Phils ninth inning win against Rockies wasn’t just any W


The Phils caught a break Wednesday night, for a change.

Colorado 1st basemen Todd Helton, who has gold gloves coming out his you know what, makes an uncharacteristic mistake allowing the Phils to steal one in the 9th.

This game had all the ingredients of one we may very well look back upon as the moment the tide turned.

This wasn’t a game winning base hit up the middle type of game. Nor was it a walk-off homerun type of game.

This game was different.

Jonathan Papelbon allowed a run in the ninth which gave the Rockies the lead. A “what else is new” if you’re a Phils fan. My reaction was the same as the majority of Phillies Nation, a groan, which lately has been followed by a disgusted chuckle, as if to say “what else is new?”

However, Wednesday night wouldn’t end like so many brutal Phils losses this season. No, tonight the Fightins’ would dig deep, catch a break, and win a game they deserved to win.

Ah, Justice at last.

I know there is still a huge hill to climb, but you gotta start somewhere, right?

The truth is sometimes the first few wins are the hardest to get. Especially when you’ve seen a game like Wednesday’s go the other way so many times, in so many creatively brutal ways.

A win like this after such a tough stretch will make you remember that the game, while it’s harsh and unforgiving, can sometimes bestow its spoils to you as well.

Sometimes a team can forget how to win, and in some cases can be flat out terrified to even try. Then you have second-guessing, pressing, frustration, confusion and more importantly losses by the bus load.

A win like tonight can put those cares to rest for at least one night. Tomorrow the boys will come to the ballpark with smiles on their faces looking, maybe even expecting, to win their third in a row.

Let’s say Wednesday night’s play happens exactly as it unfolded but the first base umpire called Polanco out? Can you imagine the damage that may have done to the Phils already pummeled psyche?

Which is why Wednesday night’s win wasn’t just any ole’ W. It was bigger than that.

Come October we could all be looking back at Wednesday night, Todd Helton missing the bag as Placido Polanco passes him safely, thinking that was the night it all turned around.

 

– Mike Santa Barbara

Disagree? Agree? Wanna argue about Charlie Hayes?

Catch me on Twitter @Mike__SB

 

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Why I’m not backing the LA Kings in the Cup Finals


For my second article here at Philly Sports God, I’m going to tackle the whole Flyers West ridiculousness that’s been flooding my timeline.

 

It’s simple, really.

Really, really simple.

No matter what you call it or how you justify it, I cannot and will not be backing the Kings in the Cup Finals. Tonight, the Kings look to extend their lead to 3-0 in the series and I couldn’t be more miserable.

Flyers West? How about, uh no.

I don’t care how many former Flyers may be wearing Kings jerseys now, because they are just that, former Flyers. Can I be happy for some of these guys? Yes. Openly cheer for their victory? As I Flyers fans it’s simply not allowed. And if you find yourself cheering for the Kings like you cheer for the orange and black, you should seriously re-think your fandom.

As immature as it may sound, the Kings winning the cup just isn’t fair. And it’s not just unfair to Flyers fans; it’s unfair to the majority of NHL’s fan-bases. The Kings were the 8th seed. They play in that hockey-hot-bed Los Angeles where the local news can’t seem to go a night without broadcasting some glaring mistake about the game we all love.

And, Jeff Carter?

The guy who whined and cried his way out of Columbus, and he’s going to get rewarded with a cup? Is there no justice?

Also, the Kings winning the cup will allow disgusting creatures to climb out of the woodwork. Those creatures that will bad mouth Paul Holmgren’s off season trade of both Carter and former Captain Mike Richards.

Once again, let me remind you the Kings barely squeezed into the playoffs. Also, neither Richards nor Carter had what you’d categorize as great years.

In fact, seven players on the Flyers tallied more points than Richards, while his point total was matched by Kimmo Timonen.

Nine players on the Fly-Guys scored more points than Carter, including – you guessed it, Matt Carle.

Included on both lists are Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, remember where they came from? Both had better years. The other piece to the Carter trade, Sean Couturier was a plus 18 on the year, while the Carter was a minus 12.

So, you’ll forgive me if I still think the Flyers made-out on the deal.

While the Kings may win a cup, they’re stuck with both Richards and Carters contracts with important players coming up on Unrestricted and Restricted free agency. They’re going to win, then they’re going to blow it up. One and done.

Meanwhile, the Flyers are contenders nearly every season, still without a cup since 1975.

Is there no justice?

Sure, it sounds like sour grapes but you’ll forgive me if the likes of Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter, Justin Williams and Mike Richards are two games from raising the cup while the Flyers campaign to get Claude Giroux on the cover of a video game.

