Monthly Archives: September 2012

What to Watch for: Eagles/Giants (Round 1)

After losing a trap game to the Arizona Cardinals, the Eagles are entering what is the beginning of a stretch that will define this team. Who better to play then than the division rival and Super Bowl champion (Ew.) New York Giants? Both teams are 2-1 going into this week and are looking to send a message to the division in what should be a very physical contest in prime time on Sunday night. So, as we prepare for what should be a great game, here are the 5 things to watch for:

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Profiling Phillies’ late-season call-up Darin Ruf

The Ruf, the Ruf, the Ruf is on fire!

At the start of 2012, Darin Ruf was hardly on the radar. The blog PhuturePhillies.com, which is dedicated solely to discussing the Phillies’ farm system, didn’t even list him amongst their top 30 prospects at the start the season (This is not a knock on their work, but a testament to the incredible difficulty of predicting a pro player’s future production).

But despite his lack of acclaim, the 26-year old, right-handed power hitter has performed at every level of the game so far. A 20th round pick in the 2009 draft, Ruf lit it up in the New York-Penn league (.301 AVG /.377 OBP /.496 SLG). He continued his success for the Lakewood BlueClaws in 2010 (.330/.443/.548) for 32 games before a midseason promotion took him to high-A Clearwater Threshers (.277/.335/.421). In 2011, Ruf spent the entire season in Clearwater and brought his numbers back up (.308/.388/.506), earning a promotion to AA Reading. For the Reading Phillies, Ruf burned the house down. While posting a .317/.408/.620 line through 139 games, Ruf blasted 38 home runs in just 489 ABs, and scored 104 RBIs.

Oh yeah, now he’s mashing it in the majors, too. Ruf was called up mid-September, but earned his first start last Wednesday. In three starts he is hitting 5 for 11 with 4 RBI, 1 home run, and a double.

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Official Officials Officially Return!

Probably one of the best pictures ever.

Since Tuesday rumors have been swirling about that suggested that the NFL and NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) were back at the bargaining table and close to finally ending their longstanding lockout. It turns out that those rumors were true.  It has been reported that the lockout is officially over.

Prior to the Monday night debacle that you can see here if you have been living under a rock, there seemed to be no consensus as to when the NFL and NFLRA would cross the lines that they had dug in the sand after the last round of negotiation a few weeks back. The issues primarily regarded the pension system for current officials and the introduction of a “taxi quad” of refs which would replace any underperforming member. After some negotiations throughout the summer, both sides provided a rock and a hard place for the players, coaches, and fans alike to be stuck in.

For the players, the frustration was near a boiling point. After every week of the regular season so far, various players have mentioned the difficulties that come with replacement refs. In short, the games were growing out of hand. Increased holding and hand checking, pushing and shoving after the whistle, and lengthened stoppages of the game to distribute run of the mill penalty calls all contributed to players becoming more and more vocal about their dissatisfaction throughout the early stages of the season.  For example, Drew Brees, often considered a poster boy for the NFL with his friendly demeanor and professionalism, said:

“You know, they’re just not prepared to be in this situation. The game is so fast, and the level that all of them were at and now are at — it just doesn’t even compare. You know, I think it’s getting to a point where it’s pretty horrendous and it’s an embarrassment to the league and the way it’s being conducted.”

Believe it or not, this was one of the nicer comments that has been said about the replacement refs. Read the rest of this entry

The Wooder Cooler Weekly Podcast – 9/26/12

We here at The Wooder Cooler take pride in our ability to talk about sports. Because of our unending altruism, we take it upon ourselves to share our discussions with you, our loyal listeners, for free.

This week, here’s what we’re talking about:
Eagles v. Cardinals (0:00)
NHL Lockout and the big issue nobody is talking about (20:30)
Short Phillies discussion, including the future of Utley and Halladay (30:00)
Looking forward to Eagles v. Giants (31:30)

Listen in here: Podcast September 26, 2012

What are you talking about around the water cooler this week? Leave us a comment!

Eagles Punt Henry, Bring Back McBriar

The Eagles made a surprise move today in releasing second year punter Chas Henry for veteran Mat McBriar. McBriar,  a native of Melbourne, Australia, had previously spent the last 8 years with the Cowboys and has been selected to two pro bowls (2006, 2010). In addition, he has a career average of 45.3 yards per punt with a career high average of 49 yards back in 2008. Henry on the other hand has averaged 42.9 yards per punt last season and had a tendency to be inconsistent with his punting, prompting the Eagles to make the move.

