Thursday, November 30, 2006

From The Couch

By Jared Trexler
**The Phanatic's Jared Trexler will shoot off the cuff his 10 random thoughts of each week. Some are sports related. Some are entertainment related. Some will leave you saying What the %^&**

1. Poor K-Fed. He doesn't get the money. He doesn't get the kids. And he doesn't get this.
On the bright side, K-Fed played in front of 300 New Yorkers last week (seating capacity in Webster Hall was 1,500).

2.College basketball is in great hands. If you don't believe me, get your hands on a tape of last night's Ohio State-UNC game. Eight, yes 8, freshman were on the floor during the stretch run.

3. What can possibly happen next on Prison Break? The breakout occurred, are they going to stay on the run forever? And I stare next to me when watching House wondering how anyone can be surprised at the ending of each show. The doctor figures out the guy's freak disease. We get it.

4. How bad is the NFC? We had this discussion at work on Sunday, and I really can't think of an argument against Tony Romo's inclusion on the Pro Bowl squad. And the dude's only played five games.

5. Friday night lights is the best event in sports. Period. Case in point, this video of a 1994 Texas high school football game between Plano East and John Tyler. Down 24 with three minutes left? Yes, siiiiir, break out the oreos.

6. So, what is Pat Gillick's plan during the Winter Meetings? Only a bad physical saved the disaster that would have been a multi-year contract to a 36-year-old relief pitcher (very Wadeish).

7. Steve Lienert when outside The Phanatic?

8. The Giants impolsion -- as suggested by The Phanatic today -- is upon us.

9. What is the obsession with Black Friday? I get a phone call at 4:30 a.m. "Jared, what are you doing? You should be shopping." "I'M SLEEPING..."

10. Great NFL game tonight. Baltimore can become the first team to clinch a playoff spot. Cincinnati is playing for its wild-card life. And more Americans and not can't watch it.

Sixers' Randolph to undergo surgery

Philadelphia 76ers forward Shavlik Randolph fractured and dislocated his left ankle during practice this afternoon. Randolph will undergo surgery at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center this evening. Dr. Enyi Okereke will perform the surgery, with 76ers team physician Dr. Jack McPhilemy present during the procedure.

"It is unfortunate Shav got hurt today," said 76ers President Billy King. "He will be missed as he is an integral part of this team, but I am confident that the rest of the guys will step up in his absence."

Phillies officially sign Eaton

The Phillies officially signed pitcher Adam Eaton to a three year deal worth $24.5 million.on Thursday.

"We are very happy to have Adam in the fold," said general manager Pat Gillick.

That makes one...

Former Flyer Tocchet in more hot water

The Newark Star Ledger is reporting that a second man accused of running a New Jersey gambling ring with former Flyers star Rick Tocchet will plead guilty and agree to cooperate with authorities.

Giant Bully

By John McMullen

Michael Strahan is a heck of a football player -- just ask Jon Runyan.

He also happens to be a fledgling member of the media with more weekly spots on various outlets than any other player in the NFL. So Strahan should know better than virtually any other athlete -- the more air time you get -- the more likely you are to slip up.

And that’s exactly what happened when Strahan said Plaxico Burress “quit” on a play in the team‘s colossal collapse against the woeful Tennessee Titans in Nashville.

It’s not that Strahan lied. Anyone who has seen Burress play in Pittsburgh or New York knows the immensely talented receiver gets frustrated easily and is apt to take plays off, especially when Eli Manning is throwing one-hoppers early in a game. Jeremy Shockey is the same way.

But Strahan broke the code -- a code most in the NFL cherish more than their own offspring. A code Andy Reid has elevated into a religion -- Never criticize one of your own -- no matter how much they may deserve it.

The All-Pro defensive end quickly realized his faux pas and was itching for a confrontation on Wednesday, a day he normally doesn’t even speak to his colleagues -- the media.

But, instead of standing up like the “man” he claimed to be throughout his tirade, Strahan turned into a “Giant” bully and attacked ESPN’s Kelly Naqi for doing her job.

The intent was clear to all of us who make a living in the way Strahan hopes to when his playing days are done -- He wanted to deflect attention away from his earlier comments.

Well, nice try Mike but it’s not going to work -- And, maybe the Giants shouldn’t want it to.

Just because “The code” exists doesn’t make it right.

Be a man, Mike.

Burress does quit on plays and he deserves to be taken to task for it --don’t apologize for it. In fact, go farther -- the same goes for Shockey.

And while you’re at it, do what so many members of your organization do off the record -- call Manning what he is -- a bust.

You just might save the Giants season.

Randolph breaks ankle

The hits just keep on coming.

Promising young forward Shavlik Randolph broke his ankle at practice on Thursday and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Here's a Maurice Cheeks quote from the AP story:

"I saw players just running around and screaming. It was something bad. I've never seen anything like it in my life."

Good times.

Pujols says Howard not deserving of MVP

Albert Pujols said at a press conference that he believes Ryan Howard was not deserving of the National League MVP because he did not guide his team to the postseason.

Phanatic's Take:

Jared Trexler: The main problem I have with Pujols' argument is its premise. Carrying a team to the postseason has no relevance on the MVP voting (at least it shouldn't), and Pujols knew that fact when he made such an outlandish statement. Both men were deserving of the honor, and I think Howard's selection wasn't based solely on stats. It was based on a respect -- fear even -- that opposing managers had for the left-handed slugger over the season's final month. If Howard won't beat you, who will? Yet, when given even the slightest chance of affecting a game's outcome with his bat, Howard answered (just ask Tim Hudson).

The MVP Award isn't given to the best player, but rather the player MOST VALUABLE to his team. Pujols' Cardinals limped into the postseason with their backs turned. Howard's Phillies went 6-4 in their final 10 games, only to get passed by the red-hot Dodgers.

Both players hit in September when it counted: Pujols .378 and Howard .420. Fourteen of Howard's 39 August hits were home runs (talk about production).

Both are great players. But Pujols' argument forgets one simple fact. The Phillies had the better record.

John McMullen: Pujols is a great hitter and carried a pedestrian team to a World Series championship. In fact, the Cardinals were the worst team to win the big prize in my lifetime but, for better or worse, the MVP is based solely on the regular season and not the playoffs. This wasn't the American League race where you could have made solid arguments for three or four players. Howard was not only the clear-cut choice -- he was the only choice. This is just sour grapes on Pujols' part and it doesn't reflect well on him as a player. The ultimate goal in any sport is a championship ring and Pujols got one but he is still whining about individual honors. I bet Howard would trade his MVP trophy for Pujols' ring if he could -- Sadly, Albert might do the same.

