Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't Hit the Red Button Yet...

With a belly full of turkey and a year's worth of stories emanating from my Thanksgiving celebration this weekend, I return to the scene of the crime. My blog, my fans, my issues. Panic seems to be the common Philly sports thread right now and I just want to remind everyone of the floatation devices under your seats, should you choose to jump out of this plane. Lots to touch on, so lets dive right in.

I'm not so sure why everyone is so down on the Eagles. Historically, Eagles-Skins game have been extremely unpredictable and tight. This one lived up to that. Bottom line is that we swept a bad Redskins team this year. Yes, the very same Redskins team that swept us last season. People, get your expectations in check. We are not going to blow every team out. We aren't that good, but we are 7-4 and I'm still not buying the Cowboys. The Giants are a better team than they've shown and I believe the division will come down to them and the Birds. Next week the Birds go on the road to play a battered Falcons team. No Matt Ryan, no Michael Turner, and a pieced together secondary. We have a really good chance to win this ballgame, but it won't be easy. I will feel better if we get Akeem "The Dream" Jordan back this week to solidify our linebacking corps. The Falcons still have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, especially on offense. I cannot wait for Summer to experience the wave of "southern hospitality" sure to greet us in our Eagles-clad jerseys at the Georgia Dome. Bring it, Dirty Birds. We'll be ready.

Every hockey season goes 82 games. That is a ton of games. If I'm not concerned about the Flyers 13-10-1 record, neither should you. An 82 game season, much like a 162 game season, has lots of ups and downs. Eight teams make the playoffs and I'm not worried about being 9th in the conference right now. Let's talk in March, okay? I can say without hesitation that this Flyers team is good enough to compete for Lord Stanley's Cup. Hopefully we can get Gagne, Briere and Betts back and keep everyone relatively healthy.

The Sixers are playing bad basketball right now and they just lost Louis Williams (arguably their best player thus far) for 2 months with a broken jaw. Put him in the running for the NBA's tough guy award. Dude broke his jaw during a game, he continued to play, with sed broken jaw, then had surgery a couple of days later. That's hockey tough. The Sixers have also been hit hard by injuries (Williams, Speights & Brand), but when everyone comes back they will still suck. The Sixers are in a bad spot. Too good to be a lottery team, too bad to seriously challenge any of the contenders in the East. Too capped out to make any improvements. Speaking of which, I have a feeling they will bring AI back and he will play well. While there's a part of me that romanticizes about the early part of this decade when AI and the Sixers commanded your eyeballs and dollars, the reality is that this is a bad idea. It's one thing to put up with the AI-circus when he's playing at a high-level like he was 6-7 years ago, but at 33 he's not nearly the player he once was. With his deteriorating skills & speed, an okay outside game, questionable shot-selection and his matador-style defense, I don't think it's a good idea. We didn't even broach the possible, er probable negative impact he could have on this VERY young team. Not to mention, the very telling stat that every team AI leaves gets better. Hmmm, maybe that's their approach. This leads me to believe that Ed Snider and Ed Stefanski believe in one thing -- getting butts in seats and maybe AI has one more run left in him.

What a great win for the Dawgs over the Tech Nerds on Saturday night. I mean, what does it say when an average SEC team goes to play the best team in the ACC, in their building and literally runs over them? A great game plan by Richt, Bobo and yes, even you Willie Martinez. I've been saying this for a couple of weeks, but Caleb King is finally showing the kind of ability Dawgs fans have been hearing about for years. The King/Ealey tandem was unstoppable on Saturday night putting up nearly 400 yards on the ground.

Does this save Willie Martinez job? Hell no. Our defense still gave up 24 points to them and we can't stop anyone. Hell, the game might have ended differently if that Tech WR didn't drop a pass that hit him in the hands on 4th down. I've heard some whispers about who our next DC might be and the names being mentioned are definitely exciting. Anything should be a step in the right direction. I could improve that defense with my all-out Tecmo Bowl blitz package dominant defense of the early 90s. We have some athletes on defense and we are young. If Reshard Jones and Rennie Curran return our defense could be significantly improved (especially with the departures of Prince Miller & Bryan Evans).

