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.

Flyers always have next year...again

There seems to be this predominant sense that the Flyers have to upgrade at the trade deadline.

Another embarrassing loss to the Rangers underscored that notion for a lot of people. But it's wrong, and it would be counterproductive.

What do we know about the Flyers this season? Well, we know the rookies have been outstanding. We know that Chris Pronger isn't coming back. And we know that Ilya Bryzgalov isn't as good as was advertised.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

An Open Letter to the City of New York

Dear New York,

Fuck you. 

As I sit here watching the final few minutes of the latest Rangers ass kicking of the Flyers I can’t help but be reminded over how much I fucking hate you. 

In a quick rundown of my least favorite teams in no particular order you will see a recurring pattern:

Cowboys, Giants, Braves, Mets, Rangers, Devils, Sabers, Penguins, Buccaneers/Lightning, Cardinals/Yankees/Red Sox

Almost 50% of my sports hatred is dedicated to your sports teams (Bills, Islanders you’re cool).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Should the Eagles consider signing Plax?
Only if he can be defensive coordinator
pollcode.com free polls 

One more argument against Plax: The red zone (in)efficiency myth

I promise this is my last Plax-related post (unless we actually--and stupidly--sign him), but I had to respond to Aaron's post.

Really the only argument to be made for signing Burress is that he would be a credible red zone threat. Let's go ahead and dispel a couple of myths here using the magic of statistics.

First of all, there's some debate about whether red zone efficiency is a myth. How much does it contribute to win probability?

Iguodala Deserves All-Star Spot

For the first time since a gentleman by the name of Iverson bulldogged his way to the top of the NBA scoring charts, the Philadelphia 76ers have an All-Star to call their own. And let me be the next (or first?) to say that this AI is more than deserving.

Look, we’re all aware of the clichés used to chronicle the 2011-12 Sixers’ sudden ascendance: tough defense, unselfish play, spread-the-wealth scoring, a general whatever-it-takes attitude for 48 minutes. Sometimes, however, clichés serve a purpose. And on a Sixers squad equally devoid of superstars and lush with youth and athleticism, nobody exemplifies the tried and true coachspeak quite like Iguodala, whose propensity to rack up rebounds, assists and steals as well as points has led to more wins after 26 games than anyone had expected.

We’ll leave the off-balance jump shots and critical missed free throws out of the equation, though, since, well, since I don’t want to harp on the negative.

The Sixers are currently 18-8, have a 3.5-game lead over the Celtics in the Atlantic Division and are undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the NBA season. Iguodala, for his part, is averaging 13 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists a game, in addition to stifling some of the NBA’s best shooting
guards and small forwards on a nightly basis. But really? Since when did 13-7-5 get you an All-Star nod? Well, sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Like all NBA teams, the are playing 66 games in 120 days this season. Personally, I, as a fan becoming progressively more involved in the team, love it. Gone are the days of 2 games in a week, all but curtailing any chance of momentum and flow within a team. In this abbreviated season, however, we’re seeing Iguodala’s myriad talents on display nightly.

Not only is he the team’s best all-around player, he’s also the leader. He’s the one all the young guys—Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks—look up to. Has he been in the league as long as Elton Brand or Tony Battie? No. But players in all sports look up to those who play similar positions, and last time I checked Brand and Battie weren’t playing airtight perimeter defense on Kobe and Carmelo.

Iggy’s ability to bring it every night—three, four, even five times in a given week—sets the tone for the rest of the squad, and for that he deserves every accolade he receives this year.

Plax wants to play with the Eagles? Hell yea!

