Stefanksi Makes His First Move

This morning, new Sixers GM Ed Stefanski made his first move since taking over the team last month, trading Kyle Korver to Utah for Gordon Giricek and a first-round pick.korver  The trade has very little to do with Giricek or the draft pick and a whole lot to do with dumping Korver’s long-term deal and clearing up cap space for this offseason. 

The draft pick is protected and the Sixers have seven years in which to make it.  I’m not entirely sure how that will play out, but I don’t think it’s anything to get too excited about.  It will probably end up being somewhere in the 20’s.

Giricek, a 6’6″ swing man, saw his playing time cut this season and had a confrontation with Jazz coach Jerry Sloan a couple weeks ago, leading the team to dismiss him for eight days.  His contract expires after the season and he probably won’t see too much playing time in Philly either.  Stefanski indicated that part of the reason for moving Korver was to open up more minutes for the young guys on the team, including Thaddeus Young, Willie Green, Rodney Carney, and Lou Williams.

Interestingly, Korver was originally drafted by Stefanksi and the Nets in the second-round of the 2003 draft, then immediately traded to the Sixers.  Korver turned out to be an excellent value for a second-rounder, despite his weaknesses (basically everything except 3-point shooting).  He may be the best long-range shooter to ever play for the Sixers.  Korver is the type of player that is valuable to a good team like Utah, they can bring him off the bench and let him bomb some 3’s, but he doesn’t have much use for a rebuiling team like the Sixers.

So the Stefanski-led rebuilding quest is underway.  The expected next move is trading Andre Miller in a similar salary-dumping deal.  In the meantime, the most promising player on the roster may be Lou Williams.  He showed some surprising and very impressive athleticism the other night, when he drove baseline past Dwyane Wade and then posterized Udonis Haslem with a dunk.  Williams is lightning-quick and could eventually become an offensive force.  Sixers fans will keep their fingers crossed.

Oh, What a Day!

So, as of Wednesday night, my semester is over.  With all this newfound time, I was worried that I would not be able to find something to do to keep me busy on a lazy Saturday (you know, other than planning a wedding or packing to move or shopping for Christmas).  So, thank you, college hoops.  There is a quintuple-header on the ESPN family of networks today and it is incredible.  I do not know just how many of the five games I plan on watching (they’re all good), but I will definitely be watching the first two, so I will give my thoughts:

GAME 1:  Memphis 85, Georgetown 71
Each team is, by my account, a legitimate title contender.  This game showed why.  However, this game–maybe because of the opposition–also showed some flaws in the two teams.

First of all, Memphis looked really, REALLY good.  They are so athletic; they played incredible, hard-nosed, pressure defense; and, they controlled the offensive glass.  They would have beaten anyone in the country today.  Plus, as hyped as Roy Hibbert, DaJuan Summers, Derrick Rose and Joey Dorsey are, the underappreciated, Chris Douglas-Roberts, was easily the best player on the floor today.  Easily. 

There are two serious flaws that were on display today for the Tigers, however.  One, they are a really bad free-throw shooting team.  Second, they lack discipline.  They went down early and started looking at each other.  This team is good enough to win most of their games without any adversity, but the few games that they are challenged, it will be interesting to see how they respond.  They responded well today, so they passed test #1.

On the other side, the Hoyas may have displayed more serious flaws in this game.  Granted it was only one game, and it was on the road at the #2 team in the country, but without Jeff Green, they truly lack a go-to guy.  Roy Hibbert will be a lottery pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.  He is a first-team pre-season All-American and may well be a first-teamer at the end of the season.  But, he is not a go-to, put-his-team-on-his-back kind of player.  That was obvious today.  Furthermore, the Hoyas, whose style is not one which will ever blow anyone out, will need to win close games.  They showed today that they really struggle on the free-throw line.  A combination of poor free-throw shooting and lack of a go-to guy will probably lead to a team that struggles to close out close games. 

The good news for Hoya fans, though, is that they have Jonathan Wallace and DaJuan Summers.  They also play incredibe defense and are one of the best coached teams in the country.  They showed today how disciplined they are on both ends of the floor.  They had effective possessions, on both ends, coming out of timeouts and their guards are terrific.  Plus, the future is incredibly bright for this team because of the freshman backcourt of Chris Wright and Austin Freeman.  They are both special players that will step right in for Wallace and Jesse Sapp when they graduate.