Things You Should Know:
  • Congrats to Derek Jeter on being named SI's "Sportsman of the Year." Very well deserved for a class act like him. Remarkably he's the first Yankee to ever win the award and while I'm not a Yankee fan, I have always admired the way Jeter plays ball.
  • After Tiger Woods latest issues, I'm pretty convinced of three things. One, the greatest players in the world do not always make for the greatest role models. Two, without knowing anything about his wife and her possible psycho tendencies, I guess anyone can be cheated on (assuming rumors are true). Three and most importantly, always have a good PR guy on your speed dial -- let me know if any of you need some recommendations.
  • I can't seem to put down Andre Agassi's book "Open." It's been a sensational read. The punishment that his dad inflicts on him is beyond comprehension.
  • On the way back from our Thanksgiving destination of Mississippi, Summer said the most beautiful, unforgettable words to me. "Ross, this weekend I learned a lot about football, and to be honest, I don't hate it anymore. In fact, I could probably go to a Georgia game, watch it and understand why everyone gets fired up now. I could probably watch a full game now." She then compared watching football to eating pickles, which really didn't resonate with me b/c I was still stuck on her earlier proclamation.
  • One of the keys just came off of my keyboard and my keyboard kind of looks like that person missing one of their front teeth. It ain't pretty, folks.
  • Go see "The Blind Side." This was part of Summer's Thanksgiving/Football indoctrination and it doesn't disappoint. It is a phenomenal movie, about much more than just football and Sandra Bullock is outstanding.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

There's Always Next Year...

So the World Series ended about a week ago and although it still stings, I've gotten most of the anger out of my soul, at least regarding the World Series. The key to the series was the Phils inability to hold a lead. In Game 3 Cole couldn't hold a 3-0 lead and in Game 4, Brad Lidge blew a save. Can't blow two games against a team like the Yankees and expect to come out on top. The better team won the World Series. We had to play a near-flawless series, and honestly, we played our best baseball this season in the Dodger series.

The Phils should be busy in the off-season. With that "young nucleus" all now 30 and over, the time is now for these Phillies. I don't think the window is closing after next season, but I do think every year will be a little bit harder than the previous year. After declining Pedro Feliz's $5 million dollar option, the Phils are looking to upgrade at third. Here's the tricky part. Feliz is an average hitter and a superior fielder. For as many clutch hits that he didn't get, he saved us many runs. I really hope we don't sacrifice the glove for another bat in a loaded line-up. There are some interesting free agents available (Figgins, DeRosa, Polanco, Beltre) and with the exception of Figgins, no one I see as a significant upgrade. We need to fortify the bullpen, the bench and if the Phils want to look into Roy Halladay, I'm cool with that. Rumor on the street is that a package for Halladay would be centered around Cole.

A very unimpressive game for the Birds on Sunday night against the Cowgirls. I know Dall-Ass was the recipient of some very favorable calls, but I pin this loss on Coach Reid. To use two replays challenges (losing both of them) and leaving yourself with NO TIMEOUTS, makes no sense. Further, when you are down 7 and choose to try a 52-yard FG with 5 minutes left makes no sense. You still need to get the ball back and score a TD to win. Why not just go for it on 4th down? Don't get me wrong, I'm not on the train to run Big Red out of town, but the things he struggles most with - staying with the running game, managing the clock and replay selection -- all were on display on Sunday night. I believe Andy Reid to be a very good coach, but he has head-scratching lapses throughout the season and unfortunately Sunday night was no exception.

Other Things You Should Know:
  • I've been critical of the cops in Atlanta recently, but the other night I was pulled over after swerving (relax, Mom it had nothing to do w/drinking, but I couldn't see the turn), not signaling and not wearing my seatbelt. Ironically enough, the cop could not have been nicer. Glad to see there are still some upstanding officers on the force.
  • Why is Family Ties not on sydication anywhere? I blame you Comcast.
  • Speaking of TV, I think Tuesday night is the absolute worse night of TV. If you want a successful show, talk to the networks about Tuesday night.
  • Seriously, who is Katt Williams and why should I care?
  • Not sure if anyone watched Andre Agassi's 60 Minutes interview with Katie Couric, but I give the guy credit for essentially bearing his soul and letting us in to see the deamons. I know some people like Martina Navritolova and Marat Safin have a problem with this. Safin wants Agassi to return all of the money he won and all of the titles. This is ridiculous. Agassi lied to the USTA, which was wrong but the titles that he won were won when he was clean. I read an excerpt in Sports Illustrated last week of Agassi's "Open" book, which I will pick-up later this week. For an athlete to come out and say he hates the very sport, which gave him everything (wife included), is pretty unbelievable stuff. It sounds like b/c of his over-bearing father, Agassi had to hit rock bottom in order to be where he is today. I applaud his recent honesty and candor and it makes his amazing return to the top of the tennis world that much more inspiring. I mean, could you ever imagine Tiger Woods saying he hates golf.