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Phils-‘Stros Series Recap

For seven innings at the beginning of their season-opening series, the Phillies played right into the hands of their detractors, seemingly unable to back up the efforts of the heroic pitching staff assembled to make their run for a fifth consecutive NL East title.  They were over-eager to prove those detractors wrong with their bats, swinging freely without converting runs and committing errors in the field at the worst positions (Ben Francisco in right and Wilson Valdez at second).

On an Opening Day when the bright colors of pomp and circumstance were trying their hardest to shine through, the play on the Phils’ home field was mimicking the weather that nearly derailed it.  The enthusiasm for the new season was being slowly muted by the gray skies and the equally dull performance from everyone in red pinstripes not named Roy Halladay

Then, the seventh inning rolled around and a funny thing happened: the sun started to peek through the clouds and shine, and it would seem that was all the inspiration the Phillies would need.  From there, the Phillies mounted a 5-run comeback that stretched the eighth and ninth innings and taught us all once again what makes these Phillies the team that they are: the resiliency of a veteran squad who has been in these positions before and has proven time and again that they have what it takes to come through.

John Mayberry was welcomed to the fraternity of heroes that populates the Phillies roster from top to bottom when he converted a walk off hit in the ninth inning of the Phils’ 5-4 Opening Day victory as he completed a rally begun by some of the recent Phillies’ mainstays, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins.

It was no illusion when, as the first shaving crème pie of the season was lathered on the face of John Mayberry, that the day was just a little brighter than it had started, the season outlook just a little less muted than it had been but hours before.

That brightness would continue through Saturday’s game, in which Cliff Lee made his triumphant return to the friendly confines of South Philadelphia, striking out 11 batters and walking 0 in a seven-inning performance that saw Lee record the vaunted rotation’s first official win and ultimately saw the highly-criticized Phillies offense put up 9 runs driven in by 6 different batters.

Roy Oswalt and the gang completed the sweep on Sunday in front of a packed house in now-always sunny Philadelphia.  The offense once again came through with seven runs, four of which came from Ryan Howard by way of a 3-run homer in the first inning and an RBI double later on.  Ben Francisco came through once again, contributing a solo homer and a not-quite-Rowand-esque catch against the outfield scoreboard.  Still pretty sweet though,

Now the Phils welcome in the lowly New York Mets amidst sun and warmth in Philadelphia with Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton making their 2011 debuts and Roy Halladay attempting to get his first win after a no-decision that preceded the heroics of the Opening Day comeback win.

We’ll be back to discuss that series after the games are played, but for now here’s to 3-0 and hopefully to 6-0 after the Broad Street Baseballers take care of business against the Mutts.

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2011 Phillies Preview: Shh…It’s About to Get Funner

So today is Opening Day.  Hope springs eternal and all that jazz.  The Phillies, though, don’t play their first game until the second day of the season, an afternoon tilt against the “Phillies-South” Astros so it’s ok for this preview to go up now.  We’ll take the opportunity to look at the Phils piece-by-piece and then throw in a few thoughts on the rest of the division and a little bit about the anticipated playoff picture.  Let’s get into it.

The Pitching Staff

This is the big one, the place where the Phils made their big splash in the offseason to add yet another Cy Young candidate in Cliff Lee, who’s back in town for a reunion tour after his half-season-plus-playoffs lovefest of 2009 when he was the most unbeatable pitcher in baseball throughout the ’09 postseason.  Oh yeah and the Phillies still have that guy Roy Halladay who won 21 games and the Cy Young last year.  And Roy Oswalt, that guy who was the winningest pitcher in the National League  for a few years in Houston.  And Hollywood Cole Hamels, who carried the Sillies to the ’08 Series and won the NLCS MVP as well as the World Series MVP award.  Also Joe Blanton, the guy that looks like my cousin.  This rotation is going places.  You hear it here first again.