Overall, though it is not time to overreact to one December game, but I think we did learn that Memphis is extraordinarily talented and a true threat to win the title.  I also think that we learned that Georgetown is going to be in the discussion and will probably improve with every game they play.  This is the first of a 4-year agreement between these two teams to play non-conference games, so this matchup should be fun for the rest of the decade.

Okay, Game 2 is on.  I’ll be back with a Xavier-Tennessee recap…

GAME 2:  Tennessee 82, Xavier 75
Other than my Temple Owls, my two favorite teams to watch in the 2007-08 college basketball season squared off in Cincinnati last afternoon.  It was an incredibly exciting game between two immensely talented teams.

What this game showed is that, while both are extremely important, there is a distinct difference between balance and depth.  Xavier is an incredibly balanced team.  The five starters plus 6th-man C.J. Anderson all average in double-figures.  They have a lot of talent with Drew Lavender, Josh Duncan and Stanley Burrell.  You need five good defenders on the floor at all times to stop the X’s offense.  However, today, it was Tennessee’s depth that overcame Xavier’s balance.

As I described in choosing Tennessee as the sleeper of this college hoops season, they have so much talent it is scary.  And, in choosing them as “my favorite,” I did not even know that J.P. Prince was such an impact player.  Prince, who has sat out the past 2 seasons because of injuries and transferring from Arizona, scored 21 points off the bench today in only his 3rd game as a Volunteer.  Prince’s 21, coupled with 12 from Wayne Chism, was enough to overcome the relative struggles of leading scorers Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith.  And, this is all not even mentioning the star power of point guard Ramar Smith and Iowa transfer, Tyler Smith.  Tennessee’s depth clearly wore down the Musketeers today, as they ended the game on a 13-2 run, turning a 73-69 deficit into a 82-75 victory.

Both of these teams have immense talent and each should be considered the favorites to win their respective conferences.  They each have the potential to be second-week participants in the big tournament in March.  They are that good.

Okay, on to Texas Tech versus Stanford…

GAME 3:  Stanford 63, Texas Tech 61
Okay, I have to admit, I was Christmas shopping during a lot of this one, but I do have to say that this g.ame was between two tournament-caliber teams.  The Lopez twins, especially Brook, are phenomenal for Stanford, and Bobby Knight will flat-out coach the “Tech-sters” to the tournament because, well, he’s the best.

Sorry I didn’t see the whole game (remember I don’t get paid for this stuff), but at least I’m done my shopping.  Ya, get jealous.  Another great one is on now–Michigan St. versus Texas…

GAME 4:  Michigan St. 78, Texas 72
We saw today (and have been seeing all year) why Tom Izzo is indubitably the best coach in the country whose name does not start with k-r-z, as his Michigan St. Spartans took it to the previously-unbeaten Texas Longhorns.  Izzo’s teams are perenially the best inch-for-inch rebounders in the country and this year is no exception.  Though they do not have outlandish size, this team averages one offensive rebound in every two offensive possessions.  In fact, over 47% of their missed shots are rebounded by their offensive rebounders.  That is absolutely unbelievable; and, that is coaching.

Above in the recap of the second game of the day, we talked about the difference between depth and balance.  Well, Michigan St. has both, and they proved that today.  They have pre-season All-American Drew Neitzel and highly-touted freshman Kalin Lucas (who had a breakout game with his 18-point career high today).  They also have solid point guard Travis Walton and a pair of big men that can range from “solid” to “exceptional” in Drew Naymick and the much-improved Goran Suton.  But, what people do not realize is that the best player on this team, in my opinion, is Raymar Morgan.  Morgan had 18 quiet points today and is averaging almost 17 points and 8 rebounds per game this year, while shooting almost 60% from the floor.  This team is loaded and they showed it today.

