Not My Phanatic?

With Opening Day right around the corner, there will be plenty of roster-related and wins projections articles to digest. However, something different is on my mind at the moment.

The world changed in early 2020. We were so naïve. It couldn’t happen in our backyard. We’re talking about the best of the best; too big to fail. What could possibly force us to make sweeping changes to the red, white and blue… and green mascot. I mean, we’re talking about the best mascot in sports- the Phillie Phanatic.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way- the Phanatic is the best mascot. Not just in the MLB, not just in North American sports, but in the history of professional activities. Do I have an above-average knowledge of the pantheon of professional mascots? Nope, but it doesn’t matter.

If you try to award any other mascot with the crown- you’re not just wrong, you’re stupid. Who else could it possibly be?

The San Diego Chicken? We are talking about a chicken, next…

The Canadiens’ Youppi!? The exclamation point is part of his official name. Uh yeah, I don’t want grammar anywhere near my sports.

Wally the Green Monster wouldn’t even make it as a Sesame Street cast member.

Mr Met? Stop, you’re embarrassing yourself.

Et tu, Brute? It’s absolutely not Brutus of Ohio State.

How about the Phoenix Suns Gorilla? Sorry, but if you are a mascot in a city where sports is about the 100th priority, you are eliminated.

Feel free to keep trying, but you’re wasting your time.

Back to it, we are only about one year removed – from what has admittedly felt like thirty years in reality – from hearing that the Phanatic was no longer going to be the Phanatic. In a move to get ahead of a legal battle over the Phanatic’s ownership rights, the Phillies played Darwin and forced overnight evolution.

As a quick side note- this story got buried as we battled the early stages of a pandemic. Which was a huge PR break for the Phils, since our city’s natives are not the most forgiving bunch. Potential fan backlash could have factored into the upcoming legal proceedings. While it’s not clear how the reactions would have went, the window for visceral reactions is gone and it’s now largely an afterthought within our collective ADHD attention span.

I’m not concerned about the legal battle here (visit the Google for more). What I really want to talk about is how they changed the lovable goofball that we all grew up watching. This version has a star-struck look in his eyes, has bleached its fur, sports new kicks, has these odd scales and is displaying an interest in being slightly more healthy. You might not notice it much when you see him, but looking at a before and after side-by-side might be enough to make your inner child cry. At minimum, it just feels… wrong.

Your brain can’t place it, but it’s there. Something is not quite right. Like Uncanny Valley in aesthetics, Philadelphians and New Yorkers getting along, preferring cats to dogs, that hazy feeling after too long of a midday nap or why you are so deeply compelled to dispel any Wawa slander.

Perhaps it’s not that important in the long run, but it sort of is. The Phanatic has been part of the fabric of Philly since the late 70s and is well-known outside of sports. There was something wholesome about the creature, co-existing alongside the rest of the creatures in the stands. In other words, the legitimate ‘fanatics’ belittled by national pundits that are too lazy to form a self-realized narrative.

He was always there through the bad times, which are plentiful in Philly sports fandom. We projected our optimism onto him and he gladly embraced it. The Phanatic brings equal joy to a nine month old and a ninety year old. In a world that keeps changing and where new is sold as better, this green furball provided consistency.

Now because of a dispute over money, we were handed a modified Phanatic. It would be easy to say this is not my Phanatic.

But here’s the thing, he’s not my Phanatic, and he’s not yours either. Creators Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison don’t own this creature. Nor do the Phillies. I also don’t think that David Raymond or “best phriend” of the Phanatic Tom Burgoyne would claim ownership rights.

The Phanatic is all of ours. Neither his appearance nor arguments over his copyright change what he means to the City. He’s a treasure and, despite Nicholas Cage’s best efforts, Philadelphia always protects its treasures.

He’s the manifestation of a city that is overly passionate, not often enough victorious and always misunderstood. He is the most likeable thing from a city that is anything but likeable, but I think we would rather have it that way. Sure no one like us, but we don’t care.

