Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Iguodala, Sixers cool off Suns

By Tim McManus

Andre Iguodala finished with 24 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, as the Philadelphia 76ers kept Phoenix from an historic feat with a 99-94 win at the Wachovia Center.

Willie Green scored 20 points and gathered six rebounds while Kyle Korver donated 16 points for the Sixers, who have won the first two installments of a six-game homestand.

"We were really aggressive tonight," said Iguodala. "We came out hot early and we were getting easy baskets. We kept up with them early and we happened to get some big stops. We just happened to get more runs than they did. We would get a spurt here or a spurt there, and get a few stops here and a few stops there on defense."

Amare Stoudemire had 31 points and 13 boards for the Suns, who were looking to become the first team ever to sweep its interconference road schedule (14-1). Regardless, Phoenix finished interconference road play with the highest winning percentage all-time. Steve Nash ended with 23 points and nine assists, and Raja Bell scored 13 against his old team.

"We just didn't pull it off," said Suns coach Mike D'Aantone. "Give them (Philadelphia) credit. Last night we did it and tonight we just didn't' do it."

Phoenix was playing from behind all game and trailed 80-69 with 9:45 left following a Korver slam, but rebounded with a 12-2 run to make things interesting down the stretch. Stoudemire had five points over that span, and a Nash jumper brought the road team within one with 5:40 on the clock.

A Leandro Barbosa three moments later knotted the contest at 84-84, but the Sixers had an answer. Andre Miller followed with a jumper to give the lead back to Philly, and Korver pushed the margin to four with a pair of free throws.

Barbosa responded with another three at the other end of the floor, only to see Iguodala counter immediately with a trey from the top of the arc to make it 91-87.

Then, after a Phoenix turnover, Samuel Dalembert hit a fadeaway with 28 ticks on the clock. The Sixers converted all six of their free-throw tries from there to seal the win.

"A win is a win, but certainly playing against the Phoenix Suns knowing they're coming in with 14 straight wins against Eastern Conference opponents is a big win for us," said Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks. "Phoenix, being as good as they are, we tried to come in and put the focus on winning. We've been trying to get ourselves into the routine of winning night in and night out - not just against Phoenix, but against other teams as well. Certainly playing against Phoenix is a big win for us."

Philadelphia quieted any thought of a Phoenix rout early, as it jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Miller scored the first four points of the charge, which Steven Hunter capped with a pair of free throws. The Sixers then finished the quarter with a 9-0 burst to assume a 35-23 lead.

The Suns cut their deficit to 49-44 at intermission and moved within one late in the third following five straight points by Nash. The Sixers again finished the quarter strong, though, scoring the last eight points to go up 73-64.

Sixers and Suns to swap announcers

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia 76ers

Comcast SportsNet's Steve Mix and KUTP's Eddie Johnson will swap places for tonight's broadcast of the Sixers game against the Phoenix Suns. Mix will join Gary Bender while Johnson will sit alongside of Marc Zumoff at the beginning of the second quarter. The swap will continue until the second commercial break of the second quarter. This is the first time the Sixers have exchanged broadcasters with an opposing team, while the Suns have been doing it throughout the season.

"This swap will offer Sixers fans an unique view of the team and I am excited about the opportunity to share my perspective of the game with the Suns' fans," said Mix. "Eddie Johnson is a very knowledgeable analyst and Sixers' fans will enjoy listening to his point of view as well."

Eagle allegedly connected to new steroid ring

A new steroid scandal allegedly hits close to home.

A federal task force raided a Florida pharmacy, exposing an Internet steroid distribution ring with links to football and baseball players.

Customers allegedly included ex-heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Gary Matthews and admitted steroid user Jose Canseco. Jason Grimsley, the former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher who retired after federal agents in the Balco scandal seized mail-order steroids at his home, was also reportedly a customer.

The story goes on to say that a Philadelphia Eagle was reportedly seen visiting the pharmacy.