 

-Mike Santa Barbara

Follow me on Twitter and we can argue, seriously. @Mike__SB

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Allow me to introduce myself….


Hey, what’s going on?

Hopefully, you’re reading this because you like Philly sports and would like to read insightful, thought-provoking, and completely unbiased Philadelphia sports commentary.

Well, before we go off into a tailspin about what you are, or aren’t, here to see/read let me introduce myself.

My name is Mike, this is Chris’ site and will always be (hopefully we can get him to start posting again too) however Chris has been nice enough to allow me to contribute to this site. First, some credentials:

– Philly sports fan all my life

– Born and raised in Wilmington, DE which is about 20 minutes south of Philly

– Andy Reid supporter, wanna fight about it?

– 4 for 4 fan

– I’m currently a sports writer covering athletics in Delaware but I’ve covered Philly sports for nearly a decade

So, tired of this yet? Yeah. So am I.

Now, why are you here? Ah, yes Philadelphia sports talk. Well, here it goes. Here are just a few of my thoughts on each Philly team and the current playoffs, hope you like it. If so, c’mon back they’ll be more.

 

– Phils –

As of right now the Phils are coming off of a series win over the Mets up in New York. Bottom line, it’s always nice to get a series win against a divisional opponent in their yard. It was nice to see Jimmy smack a deep one, even if it was very Bobby Abreu-ish.

Chooch, what can I say about Chooch? Dude’s an all-star, or should be. You do realize the guy is batting .371? .371!! Not only does the guy continue to do good work behind the plate but he continues his hot year at the plate with a clutch anti-Bobby Abreu-ish 2-run shot to tie the game tonight.

No win for Cliff Lee, still carrying around that goose-egg in the win column. I hate to say it but I think it might be getting to Lee. Winning changes everything, so it’s normal to expect the same with losing. Which means once Lee finally gets that W (and he will), things will change again. You know what you have in Lee, the guy is a competitor and he should be upset having no wins at this point in the year. I guess it’s up to the observer to make their own determination regarding where his anger is directed. Is he angry with himself?  Or is he angry with the team? It’s hard to say, words with Victorino aside because these things happen, especially with two competitive guys.

What’s my opinion on the matter? Eh, these things happen. I can’t see it steamrolling into some sort of disaster.

Let’s be real, the Phils are damn lucky to be where they are right now. Three games out should be seen as a major accomplishment considering who is missing on this team, not to mention missing Lee for a time.

To end this Phils discussion, I’m not going to get into Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and when or if they’ll ever come-back. Much like the Phillies and all of us, nobody knows.

 

– Eagles –

OTA’s! Sorry, but I don’t care if you think my excitement over OTA’s is completely unwarranted. I love football, and these days the NFL season never really ends. And for huge football fans (or geeks) OTA’s are a sign that training camp is right around the corner.

To help keep this short I’ll just say I’ve been happy with the Eagles off season moves and I’m very excited for the season. I’ll go on the record (and one actually exists) by saying I said, I believe in September of last year, that it was a 2-year plan. You don’t win championships in the off season or on paper, but I like the feel of this Eagle team. Whether or not these moves were made because of an ultimatum on Reid/Roseman or whomever – doesn’t matter. Things have gotten done.  

 

– Flyers –

Ed Snider spoke with the media this week and made some comments about Ilya Bryzgalov. Snider thought Bryzgalov wasn’t prepared for the pressure of playing goal in Philly, from the fans and media. If you don’t buy that, you weren’t paying attention.

Will next year be different? I tend to think so. Bryzgalov was not the reason the Flyers lost to the Devils, but he could have been the reason why they didn’t get swept. I think both sides know how to approach each other now and hopefully the relationship is able to continue its growth when training camp rolls around.

The Kings defeated the Devils tonight in overtime of Game 1. I can’t stress enough; I am not backing the Kings in this series. It doesn’t matter to me how many former Flyers are on the Kings, because they are just that, former Flyers. Either way, whoever wins the Cup, I’m not going to be happy.

 

– Sixers –

The Sixers announced they won’t pick up the option on Craig Brackins, he of D-League fame. Not a total surprise, the Sixers hoped Brackins would develop into a nice high-energy low-post player but he was more interested in playing like Josh Smith pre-2012. I seem to remember Brackins always putting up solid numbers in the D-League but he likely had free range on offense there. The fact that he got little, if any, playing time shows he simply couldn’t do what they wanted. His money will be wisely spent on the 15th pick this season.

The Heat took a 2-0 lead tonight. Looked like the C’s had this one, and the Heat nearly gave it back to them at the end. Lost in all of this is an outstanding game by Rondo. A lot of it has to do with picking your poison; do you think Rondo the play-maker is more dangerous than Rondo the scorer? I think the Heat, and almost everyone else believes that you can live with Rondo the scorer. When he’s getting everyone else involved things can get outta hand quickly. Taking nothing away from his game, he had a tremendous night.