So as we get ready to ‘play ball’ once again, remember who has been around longer than anyone on the field or in the front office- our dear Phanatic. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “we’re rooting for the clothes,” and he’s been wearing the jersey longer than anyone.

Hold up, Jerry is one of the biggest Mets fans out there, so maybe we can co-exist with Mets fans? Well, probably not, but with the weather warming up and a return to the diamond, anything is possible.

Go Phils!

2021 NCAA Tournament Previews: Friday, Early Evening Games

#4 Oklahoma State (-8.5) vs. #13 Liberty
6:25 pm, TBS
Only Loyola-Chicago was more criminally underseeded than the Cowboys of Ok State.  Hard to imagine what The Committee was thinking here as a 4-seed over West Virginia, but that’s what happened.  And, now they have to endure the pure pain of playing Liberty here.

Oklahoma State
Cade Cunningham will very likely be only the 4th Big XII player since 1960 to be the Top Pick in the NBA Draft (Danny Manning in 1988, Blake Griffin in 2009, and Andrew Wiggins in 2014).  Cunningham is averaging 19.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.9 bpg, with shooting percentages of 46/43/86% and has been as good as advertised.  Cunningham is flanked by a legit Number Two in 6’5” JR Ice Likelele (9.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.1 spg, 50% FG, 41% from three), but they have both missed games down the stretch, allowing others to step up, most notably 6’3” SO Avery Anderson (11.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 48% FG, 85% FT), 6’9″ SO Kalib Boone (9.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 65% FG), and 6’7″ Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (9.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 53% FG), who have all really stepped up when Cunningham out.  This is not a one-man show, like many people thought.  And, it’s not a two-man show, like I definitely thought.  This team is legit.  They’ve only lost 3 of their last 13 games – one at Kansas, one at Baylor, and the Big XII title game against Texas.

Continue reading “2021 NCAA Tournament Previews: Friday, Early Evening Games”

2021 NCAA Tournament Preview – Friday, Late Afternoon Games

#2 Ohio State (-16) vs #15 Oral Roberts
3:00 pm, CBS
Contrary to popular belief, the 15/2 upset is not very common.  People think that it is because of 2012, when TWO 15-seeds won, including Lehigh shocking Duke, and then the very next year was Dunk City making the Sweet 16.  But, there has only been one since 2013 and there were only 4 before 2012.  In all, 15-seeds are 8-132 in the first round.  However, if it is gonna happen this year…this might be the one (for the record, I am not picking this or even considering picking it – just saying).

Ohio State
When the Buckeyes beat Penn State on Feb 18, they were 18-4, ranked 4th in the country and were sitting as a projected 1-seed in pretty much all bracketologies.  But, they lost their last 4 reg season games and looked to be sliding.  Until the B1G Tournament, when they beat Minnesota, Purdue, and Michigan before losing in OT to Illinois in the title game.  They look to be back in midseason form.  6’7” SO E.J. Liddell (16.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 49% FG, 37% from three) has become a superstar, and 6’3” JR Duane Washington (15.3 ppg, 2.9 apg, 37% from three) is so fun to watch because he’s so smooth with a soft touch.  He and his awesome “no f’s to give” attitude dropped a 30-spot on the Illini  6’1” SR PG C.J. Walker (9.1 ppg, 4.2 apg) is about as rock solid as they come, and 6’7” JR Justice Sueing (10.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg), a Hawaiian who started his career at Cal, has really become a nice player to go with his great judicial name.  One issue with the Buckeyes is the tallest guy on their roster is only 6’8” and that’s SR Kyle Young (8.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg), who is dealing with a high ankle sprain and will not be 100%.  But, if they are up late, they can finish the game because their two primary ballhandlers are RIDICULOUS FT shooters – Washington (90%) and Walker (95%).