Steve Lienert: First Scott Rolen won a ring, now this. I never really looked at Albert Pujols as soft ... until yesterday. Did he really just whine about not winning the MVP award? Someone needs to visit their local neighborhood gynecologist to clear up whatever is causing their discomfort. He just won the World Series in a year where his team finished two games behind the Phillies in the regular season. Does he also realize he didn't win the race for governor in Missouri, too? The only reason Ryan Howard didn't carry the Phils into the postseason was because he couldn't pitch the last three innings of almost every game in September. He hit 58 home runs with Pat 'No Bat' Burrell, who struck out 131 times in 144 games in 2006, hitting behind him. Would Fat Albert have done the same? Not bloodly likely. He would have been walked so much he would have stopped carrying a bat to the plate. That's not to mention that if the Phillies played in a division with two high-school teams (Hi Pittsburgh and Milwaukee) and a bad bar-league softball squad (I'm looking at you, Cubbies), the Phillies probably would have made it to the postseason, too. Howard meant more to the Phils than Pujols meant to the Cards. Not by much, but by enough for Pujols to tip his cap to Howard and appreciate the new addition to his jewelry collection: his world championship ring.

Bye Bye in Boise

By Jared Trexler

The unknown, unwanted, unappreciated usually set the table at their farewell dinner for one. The parade is a lonely stroll down Main Street to the sight of banners that read, "Good Bye.....and Good Riddance."

Despite their lack of following, these people typically make sure their sendoffs happen in noticeable, popular places. The steps of the White House, the goal line at the Super Bowl, after winning their 6th NBA championship.

But Boise?

It's only fitting that University of Miami head football coach Larry Coker will coach his last game on the last day of December (not on or after January 1 like the big boys) in Boise, Idaho of all places.

Did I mention, on a blue field?

Coker's wild ride that began with such domination -- some had the word dynasty on the tip of their tongues -- will end in destruction.

The castle has already collapsed. Bricks loosened with each loss as much as each off-field and on-field incident. A player was killed off the field, Coker's program was tarnished on it after an embarrassing skirmish on November 7 against Florida International.

Now -- with all due respect -- a coaching tenure at one of the most powerful football programs in the country will end against Nevada.

Instead of sipping mixed drinks on the Florida beaches -- where I'll be in Tampa for the Outback Bowl -- the Hurricanes will need to pack heavy.

The average high in Boise this time of year is 35. The low is 22. The Hurricanes have already dropped much lower than that this season.

No superlatives are needed when Miami finishes 6-6, needing a victory over Boston College just to become bowl eligible.

"I've heard very good things about the MPC Computers Bowl, and I know Boise is an outstanding and vibrant city. We look forward to representing the University of Miami well," said Coker.

He heard about the bowl from a list of schools that include Cincinnati, Utah State, Southern Mississippi, Idaho, UTEP, Louisiana Tech, Iowa State, Tulsa and Fresno State.

The hits just keep on coming, except for Coker, who has a 59-15 record with a national championship during his six-year tenure.

Taking everything else out of the mix, the plummet of the Hurricanes' football program under Coker can be described in a simple sentence.

It began with Ken Dorsey, Willis McGahee, Andre Johnson, Ed Reed, Kellen Winslow, Sean Taylor and some guy named Shockey.

It will end among the Smurfs.
**Photo courtesy of the Palm Beach Post***

Immature Iverson at it again

Comcast SportsNet is reporting that Allen Iverson will be fined heavily for missing a team meet and greet with corporate sponsors on Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Giants problems go deep

By Greg Wiley

There are two problems with the New York Giants right now. First, they are playing horrible football, having lost three straight and falling one-game behind NFC East leading Dallas. Second, the leaders of this team are media-hungry egomaniacs who don't respect anyone.

We could talk about the on-field problems ad nauseam. Eli Manning's accuracy issues, the injuries that have riddled this team and the questionable play calling by the coaches, but those problems have a chance to work themselves out. Instead, the point of interest right now on the heels of Michael Strahan's tirade on Wednesday is why the leaders of Big Blue are more interested in self-promotion than team results.

There are a number of players on this team who are more interested in their off-field appearances than showing up on Sunday to actually play football.They can say that the team comes first, but when there are scheduled appearances on national shows, it begs the question: What's more important?

Let's take a closer look at Strahan. This is a guy who prior to the season told the beat writers that he wasn't going to give regular interviews because he felt his off-season divorce was covered poorly by the local media. Of course, none of the media members who covered his divorce were sports writers, but that didn't matter to him. He just wanted to make a point.

Instead, Strahan chose to have regular paid appearances on Fox Sports Network's "The Best Damn Sports Talk Show Period" and on a New York sports radio station.

It was his appearance on the local radio station that had him in hot water on Wednesday. Earlier this week, he more or less said that teammate Plaxico Burress gave up on a play in the fourth-quarter that led to an interception.What he said of Burress was fair. If you don't know that Burress likes to quit on plays you don't follow the NFL. But what wasn't right was his reaction onWednesday.

Strahan lambasted the media for following negative story lines.

"We don't prepare to come in and have someone who wants to take a comment and try to divide teammates in a way that it just disrupts the team," Strahan said during his confrontational lecture. "We don't have that division here. So if you want to come in here with a negative, you're coming to the wrong guy. I'm not a negative guy. I don't kill my teammates. I'm a man and I talk to my teammates."

Strahan later went on to say he is aware of the negative way the media attacks stories, because he says he knows that negative stories sell. He said that in the past he used to be bothered by it, but he isn't anymore.

It is smart of players to make media appearances, even during the season, It helps them to lay the ground work for their post-playing career. However, if you chose to do this, you're going to have to criticize players on occasion and those players just might be your teammates. The bottom line is, if you don't make all these appearances chances are you're not going to put your footin your mouth.

Strahan clearly wasn't ready for the repercussions of the statement regarding Burress. Everything that was asked to Burress and Strahan was accurate and responsible. It was correct of the media to follow-up the story for the main reason that the team has been having problems getting along all year. Jeremy Shockey and Tiki Barber, among others, have laid into the coaching staff on numerous occasions and it was only a matter of time before the players started getting on each other. What was wrong was Strahan's lecture the media on how they should report stories and how those questions should be asked. That was wrong and disrespectful.

If the negative stories that were being reported really don't bother Strahan, than why did he go out of his way to speak on Wednesday, a day he normally doesn't talk to reports. It clearly bothered him and the team enough right now for him to address it. And as a result, the focus was most likely taken off this Sunday's important division game against the first-place Cowboys.
-You can reach Greg Wiley at

Phils back out of deal with Borowski

ESPN is reporting the Phillies backed out of a multiyear agreement with free-agent reliever Joe Borowski because team doctors had concerns with Borowski's shoulder.

Looking Forward

With the Eagles headed south, is it time to look forward to April?

The Phanatic’s John McMullen thinks so and -- with a tip of the cap to the king of the NFL Draft Mel Kiper -- created The Phanatic’s very first “Big Board” - the top 30 players in the upcoming NFL Draft.