The switch is interesting (as much as moves involving punters can be interesting) for a few reasons. Firstly, Henry was averaging 48.3 yards per punt, good for 10th best in the league. Second, considering only three weeks have passed this season, the move seems premature. Lastly, and arguably most importantly, Henry was initially considered to have beaten McBriar out for the job because he was a better holder for field goals.

Overall, this move will be an interesting subplot to watch for this Sunday night when the Eagles square off against the Giants at Lincoln Financial Field

Wayne Simmonds Heads to Europe

It has been officially confirmed that Flyers right winger Wayne Simmonds will be heading to the Germany to play with ETC Crimmitschau. Simmonds joins teammates Ilya Bryzgalov, Ruslan Fedotenko, Jakub Voracek, and Niklas Grossman as members of the Flyers playing abroad.

Prior to his signing with ETC Crimmitschau, Simmonds had most recently made news for signing his new contract with the Flyers during the offseason. Simmonds was brought over to the Flyers last year after GM Paul Holmgren surprisingly traded then franchise player Mike Richards to the LA Kings for Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and a draft pick. The 24 year old responded favorably, netting career highs in goals, points, and ice time.

As a result, expectations are high for Simmonds this year. Here’s to hoping that he doesn’t get injured abroad.

Stick a Fork in ‘Em. The 2012 Phillies are Done.

The last few months have been pretty interesting for the Phills. For months they were considered an afterthought in the wildcard race. They were too banged up and lacking (to say the least) in the bullpen to play the high level of baseball that this city has come to expect over the last few years. Ryan Howard was still recovering from a torn achilles tendon, Chase Utley added another chapter to his ongoing saga of knee troubles, and Carloz Ruiz, arguably the Phillies best player this season, was dealing with plantar fasciitis and had not played for about a month and a half.

When the trade deadline approached it seemed as though even the Phillies had given up on the year. Fan favorite Shane Victorino was traded to the LA Dodgers for prospects and   Hunter Pence, the major trade deadline acquisition from last year, was sent to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Nate Schierholtz and prospects. The Phillies were officially packing it in.

Then things changed.

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Panic! At the Linc (or, Why you should back away from that ledge)

Chill.

No dude, really, you gotta chill.

As I said yesterday, we really should have been bracing for a disappointment. And from this point on, there is actually a reason or two to be optimistic. No, really.

First off, Ken Wisenhunt has had Andy Reid’s number for quite some time now. It’s a strange thing to see a coach consistently beat Reid so many times while finding ways to lose to the rest of the league. Since 2007, Wisenhunt is 43-40 in regular season games, including yesterday. In that span, he is 3-1 against Andy Reid. Since their first meeting, a 48-20 regular season blowout by the Birds in ’08, Wisenhunt has gone 3-0 against Reid with a scoring margin of 80-48. Few coaches besides Belichick have had this kind of repeated success against Big Red.

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It’s a Trap!: Eagles @ Cardinals 9.24.2012

Make no mistake, this is a trap game.

You know, the one that comes every year? Think about it. One week removed from a game against an incredibly tough AFC Super Bowl contender, and one week before the Eagles first intra-division matchup against the Giants on Sunday Night Football, the Eagles face an underrated and underappreciated non-division opponent with what might barely qualify as a college offense.

This is the kind of game that seems to fly under the radar for Andy Reid’s Eagles, and they have been vulnerable to getting burned by their oversight in the past: Think Chicago 2010, Raiders 2009, Bengals 2008 (the infamous tie), etc.

So, now that I’ve done my best to convince you they’ll lose, here are a couple matchups to pay attention to that will likely have the biggest impact on the outcome:

1. Dallas Reynolds v. Dan Williams – This one is almost too easy to pick out. Williams was the Cardinals 1st round pick in 2010. He is just coming into his own having locked up a starting job for the first time this season. Dallas Reynolds is a 28-year old undrafted rookie, who has spent the last three seasons on the Eagles practice squad. Reid insists he has gotten much stronger, which had been the primary knock on his play. The two match up well enough in size (Reynolds 6’4” 315, Williams 6’2” 327) and Reynolds played well in spot duty against the Ravens last week. On the other hand, Williams played a big role in stuffing New England up the middle and stifling their offense. This is a tough matchup to call, but you should never ignore the impact of a good inside rush.

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Film Room – Michael Vick gets Pollard’d

There was good and bad from the Eagles offense last week,  but I only have time to show you one play. I’m warning you now, this one is pretty fugly.

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