Oral Roberts
Now, I’m not going to “mid-major shame” anyone here because I don’t expect everyone – even people who cover college hoops for a living – to pay attention to the little leagues.  They don’t really matter, I get it.  And, that’s fine.  But, don’t pretend to follow them.  Don’t pretend that reading a kenpom page makes you an expert on that team.  And, there are a LOT of professional college basketball writers who act as if they care about mid-major hoops, but don’t pay the least bit of attention.  And, do you know how I know that?  Because I have heard countless people, in the last week, talk about ORU as a threat to OSU.  That is true.  But, they do so while referencing how great of a scorer Max Abmas is.  And, that is also true.  But, when you hear them say “Max Ab-miss,” you know that they’ve never actually seen an ORU game.  The dude plays 37 minutes a game for the Golden Eagles…and his name is clearly pronounced “Ace-miss.”  I have no idea why it’s spelled Abmas, but it’s pronounced “Ace-miss.”  And, Mr. Abmas is the only player in the country who averages more points per game than Luka Garza.  The 6’1″ SO Max Abmas is averaging 24.7 ppg on the strength of 84 three-pointers with ridiculous percentages of 49/46/90%.  WOWOWOWOW!  Abmas also averages 3.2 rpg, 3.3 apg, and 1.5 spg.  And, all of this usage and he only averages 2.0 TO per game.  You will not see a better pure shooter on any team in any tournament in America over the next two weeks plus he averages 3.5 assists per game.  And, yet…he still might not even be the best all-around player on his own team.  6’8″ JR Kevin Obanor (18.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 50/46/88%) is an absolute monster!  These two are unbelievable on the mid-major level and lead a top-70 offense.  They are not good at all defensively, but they can score with anyone.

Continue reading “2021 NCAA Tournament Preview – Friday, Late Afternoon Games”

2021 NCAA Tournament Preview: Friday, Early Afternoon Games

After a year without the Tournament, this is awesome!  So, let’s get right to the games…

#7 Florida (-1) vs. #10 Virginia Tech
12:15 pm, CBS
I love the first game of the Tournament.  It’s always interesting to think of what two teams are gonna tip us off.  And, this year, it’s a pretty good one.  Or, at least a competitive one.

Florida
The Gators come stumbling into this Tournament and, I think, are one of the few major seeding mistakes that the Committee made in what was a rather well-seeded tournament, in general.  This team is not a 7-seed especially after losing 3 of their last 4 with that only win a close one over a bad Vandy team in the SEC Tournament that they easily could have lost.  The big story of the UF season is the loss of Keyontae Johnson after he had a TERRIFYING collapse in a game at FSU in November.  Johnson, the preseason SEC POY, was the best and most important player on this team, and their ceiling is definitely lowered without him.  But, most importantly, it looks like he’s going to be okay.  Before the recent swoon, the Gators had been pretty good considering they lost their best player.  They are top-40 in both offense and defense, and have one of the most unsung stars of the SEC in the 6’5” SO Tre Mann (15.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.5 spg, 45/39/84%), who is a stud on both ends.  He is probably the best player that no one ever talks about.  They also have former McDonald’s All-American in 6’5″ SO Scottie Lewis (7.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.6 spg), but he has been surprisingly slow to emerge in now his sophomore year in Gainesville.  They have a couple of decent wings in Reisterstown’s own 6’3” JR sharpshooter Noah Locke (10.5 ppg, 41% from three) and 6’1” JR transfer from Cleve State Tyree Appleby (11.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.6 spg),.  And, losing Johnson has forced Mike White to go big and allowed for 6’11” JR transfer from Michigan Colin Castleton (12.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 59% FG) to emerge as a really good SEC big.  The Gators are 8-0 this year when Castleton scores 14 or more.

Continue reading “2021 NCAA Tournament Preview: Friday, Early Afternoon Games”

2021 NCAA Tournament: First Four Preview

So, BSB might actually be back this time.   Doogan and I started this as an alternative to sending each other overly wordy, unabridged emails about sports.  And, since it’s been a long, hard winter for all of us, Doogan and I and our master admin, J, are in need of an outlet for “thoughts.”  So, let’s fire up the BSB machine again and even if it’s just a glorified email exchange, it will be cathartic for the three of us.