Texas should not be too discouraged by this loss.  They have had a dream start to this season, with wins over Tennessee on a neutral court and UCLA on the road, en route to their 11-0 start, triggering Andy Glockner (probably my favorite college hoops analyst) to talk about them being better without Kevin Durant.  Now, this is a somewhat ridiculous opinion because (as Glockner freely acknowleges) it is not because Durant is gone, but because guys like D.J. Augustin and Damion James are a year older.  Either way, though, this Texas team continues to impress and surprise people with how good they are, and I do not think that today’s game in Detroit against a true Final Four contender is any step backwards.  Oh, by the way, did you know that Rick Barnes has made 12 consecutive NCAA tournaments?  The last time he missed the tournament was his first year at Clemson when he had an over-.500 record and NIT appearance with a team called by some as “the worst team in the history of the ACC.”  Can we officially say that Barnes is one of the 10 best coaches in the country?  I think so.

Expect both of these teams to be playing into the second week (maybe even the second weekend) of the tournament in March.

Okay, after almost 9 hours of hoops, Ina insists on watching something else.  Fortunately, she has reminded me why I asked her to marry me with her insistence on watching the football game.  Sacrifices–they are tough.  So, I will have to bail on assessing the Missouri-Illinois game (a game that I actually think is going to be a terrific game).

After a long, great Saturday of hoops, we saw some really, really good teams.  Throw in the great Pitt-Duke game from Thursday night, we have seen a half dozen teams that will be very difficult outs come March.  This is going to be a GREAT season of college hoops.

Andy Reid Tells His Story

We have discussed Coach Reid and his family situation several times on this blog, and I think my opinions are clear, so I do not want to rehash what I’ve already written.  Just want to say that I’m extremely impressed and touched by the newest story surrounding the Reid family.

Apparently, they (Andy and his wife, Tammy) have decided to talk about their experience parenting children/young adults with addiction problems.  The motives of this public interview from very private people is to educate other parents that may be experiencing similar situations to know that they are not alone.

The actual interview has not come out yet, so I do not want to render an opinion on the effectiveness of the message or the appropriateness of the interview’s direction, but I do want to say that from this ESPN article it seems like they really do get it.  On a daily basis, I work with people with addiction problems and it is terrifying because no one is immune to addicition.  I am convinced that substance abuse is a mental illness and ought to be treated as such.  Why do we, in this country, offer full treatment services to schizophrenics but not to addicts?  I do not want to get into social commentary on a sports weblog, so I will stop here.  I just thought it appropriate to mention, since it is a topic about which I am extremely passionate.

I look forward to reading the interview and hope that it will help other people who find themselves in similar positions.

BSB In-Attendance: #7 Duke vs. #9 Pitt, Madison Square Garden

Last night I headed back over to MSG for some college hoops, this time to see two undefeated (both 10-0), top-10 teams square-off in the Aeropostale Classic.  I wasn’t aware that anyone had actually worn Aeropostale clothing since about 1999, but apparently college basketball fans are now their target audience.  Anyway, it turned out to be an exciting game, with Pitt point guard (and Brooklyn native) Levance Fields sinking a three with 4 seconds left in overtime to give Pitt the 65-64 win.  Also, unlike the Jimmy V Classic earlier this month, the Garden was packed with rabid Duke and Pitt fans, making it one of those games where you remember why college basketball is so great.  The NBA doesn’t have crowds like this for most playoff games, and this was a neutral court, hundreds of miles from either school’s campus.

The game was a contrast in styles between two of the game’s better programs and coaches, Mike Krzyzewski and Jamie Dixon.  Duke, this year more than ever, loves to get up and down the floor in a hurry and shoot a ton of 3’s, while Pitt thrives in the half-court and likes to grind out wins with ball control and hard-nosed defense.  Both teams had their weaknesses (Pitt: perimeter scoring, Duke: inside muscle) exposed in this game, but also showed why they will likely be playing on the second weekend of the tournament in March.

As with just about all college basketball teams this year, the main guy I wanted to see for each team are both freshmen: Duke forward Kyle Singler and Pitt forward/center DeJuan Blair.  Blair, a Pittsburgh native who led his team to the state championship last year, wanted to play at Duke his whole life but was not recruited by them.  He claimed to be so excited for the game that he thought he would have trouble sleeping the night before.  His nerves showed early as he blairposted up, but repeatedly rushed his shots and clanged them off the rim.  As one fan near me put it, “He shoots before he even looks at the basket”.  As he settled down though, he started to use his size (6’7″, 265 lbs.) and athleticism to dominate inside.  He finished the game with 15 points and 20 rebounds.  When was the last time you saw someone pull 20 rebounds against Duke?  He still has a long way to go in terms of offensive polish and low-post moves, but he’s obviously a force to be reckoned with already.

