Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gone Fishin'

Taking a two-week break from the internets. Unless something happens that I absolutely must comment on. If not, consider me on hiatus for a couple of weeks.

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Draft on Tap Links

I tried to watch the NBA draft last night, but I really couldn't. There just wasn't much intrigue, much excitement, especially with the Sixers being finished after Evan Turner's name was called at No. 2. Sure, I had it on all night, but more of my attention was focused on the Wedding Singer.

I do have a few thoughts on the draft, however. For starters, damn, this was one deep class. There may not be many superstars in the fold, but even all the way through the second round, there are tons of players that can be major contributors in the NBA. Upon further review, Greg Monroe is my favorite player in the entire class, and he fits in perfectly in Detroit. I can envision him becoming another Rasheed Wallace-type player.

The three most impressive picks/steals in the first round to me were James Anderson, Quincy Pondexter and Jordan Crawford. Always picking late because the team is perennially a contender, the Spurs went and did it again, getting James Anderson at No. 20. I was a bit surprised, because I definitely think Anderson is a better player than Patrick Patterson, Larry Sanders, Luke Babbitt, Kevin Seraphin and Eric Bledsoe, all players taken ahead of him. He'll fit in perfectly with the Spurs, a tough, versatile player willing to do anything for the team.

Pondexter, while underachieving at times during his days at Washington and perhaps even a little overconfident in his abilities, has a ton of talent and is another multifaceted player. Now he joins a young, confident Thunder squad that's oozing young talent. He's just another athletic, do-it-all type to join a team full of those kind of players. And Jordan Crawford may be my second favorite player in this draft after Monroe. It's somewhat of an obvious comparison, what with them sharing the same last name and all, but I can see Jordan Crawford being almost a more disciplined Jamal Crawford — an excellent scorer coming off the bench who's capable of playing starter minutes. Oh yeah, and you may have heard something about him posterizing LeBron.

As far as the second round goes, there was a hell of a lot of talent there too, a bunch of players I foresee definitely making a team: Hassan Whiteside, Lance Stephenson, Jarvis Varnado, Devin Ebanks, Gani Lawal, Willie Warren, Stanley Robinson, not to mention big names like Dexter Pittman, Andy Rautins and Luke Harangody. And it was nice to see Da'Sean Butler get drafted after his horrific injury. That guy deserves a shot at the NBA.

Of all the second rounders, the three most intriguing to me are Lance Stephenson, Jarvis Varnado and Willie Warren, with Stephenson standing out the most. I'll admit, ever since I saw Gunnin for That No. 1 Spot, I've been a pretty avid follower and fan of Born Ready. He's had his detractors all along, and his one season of college ball at Cincinnati was certainly an up-and-down one, but I think Stephenson actually has the potential to be one of the best players in this entire draft if he can diligently work on his game and dedicate himself as a professional. He certainly has the body and skill set to become a lethal player in the league. The Pacers snagging him 40th overall could be the steal of the draft.

Then there are Varnado and Warren. Jarvis may have a long way to go offensively, but every team needs a shot blocker protecting the paint and causing opposing players to think twice about going to the hoop. Varnado is the all-time leader in blocks in NCAA history. At worst, he's another Theo Ratliff, who has made one hell of a long career by rebounding and especially blocking shots. The case of Willie Warren is definitely a mix bag. A year ago, he was thought to be a late lottery pick. But after a subpar sophomore season, his stock plummeted. So what's the real story with Willie Warren? Is he the player that burst on the scene at Oklahoma as a freshman, shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from three, or the guy who this following year saw his field goal (43.8) and three-point (30.9) percentages fall, despite upping his scoring, rebounding and assist averages? Without Blake Griffin around, Warren wasn't as good a shooter, and he didn't exactly give GMs a ton of confidence that he could run the point, average 3.8 turnovers and 4.1 assists for a nearly 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. But still, he's a young guy with a reputation as a shooter, the type of player that could turn into instant offense off the bench. Kind of like a Louis Williams, though much better defensively. Someone I'll keep my eye on for sure.

All in all, it was an underwhelming experience for me. Nothing crazy really happened. Many of the players once you got past the first five picks or so were rated relatively close, so there wasn't much in the way of shocking developments. The Hinrich trade to Washington is a little bizarre, considering the Wizards now have John Wall, Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich, but other than that, there weren't any big trades. It was pretty much just a dull night. But hey, the Sixers got their man, the Phillis completed the sweep of the Indians and it's Friday, so that's plenty to be excited about.

Links …

-Domonic Brown is Batman:

And Superman:

And word on the street is he's getting called up to Lehigh Valley, which means, as meech so eloquently put it, "That’s one step closer to the Phillies, people."

-Yesterday at work, I went to the bathroom, and when I came out, I thought I must have unknowingly passed out and fallen asleep on the floor because when I looked out the window, it was pure darkness. Turns out, it was just that ridiculous storm that swept through. Which just so happened to take place during the late innings of the Phils' 12-3 win over the Indians yesterday. Here's what it looked like at Citizens Bank Park:

-Ladies and gentlemen, the Jerks are back in town.

-Excellent breakdown of the options for the Flyers in goal, discussing Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Cory Schneider, Dan Ellis and Chris Mason, not to mention Michael Leighton.

-The Union christen PPL Park on Sunday.

-Remember that time I was talking about Lance Stephenson? Watch him throw down a sick putback dunk:

-To follow that up, Antone also reminds us why, exactly, the Sixers took Rodney Carney a few years ago and then decided to bring him back after trading him.

-Bobby Valentine is back in the NL East, now reportedly as the Marlins manager. The only question is, did he bring his mustache with him?

The man is a master of disguise.

-Cliff Lee is still putting up greatest man who ever lived with these insane numbers:

Lee leads all major league pitchers in FIP, at 1.98. He leads the majors in WHIP, at 0.91. His K/BB rate is 19.00, more than three times the rate of his closest competitor, Roy Halladay (6.13). He's given up more than three earned runs in a start just once, thrown more than 35 balls in a start just once (all of his starts have gone at least six and a third innings), and accrued 3.7 Wins Above Replacement, best in the majors, despite having four fewer starts than both Ubaldo Jimenez and Roy Halladay, who, by the way, have no-hitters this season to their name. In short, Cliff Lee has been absurdly good at his job this season.

