Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Eagles drinking game:

This is the worst season in Eagles history since the Ray Rhodes era.  But that doesn't mean we still can't enjoy this season.  I present to you my new rules for an Eagles Drinking Game.  This is far from a completed list as our incompetence seemingly knows no bounds; so I'm asking you-- my idiots-- to come up with more suggestions so we can make this horrid season at least tolerable.

Here are my rules:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Phillies Off-Season Plan

Following a season that saw the Phillies fall from the class of the National League back to the middle of the pack, the team's off-season decisions will go a long way to determining whether they will be a contender or a pretender next season.  As has been well detailed throughout the off-season, if the Phillies maintain their payroll at the luxury tax threshold, they should have about $25-30 million to work with with major needs to fill in the outfield, the bullpen, and at third base.  Without further ado, my plan for the offseason:

1. Sign Josh Hamilton.  Crazy?  I don't think so.  Hamilton is one of the top hitters in baseball and is hands down the best hitter on the free agent market.  He is coming off a 43 homer, 128 RBI season and is only a few years removed from a MVP season that saw him capture a batting title.  Though he is left-handed and there has been talk of the Phillies wanting to add a right handed power bat to make up for Hunter Pence's departure, Hamilton's production against lefties throughout his career has been more than adequate as he has hit .280 with an OPS of .808.  By comparison, Hunter Pence is a CAREER 285 hitter with an OPS of .814.     Even better, he can play center field, a clear area of need for the Phils.  Of course, Hamilton's personal baggage is well documented.  However, he has not missed any legitimate time do to drug use.  Additionally and just as importantly from a baseball standpoint, there has never been any indication that he is a bad teammate - his Rangers teammates even showed how much they care for him when the celebrated their playoff series victory a couple a years ago with soda, not champagne.  He was a central member of back to back pennant winning teams, demonstrating he was far from a distraction from his team.  There has been concern about his durability, but I would consider this to be overplayed.  Since 2008, his first full year with the Rangers, Hamilton has played in at least 120 games and gotten at least 487 at bats in 4 of his 5 seasons.  Last year, Hamilton played in 148 games and got 562 at bats.  It may be a stretch for Hamilton to reach the 624 at bats he got in 2008, but seems 500 at bats per season from him is more than likely.  Consider also that though Hamilton has abused his body with substances, he does not have the normal amount of baseball under his belt as someone his age.  Speaking of his age Hamilton is 31 years old.  While not a spry youngster, he is still clearly in his prime and should remain there for at least another season or two, if not longer.  Coming off a year in which he made nearly $14 million, Hamilton is in line for a raise, but considering the questions surrounding his drug use and his durability, he will struggle to get the money he deserves for his on the field performance.  Additionally, rumors are already flying that the Rangers are looking elsewhere.  I would guess that a 4-5 year deal with an average salary in the $18-20 million dollar range would get this deal done.  While the Phillies would probably get bitten on the back end of this deal, the reward is high enough to justify the risk for a team that has world series aspirations right now and no clear answer for center field on the team or in the minor league system (Tyson Gillies has baggage and injury issues of his own and is not ready to take over in the majors).  Signing Hamilton would easily make the Phillies a top notch offensive team on paper and would make the middle of their order frightening, even with the potential continued decline of Howard and Ultey.

2. Re-Sign Placido Polanco.  If there is an immediate negative of signing Josh Hamilton, it is that the Phillies will instantly have only about $10 million left to spend.  Currently, 3rd base is being filled by Kevin "speed" Frandsen and apparently Freddy "roids" Galvis.  Frandson was excellent at the plate last year hitting .338.  What is critical to remember however is that he has a whopping 195 at bats.  Additionally, his career average of .269 and whopping OBP of .322 suggest that his .338 average is not sustainable.  Further more, he has never amassed so much as 300 at bats in a season and is already 30.  Unless he is the late bloomer to top all late bloomers, he will be no more than a fill in next year at the plate.  His defense, will solid, as not great, and could over a full season prove detrimental.  Galvis, while flashing great leather, is a black hole at the plate as I don't need to remind anyone and has never actually played 3rd base.  Peanut Head on the other hand, if used in a platoon role, should come cheaply (1-2 million) and with ample rest, could very well sustain a .300 average at the plate.  He will provide defense better than any Galvis in theory might possess and will outhit both Galvis and Frandsen.  He would also allow for the 3 players to rotate and take bench spots that will help both the aging Rollins and Utley rest.  I'd love to take a shot in the dark and sign Kevin Youkilus, but doing so would empty the treasury before other moves could be made.

3. Bring back Ryan Madson.  One of my all time favorite Phillies, Madson should be fully rehabbed from Tommy John surgery and ready to open the season.  While he has said he wants a closing job, he may have a hard time finding a team that will hand him the reigns.  What better way to rebuild his value then coming back to the only place he has every thrown a major league pitch - Philadelphia.  I am not a big believer in spending money on the bullpen, considering the heavy volatility of relievers, but the Phillies clearly need a reliable veteran arm to set up Papelbon.  A 1 year deal for 4-5 million plus incentives should get this done.  And if Papelbon falters, Madson can step right in to the closers role.

4. Sign Wilson Valdez to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.  Why the hell not?  Wilson is available and will be had cheap after last years performance.  Stash him at AAA and when Frandson or Galvis inevitably struggles, you have a fan favorite to come to the rescue.

5. Non-tender Nate Schierhotz.  With Nix and Mayberry taking bench roles, Schierholtz becomes useless.

6. Start Brown and Ruf in the corners.  With Hamilton plus hopefully a full year of Utley and Howard, it is time to start the youth movement.  See what these guys have to offer.  If things backfire, work mayberry and Nix in as platoon players.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Streaks Must End

My favorite Eagles-related streak came to an end this weekend. Andy Reid lost a game after a bye week. It's the first time. Whether the extra rest was just enough for his generally better team to overcome their opponents each week was happenstance, or he truly was a superior coach that used that extra time to exploit teams flaws, the loss of this week's game to a clearly superior Falcons team signals far more than such a loss should. It is time for Andy Reid to go, and the end of this streak is the signal of that end of an era.

I have never called for Reid to leave before, being one of his defenders to the end, but with Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie's proclamation before the season that essentially boiled down to "Playoffs or bust", even a mediocre season that sees the Eagles limp into the playoffs with 8 or 9 wins (unlikely) should not save Reid's job. He has demonstrated significant skill in player scouting and development, and I would love to see him remain with the organization in these capacities, though I doubt his ego would allow for it; he can certainly land a coach gig, if not another coach/GM combined position like he enjoys here, elsewhere in the NFL.

Knowing that, I would still be okay with cutting ties and letting Reid walk; if not now, with the evidence on the wall, at least at season's end. One streak ending begets another's beginning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Castillo mistake finally fixed; Could Reid be next?

Well, the great Juan Castillo experiment has finally come to a bitter end, after 22 regular-season games in which the defense slowly improved but could never quite put it all together.

Last year, the team couldn't stop the run. Then, they were helpless against the pass despite boasting three star-caliber cornerbacks. This year, the pass defense has tightened up but the Eagles have been helpless at putting pressure on the quarterback, recording nary a single sack in weeks four through six despite leading the league with 50 sacks last season.

The switch from Castillo to Todd Bowles comes at an interesting time, midway through a season in which the defense has hardly been the team's Achilles heel. What can we glean from Reid's decision? A couple of observations:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Phillies Make Right Call with Joyner

When the Phillies first announced their coaching changes, I couldn't have been more ecstatic that Greg Gross was fired.  At the same time, I couldn't have been more dismayed that Steve Henderson was hired.  As the Phillies bats have struggled over the last few years, it has been evident that someone from outside the organization needed to come in to do the coaching.  In the perfect world, that someone would have been Barry Bonds.  What better way to teach your hitters how to be patient than to bring in the best hitter of his generation?  Bonds was probably a pipe dream.  Joyner on the other hand was a successful major league hitter, sporting a career average of near .300, while hitting 200 homers and having more walks than strikeouts.  Gregg Gross, who clearly was no better than Milt Thompson, who clearly was no better than Hal McRae, etc... needed to take the fall.  Hopefully Joyner can teach the Phillies how to be selective and improve their woeful OBP.

Andy Reid and the Eagles' organizational demise

In press conferences, Andy Reid has long held that any failure on the part of his team is really a failure of his own doing--to prepare, to scheme, to motivate. Any post-game interview following a loss is sure to start with the words, "I take responsibility."

That response was often laughable, when individual players' deficiencies or mistakes had clearly been the culprit for this or that particular play that contributed heavily to a loss. But now, those words ring much truer. Andy Reid has finally uttered them so many times that they've become reality.

Andy Reid has become the problem.

