Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Reverend Rankings — My 5 Favorite Players: Flyers

With basketball and hockey on hiatus for the summer and football still months away, there's nothing happening except the dog days of summer. So I'll be publishing my own personal lists of my five favorite players of the four major Philadelphia sports franchises.

View the first installment on the Phillies here and the second installment on the Sixers here.

Last night was one of the most boringest nights in the history of boring, meaning I spent a large portion of it aimlessly flipping through the channels watching whatever horrible show captured my interest for more than 2 minutes. Then I went to sleep. Weeknights with no Phillies games are brutal.

So seeing as I have nothing else to talk about at the moment, I figured it'd be a great time to share with you, the people, my five favorite Philadelphia Flyers of my lifetime, especially with the Flyers making a big splash by trading for Chris Pronger over the weekend. This one was tougher than you might think because traditionally, I have liked almost every Flyer on every team since I can remember watching, with the notable exceptions of the players listed here. I really hated those guys.

Anyway, here's the list. Number one is sure to be a shocker … unless you actually know me.

1. Shjon Podein

I am pretty damn sure that I'm the only person on the planet not related to or a personal friend of Shjon Podein that lists him as their favorite Flyer of all time. After all, Podein was never even close to being considered the best player on the team in his five seasons in Philadelphia, and the guy was never an all-star. He didn't score a lot of goals or do anything flashy. Hell, if you don't really understand the game of hockey, Shjon Podein is the type of player you probably never even noticed.

But I freakin loved Shjon Podein. For starters, the guy spells his name in the most bad-ass way possible. Shawn is probably the worst possible spelling, and Sean doesn't even make sense. Shjon is the balls way to spell it, and his play reflected his bad-assness. Podein was one of the most incredible penalty killers I've ever seen wear the Orange and Black, doing anything and everything to make sure his team wouldn't give up a goal down a man. He was a grinder, a worker, and one of the toughest players on the ice. Podein could win a battle in the corner, shut down opposing superstars, kill penalties, occasionally score and wasn't afraid to drop the gloves either.

Basically, Podein would do anything asked of him for the betterment of the team. And I loved him for it. As odd as it sounds, Shjon Podein is my favorite Flyer ever.

2. Keith Primeau

Keith Primeau entered the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings with some hefty expectations in hockey town but could never quite fulfill them. He was traded to Hartford where he became a very, very good player with the Whalers/Hurricanes, and then in January of 2000, he was traded to Philadelphia for fan favorite Rod Brind'Amour. When the trade was first announced, I, just like everyone else, didn't like it. Brind'Amour was a tremendous player for the Flyers, a great face-off man, excellent penalty killer with a nice scoring touch and the type of guy every team loves to have.

Unfortunately, his rocky relationship with Eric Lindros forced him out of town. It was not going to be easy for Primeau to win over a city that just lost perhaps its favorite player. But it didn't take long for Keith to make the Philly faithful forget about Brind'Amour, at least for a while.

Turns out this trade was an excellent one for both teams. Primeau came to Philadelphia and instantly became a leader in the locker room. Everything Brind'Amour brought to the table, Primeau did as well. Any time the Flyers needed a face-off win, out went Primeau to take the draw, and more often than not, he won it. The guy became a fixture on the penalty kill, power play and transformed from a guy expected to be a scorer to one of the best shut-down centers in hockey.

He was big, fast, could hit like a truck, fight and man oh man could this guy lead. In fact, he was such an incredible leader that inspired his fellow teammates that in 2002, he took over the captaincy from Eric Desjardins and didn't relinquish it until he was forced out of action due to concussions in 2006.

In the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs, Primeau had one of the most dominating performances I've ever witnessed. Almost single-handedly, he carried the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. In that series, he was by far the best player on the ice for either team. Unfortunately, he received little help from his teammates, ending yet another season in disappointment. But it was hardly Primeau's fault. That guy played out of his mind, and his game-tying goal in game 6 was a thing of beauty, kicking it across the crease, going behind the net and getting it on the other side to bury it.

Man was he awesome in that series. Primeau took the Flyers on his back and simply did it all. It's a shame the concussions did him in, because he was the leader the Flyers needed. In fact, it's safe to say the team hasn't been able to sufficiently fill that leadership void since he retired, though hopefully the addition of Chris Pronger will change that.

Oh yeah, and Primeau also scored the game-winning goal in the most intense, thrilling and longest playoff hockey game I've ever watched in my entire life.

I miss that guy.

3. Claude Giroux

It may seem completely absurd to include a guy who hasn't even played a full season in the NHL as my third favorite Flyer ever, but that's how much I love Claude Giroux. Seriously, he has the potential to move all the way to the top spot, that's how much I love the guy, as if you didn't already know that.

For some reason or another, Giroux didn't make the Flyers out of training camp, but once he got the call up, he showed the makings of future superstar. Down the stretch, when most of the other Flyers were sputtering and looking gassed, Giroux was flourishing, proving he could play in the NHL.

The kid's skills are scary good. His ice vision in remarkable, his passing pin-point accurate and he handles the puck as if it's on a string attached to his stick. He routinely made defenders look silly, threaded passes even some of the most experienced NHLers wouldn't even dream of attempting and improved each and every game.

