Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A CLIFFhanger No More...

A flurry of trades to close out the MLB trade deadline and let me start by saying I really like the Cliff Lee deal. As my 18 loyal readers know, I was not ready to trade our top pitching prospect, our top position prospect and JA Happ (a possible Rookie of the Year candidate) for Doc Halladay. Again, Halladay is a stud pitcher. No doubt. But, the fact that you heard ZILCH about Halladay being traded to another team after the Phillies acquired Lee, tells me that Jays GM JP Ricciardi overplayed his hand.

What the Phils are getting in Lee is a 22-game winning, AL Cy Young winner from last year. This year he is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA in Cleveland. His ERA clearly indicates that he was a very good pitcher on a very bad team. I think Lee will be a huge boost to the Phils rotation and I'm thrilled with the deal. We traded none of our top 4 prospects (Jason Knapp was definitely the highest rated prospect -- a low A-ball 18 year old who throws in the upper 90s) AND we landed a legitimate #1 pitcher to our rotation. Also, Ben Francisco (a name the Phils fans will have a blast with) gives us the right-handed bat we need off the bench.

The Phils didn't need a great pitcher, they needed a good pitcher to keep them in games. If their staff can keep it close, I fully trust our explosive line-up will continue to win games for us. Cliff Lee happens to be a very good pitcher who will not only keep us in games, but will win them. The million dollar question is whether our bullpen can be as effective as they were last season. That's a whole nother' blog for another day.

Under a heavy heart the Eagles began training camp on Thursday. The good news - football has begun. The bad news - so have the injuries. Asante Samuel, Shaun Andrews, Kevin Curtis and Jason Peters are all hurt. I don't get too worked up about training camp bumps and bruises, but the offensive line needs reps to work on their continuity. I'm hoping Andrews balky back won't continue to be an issue during the season, but I have a feeling it will. Jon Runyan anyone?

The Flyers signed "tough guy" Ole-Kristian Tollefson. Forgive me if you don't see me jumping up and down about a guy who has missed 57% of his games over the last two years. Isn't the term injury-proned tough guy an oxymoron?

The injustice regarding MLB's steroid "list" is disheartening. These players signed a confidentiality agreement stating that their names would remain anonymous. Now, about five names have been leaked from the 103 that tested positive -- including the Roid Sox own David Ortiz & Manny Ramirez. First off, those names should absolutely remain confidential, if that was the agreement. Secondly, how do you release only five of the names? Thirdly, steroids, though illegal, were not listed as banned substances by baseball. Amazing how baseball continues to suffer through the steroid era and simultaneously shoot themselves in the foot (Hey, Plaxico). Maybe they should just have the Roid Wing in the Hall of Fame and be done with it.

In Other News:
  • I heard a commercial that the "Most Interesting Man in the World" had been pronounced dead seven times -- I couldn't stop laughing.
  • Nice to hear the Atlanta Police Department tried to use their stats to show that violent crime is down in Atlanta. Despite these numbers they still added 139 cops to the force. Maybe the Mayor/Police Chief could better allocate the four cops that sit on E.Roxborough road every morning catching those hideous speeders in the highlands
  • The more Joe Jackson opens his yapper, the worse I feel for MJ
  • Anyone wanna bet Brett Favre will be on an NFL roster by October?
  • Dear Southwest, please come to Atlanta
  • My fiance just informed me that the Phils not only traded for Cliff Lee, but that Cy Young was included in the deal. Sweet!
  • To anyone who thinks legendary comic Andrew DICE Clay is dead, absolutely MUST watch this clip. This is one of the funniest things I've EVER seen....

This One's for you JJ...

Very, very sad news for the Birds family, the city of Philadelphia and really the entire NFL last night. Eagles defensive coordinator and mastermind of blitz packages usually reserved for Play Station usage, succumbed to cancer last night at 68. Johnson, who fellow NFC East fans, offenses and coaches feared for the last 10 years, was forced to leave the Eagles for good in May due to the mestastized melanoma near his spine. Johnson is survived by his wife, Vicky, their children, Scott and Michelle, and four grandchildren. Funeral services are pending. The Eagles are expected to wear a patch commemorating Johnson on their uniforms this season.