The book on Andy Reid is out, and has been for a while. He can't balance the run with the pass. He can't control the use of his timeouts. He can't manage the clock to save his life, particularly at the end of a close game. But the issues have progressed beyond those that we've learned to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Andy Reid, who has been the Eagles' coach since 1999 and in charge of their football operations (read: general manager) since 2001, has presided over a slow organizational slide from elite team to mediocre team. Let's explore how we got there.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pipe dreams: NHL needs to seriously consider contraction

Kent Wilson at NHL Numbers posted a great article on what ails the NHL, and why player salary rollbacks aren't going to fix it. Ultimately, Wilson arrives at the hard truth for owners: the only real solutions are aggressive revenue-sharing via the ability to trade cap space, or, even more simply, contracting or relocating teams that have no real hope of breaking even.

Revenue sharing is great, and it's probably going to be incorporated into the next CBA on some level. But it's a cover-up for the league's real problem, which is that the gap between teams that generate the most and least revenue is extremely wide and irreversible. The hard salary cap implemented in the last CBA was supposed to do two things: create cost-certainty by limiting player salaries, and ensure competitive balance by guaranteeing that teams would be spending relatively similar amounts of money.

Instituting revenue sharing within the hard cap maintains cost certainty, but eliminates the competitive balance element, since it allows big-market teams to spend more and actively incentivizes small-market teams to spend less in the name of turning a profit. That's kind of Wilson's point: that the pursuits of profits and parity are often at odds with each other.

That's why the league's only real solutions to its problems are relocation and contraction.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Panel of Ineptitude

The last NHL lockout happened 8 years ago.  Labor and management were so far apart rather than, you know make money, the two sides thought it would be better to shut the doors and lose a full season than negotiate.  After more than a year of grueling negotiations the two sides agreed to a deal.

And then something happened…

Monday, September 24, 2012

The scabs strike again, and this time it's for real

Three weeks into the NFL season, the replacement referee issue has spiraled completely out of hand. After an optimistic start to the season, the reaction has progressed something like this:

Week 1: "That was a little sloppier than usual, but hey, that wasn't so bad!"

Week 2: "Hmm, there sure were a lot of fights and stuff on the field this week. Plus that whole St. Louis-Washington game? I wonder if the real refs will be back soon."

Week 3: "WHAT THE F*CK?!"

It was easy to speculate, during the first 47 regular season games, that a blown call here or a phantom penalty there might have affected the outcome of a game. It was just as easy to say that the regular referees make mistakes, and that one play rarely directly decides the winner of a game.

And then came Monday, September 24th. On national television. On the final play of a one-possession game. Featuring one of the league's golden teams.

Kevin Kolb? Seriously? What is this, 2011?

They are who we thought they were. Or, at least, they are who I thought they were.

Maybe that's a bit harsh. The Baltimore game was a genuinely strong performance, even with the turnovers. But it turns out the ghost of seasons past had a few more reminders to dole out about a team that changed very little about its makeup following an abysmal 2011 season.

And so we got lousy pass protection, a couple of turnovers, a secondary that couldn't cover a folding chair, sloppy run defense, and ohmygodicouldkeepgoingforever.

On the bright side, Fat Andy did manage to hang on to all his timeouts in the first half. That would have come in handy, had we been able to complete a pass on any of the three plays we ran from the one-yard line.

Where to start with this one? There are so many fun things to rant about, I might just have to go to a bullet format here, first the offense and then the defense. Let's begin with a fun photo!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

LA Dodgers/Red Sox

If the Dodgers don't win the World Series this year or next year, and they won't due to their massive lack of pitching depth, they will live to regret today's blockbuster with the Sox.  The Sox on the other hand will be able to invest their money, go young, and will come back strong.

Steve Van Buren

Just feel it is necessary to note his passing as he was quite possibly the greatest player to put on a Philadelphia Eagles uniform.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sign Juan Cruz

Juan Cruz, the holder of an era under 3.00, was released by the Pirates and is now a free agent.  He is a strikeout pitcher who would come cheap and seems like the kind of bullpen arm the Phillies are looking for.  Obviously I am not a proponent on spending money for relievers, so getting Cruz now on the cheap seems like a good call.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Is it the Nick Foles era yet?

As promised, we'll follow last week's quick-hit analysis of the Eagles first preseason game with another breakdown of Monday's match-up against the Patriots.

Rather than stay with last week's up/down drill, I want to do a couple of bullet point observations and then get into something that is, right now, going to seem over-reactive. It's also something that, by the end of the season, I guarantee will gain a lot of traction among this fan base:

The new most important thing we will learn about the Eagles this season is whether Nick Foles is the quarterback of the future. Mike Vick's near-guaranteed injury will almost certainly give Foles a chance to showcase his stuff during a couple of regular season games, and if he shows the Eagles anything, the front office should use it as an opportunity to unload Vick for what would surely be a nice haul of draft picks next offseason.

I'm not kidding, and I'm not overreaching. But we'll get there. First, the bullets.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why you shouldn't pay for relief pitching

The Phillies trade of Shane Victorino for Josh Lindblom and a prospect was supposed to help fix a beleaguered and underachieving bullpen.  Just 2 weeks later, Lindblom has already been responsible for at least two losses and looks to be no better, if not in fact worse, then the Phillies previous options.  For any longtime Phillies fan, Lindblom's poor results should be no surprise.  The Phillies have traded for and signed relief pitchers year after year, and year after year, these relief pitchers have failed to put up consistently good performances.  To be arbitrary, let's go back to one of my favorite relief pitching deals, the Turk Wendell/Dennis Cook extravaganza, and evaluate the Phillies higher profile relief moves/performances since then:

Turk Wendell/Dennis Cook - Wendell and Cook were brought in as mid-season acquisitions from the Mets to fortify the bullpen for a playoff run.  Problem was, Wendell went from a workhorse who put up a sub-4 ERA over 4 seasons with the Mets, to an albatross who put up an ERA over 7 following his acquisition by the Phillies in 2001, then missed the entire 2002 season injured before actually putting together a decent season in 03.  It appears the Phillies paid him about 7-8 million $ for his efforts.  Like Wendell, Cook put together a sub-4 ERA in 4 years with the Mets.  Cook then pitched a whopping 19 games for the Phillies compiling an ERA well north of 5.  Another multi-million dollar player, the Phillies likely only had to fork over about $1 million to Cook.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Where do the Sixers rank in the East?

Some of you may recall my extreme disdain for the Sixers' roster as previously constructed, and the complaints I laid out in extremely bitter fashion only recently.

Well, one inexplicably incredible trade later, the Sixers have placated me. The gift of a trade that the Sixers miraculously stumbled into, in which they essentially packaged a guy (Iguodala) who would be the third-best player on any real contender for the best true low-post offensive center and second-best center in the league overall (Bynum), and managed to pick up a real outside shooter (Richardson) to boot, has undoubtedly moved the Sixers up the ranks of Eastern Conference contenders. The question is, how far?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wait, What?!?!

According to SportsCenter, Hunter Pence is tied for the league lead in (I believe it was) hits to take the lead in games in the 8th inning or later.  Maybe I have a selective memory, but Pence being un-clutch is one of the main reasons the Phillies are having such a terrible year.  Go figure

Phillies finally make the right call

A little late on this post, but the Phillies are doing right by a player that they have been screwing over since I was still at Penn State.  Dom Brown.  How quickly we forget that there was a time when Dom Brown was the #1 ranked prospect in all of baseball.  Not Mike Trout, not Bryce Harper.  Dom Brown!  Trout is now a bonafide MVP candidate and Harper is looking like a star in the making.  In the mean time, Brown has been up and down, injured as much as healthy, and nothing short of an abomination in the outfield.  A player that was once untouchable in the Roy Halladay trade had turned into a player that seemed to be a lost cause.  In what is now looking like a lost season (despite my hopes of a miracle turnaround), the Phillies are giving Brown everyday major league playing time, without fear of hitting the bench, for the first time in his career.  As an organization, the Phillies have been notorious for moving slowly with their top minor leaguers (Howard and Utley come to mind).  Doing so in the past was never a big deal as the team was always succeeding.  Presently however, with the team so far out of contention and the core aging, it makes sense to give the young guys a legitimate chance.  Apart from Brown, Tyler Cloyd (14-1, 2.07 ERA at AA-AAA this year) should be claiming Kyle Kendrick (or the injured Vance Worley's) rotation spot any day now.  But that is beside the point.  Brown is finally getting his shot and he has been playing at a high level.  Though his sample size is incredibly limited, Brown has shown great patience at the plate (5/4 k:BB ratio), an ability to consistently hit the ball hard, and a strong arm in the OF.  The Phillies are still not doing him a service by moving him all over the OF, but it is encouraging that he has the ability to play in CF.  As neither the season's most disappointing player (John Mayberry) or career #4 OF Nate Schierholtz appear likely to be the answer in CF next year, Brown is certainly an option.  However, if I am the Phillies, I stick Brown in left field (where he has been predominantly playing in the minors), let him focus on his hitting in August, and then if his fielding remains strong, try him in CF in September.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ups and Downs: Eagles Preseason Game 1

Calm down, everyone, Mike Vick's thumb is NOT broken. But for the love of Ben Franklin, do you think he could go more than two preseason series without giving us an injury scare?