1. - WR Calvin Johnson - Georgia Tech
2. - QB Brady Quinn -Notre Dame
3. - RB Adrian Peterson - Oklahoma
4. - OT Sam Baker - USC
5. - DT Alan Branch - Michigan
6.- OT Joe Thomas - Wisconsin
7.- DE Quentin Moses - Georgia
8. - CB Leon Hall - Michigan
9. - DE Gaines Adams - Clemson
10. - DE Lamarr Woodley - Michigan
11. - WR Ted Ginn - Ohio State
12. - WR Dwayne Jarrett - USC
13. - OT Justin Blalock -Texas
14. - CB Marcus McCauley - Fresno State
15. - WR Jeff Samardzija - Notre Dame
16. - QB Brian Brohm - Louisville
17. - OLB Keith Rivers -USC
18. - RB Kenny Irons - Auburn
19. - DT Quinn Pitcock - Ohio State
20. - DT Glenn Dorsey - LSU
21. - RB Marshawn Lynch - California
22.- OT Jake Long - Michigan
23. - S LaRon Landry - LSU
24. - OT - Levi Brown - Penn St.
25.- OLB Paul Posluszny - Penn State
26. - ILB Patrick Willis - Mississippi
27. - DT DeMarcus Tyler - NC State
28. - CB Daymeion Hughes - California
29. - ILB Buster Davis - Florida State
30. - DE Victor Abiamiri - Notre Dame

-Players in bold are juniors and may not declare for the draft.

Lieby to join Wolfie?

The Phanatic
Mike Lieberthal may be a LA Dodger by Friday, joining southpaw Randy Wolf, who inked a one-year contract worth $7.5 million with an option that increases the deal to $8 million guaranteed money (because of an automatic $500,000 buyout if the option isn't exercised).

Lieberthal, like Wolf, has Southern California roots. The only thing that could possibly throw a wrench into this plan is if the Phillies offer the long-time catcher arbitration, but the chances of that have slipped from slim to none.

When Does a Coach Fall on Deaf Ears?

The Phanatic

When really does a coach fall on deaf ears? When does the same old "rah rah" speech fizzle out? When does veteran become an ugly word?

The Daily News Eagles writer Paul Domowitch writes a captivating piece today discussing the length of a coach's stay with a particular team; the positives, negatives and how Andy Reid must avoid a horrible ending.

Our own John McMullen hinted at Reid's shortcomings and the possibility that a fresh face could be necessary here:

The media truth within the truth is that Domowitch's article is insightful, engaging and full of fact-supported theory. The sad part is no one knows how long the ink will dry before his byline appears again.

It could be tomorrow. Friday. Next week. Month. Year. Never.

The much-publicized rift between the writers guild and the new management at the Daily News and Inquirer could end in a writing shortage (i.e. a strike) if an agreement is not reached by midnight on Thursday. The two sides appear far apart, with management threatening massive job cuts and holding out for deductions in pension plans and the cutting of seniority.

Bad news.

Journalists are many times underappreciated and underpaid (like many jobs in this country). What will the city do for sports news if a strike occurs?

In all seriousness, this is a trying time for the people behind the pens. They have families and car payments. We at The Phanatic hope everything gets worked out. Like all of you, the first place we turn for sports news (after here of course) is

If you are interested in the parameters of the contract agreed to previously between the two sides: There is some interesting information in the contract, including a $9 dollar meal ticket (Super Size it!).

**Photo from today's Philadelphia Daily News**

Clock's not yet ticking

By Michael Rushton

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But, it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. "

- Winston Churchill

You see, there is a silver lining in hockey. Eight teams make the playoffs, regardless if they deserve it.

Sure, with a mere 17 points the Flyers sit at the very bottom of the Eastern Conference. Yet, they find themselves just 10 points out of the eighth playoff spot with -- and here's the good news -- 58 games to play!

A few weeks back, when the gloomy cloud off irrelevance was beginning to set over the Flyers, I told a friend of mine that a five-game winning streak would lift that cloud. And I still feel that way.

Just think about it. Imagine a stretch of five straight victories that featured a pair of shutouts, seven points from Peter Forsberg and decent contributions from the likes of the other three lines. Suddenly, the skeptics say that Flyers can't be counted out with a stud player like Forsberg leading the way and that their netminding situation is looking better.

"Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders change things."

- Jesse Jackson

You see, the Flyers are in a tough spot. This team can't be blown up and rebuilt. They already have 14 players 26-years-old or under on the roster who have seen action this season. That, combined with older players possessing brutal contracts, makes it hard to just start over.

So the Flyers need to suck it up and chalk up the first quarter of the season as a slow start. Guys like Forsberg, Simon Gagne and Derian Hatcher need to shoulder the criticism and lead by example to take pressure off Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Joni Pitkanen.

The only marketable player is Forsberg anyway and he is attractive; a proven winner with talent in the last year of a contract. Buyers just beware of the ankle.

But it's still too early to give up. Just make the playoffs and anything can happen.

The Flyers are used to flying under the radar at this point of the season.

Normally, the allure and promise of another Eagles playoff run -- sans last year -- captivates the city through January. And even the antics and excitement of Allen Iverson and his always changing supporting cast was enough to create a smokescreen and keep the attention off the Orange and Black for a while.

But not this year. This year, the Flyers just need some more time.

"Lost time is never found again"

- Benjamin Franklin

Phils in chase for Piazza?

FOX Sports is reporting that the Phillies, in addition to the Oakland A's, are the front runners to land free agent catcher Mike Piazza.

However, the A's have reportedly offered Piazza -- a Norristown native -- more money than the Phils, who are expected to have Carlos Ruiz start behind the plate this season.

McNabb out 8-12 months

Donovan McNabb could be sidelined between eight and 12 months after having surgery Tuesday to repair a torn knee ligament. Renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews performed the reconstructive surgery in Birmingham, Alabama and the damage was a little worse than expected. Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder said McNabb also needed repairs to his meniscus, fibers and cartilage in the knee.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Phillies never had a chance

By John McMullen

ESPN talking head Buster Olney has intimated that the Boston Red Sox are aggressively shopping outfielder Manny Ramirez and may jettison one of the game's all-time best right-handed power hitters by Saturday.

You would think the Philadelphia Phillies, a team supposedly looking to protect Ryan Howard would be the first in line to try and fleece Boston's woefully inept general manager, Theo Espstein.

Olney's thesis goes something like this -- By Saturday, the Red Sox are expecting to lock up free agent outfielder J.D. Drew with a multiyear contract.

As comical as replacing Ramirez with Drew sounds, let's leave it to the people in Boston to worry about that and rejoice that Epstein is one of those geeks that abhors listening to scouts that actually watch people play the game.

Once Drew is officially in Beantown, Epstein feels he can get rid of Ramirez, who is, to say the least, a bit of a handful on and off the field. For the purpose of this piece, let's concentrate on Manny's on-field production.

Ramirez has driven in more than 100 runs in each of his six years with the Red Sox, and in 11 of the past 12 seasons. More importantly, he also turned David Ortiz from an underachieving power hitter in Minnesota to the most dangerous clutch hitter in the game because, no matter how hot Ortiz got, opposing managers never wanted to pitch to Manny.

Imagine what Howard would do with Ramirez batting behind him or vice versa for that matter.

