are in the AP Top 25 this week, with Villanova coming in at No. 15. The Wildcats have the talent and are Philly’s best hope to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, but there are a lot of mine fields awaiting in conference play. Next up: At Marquette, 2:30 p.m., Thursday.



That’s all for now.

A.I. versus A.I. tonight in Detroit

December 5, 2008


Andre Iguodala and the Sixers head to Motown tonight for a meeting with Allen Iverson and the Pistons (still sounds strange) at 8 tonight.


The Sixers will be without Elton Brand, out for Friday’s game with a strained right hamstring. Brand is day-to-day.


It’ll be interesting to see how the Sixers play without Brand.


According to the Yahoo! preview, Iverson has averaged 33.3 points and 8.3 assists in three career games against the Sixers. Yikes.


Here’s the rest of the weekend schedule:




Sixers at Detroit, 8

College hoops

Navy at Penn, 7




Flyers at Carolina, 7


New Jersey at Sixers, 7:30

College hoops

George Mason at Drexel, 4:30

La Salle at Hartford, 4

Creighton at Saint Joseph’s, 7

Temple at Penn State, 6



Eagles at Giants, 1

I was dead wrong about Kobe

December 4, 2008

There are certain things you say in life that turn out to be dead wrong. It happens and there’s nothing you can do but admit you were wrong.


I was wrong about Kobe Bryant. Dead wrong. Thought he was overrated coming out of high school. Thought Tim Thomas was just as good.


I remember like it was yesterday having the debate during my college days at St. Joe’s. (Also remember playing intramural volleyball in the green gym in the Fieldhouse while Kobe was shooting by himself on the adjacent court.)


Anyway, watching him light up the Sixers for 32 points Wednesday night in the Lakers’ 114-102 win was proof again that there’s not a better player in basketball – maybe ever. Put Kobe in the argument with Jordan, Wilt, Russell and whoever else. This time I won’t argue against Kobe.


I mean, Kobe seems to be able to do whatever he wants. Bob Salmi said it perfectly on the broadcast that Kobe gets whatever shot he wants and gets to the line whenever he wants.


He had one highlight after another Wednesday night, but his play down the stretch was breathtaking – his drives that made it 105-97 and 110-97, respectively, and his step-back 20-footer that made it 112-100.




As for the game, I can’t come down too hard on the Sixers. They were overmatched, simple as that. It wasn’t just Kobe, either. Philly had no answer for Pau Gasol (22 points, 13 boards) and Jersey native Andrew Bynum (18 points) inside.


The Lakers are the best team in the league. No one ever thought the Sixers would win the NBA title this year, just compete for the East crown.


Andre Miller (26 points, 8 boards, 5 assists) and Andre Iguodala (19 points) played OK, while Elton Brand (3 points, 1-7 FG in 25 minutes) didn’t show up. Marreese Speights (5 minutes, 0 points, 0 boards), after a nice game Tuesday in Chicago, also was a big disappointment. Brand apparently injured his hamstring, so I’m willing to give him a bit of a pass.


After the first quarter, though, you never got the sense the Sixers really had a chance. Not with Bynum and Gasol inside, and especially not with Kobe doing his thing.


So, again, sorry Kobe. I was wrong. Dead wrong.



Temple tumbles: Didn’t see or hear any of the game, but Temple was pounded at home by Miami of Ohio. The Redhawks have played some solid competition tough in the early going, but there’s no way the Owls should lose by 16 at home to a MAC team.


On a side note, tried to get some pregame information on and the Web site was down Wednesday afternoon. Bummer.



Danny’s downer: Danny Briere can’t stay in the Flyers’ lineup this season, as the Flyer reportedly will miss another month after getting hurt Tuesday. Maybe this time he should wait until he’s healed before returning to the lineup.



Avery’s comments: By now you all have heard Sean Avery’s “sloppy second” comments. Didn’t put two and two together until tonight that his ex, Elisha Cuthbert, is Kim Bauer. Used to love 24, but the writers made a HUGE mistake when they wrote Kim off the show. (BTW, I stopped watching 24 when Jack Bauer’s ability to stay alive became more and more ridiculous.).



Pearl of wisdom? Caught some of Earl “The Pearl” Monroe’s interview with Jody Mac on 950-ESPN Wednesday morning. Enjoyed a lot of Monroe’s recounting of the glory days of Philly hoops. However, it’s a major pet peeve of mine when someone goes on the radio and starts right out promoting a product. I understand there’s an agreement between the station and the guest, but let’s start with the sports and then do the promoting. Not vice versa.


(update 9:30 a.m. Thursday)

Blogger’s paradise? Don’t expect the Inky’s Frank Fitzpatrick to start blogging anytime soon…

From today’s Morning Bytes column….

“If you want to know why most blogs remain the journalistic equivalent of cotton candy – insubstantial fluff – all you had to do was read a recent entry from


Thursday sked


Devils at Flyers, 7

Houston Baptist at Villanova, 7:30


In it, the clever blogger posits a scenario that includes both Kevin Kolb as the starting quarterback and the Eagles as contenders.

Those two events will converge when I win the Masters.”

Philly Sports Beat talks, Mo Cheeks listens

December 3, 2008



After imploring Mo Cheeks to make some major changes after Sunday’s loss, the coach did just that Tuesday and the Sixers responded with an impressive 103-95 overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls.


The victory snapped a four-game losing streak. More than that, it gives the Sixers – and their fans – hope that maybe something can come of this season.


Cheeks made a major shift in the lineup, essentially benching Sam Dalembert (11 minutes Tuesday) to go with a small lineup (one of three suggestions I made Monday) that looked like this:


Andre Miller/Lou Williams, Willie Green, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand/Marresse Speights.