But that's not all. Giroux showed he was more than just a finesse player, throwing his weight around with hits, working his tail off to become a mainstay on the penalty kill and displaying the skill that will surely benefit the power play, even though for some insane reason (because he's a bad coach?) John Stevens did everything in his power to keep the kid off the ice with the man advantage. Something tells me that will change in 2009-10.

Giroux is simply an amazing talent who really came into his own this season. He was arguably the best player on the Flyers in the final two months of the regular season, and he was unquestionably the best forward in the first-round playoff loss to the Penguins for Philadelphia, in which he logged one of the greatest shifts these eyes have ever seen.

It may be too early to anoint Giroux as the next big thing, but man, he has to get you excited. I love this guy, even without a full season under his belt, and I can't wait to see what he has in store next season.

4. Eric Lindros

Last week, I broached the subject of Eric Lindros and the Hall of Fame. In my mind, he deserves his enshrinement, and if it was not for his tumultuous exit from Philadelphia, rest assured, this guy would be tops on my list. It's funny how a little (big?) squabble with management and seeing him in a New York Rangers uniform can make him drop to the 4th spot.

But as I said last week, Lindros, during his prime, is far and away the greatest Philadelphia Flyer I ever saw. He single-handedly made the Flyers relevant again, taking them all the way to the precipice, leading the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals, a place they haven't been since. He won the Hart Trophy here. Dominated the sport. Became the face of hockey as the careers of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux wound down.

He carried that mantle well before concussions derailed his superstar career. Even so, Lindros scored 865 points in just 760 games, good for 1.38 points per game, sitting among the all-time best. He was a beast on the ice, able to be his own enforcer with his fists, his hits and his skills. He had perhaps the hardest wrist shot in the game, was big, fast, physical and intimidating. Frankly, if you could genetically engineer the perfect hockey player in a lab, it would look an awful lot like Eric Lindros in his prime … except for the mush head.

Lindros did things on the ice that no one else could duplicate. He was a runaway freight train with the puck, a scary combination of size and speed. He could bury the puck, but he was equally as dangerous setting up teammates. In fact, Eric Lindros was part of perhaps the greatest play I've ever seen in hockey. I can't remember exactly when it was or who it was against, but in the game, Lindros, back in his own defensive zone, saw his teammate Kevin Haller sneak behind the defense. So Lindros popped the puck up in the air down the ice, hitting Haller in stride right at the opposition's blue line, where Haller caught it perfectly without letting up, stayed onside and promptly scored a goal. It was incredible.

Much like the career of Eric Lindros as a Flyer. In the 1996-97 playoffs, Lindros was on a mission, dominating everyone in the East. In 19 games that postseason, he scored 12 goals and added 14 assists, good for 26 points against the best of the best … and this was in the era of the left-wing lock, trapping system defenses.

Lindros was a marvel, and to this day, he was the most dominating, most exciting Flyer I've ever seen lace up the skates.

Perhaps the thing I admired most about Lindros was his work in the face-off circle, as odd as that may sound. Not only was he tremendous at winning face-offs, but he also perfected the shot off the face-off in the offensive zone. I have watched a lot of hockey in my 25 years, and I can honestly say there hasn't been another center I've seen shoot the puck right at the face-off as often as Lindros did. He often caught the goalkeeper napping, either scoring off the shot or opening up a huge rebound for a teammate to bang home. It's amazing the things this guy could do, even if skating with his head up all the time wasn't one of them.

5. Kim Johnsson

Despite his girlish name, Kim Johnsson is my favorite defenseman the Flyers have had since I've been following the team. Johnsson came over to Philadelphia as part of the package that was shipped from the Rangers in exchange for Lindros, and little did we know the Flyers were getting one of the most steady defensemen in all of hockey.

In his three-plus seasons as a Flyer, Johnsson flew under the radar by NHL brass, never making the all-star game despite being the best defenseman on one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Johnsson wasn't the biggest guy or the scariest guy on the blue line, but he may very well have been the smartest d-man the Flyers have had in a long, long time.

Johnsson was a fleet-footed skater who never seemed to make a mistake. Where the wildly overrated Eric Desjardins went through infuriating bouts of coughing up the puck in his own zone, Johnsson never seemed to panic and always seemed to make the right play. He was heady, skilled and made the position look easy, which we all know it's not.

His injury in 2006 is a big reason the Flyers struggled so much in the playoffs. They were missing their top defenseman, a guy who could move the puck, run the power play and do it on both ends of the ice. In his first three seasons in Philadelphia, he played in 82, 82 and 80 games, scoring 41, 39 and 42 points respectively, and the guy never had a minus-season in the Orange and Black despite logging huge minutes against the opposition's first or second lines. He was an underappreciated, underrated player during his days here, but he was always my favorite Flyers defenseman.

As I said, this list was a difficult one to make. Leaving guys like Rod Brind'Amour, John LeClair, Rick Tocchet, Mark Recchi, Dan McGillis (I loved how much that guy hit, even if he only had one or two good seasons), Danny Markov, Jeremy Roenick, Sami Kapanen, Jody Hull, Trent Klatt, Michal Handzus, Mike Richards and the list goes on and on was difficult, because like I said, I've really, really liked the majority of Flyers that have put on the uniform in my lifetime. That's a good thing. Now if only they could win a Cup one of these days …

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Flyers Going for Broke

So early Friday night, I'm sitting in my house all alone, kicking back and watching the Phils while listening to music and eating a meat lovers pizza when my cousin calls and immediately says, "Well, the Flyers mortgaged their future with that trade."