And,  is there a better time of year to start back up?  The NCAA Tournament, a Sixers playoff chase, the start of an interesting Phillies season…and, a ton of tennis tournaments and the Summer Olympics for me to write really long posts about to no one but myself!!!

So, let’s get this started with a preview of Thursday night’s First Four games.  I’ll get another one up tomorrow previewing Friday’s First Round games and then we’ll go from there.

#16 Mount Saint Mary’s (+1) vs. #16 Texas-Southern
 5:10 pm, truTV
Alright, alright, I recognize that these 16v16 games are kind of like tennis or the biathalon in that I care about and enjoy them WAYYY more than most of even the most ardent sports fans.  So, I’ll try and be short on them…I will probably fail at that attempt.  This game is one of those classic First Four games (if that phrase even means anything) with a (SWAC/MEAC) team vs. a non-champion from a bad league.  The winner of this game gets to get destroyed on national TV by Michigan on Saturday.

Mount Saint Mary’s
The best story from this game is the 5’7″ point guard on Mount St. Mary’s, Damian Chong-Qui.  Chong-Qui, who turned into the go-to guy just 6 games into the season when they lost Jalen Gibbs for the season, has a ridiculous backstory.  The Sun article is really good, but in summary, when Qui was 4, his family was the victim of a home invasion where his dad was shot once and stabbed five times and lost the use of his left hand.  Just TWO MONTHS LATER, his mother was randomly murdered, being mistaken for someone else.  When he was twelve, Qui’s dad dropped Qui off and went to get dinner for them.  While waiting for food, someone fired shots into a crowd and one of the random bullets struck the older Qui in the back and he is now paralyzed from the waist down.  And, a just year later, his son Damian, won the starting point guard job for powerhouse McDonough despite being only a freshman and standing a mere 4-feet-9-inches tall.  Qui, who says he “doesn’t believe in height” is now a budding star for MSM, averaging 14.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg (again, at 5’7”), and 5.6 apg.  He’s incredible!  They also have a strong, athletic frontline of 6’9″ JR Nana Opuku (10.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg), 6’9″ JR Malik Jefferson (8.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 58% FG), and 6’8″ JR Mazie Offurum (9.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.0 apg).

Continue reading “2021 NCAA Tournament: First Four Preview”

We All We Got, We All We Need

(This was written by Bry shortly after Super Bowl LII.)

******************************************************************

Great masterpieces are created by great people standing on the shoulders of other great people. Well, the masterpiece on Sunday, February 4, 2018, was no different. And, this celebration is for everyone who shared in this dream. Everyone. As much as it’s for the IMMORTAL Nick Foles, Brandon Graham, and Doug Pederson, it’s also for Steve Van Buren, Concrete Charlie, and Greasy Neale. It’s for the “Philly Special,” the “Fog Bowl,” and a pair of “Miracles at the Meadowlands.”

It’s absolutely for the newly-minted gold jackets of Brian Dawkins and Terrell Owens, the old school gold jackets of Tommy McDonald and “The Reverend” Reggie White, and the future gold jackets of Jason Peters and Fletcher Cox. It’s for the would-be gold jacket and Super Bowl birthday boy, Jerome Brown. –everyone, take a second………okay–

This one is most certainly for Darren Sproles and Jordan Hicks, but, don’t worry because this one, the next one, and the decade of trophies to come will be for and the almighty Carson Wentz.

This one is for the true Eagle veteran on their first ever Eagles Super Bowl team, Brent Celek, but it’s also for his superstar understudy, Zach Ertz. It’s for the newly-drafted Derek Barnett, Rasul Douglas, and Mack Hollins. It’s for the welcome-aboards like Alshon Jeffery, Timmy Jernigan, Jay Ajayi, and Ronald Darby, along with extra sweet welcomes for Chris Long and LaGarrette Blount. Hell, this one can also be for “losers” Patrick Chung, Eric Rowe, and Dion Lewis – boom!