Yeah, you read that correctly: His strikeout to walk ratio is three times better than anyone else alive. Wow. It gets scarier from there, and not in a good way:

So the Mariners will be trading Lee for prospects, especially hitters. And his suitors will be teams with playoff aspirations that need pitching. The Mets and Twins appear to be the front-runners. The Mets can offer a slew of prospects and can take on Lee's salary and write him off as a rental, even if a playoff berth don't happen, thanks to their enormous revenues. The Twins have a better catching prospect in Wilson Ramos—the Mariners are "interested" in adding a catching prospect—and can throw a back-end starter like Kevin Slowey or Scott Baker into the deal.

Sweet Jesus, Ruben Amaro better pray until his knees are sore that Lee doesn't end up in a Mets uniform this season. It would be the worst thing in the history of things. And as quick as this city was to praise him following the World Series victory in 2008 for basically bringing everyone back and keeping the core together, this city will turn on him just as fast if they get a glimpse of Cliff Lee, their hero last October, in a Mets uniform. This entire ordeal makes me sick to my stomach.

-The Fightins Tickets. Just click it.

-Go to The Basketball Jones and watch every damn video from the draft.

-Sheed has retired, and Eric Freeman shows his appreciation for the Philadelphia native.

-SLAM's NBA Top 25 under 25. Chester product Tyreke Evans comes in at No. 6. Pretty decent list overall, but the fact that Brandon Jennings comes in at No. 25 is a bit hard to swallow. He should be ahead of several guys on the list.

-Michael Vick celebrated his 30th birthday in Virginia. There may have been a cake fight that Ookie or his co-defendant or both didn't take to kindly to. Later, outside of the place the party was held, said co-defendent, Quanis Phillips, got shot. Vick's lawyer claims Vick wasn't involved in the shooting. What no one really seems to be considering here is … where was Marvin Harrison?

-For an overdose of Shoals and company, check out his draft diary and all the awesome draft coverage at FreeDarko.

As for the weekend, the NHL draft is going on, and the Phillies begin their odd three-game set with the Blue Jays, where the Phils are actually the away team and there will be a DH despite the games taking place in Citizens Bank Park. It's going to be weird. And historic. And oh yeah, Roy Halladay take the mound against his former team tonight.

BallHype: hype it up!

It's Friday, Time to Dance

It's officially summer time and hot as balls here in Philadelphia. Unbearably hot. All anyone wants to do is sit back and unwind. So it only seems natural to celebrate with a little dance to Philadelphia's own Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff celebrating the best season of the year. And make sure to check out Jazz's old-school Sixers gear, fresh off last night's selection of Evan Turner

BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Taking a Number 2

Amid the Phillies' swoon, the World Cup, not to mention the NHL and NBA seasons just wrapping up recently, it's a little hard to believe the NBA draft is tonight, with your Philadelphia 76ers holding the No. 2 pick.

It's all but set in stone that the Washington Wizards will take John Wall with the first pick … and that four months from now we'll learn that Wall had someone else take his SATs, he received money and John Calipari will come out unscathed when the heat is on. Or something like that. Then, as popular opinion would have it, the Sixers will and must select Evan Turner, the Naismith Award winner, with the second pick. It's been quite the hot topic here in Philadelphia — mostly because there have been rumored reports ever since the Sixers improbably got that second pick that they may take Derrick Favors instead. Word on the street is that new coach Doug Collins really loves Favors and his upside, while others in the organization prefer the safe, logical pick in Turner. The Sammy Dalembert trade didn't help quiet the chatter.

By all indications, Wall and Turner were the best two players in college basketball last season. It's those two and everyone else. Turner is without a doubt a better player right now than anyone else projected to go after him. Some have compared him to Dwyane Wade. There are more than a few Sixers fans out there that have expressed just how much they'll hate the Sixers if they pass on Turner. Watching him last season makes those feelings completely reasonable and understandable.

The Sixers should take Turner. It's the safe pick, probably the right pick. Even if it doesn't pan out, nobody can really complain. He was the consensus No. 2 pick. And if their website is any indication, the Sixers are going to draft Turner. But you know what? I wouldn't be upset if they don't.

As I said, I think the Sixers should take Turner. I think they will. And I think he'll be good. Possibly really good. Potentially great. However, I don't forecast him to be a superstar like some do. Maybe he will be. Maybe he won't. Time will tell, of course. In Turner, I see a really good all-around player, one that will come in from day one and make the team better, even if the Sixers already have Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young as players with similar size and stature. But the idea of Derrick Favors tantalizes me as well.

He's big. He's fast. He's athletic. Basically, he's everything Elton Brand is not. And he's just reached the tip of the iceberg of his potential. Whereas Turner comes in as a finished product, Favors comes in as somewhat of a project, a player with room to grow and develop and blossom. A guy with the physical tools to become a star. He's also a huge risk. If the Sixers picked Favors and he doesn't pan out — as so many potential guys have — it's another blemish on the franchise, on management. Another Shawn Bradley, Sharone Wright or pick your favorite Sixers bust. In the unlikely possibility that Turner doesn't pan out, well, who saw that coming?

So I'm of the belief that I won't be upset either way. Turner is the right pick, the safe pick, but one that hardly excites me. Maybe it's because he's from Ohio State, a school I loathe. Maybe it's because it creates a log jam of 6'6 - 6'8 players on this roster. Still, picking Turner wouldn't upset me in the least. He's the best player available, and you really can never go wrong taking the best player. But I also won't be upset if Favors is the one who gets called. A foundation of Jrue, Iguodala and Favors, not to mention guys like Speights, Thad and Lou Will, along with another lottery pick that would result from what is expected to be another year of struggling sounds like something to really build with and get excited about. Then again, so does a backcourt of Jrue and Evan Turner.

No matter whose name gets called — though I think we can all agree it most likely will be Turner — it's just exciting to see the Sixers are in this position, and it's gives some reason for hope. If this team can continue to stockpile talent and finally hit a home run with a pick, by the time Elton Brand's lethal contract expires, they may be in position to actually make some real noise. The future hasn't had as much promise since the Sixers selected a little guard out of Georgetown with the first overall pick.