Stupid me had absolutely no idea what he was talking about because I was focused on eating some food and getting ready to get drunk. So he tells me, the Flyers traded Luca Sbisa, Joffrey Lupul and two first-round picks for Chris Pronger. He didn't seem happy.

My immediate thought was, well, kind of conflicted but leaning more toward being happy. The consensus seems to be, at least from the people I've talked to, that the Flyers gave up way too much to get Pronger, who is 34 after all and will turn 35 early in the season. And clearly, Pronger is closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

That's certainly true, and I won't argue against the fact that the Flyers gave up a king's ransom to get Pronger. Lupul has proven he can be a pretty good player, even if he's inconsistent at times, and Luca Sbisa looks like he could become a very, very talented defenseman in this league. Plus, two first-round picks, and a conditional pick, are valuable assets. There's no arguing that Paul Holmgren gave up a lot to get Pronger.

But, when you look at it, you have to say that the addition of Pronger absolutely makes the Flyers better for the 2009-10 season. It gives them a much, much better opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup next season. Let's face it, the Flyers' glaring weakness last season was their defense, and the Flyers just got one of the better defenseman in the NHL. And just as importantly, they got the big, bruising intimidator that they've lacked on the blue line for a long, long time. Finally, there's someone back there that opposing forwards know will knock them on their ass, someone who can clear the crease and make the opposition think twice about taking an extra swipe at the goaltender. Oh, and he can help a power play that stumbled down the stretch with his ridiculously hard slap shot.

Lupul was an expendable piece with the incredible depth the Flyers have at forward, and Sbisa, while promising, was much like the rest of the Philadelphia defensemen — small and fast, but not the big, bruising force they lacked.

There's no question this move is a risky one. The Flyers gave up young talent on a young team to get a known commodity that addresses the team's biggest need. Sbisa could turn out to be the next Kimmo Timonen. Those two first-round picks could turn out to be very, very good players. But that's the thing, they could turn out to be special. The Flyers know what they're getting with Pronger.

Certainly, there are some down sides. Pronger is known for his questionable hits and has been suspended numerous times, joining a team that already has a reputation for being a bit dirty. But the good outweighs the bad with Pronger, at least in my opinion. Without question, this is no guarantee the Flyers can make a push to get over the hump, especially with a giant question mark in the form of Ray Emery in goal, but the acquisition of Pronger is a strong message from Holmgren to his players that he expects them to win and to win now.

In my humble opinion, the Flyers still need to add a face-off man, preferably one of these guys, and a backup netminder is a requirement. But the addition of Pronger addressed Philadelphia's biggest need. The price was large, but sometimes to get over the hump, you have to give up a lot, you have to take a chance.

One thing's for sure, Pronger's play should win over Flyers fans fairly quickly, both for his skill and his physical, intimidating style. Frankly, I'm looking forward to seeing Pronger in the Orange and Black.

BallHype: hype it up!

It is Christmas Time

On Friday, I said the Sixers should call undrafted Temple star Dionte Christmas to give him a shot at making his hometown team. Well, that's exactly what the Sixers did, extending Dionte an invitation to join the Sixers' summer league team, which Christmas accepted.

I really, really would love to see Christmas make the squad. There are only a few spots open, but hopefully Christmas can light it up in the summer league and earn a spot as a bench scoring option. Plus, how cool would it be to have Holiday and Christmas coming off the bench?

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Christmas Time?

Earlier today, I discussed my disappointment about Dionte Christmas not getting drafted, even mentioning, "Hell, maybe the Sixers will call. I hear they could use shooters. And I'd certainly rather have Dionte than Willie Green."

I wasn't overly serious about this prospect, but then I began to mull it over. Why wouldn't the Sixers give Dionte a call? I mean, check out their roster. Elton Brand, Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Willie Green, Jason Kapono, Jason Smith, Marreese Speights, Louis Williams, Thaddeus Young and Samuel Dalembert (barring any minor miracle of a trade scenario) are the certains to be on this team come opening night.

Royal Ivey opted out and will hit the open market, and with the acquisition of Holiday, Royal is more than expendable. Donyell Marshall has one discernible skill at this point in his career, but with the Sixers going younger and younger, you'd have to figure he's not in their plans. Ditto Theo Ratliff, as much as I love the guy. But Marreese Speights and Jason Smith need playing time to become the frontcourt of the future for Philadelphia, so seemingly, Theo and Donyell, who are in their twilights, are out. Kareem Rush was a disaster who couldn't even get on the floor, so yeah, he doesn't even count. And of course, Andre Miller is an unrestricted free agent who may or may not want to come back. I'm not holding my breath.

But when you look at this roster, there is exactly one shooter in the bunch, the newly acquired Jason Kapono. Beyond that, the Sixers still have no other outside shooting, and they lack a true, pure scorer from the bench. Yes, Lou Will can fill it up at times, but you have to figure he'll be doing a whole heck of a lot of point guard duties if Miller leaves, so the Sixers could use a little more scoring punch, ideally from a guy who can shoot it a little bit.