Doomsday scenario aside, I'd like to explore a couple of observations from Thursday night's preseason win against the Steelers. I'll do so with typical humor and sarcasm and my usual world-is-ending-pessimism, and if it goes well, maybe we'll continue to do it in the coming weeks.

Without further ado, your kudos and not-so-good-os.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Weber, Giroux, the Flyers, and Stanley Cup-shaped Sugar Plums

I woke up this morning to about six text messages. One was from my mom. The rest all had to do with Shea Weber.


By now, if you're reading this post, you know all about the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet that Weber signed with the Flyers last night. I don't want to re-hash the analysis that every single other hockey outlet has provided over the past 12 hours, so let me bullet-point a couple of links that will allow you to apprise yourself of the situation before I launch into a couple of original thoughts:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Nick Young? Kwame Brown? Sixers' only hope is to blow it all up

Out are Lou Williams and Elton Brand. In are Mo Harkless, Arnett Moultrie, Nick Young, and Kwame Brown.

What the Sixers lack in quality, they certainly make up for in lack of quality.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I think we can all agree on one thing: America kicks so much fucking ass that it can do whatever the fuck it feels like doing.  We conquered the moon, castrated the Nazi’s and splooged all over Marilyn Monroe’s face. 

Don’t listen to those PC fags in the pussy media, America is fine.  China ain’t got shit on me, you or any beer swilling, firework blasting, bacon eating freedom lover.  And I know why.  NO ONE DOES AMERICA LIKE HOLLYWOOD!!!!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ryan Howard is fat

Reported sightings of Howard at BK seem accurate.  The dude must have put on 20 pounds of straight lard over the off-season.  I guess the best way to heal an Achilles injury is to put as much weight on it as possible.  I fear for our first base defense.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fantasy Sports: A Breakup Letter

Why don’t we talk anymore?

Why don’t we laugh, cry or look at each other anymore?

Why don’t you call me an asshole anymore?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Converstaion That Must Have Happened

A powerful man walked confidently into Nello- the most expensive restaurant on Madison Avenue- and scanned the audience looking for his protégé.  He wore a power blue suit, with power striped shirt containing a power red tie and he was wearing power Italian loafers.  His hear was slicked back as was the usual and carried himself like royalty.  To the outsider he seemed like an insufferable prick, but to those who knew him well, he was a bigger insufferable prick, but also the best razzle dazzle man in the business. 

After taking power strides through the restaurant Vince McMahon arrived at the private booth where David Stern was patiently waiting for him.

“Dave, you Jew bastard, how the hell are ya?”

Standing up David Stern reached out and shook the WWE’s outstretched hand and smiled broadly.  “Vinny, you greasy Mick, glad you made it.”

“Anything for you, you know that.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Girls" is seriously the worst show on television

Those of you that know me well may be aware that I consider HBO's Girls to be the worst, most overrated show on television. The season's fourth episode, in which Hannah tries to force herself on her creepy boss and then inexplicably quits her job, was perhaps the most terrible half hour of television I've ever had the misfortune of watching.

That said, I was content to hate-watch the show in private, and contain my ravings within the sphere of a few friends. Then I read this.

Let's first of all note the unbelievable irony that three women were enlisted to talk about the first season of a show entitled Girls, and somehow spent the whole time talking about a boy. Whether that's an indictment of the vapidness, inconsistency, and lack of interesting features of the girls portrayed on the show, or a sad statement about the mindsets of the women writing the article, I'm not sure. But either way, it's not good.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Last Time With the Phillies: So long Philadelphia

What a month.  It started with such promise and unbridled enthusiasm and it quickly dissolved into a river of shit.  But no one should be surprised by this slump.  Just like Rome all dynasty’s end; some more quickly than others.
The Phillies have remarkably very little offensive talent.  Despite an MVP season from Chooch and an average start by Hunter Pence there is no one else in the lineup who frightens even the most pedestrian pitcher.  The starting rotation was blessed with almost unprecedented health last year, it was unfair to expect results like that again. And our bullpen was terrific last year despite relying on David Herndon, Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo.  This year they have reverted back to form.

But it’s safe to say that the main reason for the Phillies struggles can be placed directly on one man’s shoulders; mine.   Yes, one of the many drawbacks of being a famous internet sports journalist and noted Lothario my words are read by on average dozen(s) of people.  So when I made the Phillies my World Series Champs in the preseason I was painting a large bull’s-eye on their back for the whole season.  As expected they have crumbled under that enormous weight.  To make matters worse what I thought were steroids that I was handing out before games turned out to be horse tranquilizers.  Needless to say I’ve fired Crazy Nico as my go to drug connect.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Time With Andy Reid: A Kidnapping

With OTA’s officially underway and preseason football a mere 2 months from now Philadelphia is abuzz with Eagles fever.  And why shouldn’t we be?  The Eagles are returning everyone, sans Peters, to their explosive offense.  And with the additions of DeMeco Ryans, Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry the defense just might be able to stop somebody this year.

And let’s not forget our great, benevolent, attractive leader; Andy Reid.

Andy Reid is the greatest coach in all of football. Period.  Did you see I used a period, followed by the word ‘Period’ and then put another period after that.  That’s three periods.  That’s how great Andy Reid is. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I'm Back

Sorry for my long absence.  School + band = little time to blog.  But now it's summer and I am watching all the Phillies games, and I am getting sick.  The Phillies are something like 4 for their last 39 with RISP.  They have lost 4 winnable games in a row largely because of this failure.  They are worst in the majors with scoring runs with a runner on 3rd and less than two outs.  I am writing this blog post to propose some possible solutions:

1. Ride it out.  It is still May.  The Philies are still right around .500.  The Big 3 are still healthy and the bullpen is starting to pick it up.  Things are bound to pick up sooner or later and as long as the Phillies can keep around .500, they will easily be able to vault up the standings.

2. Fire Greg Gross.  The situation the Phillies are in currently reminds me of when the Phillies fired Milt Thompson.  Nobody was hitting, the Phillies were doing poorly, and the team needed a scapegoat.  Considering that the Phillies were supposed to come into this season with an entirely new approach to hitting, firing Greg Gross might be a good idea anyway.  Even disregarding the Phillies utter failure in situational hitting, the Phillies have still lacked patience at the plate.  Plus, the Milt Thompson, Greg Gross caravan hasn't exactly been successful the last few years anyway.  I propose bringing in a big name from outside the organization.  Or maybe Ryne Sandberg could be promoted internally.  Or how's this for an idea: Make Sarge the hitting coach, move Wheeler to radio, and bring Larry Anderson to the TV booth.  Win, win, win.

3. Call up Dom Brown.  Brown is finally off the disabled list.  He is 24 years old and his prospect status (and therefore his trade value) are probably as low as they have been since we first heard this guy existed.  Why bring him up now?  Maybe what this guy needs is a vote of confidence.  Bring him up and start him everyday in left field.  Yes, I know Juan Pierre then ends up on the bench, but I think we can all get over that one.  Put Mayberry at 1st full time for now and make Pierre the 4th OF.  Stick Dom in the middle of the lineup and hope that he can provide a spark for the team.  At this point, even with his shoddy defense, the Phils have little to lose.

4. Trade Cole Hamels for a bat.  Now that Vance Worley will be forced to pitch hurt all year, the Phillies might balk at dealing any of their pitching, but dealing Hamels, as much as I don't want to, might be the only solution that can work for the offense.  With Halladay and Lee at the top of the rotation, and Worley, Blanton, and Kendrick at the bottom, this rotation is till well above average, even without Hamels.  Halladay and Lee and continuing to age, and sinking additional money into the rotation could prove to doom this team in the long-run.  Right now, the Phillies don't even know if they can resign Hamels, and his value on the trade market is astronomical.  What to do?  Trade Hamels for a young, impact 3rd base bat and prospects.  Shift Peanut Head to a super-utility role.  Drastic?  Yes.  Potentially season saving?  Yes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Could Parise and Weber be in Flyers' future?

Now that the gut-wrenching disappointment of that second-round manhandling is finally working its way out of our systems, we Flyers faithful can safely turn our attention to the offseason ahead. And my, what an offseason it could be.

The two undisputed gems of the free agent class are Devils forward Zach Parise and Predators defenseman Ryan Suter. Flyers fans seem to largely be clamoring for a push to land Suter, while the Inquirer's Sam Carchidi penned a strong case for the Flyers to pursue Parise.

Quick math says the Flyers can't really afford both, even in the event that both wanted to sign in Philadelphia. But what if there were a way to pair Parise with another dominant defenseman, while maintaining the team's cap flexibility in the near term?

Enter Shea Weber.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Reevaluating Ilya Bryzgalov's future in Philadelphia

Ilya Bryzgalov, the $51 million dollar man. Noted philosopher, one-time star goaltender, occasional headcase, and would-be savior of the Philadelphia Flyers. And this past season's most colossal disappointment. What's a general manager to do?