Johnson's loss is truly tragic. Not just from a football perspective but from a human perspective. My heart bleeds for anyone who deals with loss, especially something so debilitating as cancer. Johnson was a fighter and many people, including Coach Reid, say Johnson embodied the Philadelphia spirit, probably more than any coach on any professional team.

People have often wondered why Johnson, an assistant for 22 years, never got a head coaching job. I know he interviewed for a few positions (the Baltimore and SF openings come to mind), but he was somewhat of a late bloomer in the coaching world. I think people were a little scared to hire a guy in his 60s, and I also know the Eagles paid him a salary that was extremely high for a coordinator. That underscores what he meant to this team.

The defense we had during our 2008-09 season was among the very best I've seen. I will never forget the run we made to get into the playoffs, highlighted by our defense taking apart Dallas, Minnesota and the NY Giants.

The stats and Johnson's "coaching offspring" speak to his legacy and dominance.

  • During Johnson's decade with the team, the Eagles made the playoffs 7 times, including 5 NFC Championship games and 1 Super Bowl.
  • In the 10 years he coached the defense, Johnson produced and astounding 26 defensive Pro Bowl selections for the Eagles. That's an incredible stat when you think about it.
  • Since 2000, Johnson's defenses have ranked second in the NFL in sacks and in forced fumbles, second in third-down and red-zone touchdown efficiency, and fourth in fewest points allowed.
  • Johnson's lineage includes two current NFL head coaches and three NFL defensive coordinators who all started as Eagles coaches (Ron Rivera - San Diego, Leslie Frazier - Minnesota, Sean McDermott - Philly, John Harabaugh - Ravens head coach, Steve Spagnuolo - former NY Giants defensive coordinator and current St. Louis Rams head coach).
Obviously profound sadness has hit the Eagles and their fans, but here's a sample of quotes I found, which resonated with me.
  • "He really represented everything this city is all about, with his toughness and grit. That's the way he fought this cancer. At this time, I think it's important that we do think of the good times that Jim brought us, as we go through the grieving process here, remember all the positives that he brought to the Philadelphia Eagles and to the city of Philadelphia. The whole Andy Reid regime here that's taken place, wouldn't have been possible without Jim." -Andy Reid-
  • "The moment I'll always remember was last January after we had just lost [to the Arizona Cardinals] and we were in the locker room." There were a few moments where I was alone with Jim and he came over to me and said, 'I'm so sorry we didn't deliver this for us.' I remember thinking to myself, 'Oh, my God, Jim, I have the best defensive coordinator in football for the last 10 years.' I told him, 'You have nothing to be apologetic about. You give more than any owner could possibly expect.' It was one of those rare, emotional moments when things are so upsetting because we hadn't advanced to the Super Bowl. He was so confident we were going to get the ring. He was just so apologetic and I'll always remember that moment." -Jeff Lurie-
  • "This is a sad, sad day for myself and my Philadelphia family." Jim was tailor made to coach in Philadelphia. He was a tough coach who wasn't afraid to let you know how he was feeling, but at the same time, he cared about us deeply. He was an absolute blessing to me with the way he used me on the football field and allowed me to show my God-given ability. His confidence in me meant so much - he looked to create new defenses each week to utilize my talents. I have been praying for him every day, and those prayers won't stop now. I'll be praying for his family and their comfort during this difficult time." -Brian Dawkins-
  • We went into Indianapolis for a Thursday night or a Sunday night game and they had half their defense out with injuries. We had a respectable team at the time and we thought we were really going to be able to make something happen here. Then Jim's defense came out blitzing us on every single play, and I think we lost by 30 points. Then we hired Andy and he mentioned Jim, and Jeff and I looked at each other and said, 'Wait, that's the guy who coached against us in Indianapolis.' They were missing their whole team and they killed us anyway. We were immediately like, 'That's a good idea.' -Joe Banner-