Garcia suitors

ESPN's John Clayton is reporting that Denver, Tampa Bay or Oakland may be Jeff Garcia's next stop.

Eagles free agency primer

By John McMullen

The NFL's free agency period opens on Friday and figures to be rather uneventful for a Philadelphia Eagles team still caught up in protecting Donovan McNabb on one front and Andy Reid's family travails on another.

With a less than stellar class on the market and a lack of salary-cap room -- nearly two-thirds of the other NFL teams have more cap room than the Birds -- expecting a big splash is unrealistic.

Here's The Phanatic's position-by-position analysis of the Eagles entering the free agency period:

Quarterback: The decision here has already been made. The Eagles extended A.J. Feeley and, in doing so, waived goodbye to one of the league's best backups in Jeff Garcia. None of this will matter if McNabb can recover from his ACL injury and play the entire season. But, if the Eagles are forced to play Feeley, this move will be put under the microscope and rightfully so. You can't put much stock in Garcia's recent 'money is not an issue' comments but if the Birds could have gotten a hometown discount, they should have explored every avenue. Feeley already flamed out in Miami and San Diego and is nowhere near the player Garcia is. Look for the Eagles to add a third QB on the second day of the draft.

Running back: Despite persistent questions regarding durability, Brian Westbrook finally proved he could carry the load and be the focal point of the Eagles offense. While clueless observers asked McNabb or Garcia? -- astute fans knew the real question should have been McNabb or Westbrook? Even with the success of similar sized backs like Tiki Barber and Warrick Dunn, the Eagles never gave Westbrook a chance to be the focal point thanks to Reid's obsession with the pass. But, without McNabb, Reid had to temper his game plans and put the focus on Westbrook and things worked beautifully. Hopefully, Big Red recognized that and will keep some balance in the offense with DMac back in the huddle. Correll Buckhalter actually stayed healthy and did a solid job as the No. 2 back but he is a free agent and has a history of severe knee problems. The Eagles will likely let Buckhalter walk and look to replace him with a more reliable option. Fans might salivate at “big backs” like T.J. Duckett and Ron Dayne but those players are way too one-dimensional for an Andy Reid offense. Miami's Sammy Morris has shown flashes and may be on the radar.

Wide receiver: Fans and media alike developed quite the man crush on Donte Stallworth last season but you can't question the Eagles' reluctance to get in a bidding war for a guy who was nicknamed "Street Clothes" by the New Orleans media. Stallworth did little to change his reputation in Philly last season. No one questions his ability but you can't pay a guy like a No. 1 receiver if he is going to miss games on a consistent basis.Philadelphia would love to have Stallworth back at a fair price but when the top guys on the market are guys like Drew Bennett and Kevin Curtis, you can bet a desperate team will overpay to get its hands on Stallworth. The Eagles have gone out of their way to talk up Hank Baskett and Jason Avant opposite Reggie Brown but they are not the answers. A second-tier signing with some upside, say Cincinnati’s Kelley Washington, may be the way to go.

Tight end: It's time to admit L.J. Smith is what he is. An average blocker who is a solid receiving threat that will always drop a few more than you would like. Since Smith is a free agent after next season, some have speculated the Eagles may be looking for a replacement. New England’s Daniel Graham is the class of free agency and is an excellent all-around tight end but will be too pricy. Jerramy Stevens of the Seattle Seahawks is too similar to Smith.

Offensive line. The offensive line played great for the Eagles down the stretch but is a little overrated in this town. Jon Runyan and William Thomas are both aging on the outside and Jamaal Jackson and Todd Herremans are a tad overvalued in the interior. While, the Eagles have reinforcements on hand with nice pedigrees in second-year players Winston Justice and Max Jean-Gilles, they didn’t get on the field last season and there is no guarantee they will be able to step in if needed. A veteran swingman with the ability to play multiple positions would be a nice fit here.

