Mets Take Game 1

309 pitches and 2 hours and 54 minutes later, the first of 18 meetings this season is out of the way. The top of the NL East went head to head Friday when the Mets traveled to Citizens Bank Park for a weekend series.  The game featured a great deal of offense, but unfortunately, it was not on by the Phillies. New York knocked out four home run, and was able to score 9 runs on 10 hits, for a 9-1 victory. Read more



Philles-Mets overreactions – Take 1

There’s nothing like the first installment of the Phillies-Mets rivalry to bring out the most uneducated comments from Philadelphia and New York fans alike.

This rivalry, which will have 17 more meetings after tonight always gets folks talking on sports talk radio. It becomes more like comedy radio, actually.

The schedule makers have been nice enough to give each team a day of on Thursday leaving fans two full days to call in to 610 or 950 in Philly and 660 in New York. Now the smart baseball fan knows that the calendar reads April and that this series holds little meaning in what will take place this summer. At best the Phillies will finish the series with a 2.5 game lead on New York. At worst they will be 3.5 games back. The end result will likely lie somewhere in the middle. But sports talk isn’t rational. However, as I said earlier it is funny, so here are just a few of the things I have heard stated on the AM dials in both Philadelphia and New York. One or two of these statements might actually prove to be true:

- The Phillies will sweep this series and the Mets will be back to fourth place by next week.

- A series win by the Mets will show that they will be in contention deep into the summer.

- Mike Pelfrey (4-0, MLB-leading 0.69 ERA) has emerged to give the Mets the best No. 2 in baseball.

- Mike Pelfrey is garbage and will be rocked on Saturday.

- The Mets announcers are the worst in the game.

- The Phillies announcers put you to bed.

- Philadelphia wants to be New York.

- New York wants to be Philadelphia.

- Cole Hamels is better than Johan Santana.

- The Mets winning streak means nothing because it came during a home stand.

- The Mets winning streak is a sign of things to come as it coincided with the arrival of Ike – Davis and the return of Jose Reyes.

- Ike Davis is a fluke.

- Ike Davis has a swing comparable to Ted Williams (this after 10 games).

- David Wright’s time has come and gone. He is just an average baseball player.

- All of those flyball outs hit by David Wright at home will be 10 rows deep at Citizens Bank Park.

- This series will set the tone for the entire season.

Ah, let the fun begin.



Eagles give Kevin Kolb extension

Not that there was any question that Kevin Kolb was the Eagles leading man after the team traded Donovan McNabb to Washington earlier this month, but Philadelphia reinforced the point today signing Kolb to a one-year contract extension.

The deal gives Kolb a guaranteed contract of $12.26 million over the next two years.

This was a move expected by many. When the team trades away a player like McNabb it has throw some dollars to the new QB and that’s exactly what they did. Another smart thing about this deal is that it doesn’t cripple the team should Kolb not pan out as planned.

Read the complete details on philly.com.



Flyers-Bruins schedule released

Bellow is the schedule for the second round of the NHL playoffs. The Flyers will open their series with the Boston Bruins with a Saturday afternoon contest and will play their first home game on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Below is the complete schedule:

CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
Thursday, April 29

Detroit at San Jose, 9 p.m.
Friday, April 30
Montreal at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 1
FLYERS at Boston, 12:30 p.m.
Vancouver at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 2
Montreal at Pittsburgh, 2 p.m.
Detroit at San Jose 8 p.m.
Monday, May 3
FLYERS at Boston, 7 p.m.
Vancouver at Chicago, 9 p.m.
Tuesday, May 4
Pittsburgh at Montreal, 7 p.m.
San Jose at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 5
Boston at FLYERS, 7 p.m.
Chicago at Vancouver, 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 6
Pittsburgh at Montreal, 7 p.m.
San Jose at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 7
Boston at FLYERS, 7 p.m.
Chicago at Vancouver, 9:30 p.m
Saturday, May 8
x-Montreal at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
x-Detroit at San Jose, 10 p.m.
Sunday, May 9
x-Vancouver at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Monday, May 10
x-FLYERS at Boston, 7 p.m.
x-Pittsburgh at Montreal, 7 p.m.
x-San Jose at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 11
x-Chicago at Vancouver, 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 12
x-Boston at FLYERS, TBD
x-Montreal at Pittsburgh, TBD
x-Detroit at San Jose, TBD
Thursday, May 13
x-Vancouver at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Friday, May 14
x-FLYERS at Boston, 7 p.m.



The East becomes wide open

Goodbye Washington

Hello Boston.

The Washington Capitals had one of the biggest collapses in sports history, running away with the league’s best record and then being eliminated by the No. 8 seed Montreal Canadians. Somebody better make sure Ovechkin has a ride home tonight or else the crazy Russian will be heading down 495 at 150 mph as he likes to do.