Jim Johnson will be missed, but clearly will not ever be forgotten.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Philly Don't Need No Holliday"

While I am not here to take anything away from Roy Halliday, he's as good as it gets RIGHT NOW in the majors, I am hoping the Phils don't trade for him. No, I didn't forget to take my meds, but my theory is simple. Jays GM JP Ricciardi is looking for multiple can't miss prospects, which I understand. Heck, the term "can't miss" when used in conjunction with prospect, is a bit of a misnomer. Had the Phils not won the World Series last season, I would probably be all for doing whatever needed to be done to get that elusive championship. However, since we are WORLD PHUC*IN' Champs (thank you, Chase) and our pitching seems to finally be settling down, I don't feel we necessarily need to deal for Halliday.

Here's what it boils down to for me. Several years ago a young minor league first baseman was the subject of EVERY Phils rumor because Jim Thome was blocking his path to the majors. As fate would have it, Thome got injured and a young guy who was tearing the ass out of the minors finally got his shot. That guy??? Ryan Howard.

Need more proof? Look at what our minor league system has been doing lately -- Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Victorino, Cole Hammels, Ryan Madson, JA Happ - all guys came up through our system and still play in Philly. Don't forget David Bourn (Houston), Gavin Floyd (White Sox) and Gio Gonzalez (Oakland) who also came up through our system. Our once laughable minor-league system is now an MLB producing machine. Bottom line -- I'm not ready to deal the highly regarded Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown or Michael Taylor for Halladay, and getting Halladay will require AT LEAST one of those guys. Rookie sensation JA Happ is a guy I would move, but I believe Ricciardi will want Happ, in addition to one of the aforementioned (Drabek, Brown, Taylor) and another mid-level prospect or two. As my boy Derrick pointed out, the playoffs usually consist of 3-4 man pitching rotations, so if we can add another quality arm, I think we'll be good enough. The Phils have one of the most explosive line-ups in baseball, which means we will not only score runs, but we just need our starting pitching to be good enough (and our bullpen to be great) to win ballgames. Halladay, is a 32-year old horse, with almost 2,000 innings of mileage on his right arm and he is only signed through next season. Personally, I'd rather take my chances dealing for a Kyle Loshe/Joe Blanton-type as my #3 guy, than give up the farm for Halladay.

In other news -- can you believe the Eagles report to Lehigh on Sunday? What have they waited so long for? Word on the street is that talks with Jeremy Maclin, our highly touted #1 pick, are heating up and he should be in on-time. The Eagles haven't had a first-round pick hold out since Clinton administration.

How sweet to hear the Flyers will be ringing in New Years up in Baaaston with a game at Fenway Park . Yes, you heard me right -- on January 1 the Flyers-Bruins will get it on, outside in the cold, at Fenway. I could do New Year's in Boston.

The Dawgs received a huge commitment yesterday from the #2 rated DT in the country, which is even bigger when you consider they are losing their top 3 DT's after this season. Garrison Smith announced his intentions to attend UGA (AKA - GOD's country) next year. He becomes the 15th commitment for the 2010 class. Was talking with HOJO and it's amazing how strong this UGA class is shaping up. Granted, verbal commitments are non-binding but there are still a number of top-notch prospects that UGA is going after and adding those to an already strong class has me frothing (again).