It’s for Corey Clement – the undrafted rookie free agent, who grew up an Eagles fan and then caught a touchdown in the Super Bowl wearing midnight green. It’s for another lifelong Eagles fan and now Super Bowl champion, Vinny Curry. It’s for Jake F’ing Elliott – the 69-inch man who kicked a 61-yard field goal. It’s for the much-maligned 7th-round draft pick, Jalen Mills, the “Human Trade Rumor,” Mychal Kendricks, the guy with the biggest interception in Eagles history, Patrick Robinson, and the only Eagle who has ever thrown a 4th-down TD pass in the Super Bowl, Trey Burton.

It’s for Nigel Bradham, who is very good, and Najeh Goode, who isn’t very good.

It’s for the second-best offensive line in team history – Tra Thomas, John Welbourne, Hank Fraley, Jermane Mayberry, and Jon Runyon. And, of course, for the best offensive line in team history – Halapoulivaati Vitai, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson.

It’s for great men like Connor Barwin, Troy Vincent, and one of the greatest men of all, Malcolm Jenkins. It’s also for not-so-great men, like Josh Huff, Donté Stallworth, and maybe the “not-greatest” man of all, Riley Cooper.

It’s for Chris Carter, Keith Jackson, and Wes Hopkins. It’s for Brian Mitchell and Brian Westbrook. It’s absolutely for Randall Cunningham, but it’s also for Bubby Brister, Bobby Hoying, Kevin Kolb, Chase Daniel, Matt Cavanaugh, Rodney Peete, a pair of Detmers, a pair of McMahons, and a Super Bowl champion named STUD-feld. And, of course this one is for our enigmatic relationship with a guy named Donovan. After all, Number Five will always love us, so there’s that.

There’s a little piece of this for Jason Babin to complain about like a snotty child and an even smaller piece for good ole Nnamdi to enjoy in his car by himself.

And, I don’t care what anyone says, this one is for the great and misunderstood Michael Vick and the greatly misunderstood Chip Kelly. This is not for Marcus Mariota, but it for Sam Bradford’s sleeves, Demarco Murray’s workload, Kiko Alonso’s athleticism, Brandon Boykin’s size, and Demeco Ryans’s ”Mufasa-ness.” And, let’s not forget that this is for all three of Chip’s Matthewses (Ryan, Jordan, and Casey), his Maxwell (Byron), and his Jenkins (Cullen). This is definitely for the “obvious” gang ties of DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy.

It’s for Bryce Brown, Sheldon Brown, Ronnie Brown, and Reggie Brown. It’s for Marcus Smith and Torrey Smith. It’s for Nate Allen, Eric Allen, and Allen Rossum. It’s for Donnie Jones, Dhani Jones, Sidney Jones, and Chris T. Jones. It’s for Shawn Barber and Allen Barbre. It’s for Cary Williams, Charley Williams, Clyde Williams, and Calvin Williams. It’s for 1942 3rd-round pick Ted Williams, 1947 first-round pick Neill Armstrong, 1970 4th-round pick Spike Jones, and 1960 undrafted free agent tackle, Ezra Eugene “Goose” Gossage.

It’s for the greatest kicker ever, David Akers, but it’s also for Gary Anderson, Norm Johnson, Eddie Murray, Matt Bahr, Chris Boniol, Luis Zendejas, Alex Henery, Caleb Sturgis, and Cody Parkey. It’s for Feagles on the Eagles, Sav Rocca, Mitch Berger, Chas Henry, Dirk Johnson, and even Tommy Hutton (though, more for his punting than his holding). 

It’s “for who, for what” and for Ricky Watters and his “Lightning” sidekick, Charlie Garner. It’s for the awesome Andre “Dirty” Waters – a guy who was born to tackle – and the awesome Asante Samuel – a guy who was born NOT to tackle.

It’s for great leaders like Byron Evans, “The Axman” Jeremiah Trotter, and Takeo Spikes.