Unfortunately for the Celtics I think they gave the Heat their best shot tonight and it still wasn’t good enough.

Oddly enough my thoughts on the Celtics/Heat series are similar to my thoughts on the Thunder/Spurs series. The Spurs are playing out of their minds right now. The real test will be their reaction to losing a game, which is very possible in this series. Remember Game 1 was a three-point game. Though, I don’t see anything throwing the Spurs off, even losing Game 3. They’re a machine right now, led by perhaps the best and most underrated head coach in the league. And on the court you have Tony Parker playing lights out and a rejuvenated Tim Duncan. I’m afraid it’s not OKC’s year, but their time will come.

Well, that’s it for me tonight. In the future I’ll be posting more focused articles. For my first post I just wanted you to learn a thing or two about me and get an idea of my point-of-view towards Philly sports.

Hate it? Like it? Wanna argue about something?

Hit me up on Twitter – @Mike__SB

 

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Philadelphia Flyers: 5 Players Who Will Fill the Leadership Void


By: Chris Schaefer

The current Flyers roster is sure to change in the next couple months. If Paul Holmgren has shown us anything over the last week or two, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Carter and Richards shipped off to clear cap space and define a new team attitude? Check. Leino to Buffalo in perhaps the best deal for any 30-goal career scorer in NHL history? Done. A handful of other non-signings that allowed 10 total former Flyers to get fitted for new jerseys and look into real estate elsewhere? Done did it.

As the Flyers former big guns get to packing, us fans are left scratching our heads. A great “team guy” like Brian Boucher is history. Versteeg is gone like we all wanted him to be. Jagr is the new Zherdev, except he comes with expectations.

Flyers fans now have the ultimate Monday quarterback hangover.

We all screamed for a true No. 1 goalie for years, and we finally got what we asked for.

Holmgren could’ve signed Bryzgalov and kept the core of the team intact. In fact, a month ago he said he was perfectly happy with the direction of the team. Then out of the blue, when all was quiet, Homer went to work.

His goal was to build a strong defense and a fast offense. He did just that. The underlining goal was to reestablish a sense of ownership in the locker room. Bring in guys that are hungry to prove themselves and hand the team over to the veterans to mold them as soon as possible and make it work NOW.

The development of Giroux and JVR are credited to Holmgren. The difference between NOW and THEN is we need the new additions to make things happen asap.

Here are the 5 players who will be the new leaders in the Flyers locker room and perhaps the next 40 goal scorers for the franchise.

1. Chris Pronger:
New leader? Old leader?

Pronger is the leader to the promised land. This team has been built around his commanding presence on and off the ice. When he talks, his teammates listen. But, it’s a little hard to make your voice matter if you’re injured.

Coming off a season of three major injuries, Pronger can either step it up or add himself to the list of veteran blue-liners that joined the Flyers too late in their career to supply that big push come playoff time.

When he was brought here I wondered if he would be the new captain. I wonder no longer. For the record, he will not be a 40-goal scorer this year. That’s not what he does.

2. Claude Giroux:
If Giroux wasn’t around, chances are Richards and Carter still would be.

The emergence of Claude Giroux has paved the way for the restructure of the (new) Philadelphia Flyers. Any player can lead or at least be vocal, but few can lead by example.

There is added pressure on Giroux to not only perform on the ice, but to have the balls to open his mouth and lead the new guys who are coming to Philly.

The grace period is over.

Giroux has to become the leader that the Flyers know he can be. Oh yeah, he’s also expected to score at least 30 goals.

3. James Van Riemsdyk
JVR is on course to be the next Flyers captain. After Chris Pronger hangs it up, this is Van Riemsdyk’s team to lead.

He had a breakout year and is the future of the franchise. Up to this point he hasn’t had to do any leading whatsoever. He was the young guy that had to score goals. Now JVR, like Giroux, has a team to call his own.

It’s time to man up, drop the gloves sometimes and lead the way.

4. Maxime Talbot
Who would have EVER thought we’d see Talbot as a Flyer? It’s almost as disgusting a thought as having Matt Barnaby or Darius Kasparaitis suiting up as a Flyer.

He was brought here for one reason. To be this teams’ Mark Recchi. All teams need the veteran who’s been to battle and won (besides Pronger).

This is our guy.

He scored a game winner in Game 7 of the finals. He’s done what every kid has dreamed of. He’s the Kirk Gibson of hockey. Will he be a great leader or just be a great story teller during team building exercises?

5. Jaromir Jagr
If seeing Talbot as a Flyer is surprising, seeing Jagr is like waking up to pee at 3am and seeing Emily Rose sitting on your toilet.