In other news:
  • Anyone watch the TO Show? I watched about 7 minutes and quickly realized I had just used seven minutes of my life and I will never get those back. It is so evident that he is trying to set-up life post-football, which I believe will happen in two years.
  • Amazing that DeKalb County home prices have gone down, but taxes are going up - awesome!
  • Great second episode of Entourage. Lots of Ari, less E = GREAT TV
  • Did anyone see this story? Crazy stuff -
  • Shaq is going to be on Monday Night Raw next week
  • MCAAAAAAAA, here's hopin' you get healthy and get back on the mic soon...
  • This is one of the coolest things I saw this week. Travel firm Cox and Kings has chartered a Boeing 737-700 aircraft to give people the chance to see a Solar Eclipse from 41,000 feet
    Experts will be on board to explain it to passengers, some of whom have paid 1,600 dollars for a "sun-side" seat on the three-hour flight from New Delhi. The eclipse's shadow is expected to pass over the aircraft at 15 times the speed of sound (Mach 15), said Ajay Talwar, president of the SPACE Group of companies that promotes science and astronomy.
  • This is a pretty unbelievable feat...I tried it once but dislocated my hip. Kids: please do not try this at home...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Quite a lull in sports right now. Did you know that the day prior to the All-Star game, as well as the day following the All-Star game, are the only 2 days of the year where there are NO SPORTS going on? How awful is that?

Speaking of awful - the HR Derby absolutely stinks this year. Yeah, it was cool to watch Prince go 500 ft deep and see hometown boy Ryan Howard smack a few out - but like baseball, it takes foooorever to complete. I think Prince Fielder and Pascual Perez are in the finals...snoooze.

Looks more and more that the Phils will sign Pedro Martinez to a 1 year deal. Supposedly he's come down a good bit from his $4 million price tag. He flew to Philly today to take a physical and sign his deal. I was kidding with "HoJo," a longtime SFCS follower, that Pedro will ask for Tugger's #45 to be un-retired. HoJo countered by saying Pedro will ask for Howard's #6.

Don't forget to tune in to the All-Star game tomorrow night to watch the the five, count em' FIVE Philly All-Stars -- including their entire outfield (all of who have been featured in blogs on this site). That hasn't happened since 1995. That's truly amazing.

The Dawgs added another commitment to their rapidly strengthening 2010 recruiting class. This weekend, Jakar Hamilton, a JUCO All-American, chose UGA over Alabama and a few other directional schools. Hamilton, definitely doesn't lack for confidence. "I'm not going to let you down," Hamilton said to a pocket of Bulldogs fans, who snapped cell-phone photos of the event and later asked him to sign autographs. "You won't get another guy like me."

Random Notes:

  • Just saw a Snickers commercial w/Patrick Ewing - seriously that guy looks like he's put on 50-60 lbs since retirement; maybe he should be thinking about lean cuisine sponsorships
  • Anyone see the season premiere of Entourage? Historically the show starts real slow, which is how last night started. Slow. Any episode making E the focus is one I can pass on. Give me more Ari & Johnny Drama. Speaking of weight, Lloyd what the hell have you been doing during "dark times" for the show. Lloyd, meet Patrick. Patrick meet Lloyd.
  • Seth Green is on Monday Night Raw tonight. Who's career is falling apart faster? Green's for being the "celebrity GM" or mine b/c I'm watching this over the HR Derby.
  • Um, when did Britney Spears become Jewish?
  • Ok, just saw the end of RAW and it was 5x better than the HR Derby - my career has been redeemed.
  • I leave you with this....I find it INCREDIBLY ironic that Joe Jackson suspects "foul play" in his son's Michael's death. Hey Joe, if you steal your son's childhood by not allowing him to play with other kids, and you had him perform in strip clubs at 5, and you physically and verbally abused him at a very young age because your own musical career went nowhere; maybe, just maybe, he would have been comfortable with who he was and he wouldn't have needed 107 different plastic surgeries to "remake" his face in what I believe was an attempt to leave any reminder of his childhood behind. I'm just saying....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Vic the All-Star...

Major props to the Flyin' Hawaiian, Shane Victorino on being chosen by the fans as the final NL All-Star! 15.6 million votes can't be wrong. Philly fans definitely came out in mass numbers to vote, as Victorino broke the last year's record by more than 6 million votes. Quite an accomplishment for a guy who was plucked out of the Padres system years ago as a Rule 5 draft pick.