It’s for under-appreciated special teams aces like Tim Hauck, Chris Maragos, Colt Anderson, and Bryan Brayman, but it’s also for over-appreciated QB divas like Mark Sanchez, Vince Young, Tim Hasselbeck, and “Senator” Trent Edwards.

It’s for Mike Ditka, Bill Cowher, and Herman Edwards. It’s for invincible (and overrated…oops) Vince Papale.

It’s even for pass interference penalties from Bradley Fletcher and Leodis McKelvin, as well the most head-scratching of all pass interferers, Al Harris.

It’s for champions with small, but important roles like Beau Allen, Corey Graham, and Kenjon Barner and for champions with small, unimportant roles like Wendell Smallwood, Isaac Seumalu, Dannell Ellerbee, and Will Beatty. It’s for the young guys like Donnell Pumphrey, Elijah Qualls, Nate Gerry, and Shelton Gibson, who watched and learned how to be champions in their first foray into professional football.

It’s for all the first-round disappointments like workout warriors Mike Mamula, Antone Davis, and Brodrick Bunkley, the injury-riddled Jerome McDougle, the underappreciated Jermaine Mayberry, the over-appreciated Leonard Renfro, the kind-of-crazy Bernard Williams, the probably-crazy Stacy Andrews, his definitely-crazy brother, Shawn Andrews, the on-another-planet-crazy Fred-Ex, and the guy with the crazy wife, Hank Baskett. But, It’s also for projected “scrubs” like Clyde Simmons, Seth Joyner, and Mike Golic – all parts of the greatest defense in NFL history and all drafted in rounds that no longer exist. It’s for pleasant surprises like Trent Cole and Andy Harmon. But, it’s also for total letdowns like Na Brown, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Winston Justice, and Curtis Marsh. It’s for the 26-year old firefighter, Danny Watkins, and the 24-year old snowboarder, Jeremy Bloom.

It’s for Moses Fokou, Roman Gabriel, and the 1958 2nd-round pick, Proverb Jacobs. It’s for Earl Wolff, Dustin Fox, Leon Seals, Brandon Bair and Rabbit Keen. 

It’s for the amazing wide receiving duos of Stinkston & Trash and Small, Johnson. It’s for Arkansas Fred, Toast Jenkins, Mighty Mouse, and The Freak. It’s for Eric “Sleeping With” Bienemy, “Who Framed” Roger Ruzek, and Blaine Bishop, “Old School.”  It’s for “He Hate Me” Rod Smart, and it’s definitely for Super Bowl champion, Steven Means Business! It’s for Juqua Thomas, Juqua Parker, and Juqau Thomas-Parker. It’s for Dorial Green-Beckham, Max Jean-Gilles, and special teams ace turned kickoff-specialist, Kamu Grugier-Hill. It’s for quarterback Adam Joshua “A.J.” Feeley, safety Herbert Lee “J.R.” (???) Reed, defensive end Ndukwe Dike “N.D.” Kalu, and tight end Little John “L.J.” Smith.

It’s for all the greats for other teams who couldn’t rest peacefully until they wore Eagles green – Tom Dempsey, Herschel Walker, James Lofton, Mark Bavaro, Bill Romanowski, Antonio Freeman, Erik McMillan, Ken O’Brien, Irving Fryar, Kurt Gouveia, Sean Landeta, Mark Ingram, Ken O’Brien, Roy Green, and the one and only William “The Refrigerator” Perry. But, it’s also for those that started here, but went on to greater things (sort of) elsewhere, like Derrick Burgess, Kevin Finneran, Kurt Coleman, and Chris Clemons.

It’s for Vaughn Hebron and Correll Buckhalter, Ryan Moats and Chris Polk, Amp Lee and Reno Mahe. It’s for Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant, Kevin Curtis and Greg Lewis. It’s for the incredibly underrated duos of Stewart Bradley and Carlos Emmons and Damon Moore and Quentin Mikell. But, also for the appropriately lowly-rated duos of Chris Gocong and Mark Simoneau and Joselio Hanson and Quentin Demps. It’s for Corey Simon and Hollis Thomas, Jerome McDougle and Victor Abiamieri. It’s for the often overlooked career of Mike Pitts.