Defensive line. The Eagles have too much invested in defensive tackles Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley to look for an answer outside the organization. Darwin Walker, Sam Rayburn and LaJuan Ramsey are also scheduled to return so the team has enough bodies in the middle. What they are missing is a big run-stuffing tackle in the mold of a Pat Williams but those don’t exactly grow on trees. It also appears that the Eagles are happy with their defensive end rotation. They will re-sign Juqua Thomas to be a member of a four-man rotation that will include Trent Cole, Darren Howard and a returning Jevon Kearse. The key here is the health of Kearse and Howard. Cole is an excellent situational player but gets exposed with too many snaps and Thomas looks like he is cut from the same cloth.

Linebacker. This is the Eagles biggest weakness and needs to be addressed. There has been some talk of Jeremiah Trotter and his balky knees calling it a career but with little available on the free agency front, I’m betting the Eagles do everything possible to get him back for another season. As for the outside, understand this defense is not designed for the will or sam linebackers to be “playmakers” so you can forget the dreams of an Adalius Thomas coming in and getting double-digit sacks. The Birds need well-rounded linebackers that can do all three things (stuff the run, cover and blitz). They think they found one in Omar Gaither but the jury is still out there. The other side is a mess and needs to be addressed but pickings are slim in free agency. Cato June of the Indianapolis Colts is the type of player the Eagles might covet but the price tag is often too high on players coming off a Super Bowl win. Thomas is just not a good fit and nothing else worth mentioning is on the market yet.

Secondary. The Eagles need to alleviate some serious depth problems since they are expecting to lose safety Michael Lewis and cornerback Rod Hood. They did ink special teams standout Quintin Mikell to a four-year deal earlier this week and will try and bring back Will James as the nickel corner. Ken Hamlin is the top safety on the market and would be a big upgrade over Sean Considine but the Eagles will likely look to the draft to find reinforcements.

Special Teams: David Akers is as good as it gets but the Birds can't keep bringing Koy Detmer back to make him feel good. Dirk Johnson never regained his past form after a sports hernia problem and had a so-so year at punter so the Eagles brought in Australian Rules football player Saverio Rocca as competition.

-You can reach John McMullen at

Flyers awarded Dennis Hamel on waivers

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers acquired 6'1", 200-pound forward Denis Hamel on waivers from the Atlanta Thrashers.

In addition, the team announced that goaltender Michael Leighton was claimed on waivers by the Montreal Canadiens.

Hamel, 29, recorded five goals and three assists for eight points and 10 penalty minutes in 46 games for the Thrashers and Ottawa Senators this season. He scored a goal in three games for Atlanta after being claimed on waivers from Ottawa on February 10, 2007. In 43 games for the Senators, Hamel posted seven points (4G,3A) and 10 penalty minutes.

Over parts of seven NHL seasons with Buffalo (1999-2000 through 2002-03), Ottawa (2003-04 to 2006-07) and Atlanta (2006-07), Hamel has registered 19 goals and 12 assists for 31 points and 77 penalty minutes in 185 regular season games.

He was originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the sixth round (153rd overall) of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.

Leighton, 25, registered a 2-2-0 record and 3.93 goals-against average in five games this season for the Nashville Predators and the Flyers. In four games with the Flyers, he posted a 2-2-0 record and 3.69 GAA. He was acquired by the Flyers on waivers from Nashville on January 11, 2007.

35 Reasons to Believe

The Phanatic Magazine kicked off its 35 straight days of Phillies on Sunday, one article per day detailing each member battling for position as the season begins. Also, look for Michael Rushton's season outlook, which will cap the offseason look at the Phillies on Opening Day -- April 2nd against Atlanta.


By John McMullen

It's never a good thing when your off the field headlines trump your on-field accomplishments. But, that might sum up 31-year old Randall Simon's major league career to date.

The burly left-handed hitting first baseman is best known for being on the business end of one of then-teammate John Rocker's incredibly racist comments in a 2000 Sports Illustrated interview and for screwing up a Milwaukee Brewers' sausage race during the 2003 season.