The small lineup worked wonders, as the Sixers played unlike they had all year.


Iguodala, moved to the three spot, played like a free man, scoring a season-high 25 points to go with 9 boards. Miller played aggressively on offense and netted 28 points, including 7 straight big ones in OT. Speights was solid in 26 minutes, with 11 points and 8 caroms and Brand was his usual double-double self with 22 points and 14 boards.


It’s just one game, but it’s one game that may just turn the season around.


More on the Sixers:

(Update 8 a.m. Wednesday)



Recliner GM wasn’t too impressed with Tuesday’s win. Here was my response to RG. The Greek (Jimmy The Greek?) thought I was off my rocker, or preparing for a circus or something, and his comments with my responses follow.


Dannie: A little harsh on the win. I thought the Sixers looked good, especially w/o Dalembert in there. Didn’t think there was much “ugly” about this win. Do agree that Rush would’ve been a better kick-out option on the final play (also think Lou Williams would’ve been a better defensive option on the Bulls’ previous possession), but overall think Mo coached a good game — especially making the lineup shift. -Aaron


AAron, it’s funny because as I was reading this I was thinking that this was Dannies masterpiece.   Iggy played great until about the 430 mark in the fourth, and then he put his STINKADALA cape on and did his best to lose the game for us.  Luckiy he stunk at that as well and we got out of regualtion with a tie. 


Dear Greek: True, Iggy badly missed a 20-footer with 1:30 left that he has to make and slipped on a possession in the final minute. I can give him a pass on the slip. But did you see his baseline drive and dunk with 3:04 left – that came under the 4:30 mark? Yes, Iggy has played poorly this season, but you have to give him credit for Tuesday night. -Aaron


Also AAron, Lou Williams and defensive option late in the game should never be mentioned in the same sentence.  If your going to stick a guard in there for D late in the game then put in Ivey.


Dear Greek: True, Lou isn’t a good defender, but he has more athleticism than Miller and would have been able to stay with Rose better on the Bulls’ last possession of regulation. Miller got burned again by Rose. Mo used Lou a little on Rose earlier and Lou had an easier time staying with Rose than Miller. BTW, don’t have a problem with Ivey either. -Aaron


…and in response to this…

“I thought the Sixers looked good, especially w/o Dalembert in there”

Are you serious dude?  Are you really shocked that the sixers looked good without there franchise anchoring stud sammy in the middle?   My god, what sort of 3 ring circus are you running over that on your site?


Dear Greek: No, I’m not shocked the Sixers looked good w/o Dalembert in there. That’s why I wrote they’d be better off w/o him in the lineup. So we agree. … Three-ring circus? Maybe not so bad. Barnum & Bailey certainly has had a pretty good run. -Aaron






Sir Charles unplugged: Charles Barkley went on the radio with Howard Eskin on WIP Tuesday afternoon and addressed several topics, most of all the Sixers. Barkley said Iguodala is overpaid and Brand was a bad signing. He also touched on the Eagles, saying Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb have been underappreciated in Philly. Hear the interview via podcast here.



The Hawk won’t die, but radio signal will: It’s tough enough following Saint Joseph’s (my alma mater) due to their infrequent appearance on local TV, but it was downright impossible at times Tuesday night due to the technical difficulties on the 990-WNTP radio broadcast. The broadcast would cut in and out inexplicably. Simply inexcusable.


Speaking of college hoops, St. Joe’s (over Lehigh, 77-64) , La Salle (over Bucknell, 68-65) and Villanova (over Penn, 69-47) all winners Tuesday on a big night in Philly hoops.



Danny hurt again: The Flyers beat Tampa Bay 4-3 in OT Tuesday. I watched about the first period before switching to hoops. The big story in this one might not be the win, but that Danny Briere is hurt again.


From’s game story


Flyers center Danny Briere was back in the lineup after missing nine games with a groin pull but he did not seem very effective, nor did he have any jump in his skates. Briere left the Flyers bench late in the second period. It is believed he re-injured himself given that the Flyers were planning an announcement after the game.”



Wednesday sked


Lakers at Sixers, 7

College hoops

Miami (Ohio) at Temple, 7:30

Big night in Philly hoops

December 2, 2008


Tonight is a big night in Philly hoops, with four college teams and the Sixers in action. Here’s a quick look at tonight’s matchups:



Bucknell (1-4) at La Salle (2-3), 7 p.m.: The Explorers continue their patsy nonconference schedule by hosting Bucknell. La Salle, playing for the first time since a 75-70 win over Valpo on Nov. 24, will be looking to make it 10-0 all-time versus Bucknell at home.


Saint Joseph’s (2-4) at Lehigh (5-1), 7 p.m.: The Hawks also face a Patriot League opponent in the Mountain Hawks, who have a win at Rutgers (76-71, Nov. 24) on their resume. SJU leads the all-time series 12-0.


Villanova (6-0) at Penn (1-4), 8 p.m., CN8: The Wildcats play their third straight game at the Palestra after defeating Rhode Island Saturday night to claim the Philly Hoop Group Classic. The Quakers’ early-season performance hasn’t helped Glen Miller, who is on the hot seat in University City.



Sixers (7-10) at Bulls (8-9), 8:30 p.m., CSN: This is a big game for the Sixers, who enter a difficult five-game stretch after tonight (opponents a combined 61-20 through Sunday). Mo Cheeks’ squad has lost four straight, including Sunday’s 103-92 beating by the Bulls at the Wachovia Center. Chicago is returning home after seven straight on the road. Meantime, the Sixers are 2-6 on the road this season.


For non hoop heads, the Flyers host Tampa Bay at 7 tonight on Versus.