It’s for Ike Reese, Jon Ritchie, and Brian Baldinger. It’s for Vai Sikahema punching the goalposts and then anchoring the news.

It’s for Jaws, Wilbert, and Harold. It’s for Bill Bergey and Norm Van Brocklin. It’s for Pete Pihos, Alex Wojchiechowicz, and the half-blind NFL Championship and Pro Bowl QB Tommy Thompson.

This is for the sad life and death of Kevin Turner.

This is for the great WR Mike Quick and it is absolutely 100% for his second-act partner Merrill Reese – the only non-player or coach in this montage, and as deserving as anyone on the planet.

But, in the end, this one is for us. It’s for you and me and everyone that has lived and died with this team from the moment we can remember. This isn’t a collection of talented men from around the country that just happen to be wearing the same jersey colors on Sunday. This is the vein that pulses through our city and through the lives of anyone that understands what Philadelphia is about. This city, this team, these colors, they – for better or worse – are a part of what makes us who we are. Outside observers don’t get it, and I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t get it either if I hadn’t lived it. Watching the Lombardi Trophy march down Broad Street on the warmest 20-degree day in Philadelphia history wasn’t just the coronation of a football team; it was the coronation of an overly-deserving fanbase. A fanbase that has been – and will continue to be – maligned by national observers in what is nothing more than a thinly veiled expression of misunderstood jealousy. People put us down because they want to believe the way we believe. They want to feel the way we feel. We aren’t Yankees fans who have tasted a title enough times to consume every generation with spoiled privilege. We aren’t Lakers fans who only care about the team when they’re good, which is more often than they deserve. We are Eagles fans. We are fans who spend our lives having the final score on Sunday dictate our personal happiness for the next seven days. And, never have we tasted what we tasted on February 4, 2018. And, never will that taste leave our mouths. The downside of being who we are is that we feel every loss to our bones – it rattles us to our core. And, since, by definition, 31 NFL teams will end every season in disappointment, we are set up to suffer. We are set up for heartbreak. We are set up to fail………except when we don’t. And, THIS is why we invest our emotional capital into this team. THIS is why we suffer so badly and pick ourselves up and do it all over again. We do it all for THIS. And, that is why we thank those who delivered it and respect those who came before. THIS is the only rational reason to be how we are. And, I can’t possibly think of a better one. In the words of the great Malcolm Jenkins, “We all we got. We all we need.” Fly, Eagles, Fly!!!

We…Are…Back!

The old BroadStreetBelievers you used to know and love is back after a 2 year hiatus.  Give us a little time to clean up the site and make it all pretty again, but all our old content is back online and we’ll be putting up some fresh stuff in the not too distant future.

— new admin (J)

Euro Cup – Day 12

Group C:
Germany v. N. Ireland
Poland v. Ukraine

Not really much of interest here with these final Group C games.  Northern Ireland could get to the magic number 4 points with a draw vs. Germany.  Even though they were impressive in beating Ukraine 2-0, I just don’t see it happening.  Expect Germany and Poland to move on and the other two to pack it on home.

Predictions:
Germany 2, N. Ireland 0
Poland 1, Ukraine 1

Group D:
Spain v. Croatia
Czech Rep. v. Turkey

Spain/Croatia is a great match-up but tempered somewhat because both teams have already reached the 4 point total, at least.  But there does appear to be a real advantage to winning the group, which Croatia could do by beating Spain.  The group winner here will get a third-place team in their first knock-out game, while the second-place team will get Italy, who will be a tough out, of course.  You could probably argue that finishing third with four points in this group could be a preferable route to seeing Italy in the Round of 16.  Croatia needs to hope its players and its fans can regain their composure after the flare-throwing, protest thing that marred their draw vs. the Czechs, but they are with out Luka Modric for this one, as he’s out with an injury.