When you look at it, as of today, the Sixers have 10 guys heading into camp right now. One of them is Willie Green, much to my chagrin. Frankly, I think a player like Dionte Christmas would be a perfect fit to help round out that roster. Yes, the Sixers will need a point guard, potentially a veteran like Miller or making a trade, perhaps, for Rafer Alston — how pissed must Rafer be to be going to New Jersey, who already has a young, good point guard in Devin Harris? He's going to be miserable being a backup, getting little PT — but it would be nice, like I said to have a scorer/shooter off the bench. That's what Christmas is. And you have to believe the Philadelphia native and Temple star would love to stay home and play for the Sixers.

At the very least, the Sixers should call. I know another shot blocker to complement Dalembert would be nice, but so would bringing in a scorer of Dionte's pedigree, especially if it would mean parting ways with Willie Green.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is, I'd much rather see Dionte Christmas in a Sixers uniform than Willie Green. Call me crazy, but I just don't get this whole Willie Green thing. I don't know.

Plus, who doesn't like Christmas? No one, that's who.

BallHype: hype it up!

More for Jrue

Admittedly, I didn't get to watch Jrue Holiday play as much as I would have liked during his freshman year at UCLA, so I won't cast much judgment. Instead, I'll direct you to some more YouTube clips, courtesy of Liberty Ballers, to check out some of what Holiday can do.

BallHype: hype it up!

It's Friday, Time to Dance

I love this video so much that it just had to be the dance song of the week.

BallHype: hype it up!

It's Drafty in Here

I was so exhausted when I got home from work yesterday that I wasn't even sure I'd make it to watch the draft. In fact, my cousin called me at 7:10, to which I responded, "What are you calling me for? It's 7:10 in the morning." He politely replied, "What are you talking about? It's 7 at night." I was out of it.

However, that phone call brought me back to life just in time to nestle on my couch to watch the NBA draft. And thank goodness I chose the draft over a Phillies shitshow.

Of course, I've made no bones about my desire for the Sixers to take Tywon Lawson at 17, but I had reservations about his availability at that spot.

When it came time for Indiana to pick at 13, I got a bad feeling this was where Ty was headed. But to the surprise of just about everyone, it was Ty's UNC teammate Tyler Hansbrough whose name was called, not Lawson's. I was puzzled but elated, because now I knew the Sixers had their man, my man locked in.

Phoenix wasn't taking a guard, and they didn't, opting for Earl Clark. Detroit, for some reason, thinks Rodney Stuckey is an actual, real, live point guard, so they weren't going small (chose Austin Daye). And there was no chance in hell the Bulls, with Derek Rose and Kirk Hinrich, were going to nab a point guard (took James Johnson).

Finally it was the Sixers' turn, and I was all sorts of pumped to hear Ty's name called. He's the speedy, efficient, smart floor general they need to take over for Andre Miller. Here comes David Stern, his words, with the 17th pick, the Philadelphia 76ers select …

Jrue Holiday? Really? I was stunned. I really, really wanted Lawson, thought he was the perfect fit. I really don't even know what to think about this. Lawson was a three-year player ready to come in and make an impact right away. Holiday is a 19-year-old kid who struggled at times last season in his one year at UCLA. Now, he's a kid with a world of ability, a tenacious defender and tremendous upside. But I really don't know what I'm getting out of him.

I can't say I hate the pick or anything. I'm just unsure about it. I'll give Stefanski the benefit of the doubt, because he's done a hell of a job finding Thaddeus Young and Marreese Speights in the last two drafts. But this leads me to believe they're really going to go all out to try and resign Andre Miller now (even though I don't think Andre wants to come back at all), because a 19-year-old kid probably isn't going to help out too much right from the get-go at point … unless his name is Derek Rose.

I'll guess we'll just have to wait and see. I can tell you that I'm not excited about the pick, but then again, I'm not overly upset. Indifferent I guess is the right word. I'll give him a chance, for sure. The guy went into UCLA with a ton of hype, so we know he has talent. Hope he can put it together quickly for the Sixers.

Some notables from last night. First off, what the hell is Minnesota doing? I understand they need to reload their backcourt, especially after shipping off Randy Foye and Mike Miller to Washington, but drafting three point guards, especially taking Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn back to back? What the fuck? What the hell are you going to do with Rubio, Flynn and Nick Calathes? That's some crazy shit right there.

I guess they'll run a lot of two point guard sets, and I guess Flynn and Calathes can play off the ball as well. Of course, the Timberwolves also drafted Episcopal's Wayne Ellington, making him the third Tar Heel selected in the first round.

I'll tell you what, with the young guards just from this draft, added to Kevin Love, Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer, the T-Wolves actually look like they have a promising future, assuming they can keep it all together. Still, honestly, how many point guards does a team need? (When they drafted Lawson, I was all sorts of confused. Of course, he was traded to Denver, which makes sense since Chauncey is old as fuck).

Chester's finest Tyreke Evans got that money, going No. 4 to Sacramento. He should get a lot of playing time out there. Brandon Jennings went 10th to the Bucks, proving his sliding draft stock was way overblown.