If Evan Turner or whoever the Sixers pick at No. 2 can bring even half the excitement that Allen Iverson did for so many years, the Sixers won't be the afterthoughts of the Philadelphia sports landscape much longer. Whatever happens, let's just hope they don't churn out over 80 kurics of shit with the pick.

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What a Terrific Audience

Something just seemed off about everything last night. I got home from work exhausted and dragging. The heat certainly didn't help. I got home and immediately passed out, only to awake at 7:45 to see the Phillies go down 3-2 to the Indians before I headed off to my softball game.

Our team, dead tired and looking dazed from the heat, played like shit. And lost. It sucked. Then I got in the car to drive home, turned on Franzke J.J. and L.A. and heard the Phils were trailing 6-5 in the 9th. Terrible. Heading in to this series, fresh off an epic 9th-inning meltdown on Saturday followed by the bats being silenced once again by Carl Pavano on Sunday, I thought the Phillies had to sweep the Indians. Cleveland is beyond awful, and the Phils need to start stringing together some wins. Because Atlanta and the Mets just keep on winning. Losing any game to the lowly Indians wouldn't bode well.

Yet here they were, trailing 6-5 in the 9th to one of the worst teams ever assembled. It seemed as though it was going to be one hell of a capper to a shit-infused night. But then, Jimmy Rollins announced his true return in style.

image via The700Level

It was Rollins' first career walkoff home run, though hardly his first clutch hit.

Good to have that guy back. Jimmy's walkoff brought the Phils within 3.5 of the Braves and 3 of the Mets, and kept the sweep alive against Cleveland, with Joe Blanton taking the hill against Fausto Carmona.

BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Snubbed but Not Forgotten — Eric Lindros and the Hall of Fame

I'm not sure if you heard, but Dino Ciccarelli was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Eric Lindros was not. Something about that just doesn't seem right.

Don't get me wrong, Dino Ciccarelli was a very good NHL player for a very long time, but at no point in his career was he considered one of the game's truly elite, a transcendent player. Eric Lindros was. He really was. Before concussions changed his game and robbed him of ice time, Lindros was truly one of the game's greatest players. He won a Hart Trophy, rejuvenated a dormant Flyers franchise to transform them into perennial contenders and did things on the ice no one has ever seen. His size, speed and physicality — all of which ultimately cut his career short — made for a tantalizing and dominating style of hockey that was all his own. I really think he's worthy of the Hall-of-Fame. No, his career wasn't long, but at his peak, he was brilliant — think of Gale Sayers and the NFL Hall of Fame.

A year ago, I broached this subject, induced by reading Puck Daddy's thoughts on Lindros and the Hall. Ultimately, Wysh came to the conclusion that "yeah, bottom line: Eric Lindros is a Hall of Famer." I agreed completely.

Just one year later, with Lindros finally eligible but ultimately left out, Wyshynski called out the entire Hockey Hall of Fame selection process — not because of Lindros' exclusion, but because of Ciccarelli's inclusion. I think he has many valid points, but one thing he's missing is his take at this time on Lindros. What he did do, however, is mention some of his criteria for Hall of Fame status, so I thought it would be interesting to see where Lindros, one of favorite Flyers ever — concussions or no concussions — fits in.

Could this player be considered among the top 3 in his position at any time during his career?
This one is a lock. From his rookie year until the turn of the century really, Lindros was one of the best players in hockey, and for a stretch, arguably the game's best. He won a Hart Trophy, given to the MVP of the league, and the talk of the NHL was how Gretzky and Messier and Lemieux were giving way to Lindros to usher in the next generation. He was the face of the NHL, unquestionably one of the top 3 centers in the game. Really, only Jaromir Jagr, a winger, even conjured up an argument as to who the best player period was. Lindros definitely passes that test.

Did this player win?
No, Lindros never hoisted Lord's Stanley Cup, but yes, he was a winner, at least during his days in Philadelphia. In his rookie year, he scored 41 goals and adding 34 assists to get a down Flyers team to within a game of .500. The team struggled in his second season, even as Lindros posted 97 points (44 goals, 53 assists), but he became the clear leader on the ice. From there, the Flyers made the playoffs and finished at or near the top of the Eastern Conference in every season he wore a Flyers sweater, getting all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 1997. The guy was a winner. Not a champion, but definitely a winner. Pass.

Did this player revolutionize his position or cause others to emulate him?
Well, I think it's safe to say Lindros definitely revolutionized the game, for better or worse. He was truly the first superstar that didn't need an enforcer. He was a freight train out on the ice, literally steamrolling through the opposition, laying punishing, breathtaking hits, moving faster than anyone his size ever had before. And when someone decided to take a run at him, he'd simply beat them to a pulp. He was truly a do-it-all player — he could fight, he could hit, he could score, he could pass, he dominated in the faceoff circle. He was one-of-a-kind.

He also revolutionized player safety. Because of his straight-forward, fearless, reckless style, Lindros often skated with his head down when he wanted to pick up steam — and got planted. That led to many concussions, cutting his career short. Which in turn led to better helmets, rules on shots to the head, and more awareness for players on the ice. Not many people emulated Lindros, wisely, but he definitely was a revolutionary player, good and bad. I say pass.

Can this player be mentioned in the same breath as hockey's greatest legends without choking back a giggle?
This one is subjective, obviously, but I'd say yes, yes he can. While people may giggle about his injuries and not keeping his head up, there's no one who truly understands hockey that would deny No. 88's greatness in his prime. He was every bit as amazing as some of the game's greats, so much so that he was tabbed as the next one. He was Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin in his younger days. He was being mentioned in the same sentence as Gretzky and Messier and Howe and Orr. So I don't see why he wouldn't be now.

I will admit that Lindros is a difficult case study, a tough one. He was no doubt a Hall of Fame talent, but was his impact big enough to overcome such a short stint of greatness? I say yes, because when he was at his best, he was very clearly a Hall of Fame player. Perhaps in time, he'll get in. Perhaps not. But I'll always remember his dominance, his ability, his awe-inspiring play. Even if things didn't go according to plan.