That said, in an eight-year big league career, with stops in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, Simon has been a steady professional hitter with a career .283 batting average. He peaked in 2002 and was a feared member of the Tigers, bashing 19 home runs and driving in 82 runs with a .301 average.

Simon then split the 2003 season between the Pirates and the Cubs, hitting .276 with 16 long balls and 72 RBI. Pittsburgh thought highly enough of the Curacao native to sign him to a free agent deal before the 2004 season with the intention of starting him at first base.

But, Simon reported to spring training out of shape and things went steadily downhill. He was released in August of that year after batting just .194. Since then, Simon has bounced around the baseball world with stints in Japan and Mexico.

He tore things up South of the Border and was good enough for Netherlands in the 2006 World Baseball Classic to earn another chance. The Texas Rangers signed Simon to a minor league deal last year and he lit up the hitting-heavy Pacific Coast League before the Phillies acquired him in exchange for cash considerations on September 1. He went 5-for-21 in his cup of coffee with the team last season and now will look to provide a solid left-handed bat off the bench in 2007.

Simon’s inability to play the outfield will hurt his roster chances, however, and right now the Phillies seem enamored with Karim Garcia as a left-handed bat off the bench. Only a very hot-hitting spring or a couple of injuries would put Simon in a position to garner an Opening Day roster spot.

Tomorrow: Joe Bisenius

With Tiger, the Tour will come

By Jared Trexler
Our nation's capital has risen in popularity over recent days.
Not only does 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue house our nation's leader and his corresponding governing ears, but now little-known Catholic University and the famed War Memorial tie together for an unique bond.
The springboard for an Idol career like never seen before. Welcome to the big time Antonella Barba.
Lost amidst soaking wet t-shirts and provocative poses, Washington, D.C. had other fairly significant news to announce Tuesday.
The golfing area of elite thoroughbreds that houses distinguished Congressional Country Club and its less recognizable neighbor TPC Avenel can now throw its collective support behind a PGA Tour event.
The Booz Allen Classic lost money, sponsorship and disappeared from the 2007 schedule, leaving the D.C. area void of a men's professional stop.
No Tiger Woods and a bland course like Avenel will do that to any Tour event. Now, commissioner Tim Finchem seems to have realized the formula for success.
Bring aboard Tiger and the money will come.
While its great to have an event back in a golf-crazed area, Woods' star power and the strong backing of his charitable organization -- the Tiger Woods Foundation -- made this deal possible. The world No. 1's foundation also is involved with the Deutsche Bank Championship held just outside Boston.
The good news to decipher from that bit of golf knowledge ist that Woods hasn't missed the Boston Golf Party since its inception in 2003. Now, a new tour event that almost guarantees Woods, possibly save this year with wife Elin's pregnancy and July due date, will replace an old Tour mainstay -- the Stableford-scoring International, which hadn't landed Tiger since 1999 and suffered because of it.
The new event -- without a name, title sponsor, purse and course until a March 7th press conference -- will slide into the Fourth of July weekend slot from July 5-8. It's only fitting a fireworks celebration representing freedom comes to the nation's capital.
"After an extensive search, we are very excited about our partnership with the Tiger Woods Foundation to bring a PGA Tour event back to our nation's capital over the 4th of July holiday celebration," said Finchem.
The event will situate itself just after the Tour-favorite Buick Open at Warwick Hills in Michigan, an event Woods always plays due to his affiliation with the title sponsor and his success on the track.
The John Deere Classic, a second-tier event serving as a British Open "tune-up", comes the week after.
It's a perfect landing spot to attract Woods and some of the game's best, especially if the tournament is held on famed Congressional, site of the 1997 United States Open collapse of Tom Lehman and the subsequent Ernie Els victory. Another possible test is Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, the American home course for every Presidents Cup up until 2007.
The news also represents the Tour's growing desire to infuse money and time into today's youth.
The Tiger Woods Foundation's mission statement places focus on obtaining grants that provide opportunities to underserved youth ages 5-17. Programs and grant requests include funding for learning centers, tutoring/mentoring programs and an increased focus on children in urban areas.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to expand awareness and interest in the work we're doing for millions of kids across the country," said Woods. "I'm grateful the PGA Tour selected us as partners and am very excited my Foundation will host another amazing event, this time in our nation's capital. I'm delighted to think of all the young people this will help us reach."
It's a win, win, win -- or in golf terms a trio of birdies -- for the Tour, Tiger and Washington, D.C., which is back in the golf arena after a messy divorce with the Booz Allen.
Spectators can catch Woods and many of the game's best players on a likely revered track in the beauty of summer just after a national holiday.
Some may even tour Catholic University.
Jared Trexler is The Phanatic Magazine's Golf Editor. You can reach him at