Not only did the Caps blow a great regular season, but they blew a 3-1 series lead.

So just to clarify: No. 1 Washington; No. 2 New Jersey; and No. 3 Buffalo are all gone.

That’s good news for the Flyers as they will open the second group on even footing with a Boston team that they can certainly play with. Not to say that beating the Bruins will be a cake walk, but it seems a lot more likely than taking down the Caps did.

The last two weeks showed why the NHL playoffs are the most exciting in all sports in the eyes of many fans. Jaroslav Halak has become the name of the playoffs stopping 41 shots a game after stopping 58. If you had to pick a goalie that you thought would standout in the East, the names Ryan Miller and Martin Brodeur would have topped the list. As it turns out, those two goalies will be in front of their TVs for the rest of the playoffs.

As crazy as things have turned out in the East, it suddenly seems conceivable that the Flyers could end up in the Stanley Cup. How ridiculous would that have sounded a week ago?

Pittsburgh will be the favorite now as the Penguins go fir their second straight Cup. But if Halak can stop Ovechkin and the Caps, he might just be able to take down Crosby and co.

What a playoffs it is shaping up to be. I can’t wait for the rest of it to unwind.



Picking a hero from dramatic win

In any wild and crazy extra inning game there are bound to be a few players that can fill the role as hero.

The Phillies 7-6 win Wednesday afternoon was no exception. From big hits to big outs there were several people who could be deserving of hero-for-a-night status. However at the end of the day, only one can be the true hero in Philadelphia.

Here are the candidates that fell just short.

Brian Schneider
— With runners on second and third and one out and the team clinging to a 7-6 lead with one out in the Eugenio Velez hit a chopper to first that Ryan Howard gloved and threw home wildly. Schneider was able to spin around and put the tag on Juan Uribe’s hand just as it was about to touch the plate. It saved the game from going even longer.

Wilson Valdez
— The seldom used utility man entered at shortstop late in the game and came out with a big two-out RBI double in the top of the 11th. That was followed by a dropped fly ball that put the team in position to win.

Jason Werth — How can he not be the hero? Well, you’ll see, but Werth certainly had the game’s biggest hit, a two-out, three-run double in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. His value to the team keeps getting greater and great and so does his free agent price tag.

The REAL Hero:

Bruce Bouchy — Phillies fans can give the Giants manager a big thank you right now as he made a bonehead decision that cost his team a game. If the Phillies are winning by three in the ninth with Roy Halladay on the mound and barely over 100 pitches do you think there is any way you would see Charlie Manuel strolling to the mound because his ace just walked one guy?

Certainly not. But that’s what Bouchy did, taking out two-time Cy Young ace Tim Lincecum with one out in the ninth and only 106 pitches thrown. Closer Brian Wilson came in and couldn’t get it done and the result was a dramatic Phillies victory.

Can’t you just imagine the callers 610 if Manuel had lost a game that way?



Phillies Rally Against the Giants

Despite a slow start in their series against the Giants this week, the Philadelphia Phillies would not fall easily, fighting to earn a win. In what was expected to be an exciting series between two of the National League’s best, the Phillies seemed to be overwhelmed with San Francisco in their first two games. The Phillies struggled on both side of the ball as they tallied only three runs, while they allowed San Francisco 11 runs in games 1 and 2. Read more



Halladay vs. Santana on Sunday?

There could be some real drama at Citizens Bank Park in Philadephia this weekend.

The Phillies and Mets will renew their rivalry with a three-game series beginning Friday. While Saturday’s game will be televised on Fox at 3:30 the real excitement could come on Sunday Night baseball on ESPN.

The way things look we could be in store for a Roy Halladay-Johan Santana showcase.

Halladay pitched on Monday and Sunday’s game would be his next turn to pitch. He could also pitch on Saturday on regular rest if Charlie Manuel decides to skip someone in the rotation. The Phillies have an off day on Thursday, so Manuel will have a choice.

Meanwhile Santana is pitching today and will be on regular rest for Sunday. The Mets also have off on Thursday so Jerry Manuel will too have a choice. He could go with Johan on Sunday on normal rest and skip the No. 5 starter or select to give him an extra day. In that case the Phillies would miss Santana entirely.

So we may have a marquee matchup or we may not. While I’m sure the Phillies would not complain about missing Santana I think both fan bases would love to get their first taste of Doc vs. Santana.



Phillies make best play of week-Off the field

The Phillies may have struggled a bit on their recent West Coast road trip, but they made a brilliant move off the field that more than makes up for it.

They gave Ryan Howard a contract extension through 2016 with an option year that could keep him a Phillie til 2017.