That said, in the Phillies defense, Ramirez has two years left on a deal that pays him $19 million a season and has 10-and-5 rights so he can veto any deal. Anyone working to get him will likely have to offer an extension to get Ramirez to accept the swap.

And that's why the bottom-line conscious Phillies have no interest. To most of us, after the recent salary eruption, $19 million for Ramirez seems like a steal. Heck, even the overrated, hibernating Pat Gillick can realize that. But, add years and more money to that and try and make Dave Montgomery and Company believe it.

That's a tall task and frankly an untenable situation for "Stand Pat" but he knew that when he came here. Just over a year into his tenure, Gillick has accepted his fate and is just picking up a paycheck while staving off retirement for a few more years.

Manny in red pinstripes would guarantee a playoff spot for the Phillies and that's all you can ask for.

Unfortunately, the Phillies aren't listening.

ACC/Big 10 Challenge Running Bank Shots

By Jared Trexler

Tuesday's Schedule:

(23) Maryland at Illinois 7 p.m. (Phanatic prediction: Illinois 76, Maryland 66)

Florida State at (12) Wisconsion 7:30 p.m. (Phanatic prediction: Florida State 72, Wisconsin 67)

Penn State at (21) Georgia Tech 8:00 p.m. (Phanatic prediction: Georgia Tech 83, PSU 64)

Indiana at (11) Duke 9:00 p.m. (Phanatic prediction: Duke 76, Indiana 62)

Miami-FL at Northwestern 9:30 p.m. (Phanatic prediction: Miami-FL 62, Northwestern 60)

The wonders of the Direct TV war room. The Phanatic will keep you up-to-date on the ACC/Big 10 Challenge on Tuesday night with live blogs during finger exercising (aka channel surfing). The ACC won the first game of the series on Monday night, as North Carolina State went into Ann Arbor and downed Michigan, 74-67.

Check in throughout the night as we dissect impact players, rolling game management, score updates, and discuss Dukie V and the rest of the ESPN hoops coverage team.

7:15 p.m.: Illinois cold from the floor. Mike Jones can shoot (as I type that he just hits a three). Terps looking good early surrounded by a sea of orange. Big Brent is on the call for ESPN.

7:21 p.m.:Mike Jones can flat out shoot. He is draining mid-range jumpers, pull-ups off the break. Couple that with the athleticism of Jared Gist and D.J. Strawberry and you have a much better team then many prognosticators theorized before the season began. Terps have made 9-of-15 to start the game and lead 20-8.
7:26 p.m.: Game about to tip off in Madison on the Deuce. Illini 0-of-7 from beyond the arc and trail 24-10. Nits and Jackets tip in Atlanta at 8. And is it just me, but does Steve Lavin try too hard to be like Dick Vitale with all of his silly one liners.
7:51 p.m.: What is up with Brian Butch's haircut? Al Thornton and Alando Tucker are two of the best players in the country. For Thornton, tonight is a chance to shine. Terps and Illini at the half as the lead has been trimmed to 33-28. Full boat in the ESPN halftime studio. Lawyer Jay Bilas, Stacey Dales and Digger Phelps along with ultimate pro Rece Davis. The two games in progress feature two of the best student sections in the country. The Orange Crush and the Kohl Kids (my name for them) are what's right with college athletics.
8:10 p.m.: Stop the game! Nits lead Jackets 5-3. Wisconsin up 7 at Kohl as FSU is playing a lot of one-on-one. Illini and Terps about to start second half.
8:26 p.m.: Ed DeChellis trying to dictate tempo with a zone against the Jackets. The problem is that GT is not only athletic, but it can shoot. I think the Lions hang for a half before fading. Illini and Terps squared at 39-39 on ESPN original...tune in.
8:28 p.m.: Illini take lead. John McMullen, my fine Phanatic colleague, calls the Terps, "gutless." They do look a little disinterested for such an important game.
8:43 p.m.: Nittany Lions hanginig in with this zone. Under eight left in Champaign, and I get the feeling both of these teams will be better as the year goes on. Wisconsin cruising over an FSU squad full of athletes, not basketball players.
8:54 p.m.: Badgers likley going to roll. Bo Ryan's kids play great defense, while FSU just doesn't play team offense (no extra pass, everything is ISO, which is trouble when you play a great sagging, man-principled defense). PSU only down three at the break, but how bad is Milos Bogetic. He has cost the Nits at least seven points in the half. If GT doesn't start shooting better, PSU will hang around.
What a great game on ESPN the original. Maryland up one with under four to play. The Illini have won 51 straight non-conference home games. That streak is in serious trouble. (Terps just go up three off a great pass by Greivis Vasquez, the kid is a faster version of Steve Blake).
9:03 p.m.: Vasquez just pulled a Jason Williams (the anticpation steal and subsequent bucket..You remember Terps fans). His steal and layup gives the Terps a five-point edge with one minute to go.
9:08 p.m.: 51-game streak is over. 2-0 ACC. The most impressive part is the Terps did it without Ekene Ibekwe. Vasquez is going to be a player, Strawberry is solid off the wing and the tandem of Gist and Ibekwe will be solid. Nice win for Gary Williams' kids.
10:37 p.m.: Great game in Atlanta. Penn State has definitely improved. Last year, even though GT didn't have Thaddeus Young, it loses this game by at least 15 possibly 20 or 25. GT did what it needed to do down the stretch, especially Anthony Morrow's beat-the-shot-clock three with under a minute left.
Wisconsin impressed me tonight, but FSU was miserable on offense. No flow or continuity to any sets, everything was dribble between the legs and contested jumper. Seminoles head coach Leonard Hamilton needs to turn the athleticism into basketball IQ quickly, or it could be a long ACC season despite having the gifted Thornton.
John McMullen just called Duke, "a fraud." The halftime lead is gone in Cameron as the Blue Devils -- the highly overrated Blue Devils -- are tied with just an average Indiana team.
11:47 p.m.: Sloppy game in Cameron, which was to be expected with two young teams. Duke prevailed but the Blue Devils better iron out some things (like where is Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts?) before Saturday's clash with Georgetown. Indiana is pretty thin on talent, but it played hard for Kelvin Sampson. The cupboard will not be bare for long as Sampson is putting together a great recruiting class.
Northwestern beats Miami-Fla. in a snoozer and Tuesday in the ACC/Big 10 challenge has come to an end. ACC won 3 of 5 Tuesday and lead 4-2 overall with Wednesday still to go.
I went 2-3 on the day, leaving very disappointed in FSU's effort and surprised by Penn State's play. The Maryland-Illinois game was basically a draw (but a nice win for the Terps) and I assumed the Duke-Indiana game would be relatively low scoring.
Great night of hoops. Johnny Mac didn't sound all that thrilled. Grunting, throwing his hands in the air and calling Duke a "fraud," time and time again. We now know why I'm the college hoops writer.

Manny out of Boston by Saturday?