Victorino's arrival as an All-Star is an incredible story. Victorino was selected as a Rule 5 draft pick by the Padres in 2002, played 36 games for the Padres, but was eventually returned to the Dodgers. Victorino was again selected in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. He again failed to stay with the major league club, and was offered back to the Dodgers. The Dodgers declined, so the Phillies retained his contract and assigned him to their minor league club in Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

"To all the fans across the country, mahalo for your support," said Victorino, a native of Hawaii. "I am so honored and appreciative of the passion that everyone has shown to make this dream come true, especially with the number of votes cast. It's just unbelievable."

The Phillies went all-out to get Victorino selected to his first All-Star game. He went door-to-door in South Philadelphia with Mayor Michael A. Nutter to campaign for votes on Monday.

In other news, its looking more likely that the Phils will sign 214-game winner Pedro Martinez to an incentive layden contract. I'm hearing its a 1-year deal worth approximately $4 million bucks. A little steep for me, but its not my money and I think adding a veteran arm, with Pedro's talent is a good move (short-term). Word is that this move won't affect the Phils pursuit of Roy Halladay, but the Blue Jays are asking for a king's ransom (as they should) and as a Phils fan, I'm not prepared to give away for our future for this year -- especially after we won a WS last year.

In other news, Dawgs reserve offensive lineman Tanner Strickland injured his shoulder and will miss the entire year. Hopefully this will not follow last year's pattern of dropping offensive lineman. Otherwise, I better start bulking up now.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Quick Hits....

Came across some feedback from UGA's summer workouts, which I pasted below. It sounds as if the highly-touted Orson Charles (who also "accidentally" broke UFAG's national title trophy on his recruiting trip) is living up to the hype. I pulled a few comments on some Charles, Marlon Brown and Branden Smith, all of whom could have an impact come this fall...

Wide receiver Marlon Brown “is a big body,” sophomore receiver A.J. Green said of the 6-5, 210-pound Memphis product. “He can run. He’s got great hands, too.” His route running, Green said, is “a little raw.”

“Orson, he’s been standing out,” sophomore tailback Richard Samuel said. “He goes in there and gets a lot of reps. … He’s a guy that likes to get in. We go in three different groups, sometimes he rotates with the ones, twos and threes. Sometimes he takes all the reps in all three of them.”

Added quarterback Joe Cox: “Orson Charles has every physical tool he needs to play right now. He’s still learning and getting better.”

Branden Smith, a cornerback who coaches say will also be used at receiver, “can run like a gazelle,” Tavarres King said.

I hear the Phils are going to look at 214-game winner and jheri-curl wearing Pedro Martinez. I actually like this move as long as we don't sign him to a contract for anything longer than the rest of this year. I think his experience, skill and savvy could come in handy for the Phils down the stretch, assuming his shoulder has healed.

Stat of the Week: I also came across this stat regarding the Phils JA Happ, who has been a great find for the Phils. You can usually count on Happ going 7 innings and giving up 2-3 runs everytime he gets the ball. With our powerful line-up and his consistency, Happ has the potential to be a 15-game winner.

Happ has now gone 11 straight starts over two seasons without being charged with a loss. To put that in perspective, the most games Cole Hamels has gone in his career without being charged with a loss is 11. Factor in another 16 relief appearances, and Happ has gone 27 consecutive appearances without being charged with a loss.

Don't forget to go to and vote for Shane Victorino for the final All-Star spot on the NL All-Star team. I believe voting closes on Thursday, so do your deed as a Philadelphia sports fan and support the Flyin' Hawaiian.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm sitting here watching, what might soon be an ESPN "Instant Classic," between the amazing Roger Federer and the sometimes disappointing Andy Roddick. Quick parallel time for you SFC fans. Andy Roddick reminds me so much of Georgia Football. He's always good and usually in the mix, but at the end of the Grand Slam tournaments you know he will fall short to the Federers' (USC) and Nadals' (Florida). I do love watching Grand Slam tennis events and both Federer and Roddick hit the ball with such incredible power and precision.