BallHype: hype it up!

Time to Embrace Soccer

I've enjoyed watching soccer for a long time, and for a long time I've listened to the haters. "It's boring." "No one ever scores." "Those guys are always flopping and falling down." Personally I've always been able to appreciate the intricacies of the game that cause the rest of the world to refer to it as The Beautiful Game, but I could also understand where the detractors were coming from. Well today's U.S. game was scoreless for 91 minutes, and it was one of the most riveting and emotional sporting events I've seen in a while.

The set-up for the drama began on Friday, when the U.S. fell behind Slovenia 2-0. They managed to come back and tie the game, something a U.S. team has never done in a World Cup game. Then they scored the go-ahead goal, seemingly completing a historic comeback, only they didn't, as it was disallowed on a phantom call by the referee. The Americans had to settle for the tie, but despite the anger and frustration of the blown call the U.S. still entered today's match against Algeria controlling their own destiny. Win and go through to the round of 16.

It didn't take long for the drama and emotion to escalate, as Clint Dempsey scored in the 21st minute, but once again the goal was disallowed on an offsides call that replay showed should not have been made. Elation turned to frustration with the incorrect raising of an offsides flag. Two goals that should have counted and should have had the U.S. cruising into the round of 16 stolen away.

About the same time as this was unfolding, in came the update from the other game in the group, England had taken a 1-0 lead over Slovenia, meaning the U.S. would need a win to advance if that result held up.

Despite the two crushing missed calls, the Americans pressed on. They continued to get great chance after great chance, but remained unable to bury the go-ahead goal in the back of the net. Jozy Altidore fired a shot over the crossbar of a wide open net. Clint Dempsey hit the post, then shot the rebound just wide. Each one had me jumping from my seat only to return with my head in my hands. Algeria goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi made a couple great saves, and the game remained tied.

As the referee signaled that there would be 4 minutes of stoppage time things did not look good for the U.S. England's lead remained at 1-0 in the waning minutes and it appeared that the U.S. would be eliminated with the draw, and with a sour taste in their mouths, knowing that two disallowed goals that should have stood led to their demise.

And then it happened. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard saved a try from Algeria, and quickly made a beautiful outlet throw to Landon Donovan streaking up the right side. Donovan pushed the ball forward, got it to Altidore, who's shot was tipped by Dempsey. The save was made by M'Bolhi, but the rebound was left right out in front where Donovan found it and buried it in the back of the net.

It was an incredible sequence, and it was an incredible game. At no point in the game was I bored. My emotions ran the gamut from frustration, anger, disappointment, hope, and excitement to outright joy. The game displayed both drama and great displays of athletic prowess. It's time for the United States to get on board with the rest of the world and appreciate and enjoy the game of soccer, and this team is the perfect place for us to start. Here in Philadelphia we know the feeling when a team captures and embodies the spirit of its city (2000-2001 Sixers, this year's Flyers, the World Fucking Champions), and as cliche as it might sound, this United States team embodies the spirit of our nation. They overcame bad luck and some screwups of their own doing and found a way to emerge victorious. And it was a pleasure to watch.

House (that Glanville Built) Cleaning: PSA

As you may have noticed, I've been a bit M.I.A. (and I'm not talking the musician) around these parts the past couple of days. You know why? Because work sucks, that's why.

Due to some unfortunate circumstances, like people actually expecting me to do real work at work all of the sudden, I'm going to have to figure some things out to keep my productivity at the site up. That may mean posting at night from here on out, something that may or may not happen. It may mean something else. I have no idea. We'll see how it goes.

What I do know is that the weekend started out great. The Phils won on Friday, the Flyers traded for Dan Hamhuis, which is just incredibly awesome and takes care of their defensive needs (assuming they sign him and restricted free agent Braydon Coburn), and I got a call from my mom at 1 that she just received four free tickets to the Phils game. So far, so good.

Then I went to the game with my dad and silver fox, sat out in the deadly heat, right in line of the blazing hot sun, and watched the Phillies absolutely mash the ball, taking a comfortable five-run lead into the 9th. Things were going well. Even Arkansas Fred and his dad and fiance were right in the section next to us. Looked to be a good day. Then Jose Contreras couldn't get anyone out, Jim Thome hit a two-run homer, and Brad Lidge came in and blew the save by serving up the tying home run to Joe Mauer. Gay. To add insult to injury, Chad Durbin came in in the 10th and surrendered a solo home run to a guy who was batting .154 with zero homers on the season. It didn't even matter that Ross Gload tied it with a solo shot himself in the bottom half of the inning, because Danys Baez came in and gave up 3 runs in the 11th. You know why? Because Danys sucks. And that game sucked.

Cole pitched well after a horrific three-run first inning, certainly pitching well enough to win. But the bullpen blew it. Then I found out Manute Bol died.

That was another kick in the balls. Then the Phils got shut down Sunday. Not good. At least Jamie Moyer looks like he's 44 again, getting everyone out. And Jimmy is back, finally. And Greg Dobbs got designated for assignment — something that was long overdo — if he clears waivers.

I hate work.

This is amazing:

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, June 18, 2010

I'd Like to Thank My Psychiatrist

Last night's game 7 was the quite possibly the single worst basketball game I've ever watched in my entire life, that succession of three-pointers at the end notwithstanding. Plus the Lakers won, which is all kinds of awful.

But one good thing did come from it all — Ron Artest. I've always been a big Ron Artest fan. He may be certifiably insane, but he's also ultra-competitive and one of the greatest defensive players of his generation. He was also a huge reason that the Lakers were able to pull out that ugly game 7 and win their second straight title, scoring 20 points, hauling in five boards and swiping five steals, but most importantly, shutting down Paul Pierce, who had just 18 points on a woeful 5-15 from the field.

Watching him shadow Pierce, it was evident that Ron Artest was put on this earth to guard the Truth. Most players that size up Pierce aren't big enough or strong enough to contain him. Artest has the ideal build, and the ideal game to stop him. That's exactly what he did all series, limiting Pierce to 43.9 percent shooting for the series and 18 points per game. Only twice did Pierce reach the 20-point mark, scoring 24 in game 1 and 27 and in 5. Take those two performances out, and Artest limited Pierce to 15 points per game on 39.1 percent shooting. He certainly earned his ring with his defense, not to mention some huge games and huge plays offensively, including last night's 20 points that were highlighted by a crucial three late. Plus, he brought more entertainment to the postgame festivities than Kobe ever could.