ESPN's Buster Olney is reporting that the Boston Red Sox are aggressively shopping outfielder Manny Ramirez and may deal him by the weekend. Possible suitors include San Francisco, San Diego, Texas, Baltimore and the LA Dodgers.

You guessed it -- no Phillies.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dellucci heading to Cleveland

FOX Sports is reporting that David Dellucci has signed with the Cleveland Indians.

The outfielder reportedly inked a three-year deal worth over $11 million pending a physical.

Phils to Sign Eaton

The Phanatic

According to an MLB source, the Philadelphia Phillies will sign right-handed pitcher Adam Eaton to a three-year, $24 million contract with an option that could run the deal to $33 million over four seasons.

The Phanatic's take:

Tim McManus: It's going to be hard for Phillies fans not to look at Eaton as a consolation prize after losing out on more desirable names such as Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee. Don't disregard this signing completely, though. The Phils made sure that they didn't fall off too much with the departure of Randy Wolf, and may have even upgraded slightly. This may be the most complete pitching staff in the National League, and they didn't have to spend a ton to get it.

The pressing concern now is the back end of the bullpen. As well as Tom Gordon pitched for most of last year, the Phils can't rely on his tiring arm for another full season. With some extra cash still floating around, Pat Gillick has the needed flexibility to address a few more concerns. Well done.

Jared Trexler: Gillick jumped at an arm quickly before the market priced him out again. It's tough to judge the economics of this deal before other similar hurlers (Tomo Okha, Miguel Batista, Jeff Suppan) sign, but three years is suitable and the money spent is not overwhelming. Eaton has high middle of the rotation stuff, but health has always been a concern. The Phillies' former first-round draft pick has never pitched 200 innings in a season, making the signing of an in-between guy like Batista all the more valuable. If Gillick plans on trading Burrell (not my recommendation, but it seems likely) and not trading for a slugger to replace him (which also seems likely with the dearth of farm talent to trade) then loading up on pitching, pitching and more pitching is a must. Eight different Phillies started games last season, and unless Gillick wants the Ryan Madson's and Gavin Floyd's and Eudo Brito's toeing the rubber in games, then adding more depth to the rotation should be priority number 1. The grade on this acquisition is incomplete until the market dictates, but Eaton's signing should be a beginning not an end.

Sources: Cowher mulling retirement

By Jared Trexler
The Phanatic

What many NFL insiders quietly kept to themselves will now become a loud, constant roar following Pittsburgh's thud...a sound that accompanied the defending Super Bowl champions' exit from the AFC playoff picture on Sunday in Baltimore.'s John Clayton first hinted at the question that will be thrown around the Steel City over the remainder of the season.

Will Bill Cowher stay on as head football coach?

One football insider who has a connection to the Steelers told The Phanatic Monday morning that Cowher "looks lost" and his head seems "someplace far removed from the field."

Super Bowl hangover?

No, says the source. "I think he's accomplished it all. He's burnt out. Tired. Priorities have changed. He isn't getting younger."

When asked if Cowher was considering stepping down at season's end, the source revealed, "I think he is seriously considering it..."

After a brief pause, he did add, "But I'm not sure this is how he wanted to go out. Could he become reinvigorated? Sure. Will he? I don't think so."

Two college football sources with an understanding of the coaching landscape told the Phanatic they can't see Cowher having any desire to coach collegiately, possibly at his alma mater (North Carolina State), which just fired its head football coach Chuck Amato on Sunday.

"Tired is tired," said one of the sources. "It wouldn't be money. I think when he's done, he's done."

Cowher's contract with the Steelers runs through next season, but he has never gone this close to a contract's completion without signing an extension. The Steelers attempted to negotiate with Cowher's representatives before the season, but the club has a strict policy of not talking contracts during the campaign.

Cowher is the longest tenured coach with one team in the NFL.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wolf to Los Angeles

The Phanatic

Randy Wolf to LA?

It appears so according to baseball guru Ken Rosenthal (doesn't it seem like this guy scoops everybody. Yes, I'm talking to you Buster Olney).

It appears the deal is worth approximately $9 million per year, but the contract has not been finalized.

So who will round out the Phillies rotation? Adam Eaton, Tomo Okha, Jeff Suppan, a cheap in-house hurler?

The questions will likely be answered in the coming days and during the Winter Meetings the first week in December.

No more crotch left to kick

By Steven Lienert

Now I know what a prisoner on death row feels like on the night of his execution.

As the 1 o'clock games wind down and I begin to prepare myself for football slaughter later on this evening, I can only think of what another lost season this has become.

Eagles fans have taken more shots to the gut than Rocky did while training for his second fight with Apollo.

First, the Giants come back from about as dead as a team can be to beat the Birds in the home opener. Then the Saints bleed us dry before kicking a game-winning field goal. And that's not even mentioning Matt Bryant's kick that, last I checked, is still flying.

Sixty-two yards? The guy didn't drive that far when he left his house for the stadium earlier that morning.

Against Jacksonville, the Eagles decided to go on their bye week a week too soon. Thanks.

Four games, all within the Eagles' grasp, all resulting in defeats.

Like that death row inmate awaiting the gas chamber or electric chair or, in the case of Eagles' fans, death by Peyton Manning, I can only help but think what could have been, even with Donovan McNabb going out for the season.

Let's say the Birds went 3-1 in those four aforementioned contests. Let's say one of those wins was over the Giants -- the Jacksonville loss was a loss anyway you cut it.

Instead of 5-5, the Eagles are 8-2, two games ahead of the Giants and Cowboys with wins over both. Even with McNabb out, all hope would not have been lost. Two more wins over the final six games not only gets you into the playoffs, but gets you a home game.

Sure, they would have been dead meat, even if they would have won that first playoff game. But there would still be hope. There would still be optimism. There wouldn't be griping about getting rid of the coach.

No, the Eagles' season was lost far before McNabb got bumped out-of-bounds against Tennessee. Bryant's kick, their lethargy against the Jags and the failure to step on the Giants' throat cost the Eagles a chance at the postseason.

For the next six weeks, Eagles fans are sheep being led to the slaughter.

Thus begins the winter of our discontent.

Steve Lienert can be reached at

Bunkley misses flight to Indy

The disappointing rookie season of defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley hit a new low on Saturday when he missed the team's chartered flight to Indianapolis.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Milwaukee trades for Estrada

Another possible Phillies target is off the market. The Milwaukee Brewers acquired catcher Johnny Estrada from Arizona in a six-player deal that sent left-handed pitcher Doug Davis to the Diamondbacks on Saturday.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lee headed to Houston

ESPN 1000 radio in Chicago is reporting Carlos Lee has agreed to a six-year, $100 million dollar deal with the Houston Astros.