For Duke, they will have to come up with a way to handle players like Blair.  For most of the game they had a line-up of four guards and Singler, who’s natural position is probably small forward.  That definitely won’t work if they want to beat North Carolina and Tyler Hansbrough.  Even so, they controlled most of the game, accumulating big leads in the first-half.  After Pitt made a second-half comeback, Duke seemed to have taken momentum back after an intentional foul call on Pitt with 9 minutes remaining.  Singler hit both free throws and scored to put Duke up by 10.  But Pitt responded with a 14-1 run, led by leading scorer Sam Young, to take a 3-point lead with 3 minutes to play.

It looked bad for Pitt at the start of overtime, as small forward Mike Cook went down with an injury and had to be helped off the floor.  A report just came out that Cook, a Philly native, is most likely done for the season with an ACL tear.  That is a big blow to the team, as Cook was averaging 10 points/game and is a senior leader.  But Pitt managed to hang around and ended up with the ball, down 64-62, with about 20 seconds left.  Fields dribbled around until finally getting an open look and draining the winning shot.  Fields was the only Pitt player to make a 3-pointer all game and the Panthers will need senior guard Ronald Ramon to help in that area.

Both teams have two more tune-ups (including a game in Philly vs. Temple for Duke) before they start league play next month.

Tell Me I’m Crazy…

Okay, this may be another running segment because I think and do some really stupid things and I need people to tell me I’m crazy.  We shall see.

Anyway, someone tell me I’m crazy for thinking that the San Diego Chargers at 20-1 to win the Super Bowl is not the best bet you’ve heard in a while?  Last night I put $50 on the Chargers (flights to Vegas are cheap, so I flew there and placed the legal bet in a sportsbook) to win the Super Bowl that pays $1,000.

Do I think that the Chargers are the best team in the NFL?  No way.  Do I think they have the best chance to win the Super Bowl?  Not even close.

But, the Patriots have had three straight unimpressive games; the Cowboys have struggled with an injured Romo and a discontented T.O. (shocker); the Packers are just not as talented as their 12-2 record may lead on; the Colts are completely banged up; the Steelers are incredibly inconsistent and just lost Willie Parker; the Jags are inexperienced.  Let us not forget that the Chargers brought back the exact same team (minus the coaching staff) that went 14-2 and was clearly the best team in football last year.  Yes, Norv Turner stinks, and I am well aware of the blatant stupidity of risking any money on him and his staff, but it just seemed to me that 20-1 on a team that is really, really good is a nice risk.

Tell me I’m crazy…

Phils Sign Jenkins

The Phillies signed Geoff Jenkins today, beating out the Padres, with a two year, $13 million deal, with an option for a third year.  As I wrote a couple days ago, Jenkins will probably platoon with Jayson Werth in right field and spell Pat Burrell in leftjenkins.  At 33-years-old, Jenkins is a bit past his prime (which wasn’t all that great anyway), but this seems like a solid move by the Phils, especially since they only committed for two years.  Jenkins’s agent hinted that Citizens Bank Park was seen as a plus, saying that Jenkins is “looking forward to hitting in that park”.  I’m sure he is.  The move also solidifies Shane Victorino as the center fielder and ends any interest the team had in Mike Cameron.

The Phillies also signed free-agent pitcher Chad Durbin today.  I know nothing about the guy but he had a 4.72 ERA in 36 games (19 starts) for the Tigers last year.  I haven’t seen any mention about the terms of the deal but I’m assuming (hoping?) there wasn’t much money involved.  The Phillies beat out Pittsburgh for Durbin, and you can always get excited when your team out-bids the Pirates for a free-agent.  Durbin figures to be a back-end of the rotation/long relief guy, kind of like Adam Eaton but without the $24 million involved.  There’s no word yet on whether or not Chad wants to challenge J.D.’s current title of “The Durbinator”. 

