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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.
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:
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.
[Note from Vince: This is the first article from Mark Whited here at the Cooler, he'll be giving us a special look into anything and everything sports. He's also known for his famous invention: the Can You Smell What the Rock is Cookin'? Scratch and Sniff game!]
Sunday night marked the 30th installment of the yearly World Wrestling Entertainment spectacle known as Wrestlemania. Writing the final chapter of a controversial year for the company – a year which saw fan favorite CM Punk leave – the biggest controversy of all may have been when Brock Lesnar pinned the Undertaker in front of 75,167 fans in New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome, ending his legendary Wrestlemania win streak at 21 consecutive victories.
With that moment, fans of the wrestling industry were left shocked. Whether you were at the Superdome or in your living room, you could hear a pin drop. The unexpected, the impossible, the unbelievable had happened. Social media exploded as fans took to Twitter, making the event the No.1 trending topic worldwide.
Though it was scripted, the reaction could not be. You didn’t even need to have been a fan. Somehow, someway, you came across news of the Undertaker’s defeat and understood the awesome circumstances of what had happened.
Like myself, you’ll never forget where you were when the Undertaker’s streak came to an end.
I was headed eastbound on the Market-Frankford Line, leaving York-Dauphin Station in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. I spent most of the night at an Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous clubhouse. I was there doing research and interviewing recovering drug addicts for an article that I was writing on the neighborhood’s drug culture.
While Daniel Bryan was busy beating Triple H in his first of two matches, I was listening to someone tell me about the worst moments of his life – about being homeless, losing his entire family, ending up in prison and eventually ending up at The Last Stop, an outreach clubhouse which acts as a rehabilitation program for those struggling to break their addictive habits.
Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers took on the Florida Panthers in game 79 of the regular season. After a shaky 1st period, the Flyers stormed out in the 2nd period and scored 4 unanswered goals, leading the way to a 5-2 victory and solidifying their spot in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After the teams 0-3-0 start, firing of the their then head coach, Peter Laviolette, hiring Craig Berube, and even then going 1-7-0. That is when the captain, Claude Giroux, made a bold statement. A statement that most of us, myself admittedly included, thought was a silly promise and will end up a broken one.
“We’re not far off at all. How many points are we out, six? To think of the start that we had and we’re that close. We never thought about not making the playoffs. We’ve got to go game by game and we will make the playoffs.” -Claude Giroux
Man,are most of us laughing at ourselves and really would apologize to Giroux for doubting his prediction.
The issue now for the Flyers becomes where will they land in the seeding. They still have a game in hand against the New York Rangers and are just 2 points behind them.
For the Flyers, a team that has struggled largely in Madison Square Garden, getting ahead of the Rangers in the Metro is their next step.
Comparing the remaining schedules for the Flyers and Rangers, it’s a difficult task for the Flyers. They will likely need to win out against Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Carolina.The Rangers have Buffalo and Montreal left on their docket. As of today, the Rangers own the tiebreaker over the Flyers with 40 ROW wins compared to the Flyers 38.
No matter how we break down the remaining schedule, the Rangers are the nearly guaranteed opponent for the Flyers. I don’t agree with a few fans I’ve overheard saying to lose out the rest of the season of snag a wild card and face the Penguins in the first round.
That is entirely too risky, you could easily end up playing the Boston Bruins instead of the Penguins, and that will end miserably for the Flyers.
The best case for the Flyers right now is to win out and take on the Rangers, preferably on home ice, but anything can happen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Let the playoff beards flow my fellow hockey enthusiasts.
The class for the 2014 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was released yesterday. The group is headlined by NBA greats Alonzo Mourning and Mitch Richmond, former outspoken Alabama Head Coach and National Champion Nolan Richardson and recently retired NBA commissioner David Stern.
The list of 2014 honorees also has its own sense of local flavor.
Going into the hall this year will be former Temple basketball great, Guy Rodgers and the 1972-74 Immaculata Women’s Basketball team.
Rodgers was elected into the hall via the Veterans Committee. Rodgers led Temple University to two Final Four appearances in 1956 and 1958. Rodgers was a unanimous First Team All American in 1958 and made the All-Tournament team that year.
Amidst what has been a truly historic season for the Sixers, the main focus has been directed towards youth. When Brett Brown and his staff were hired it was clear that the focus was player development.
Thanks to a piece from Dan Feldman at ProBasketballTalk, we get a glimpse into how the coaching staff has managed such a young squad. For example, check out this excerpt about Tony Wroten:
Of 76ers who’ve actually played this season, 20-year-old Tony Wroten is youngest.
“You would never realize that I’m the youngest guy playing right now,” Wroten said.
That’s because Wroten spent last season with the Memphis Grizzlies. The guard has played more NBA games than anyone in Philadelphia outside Young, Anderson and Byron Mullens.
That’s a fun fact for you! If you’d like to read the whole piece, which has plenty of interesting nuggets, you can view it here.