The Phanatic's Take:

Jared Trexler: Read "Stand Pat with Pat." Read it closely. Then come back and convince me that Carlos Lee's ridiculous, outlandish six-year contract doesn't make Pat Burrell's two-year, $26 million contract look like a trip to the Dollar Store. Lee can't move now, so how do you think he will move (hint: think Larry Allen) four years from now in the center of this exorbitant contract? My stance has remained the same since Jim Hendry destroyed the free agent market with Alphonso Soriano's signing. Stay away from free agent hitters. GM Pat Gillick either pulls a rabbit out of his hat via trade -- think Vernon Wells or Manny Ramirez, though I doubt the Phils have the farm to land either top-notch player -- or "Stands Pat with Pat" in left, while adding two quality bullpen arms and preferably Randy Wolf/Adam Eaton AND Miguel Batista, a versatile guy who can start in the bullpen but adds depth to a staff that includes some injury question marks. Seeing this contract, I'd glad Gillick shied away.

John McMullen: I'm not upset that the Phillies failed to land Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Lee but if you are a fan -- you should be. I felt neither was a good fit for the team but the Phillies thought differently. These are the players the Phillies TARGETED. Not me, not you -- Pat Gillick and Company decided to go after these players so while I'm not upset they failed to land either -- I am upset that a pattern of failure is developing. It's just another example of Philadelphia management failing to do what was needed to land the player(s) THEY wanted. Sure the salary numbers are skewed but that's the market we are in. Is Pat Gillick so out of touch that he had no idea what Soriano or Lee were going to command?

Andy's replacement?

By John McMullen

We have talked about it before.

Andy Reid should have built up some good will by taking the Philadelphia Eagles, a team not exactly steeped in winning tradition before Big Red arrived, to four straight NFC Championship Games.

But Reid is so aloof, when the inevitable fall from grace began -- his detractors were champing at the bit for his head.

I have a tough time feeling sorry for Andy -- After all, he has no one to blame but himself for his detached, conceited behavior.

That said, as much as I dislike Reid's overbearing personality, I still recognize he is a pretty good, football coach and some of the names Reid's detractors have dropped to replace him are absurd.

At the top of that list is former Eagles offensive coordinator and current Tampa Bay coach -- Jon Gruden.

Now I realize that a Super Bowl ring masks many blemishes and Gruden can flash one --
But come on!

Did anyone look up from the dinner table on Thanksgiving to see what Gruden has unleashed in Central Florida? Category 5 hurricanes aren't that destructive.

He has shattered a proud team than Tony Dungy built in record time with something Reid knows a lot about -- ego.

The problem for Gruden is simple.....NFL games are not contested on an even playing field and the most valuable commodity in this league is talent, not coaching.

The same drive, ambition and obsession that garnered Gruden a ring was his downfall in Tampa. Gruden may have been the perfect one-year coach for a veteran team with enough talent to get to the big game.

Long term has been a different story and Gruden's ego has been the deciding factor. Labeled as an offensive "genius" by uneducated NFL observers, Gruden’s Super Bowl team won with anything but.

The defense, fashioned by the departed Dungy and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, along with the virtually mistake free play of quarterback Brad Johnson were the reasons Tampa was a champion.

Gruden’s ego would not allow him to ride that out, however, and his willingness to overhaul an average offense and in turn, let defensive leaders like Warren Sapp and John Lynch walk was a miscalculation to say the least.

When all is said and done in the Tampa "Chucky" era, it’s conceivable -- but doubtful -- Tampa will be a better offensive team.

What is certain is that the Bucs will be nowhere near the Super Bowl.

Gruden should have learned from another offensive "genius" with a ring, Baltimore’s Brian Billick. Billick led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory on the backs of one of the generation’s best defenses and the mistake free play of quarterback Trent Dilfer.

Instead of riding that formula for another season, Billick, the architect ofMinnesota’s record setting 1998 offense, wanted a better pure passer and signed Elvis Grbac. While the Ravens’ offense perked up, they weren't the same team. The quiet steadiness and reliability of Dilfer was missed greatly and Baltimore took a huge step back.

As "leaders of men", football coaches often loved to be compared to famous military figures.
Well.... there is a famous saying among military planners: "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Let's just hope the brain wizards with the Eagles are studying their history.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Phils losing Lee to Astros?

According to an report, the agent for Carlos Lee met with Astros general manager Tim Purpura and owner Drayton McLane on Wednesday.

Andy Reid Press Conference

Head Coach Andy Reid Press Conference

“[LB] Shawn Barber has a sprained MCL. He will not practice today. [CB] Will James has a sprain of his MCL, also. We’ll just have to see how he does here. [LB] Jason Short has an ankle sprain and he won’t practice today.”

“We look forward to the challenge of playing the Indianapolis Colts. We know that they are a great football team. We’re going to prepare ourselves and get ourselves right and ready to play against them.”

On who will be the QB on Sunday:
“Jeff Garcia.”

On what lead him to that decision:
“I did. I just thought that he was the best one for the job right now.”

On what changes need to be made in the offense to better suit QB Jeff Garcia:
“Well, not much. He and [QB] Donovan [McNabb] were similar in that they’re both mobile quarterbacks, so he can do that part of the package the same that you do with Don. And he has a lot of experience in this offense, so most of the throws that we had in before we will keep in.”

On whether they will try and roll Garcia out more:
“That’s been one of his strengths, to throw on the move. We’ll see how it goes, how it works.”

On whether he anticipates him throwing to the WRs more as he gets more work with them at practice:
“I think it is not fair really to judge him on Sunday. I think it will be a different look when he has an opportunity to practice. You don’t practice the number two quarterbacks much, if at all, during the week in the NFL.”

On how much input assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg had in the decision:
“I made that decision.”

On whether the QB decision is a week by week thing:
“No, he’s the quarterback. It’s not a short leash or anything else. That’s not what it is. He’s the quarterback and I think he has great experience in this league and has been a very successful quarterback in this league and this system.”

On why he didn’t just say all this and make his decision on Sunday or Monday:
“Because I didn’t want to.”

On whether QB A.J. Feeley will get some snaps with the first unit:
“Not many.”

On whether he took any input at all in making his decision:
“I bounced it off people but it ends up being my decision and one that I wanted.”

On what the chances are of LB Shawn Barber playing Sunday:
“We’ve got to see but it is going to be a stretch for him to be there. If you talk to him he will probably tell you he is going to be there, so we’ll see.”

On whether S Michael Lewis might be considered for Barber’s role if Barber doesn’t play:
“Michael has kind of worked into playing in there a little bit. We’ll work on of that tomorrow and [defensive coordinator] Jim [Johnson] will put all of that together tonight.”

On whether he has had a chance to gauge where everyone’s head is at after dealing with all the different things from Sunday:
“I don’t think there is any time for people to think negative right now, not on this football team. Other people can do that. But on this football team there is no time for that. You figure out what your problem is and, man, you get it fixed, right now. That means coaches and players. That’s where your energy better be going.”

On whether it is tough for a QB in a loud dome situation:
“It can be, yeah, and it is loud there. That’s something we are going to work on. We’ve got noise pumped into our [indoor practice facility] that we’ll use in the next day or two. It will be something that we have to address for sure.”