I've argued since Bryzgalov was acquired last offseason that the move was ill-fated, that the Flyers were overpaying a goaltender who had been ordinary or below-average far more often than he had been good in his time with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Recognizing that goals against average is not necessarily the best way to judge a goaltender, in his four years in Phoenix from the 2007 to 2010 seasons, Bryzgalov ranked tied for 15th, 38th, sixth, and tied for 15th again in GAA. Save percentage, in which he was ranked tied for sixth, 30th, tied for eighth, and tied for tenth, tells a slightly more positive story--but still not one of an elite goaltender.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thank You Flyers

Like the eye of a storm, there is a calm that settles in when you know your team is going to lose.  Oh sure you go through the seven stages of grief, most of which involve putting the batteries back into the remote after smashing it against the floor.  But once your passed anger, no matter how long it lasts, you come to peace with your plight.

“It’s only a game, really what’s the sense of getting upset about a game.  I should be focusing on bigger things like austerity in Europe or figuring out the perfect gift idea for Blue Ivy.” 

Monday, May 7, 2012

No method to Shanahan's suspension madness

The NHL playoffs, regrettably, have already seen ten players suspended for various lengths of time after committing various infractions. The latest to sit, of course, is the Flyers' own Claude Giroux, suspended for one game after his illegal hit against the Devils' Dainius Zubrus on Sunday.

Nearly every single suspension, and several hits that didn't result in suspension, has brought an outcry from some party or another confused about the standards applied by the NHL and Brendan Shanahan, the league's Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations.

Luckily, Shanahan provides explanations for his rulings, complete with video highlights, online at NHL.com. Using those explanations, we can try to construct a framework for how Shanahan arrives at his decisions. The first part of this post is going to be pretty analytic. If you're interested in my methodology, keep reading. If you just want to hear me rant, skip down to the bottom.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Colonel Kurtz's Take on the NFL Draft

I see past the bullshit now.  I see past the lies, the deceit and the games.  I see up the tallest mountains and down to the bottoms of oceans.  I see all the way into space, and I can tell you there’s nothing there.   I’ve seen more horrible nightmares than Tim Burton and more loving embraces than Nicolas Sparks.  And I’ve seen the NFL draft.

I’m past the point of caring about the nothingness that the suits in Bristol have been telling me are important.  Their timid, phony logic no longer holds water. I’m done with all their trite, tired thoughts on things that are inconsequential.  I’m even done with Bud Light.

The trivial whereabouts of where people work and play no longer has relevance in my life.  I’m out there, in the ether.  And I’m not wearing pants.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Samuel deal unsurprising, but still questionable

In what many predicted would happen a year ago following the signings of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Eagles have apparently dealt Asante Samuel. Unable to get the second-rounder they wanted last offseason, the Eagles settled for just a seventh-rounder.

This is no surprise. Samuel was due $9.9 million from the Eagles this year, but restructured his deal to accommodate the Falcons.

Few players are worth $9.9 million per season, and with the Eagles already paying Asomugha top dollar and Samuel about to turn 32, something was going to give.

But does this trade really make the Eagles any more likely to win this season? No, obviously.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Parity in the NBA: The Plight of the Underdog

The NHL is in the midst of wrapping up the first round of its 2012 playoffs, in which the West's top seed has already been eliminated and the first and second seeds in the East will each need to win a seventh game to advance. The Panthers are on the brink of their first playoff series win since 1996, and the Coyotes just won their first playoff series since...ever.

Meanwhile, the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats are careening toward the worst single-season winning percentage in NBA history, and the Indiana Pacers are the only top-10 team in the NBA that could be regarded as a mild surprise.

Yes, it's another lesson in parity, and specifically the NBA's lack thereof. Why, exactly, does the NBA have so little competitive balance? It turns out that championship teams reliably exhibit some of the exact same qualifications, and that we can measure them before the playoffs begin--and in some cases, before the season even takes place.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Brian Dawkins: A Eulogy

Thank you all for coming today.  I know the news just broke recently and I am sure many of you are still in shock, I know I am. 
It’s funny for a long time we’ve been anticipating this day, some of us for three years now, but still when it happens words fail us.  But here goes…
We are gathered here today to remember and lionize Brian Patrick Dawkins; loving husband, beloved father and bone shattering hitter.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

With Giroux, Flyers just play "follow the leader"

Peter Laviolette called him the best player in the world.

Kimmo Timonen said he was the best player in the league right now.

Danny Briere, no playoff slouch himself, called his first shift "the sign of a great leader."

Yes, Claude Giroux brought his A game for the series clincher against the favored Penguins, and it was something to behold.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Time With Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby; long known as the most talented player in the league since The Great One, has been coming under fire recently for his actions and his words.  With his team down 2-0 in their first round matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers, Crosby instigated several fights and was widely regarded as playing, according to Barry Melrose as “A petulant, snot nosed, dingleberry”(Citation needed)  Partly because of his actions the Penguins would go on to lose game 3 and are now in desperation mode.
Not wanting to let the media kill his proverbial golden goose I got a call from Mario Lemieux requesting an interview between me and his troubled star.  It was according to Super Mario a way to let the people of Philadelphia know that while this is playoff hockey and tempers will rise, that it is just a hockey game and there were no real hard feelings.  According to Lemieux with my penchant for snagging high profile interviews and my near constant bomb threats I was the perfect combination of tough but brutally unfair, much like the crowd at the Wachovia Center.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"You can't beat us!" is hard truth for Pens

"You can't beat us."

The best sports chants are totally spontaneous, born out of a collective emotion so strong that 20,000 complete strangers express it loudly in perfect unison, and so perfectly capture the truth of the moment that the object of their derision or adoration can't help but be cut to the bone.

Such was the scene with four minutes and 42 seconds left to play in the final frame of what can only be described as a "who's your daddy?" type of affair.

20 On Orange and Black

After reading my heartfelt praise of his teams Game 1 effort Peter Laviolette called me and requested a meeting.  This is the transcript.

April 14, 2012

Peter called me at 6:30 am telling me to meet him at Sugar House Casino in an hour.  Groggily I get up toss on my old Eric Lindros Jersey and ride down.  I arrived about a half an hour later.  The casino is sparsely populated.  Off in the slots area are some blue haired old hags blowing their grandsons birthday present money.  In the other corner is the line to the buffet.  In fact the only commotion is coming from the Craps table where a large crowd of people are loudly cheering.  I wander over there and after elbowing a few spectators I see Laviolette at the epicenter.  He looked manic.  His hair wasn’t it’s typical slicked back manor.  There was no suit, no tie not even a piece of gum.  His eyes were blood shot and wild, it looked like he hadn’t slept in a while. 

I stood transfixed on the Flyers coach. He had barely any chips left and he was growing more and more anxious with each throw.  By the time he rolled a three the dealer used that pole thing and collected the rest of his stack.  Eventually some other degenerate picked up the dice, but by that time Laviolette had wandered off towards the soggy breakfast trays.

I caught up to him when he was seated at a table absentmindedly stuffing sausage links in his mouth.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

True Grit

For the past month it was inevitable that the Flyers and Penguins would meet in the first round.  And for the last month I’ve been freaking the hell out about it.  These are the two best teams in the East, despite the Rangers ranking and their total evisceration of the Flyers during the regular season for whatever reason I’ve never considered them a team to fear.    

Well for the past 2 weeks I’ve attempted to write a column about this matchup.  How about a five point rationale on why this team or that team will win.  Big fuckin deal; who hasn’t done that?   No I want to write something original.  Ok; so how about a stupid first person narrative where I pretend I’m at their morning skate around or something.  Well the thing is I have nothing to really say that would either be the least bit funny or insightful.  Trust me I tried several times to make it work.  Ok so how about a pep talk speech in writing mixed with a few prayers that I made up.  Well I found out my rhyme scheme is terrible and I’m really not that creative.  Wait what about a story where Sidney Crosby is some sort of demon who only gets stronger by the amount of tears he sheds and the amount of dicks in his mouth.  That's a good start, but I don't know what I would do with it.  So what’s left?
How about something from the heart.  Ok here we go.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Florida Panthers and Rewarding Mediocrity

First off, I want one thing to be clear: This is not sour grapes. I'm perfectly happy with the Flyers in the fourth or fifth seed facing the Penguins, because I believe that the Flyers would probably have to face the Pens at some point deeper in the playoffs anyway. I'm also looking forward to a potentially all-time classic first-round series.

But that doesn't mean it isn't completely ridiculous that the Florida Panthers are likely going to earn the third overall seed in the Eastern Conference.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Time With Roger Goodell: An American Horror Story

As the preeminent sports journalist/ sex doll tester in all the tri state area it was no surprise that I was standing in front of the NFL home office building on Park Ave.  As I gazed up at the equivalent of the Vatican for the Church of Football I couldn’t help but think that this is where I belong.  After a little less than two months I had arrived in the big leagues and it was about fucking time.