The bullpen?  Eh.  A little less certainty there, although the Phightins bring back a few pretty good parts from last year’s bullpen.  Jose Contreras was a good relieve last year, as was Ryan Madson, and Antonio Bastardo even showed some stuff last year.  Beyond that, though, they lost Chad Durbin who had been a good one-inning reliever for a couple years now after starting his career as a starter and Brad Lidge is down at the start of the season with a mysterious shoulder injury.  Some good pieces here, but the bullpen could ultimately be the undoing of the Phils if things don’t turn around when the season gets underway.

The Lineup

Here’s where people will tell you about the most doom-and-gloom for the 2011 Phils, as they lost Jayson Werth to a comically large contract with the Nationals and never bothered to get a right-handed bat to replace him in the middle of the order.  With his possible replacement Dom Brown and baseball wet dream Chase Utley suffering from injuries, the lineup is not what it looked like it might be on paper coming into the season.  However, I humbly submit the fact that for those of us who actually watched the team last year, we saw EVERY SINGLE PLAYER underperform at the plate with the exceptions of Carlos Ruiz and Placido Polanco and still rank second in the National League in runs scored.

Still going out every day for the Phightins will be back-to-back MVP’s Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, frustrating-but exciting leadoff man Shane Victorino, the guy who hit better than anyone else for half a season Raul Ibañez, and the clutchest non-English speaking catcher in the world our man Carlos Ruiz.  So everyone chill out a little, there’s still a lot going for these guys.  Oh, and if you’re interested go check out a comparison of Jayson Werth’s first five years in the league and Ben Francisco’s.  There’s reason to believe he might work out okay.

The Bench

Scoff if you’d like at the inclusion here of a separate section for the bench when the bullpen was lumped in with the pitching staff, but in a world where Ryan Howard can get ejected from a game and have Roy Oswalt out in left field, the bench becomes a pretty important facet of a team.  This year the Phils have held onto the key piece of last year’s bench, super-utility man Wilson Valdez, as well as bringing back NL East whore backup catcher Brian Schneider and infielder/outfielder Ross Gload.  New faces to welcome include middle infielders Pete Orr and rookie Michael Martinez, and rookie outfielder John Mayberry.

Valdez should prove to be huge in replacing Utley in the early-going and with any luck can get some momentum going with the regular at-bats to be a good pinch-hitter when Mr. WFC makes his triumphant return.  Mayberry can really mash when he makes contact and could provide some necessary pop off the bench if he gets going (though I don’t know if you want to count on that happening).  The rest of the guys are pretty non-descript, but it should bode well for the Phils that they finally wised up and held onto an extra middle infielder in Martinez considering the injury struggles of Chase and J-Roll in previous years.  Good on ya for that one, Rueben and Co.

All in all?  This team should be pretty dirty.  They won more games than any other team in baseball last year after spending a few months hitting like absolute horse shit.  They may struggle again offensively and have some issues in the bullpen, but every team has flaws.  Not every team has four pitchers that will be unquestioned favorites every time they take the hill.  Let’s not be silly, this team is gonna be fun to be around.

The Division

The Braves are good.  They have three good starters and a good bullpen.  They have Chipper Jones’ corpse hitting like Chipper Jones’ not corpse.  Then they have Brian McCann, Martin Prado, and some good young’ns.  Call me crazy, but I’m not sold that Heyward and Freddie Freeman are going to be quite as good as people think.  Don’t get me wrong, Heyward’s good, but everyone’s gotta have some growing pains sooner or later and I think he may see some this year.

The Marlins have some DAMN good starters, headlined by Josh Johnson and Phillie-killer Ricky Nolasco.  They also still have Hanley Ramirez and a bunch of hard-hitting youngsters, but they lost Dan Uggla and they play defense like a team full of Pat Burrells.  This team is not too scary.

The Nats have no pitching, they stole Jayson Werth from us, and Ryan Zimmerman is still a G.  Their freshies Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa might turn out to be legit, but this team starts Rick Ankiel.  They are not a threat with Strasburg out for the year coming off Tommy John surgery and Bryce Harper still douchin’ it up in the minors.

The Mets…oh, the Mets.  The Mets are a joke in so many ways.  They just paid Luis Castillo like $6 million to play for the Phillies for four games.  Ha, the Mets.