A little bit of a shocker to me was how early Villanova's Dante Cunningham was taken.

Don't get me wrong, I thought Dante would get drafted and definitely make an NBA roster. He sort of reminds me of a George Lynch-type player in the league. I think with his hustle, smarts and ability, he can have a long career as a bench player. But 33rd? I didn't see that coming. I'm pretty pumped for the guy. He gets to play on an up and coming Portland team loaded with young talent. Good deal for Dante.

My favorite Tar Heel from the national championship squad, Danny Green, is now officially teamed with LeBron and Shaq. It wouldn't be out of the question for this do-it-all player to make a run at a championship again next season.

I love Danny Green, and I honestly think he can be a dynamic sixth man down the line. He has insane range, is a tremendous defender, can block shots, rebound, do just about anything. I hope he earns some time on the second unit for Cleveland this year.

And then there is Ahmad Nivins. Nivins broke out as a senior at St. Joe's and the Mavericks took notice. Not a bad spot at all for a guy that two years ago no one would have guessed would be in the NBA. Now he's on a very solid team in the league with a chance to possibly get some good run as a backup.

I have to say, I'm pretty disappointed that Dionte Christmas didn't get drafted, as I'm extremely sure he is as well.

Yes, he's a streaky shooter, but the guy can flat-out score. The past two seasons, he carried a Temple team that honestly had very little overall talent to the NCAA tournament. He has decent size and seemed wiling to put in the work to get better.

He still has a shot at making a team, and I think he will catch on somewhere at some time, but I really thought he'd be a late-round pick in the second round. I know this much, he sure as shit is a better basketball player than Taylor Griffin, no question in my mind. Best of luck to you, Dionte.

Hell, maybe the Sixers will call. I hear they could use shooters. And I'd certainly rather have Dionte than Willie Green.

BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quick Thought on the Sixers Tonight

In case you haven't heard, the NBA Draft is tonight, and your Philadelphia 76ers have the 17th pick. All sorts of crazy things have already happened, like Shaq getting traded for, as Bill Simmons would say, a turn sandwich to Cleveland, Randy Foye and Mike Miller getting shipped to the Wizards for the No. 5 pick and some garbage, and Richard Jefferson calling San Antonio home.

But really, who cares about all that? I'm more interested in seeing who the Sixers will pick. I want Ty Lawson. I hope he's there and the Sixers pick him. I'm beginning to really get the feeling he won't be there. There's no way there are 16 players in this draft better than Lawson. No way.

He's the guy I want. I guess Wayne Ellington or some other shooter would be OK. And Maynor would do just fine. But I want Lawson. Make it happen, Ed. Even if you gotta move up a few spots. And if you draft a small forward or B.J. Mullens, I just might freak the fuck out.

More tomorrow.

BallHype: hype it up!

Eric Lindros and the Hall of Fame

With the announcement of the 2009 class to be inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame, Greg Wyshynski, who I met at Blogs With Balls, brought up the question of whether or not Eric Lindros is deserving of the Hall of Fame.

Ultimately, Wyshynski, a noted Devils fan, comes to the conclusion that " yeah, bottom line: Eric Lindros is a Hall of Famer." Read his take. It's very well said, and it is surely going to be the hot topic when it comes to the induction next year. Will he or won't he? Should he or shouldn't he?

It's no secret that Eric Lindros' time in Philadelphia can best be described as unfulfilled promise. He came here as the savior of the franchise, the savior of hockey. The next Great One. And in the beginning, he looked every bit the part. Lindros revived a dormant Flyers franchise, become a dominant force — steamrolling the opposition with a frightening array of power and skill — won the Hart Trophy, led Philadelphia to the Stanley Cup Finals … and looked prime to, as he so emotionally put it, "do it." (1:45 in)

Of course, his penchant for skating with his head down did him in, forcing a series of concussions that limited his time on the ice, and the Flyers, unfortunately, did not do it. Lindros and his parents got into a rift with then GM Bobby Clarke, and the Eric Lindros era that began with so much promise and hope ended sourly. After the hit by Scott Stevens in game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference finals, Lindros was never, ever again the same. He was a shell of his former self.

But during his prime years in Philadelphia, Eric Lindros was one of the most intimidating, dangerous players in hockey. Without question, in those years, he was one of, hell, arguably the best player in the league. He was big. He was strong. He could hit, he could skate, he could fight, he score, he could pass and he won face-offs with the best of them. Other than his fatal flaw (skating with his head down), Lindros had no other weakness. He could simply do it all on skates. He revived the Flyers in Philadelphia, reinvented what a superstar looked like in the sport. He turned John LeClair into a 50-goal scorer. He transformed the Flyers into the class of the Eastern Conference.

Simply put, Eric Lindros was amazing.

He is far and away the best hockey player I've ever seen don the Orange and Black. His prime was cut short to injury, and he left with bitterness. But Eric Lindros was not only a great player, he was a phenomenon. Perhaps that won't get him the Hall of Fame, but I tend to agree with Puck Daddy on this one. Eric Lindros is a Hall of Famer.

BallHype: hype it up!

Meet the Moron

You want to know what drives me nuts? Stupid baseball. You know makes me almost as mad? Stupid announcing. Well, last night, we got both thanks to Jayson Werth.