I personally find Feldman’s piece fascinating because the issue of locker room culture has come up quite a bit recently. Both the Eagles and Sixers are young teams with new leadership and I think any chance to get behind the scenes is beyond beneficial. It means one thing to talk about locker room culture, but to understand aspects of the day-to-day for a team provides a better picture of how the organization operates a whole.
With this information, it’s quite clear that the team is on the right track.
[Note from Vince: This is the first article from Joel Hoover who, if you're into soccer, is kind of a big deal. However, being a true Philly sports fan, he's very knowledgeable about all five of Philly's teams. He also took my lunch money once and I told my mom on him.]
Friday morning in the Philadelphia sports landscape saw a surprise early-season development take place down in Chester.
The Philadelphia Union, fresh off a disappointing 1-1 draw with the Montreal Impact last weekend, traded young forward Jack McInerney to Montreal in exchange for 2012 MLS SuperDraft No. 1 pick Andrew Wenger.
McInerney was a Union original, picked seventh overall in the 2010 SuperDraft by the team prior to their inaugural season. Though he was kept in the depths of the team during Peter Nowak’s tenure as manager, it was under John Hackworth that he was finally given a chance to flourish as a regular in the starting XI. The 21-year-old made his breakthrough early in the 2013 season, scoring 10 goals in the opening 14 matches of the MLS season to earn a call-up to the United States Gold Cup team and an MLS All-Star selection. He would finish with 12 MLS goals in 2013, before tallying one in four matches this year to bring his total with the team to 25 goals in 95 matches.
Wenger comes to the Union after being the longtime attacking understudy of Montreal Impact Designated Player Marco Di Vaio. The 23-year-old scored six goals in 51 MLS appearances, but was mostly resigned to coming off the bench as a substitute. He is a native of Lancaster, PA, just an hour away from Chester, and also played for the Union’s PDL affiliate Reading United.
The departure of McInerney has been met with surprise, but as the day unfolded and details were discussed the reasoning is growing somewhat clearer.
With his Generation Adidas tag gone, McInerney was coming to the end of his contract at the end of this season. There was a team option that could have been exercised next offseason by the Union front office, but that would have been met with very high salary demands from McInerney. Given the salary cap MLS employs, and the presence of three newly-minted Designated Players on the Union’s squad, taking on a salary up around $400,000 would have been a very difficult task for the team. Plus, there has been talk for a while that McInerney and defender Amobi Okugo, the last Union original now, would not have both been able to take on a significant hike in their salaries.
With all of this in mind, Montreal may only be taking McInerney on for a one-year rental. The striker has spoken of his desire to move abroad to Europe in the past, and wouldn’t leave the possibility of it out in his initial press conference after the trade. If a move does not materialize after this season, Montreal may still be able to keep him, since DP Di Vaio is in the final year of his own contract and there is speculation that he may retire after this season. The Impact could then take on McInerney’s salary demands–which team sporting director Nick De Santis practically confirmed when he said that the team is planning to exercise the extra year on McInerney’s contract.
So what kind of player are the Union giving to Montreal? The question is actually a more difficult one to answer than a first glance would reveal, but it does play a factor into the reason they decided to do it.
Here’s what we’re talking about:
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Musical theme written by Matthew Schwalm.
The 3 games for the Philadelphia Flyers hasn’t exactly gone in the direction of the Flyers. They’ve gone 0-2-1 in the 3 game stretch, three games against a top team in Boston and St. Louis, along with a playoff desperate team in the Columbus Blue Jackets. They probably should have beaten the Boston Bruins having completely out played them and out shooting them with 52 shoots to Boston’s 30. But like all top teams in the NHL, Boston grinned it out and won ( in a skills competition but still a win.)
Flyers would then drop the next two games, again in a shootout to St. Louis and in regulation to a very beatable Columbus. The biggest concern I took form the Columbus game was their was no urgency from the Flyers bench at all. Columbus is right on their heels in the Metro division and they came out like they had a playoff spot locked up with 7 games to play.
That is obviously not the case for the Flyers. They are in 3rd place in the Metro 4 points behind the Rangers. Points against teams like Columbus should come easy for a team that played well against two teams that could very well be facing each other come June.
Now I think a lot of Flyers fans need to take a deep breathe, however, because sometimes these games happen. It’s obviously not ideal but sometimes teams have an off night or the opposing teams goalie has a out of body game and stops everything in their path. (Bob did that for Columbus.) They have a back-to-back this weekend, with Boston and Buffalo. If they can grab 3 points out of this weekend, they’ll be sitting pretty. Especially with the scheduling easing up after the Boston game on Saturday. The Flyers will be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, don’t worry about that.
What Flyers fans should worry about is home ice for the playoffs first round. The New York Rangers will be the very likely opponent for the Flyers in the first round. The Flyers are a terrible team recently inside Madison Square Garden. It’s not going to be a short series either way, but I will not be betting on the Flyers to take the Rangers in 7 if they have a game 7 in the Garden.
Unless the Flyers get very very hot again like in the month of March.
Breathe deep Flyers fans, it’s about to get interesting.