Wow.

I whistled til my lips were numb throughout the 90’s, as did every other Flyers fan whenever Jagr touched the puck on our ice. What a pretty haircut he used to have. Seeing him now is like seeing a high school classmate you haven’t seen in 20 years but never liked.

The fact of the matter is, like him or hate him: He’s Jaromir Jagr. His leadership was often overshadowed by Lemieux. He’s been playing hockey since leaving the NHL three seasons ago and is a barbarian in the gym, much like former Flyer Rod BrindAmour.

He is used to playing on huge slabs of ice in the KHL, so he’s excited to use his size again back in the NHL. Any former captain can be considered a leader, but not all former captains were good leaders. That aspect of Jagr’s repertoire is yet to be seen but certainly expected.

Will the Scottie Pippen of hockey live up to the challenge?

This article was also published here: Bleacher Roport

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Philadelphia Flyers “POWER” Fight Song Released Singing Paul Holmgren Praises


By: Chris Schaefer

Thursday June 23rd, 2011 will go down in Philadelphia Flyers history as the end of an era.

The term “new era” echos the historic Flyers trade that brought Eric Lindos from the Quebic Nordiques back in June of 1992. In both respective deals, the Flyers sent a lot of talent out of town in hope of a brighter future.

We all know how the Lindros trade panned out. We gave up a bunch of players in their prime for the guy everyone thought was “The Next One.”

About a thousand concussions and a handful of early playoff exits later Lindros was dealt.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren and well as former GM Bobby Clarke have both been accused of not letting the Flyers younger players develop. Well it’s obvious that Richards and Carter had time to show what they were made of.

I don’t think it was lack of talent that got them booted as much as lack of passion. That said, there were two key trades that took place.

I’ll leave the copying and pasting of the trade details to the other guys. At this point the impact of the trades are up in the air until the Flyers actually hit the ice. What I would like to do however is sum it up how happy I am in song form.

This article was also published here:Bleacher Report

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Brian Boucher Is Announced as the Game 3 Starter for the Philadelphia Flyers


Considered a surprise, Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Lavioulette has named Brian Boucher the starting goaltender for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals according to the Flyers’ official twitter account (@NHLFlyers).

It was widely speculated by the majority (including myself) that Laviolette would go with the rookie Sergei Bobrovsky as his starter but he tricked us all when his named the veteran Boucher.

Boucher provided the backbone that the Flyers needed in Game 2 of the quarterfinals. He stopped 20 of 21 shots after relieving “Bob.”

It’s a tough choice for the coach who many say is afraid to lose Bobrovsky mentally by sitting him.

But would it really break Bob’s confidence?

Bobrovsky hasn’t been exactly perfect the games immediately following a benching. He has appeared mature enough throughout the season to be accustomed to the mental aspect of the NHL.

The numbers show he has obviously performed.

But sometimes the numbers lie. They often don’t account for that one goal you should have stopped, or that time or two you were out of position or got beat over the shoulder short-side.

Statistics also don’t account for the times you’ve come in relief and changed the momentium of the game in Boucher’s case.

There’s not category that reads: “Came in when your team was losing and still registered a win” or else the abbreviation would look like this: CIWYTWLASRAW.”

The coach made the right choice. Tonight it will be Boucher.

This article was also published here:Bleacher Report

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Boucher Will Sit, Philadelphia Flyers Bobrovsky to Start Game 3..


The Philadelphia Flyers looked like two different teams in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon. One team played wildly and out of position. They left their goalie for dead and looked nervous. The other Flyers team mentally took the ice when Bobrovsky hit the bench.

Bobrovsky was pulled after giving up three goals on ten shots. Boucher then entered the game and the Flyers turned things around.

The pace was still furious but it was organized chaos. Despite the poor power-play efforts, the Flyers controlled the game. Boucher made some huge saves when he was tested, but he was exercising his long distance vision most of the evening. He only gave up one goal in 46 minutes and change. He appeared steady and calm. Maybe it’s because he’s been here before. He’s the steady hand that resets the pace of the game whenever called upon.
On this fact alone, he should be between the pipes when the Flyers take the ice in Buffalo. But he won’t. Peter Laviolette is known to go with his gut when it comes to his starter. So far this year his gut feeling has been more accurate then most gamblers. Perhaps he should take his gut to Vegas in the off-season.

He’s a gambling man but he’s predictable. He will start Sergei Bobrovsky. Based on that, let’s hope we don’t see Boucher because if he makes an appearance chances are the Flyers are down a few goals.

If he does show his face we can be sure to get what he’s been giving since day 1: Relief.

This article was also published here:Bleacher Report

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