I'll be looking for that single.

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It's Friday, Time to Dance

This is a public service announcement to Marvin Harrison.

I wonder if Sheed and Marvin know each well. Harrison is two years older than Rasheed, so you'd figure they'd have competed against one another quite a bit on the hardwood in high school, right? Something that I was wondering last night.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

No More Slammin' Sammy D

Breaking news (thanks Adam EatShit): The Sixers have agreed to trade Samuel Dalembert to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni.

What does that mean for the Sixers? Well, for starters, this team just got a whole lot whiter. And second, the Haitian Sensation won't be around any longer to draw fans' wrath. Truth be told, Dalembert probably should have been on my Philly's most unwanted list yesterday. While he certainly put up excellent rebounding and blocked shot numbers — and went through stretches where he really did play excellent basketball — Dalembert's enduring memories as a 76er include nightly goaltending violations, three-second violations, illegal defense and ill-advised jumpers.

He's been a player that the Sixers have been trying to unload ever since Billy King stupidly signed him to an insanely long, insanely large contract. God I hate Billy King. With Dalembert's contract finally reaching expiring status and the Sixers in full-on rebuilding mode, his days as a Sixer were numbered. No they are no more.

In return, the Sixers get a young, skilled 7-footer in Hawes, a player who is just 22 years old.

Straight out Washington — like another former Philadelphia white center — Hawes hasn't put up the numbers Dalembert has the past few seasons playing for a terrible Sacramento squad — 10 points per game, 6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last year. He won't blow you away with his athleticism and his career 46.6 percent shooting percent and 67 percent free-throw shooting leave room for improvement. He has a good basketball IQ and won't do the maddeningly absurd things Dalembert did, but he also isn't as athletic or fast.

Andres Nocioni is an adequate bench player with good range. Perhaps he can finally precipitate the dismissal of Willie Green, though somehow I doubt it.

Nocioni only averaged 19.7 minutes last season in Sacramento, but looking at the Sixers' roster, he's an immediate upgrade over Jason Kapono, so there's that.

All in all, I think most of Philadelphia will be happy to see Sammy leave, but I'm not really one of them. Sure, he wasn't a very smart basketball player, and sure, he could get moody about playing time and touches, but he also made the Sixers very entertaining. You always wanted to see what crazy thing Dalembert would do next, how long it would take for him to get in foul trouble, and it was always a pleasure watching him on the rare occasions that he put it all together and posted a 20-point, 17-rebound game with four blocks. Plus, by all accounts, he's a great guy, evident by the way he fought to help his native Haiti recover from devastation.

So long, Sammy. Tell Tyreke we Philadelphians said hello. And protect ya neck.

BallHype: hype it up!

Dear Shane, What the Hell?

If you watched last night's 6-3 win for the Phillies over the Yankees, you know that after scoring the first run in the most unlikely manner — Raul Ibanez stealing (yes, stealing) second base followed by Philadelphia's most unwanted Phillie Greg Dobbs actually getting hit to drive him in — Shane Victorino had the single biggest hit of the night: a bases-loaded, bases-clearing triple in the 2nd to put the Phils ahead 4-0.

What you might not know but probably do is that later, he committed one of the worst base-running errors ever. And it almost came back to haunt the Phils. After scoring two more runs in the third thanks to the rarest of things for the Phils of late — back-to-back solo home runs by Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth — the Phils had a comfortable 6-1 lead. Jamie Moyer was doing what Roy Halladay was supposed to do on Tuesday, having gone through the first three innings surrendering just one hit, a solo home run to the red-hot Robinson Cano. Then the fourth inning rolled around, which is when Shane made an inexcusable, indefensible mistake, especially for a team that's been struggling to score runs and win games for too long now.

He started out doing just about everything right, actually. Having tripled his last time up against Burnett to plate three runners in the 2nd, Victorino led the 4th off with a walk. Then he stole second on a pitch-out that Jorge Posada dropped — you know, because Jorge Posada is about as good playing catcher as Greg Dobbs is at playing third. So far, so good. But this is where things took a turn for the worst. The next batter, Placido Polanco, hit a high fly ball pretty deep to right, doing what he's so good at doing, what he was brought to this team to do, hit the ball to the right side with a runner on second and no outs to get him to third. One problem: Shane took a few steps off the bag, then fucking walked back to second, failing to tag up and get to third. What? A guy with his speed, with his base-running ability, could have walked to third base tagging up. Especially with Nick Swisher in rightfield, hardly a player with a cannon. I was irate. I know the Phils were up 6-1 and Jamie was dealing, but come on! This is the Yankees. In Yankees Stadium. A 6-1 lead is hardly safe, not with that lineup in that stadium. And especially not in the 4th inning. You have to take every base you can, score every run that's out there. Yet Shane had his head up his ass, failing to do the most fundamental thing, tagging up on a deep fly ball to right while standing on second. It's not even like it was a hard ball to read. It was a towering fly ball to deep right. He should have been standing on second and tagging, no questions asked.

What makes it 10 times more infuriating is what happened next. Chase Utley reached on an infield single to first, beating everyone to the bag. If Shane was on third like he was supposed to be, he would have scored, putting the Phils up 7-1. Instead, it was first and third with one out, and Joe Girardi lifted Burnett to bring in a lefty, who struck out Howard, then intentionally walked Werth to load the bases for Raul, who grounded out. No run. And it was all because Shane failed to do the simplest, most fundamental thing. That's just horribly inexcusable when your team is struggling so much. Slumps happen. Errors happen. But mental mistakes should never happen, not when you're trying so hard to break out of a funk.

Luckily for Victorino, Moyer had his back.

You want to talk about baseball being a funny game, well just check out the first two games of this series. Tuesday night, Roy Halladay walked into Yankee Stadium with a sub-2.00 ERA and a history of torturing the Bronx Bombers during his days as a Blue Jay. He left after six innings, surrendering 8 hits, six earned runs and three home runs while picking up the loss, skyrocketing his ERA to 2.36.