On when the last time he spoke to McNabb was and how he is feeling:
“He had quite a little bit of swelling in the knee and the knee was a little bit tender. He’s working on getting his flexibility in the knee and the swelling is down a little bit right now. He’s optimistic about how the surgery is going to go and getting that done. I think he’s anxious to get it done so he can get back with the rehab process. His spirits are good. He is not going to hang his head about it. He’s around the locker room here, so he knows people are going to be watching how he handles the whole thing. He’s been upbeat about the team part of it and he wants to get the knee taken care of.”

On whether they know when the operation might take place:
“Well, we don’t. We just have to get his flexibility right now. That’s what he’s working on.”

On how they can fix the dropped passes:
“You go right back to the basics and that is looking the football all the way in and not pulling your eyes off of it to make a play down the field. You exaggerate it all the way into your hands and into the tuck position. That’s what you focus on and concentrate on.”

On whether he feels the receivers might be trying too hard to make a play sometimes:
“I think they are trying hard to catch the football. There have been some drops in there, but they’re trying. At the same time you have to go back and you have to focus in on the fundamental part of it and they are not always doing that. We need to get that taken care of.”

On how they fix the tackling problems they are having:
“You work on it. They’ll be in pads today and you work on it. It’s the only way I know how to fix it and the players understand that.”

On whether having the players in pads in November is unusual:
“Well, it is, but I think it is important right now. I think you’ve got to put a little emphasis on the tackling part if it is not getting done right. The players understand that. They’re the ones out there doing it and they know. We’re going to keep the pads on today and work on some tackling.”

On how fundamentals can disappear in the middle of the year:
“It happens. That happens with teams and you have to work your way through it, kind of like a batter hitting a ball. You go through a slump – or like a pitcher throwing a ball. There are slumps and you have to work through it. That’s the only way to get through it. If you just sit there and think that it is going to change, then you’re wrong. We’re going to keep pushing through it and get it right.”

On whether players are more receptive when things aren’t going right:
“This group has been very good that way. You know, you asked me about the pads – there are teams that a coach will tell you to put the pads back on and they‘ll look at you cross-eyed. There’s none of that. They are pretty realistic about things. They haven’t fought the coaching part and they want to be good. I don’t question that part.”

On whether there has been any talk of the parallels from 2002 went McNabb got hurt and the team had to go on the road for a tough game the following week:
“I reminded a couple of them that we turned a negative into a positive. That part, I think, is important. There are plenty of other people that don’t think good things will happen, but it is important that the people wearing the uniforms believe the good things will.”

On whether it was difficult to decide between Garcia and Feeley:
“I brought Jeff in here for this situation, if something were to happen to Donovan. And Jeff was here before A.J. I have a lot of trust in Jeff. I have a lot of trust in A.J., too. I think they are both very good quarterbacks, but I brought Jeff in here for this reason right here and now he has an opportunity to do it. His track record – he is a pretty good quarterback.”

On whether what Feeley accomplished in 2002 in an emergency role made it tough for him to decide:
“Not necessarily. Again, I thought this out well before something like this had happened. Obviously, by brining [Garcia] in here you had somewhat of a plan going there if something were to happen.”

On Colts QB Peyton Manning:
“Peyton Manning is a great player. He is playing as well as or better than anybody in the NFL at his position. He’s a smart guy and a great challenge for our defense. You have to do a little studying when you play Peyton Manning.”

You can’t talk about that

By John McMullen

Michael "Kramer" Richards’ career is probably over after his heated, racist rant at two African-American hecklers at a West Hollywood comedy club a few days ago and his subsequent, poorly conceived apology on David Letterman's show.

And I’m certainly not going to shed any tears for Richards because the comedian deserves everything he is about to get, although I will argue -- what career? Richards has been a virtual recluse since Seinfeld shut it down in 1999.

That said, the whole thing got me thinking about a double standard in sports.

I have often criticized Donovan McNabb for his poor decision-making and I will confess, I have even called the Eagles’ QB dumb on occasion. Of course, since I am a Caucasian, that‘s a lightning rod and I have received some nasty e-mail over the years -- the nicest of which calls me a racist.

Now mind you I have never brought McNabb’s color into any of my columns -- save one. When he brought up the issue of ‘black-on-black’ crime regarding his very own Lex Luthor -- Terrell Owens. And, in that instance, I defended McNabb while pointing out he probably went a little too far.

Nonetheless, the fact I’m right and an eight-year veteran should be farther along in his game managing skills is inconsequential to these critics. The fact that I rip Eli Manning and Drew Bledsoe for the same reason is also unimportant.

All they see is color and, to them, I have no right criticizing a black athlete simply because I’m white.

And there begins the double standard.

Look no further than the biggest idiot in the world of talking heads that is ESPN, Michael Irvin.

Irvin’s latest foot-in-mouth escapade came on The Dan Patrick Radio Show when the former Cowboys receiver explained the athletic prowess of new Dallas quarterback Tony Romo (who is white). The Cowboys legend said one of Romo's ancestors must have had a dalliance with a black man.

"He doesn't look like he's that type of an athlete. But he is. He is, man. I don't know . . . some brother down in that line somewhere. . . . I don't know who saw what or where, his great-great-great-great-grandma ran over in the 'hood or something went down,” said Irvin.

Meanwhile, Patrick tried to throw Irvin a life raft saying "Oh, that's the only way he can be a great athlete?"

"That's not the only way, but it's certainly one way," Irvin came back with. "If great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandma pulled one of them studs up out of the barn [and said], 'Come on in here for a second,' you know, and they go out and work in the yard. You know, back in the day."

There was no confirmation to the report that the crack pipe Irvin was holding for that friend back in the day was actually in his mouth when he uttered his latest gem.

Most of us can agree that sports is probably not the place to repair racial relations in this country but so what?

Let’s drop the double standards and take everyone to task when they utter racially insensitive things -- no mater the color of their skin.

And perhaps more importantly -- let’s not be so thin-skinned.

It is possible for a black quarterback to be smart or dumb and it’s conceivable that a white quarterback can be as slow-footed as Bledsoe or as athletic as Romo with none of it relating to the pigment of their skin.

As a postscript -- if you don’t like this column, contact my attorney -- Jackie Chiles.

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$$$ on the Fairways

The Phanatic

It's Travel Day. But if you are stuck in the office the day before Thanksgiving, cursing about your benefits package and salary, take a look at this report found in November's issue of Golf Digest. (shocking, depressing and interesting all at the same time).

The golf industry is the fastest growing sport financially, and by these numbers we can see why: Speaking of which, hey Kelly want to get dinner sometime? Your treat.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Conflicting rumors circle Phillies' pursuit of Lee

The Phanatic

The Baltimore Sun is reporting the race for the next prized free agent, Carlos Lee, is down to three contenders: the Phillies, Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros.

The Houston Chronicle's article hot of the Internet presses states an American League club (likely the O's) has floated a 5-year, $70-million dollar contract. got into the act late Tuesday night, indicating that GM Pat Gillick may be realizing his pursuit of Lee is fruitless since, well, he is basically a higher paid Pat Burrell.'s Jon Heyman also throws a few "woowzer" lines into the mix. One executive told Heyman, "Philly may blow everyone out of the water," in the chase for Lee's services.