Playoffs

The Braves are probably the most legit contenders in the NL and should be good rivals throughout the year and into the postseason.  They and the Phils will probably split the East and the Wild Card in some combination.  Elsewhere in the NL, the Rockies will be good if they can get some pitching, with $140 million worth of good hitters in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.  The Giants WILL NOT make the playoffs this year.  They have some really good young pitchers that got them a World Series title last year, but as we all witnessed with Cole Hamels young pitchers suffer after a long postseason run.  Pablo Sandoval is skinnier now, but Buster Posey is about the only offensive player on that team that scares me.

The AL will be good, and by the AL I mean the Red Sox.  The Yankees have Freddy Garcia on their team (hilarious, hope you checked his medicals) and we stole Cliff Lee right out from under them.  The Rangers should be good again, but a lack of Cliff Lee will probably hurt them, too.  The Tigers are pretty complete, with a real ace (ha, only one) and some good beefy power hitters in Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Magglio Ordoñez.

Predictions

National League: Phils, Reds and Rockies win the divisions with the Braves as the Wild Card.  Clayton Kershaw for Cy Young and Pujols with a final MVP for the Cards.

American League: Red Sox, Tigers and Rangers win the Divisions with the Yanks as the Wild Card.  Jon Lester for Cy Young and Josh Hamilton wins MVP.

World Series: Forgive the predictability of this predictable prediction but I’m goin’ Phils over Sawx for the WFC and another Broad Street blackout this fall for yours truly.

Predictable, right?  But man would it be fun if it came true.

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Is It Just Me? Vol. 3

Is it just me or has it been a while since I did this thing?  It’s not just me, the last time this thing came out was literally six months ago.  Anyway, to remind you all how this works, I give you a sagely clip derived from the seminal cinematic achievement of our generation, Boy Meets World.  Today, we take a look at one of the classic moments in the show’s history, and one that speaks to this writer in a serious way.  As a blogger bum who spends the first half of my day every day working on the DailyTailgate (read it, read it, god damnit read it every day), I can totally sympathize with the life of a couch potato and watching SportsCenter and all the commercials that tell me how to get out of debt and get my life on track by going to ITT Tech.

In this scene, Eric Matthews is lazing around at home eating a bowl of cereal that can only be described as manly when he drifts into a daydream about being a lady-killing private spy known as the “Good Looking Guy.”

Magical.  Simply magical.

Now onto the air-headed tangential musings of someone who has nothing but time to think and write down stupid thoughts about sports and other things.  As we’ve established, it’s been a while so some of these are going to be a little dated.  Bare with me.

So is it just me or did anyone else notice and get irrationally pissed off by the Saints in the early-goings of this year’s football season.  No, not because they were the media darling Super Bowl champions, they won that and the city was uplifted blah blah blah.  Good for them.  But at least in the beginning of the year, the Saints and “Who Dat” Nation totally ripped off using High Hopes as an anthem.  Not cool, NOLA.  We had it first.  That was Harry’s song and I think if he had been around to find out that you were taking it as your own he’d have narrated an awfully negative Year in Review NFL Films doc about you.  You already have the entire genre of jazz at your disposal, most specifically “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In” and the Who Dat cheer.  Leave the Sinatra impressions for the drunk Philadelphians, please.

Is it just me or are there an incredibly interesting number of similarities between Mike Vick and Allen Iverson?  I’m almost hesitant to mention them here as I want to write more about it at some point, but might as well introduce the ones I can come up with.  So here goes:

  • Born and raised in Newport News, VA
  • All-State Quarterback in High School
  • Left college early, selected as the number one overall pick
  • Criticized for work ethic, abrasive personality
  • Known for late-night social life (even by pro athlete standards)
  • Brought a hip-hop swagger to a traditionally conservative position, received consummate criticism
  • Incarcerated for extended time while still active as an athlete
  • Endeared himself to Philadelphia fans by virtue of talent and “passionate” play
  • Labeled as a “gangster” due to affiliations with childhood friends

There really is so much to this comparison that the list compiled here does not begin to do it justice, but fear not, we will get into each of those points and certainly more of them as time goes on.