Then last night, Jamie Moyer took the mound with an ERA north of 5.00, coming off a disastrous start in Fenway Park. All he did then was go out and toss 8 innings of three-hit ball, surrendering just two runs, as two of those hits were solo homers (one to Cano, the other to Posada). It was Jamie Moyer at his best, working the corners, hitting his spots, frustrating the most potent lineup on the planet. Like I said, he was everything Roy was supposed to be against the Yankees. Talk about a pleasant surprise.

Jamie was dealing so well that I thought he should have been allowed to start the ninth, holding a 6-2 lead. He had earned it, and he showed no signs of slowing down, cruising through the 6th, 7th and 8th. But Charlie decided to go with Brad Lidge in the 9th, in the dreaded non-save situation for the closer. Unsurprisingly, all did not go so smoothly.

Lidge did start out on fire, striking out Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher to begin the 9th. But then he walked Mark Teixeira on a great at-bat by douche face. He then took second on defensive indifference, because Lidge is awful at holding runners and Teixeira's run didn't really matter. That's a good thing, because A-Rod drove Teixeira home with a double, and suddenly it was a three-run game. When Robinson Cano followed Rodriguez's at-bat with a single, suddenly the tying run came to the plate in the person of Jorge Posada, a guy who had already homered on the night.

This is where Shane's boneheaded base-running comes into play. Or could have. If Posada had launched one there, the game would have been tied. If Victorino simply would have played baseball the right way, Posada couldn't have come to the plate as the tying run. Thankfully, it was all a moot point, because Lidge struck Posada out on a nasty slider, completing the ninth by eventually striking out the side. But the ending had unnecessary tension thanks to Victorino's blunder. Then again, the Phils also were in position to win thanks to Shane's huge three-run triple, and the guy played outstanding defense in centerfield.

Still, seriously Shane, do what you're supposed to. You're better than that.

BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Philly's Most (Un)Wanted

Right now is not the best of times for us Philadelphia sports fans. The Flyers just capped off an exhilarating run to the Stanley Cup Final by getting eliminated on the weakest goal possible. The Phillies are mired in the worst offensive slump of my lifetime, and even Doc got roughed up last night. The Eagles begin mandatory camp with more questions than answers, fresh off back-to-back humiliating losses to the Cowboys of all teams to end last season. And the Sixers, well, they got the No. 2 pick in the draft for a reason — they're terrible.

No one is excited in this city right now. It's almost as if some of us would rather just wash our hands of sports for a while, if only to regain our sanity. Of course, we can't do that. That would go against our very being, our very nature. So instead, we gripe and bitch and moan about players we want to run out of town. With that, here are Philly's Most Unwanted athletes that currently call Philadelphia home.

Elton Brand

There is no athlete this city wants gone more than Elton Brand, and for good reason. Signed to an obscenely gargantuan five-year, $80 million contract coming off a major, major injury, Brand has done absolutely nothing to alleviate fans' fears of him being damaged goods. In his first season, he struggled mightily to fit in to the Sixers' fast-break style, and the team struggled. Then he got injured … and the team took off. There was no arguing that the Sixers were a better team without him on the floor than with him. He played just 29 games, averaging a very pedestrian 13.8 points and 8.8 rebounds, with 1.6 blocks per game, all while shooting a career-low 44.7 percent from the field and career-low 67.6 percent from the line. Basically, his shortened first year was a disaster.

This past season was supposed to be different. But it wasn't. Brand still struggled with his health, clashed with the incompetent Eddie Jordan, and found himself in limbo. Sure, he had some good games here and there, but he could never embrace coming off the bench and never produced enough to merit a consistent starting gig. Essentially, Elton Brand has become the Sixers' $80 million black hole. Somehow, despite his minutes remaining relatively the same (31:41 per game in 2008-09 compared to 30:11 in 2009-10), his numbers dropped across the board. Brand averaged just 13.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. He shot better, connecting on 48 percent from the field and 73.8 from the line, but his defense and rebounding took another step backward. It's pretty clear that the man who came in with career averages of 20 and 10 is nowhere near that player now. Think Chris Webber as a Sixer, only 10 times worse and stuck here for five years. Elton can't disappear soon enough.

Willie Green

I honestly don't know a single person in the City of Brotherly Love that actually likes Willie Green. Not one. Better yet, I don't know a single person on the planet that can explain how this guy has lasted seven years and counting as a Philadelphia 76er. The guy is the definition of a chucker, one of the most inconsistent, below-average players in the NBA. Don't believe me? Check out his career averages: 9.4 ppg, 1.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 turnovers, 0.6 steals, 0.1 blocks, 42.2 percent from the field, 31.7 percent from three, 85.2 percent from the line.

Ladies and gentlemen, here we have a guy who can do absolutely nothing but score (and play something close to decent defense, at least for a Sixer), but can't score efficiently. Honestly, 42.2 percent from the field and 31.7 from three is the best this team can get from a bench scorer? And Willie, seeing as you are the most streaky (see bad) shooter alive, you'd think you would learn to contribute on the glass or get some steals or maybe even pass the ball once in a while. Hasn't happened. Ever. Seriously, how does this man still have a job? I can't explain it. No one can. Enough is enough. This Willie Green joke has been going on about seven years too long.

Honorable mention: Andre Iguodala

Andre is a really good player. Really, really good. He can score. He can rebound. He can defend. He can pass. What he cant' do is shoot from the outside, yet he does, over and over and over again. He also can't really create his own shot. But man, when he's attacking the rim and throwing down dunks, it's awesome. He's the type of player every team needs and wants … so long as he's the second or third or fourth best player. Unfortunately, the Sixers signed him as if he was a franchise guy, which he is not. Not even close. That makes his $80 million contract incredibly hard to justify, and makes Iguodala think he's better than he actually is and is capable of things he really can't do. I mean, he's never even been an all-star, yet he's paid like a superstar. It's not really his fault, and at times he is truly a delight to watch play, but that fadeaway jumper and those barrages from three are difficult to stomach. Still, the guy is a good player. Just not worthy of lead dog status.