Plaxico Burress is reportedly interested in flying with the birds next season, and I couldn’t want it more. It’s not often you can get a 6’5 reciever who should have been the Super Bowl MVP for nothing.  Think about it a two year deal worth what, call it 8 mill tops and that’s including incentives, that is a risk worth taking.
As my esteemed colleague Haas has pointed out Plax is 34 coming off a prison sentence for shooting himself in the leg, proving that God has a great sense of irony, and the worst season of his career.  But who cares.  Vick came out of prison, sucked his first year back and then won the comeback player of the year and had an outside chance of winning MVP.  Plax won’t do that.  But what he can do is give us a reliable red zone threat something we haven’t had since my boy Chad Lewis left.  He gives us size which is critical when you have a quarterback who is as fond of overthrowing as Donovan McNabb was at under throwing. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How I Saved Baseball

Scene:  July 17 2009.  The air is sticky as the fans aren’t  rotating fast or hard enough.  There are too many people squeezed inside this small Grishamish courtroom.  A media firestorm has been set off with the murder of longtime Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.  Reporters and cameramen have been allowed inside and the whole back half of the room is stuffed with men in nice suites, cameramen in jeans and mustard stained tee shirts and Erin Andrews who seemingly brought her own equipment. 
The trial of the century Aaron Kaplan V. Baseball is about to begin.
The Judge stares down at the defendants table where a stoic, serene man is sitting visibly enjoying the attention he has caused. 
“In light of the damning video tape evidence against you Mr. Kaplan how do you plead?” 
The defendant rises.  He is wearing a crisp black suit with a starched white shirt and Kanye West sunglasses, looking baller as hell, not even sweating despite the oppressive heat.  He has decided to forgo his right to an attorney and defend himself.  “I plead NOT GUILTY on the grounds that this was a crime of self defense!”
Cameras flash and the sound of the fans are drowned out by the cries of the spectators and Selig’s lawyers.  Erin Andrews subtly unbuttons the top of her blouse.

Plax wants to play with Eagles, but no thanks

CBS Sports is reporting, via Howard Eskin, that Plaxico Burress "badly" wants to play for the Eagles next season.

Of course, it's always exciting when a player wants to join the hometown team, so at first I was excited.

Then I remembered that Burress isn't a linebacker. Or a safety. Or a defensive coordinator. And this is just a guess, but they probably won't put him in charge of clock management, either.

No, Burress is just a 34-year old receiver who caught 45 balls last season, cracking 60 yards in a game just three times.

What the Sixers tell us about the state of the NBA

First off, let me say that I appreciate what the Sixers are doing. Jeff Molush is right; basketball hasn't been relevant in Philadelphia in years, and the Sixers are finally putting it back on the map. That's great.

But no parade is complete without a rain cloud, so here it comes.

What on earth does it say about the NBA that this roster is dominating?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Phillies Wall of Fame

The 2012 Phillies Wall of Fame Ballot was released today, and boy is it a doozy!  The esteemed candidates as reported by The Phillies Zone (http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillies_zone/It-must-be-Schilling-right.html):

Larry Christenson, RHP
Jim Konstanty, RHP
Ron Reed, RHP
Curt Schilling, RHP
Rick Wise, RHP
Mike Lieberthal, C 
Jimmy Wilson, C
Pinky Whitney, 3B
Greg Gross, OF 
Von Hayes, OF
Mike Ryan, coach
Jim Fregosi, manager

I don't know about you guys, but when I see Greg Gross, the first thing I think is, Phillies Hall of Fame?  Shouldn't Cooperstown have already called this guy?  But in all seriousness, the fact that one player must be elected to the Phillies Wall of Fame every year is a bit absurd.  The Hall of Fame, with its legitimate class of candidates, doesn't merit that there must be a selection every year, so why do the Phillies?  Furthermore, though the teams recent success might make it seem otherwise, the Phillies are not the New York Yankees, where team after team was filled with legends.  This is the Phillies we're talking about!  But the system is the system, so unless every fan decides to abstain in protest, one of the members of the list will grace the Wall with the likes of Phillies legends Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Jim Bunning.... and Juan Samuel.  So who is deserving of the honor?  Let's briefly evaluate each candidate in the order they appear above:

How the Sixers are making NBA basketball relevant in Philly once again

Eleven years ago, when I was in 7th grade, the 76ers united the city of Philadelphia behind booming chants of "BEAT LA" rattling the then-titled First Union Center.  In a city that hadn't seen a championship in eighteen years, this team had Philly 100% behind it in a time when the Phillies were awful, the Flyers seemed to have already solidified themselves as an early playoff burnout, and the Eagles, despite their success in Andy Reid's second season, still had James Thrash and Todd Pinkston as their top receivers.

