Josh Harris is Dead On

The Sixers finally snapped their historic losing streak. (credit: ESPN.com)

This team is young and on the rise. (credit: ESPN.com)

Seriously.

The Sixers’ owner has gotten some flack for claiming that this season was “a huge success.” However, despite the 19-63 record, the NBA record tying 26 straight losses, and the abysmal amount of NBA talent he’s absolutely right. The 2013-2014 season was a monumental success.

To begin, we wanted that record. If the Sixers went 35-47, which would have given them the 11th best odds for the first overall pick, the year would have truly been a failure. This team was intended to tank and tank they did. That ugly, miserable 19-63 record is the shit in the soil that leads to a quality harvest. The worst is over in the best way possible. Don’t forget that the Sixers will almost certainly take the Pelicans’ pick from the Jrue Holiday trade too.

Secondly, you have to look at last year’s draft. It may be hard to remember at this point, but Michael Carter-Williams was considered a risky project with a bad jumper. A year later, the 14th pick in the draft is going to be the Rookie of the Year. If you take a look at the other recent picks in the 14th slot MCW’s season alone made this year a huge success for the organization. They couldn’t have stumbled across a better fit for their slogan “Building from the Ground Up”

Speaking of which, receiving Henry Sims in exchange for Spencer Hawes fits the mantra quite well too. You see the important thing is perception. The Sixers weren’t digging for gold in the mountains this year, rather they were searching for nickels on the beach. Sims is one such nickel. He’s a young hard-working player that will provide help from the bench next season—a low-risk, high-reward success story. Tony Wroten fits the bill here as well.

Lastly, if you follow this team you have to love Brett Brown. His brief tenure here has been a refreshing antithesis to the Doug Collins era. The style of play, the day to day focus on teaching—he has developed a culture focused on a greater future rather than a mediocre present (and we know the importance of culture). Assuming more talent is added to the roster it’s hard to imagine his trajectory going anywhere but up.

Given all of this, it’s quite clear that the Sixers achieved all of their goals. They stunk, found some role players, and added a quality coach for the job. Sounds like a huge success to me.

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Hold On You’re Going Home: Part Three

This is part three in the Hold On, You’re Going Home series. If you’d like to check out the first two installments you can check them here and here!

Alex Henery

A widely-known, but highly under-appreciated fact of life in the NFL is that kickers score the most points. Period. When looking at the list for the NFL’s all-time leading scorers the first non-kicker is Jerry Rice…and he’s 31st. Kicking is an essential part of NFL success, which is exactly why Alex Henery needs to be shown the door.

Selected in the fourth round out of Nebraska, Henery was considered an elite kicking prospect. He was the most accurate kicker in college history with a 89.5% conversion rate and was showered with awards over his four seasons as a Husker. The kid was good.

However, that success hasn’t translated to the NFL. In fact, Henery has regressed each season that he’s been in the league. His career kicking percentages are 88.9% (2011, 5th place), 87.1% (2012, 15th) and 82.1% (2013, 22nd). For 2013 specifically, Henery’s numbers took a dive due to struggles in the 40-49 yard range where he hit seven of ten.

So just how important is that decrease in field goal accuracy?

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He’s In: Jabari Parker To Enter NBA Draft

parkerThe wait is over.

Duke small forward Jabari Parker will indeed be entering the NBA draft this year. The announcement comes following weeks of uncertainty on Parker’s part.

The top Freshman in the nation flirted with the idea of going back to Duke for a sophomore season and even went so far as to submit for housing at Duke next year. He won’t be needing that dorm assignment anymore.

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Eating Crow: An Open Apology to Paul Holmgren

Dear Paul,

Congratulations on making it to the playoffs! For a building riddled with tankitis, I’m sure there’s no better cure than playoff fever and most Philadelphians will agree. But I’m not writing this letter to talk of Stanley Cup dreams, rather I’d like to offer you an apology.

At this beginning of this season I had my doubts. Actually, I wanted your head to be punched off of your body by Ron Hextall…and that was before you fired Peter Laviolette three games into the season.

How was I going to trust a rookie head coach and an inconsistent goaltender to propel a sagging sadsack into the playoffs? How was adding another center going to improve a center-heavy team? Like every actress’ attempt to start a singing career, it simply wasn’t going to work. I prepared for another year of playoff-less hockey.

Instead, the Flyers have truly impressed me. Despite being in the gutter at the beginning of the season the Flyers have evolved into a legitimate playoff threat and the major pieces have your fingerprints. For example, Wayne Simmonds.

Simmonds, who was a part of the Jeff Carter/Mike Richards reconstruction project, has evolved into the best power play threat of his kind in the league. His production has been so stellar that he led the team in goals for the season with 29 (15 PP).

Then there’s Steve Mason who had a career year in both record and save percentage. A qestionable commodity before the start of the season, Mason has proven to be a rock for your team while stealing a few games in the process. The sooner he gets back into net, the better this team’s championship odds are.

But again, this letter isn’t about the Cup. It’s about you and the credit you deserve for making this season what it is. You’re an unpopular man working under an unpopular owner. It’s not exactly ponies shitting rainbows, but you’ve made the bold moves to make it work and, for that, you have my respect.

For now.

Sincerely,

Vince

 

 

Flyers make 2 key signings hours apart

The Flyers made some noise today just before the playoffs begin on Thursday in New York.

First, they extended pending free agent, Andrew MacDonald to hefty new deal. Reportedly worth 30 million over a 6 year span. The 27-year old was set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The second move made came just moments ago.