Nice to see the Phils take the first two games over the Mets after looking listless and getting swept on the road by the Braves last week. It's still way too early to say J-Roll has snapped out of his funk, especially b/c he loves to hit against the Mets, but it was encouraging to see he and Lidge looking like their 2008 models during the first two games of the Mets series.

I know the Flyers signing monstrous, puck-moving, forward-crushing stud defenseman Chris Pronger has many in Philly chomping at the bit for the season to start, but personally I think the Flyers gave Anaheim too much in that deal. Joffrey Lupol was a young, solid winger, but to get quality you part with quality. However, dealing a young, future front-line defenseman in Luca (thanks Jay) Sbisa along with two #1 picks seems like an awful lot to part with, to get a 36 year-old defenseman with one-year left on his contract. Pronger said he wants to sign a 4-5 year contract extension for $6 million per year. Basically, if the Flyers don't win the cup this year or next (assuming they resign Pronger), this deal could blow up in their faces... And in Philadelphia, why do you think we would ever win the Cup? I do like the signing of Brian Boucher as our back-up to "Renegade" Ray Emery.

Interesting pick by the Sixers, selecting UCLA Frosh Jrue Holliday with their top pick. Obviously the Sixers like his size, defensive prowess, team-first mindset and flexibility. At 19, he was one of the youngest players in the draft. In the future, I think he has the ability to be a Jalen Rose-type of PG. Realistically, the best we can hope for this year is to have a young guy who will come in and play some quality minutes on the defensive end of the floor. The Sixers were actively trying to deal Sam Dalembert, but there was very limited interest in a low basketball IQ, foul-proned center with two years left on a HUGE contract. Curious to see what happens at PG for the Sixers too. Personally I loved the rumored sign and trade with Andre Miller (who doesn't appear to want to be in Philly) for Steve Blake & Travis Outlaw. Apparently the Sixers even asked about Atlanta free-agent Mike Bibby about a 1-year deal, however Bibby had ZERO interest in Philly and is looking to sign a 3-year deal w/the Hawks.

Not sure if Dawgs fans saw this, but Georgia's #1 prospect Alec Ogletree signed with the Dawgs last week. Ogletree, who is the second highest ranked safety in the country, chose the Dawgs over the 50-something offers he had from schools around the country. This is looking like a really strong 2010 class for the Dawgs, but I always hesitate to put too much excitement into the commitment of 17 & 18-year old high school kids. Of course, once they turn 19 and they step on that field at Sanford Stadium, well they have the ability to make or break the overall happiness of about 93,000 fans every Saturday.

In other news:
  • Terribly sad news involving former Oiler/Texan/Raven QB Steve McNair. The Tennessean is reporting it was a murder-suicide, however I also read that McNair was threatened by someone on Friday night. There appears a lot more to come out of this sad story.
  • In much lighter news, the Vols and Lane Kiffin have sunk to all new lows in recruiting. 13-year old Evan Berry (brother of Eric Berry) has committed to UT, despite the fact that he has not played a down of High School Football. Hey Kiffin, my nephew is 8 and no other kid in the neighborhood can cover him on the deep post.
  • I'm still not done w/the Michael Jackson coverage or watching his videos, though the "You are Not Alone" video makes me a little uncomfortable.
  • Ran the Peachtree and couldn't believe I didn't see one Michael Jackson costume. Should we blame it on the economy? And regarding the Peachtree, I think everyone magically shaves two minutes off of their time.
  • Sarah Palin? Really? Maybe she wants to travel.
  • Does any other sport show as many cutaways of celebrity girlfriends as tennis?
  • The weatherman phenomenon: can anyone name another profession where you can be wrong 50% of the time and still have a job.
  • File this in the you won't believe it section....Apparently 3 humans took on three elephants in a hot dog eating contest yesterday. One guess as to who won. I guess the economy is getting better -- still no word on whether any of the humannoids were dressed like Michael Jackson...
  • By the way, Joey Chestnutt defended his hot dog eating title by putting away 68 dogs and 10 buns in 10 minutes - defeating the once-legendary eater Kobayashi by 3 1/2 dogs.