With all the allegations of collusion; his salary and the size of his dick all coming into question Roger Goodell knew the importance of getting his side of the story.  Or at least that’s what the letter from his secretary had said.  It had also said to bring a change of underwear.   But I hear that every time I go to Olive Garden so I guess that just means they’ll be providing food.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Where's The Madness?

As I emerge bleary eyed and exhausted from my March Madness bunker the Final Four is set.  With Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State we are guaranteed some great basketball and one hell of a finale.  But who cares? 
It’s called March Madness, not March That Was a Well Played Game Yet Slightly Unfulfilling.  There have been no epic games, no great Cinderella runs, hell there hasn’t even been a buzzer beater this entire tournament.  Only two games have been decided by a point.   

The 2012 March Madness Tournament will be remembered as the year college basketball emulated the pro game.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Peyton Manning: The Season that Could've Been

I'll present this one without much comment. Nik Bonaddio, a big-time numbers guru from numberFire.com, has predicted Manning's numbers over next season should he play all 16 games.

The verdict? 409 of 598 (68.3 percent) for 4,398 yards, with 32 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.


Jeff Carter in LA: Fool me twice, shame on Kings fans

Ok, this is just TOO hilarious. Jeff Carter, who went from being the most overrated forward in Philadelphia to the most discontented forward in Columbus, has apparently seriously perked up the Kings' offense since being traded to LA at the deadline.

So, first of all, it's really adorable that Carter and Richie are back together again. Eligible Los Angeles women between the ages of 18 and, let's say, 23 haven't dealt with such a dynamic sexual duo since the glory days of Vincent Chase and Johnny Drama.

But for the love of all things holy, won't someone please think of the children...and Kings fans? (Side note: I'm assuming they exist).

Wishful Thinking: Making Tebow An Eagle

Uh, hi God.  It’s me Aaron.  I know I haven’t done this in a while or ever and for that I’m sorry.  Anyway I know I have a lot of sins to confess.  Or wait, I’m Jewish, do you care about my sins?  Well better safe than sorry I suppose right.  So anyway, I’m sorry for running over that squirrel a few weeks ago and not turning around to see if it was all right.  Um what else, o yea that time I dared Sam Greenstein to eat that piece of poop and he did it, even though that was pretty funny.  The countless numbers of drugs, alcohol and Chipolte I've poisoned my body with.  And let’s not forget the 7,496 times I’ve masturbated since I was 13 including today.  I think that’s about it, if there is anything else I’m forgetting please don’t hesitate to give me a pimple or something.

You see I have this problem that only you in your infinite grace can help me out with.  As you know Tim Tebow will be released or traded soon from the Denver Broncos.  And I want him.  BADLY!  And seeing as he is the closest thing to your son that I’ve ever seen I figured you would be the one to get in contact with.  Jeez that was a lot of pro nouns in one sentence, am I right? Hahaha.  Woo, any way is there maybe anything that I could do or maybe you could do to bring him over here. 

Can we bring back Wilson?

Howard, Utley, Martinez.  3 players whom will now (barring a miracle) start the season on the DL.  Replacing them?  Freddy Galvis and.......uh....... Pete Orr?  Hector Luna?  Kevin Frandsen?  (I actually would have been ok with Frandsen, except for the fact that the Phillies are so high on him that they already sent him to minor league camp).  By trading away their top util. player for a reliever that can't even crack the 40 man roster, the Phillies have left themselves in the perilous position of lacking a backup middle infielder.  While Martinez's injury was unexpected, he is far from a great option when healthy.  A serious injury to Rollins and it would have meant Galvis, not Martinez, getting extended play at SS.  The problem now is that with Utley down, Galvis moves to 2nd.  Martinez then becomes the long term SS backup.  So who becomes the short term backup?  What happens now if Rollins gets hurt again?

DeMeco Ryans, defensive savior?

How can you not love the deal that brings two-time Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans to the Eagles for a fourth round draft pick?

The Eagles, as usual, have a ton of draft picks. And the Eagles, as usual, had a serious problem at the linebacker position.

Even until today, it was widely assumed that the Eagles would look to move on either Curtis Lofton, Stephen Tulloch, or London Fletcher once their asking prices dropped, or would look at Luke Kuechly if he were available at their spot in the first round of the draft.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chase Utley

Today's news that Chase will likely miss opening day is nothing short of devastating.  The fact that he had yet to play in a game was alarming, but I was optimistic that his rehab was coming along and he would come back at a high level.  Though Chase was far from his usual self at the plate last year, he still played strong defense and was nothing short of torrid on the base paths.  With a full off-seasons of rehab, it seemed a near certainty that he would dramatically improve his conditioning and be able to play through his knee problems at a high level  for at least 1 more season.  If there is one player who I would categorize as tough, it's Chase Utley, and if he can't play through this thing, nobody could.  Hopefully he will be able to make it back and play at a high level, but that now seems far from a certainty.  The Phillies are now left with some combination of Freddy Galvis, Ty Wigginton, Jim Thome, Pete Orr, Kevin Frandson, Michael Martinez, Laynce Nix, Juan Pierre/Scott Podsednik and John Mayberry covering spots that have been filled for what seems like an eternity by Howard, Ultey and Burrell/Ibanez.  Given health for Hamels, Lee, and Halladay, there is no reason that the Phillies shouldn't be able to still achieve greatness, but this is a serious blow that could prove costly.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Why I don't owe Ilya Bryzgalov an apology

Before we start, let's make a couple of things clear. I hold these truths to be self-evident:

1. For the first five months of the season, Bryzgalov was terrible. Not just mediocre, terrible. As in, not-starting-caliber terrible. And he was at his worst against the Bruins and Rangers. So he earned every word of derision he got during that time.

2. Six games does not a season make. As phenomenal as he has looked--and I watch just about every game, and he has truly been superb--none of this matters if he doesn't sustain it through the playoffs. He doesn't need to post four shutouts every six games, but he does need to sustain the success he's had in the second half as a whole.

Dontrelle Willis Released

I'll admit that I was intrigued when he was signed, but ultimately think this is the right move.  The Phillies are loaded with major league caliber relievers who were slated for AAA and now one of them will get a shot with the team.  Savery or Diekman will likely be first in line as the Phils are likely to prioritize a lefty.

I think somebody owes him an apology......

Well, the streak ended last night.  Bryz had another fantastic game, and was 8 minutes away from his 5th shut-out in six games.  Not even Patrick Roy could have stopped the two goals that went in last night.  What Bryz's streak and overall dominant play of late has shown is that he is more than capable of being a quality goal-tender.  Clearly Bryz is a bit of a headcase, but it seems  he may have finally figured things out.  Granted it took far too long, but this career change was unprecedented for Bryz.  Sure, it may just be a hot streak, but for a goalie who has looked so bad all season to all of a sudden look THIS good, combined with his track record of past success, indicates that this very well may be a lot closer to the real Bryz then the one that has donned the pads all season.  All during this streak Mike Haas, Bryz's #1 detractor in Philadelphia has stayed silent.  Mike, it's time you at least acknowledged that Bryz does not need to be kidnapped or cut and  apologize.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Eagles, Why?

$50 million to DeSean.  Last year's hold-out, temper-tantrum, and lack of effort should have shown that this guy is a great talent but a poor character player.  Sure, you can make the argument that now that he got paid he'll be happy.  But the sheer lack of effort he displayed last year is inexcusable.  I no longer want him on my team.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


The streak continues!

Things that infuriated me: Week of March 4

This is a couple days late. But I don't really care, and neither should you. At least it's warm out. Unfortunately for some things, the relative mildness of the weather this past week didn't distract me from being enraged by stuff. In other news, can you tell that I stopped caring about the introduction to this column?

The Sports Guy's Take On The Weird NFL Offseason

Hi there, it's me Bill Simmons! You might be wondering what I'm doing here, and quite frankly me to.  I woke up in some guys van was kindly asked to write for this amazing blog and couldn't, like literally wasn't allowed to say 'NO'!  So I’ll just have to take a break from my regularly scheduled once a week basketball column and podcast tapings to cover something I haven’t done in awhile.  No, not reality TV although this season of the Jersey Shore has been unwatchable, or The Wire even though we did have a two week “What the Fuck is the Point of a The Wire Bracket” contest on my website; So while we both wait for the swat team to show I'll turn my attention back to football with just a sprinkling of bullshit pop culture comments to make me seem cool and edgy even though these references will be hilariously out of date. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rod Barajas Blows

Haas, Moss?  (see post below)


The streak continues

On the Jon: March 10, 2012

Now that the Peyton Manning  where-will-he-play saga has been in full force for a few days, there has been ample time for somebody--anybody--to postulate, just for a second, that signing Manning might NOT be as wise as it seems.

Well, they haven't.

Fortunately for the six of you who read this blog, though, those days are over. Today, On the Jon proudly presents the novel notion that Peyton Manning, gasp, might not be worth it.