Lee appears set on making up his mind by the end of the weekend, so stay tuned. As always, The Phanatic will provide you with up-to-date information on the Phillies' offseason activity.

Heather or Carmella

By John McMullen

Without Donovan McNabb, the outlook for rest of the Philadelphia Eagles season seems dreary and I am resigned to that fact.

The definition of mediocrity that is the Birds must now find ways to win games with weak-armed veteran Jeff Garcia or journeyman A.J. Feeley.

As quarterbacks, Garcia and Feeley have just two things going for them -- they’re not Mike McMahon or Koy Detmer.

Garcia was once a somebody. But, after watching the former three-time Pro Bowl selection in San Francisco replace DMac against the Titans, it was clear to even the most obtuse that Jeff’s days of playing at a high level are extinct.

Meanwhile, Feeley is reviled in both Miami and San Diego after flaming out in both cities. The favorite of Eagles fans with nary a clue hasn't thrown a pass in a regular-season game since December of 2004 and you can bet that was a duck.

In what can only be described as a brilliant move strategically -- in between clearing his throat -- Andy Reid wouldn't name a starter for the upcoming game at Indianapolis, saying he needed to talk with his coaching staff before committing.

Now Tony Dungy will no doubt endure a few sleepless nights trying to conjure up a ways to stop both players.

Sarcasm aside -- simply put -- no matter who Reid chooses -- the Eagles are screwed.

Things aren’t going to look pretty over the next six weeks -- unless you look to the stands of course.

Garcia and Feeley might be bad NFL quarterbacks but there is one aspect of life in which they are excelling.

The girlfriends.

Feeley reportedly snagged soccer hottie Heather Mitts away from another overrated Philly area athlete, Pat Burrell, and actor John Cusack a number of years ago. And, Garcia, despite being labeled as gay by our favorite lunatic -- Terrell Owens -- trumped Feeley by hooking up with former Playboy Playmate of the Year, Carmella DeCesare.

So, let’s just hope the boys invite their significant others to watch them play and Fox is wise enough to give us an ample amount of reaction shots.

At least that’s something.

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Gillick Should Stand Pat with Pat (and the stats to back it up)

By Jared Trexler

The Phanatic

What I'm about to say won't be popular.

After all, Pat Burrell is a team cancer. He doesn't throw his helmet after he strikes out. He sat next to Bobby Abreu in "How to Show the City of Philadelphia I Don't Give a Shit" 101. They both received A's. He will be the next project in the endless line of changing the mix trades, i.e. "How can opposing GM's violate Pat Gillick."

I mean, I'm glad we traded Abreu. We got back an 18-year-old who can't correlate athleticism with baseball tools, a single-A catcher with no promise and a situational left-hander. We also paid Bobby money to buy out his no trade clause and even took him for a candlelight dinner in Olde City before we saw him off.

Sense all that sarcasm.

Gillick can keep from making the same mistake twice by doing something ingenious in this "How is Alfonso Soriano worth $136 bleepin' million dollars" market.

Nothing at all.

At least in left field, where Burrell's two-year deal worth $13 million per season looks like a relative bargain when Juan Pierre can obtain $45 million over 5 campaigns.

Keep Pat and go after pitching, lots of it. Offer the moon over four years to Jason Schmidt. If that doesn't work, sign both Adam Eaton and Miguel Batista. Batista goes to the bullpen and is a great insurance plan if Eaton gets injured. Sign Joe Borowski and give him some closing chances early in the season to keep Flash fresh.

Offer David Dellucci arbitration. If he accepts, you have the lefty half of a platoon in right field. If he doesn't, you get a first-round draft pick and use the money to add a Trot Nixon or Brad Wilkerson.

But the important message is this. Don't trade Burrell, and especially don't give him away while paying somebody extra money for his 30 homers and 95 RBI.

You won't get that from Aaron "I play hard" Rowand.

I know the Burrell haters will tell me that he can't protect newly-crowned NL MVP Ryan Howard. He never has and never will.

To the contrary.

I double checked some research done on a Phillies internet forum (the information was correct), and learned something shocking.

Burrell's ability to protect Howard isn't conjecture from the stubborn. Here are the numbers when opposing teams decided to walk (on four pitches or pitch around) Howard last season with Burrell hitting directly behind him in the fifth spot.

July 1, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell flies out to LF (0-1)
August 1, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell lines out to LF (0-2)
August 2, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell singles to LF; Howard to second (1-3)
August 3, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell walks (1-3, 1 walk)
August 5, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell singles to RF (2-4, 1 walk)
August 6, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell strikes out swinging (2-5, 1 walk)
August 7, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell doubles to to left; Victorino scores, Howard to 3rd (3-6, 1 walk)
August 11, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell strikes out looking (3-7, 1 walk)
August 16, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell singles to center (4-8, 1 walk)
August 20, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell singles to center; Rollins scores, Howard to third (5-9, 1 walk)
Howard walks then Burrell doubles to to left; Howard scores (6-10, 1 walk)
Howard walks then Burell flies out to left (6-11, 1 walk)
September 2, 2006 (A big gap because even at 6-for-11, Charlie Manuel determines Jeff Conine needs to protect Howard)
Howard walks then Burrell singles (7-11, 1 walk)
Howard walks then Burrell walks (7-11, 2 walks)
September 3, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell grounds out to first (7-12, 2 walks)
September 4, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell strikes out swinging (7-14, 2 walks)
September 16, 2006 (long break for more Conine)
Howard walks then Burrell strikes out looking (7-15, 2 walks)
September 29, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell homers to LF (8-16, 2 walks)
Howard walks then Burrell walks (8-16, 3 walks)
September 30, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell strikes out swinging (8-17, 3 walks)
October 1, 2006
Howard walks then Burrell walks (8-17, 4 walks)

So, for the entire season, when team's consciously decided to walk Howard in front of Burrell, the left fielder made them pay dearly to the tune of 8-for-17 with 4 walks -- a .471 batting average, .571 OBP and a .818 slugging with a 1.389 OPS.

Batting behind Howard is the WORST position to be in throughout every Philadelphia sports franchise. Burrell succeeded following a Howard walk 47 percent of the time (57 percent if you include walks). That means he failed more often than not. Obviously, baseball players who excel 30 percent of the time on a whole are All-Stars, but not when hitting behind the MVP.

"They walked the big man then you looked at strike 3, you bum," a fan base yells.

Don't let the facts get in the way of a drunken, illogical shouting match.

We as fans should hope Gillick understands hitters at Burrell's age, productivity and contract don't grow on trees.

If the franchise is constantly searching for changing the mix, I understand why this city has gone so long without a championship.

Soriano is off the board. Pitch around Howard. Go ahead, I dare you.

Pat has proven he'll make you pay.

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