Jeff Carter

Talk about a case of crazy. Jeff Carter is 25 years old. He has scored 145 goals in five seasons (29 per year). He's been an all-star, has laced up for Team Canada (not this year) and last season, he scored 84 points with 46 goals and 38 assists while finishing a plus-23. This season, he was the Flyers' most consistent forward, arguably the team's best center before he went down with a broken foot. He scored 33 goals in 74 games, added 28 assists for 61 points. The guy truly is a tremendous goal-scorer who has shown he can play good defense at the same time. Ever since Mike Richards went down two seasons ago before the playoffs, Carter has been on the rise, a mainstay on the power play and penalty kill, and one of the NHL's best scorers.

But after suffering another broken foot in the first round (game 4 against New Jersey), Carter came back late in the Montreal series and took the ice in every game of the Stanley Cup Final. That's where things turned sour. He was, honestly, the worst player in the series. He was either completely invisible, or highly visible for the wrong reasons: missed assignments, missing an open net, looking slow and plodding. Now with the Flyers having a surplus of centers once again (Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Blair Betts), fans from all over the area are calling for Jeff Carter to be traded for either a goaltender or a defenseman or both. It's really remarkable, considering just how proficient he's been for this team the past three years, how much he's come along, and considering he played in the Final coming off two broken feet and clearly not in game shape.

It would be unwise and foolhardy to trade a talent like Carter simply for the sake of clearing up room up the middle or to cast him off as a scapegoat. I, for one, have been critical of Carter at times in the past, and I especially got on him (and Peter Laviolette for playing him so much) during the final series. And I've taken issue with him in the past, whether it was his choke job against the Penguins or his lack of physicality. But let's be reasonable here, folks. Jeff Carter is a very good player. A very talented player. And he's getting better every year. You can't just give him away. That doesn't mean he should be untouchable. In fact, he's one of the few trade pieces without a no-trade clause, his contract expires soon and he'll definitely be due a raise. And oh yeah, he'll definitely net a great haul in return. But it's still funny to see so many people turn on the guy who was having arguably the best season out of any Flyer forward before he got injured, the same guy who scored 46 goals last year.

Ryan Parent

I'll admit it, I've been a Ryan Parent guy. When he came over from Nashville, I thought he was going to become an excellent defensive defenseman in the NHL. So did the Flyers. But injuries have stunted his progress, and frankly, the guy stunk in playoffs. Parent routinely looked overmatched and overwhelmed. He got beat for puck battles time and time again. He simply didn't look big enough or strong enough to compete with the NHL's best. And fans took notice. All of them.

Trolling the comments on any site dedicated to the Flyers and you'd hear cries of getting Parent out of here. As a one-time proponent of the guy, I can honestly say they've all been warranted. Parent hasn't shown any progress, hasn't given any reason to believe he can become a good defenseman in this league. It pains me to say it, but his days as Flyer may be numbered.

Honorable mention: Riley Cote

I was almost tempted to put Michael Leighton on here after giving up the softest goal in the history of hockey to end the Final — and for playing awful in three games against the Blackhawks — but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. And I shouldn't have, because Leighton deserves a ton of credit for saving the Flyers twice. His heroics during the regular season and playoffs will never be forgotten.

Riley Cote, on the other hand, has already been forgotten. Fans always respected the guy for taking on any and all comers, but the time has come and gone for Cote in this city. He can't actually win a fight, and he can't actually do anything with puck. His only real strengths are hitting people and being able to withstand taking punch after punch. It would stunning if he ever dressed for the Flyers again, unless it was in one of those statement games in which both teams anticipate a ton of fights.

Sav Rocca

Punters don't normally command a lot of attention, but it's impossible to discuss the Eagles' special teams without Sav Rocca coming up … and often touching a nerve with the fan base. He is, quite simply, the most maddening punter of all time. One minute, he'll boom one 63 yards with no return. The next minute, he'll shank one 26 yards and kill the defense. There's no denying the guy's booming leg, but there's also no denying that every time he drops back to let one fly, no one knows where the hell it's going to go or how far it's going to travel … especially Rocca.

What you want out of your punter more than anything is consistency. Sav Rocca is the definition of inconsistent. And I think all the fans in the city have had just about enough of him. Though he did absolutely kick ass in that playoff game in Giants Stadium two years ago.

Victor Macho Harris

Either Sean Jones or Quintin Demps where supposed to win the starting free safety job last season after the unwanted and unnecessary departure of Brian Dawkins. Neither one could nail down the job. Instead, Victor Harris emerged from the pack, a player that made a name for himself at Virginia Tech as a cornerback.

At first, I was excited for Harris. He played very well in the preseason, and he was a really good player in college. That did not translate to being a quality safety in the NFL. Harris sucked at every conceivable thing you want out of a football player. He couldn't tackle. He couldn't cover. He couldn't do anything. All I can picture when I hear his name is him diving at someone's feet, missing a tackle. Victor Harris sucked complete and utter donkey balls last season, and a player I once was ready to like after a strong preseason became a player I couldn't stand. Neither could anyone else.

Thankfully, the Eagles have moved Harris back to corner. Rookie Nate Allen looks to be the man to take over the other safety spot opposite of Quintin Mikell. If Harris can contribute as a corner and not completely shit the bed like he did at safety, I'm willing to give him another chance. But I shouldn't. He was absolutely terrible last year.

Honorable mention: Trevor Laws

This guy was the Eagles' first-round draft choice just two short seasons ago, yet last year, he was deactivated down the stretch. Not good. Not good at all. Laws was slated to be the third tackle in the rotation behind Mike Patterson and Broderick Bunkley. Instead, he lost his job to undrafted Antonio Dixon and may not even make the team this year. Talk about a waste of a draft pick.

Thank god the Eagles took DeSean Jackson right after him in the second round, or we'd be talking about a disastrous draft.

I was tempted to put Joselio Hanson here, because I don't like him or trust him, but he was better than I thought he'd be last year. Still, he wasn't exactly good either, and his size is a detriment, especially in a division with wide receivers such as Hakeem NIcks, Devin Thomas and Roy Williams. There are plenty of Eagles fans that just don't have any confidence in the guy, myself included. The fact that he may challenge Ellis Hobbs for the starting spot opposite of Asante Samuel frightens me to death. Can someone explain to me why they traded Sheldon again?