Is it just me or did Auburn win one of the more dubious National Championships in recent history?  Start with the pay-for-play scandal, add in the fact that the BCS created such a mess this year and they never had to play TCU who was almost certainly the second or third best team in the country and then take a look at the questionable calls in the game itself and you have a whole lot of reasons to poison some trees.

Is it just me or is too much being made of how bad the Phillies offense is going to be this year?  I understand that Howard has declined from his unconscionable production of a few years ago and Utley is hurt, but the only piece they lost was Jayson Werth from an offense that was second in the National League in runs scored last season.  And if you watched the Phillies last season, you know that every player under-performed at the plate, save for Polanco making a run at the best average in baseball and Chooch becoming less of a liability at the plate.  Jayson Werth entered the Phillies lineup three years ago at least as big of a question mark as Ben Francisco is right now, and the rest of the lineup allowed him to produce.  Let’s at least give Benny Fresh a shot before we go crazy over losing The Beard.

Is it just me or do the Flyers STILL not get enough credit for how good they are?  They went to the freakin Stanley Cup last year and they lead the league in points and all people can talk about is Chris Pronger wearing a Charlie Sheen “Winning” shirt.  Oh and by the way, shut the hell up Charlie Sheen.  Nobody cares if you’re a coked up moron.  There are plenty of coked up morons in the world, the rest of them just can’t give TV interviews where they make an ass out of themselves and spew garbage out of their mouths.

Is it just me or is Bill Simmons’ podcast the worst thing that ever happened to Bill Simmons the writer?  Did you know there used to be a time when he would write more than one article a week?  (Oh hey, what’s up pot?  I’m kettle.  You’re looking a little black these days ya know.)  They were good, too.  Now he just sits in his house and records phone calls with his friends and B-List ESPN personalities.  And I listen to them, they have their place, but Jesus write something every now and then.  I can’t listen to podcasts at work and there are better things to occupy my time when I’m not at work.

Is it just me or is the Gus Johnson love-fest thisclose to jumping the proverbial shark?  I think he’s a great announcer, and a ton of fun to listen to, but when people who never say anything about sports are referencing Gus Johnson, the phenomenon is inching dangerously close to Pink Red Sox Hat territory.

Is it just me or are the Sixers just doin’ it wrong?  They have some mojo this year and it looks like Jrue Holiday might be pretty legit.  Unfortunately, Doug Collins is absurdly stubborn on letting Andre Iguodala’s biceps take the last shot in games.  He’s not a creator, Doug.  That’s why he was successful on the USA Basketball squad this summer.  He didn’t have to be something he’s not.

Yeah we’ll go ahead and call it quits there.  But don’t worry, the next round will come sooner rather than later, I’ve been sitting on some stuff for a while and since I’m as active as Eric Matthews in our featured clip of the week (yes he did just bring that shit full circle), I will gladly oblige you all with more unnecessarily scatterbrained and poorly-argued sports non sequiturs.

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Is It Just Me? Vol. 2

Well I promised that this would be a recurring segment, and here I am to deliver.  Just enough time has passed for a new round of “Is It Just Me’s” and I think all of our loyal readers are looking forward to another Boy Meets World episode to really sink their teeth into.

So here we go, we’ll start off with the Boy Meets World episode, a somewhat fitting exhibit of frustration that most of us no doubt felt last night as the Phillies were being no-hit through 7 2/3 innings:

The full episode, titled “They’re Killing Us,” first appeared during the tail end of the heyday of TGIF in October of 1999, in the seventh and final season of Boy Meets World.  The show had taken on a more mature sense of humor since the days of leaving one’s sister in the house alone because Lenny Dykstra was at the local pizza shop, and Eric had completed his transformation from womanizing heartthrob airhead to borderline retarded wackjob.  Watch as Corey is forced to evaluate his life relationships in deciding between his best friend and his only brother for his best man, fat Topanga has to make some dumb decisions about dresses, and of course Feeney and hot old Morgan provide comic relief.  The link to the first part of the episode is here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtsdrdEAGwo).