Holmgren's re-engineering deserves end-of-year hardware

As we move into the final fifth of the NHL season, the awards races have pretty much taken shape. Henrik Lundqvist and Evgeni Malkin will probably battle it out for MVP (sorry, G, but without a big stretch run I don't think you've got the votes). Lundqvist is far and away the front-runner for Vezina. Ken Hitchcock has got to be considered the favorite for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year.

But one deserving candidate isn't getting any of the publicity he absolutely deserves. How is Paul Holmgren not among the top names mentioned for GM of the year?

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Time With The Phillies (Part 3)

“Hey Pap’s wait up.” I called out as I left the locker room.
“What it do bro?”
“Yea I just saw your comments on Boston fans vs. Philly fans and gotta say couldn’t agree more.”
“Just speaking the truth Sherlock Brolmes.  Just gotta be me, JP.”

The Seduction of Peyton Manning

Phone rings.
“Aaron, it’s me Peyton.”
“Oh, hey! How’s it going?”
“I can’t, I just can’t stop crying Aaron.  I’m sitting here in the dark eating uncooked ham and just crying.  I need to talk to somebody right now; do you think you could come over?”
“I’ll be right there.”
I had met Peyton a few years ago after he caught me trying to stab his brother with a pen.  He thought it was funny and kept me around whenever he needed a good laugh.  So when I saw the press conference I figured this call was imminent.  But tonight would be about more than just trying to cheer up a depressed superstar.  This was going to be about business.  I got up, put on a low-cut shirt and grabbed a bottle of wine.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Only caught part of the game and was only part paying attention, but since my last post was at least partly responsible for his continued good play, I will keep it up.  (though I must note that the little I did pay attention to he was way too far out of his net, got saved by some timely defense, and all and all wasn't getting pressured).

Rod Barajas Blows

I caught a bit of the Phillies game today with Aaron and Weiner, and Rod Barajas happened to come up to the plate.  Like any good Phillies fan, I immediately started ranting about what a piece of shit Rod Barajas was, leaving both Aaron and Weiner perplexed.  The fact that they were perplexed left me even more perplexed, necessitating this blog post.  Am I the only one that remembers Rod Barajas being too much of a pussy to block the plate, thus allowing a tying run to score, thus causing Brett Myers (I believe) to have to pitch into extra innings, leading directly to him injuring his arm?  I would post the video, but I couldn't find it on youtube.

If the Eagles want to make their bed with Mike Vick...

Then let them lay in it.

Yesterday, talking to the Daily News, Andy Reid basically shot down the Peyton Manning rumors. In doing so, he said the Eagles were "obviously happy with Mike Vick."

Really? You're "obviously" happy with an injury-prone, turnover-prone quarterback who has never won anything and has managed only one really great season in his lengthy career?

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Defense of the New MLB Playoff Structure

(The following viewpoints express those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the entire Heckling Santa editorial board)


Is it really a new structure, though, when only one additional game is created? Technically, no, but the advantages it affords division winners is palpable.

The Phillies Win The World Series (And 29 Other Baseball Predictions)

March is here, possibly the most wonderful time of year.  The snow has melted, the birds are coming home and the sun is actually up when I am.  And then of course the sports.  There is no better month for sports.  Hockey and Basketball seasons are just starting to get interesting; there is excessive reporting on the NFL draft.  And then of course the Big East and Friends tournament, otherwise known as March Madness. 
But what truly makes March special is of course the start of Baseball, and since only sex and free t-shirts are better than gambling I’ve decided to take this time and compile a listing of everything that will happen over the course of the long season.  So sit back and relax, you now have seven months off to devote your time to do anything else because you’ll already know how the season will end.  I recommend starting War and Peace.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Things that infuriated me: Week of Feb. 26

Compared to the idiocy of the Daytona 500 and the NBA All-Star game/weekend, this was a relatively quiet week for me in terms of infuriating things. And then Bud Selig's slowly melting face had to go and ruin things.

Led off by the thing that's undoubtedly going to harm the Phillies' title hopes in some way, here are a couple things that really ground my gears this week.

1. The new MLB playoff structure.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bud Selig and the MLB Playoffs: A Tragicomedy

Forgive me for believing, if only for a moment, that the incredible end to baseball's regular season last year might have stayed whatever idiocy Bud Selig had cooked up for the future.

Unfortunately, not even perhaps the greatest final month of baseball in the history of the sport could stop the inexorable march toward a second wild card team.

Remember the Rays' incredible come-from-behind win against the Yankees in the season's last game? The Orioles celebrating their victory over the Red Sox as though they'd just won the pennant? In 2012, it won't matter.

How about the Phillies sweeping the Braves in Atlanta in the season's final series to dash a hated rival's playoff hopes? In 2012, you'd be forgiven for not tuning in.

Seriously, Eagles, WTF?

Am I the only one that's seriously confused by the Eagles right now?

Here's a team that got way over-hyped, had some fatal and obvious flaws (Juan Castillo and Casey Matthews, among others) lead to a disappointing 8-8 season, and missed the playoffs. They fired nobody of consequence, let go (so far) of zero notable players, and have generally been running around like chickens with their heads cut off. If there's a plan in place here that goes beyond shouting "Mulligan!" I can't figure out what it is.

Let's recap the offseason so far:

Friday, March 2, 2012

The REAL All-Star Fix

It seems within the last week, every writer on this site has put forth their all-star game fixes except for me.  Well, the time has come:


Historically from what I understand, the all-star game, particularly in baseball, was a big deal.  It was a chance to see the best players in the league on TV and ............STOP!  I think I may have just figured out the problem.  This is more a guess than a well researched opinion, but I think the lost allure in all-star games might have something to do with television.  Put yourselves back in time 20 or 30 years ago (or many more).  You couldn't turn on your TV and watch sports center 30 times a day to see superstars, or have multiple nationally televised games on every night.  Further, there was no internet with blog posts and newspaper articles and streaming video.  If you wanted to see the best players in the world, your best shot may have been the all-star game.  Again, I could betotally wrong on this one, but I think the overall lack of exposure in the day caused the all-star game to be a much more anticipated spectacle.  Today, we all see Albert Pujols and Dwight Howard, and Evgeni Malkin, and Tom Brady practically everyday.  Why tune in too watch them play in a meaningless exhibition game.  Yes, I hear the screams now: "THE MLB ALL-STAR GAME IS MEANINGFUL!"

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why Obama is Talking to Bill Simmons

An aid sprinted down the twisting corridors of the West Wing frantically in search of the President of the United States.  In his hand were the results that would decide the country’s immediate future.  After scurrying around assorted staff members and ass kissers he finally found him in the Oval Office. 
“Mr. President, the results just came in and it doesn’t look good.”
President Obama was staring out onto the Rose Garden in deep contemplation.  He nodded slowly still staring out into the distance.  “The Mormon got ‘em both huh?” 
“Yes sir.  Mr. Romney won both Michigan and Arizona by a comfortable margin.”  Again the President nodded, looking like he knew all along how this whole dance would play out.
“Convene a meeting of my cabinet; it looks like I’m going to have to start campaigning.”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Things that infuriated me: Week of Feb 19

So, the past week was a pretty fantastic one for sports events that I couldn't care less about, including the Daytona 500 (why drive on Sunday when you can put it off til Monday, especially if nobody noticed?) and the NBA All-Star Weekend (or as I like to call it, a welcome respite from the drudgery of the NBA regular season).

5 More Solutions to the NBA ASG

As posted, Jon Moss wants to fix NBA All Star Weekend.  Great idea, and while we’re at it how about we fill the Hindenburg up again after we surface the Titanic.  But in the spirit of the season I’ve come up with my own list of suggestions which will not get implemented either.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Three Simple Fixes for the NBA All Star "Game"

Way back in my high school days I was a quasi-intern for Glen Macnow at WIP and happened to be in the studio on an otherwise boring Tuesday night in July.

What made that particular night unique, however, was that the only thing worth a damn on TV was the MLB All Star Game.

In the midst of the only three calendar days completely devoid of any regulation games in the four major sports, Glen was experiencing a predictably slow night on the phones. So, in order to drum up callers and, eventually, the vibrant discussions and debates that define sports talk radio, he charged me with the task of devising ways to improve the All Star Game.

The fact that he liked my suggestion--to divide the stars not by league but by nationality, creating a Team USA vs. Team World scenario that had been successfully implemented in the NHL--is not important here, as I don't want to clog the blog by elucidating my greatness and creativity. What is relevant, however, is that I decided to put those same wheels into motion last night while suffering through the NBA All Star "Game," won by the West (I think) by an approximate score of 600-590.

Sure, the All Star game--and the litany of attractions and events that precede it--have become a spectacle for the fans, but is there anyone out there who thinks the game itself can't be improved?  Well color me optimistic.

In fact, here are three sure-to-never-be-considered ways, in ascending order of appeal and practicality, to do just that. Tell me that any of these wouldn't add at least a modicum of give-a-shit to the annual dunk-a-thon that has featured the same eight guys for a decade.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

On the Jon: February 26, 2012

The end of February can only mean one thing.