For those of you who don’t know where I’m going with this, break out the DVR and skip to the 4th inning of last night’s game. Matt Garza started the inning by walking three straight batters – first Shane Victorino, then Chase Utley and then Ryan Howard – to load the bases with no one out. So what does Jayson Werth do? He swings at the first fucking pitch and grounds into a 5-2-3 double play. Then Matt Stairs struck out to end the inning.

Now, no matter how you look at it, after a pitcher just walked three straight batters to load the bases, it’s a stupid God damn baseball play to swing at the first pitch. Seriously, Corky from Life Goes On was screaming at Werth, “What are you doing you fucking retard?” Unless you hit a grand slam, it’s not even a good play. I mean, the guy just WALKED THE FIRST THREE BATTERS OF THE INNING!!!!!!

Werth should be benched for swinging at that pitch. Or at least brutally tortured until he vowed to never do it again. And if he ever does do it again, he should be banished from baseball forever. That’s how fucking stupid that play is.

Almost equally as stupid was the comments made by Tom McCarthy and Gary Matthews. In the next inning, McCarthy went on to say there are two schools of thought there in Werth’s situation – the school that you shouldn’t swing after watching Garza struggle to throw strikes and the school that he’s going to groove a fastball, so you can crush it. Well, McCarthy was right on one count – there are two schools of thought there: the right thought and the wrong thought. Swinging at the first pitch is simply a no-no, especially when down 2-0, where even just one run would be huge, and, you know, the GUY JUST FUCKING WALKED THE BASES LOADED!!!! Stop fucking sugar-coating it and call a spade a spade, McCarthy. I swear, if anyone thinks Tom McCarthy is even an adequate baseball announcer, I’d like to punch them right in their stupid face. Tom McCarthy sucks.

To top things off, Sarge decides to add his brilliant 2 cents to the topic. After replaying the horrible, indefensible play in the 6th, Sarge actually said, I shit you not, that Werth "almost hit that one really hard," as if that was a good thing. He grounded out into a double play and caused the Phillies to get absolutely no runs out of a bases-loaded, no-out inning in which the pitcher walked the first three batters. Then, after watching it again, he said you "hope he could pull that foul" there. No, no you don’t. You hope that he wouldn’t be a god damned moron. You hope he would have the common sense and baseball acumen to take a strike, you know, after watching the pitcher just walk the first three batters ahead of you to start the fucking inning.

Fuck. I fucking hate stupidity. And I hate anyone who tries to defend such stupidity. To top things off, Werth decided to get two hits later in the game, with no one on base, the solo home run in the 7th and a two-out single in the 9th. And guess what? He didn't swing at the first pitch in either at bat. Go figure. Brilliant fucking baseball there, Jayson, you fucking tart.


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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What are We Talking About?

I have some good news and some bad news to pass along. The good news is the hot water in my house is back on, but it wasn't fully heated this morning. Still, I was able to get a moderately lukewarm shower, which was much, much more bearable than yesterday's ice shower. The bad news is I'm busy as hell at work yet again. Bullshit.

But, on a bright note, fan and now certainly friend of the site Justin passed along an incredible video that you will watch over and over again. I'm sure it's been on plenty of sites today, but I haven't had a chance to peruse many because I've been too busy getting my soul crushed by my job. This helped cheer me up. Enjoy.

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Too Cool for School

This may possibly be the coolest shot in the history of shots:

His name is Aaron Shutway. He is an eighth-grader in Ohio, and that kid is definitely getting laid.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Great Minds Think Alike

Now, I'm not going to suggest that Bill Conlin pilfered my idea or that he even took it, modified it a bit and ran with it, but his column today sounds an awful lot like my idea from Friday, albeit much more well-written.

I'm pretty sure Conlin doesn't even read blogs, let alone my tirade-inducing site, so I'll just chalk it up to great minds thinking alike. Seriously though, his column is brilliant today, and I'm not just saying that because I had the same general idea. Check out some of the highlights:

Phils wear gray roadies and bat first. They have the third-base dugout, visitors' clubhouse and top-shelf bullpen, the one where fans can give lefthanded reliever Jack Taschner advice on how to throw strike one. And if deep reserve catcher Paul Bako happens to be catching down there, well, the journeyman called up from Lehigh Valley so Charlie can use Chris Coste to pinch-hit might be hearing helpful hints such as, "Hey, meat, get the donut off your bat."

Not to belabor the obvious . . . But going into battle without injured Raul Ibanez, very ill Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins - .216, .261 OBP - impersonating a leadoff hitter, is like giving your opponent a three-run spot. Charlie Manuel was wearing a brace on his left wrist yesterday after a player ran into him in the dugout Thursday. Or, did Chuck injure it trying to play baseball with one hand tied behind his back?

The man knows his baseball, so if I'm even remotely on the same page, I feel honored. Well said, Bill. Well said.

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At Least the Phillies Can't Lose Today

As you are all well aware of, the Phillies just finished off a craptastic week by getting swept by the worst team in the American League East, the Baltimore Orioles, extending their losing streak to 6 games, thanks to getting swept at home by the Blue Jays and Orioles.