Don’t forget, there will be a short analytical paper due around Thanksgiving on the socio-cultural relevancy of Boy Meets World as a representation of middle-class white America.  Just kidding, but seriously, pay attention to the episodes.  Now for our feature presentation “Is It Just Me? Volume 2.”

Is it just me or are Tom McCarthy’s man boobs getting a little out of hand?  I mean dude, there’s already enough to dislike about you.  No need to give people the luxury of poking fun at your physique.  You spend your life surrounded by professional athletes.  I’m sure the club would give you access to some kind of workout equipment so it doesn’t look like their head play-by-play guy is in the middle of hormone injections for a sex change.  Somebody get that man a Shake Weight

https://www.buyshakeweightformen.com/flare/next?rtag=shakeweightforcom&

Or at the very least a Slim T

https://www.getslimtsnow.com/flare/next?rtag=tryslimts&

I think I watch too much TV.  A pic of McCarthy for reference:

Remember, black is a *slimming* color

Is it just me or are might the Eagles REALLY suck this year?  I have absolutely no confidence in their defense (sorry Stew Bradley, but coming off major knee surgery I’m not sure I can dive right in to expecting you to turn around a defense that was downright bad last year).  The offensive line will not take a preseason snap as a full five-man unit.  DeSean Jackson seems to suffer a minor tweak at least once a week, and has the AI/B.West syndrome of playing super hard with a tiny frame, which we’ve seen leads to injury problems.  Oh, and Kevin Kolb has yet to throw a touchdown pass and Michael Vick still can’t hit receivers consistently.

That said, it’s just the preseason and teams who suck in the preseason don’t necessarily suck in the regular season.  Fingers crossed, right?

Is it just me or has there not been enough made of TWO Phillies getting picked off in the Houston series in huge spots?  First Jayson Werth was too cool to get back to second on a throwdown from the catcher (tough to blame him as he was probably checking out some of the thousands of girls who think they’re unique for bringing a sign to the game about how much they love him) and then Ben Francisco got tripped up on his way back to third because he was backpedaling and went off line.  Both were in scoring position during games where the Phils desperately needed a run, and both ended the scoring threat.  It’s a joke.

Is it just me or did you not care about how that crazy 16-inning game against the Astros ended up?  Yeah, Ryan Howard should have been more careful not to get ejected, but the wackiness that ensued was totally worth the loss.  I’ve never seen the big man so angry and been so fearful for the safety of an umpire.  Also, please do not tell me that his being out of the game cost the Phillies because he should have been up at the end instead of Roy Oswalt.  If Howard had been in the game, they never would have intentionally walked Chase Utley to get to the four-hitter, and if they’re pitching to Chase the way he’s hit since he’s been back it’s not that different than having a pitcher up there.  Any Howard vs. Ibañez at first complaints are totally legit though.

Is it just me or should the Sixers be concerned that Andres Nocioni, recently acquired from the Kings for the most undeservingly discontent player in Philly history (read: Sam Dalembert), was too injured to compete in the FIBA World Championships for his native Argentina?  Yeah, that probably is just me.  Nobody gives a crap about the Sixers and nobody will until they give us a reason to.

Speaking of which, is it just me or should fans boycott the Sxers’ first game against the Heat?  Hear me out here, since I know it won’t happen with the Greed Team coming to town.  First of all, Philly fans have already done a pretty good job boycotting the Sixers already.  Freakin no one shows up at those games.  Second, the Sixers have jacked up the prices of tickets to that game because they know it will be the only game they sell out all year.  Also, eff those guys.  How can you like a team full of front-running prima donna mercenaries like the Miami Heat?  At that point you should probably just customize a Heat jersey with “DOUCHE” as the name and 69 as the number to identify yourself as the target of my anger.

Is it just me or is Darrelle Revis’ holdout one of the most justified we’ve seen in recent years?  Dude carried that team last year all the way to an AFC Championship Game berth and was allegedly told the day after the season ended that the Jets would make him the highest-paid corner in the league.  It’s not his fault if you’re gonna talk like that and then not back it up.  Give the man his money.