Many players have contributed to the Phillies recent turnabout, from perennial 3rd or 4th in the NL East to NL Champions, over and over again; with multiple trips to the World Series including a win, and the transformation to team that everyone else wants to beat.

But it may be hard to argue against Ryan Howard’s offensive production and reliable contibutions at the plate since he was selected.

He already holds the Phillies franchise records for homeruns in a season, walks, strikeouts and Grand Slams.   With 8 in less than 6 years of play, he passed Schmidt with his 7 career slams over 18 seasons.   On October 3, 2009 he hit his 45th home run of the season to become the fourth player in MLB history (joining  Babe Ruth from 1926–1931, Ken Griffey Jr. from 1996–1999, and Sammy Sosa from 1998–2001) to amass at least 135 RBIs and 45 home runs in four consecutive seasons.  He has been rookie of the year, league MVP, Silver Slugger, HR leader 2 times, RBI leader 3 times, NLCS MVP, World Series winner, Hank Aaron award winner and 2 time All Star.  And his next 5 years should certainly be as productive or more so than his first six. 

The deal totals $125 million, or $25 million a year.

Any way you look at it, that’s a lot of numbers.  And all those dollars spent should be well worth it for the Philadelphia Phillies.



Ryan Howard gets $125 million deal

The big man will be staying in town for a long time.

The Phillies announced today that they have signed Ryan Howard to a five-year extension that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2016 season. The deal will put $125 in Howard’s pocket at a rate of $25 million per season.

Complete details have not been released, but the deal ensures fans that they will be seeing long home runs for a long time in Philadelphia.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Howard celebrated his big deal with home run tonight against the Giants.



Clash of the NL Best

Tonight, the Philadelphia Phillies will stay on the west coast, traveling up to the Bay Area to take on the San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately, we will not see Halladay and Lincecum square off, but the match up is still intriguing. Halladay, who is tied for first in the league with wins (4), second in strikeouts (28) and third in ERA (0.82), will take on San Francisco’s Jonathan Sanchez. Halladay and the Giants’ left-hander, who is 1-1 on the season and has an ERA of 1.86, will both be looking to avenge their team’s Sunday night loss. Read more



Eagles draft 13 most ever in 7 round draft.

With the 13th overall pick the Philadelphia Eagles select Brandon Graham.  While most were surprised, one was elated.  Now this goes completly against my character but I am a Michigan football fan.  Well the Big Ten Michigan football not the Rich Rodreiguez football we see now from the Wolverines.  At first when the selection was made my reaction was just like everyone elses.  What!? Earl Thomas was there that’s who the Birds traded up for and smack Brandon Graham.  Having a night to sit on it and then sleep on it, I decided it was a good pick up.  Not only were the Eagles not going to spend 15 million in guaranteed Safety but it was more sensible to get a pass rushing DE.  What make Asante Samuel most effective jumping a route, a rushed QB.  Graham is a high motor relentless pass rusher.  Having said that he isn’t a typical run stopping end that should be opposite Trent Cole.  So that is something he will have to work at.  But this young man has a chance to be a real special player, and sooner or later we shall see if he is what the Eagles thought he was.  

The Eagles were a bit trade happy this draft season.  They came in with 11 draft picks ended up drafting 13.  Making several moves in fact only keeping one of their regular picks Lb Keenan Clayton round 4 number 121 overall.  They made six draft day trades in all, with many people upset that a trade with the hated Cowboys again. The Cowboys traded up and recieved LB Sean Lee from Linebacker U Penn State.  Yet another player that could come back to hurt the Eagles Offense. 

With the number 37 pick the Eagles select Nate Allen S from South Florida.  Now for most of the rest of this recap I am going with the scouts and experts.  Allen has good size and is smart and is very good in zone ceverage.  He may not be etremely physical but he is a sure tackler, which is much more important then a big hitter from the safety position.  I would much rather have a guy who will make a tackle then someone who will try for a big hit and possibly let up a big play. 

In the third round after wheeling thier second, second round pick away three times moving all the way back to number 86 and draft DE  Daniel Te’o-Nesheim from the university of Washington.  He is a non-stop motor guy much like Graham, but he struggles with going against bigger OT and is really not fast enough to play outside linebacker.