Awesome. And as if that wasn't enough of a slap in the face, this morning, when I awoke to get my daily shower, I turned on the water and nothing but ice water came out. I cranked that shit all the way over to the hottest possible setting. No dice. Still colder than the Phillies at home this year. So yeah, I had a 30-second shower that got me about as clean as Anna Benson's lady parts.

What a wonderful start to the week.

Not that the weekend was any better. After the Bastardo didn't look so magnificent Friday (although he didn't pitch terrible either), I had the unfortunate displeasure of attending the game on Saturday. A friend of mine is getting married, and the lovely bride and groom to be had a joint party starting at Chickie's and Pete's for a food and boozefest, culminating at the Phils game Saturday night.

Well, the majority of the party was coming down on a bus from Bucks County, because they are all suckers that live in the northern suburbs. I, being a Philadelphia resident, simply hopped on the subway and hoofed it the couple blocks to Chickie's. Turns out, the bus was delayed, so I began drinking alone a solid half hour before the rest of the party arrived. The rain was coming down, the party was late and I was drinking solo — I should have taken this as a bad omen.

But stupid me instead had a great time getting drunk and eating food, then getting even more drunk in the parking lot as the skies cleared and then getting even more drunk inside the stadium.

I watched as J.A. Happ struggled with his control yet somehow kept the Orioles from busting the game open. He routinely skirted around trouble, though the Phils fell behind 3-0. And in our section in the bleachers, as I was away fetching a beer, a woman who clearly could not handle her alcohol puked all over our seats. Pleasant. Then, one of the partygoers got into a funnel cake food fight, covering plenty of people in powdered sugar. Time to get the hell out of there.

Lucky for me, a few friends of mine were sitting up in section 422 with a couple extra tickets, so I gladly joined them. Moments later, the Phillies mounted their comeback with a leadoff double by Shaner, followed by a double to plate him by Chase, a single by Stairs, a pop out by Werth and a single by Dobbs plating Utley to make it 3-2 Orioles. Then, the flu-stricken Ryan Howard came in to pinch-hit, at which time I turned to my buddy and said, "He's definitely striking out right here."

Um, not exactly. Instead, Howard crushed a 3-run bomb to center to give the Phils a 5-3 lead.

I should know better than to question the big man. Finally, I was feeling good, happy and drunk. That's a great trio. But that quickly faded, as Ryan Madson did his best Jose Mesa impression, coughing up a 2-run lead by allowing two home runs — a solo shot to 38-year-old Greg Zaun, he of the 1 home run prior to that this year, and a two-run bomb to Brian Roberts, he of the 68 career home runs in nine seasons (that's less than 8 home runs per year, by the way).

Now, I have to admit, I was pushing for Ryan Madson to take on the closer role and sending Brad Lidge to the DL until he sorted out his issues. In fact, I thought the Phils should have done it a lot sooner, seeing as Madson was dealing and Lidge was sucking. Well, now I see why the Phils were waiting so long. Madson has been every bit as horrible as the unhealthy Brad Lidge was earlier this year, and Saturday was just another display that he isn't ready for the role.

The Phillies need Brad Lidge to get healthy and get back as soon as possible. Madson has proven he can't handle the role, the rest of the bullpen has been asked to do more than they're capable of, and the relievers that were so reliable last season are looking more and more shaky by the minute. This team is struggling right now, and they need to get healthy and right and back to form badly.

Luckily, the rest of the division is playing just about as awful as the Phils, so here we are, with the Phillies still holding a 2-game lead in the division.

But something's gotta give here sooner or later. When the team's hitting, they aren't pitching at all. And the few times they actually get good pitching, the bats go silent. Like yesterday. With Cole Hamels flat-out dealing, the Phils managed just three hits off Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie (he of the 5.09 ERA) through seven innings and just four the entire game, wasting a brilliant 8-inning, 2-run, 10-strikeout gem by Hamels to cap off the sweep with a 2-1 loss.

That's frustrating. I know that this time of year is the Phils' annual suck donkey balls against the AL in interleague play stretch that inevitably creeps up, but damn, six straight losses and 8 defeats in the last 9 games — all at home — is beyond terrible. I mean, the Phils now are 13-22 at home, just one game better than the freakin Nationals, who have the worst home record in baseball at 12-23.

Why do you hate us so much this year guys? Going to a Phils home game right now is like waking up and finding out there's no hot water for the shower. Frankly, I'm getting sick and tired of it.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Off-Topic Nonsense

Ever notice how the phrase "I'm down for that" means the exact same thing as "I'm up for that"? Shouldn't they mean opposite things?

What the deal?

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It's Finally (Sorta) Sunny in Philadelphia Links

The saying goes, when it rains it pours. Well, shit, that expression has never been more true than right now in Philadelphia. Not only did the Phillies drop two of three against the Red Sox last weekend, then get swept by the Blue Jays and finally suffer injuries to Scott Eyre and Raul Ibanez to already join Brad Lidge and Brett Myers on the DL, but it's been raining every God damn day in Philadelphia.

Well, today, finally, it's not raining (yet), and it was even sunny briefly today. Although none of that is supposed to last. Stupid weather. It's the worst.

Let's link …

-Check out the Phillies' extra special suck from yesterday:

-Also, I wouldn't mind bringing back Scott Graham.