Is it just me or do newspapers, blogs, websites, and everything in between really need to stop playing on Roy Halladay’s last name as if it were Holiday?  It’s not his name.  The first syllable of his name rhymes with Al, Sal, pal, gal, etc.  Nobody knows how to pronounce our ace’s name and I’m not saying it’s all on the headline-writers, but they’re certainly not helping.  Just wait til basketball season.  There’s a player on that team whose name is actually Holiday.

Thanks for indulging me these random, often-unconnected thoughts and feel free to comment to dispute them or to submit one of your own.  Or, email them to theviewfrombroad@gmail.com and I’ll pass them off as my own in the next installment.

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Is It Just Me?

In what I find it almost impossible to believe is the first ever “Boy Meets World” reference here on The View from Broad Street, I’d like to begin a segment that will appear either every week or every two weeks called “Is It Just Me?”  Assuming that I am one of very few people who understand that this is a nod to the immortal Corey Matthews, I refer you to the opening scene of an episode in the 4th season called “Chick Like Me.”

Also, if you can, I would highly recommend watching the complete episode for the BMW foray into cross-dressing that leaves you wondering if it’s alright to be attracted to Shawn when he’s dressed as a girl and then hits hard at the end with a lesson about the pressures of teenage dating from the female perspective.  Also, if it’s on the internet version, make sure to watch for the ending credits where Corey drops the classic line about his female undergarments.

Anyway, on to the first edition of “Is It Just Me?”

Is it just me or did Chooch cement himself as the Phillies ‘010 MVP this week?  Not only is he the clutchest player on the team this year and hitting .300, but he has the top three pitchers looking like their Cy Young-candidate selves (and doesn’t let Kendrick or Blanton lose too many games for them), gives postgame interviews that make you want to adopt him, and has Genesis’ “In the Air Tonight” as his at-bat music.  I made it to my first game last night and heard this for the first time and it made me like Chooch more than anything he’s done over the last three years.  Well, except maybe for scoring the clinching run when Jimmy Rollins got this hit.

Is it just me or is the Sixers -Nets executive incest getting a little creepy?  First the Sixers hire Ed Stefansk as their new GM two years ago.  OK, local guy, helped build the good Jason Kidd-led Nets teams of the early 2000s, well respected around the league.  Fine.  Say what you will about Stefanski’s moves since becoming GM and the team’s performance, I agreed with most of what he’s done at the time he did it, even though things haven’t panned out for the most part.  Then, a few weeks ago, presumably-dunk owner Mikhael Prokerov and the Nets hired Billy King as their new GM.  I mean who wouldn’t with Billy’s impeccable record of overspending for mediocre talent?  If not for the fact that he’s never sexually assaulted an employee, Billy King would be up there with Isaiah Thomas in the conversation for worst NBA GM in the modern era.  Now, the Sixers have hired Rod Thorn, Stefanski’s right-hand-man in Jersey, to complete the swap of front-office minds that have left the Sixers and Nets in or around the lottery since 2003.  Nice.

Is it just me or did it make ABSOLUTELY NO FRIGGIN’ SENSE AT ALL when the Phillies fired Milt Thompson as hitting coach and brought in Greg Gross who happened to be THE LAST GUY THEY FIRED FROM THE SAME JOB???  As you can tell, I lose my finger-lickin’ mind when I think/ talk about this because of how idiotic the logic is.  No slight to Gross, and obviously he’s doing something right (as much as any hitting coach can I guess) since the Phils have been killing the ball since his return.  But seriously, Rube (that’s my pet name for Phillies GM Reuben Amaro Jr. … were best buds) how does it make sense in any way to fire a guy in favor of another guy, do really well under the second guy, and then fire the second guy in order to shake things up on a slumping team and bring back the original guy who you had already decided wasn’t good enough at that job to keep it.  I’ll tell you how, it DOESN’T.  It does not make sense, and it’s probably shortening my life just thinking about it.