Pat Gillick said yesterday that the Phillies are out of the running for Kyle Lohse.  It looks like some team will have the pleasure of paying Lohse $10-11 million/year for the next four or five years.  The Phillies weren’t interested, and I can’t blame them.

Why Do We Believe Andy Pettitte?

Honestly, I have no idea.

What would you do if you were Andy Pettitte?  You just signed a major contract to come back for one more year before retiring as one of the most successful pitchers of your generation.  But, all of a sudden you are accused (with factual evidence) by a former U.S. Senator of a crime that has been proven time and time again to blatantly not fall under the pretense of “innocent until proven guilty.” 

(If you don’t believe this, ask yourself what proof you have on Brady Anderson.  The answer is “none,” but I have yet to meet anyone that does not believe, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he was a juicer, including Yours Truly).

So, now you have two options:  (1) deny, deny, deny, or (2) admit it.  If you take option one, you get mercilessly ridiculed and vilified because no one believes you no matter how airtight you think your denial is (see:  Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire…).  For some reason, players do still decide to take this route (Roger Clemens), but it does not seem the smartest way anymore.  So, you are probably relegated to going with option 2–to admit that you did it. 

If you are going to do that, though, are you really come out and say:  “Oh ya, I took that stuff.  I heard that it would make me bigger, faster and stronger, and I really wanted to be bigger, faster and stronger than everyone else in the game.  I got my dentist to prescribe me HGH; I got my kid’s pediatrician to sneak me some flaxseed oil; and, I got my veterinarian to authorize a 24-month supply of anabolic steroids designed for a 1500-pound steer.”  No, probably not–at least if you have any concern for your reputation or legacy. 

So, you come up with a believable story depicting yourself as the “gladiator” that defines today’s athlete, and how you were heroically injured in the field of battle.  Then, unlike most narcissistic modern athletes, you felt that you “owed it to your teammates and fans” to come back quickly.  You found a way to recover quicker, but you did not do anything to enhance your performance.  You may have made a questionable decision, but if so, it was with nothing but genuine motives.  And, you only did it twice in 13  years of major league baseball.  Who could be mad at that?  Hasn’t everyone made mistakes?  You should be praised, not admonished; admired, not comdemned.   To top it off, you throw in a couple lines like: 

  • If I have let down people that care about me, I am sorry, but I hope that you will listen to me carefully and understand that two days of perhaps bad judgment should not ruin a lifetime of hard work and dedication. I have tried to do things the right way my entire life, and, again, ask that you put those two days in the proper context.”
  • And, “I have the utmost respect for baseball and have always tried to live my life in a way that would be honorable. I wasn’t looking for an edge; I was looking to heal.”

Now, the only thing lacking may be credibility, so you get a highly-respected buddy of yours, like Mariano Rivera, to back you up.

Case closed.  Who wouldn’t have done what you did?

The strange thing is that I do actually like and respect Andy Pettitte.  I believed him when he came out and said what he said.  I despised Clemens for what he did–sending a denial through a lawyer–but Pettitte seemed to handle his own situation with a sense of class.  Was he merely the victim of the crooked, no-holds-barred culture of today’s professional sports?  Is the pressure that we place upon our athletes to perform as heroes at the highest levels the real culprit in this whole ordeal?  What self-respecting human being would not try and use anything possible to gratify the millions of “regular people” who live and die by your performance on a daily basis?  What responsible employee wouldn’t do anything in their power to justify an exorbitant salary simply for playing a child’s game?  Who are the real victims here?

The elicitation of these naturally-human responses and emotions are precisely why Pettitte’s comments on Saturday were ingenious.  The phrases he used and the concepts he evoked are disarming, even admirable.  He called accusations of performance-enhancing drug use “nonsense, wrong and hurtful” and said that it was “embarrassing for his name to be out there.”  His comments took the dastardly act of steroid use and effectively cloaked it in a veil of human imperfection, with even a touch of grace and dignity. I set out to write this column as a questioning of myself and why I believed Andy Pettitte–because I did.  I did not question his sincerity one bit until my fiancee called me a fool for not doing so.  I was taken aback.  “But, everything he said makes sense.  What he did is really not that bad,” I reasoned. 