In the Fourth round the Birds selected Trevard Lindley CB from Kentucky.  He is a solid cover corner and has a good job of quickly recognitizing routes.  Is good covering the screen pass or at the point of the run.  He is very physical with recievers.  The down side is he battled injuries the past two years.  With the 121 selection they drafted Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton.  He is a weakside linebacker with good speed and explosion.  He really needs to learn how to get oof the block and he will be a serviceable linebacker for a few years or more.  With the very next pick 122, Tony Kafka is drafted by the birds.  He is a good mover out of the pocket, good in the short passing game as well.  He has good touch, and knows where he recievers will be a very smart QB.  Good to add depth to the Eagles Qb position.  Andy always looks for a guy to groom as a backup and maybe become an AJ Feeley type.  He doesn’t have the strongest arm but should be ok.  With the 125 selection, just three picks later,  the Eagles draft TE Clay Harbor.  This guy is a former wide receiver who got too big for the position.  He runs great routes and has really good hands.  The knock on him is that he doesn’t know the blocking techniques yet.  I have faith that Juan Castillo, one of the best o line coaches in the league, will be able to coach him up. 

In the fifth round with a pick from Clevland number 134 they draft yet another DE/LB hybrid type in Ricky Sapp.  He is quick, moves well laterally, and is a sure tackler.  Like every other undersized/hybrid type he has trouble getting off the block.  With the 159th pick the Birds draft Florida WR Riley Cooper. As much as I have seen him, he is a good possesion reciever, Wes Welker light.  No Second gear but catches everything. 

I would be remiss to say I know anything about any other picks so I will just list the rest.  WIth pick number 200 they drafted Charles Scott RB from LSU.   With number 220 the Eagles picked Jamar Chaney LB Missisppi State.  In the 7th round they drafted S Kurt Coleman out of Ohio State.  The last pick was a DT from Georgia named Jeff Owens. 

While I was shocked no O lineman were drafted, I understand.  Most of the “experts” said their wasn’t a whole lot of line depth in this draft.  This is the third time in Andy’s draft history he didn’t get an O lineman.  Maybe they heard the rumblings and want to sign G Alan Faneca.  I dont know but one could hope.  Lastly I loved the format of the draft over three days it made more interested and want to watch what my team would do.  So here’s to the commish Roger Goodell.  Way to make the best event in sports better.



With the 13th Pick…

The Philadelphia Eagles select Michigan’s Brandon Graham.

In what many speculated to be a move to get Texas safety Earl Thomas, and rebuild the team’s depleted backfield, the Eagles traded up 11 spots to to take the 6-foot-1, 268 pound outside linebacker. Read more



Flyers send the Devils to … golf course

Farewell New Jersey. Hello Washington?

The Flyers did what seemed unthinkable just two weeks ago getting past the first round of the playoffs and doing so in convincing fashion.

Claude Giroux showed why he will be a star in this league for a long time, scoring two goals and assisting on a Danny Briere tally.

And as he has been all series, Brian Boucher was sensational in net giving the Devils nothing in a 3-0 Flyers win that closed the series at 4-1.

The Flyers will play the Capitals in the next round assuming Washington finishes off the Montreal, who they lead 3-1 in their series.

It’s not so surprising that the Flyers won this series, it’s how they won it. After playing inconsistent all season long Philadelphia managed to play quality hockey for five straight games. The Flyers looked better in a Game 2 loss than they did in a Game 1 win, and have gotten better each game. This is the exact style of play fans expected when this team was picked to win the Cup in the preseason.

Does Washington scare me? Absolutely, especially with Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne out of the lineup. Ian Laperriere could also miss time after taking a slap shot to the face while sliding to block a shot. He was bloodied and may have a fractured jaw, but he is a hockey player in every sense of the word, so expect him in back in the lineup for the next game.

This win and this series showed the style of play Philadelphia fans expect out of their hockey teams. The Flyers were gritty, tough, hard-working and did any thing and everything to make sure the team would not be denied.

So sure I fear the Capitals a little. But right now, Washington should also fear Philadelphia.

The Flyers were never supposed to be underdogs. But now that they are, they are certainly rolling with it.



Halladay Strikes Again

Keeping with the theme of Roy Halladay, the Phillies ace had another stellar performance Wednesday, to earn his fourth victory of the season. Philadelphia traveled south to take on division rival Atlanta, who they entered the game tied for first place with.

Halladay, who threw his second complete game shutout of the season, was a major reason the Phillies took a 2-0 win, and moved in on top of the NL East. In his 113 pitches, he allowed only five hits and struck out seven Braves, for 28 on the season.

On the offensive side, Philadelphia received a spark from the middle of their lineup. Jason Werth scored in the 2nd inning on a hit from Raul Ibanez, and in the 6th, Werth notched an RBI, doubling to send Ryan Howard home.

For the fourth time this season, Halladay proved that the Phillies made a great decision, letting go of Cliff Lee and acquiring the right hander. Halladay has been a workhorse for Philadelphia, tossing 33 innings, and he is the only pitcher in the league to have four wins and he is third with an 0.82 ERA.

Hopefully there are more good things to come from Halladay as the season continues.