Is it just me or should no one ever wear the number 84 for the Eagles ever again?  I saw Freddie Mitchell on the Jumbo-Tron at the Phillies game last night (and got some weird looks because of the excitement with which I yelped “Freddie! That’s Freddie Mitchell!”) and it got me thinking how the last two people to wear 84 for the Eagles have been

  1. A guy who had more self-declared nicknames and lingering child-support lawsuits (at least 5 that I know of between the names and suits) than important NFL catches (3 by my count: 4th and 26, that weird one where the ball popped out of LJ Smith’s hands, and the McNabb scramble play against the Cowboys), and
  2. A 6-foot-4 giant who couldn’t catch a red-zone touchdown if it were a case of chlamydia at the Playboy Mansion and married a woman who formerly lived in that very mansion, resulting in a reality TV career slightly less pathetic than Terrell Owens’

Note: The last player before these two to wear 8-4 for the Birds was none other than Luther Broughton, who finished a prolific 4-year NFL career with the Eagles and Panthers with a total of 634 career all-purpose yards.

Is it just me or is it time for Sarge Matthews to give up on the earring?  Seriously, man.  You’re old.

Is it just me or is Brett Favre a gunslinger who just likes to play the game like a kid and really have fun out there while making his teammates better and being a total gamer and wearing the hell out of that pair of Wrangler Jeans? Oh, that’s not just me?  Damn, I thought it was.

Well I think that about does it for what I’ve got for now, but suggestions are always welcome in the comments or at theviewfrombroad@gmail.com.  I’ll be back soon with more stupid useless commentary and another plug for a classic “Boy Meets World” episode.

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Would You Rather: Kevin Kolb vs. Donovan McNabb

OK so the last time I wrote a “Would You Rather” I said that I hoped it would be a recurring thing on this website.  Now on its second iteration, this one takes us from one generation of Eagles football into the next, comparing the incoming starter to the outgoing veteran.

To make a long story short, Kevin Kolb was drafted in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft as a way for the Eagles to say “Hey, Donovan, as much as we love your fantasy stats, willingness to blame rookies for bad games, and ability to pull off a wide variety of hairdo/facial hair combos (seriously check out how many there were in his 11 seasons here-it’s insane), the NFC Championship blueballs are not cutting it so were gonna draft a quarterback to remind you that you are as replaceable as any of the 20 people we’ve let walk over the last ten years.”

This year, after a disappointing end to the season in which the Eagles were beaten by the Cowboys like a sports movie team gets beaten just before the new coach comes in and stirs things up during an inspirational montage, the Eagles decided that it was time to part with the old bull and bring in the young calf.  So McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins and Kolb was promoted to the starting job with the Birds.

In the name of the alphabet, we’ll examine Kolb first.  Kevin Kolb has only started two NFL games in his life, both during the 2009 season – one of which was against the eventual Super Bowl champs, the other was against a team whose best player was Matt Cassell.  So his 1-1 record really tells us very little about how he will handle being a full-time starting QB in the NFL.  Things that can be said in favor of Kevin Kolb are as follows: started every game for 8 years in high school and college even though his dad was only his coach in high school, played and excelled in a spread out system at the University of Houston that held many similarities to Andy Reid’s west coast system, has an alliterative name that rolls off the tongue with ease, did not go to Notre Dame, has looked good in preseason games past with receivers he will be playing with now, has a type-A personality that says “I want to be the quarterback of a winning team and look good doing it,” and knows the NFL rules on tie games.

On the other hand, he is very inexperienced, did not play in a powerhouse conference, has struggled some in the early goings at camp this year, wears number 4 (better not be a Favre fan), and has been sheltered on the bench holding clipboards for three seasons now.  Since I propose that his two starts last year cancel each other out due to the competition, Kolb is a blank slate to me.  He has not really proven anything on the NFL regular season stage and while you hope that a guy that has had great success at other levels will translate that confidence into the next level, if he is having a tough time against the Eagles defense in camp, an Eagles defense that is not NEARLY as good as those in past years, just wait till he comes up against the good ones.