“And, you believe it?” Ina asked, with her fine-tuned air of rhetoric.

“Uh, well…ya, I think so.”

But, she is right.  The “Steroid Era” is in full swing all across sports.  The “spins” on positive tests are getting more and more refined as each person gets caught.  Ben Johnson was first–his response was primitive.  We have progressed through Mark McGwire’s andro “it wasn’t illegal at the time” defense to the awfulness that was Jason Giambi and his tearful “I can’t say for what, but I’m really, really sorry” debacle.  Floyd Landis tried every spin in the book, hoping one would stick.  Marion Jones succeeded for 7 years in her denials and spin stories, until recently being stripped of her Olympic medals.  And now we have Andy Pettitte and the best, most refined, most evolved, most believable spin story yet.

I don’t blame Andy Pettitte for saying what he said.  I am not even willing to say that I am absolutely certain that he isn’t being 100% truthful.  In fact, I still want to believe him because he has never been anything but classy and professional.  However, what I am saying is that the Steroid Era is still in its relative infancy, and these stories are just going to get better and better as we go.  Let us just hope that the proverbial (and grossly overused term) “Court of Public Opinion” is able to adapt and keep up with the ever-improving spinsters that surround the users.  Let us not forget that knowingly having someone inject your rear-end with a performance-enhancing, illegally-acquired substance is NOT an admirable act, no matter who you are or how justified you perceive your reasons for doing so to be.

Phillies Hot-Stove Update

It’s been a month since my last Phillies off-season update and a lot has happened, just not, unfortunately, for the Phils.  Pat Gillick and company have been desperately searching for pitching help, and also looking to add an outfielder and possibly upgrade at third base.   Up to this point, they have nothing to show for their efforts since the November 7th trade for Brad Lidge.  They came away from the Winter Meetings in Nashville empty-handed and disappointed, with Gillick saying it was unlikely that they’ll be adding another starting pitcher before Spring Training starts.  Rich Hofman thinks Gillick might be “running some interference” with that claim, but either way it doesn’t instill a lot of hope.

Some of the names the Phillies were rumored to be interested in have already signed elsewhere.  Tad Iguchi and Randy Wolf both signed with the Padres and Japanese import pitcher Hiroki Kuroda signed with the Dodgers a couple days ago.  On all three players, the Phillies would have had to over-pay to get them, because Wolf and Kuroda preferred West Coast teams and Iguchi wanted to stay at second base, while the Phils wanted to sign him as a third baseman.

With the options starting to dwindle, reports indicate the Phils have their sights set on a number of free-agents.  Here’s the latest:

  • Geoff Jenkins, OF: The long-time Brewer is the most likely player on this list to end up in a Phillies uniform, with the bidding down to them and the Padres.  The left-handed hitting Jenkins would platoon with Jayson Werth in right and jenkinsprovide much-needed depth if Werth or Pat Burrell were to go down to injury.  There is rumors of a three-year deal for Jenkins, which I think would be too long for a 33-year-old who’s been in decline, but a one- or two-year deal would probably make sense.  It’s been noted that Jenkins is from California, so if all else is equal, he may prefer San Diego.  If I were him, I would also consider the difference between hitting in Citizens Bank Park vs. Petco Park.  For a guy who probably has warning-track power at this point, it would be much nicer seeing those long flyballs sail into the CB Park seats rather than outfielder’s gloves in Petco.
  • Mike Cameron, OF: The Phillies also reportedly have a contract offer on the table for Cameron, believed to be a two-year deal.  Cameron won’t hit for average, but he is an elite defensive center fielder with good power and speed.  Shane Victorino would play right field again if Cameron were to sign.  The other contenders are the White Sox and Rangers, and, obviously, the Phillies are only interested in Cameron or Jenkins, not both.
  • Kris Benson, SP:  It looks like the Phillies have sifted their way through the stinking mess that is this year’s free-agent starting pitchers and zeroed in on Benson.  He missed the entire ’07 season with a rotator-cuff injury but his career 4.34 ERA makes him very tempting compared to the other available pitchers.  Ten teams were expected to be present today in Phoenix, the Phillies among them, to watch Benson throw and gauge how his recovery is coming.   
  • Akinori Otsuka, RP:  With a career 2.44 ERA in 236 relief appearances over four seasons, you would think Otsuka would be a prime target for a lot of teams.  However, he missed the second-half of last season and it turns out there are some otsukaserious concerns about his elbow, which is why the Rangers made him a free-agent in the first place.  Regardless, the Phillies are interested and, at the right price, it seems like it would be worth the gamble.