I vividly remember being at game seven of the conference semi-finals against Toronto and screaming my lungs out when Vince Carter missed the potential game-winning shot as time expired.  I remember Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, and Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson shooting the lights out in the conference finals against the Bucks, but still prevailing in 7 games.  I remember Iverson hitting a jumper in Tyronn Lue's face after breaking his ankles and then stepping over him in game 1 of the finals.  Even though we lost--granted, to a significantly better LA team--that was a magical season for that team and this city.

Since then, the Sixers have had only three seasons above .500, gone to the playoffs six times and advanced only once.  They have had eight coaches, six of which probably should never have had a job--Randy Ayers, Chris Ford, Jim O'Brien, Maurice Cheeks, Tony DiLeo, and Eddie Jordan.  At the bookends of these masters of the game are the only coaches who have had success with this team since before I was even alive--Larry Brown and Doug Collins.

Bryzgalov problem is "like, so humongous big."

In honor of the Flyers losing yet another shootout, this time to the lowly Islanders, let's beat our own dead horse!

Maybe it seems unfair to rip Bryzgalov after he shut the Islanders out for three periods on Tuesday, but he only faced 17 shots, and also allowed both Islanders skaters to score (easily) in the shootout. Plus, we still have some griping to do after the egg he laid in Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

By now you're aware of what a colossally expensive disappointment Bryzgalov has been. His 2.87 GAA ranks...hang on, I'm still scrolling...oh, there it is! 34th in the league. His save percentage, .900, is tied for 40th, behind such luminaries as Devan Dubnyk and Jonas Hiller. So, yeah, not great.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bud Light Platinum

Since seeing this "beer" advertised during the Super Bowl, I have been very torn on it's merits.  When I think light beer, I always want to gag.  Usually, this is due to a combination of terrible flavor, the fact that only pussies (both literally and figuratively) drink light beer, and the fact that the beer will undoubtedly have a low alcohol content.  Further, any beer by a "big 3" (Bud, Miller, Coors) beer company I will automatically write off and hope to never have to drink.  However, this particular off-brand of Bud immediately seized my interest.  First off, I believe it was the very 1st commercial of the game, and what a stinker it was.  Instead of their usual humor, they featured the beer bottle like it was some sort sports car, piece of jewelry, or high quality liquor - shadowing it in darkness before showing it in all it's glory.  No humor.  No hot girls.  Not the Bud commercials we have all grown to love.  Disappointing.  So what, do you ask, made this commercial memorable?  THIS IS A 6% LIGHT BEER!  Is Bud trying to get every lightweight high school and sorority girl drunk enough to sleep with the few men they have as of yet refused to sleep with before?  Are they trying to make all of our tailgates just a little more violent and unpredictable?  I can already see the controversy brewing after a couple kids shotgun just one too many and die of alcohol poisoning.  Of course in reality they are merely trying to sell more beer, and I don't question this product will be successful.  I also don't question that fact that it will be the nastiest "Big 3" product to hit the market since Beast.  Will I jump off the deep end and try this beer?  If it's the cheapest thing at the bar and I'm trying to get drunk..... eh, maybe.

Wishful Thinking: Making Peyton an Eagle

For the inaugural post on Heckling Santa, let's go off the deep end, shall we? There's a case to be made for cutting Michael Vick loose--and a related case for going all-in on a couple seasons of Peyton Manning.

Last offseason, the Eagles made the decision to sign Michael Vick to a long-term extension. He responded with an injury-filled, turnover-filled, disappointment-filled season. The Eagles actually set a franchise record for yards gained in a season, and it still bought them only eight wins.

How does a team with the fourth-best offense in football win only eight games? By finishing with a -14 turnover margin, tied for 30th in the league. And while the defense wasn't winning any awards last year, the Eagles' 38 giveaways were second-most in the league. In 13 games, Vick personally turned the ball over 18 times.

It appears the Eagles were blinded by a miraculous 2010 season, in which Vick's interception rate was a miniscule 1.6%. In 2011, that reverted to 3.3%, much more in line with his career averages. Likewise, his completion percentage dropped back below 60%, as it had been in every season of his career before 2010.