Speaking of the Czechs, their tournament appeared all but over when they were down 2-0 in the 2nd half vs. Croatia.  Their equalizer in extra time of that game means all they have to do is knock-off what appears to be a dysfunctional Turkey team to get to the 4-point plateau.

Predictions:
Spain 0, Croatia 0
Czech Rep. 2, Turkey 1

Euro Cup – Day 11

Wales v. Russia

The magic number in this group stage is really 4 points.  If you get to 4 points, you’re almost certainly through to the knock-out stage.  With three points, it will most likely come down to goal differential.  So, for this game, that means Wales needs a draw and Russia needs a win to feel safe about advancing.  I don’t think it’s in Russia’s nature to chase the game in the way they will need to here, and I’ll say that leaves them exposed to counter-attacks led by the speedy Gareth Bale.  Wales moves on and the Russians and their hooligan fans go home.

Prediction: Wales 2, Russia 1

England v. Slovakia

England is the only team in this group already sitting on those 4 points.  Does that give manager Roy Hodgson the green-light to continue tinkering with his line-up here?

In England’s win over Wales, it was easy to credit Hodgson’s substitutes, as the two goals were scored by subs.  Still, he deserves credit for making a double-switch at halftime, that involved inserting two strikers in Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge.  It would be a shock if he didn’t start this game with two strikers, and with Raheem Sterling as the attacking midfielder left out of the line-up.  The question is, which two strikers?  Obviously, Vardy and Sturridge had great impact, but does Harry Kane get left out?  Sturridge would seem to be the third option of the three, but he was the one that really had the best impact in that last game.  I’m really not sure which two he will go with, but it would be hard for me to leave Sturridge out after what he did against Wales.

For Slovakia, Marek Hamsik has absolutely been one of the best players of the tournament.  Even though he’s 28-years-old and not a young buck, I would be surprised if some big clubs don’t get on the phone to Napoli to try to pry him away in the coming months.  The Slovaks need a draw to get to their four points.

Prediction: England 1, Slovakia 1

Euro Cup – Day 10

Romania v. Albania

The first of our final group stage games here, as Group A will wrap things up with the only two games of the day, both at 3 PM.  Are these two eastern European countries under-rated, or are France and Switzerland over-rated?  We won’t find out until the knock-out round, I guess, but although these teams come into this with 1 point combined, they’ve both been impressive.  They both took mighty France to the brink, with a tie game until the very late stages in each.  And they both played right with Switzerland, as well.

There was a lot of talk coming into this tournament about how some third-place teams being able to advance would effect the tournament.  As far as I can tell (which might not be totally right), 4 points basically guarantees an advance to the knock-out stage.  Even with just three points and 0 goal differential, you’re probably getting through.  So, for this game?  A Romania win should advance them through.  Albania is probably done no matter what, with 0 points and a -3 differential, but it tells you something that they’re not eliminated already.  They both know they’re going home with a draw, which tends to make for some exciting games.

Prediction: Romania 1, Albania 1

France v. Switzerland

It was an interesting line-up switch by French coach Didier Deschamps to put two of his top-rated players, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann, on the bench to start their game vs. Albania.  Of course, when your midfield is as loaded as theirs, there’s always going to be some top players left out of the starting line-up.  But it seems like he was trying to send a message to Pogba about how he wants him to play, and Griezmann was most likely left out because he’s pretty fatigued from a long season at Atletico Madrid that just ended in the Champions League final on Memorial Day weekend.

In any event, it will be interesting to see if they’re back in against Switzerland.  Even though Griezmann came on and scored the game-winner vs. Albania, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the bench to start again, because if you want to get him rest this is a good time, as they’ve already clinched a spot in the knock-out stage.  Whether or not Pogba is back in there is probably more interesting, because if he’s not that might mean Deschamps has decided to go away from him for the remainder of the tournament.

Switzerland has all but locked up a spot in the knock-out stage, as well, with four points through their first two matches.  But both of these teams have failed to impress thus far and could grab some momentum with a strong performance here.

Prediction: France 2, Switzerland 0