There’s also this report from Yahoo!Sports that the Phillies, along with the Mets, have offers out to Kyle Lohse, but I haven’t seen that reported anywhere else.  Lohse’s agent is none other than Scott Boras so, honestly, any report about him has to be taken with a grain of salt.

It’s really been a rough off-season for the NL East as a whole.  Players that have left the division include Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, Aaron Rowand, Andruw Jones, and Edgar Renteria.  Meanwhile, the best established player to join the division is probably Lidge.  The Phillies, Mets, and Braves have all struggled to come up with players to meet their key off-season needs.  They have about two months left before Spring Training opens to redeem themselves.

Some Things Just Never Change

I just want to preface my halftime comments with the following:

  • I am not normally a very negative person when it comes to Philly sports, honestly 
  • I think Donovan McNabb is the best quarterback in team history
  • I think Andy Reid is the best coach in team history
  • I think Reggie Brown is a solid NFL receiver and Kevin Curtis is a nice #3
  • I was in a tiny African village for the entirety of the 2004 Super Bowl season.  The only game I got to see was the Super Bowl, with French commentators
  • Everything in my life is better when the Eagles beat the Cowboys, so I am loving the 7-3 halftime lead
  • If there is anything in the following rant that you haven’t heard before, then you probably don’t know what a “punt” is either

None of these things, however, will curb frustrations that have been building over many years now.  I have heard that the definition of insanity is to keep doing something the same way, but expecting different results.  I never thought that the Eagles front office was certifiably insane, but maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss it.  It is just so incredibly frustrating to see things over and over and over and over and over and over and ov…………….

                                

This team has, for almost a decade now, been one of the top Super Bowl contenders year in and year out.  However, every year (except the one year that never happened to me) we have been compaining about the exact same thing–GET SOME RECEIVERS THAT CAN GET OPEN!!!  It is really not that difficult of a concept.  I have never been someone who believes that fans know more than front offices–in any sport.  In fact, I get really annoyed when people even suggest that.  But, this is different.  The same complaint has been leveled for almost A DECADE now.  Why do they not get this?  Why will they not address the problem of receivers that simply cannot get open??? 

I had a note to myself to write about McNabb’s perpetual inaccuracy, but upon second thought, I think that this is (and has always been) a direct result of the point made in the previous paragraph, so I will resist in piling on McNabb right now.  However, I would like the record to show that the annual 56% completion rate is getting really old, regardless of the causes.

Why can Andy Reid, an intelligent man and a great football coach, simply NOT UNDERSTAND how to manage the clock???  Again, I know this has been rehased over and over again, in every capacity, especially since the Super Bowl, but COME ON–it has been almost ten years now that we have had to watch him bumble and stumble his way through timeouts in the first quarter, stupid challenges and, in today’s case, stupid NON-challenges.  What was he possibly thinking when he called a timeout to THINK ABOUT WHETHER HE WANTED TO CHALLENGE???  If you are willing to burn the timeout, why not just throw the challenge flag???  What is the worst that happens?  YOU LOSE A TIMEOUT!!!  So, instead, Reid calls the timeout, decides to challenge, loses the challenge, thus losing another timeout, and then, at the end of the half, it looked like they were going to run out of time inside the 5-yard line…stop me if you’ve heard this before. 

And, finally, another frustration that I have that has been overblown and just killed in the media.  I don’t care, I’m going to say it anyway.  RUN THE GODDAM BALL!!!  I don’t think there is anyone who knows anything about football that would say that Brian Westbrook is not the best offensive player on this football team right now.  First half–NINE CARRIES???  Thirty-eight plays, NINE carries.  That’s 23.6%.  Uh, what???

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Anyway, second half is starting…GO BIRDS!
(I wonder if they’ve burned a timeout yet)