After speculation about him returning for his Senior year, Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, signed his entry-level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. Gostisbehere will report to the Phantoms this coming weekend.

The signing comes a few days after Gostisbehere’s monster performance in the NCAA National Championship against Minnesota. Posting a +7, a goal and two assists in the 7-4 victory.

What are your thoughts on the signings Flyers fans? Overall positive?

25 Years Later; The Hillsborough Tragedy

It’s not very often when we walk into a sports arena or stadium and think about the safety precautions that are taken into account before we enter to enjoy our favorite teams. It’s so rare to have the unfortunate headline of a death or injury of spectators. Recently coming to my mind is the death in texas, of the fan who fell over a railing going for a foul ball at a Rangers game.

Of all the tragedies to happen, one of the worst to occur happened today 25 years ago in England.

Liverpool and Nottingham soccer clubs were set for a match in the FA cup semi-finals in Hillsborough Stadium. What resulted in the small stadium in Sheffield, England, made the sport of soccer seem so small and unimportant.

It was a typical day in the England, Liverpool fans flocked in full force to the Hillsborough Stadium. The fans of Liverpool were, like most away supporters, segregated in the stadium from the Nottingham fans. The section that Liverpool’s fans were set to spectate from was accessible through a narrow concourse. An estimated 24,000 plus Liverpool fans were expected to go through just 23 set up turnstiles. With the addition of a construction delay in the area and Liverpool fans wanting to take in the area, Liverpool fan’s went to the stadium late.

The build up of fans and the small area of congestion, in addition to the set area that supporters for Liverpool were to enter, resulted in confusion. Fans of Nottingham attempted to enter through Liverpool’s entry, but were turned away. As they attempted to leave, the build up of fans in the area prevented them from moving.

As the teams came out for warm-ups, fans in the area became antsy and pushed one another to the gates. Forcing the fans in the front forward and pinning them into riot gates set up around the field (a common structure in European Stadiums.)

What resulted was a human’s worst nightmare. The fans up front were crushed to death due to compressive asphyxia. Fans went into a panic fans in the upper levels attempted to help fans below by pulling them up. But the amount of fans entering was just too much.

The result of this disaster was a total of 96 death and 700 plus injured. Still to this day police that worked the game are questioned for their lack of safety precautions.

Next time you are at a sporting event, remember the people around you are responsible for your safety as well. 96 people lost their lives 25 years ago for a lack of safety.   

Hold On, You’re Going Home: Part Two

Fat Orlando Bloom?

Fat Orlando Bloom?

This is the second installment in the “Hold on, You’re Going Home” series You can view the first installment here.

The case for keeping Matthews is simple when put in recent context. In a way Casey Matthew is the anti-DeSean. A player under Chip Kelly in college, Matthews has a long-established relationship with Kelly. Also, given that he’s still on the team it’s reasonable to believe that he buys into the “Chip Kelly way”.

Secondly, Chip famously said that there’s an obvious way for someone to make the team “special teams, special teams, special teams.” Matthews has certainly been a solid special teamer as well as he led the team with eight ST tackles last season.

However, the fact remains that he’s the anti-DeSean in talent as well.

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Remembering Harry Kalas

 

There are certain moments in our lives that we can’t forget no matter how hard we try. That holds true for the happiest of moments and for the most somber moments as well. Many of us still remember where we were on April 13th five years ago today.

On that day we were preparing to enjoy a Phillies vs. Nationals tilt that took a backseat to the passing of a legend.

The Phillies, baseball and the world lost one of its greatest voices when Harry Kalas passed away. The legendary Phillies broadcaster was preparing to call a game when he passed out in the broadcast booth. Since that day, Phillies baseball just has not sounded quite the same.

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Hold On, You’re Going Home: Part One

via reclinergm.com (AP Photo/Mark Stehle)

via reclinergm.com (AP Photo/Mark Stehle)

The offseason is almost over for the Eagles as we near the start of (not so) voluntary workouts, which start April 21st. There’s also that little, totally under-hyped thing called the draft on the way. Instead of blathering about needs that we all know I’d rather discuss the players that should get the boot before the regular season starts. I’ll be doing this series in installments because I said so. Wanna fight about it?

The first player on this list actually really hurts. However, as much I don’t like it, it’s time for Brandon Graham to move on. Graham, who was the Eagles first pick in the 2010 draft, is no longer a fit with this team.

The initial intent was to land a pass rushing force on the opposite side of Trent Cole in the 4-3. It worked. Despite a slow start to his career and a torn ACL, Graham was one of very few bright spots for the 2012 Eagles. In fact, he was utterly dominant. Take a look at the numbers according to PFF:

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Nerlens Noel: “This Year’s Been Great”

Nerlens Noel working with Sixers head coach Brett Brown.

Nerlens Noel working with Sixers head coach Brett Brown.

There has not been a lot for Sixers fans to be thrilled about this season. However, there appears to be quite a bit of promise and optimism for the future. The weight of that optimism sits on the shoulders of the Sixers’ two rookies, Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.

Carter Williams is giving the faithful reason to look forward to the future. The young point guard has been well worth the 11th overall pick used on him and has been the wire to wire frontrunner for Rookie of the Year.

Noel cost the Sixers a bit more in the form of the 6th overall pick and the team’s All-Star point guard, Jrue Holiday. The big man out of Kentucky has been sidelined for the entire season. Despite the setback, he is not looking at this as a lost one.

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