No, not Dave Rublin's return to America, which lasts apparently til "1 March" (or, as we call it, March 1). And not the beginning of the rigorous Grapefruit League schedule.

The end of February, you see, means that March is upon us. And March for sports fans means college basketball. More specifically, March means March Madness.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Remember when the NBA All Star game meant something?

I was listening to 97.5 earlier today, and they really brought up a good and what I feel is a relevant point among the myriad reasons why people don't like the NBA.  Before 1995, All-Star weekend consisted of the 3-point shootout, the dunk contest, and the All-Star game itself.  That was great.  Then they added the Rookie game in 1995, and even that was interesting to a certain degree.  Then the following occured:

1.  A celebrity game, with "celebrity" being the operative word.  A bunch of D-listers complimented by the occasional legitimate famous person.
2.  The skills challenge, showing us how well Tony Parker and company can pass a ball through a hoop and dribble around cardboard cutout defenders.
3.  The "Shooting Stars Competition", in which an NBA player, WNBA player, and a retired NBA player play 3 on 3 basketball representing their city.  AKA, a role player, a woman nobody has ever heard of, and a player from the 80's or 90's that we may or may not know.
4.  The "D-League" All-Star Game, Dunk contest, 3 point shootout, and H-O-R-S-E competition.


5 Reasons for the Flyers Struggles (Besides Goaltending)

Hockey is a team sport.  No one player will be the difference between being a lottery pick and hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup.  No, you win as a team and you lose as a team.  All the talk in Philadelphia not revolving around the sinking Sixers sudden skid or where to put a sniper rifle in Lehigh has been focused on Ilya Bryzgalov.  Yes he has been as steady as the San Francisco fault line, but he is not the only reason the Flyers are struggling this season. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ryan Braun

A simple question: If reports are true and Ryan Braun only won his case because of a technicality, how can he still claim his innocence?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How to deal with Ilya Bryzgalov (hint: kidnapping)

At the risk of beating a dead goalie, I'd like to take this opportunity to continue to rip on Ilya Bryzgalov. Most of all, I'd like to try to explore some of the ways in which we might be able to move him off the roster--and off our payroll--before 2020, when his contract expires (seriously, 2020. Chew on that number).

First, the ripping.

My Tryout With The Phillies (part 2)

 “Hey buddy get up, time for practice.  Come on man.  This is so exciting to be back at camp, I can’t wait to show Uncle Charlie all my new tricks and tell ghost stories to Carlos and…”
“Cole if you don’t shut up I’m going to skull fuck your wife until she shits cum.”
As I came to grips with my hangover I thought back to last night where I had gone out with all the bullpen guys.  This was the way according to Paps that all the pitchers in Boston bounded.  I remember trying to go shot for shot with him and his douchey Affliction tee but fell short after 10 Jagger bombs.  The alcohol only made him stronger.
“Come on bro, this party is just getting started!” he screamed while dancing an Irish jig, looking like a complete tool.  God I wish we had kept Madson instead of this ass clown.

Peanut Head

This gem was on Philly.com today.  That is all

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Phillies Contracts and the Luxury Tax

Evaluating Ibanez got me thinking about the Phillies contracts.  As Mr. Haas pointed out in his comment, it is difficult to evaluate Phillies contracts in terms of cost, as their budget is so big.  To an extent I agree.  I also am a firm believer that to get a desired player on the free agent market, it may be necessary to not only overpay in terms of average salary, but it may be necessary to overpay in terms of years.

Evaluating the Ibanez Contract

Now that Raul has officially donned Pinstripes (and not Phillies pinstripes), it is time to evaluate his tenure with the Phillies, focusing of course on his contract.  When the Phils signed Raul, I, as a lifelong Pat Burrell fan, was immediately disappointed.  But trying to be objective, I saw Raul as a good immediate signing that would ultimately be costly and make the Phillies overly left-handed.  In retrospect, I was right.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Plea for Paul Holmgren: Resist Nash

As I posted earlier today, the Flyers have a rich history of deadline shopping, often bringing in big names. Defensemen Nick Grossman and Pavel Kubina are the latest to join the team mid-season.

And yet, it appears the Flyers may not be done. Against all odds, rumors involving Columbus winger Rick Nash continue to build momentum. Trust me when I say the deal would be a huge mistake.

Some background: Nash is an elite forward, having scored 30 goals six times in the last seven seasons. The Blue Jackets are easily the worst team in the NHL. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren met with his Columbus counterpart Scott Howson on Saturday. Howson brought his top advisor to the meeting, and the Jackets have apparently had scouts at each of the Flyers' last two games.

I'm not one to dispute Nash's talent. And a Nash/Claude Giroux pairing would instantly be one of the most electric in the league. And yet here I am, with a desperate plea:

Don't do the Nash deal.

Flyers again left searching for missing pieces (UPDATE)

In 2002, it was Adam Oates. In 2003, it was Tony Amonte and Sami Kapanen. In 2004, it was Alex Zhamnov and Vladimir Malakhov. In 2006, it was Peter Nedved. In 2008, it was Vinny Prospal. In 2011, it was Kris Versteeg.

Yes, the Flyers search for in-season missing pieces is a long and storied one. And, as you'll recall, none of those seasons ended in parades. Of those players, only Kapanen made a significant impact past the season in which he was acquired (and boy, did I love me some Sami Kapanen).

And so we find ourselves in 2012, with shiny new toys in Nick Grossman and Pavel Kubina.

Kendrick Extension Update

Of note is the fact that Kendrick's base salary (not including potential incentives) decreases by about 500k for this season.  Seems to be another way the Phillies are trying to stay under the luxury tax. (*Edit: As astutely pointed out by contributor Fantusta, luxury tax is compiled via AAV of a total contract.  Therefore this move has virtually zero effect on the luxury tax for this season).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Things that infuriated me: Week of Feb. 12

Right about now, you're probably sitting at home, getting ready for another week of work. You just watched the entire anniversary performance of Les Miserables on NJTV, which you accidentally turned on but couldn't turn off (in part because it was hilarious to watch the train wreck that was Nick Jonas--yes, that Nick Jonas--butchering the role of Marius).

As you slowly emerge from a Sunday dinner food coma and wish you didn't have to wake up so goddamned early tomorrow, you find yourself idly wondering: What pissed off Mike Haas this week?

What MLB Could Learn from English Football

As the resident expatriate writer for this site, I possess the ignorance of distance from the pulse of Philadelphia sports (strangely, Cole Hamels' long-toss sessions in Clearwater go unreported by the BBC). Largely unaware of the sports minutiae exhaustively covered by ESPN and Philadelphia media necessary to provide insightful commentary into the Sixers' impending playoff loss to the Heat or Bulls in 6 hard-fought games or the Flyers' implosion, I've adopted the local custom of ardently following football/soccer. While I won't venture further into the beautiful game for fear of my fellow writers choking on their AMERICAN-MADE soft pretzels and cheesesteaks in outrage (dying On the Jon is probably not the best way to go), I believe that American sports--and baseball in particular--could learn from the meritocratic ethos in English soccer.

My Tryout With The Phillies (part 1)

What the hell am I doing here? 

The question had been plaguing my thoughts for the last 24 hours.  I knew where I was and I how I got there, but for the life of me I didn’t know why I was chosen.  Sure I had a nasty slider and could hit to all fields but that was with a whiffle ball.  I hadn’t even played ball since riding the pine in ninth grade JV.  So how in the hell did they get a hold of my scouting tape?  Who even made a scouting tape of me?  Weird.  Now I had to figure out who was stalking me and how I'm going to make the Phillies.

On the Jon: February 19, 2012

As promised in the previous post, this column will usually be reserved for Philadelphia-related commentary. So as much as I’d like to criticize Tiger Woods’ final round performance a week ago or Dereck Chisora’s “slap-you-at-the-weigh-in-and-then-get-my-ass-kicked-by-you-in-the-fight” dalliance with Vitali Klitschko, I’ll cchannel my prose towards our beloved city’s current punching bag: the Flyers’ goaltending situation.

As was poetically on display yesterday in another ugly home loss, the Flyers’ crease is about as open as a slut on prom night. Actually, make that two sluts on prom night, ascneither Ilya Bryzgalov nor Sergei Bobrovsky seem capable of saying no to anything right about now.

On the Jon has returned!

For those of you familiar with my famed “On the Jon” column from The Merionite circa 2006, I’m going to bring it back here on a weekly basis. And since my Sunday john session are equal parts rewarding and relaxing, let’s go ahead and declare these posts the newest Sunday ritual, right up there with eggs, bacon, church and a DVR-ed episode of “My Big Redneck Vacation” on

On the Jon will pretty much be me writing about whatever I want. I’ll try to make at least part of the posts germane to Philadelphia sports, but they won’t always be. I also might pull an ESPN and slip in a racially “Lin-sensitive” remark or two. I apologize in advance, as my goal is humor with a sprinkling of insight and nothing more.