McNabb should be comfortable at his new home in Washington where he can’t possibly get higher than second on two dubious lists:

  1. Underperforming High-Profile Acquisitions (where he has already been outdone most recently by Albert Haynesworth), and
  2. Controversial Black Men in Traditionally White Positions (I really hope no explanation is needed here)

He leaves the Eagles having served dutifully for 11 years when healthy as the team’s all-time leader in pass attempts, completions, passing yards, touchdowns, NFC Championship Game appearances, and (unofficially, with an assist from Andy Reid) botched 2-minute drills.  Things in McNabb’s favor include: prolific regular season statistics, phenomenal college career, taking the draft day boos in stride and proving the fans of Heisman-turned-hippie Ricky Williams wrong, impressive run of spokesmanship for Chunky Soup, Chad Lewis’s 2000-2002 Pro Bowl selections, 6 Pro Bowls of his own, a hilarious preseason interview with Terrell Owens during the season the two of them got along, and 4th and 26.

On the other hand, other than making the Pro Bowl this year because Drew Brees was busy winning the Super Bowl, McNabb’s last Pro Bowl happened when Ruben Studdard had a song in the Billboard top 10 (which was only 5 years ago but doesn’t that make it feel a lot longer?).  The only thing more frustrating over his Eagles career than his constant injuries and woe-is-me attitude about the Philadelphia fans was his accuracy.  He decided one day in the prime of his career that he did not want to run anymore, the one ability that really made him a remarkable talent despite his struggles in the passing game.

He will have a fresh start in Washington and we’ll see how he fares there but since in this argument we are considering who would be best for the eagles let’s just think about what he has done already, seeing as he has a large body of work to discuss.  Ultimately, I think McNabb’s Eagles career for me is defined by frustration.  He showed glimpses of brilliance in every aspect of the quarterback position, yet in many ways couldn’t translate it into the kind of consistent, elite performance level required to win a Super Bowl.  But these glimpses are exactly what made every poor throw, every mishandled final possession, and every jovial sideline smile in a game where the Birds were down that much more infuriating.

For me, I’m a believer in function of positions in sports, and I think that the pure-bred Texas-born kid who has played quarterback since he could fit pads on his shoulders is worth taking a chance on, at least for a bit.  But I do have to admit that it is not easy saying goodbye to the face of the most consistently successful Philadelphia franchise during my Philadelphia fandom.

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Pat The Glove: Still Our Guy, Even on the Giants

We were all saddened by the departure of Pat Burrell from the Phillies following the 2008 season.  It would be impossible to replace his right handed power bat in between Chase and Ryan (Jayson Werth seems to be filling in better for the 2003-2006 Pat Burrell that got booed for striking out at a Ryan Howard-like rate while hitting home runs at a Josh Willingham pace in Bobby Abreu situations).  And seriously, what 2010 Philadelphia Phillie do you see posing for a picture like the one above?  You may call it meaningless, but in 2008, when Burrell started the season creeping around a .350 batting average the way he used to creep around the Delaware Avenue night clubs and hitting the ball like never before, it coincided with this very picture being printed on T-shirts at Phillies Spring Training with the caption “Man or Machine?”

Anyway, you may be thinking to yourself “Yes, I did love Pat Burrell as a Phillie, as much for his skill as for the unintentional comedy of watching him do things like run and strike out in a genuflect pose, but why discuss it now?”

Well, Pat is still doing his damnedest to win the NL East for the Phillies, even though he makes his home out in hippieland San Francisco.  Last night in a game tied 2-2 in the top of the 11th inning, Burrell came up with the bases loaded following three walks by Braves pitcher Peter Moylan, and hit himself a sacrifice fly to knock in the go-ahead run on one knee.  Truly a classic Burrell moment, and combined with a patented Mets meltdown at Citizens Bank Park, the Phils deficit in the NL East is down to how many games?

That’s right, Pat.  1 game.

Now if Cole can just come through today in a HUGE game against Johan Santana, all will feel right again in the NL East.

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