-Play the steroid game. It's all sorts of fun, my comment:

1. David Ortiz — because fuck Boston, that’s why.

2. Pudge Rodriguez, even though he probably did use, because he’s pretty much my favorite catcher ever.

3. Doug Glanville — come on, did you expect me to say anyone else? Seriously, Dougy Doug couldn’t lift his glove high enough to rob a home run.

4. Bret Boone — Bonds is jealous of how much bigger this asshole got.

-Check out some NBA draft player profiles:

-Hockey players have hot wives.

-The FreeDarko mock draft, which is, predictably, incredibly unconventional and nothing close to any mock draft you've seen so far:

17. Philadelphia 76ers - Robert Dozier, Memphis
Two years ago, the Sixers ran their way into playoff contention and poked a few new holes in a Pistons foundation already set to fall apart. The logical next step? Signing a plodding injury problem, albeit one quite talented. When he got hurt this year, the team again ran itself into playoff contention and had us finding a new coach for the Magic. Sorry about that, Stan. Sixer logic now dictates taking the fattest, slowest guy available. Has anyone seen Escalade Troy Jackson? If he can't be found and Blair isn't available, perhaps the team will stop acting like pussies and allow the new AI and Thaddeus to play as they'd prefer. In fact, I dare it to do just that. And to help, I'll give Philly Robert Dozier. Dozier can fill in for Brand once he ruptures his stomach or tears his entire lower body, and Robert's already spent the longest college career ever invented running his ass off. Plus, he's the kind of defender who will do something spectacular when not in foul trouble and buy himself a rep that may not be wholly deserved. Thus, Eddie Jordan will like his game. (JL)

-Dime goes for a much more conventional mock draft:

17. Philadelphia — Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth
With Andre Miller clearly gone in Philly, the Sixers need a PG they can build around and one that can get the job done right now. Eric Maynor is that guy. After four years at VCU, Maynor is ready to step in and push the Sixers to that next level.

-And the top 10 plays of the finals:

-Bill Conlin warns the Phillies to not trade Michael Taylor.

Taylor sounds like a five-tool stud, but I'm not sure I agree with Bill here. This team has about a three-year window where it legitimately will be in the hunt for the World Series each and every season (assuming they get any semblance of pitching), so I might be inclined to give up future studs for current ones. But hey, that's up to Ruben and company.

Enjoy the weekend. The Phils better win this damn series with Baltimore too. For real.

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It's Friday, Time to Dance

I was pretty much drawing a blank on something to post for the weekly dancefest, but luckily, Harvey Bars did the work for me:

John Belushi

That is both hilarious and eerily accurate. What could have been.

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Changing Our Colors

It's no secret that the Phillis suck complete and utter ass at home this season, which makes absolutely no sense for a team that went the entire 2008 postseason without a loss at home. But the numbers don't lie. The Phils are an abysmal 13-19 at Citizens Bank Park this season, the second worst home record in all of baseball, trailing only that AAA squad from the nation's capital (10-22).

It's never a good thing to be compared to the Nationals. Never.

Now, there are many things that can be contributing to this putrid performance in the House That Glanville Built (cough shitty pitching cough), but we'll leave that analysis to the experts. Instead, I'd like to focus on what we, the fans, should do about it.

There have been murmurs that the fans have become a little too content with last season's run to becoming World Fucking Champions, thus the boos aren't raining down quite as hard or quite as often, even when deserved. Maybe that's the case. I'm ashamed to say I really haven't been to enough games yet this season to really know.

But what I do know is the Phillies kick major ass on the road this season. Look it up. Fine, I'll do it for you. The Phils are a ridonkulous 23-9 away from Philadelphia, far and away the best road record in baseball. That, and the fact that the rest of the division sucks, is why the Phillies are still in first place.

So that got the old brain thinking. Seeing as the Phils can barely claim they're better than the Nationals at home, and seeing as they look every bit like the World Fucking Champions they are on the road, what if the fans did something so insane that it just might work? Something almost sacreligious. What if the Philadelphia faithful turned Citizens Bank into a road atmosphere?

Think about it. The Phils come to their home stadium and see nothing but the opposing team's jerseys in the stands. Instead of donning your Chase Utley jersey, trade it in for a Brian Roberts shirt this weekend. Hell, you can even break out your Adam Eaton jersey while the Orioles are in town. What? Eaton got cut? Now he's in Colorado? Yeah, sounds about right.

But hey, you get the idea. Break out the Aubrey Huff jersey, the Nick Markakis T-shirt. Make Citizens Bank look like Camden Yards. Maybe it will trick the Phils, make them think they're on foreign soil, and actually get a win.

Yeah, I know, it will take some dedication on the fans' part. They'll have to buy some Orioles shit and, fuck, who the hell likes Baltimore anyway? That sucks. But at this point, the Phillies could use any psychological advantage they can get.

Of course, this is a stupid idea, and one I'd never even partake in myself. But it was a thought. See what happens when you suck so much at home, Phillies? You make me go crazy. Get your head out of asses. And hey, Ryan Howard, if you're done with talking about it and don't want to hear the questions anymore, here's a fucking novel idea: STOP STRIKING OUT AND WIN A FUCKING SERIES AT HOME!!!!!!!

Baseball can be so annoying sometimes.

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