Kendrick Signs Extension

Very surprised by this move.  Only a 2 year deal (at 7 million and change) that buys out another year of arbitration, but it is the first time ever that the Phillies have shown any type of legitimate faith in Kendrick.  Seemingly, if he remained in the bullpen or had a down year, he would not be in-line for any sort of raise or would merely be released or traded.  He really progressed as a pitcher last year, and in my mind would present a better #5 option at this point than Fat Joe.

Spring Training Roster Battles.

I'm not sure why there has been such a major posting lull on the HC, but that needs to change.  With pitcher/catchers reporting today, it is the perfect time to discuss some roster battles

Recently, the Phillies have preferred to carry 7 relief pitchers and 5 bench players.  The following players are all but guaranteed roster spots: Scheinder, Wigginton, Nix, Thome, Papelbon, Qualls, Bastardo, Kendrick.  Presumably, that leaves 1 bench spot open and 3 relief spots open.  The ratio obviously changing if the Phils decide to go with an extra bench player.  Presumably, Ryan Howard will start the season on the DL, leading directly to a Wigginton/Nix/Thome/Mayberry platoon at 1st and an additional bench spot opening up.  The favorite for at least one of those spots has to be Mini-Mart Michael Martinez.  None of the above mentioned options can play SS, and someone is going to have to.  Look for some competition from Pete Orr, but it would be a shocker, barring another roster move, to see Martinez left off the 25-man roster.  The other spot will presumably go to Juan Pierre to play the 5th OF's role, with competition from Scott Podsednik.  The bullpen competition will largely depend on health and spring training performance.  Contreras, with his guaranteed salary and strong track record will certainly be guaranteed one of the 3 spots if healthy.  Dontrelle Willis is on  non-guaranteed contract, but will also be the primary favorite to be the 2nd lefty out of the pen.  That would leave 1 player fighting for the last spot: David Herndon, who was dominant in the 2nd half last year but seems to have fallen out of favor with the team is a possibility.  Mike Stutes faded down the stretch but was one of the top arms last year and probably is the favorite, but needs a strong spring.  Rookies De Fratus, Schwimmer, Savery, and Aumont could all sneak in with a monster spring.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Aaron Kaplan's: Wait, What?

In my new segment I will be making fun of people who make it all too easy.

For the inaugural class I am honoring Roddy White.  On finding out that his boss Roger Goodell would be making a total of $20 million per year had this to say: "How in the hell can u pay a man this much money that cant run tackle or catch," Indeed Roddy: how could a man who is only The Commissioner of the most profitable league in America make such an outstanding salary.  I mean when was the last time you saw Goodell try to bust up a wedge or cover the blindside on a naked bootleg.  Kudos to you Roddy for noticing this incongruity and continue to make only $50 million over the next six years to just catch the ball.  Got any more useful things to say: "Roger Goodell is getting over never seen anything like it 20 million for looking over the league with tremendous help I guess the NFL is banking," Indeed.

My Night with Paul Holmgren

The wind ripped through my body like knives through Swiss cheese.  It was snowing harder now than it was an hour before.  “Damn it’s cold” I said to the darkness.  It was close to 3:00 am; not a good time to be prowling the streets of West Philadelphia, but I was on a mission.  So I kept trudging forward, my feet were almost numb; I had been walking for little more than 20 minutes without any success.  After striking out at the local Walmart I left in search of sex, even if it meant paying for it.  Usually at this part of town the nightwalkers were everywhere, seemingly coming out from the ground, like that scene in Lord of the Rings, but with miniskirts and meth mouth.  But like everyone else who had half a brain they were all inside.  I took the $20 I had pinned to my collar and put it back in my wallet.  It seemed the only lovin I was gonna get tonight would be from ‘Jill’ and a bottle of Lubriderm. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Why DeSean is More Valuable than You Think, and the Obligatory Randy Moss Post

Today has the potential of being a pivotal one in the future of the Philadelphia Eagles, what with news breaking that they are expected to franchise DeSean Jackson and that Randy Moss is attempting a comeback.

Randy Moss is doing what?!? How does that affect the Eagles? They would never…would they?

On the surface, I’ll concede that it seems preposterous that the 2012 Eagles will have both Jackson and Moss on the roster once Lehigh time rolls around. But let’s conceive the inconceivable for a second because we’re all Philadelphians and that’s what we do.

I’ll start with Jackson, clearly the more likely to be in the fold.

We all know his numbers dropped this past season, falling well below his career averages. I’m not going to bore you with statistical breakdowns illustrating it because we all watched the games and we all saw—and in a sense didn’t see—Jackson’s performance and we all have questions about his ability to regain the game-breaking ability with which he had become synonymous in his first few years in the league.

So why would a $9.5 million franchise tag be warranted for an undersized, mercurial, concussion-prone receiver, especially when there are other alternatives out there in free agency, namely Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson and the guy I’ll talk about shortly?

Because, and this is a dirty little secret that manifests itself when #10 isn’t on the field, the rest of the Eagles’ receiving corps is not that good.

Without Jackson, we’re leading off with Jeremy Maclin, a nice complementary option but by no means consistent enough to be a top flight target. For those who disagree, I refer you to his fourth down drop against Atlanta, his costly fumble against the Giants and his inexplicably tripping over the turf monster on fourth down against Chicago. And that was just in 2011. If Maclin makes any of those plays, well, let’s not get into what might have been.

After Maclin come Jason Avant and Riley Cooper. While everyone who knows me knows I’m extremely fond of Avant, he’s the quintessential slot receiver/third down option. As long as you have vertical threats softening up the defense, Avant and his Freddie Mitchell-esque hands will find holes, make plays and move the chains. But Jason Avants are rendered ineffective without explosive playmakers lining up outside them as focal points for the defense. That’s just the way football works at the professional level.

Oh, and Riley Cooper sucks. No further analysis needed.

So, the choice is yours, Eagle fans. Well, not really, since it’s up to Jeffrey Lurie and Joe “Still No Championship” Banner and company. But evaluate the situation objectively. Without DeSean Jackson, you’re talking yourself into a receiving corps devoid of the Birds’ trademark explosiveness. Sure, you can pursue a big-name replacement or explore options in the draft—and it is worth noting that if/when Jackson is tagged, another team can potentially sign him to a long-term contract at the perilous expense of two first round picks—or you can get creative.


Well, provided none of the other 31 rolling stones known as NFL franchises decide to gather him, might the Eagles consider the once-electric Moss? (No relation to the author of this column, although the inquiries are recognized, understood and appreciated.)

While his announcement regarding a potential comeback is less than a day old and there has been little association between Moss and any team other than New England, we’ve seen the Eagles make big splashes out of nowhere before.

Consider the probables, however, and it makes more than a modicum of sense. Moss will undoubtedly only sign with a contender, and only those with established quarterbacks will likely even inquire about his services. Those two criteria alone eliminate the majority of NFL teams, and even more would be afraid, and rightfully so, that signing Moss would do little more than recruit a disinterested head case most recently seen languishing Iversonially on three teams in 2010.

For the Eagles, though, the rewards greatly outweigh the risks.

Regardless of how they proceed with Jackson, there will be the aura of potential resuscitation around Moss that has lured Reid before (see: Vick, Michael). EVERYONE knows next year is a Super-Bowl-or-bust one for both Reid and Vick, so why not take a shot on Moss, who at 35 is still capable of being an effective option if and when he’s interested in playing? And playing with Vick, formerly voted the most desired teammate by NFL players, would almost certainly pique Moss’ interest.

It should also be noted that rumors were rampantly circulating last summer that Vick and the Eagles were courting Moss to join the once-famous “Dream Team,” so any speculation once again linking the two parties isn’t exactly baseless.

So what should the Eagles do? Pay DeSean Jackson like a top-tier NFL receiver? Dangle him as trade bait and see who bites? Kick the tires on an aging superstar on the ever-elusive quest for one magical year?

Knowing the Eagles, they will explore all of the above. But it’s also worth noting that they have as many legitimate red zone threats as they do Super Bowls as they do roster members currently wearing Moss’ #84 jersey.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Things that infuriated me: Week of Feb. 5

I think we've found a new weekly feature, wherein I complain about things that bothered me during the previous week! Sounds like fun. Let's get started.

1. Eli Manning's Hall of Fame candidacy

Let DeSean Walk

I'd like to preface this post by saying that DeSean Jackson is an incredibly talented player and has been vastly underpaid during the length of his rookie contract.  Though I'm not well versed on football contracts, from what I understand, DeSean was basically forced into his deal based off of his draft position and the rookie wage scale, and he had every right to bitch and moan that he was underpaid.  Now that he has finally hit free agency and is looking to cash in, which he deserves to do, I think the Eagles should keep their checkbook shut.

My reasoning for not wanting DeSean back is primarily three-pronged.  First, DeSean has shown T.O. like cancerous tendencies.  Second, DeSean is a constant injury to happen.  And third, I presume because of his contract situation and fear of sustaining a third (?) career NFL concussion, he does not go all out on the football field.

In a sense all three of these prongs are combined, so I will just address them in one long, rambling, semi-un-concise post.