It could be argued that Quintin Demps deserves a spot here, because plenty of people wouldn't be the least bit sad to see him go following his disastrous NFC Championship game performance two seasons ago against Arizona and an injury-plagued, underwhelming year last season. But at least Demps is good at returning kickoffs, and I actually think he can become a really good player with his size and speed if he can stay healthy and take some coaching. The jury is certainly still out though.

Greg Dobbs

The Phillies are struggling mightily thanks to a lot people. Greg Dobbs hardly shoulders as much blame as the regulars — guys like Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth and Shane and Ryan and you get the idea. However, we all know the kind of players those guys are. They'll hit, eventually. At least I hope. But Dobbs, well, he's the most worthless player on this roster, and the fans know it. He no longer is the guy who broke the franchise record for pinch hits as the Phillies became World Fucking Champions.

With reduced playing time that was to be expected last season and so far this year, Dobbs has struggled. Mightily. He saw his average drop from .301 in 2008 to .247 last year to now an all-time low .143. To go along with his paltry .143 average, his on-base percentage is a ghastly .206, his slugging remarkably low at .238 and his OPS is .444. He has just one home run and five RBIs in 63 official at-bats, striking out 18 times while walking just five times. To make matters worse, he is the single worst fielder in the history of baseball. When he's not booting the ball over at third, he's short-hopping Ryan Howard at first or missing him altogether. And he's not much better in the outfield. The reason he plays less is because he's such a liability in the field. Honestly, I think everyone that lives in my house can field better than Greg Dobbs. I really do. We probably can't, but that's how bad he is.

And now he can't even hit either. I'm sorry, but he's got to go. Has to. Now. Plus, it would send a message to this slumping team and hopefully wake some of the bats up. Because this shit is getting ridiculous.

Ruben Amaro

Technically, Ruben Amaro isn't a Philadelphia athlete right now. But he did play for the Phillies, and he's now GM. So that counts, because I said so. Now, it may be stunning to see him on this list, seeing as he was assistant GM when the Phils won the World Series in 2008, kept that core team together AND added Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez (not to mention Raul Ibanez, who carried the offense in the first half last season) last year en route to getting back to the World Series, and brought in Roy Halladay, Placido Polanco and Jose Contreras and others this season. But with the Phillies strug-a-ling, Ruben's popularity has taken a hit … and it could have all been avoided.

Bringing in Roy Halladay was a stroke of genius. The problem is, he went right around and traded Cliff Lee for a bucket of balls and some shitty prospects. Phillies fans had visions of Halladay and Lee forming the best one-two combo in all of baseball, and hopes of Cole Hamels recapturing his pre-2009 form (which he's on his way to doing this year), all but assuring another trip to the Fall Classic. But then he traded Cliff Lee for three prospects that are all putting up atrocious numbers in the minors.

It didn't have to be this way. He could have let Joe Blanton walk. He could have not given 100-year-old Jamie Moyer a two-year deal after the World Series. He could have forgone a 3-year deal to an aging Raul Ibanez. Any or all of those moves would have cleared the salary space for the Phils to remain under budget. And don't give me this prospect nonsense, not when all of them are struggling against inferior competition.

You have to give it to Amaro for putting his neck out there and making some truly great moves. But as the Phillies continue to sputter and watch Cliff Lee look like Cliff Lee in Seattle, it will be the move he's forever remembered for … unless the Phils can right themselves and win another championship or two. Of course, that would be a lot easier with Halladay and Lee in the rotation, especially with the bats going silent. It will forever be one of the greatest what-ifs in Phillies history. What if the Phils had kept Lee for one more year, along with acquiring Halladay? Sadly, we'll never know.

Honorable mention: Danys Baez

Opponents are batting 2.80 against him. His WHIP is 1.52. He's walked 13 batters in 27 innings, given up 28 hits and 13 earned runs. His 4.33 ERA isn't horrible, but he is. Danys Baez sucks.

BallHype: hype it up!

I Thought Roy Was Supposed to be Good Against the Yankees

He wasn't. At all. So watch Shannon Brown throw it down.

Last night was awful. I hate everything right now.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Thoughts on Nebraska to the Big 10

Fuck Nebraska.

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Phillies at Fenway

As you know, the Phillies lost two out of three games in Fenway this weekend, getting outscored 22-4 in the first two games before finally getting a 5-3 victory yesterday. As a result of this prolonged skid, the Phillies are now in third place, 3.5 games behind Atlanta and, unbelievably, 2 games behind the Mets. They're closer to last place than they are to first. Not good.

So what did we learn from the weekend? That Cole Hamels is the only player worth a shit on this team right now besides Roy Halladay, as Cole pitched 7 innings of 5-hit, one-run ball with 8 striketouts to pick up the win after Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton got shelled in the first two games. Oh yeah, and we also learned what a game at Fenway between the Phils and Red Sox looks like.

These images come via Lavar's Love Child, who attended the game with his friend Boner on Friday. Those two crazy bastards also went to the game yesterday, though they didn't sit together. The photos are from both games, taken by Phillies fans who reside in Boston, which has to be unbearable right now with the Celtics up 3-2 thanks to a far superior bench than the Lakers' and Ron Artest not knowing how to make free throws.

I would write more about stuff, like the US tying England on Saturday thanks to England's keeper failing to stop a Clint Dempsey shot that any third-grader could have stopped, but I'm still too pissed and depressed that I'm at work right now instead of parading down Broad Street marveling at the Stanley Cup.

Just go read about Ed's awesome weekend instead. Sounds a whole lot better than mine. Though I did see Bryan Scott at the Freight House in Doylestown on Friday night. As in former Penn State Nittany Lion, 2nd-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons and current Buffalo Bill Bryan Scott. True story.

If you don't believe me, well, maybe you'll recall that the guy is actually from Doylestown. He went to C.B. East high school. And then Penn State. In fact, he was a senior when I was a freshman at Penn State. Another true story.

BallHype: hype it up!