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Here we go again

By John Gottlieb

A couple months back after Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn were elected to the Hall of Fame I wrote a piece about those left on the outside looking in. It’s time to revisit the topic now that the Veterans Committee released the players and composite ballots.

For the third straight vote for the players, which occurs every other year, and the second consecutive casting for managers, owners, etc., which takes place every four years, nobody gained enshrinement into the hallowed Hall in northern New York.

My first question is why even give the Veterans Committee a vote if they never intend to use it? Now I’m not one for diminishing the standards for Cooperstown, since that’s already been done when guys like Bill Mazerowski and Phil Rizzuto were elected, but there are really some worthy guys that were left off…again.

The Committee is comprised of all living Hall of Fame members, Ford C. Frick Award winners (broadcasting) and J.G. Taylor Spink Award winners (writing), totaling 84 members.

There needs to be changes to the Committee if they are not going to use their power to induct people that are deserving. Changes were made to the system after Mazerowski was enshrined and it’s time that the system is revamped again.

Ron Santo came the closest on either ballot, falling just five votes shy of obtaining the long-coveted plaque.

The 67-year-old was named on 57 of a possible 82 ballots for 69.5 percent but 75 percent is needed for induction. Santo was eight votes shy the last time the committee voted in 2005.

The Chicagoland icon is one of the few that fell short and should have his accomplishments appreciated with a Hall of Fame election. He had a career average of .277 with 342 homers and 1,331 runs batted in while winning five Gold Gloves and appearing in nine All Star games in 15 seasons with the North and Southsiders. Mike Schmidt is the only other third baseman in the Hall with at least 300 homers and five Gold Gloves.

Here is a man that is suffering from diabetes and has dealt with a host of medical problems, including having both legs amputated at the knee. Santo has been the radio voice of the Cubs for the last 17 years. Why the Vets didn’t elect him is beyond me. Just like I wrote about Buck O’Neil it’s a travesty that the Committee will probably give him a plaque post mortem.

For some reason third baseman are slighted when it comes to the Hall, as there are only 10 who played in the major leagues, including Frank “Home Run” Baker, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Jimmy Collins, George Kell, Fred Lindstrom, Edddie Matthews, Brooks Robinson, Pie Traynor and Schmidt. There are fewer third baseman than any other position in Cooperstown.

Jim Kaat is another that is deserving, but was 10 votes short of Cooperstown. He ranks 29th all time in wins (283), 33rd in strikeouts (2,461) and had double-digit wins for 15 straight years in his 25-year career, including 25-13 with a 2.75 earned run average, 205 strikeouts and 19 complete games in 1966.

He would’ve won the Cy Young that year, but it went to Sandy Koufax, as that was the last season that only one award was given out for both leagues.

Kitty eclipsed 20 wins three times and will go down as one of the greatest fielding pitchers of all time with 16 consecutive Gold Gloves. He pitched in 898 games, ranking 19th all time while starting at least 24 games in 19 different seasons. He ranks third all time for seasons in pitchers behind Nolan Ryan (27) and Tommy John (26), 13th in games started (625) and 24th with 4,530 innings pitched. Simply put, Kaat was the model for consistency.

Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, who was pulling for his former teammate told the Associated Press, "The same thing happens every year. The current members want to preserve the prestige as much as possible, and are unwilling to open the doors."

The 68-year-old lefty, who just retired after broadcasting the Yankees for the last 13 years, was named on 52 ballots.

Finally, my biggest beef comes with the exclusion of Marvin Miller. For better or worse Miller helped make the game what it is today. Marvin Miller is one of the most significant people in Major League Baseball history.

Miller’s term as the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Player’s Association ran from 1966-1984 and during that time some of his accomplishments included negotiating the first collective bargaining agreements, increasing the players’ minimum salary from $6,000 to $10,000 after two decades of remaining the same, pushing players' average salary to more than $500,000, increases in benefits and working conditions and the right to have arbitration solve grievances.

It was not all roses for Miller, who in 1970, along with Curt Flood, took a battle all the way to the Supreme Court, challenging the reserve clause, but lost and essentially ended Flood’s career. He led the union through three players’ strikes in 1972, 1980, and 1981 and two lockouts in 1973 and 1976.

However, the 1975 Andy Messersmith-Dave McNally case stated that they were not chained by the reserve cause, which opened the door to free agency.
What’s even sadder is that Marvin Miller represented most of the Veterans Committee at one time and yet he still hasn’t gained enshrinement. Miller, 89, was named on 63 percent of the vote.

Miller is one of the founders of the modern game and it’s appalling that he has not been given a plaque with his contemporaries in the Hall of Fame. Just like Pete Rose, it is not a Hall of Fame without Marvin Miller, the father of the strongest union in the world.

Building blocks

By Michael Rushton

This is usually the time of year when Flyers optimism floats back into the hearts and souls of Philadelphia hockey fans everywhere.

Essentially, fans and critics would all be debating whether or not the Flyers gave up too much for that veteran winger, or if the goaltending, which wasn’t addressed before the trade deadline, would hold up for the inevitable postseason push.

Whatever farm hands the Black and Orange jettisoned to acquire older talent would be evaluated, and it would eventually be determined the move was necessary to win now. Then, come Spring, they would be missed sorely after a first-round exit.

So excuse me if I’m having trouble understanding what has gone on the past two weeks. The Flyers have actually picked up prospects, addressed their net minding situation (sort of) and they are not going to the playoffs?

Well, the latter we have known for a while, but below is a look of Philly’s transactions since the Peter Forsberg deal, and if they are to help long term or short term.

February 15: The Flyers send Forsberg to Nashville for left wing Scottie Upshall, defenseman Ryan Parent and a first and third-round pick in the 2007 draft.

Verdict: Later

On the surface, the answer is actually both. Upshall was inserted into the lineup immediately and already comes with NHL experience. Also, Parent is a highly regarded prospect who could make an impact next year. However, the key word there is “could.” Parent is only 19 and was playing in the Ontario Hockey League at the time of the trade. There is a small chance he could crack the roster next year, but given the defenders the Flyers have picked up in the last week, it appears the Flyers can wait on this one.

February 24: The Flyers send veteran defenseman Alexei Zhitnik to Atlanta for defender Braydon Coburn.

Verdict: Later

This deal was a steal for the Flyers, who picked up their second defenseman that was drafted in the first round in as many trades. Coburn is big (6-foot-5) and skates well for his size, but is also just 21. While he has played with the Thrashers this season, he has also spent time with Chicago of the American Hockey League as well. He’ll probably play out the rest of the season in Philadelphia but it should be a few years before he reaches his potential.

February 26: The Flyers acquire defender Lasse Kukkonen and a third-round pick in 2007 for left wing Kyle Calder.

Verdict: Now

Why is this a now verdict? Because deep down inside, this may be a move for Joni Pitkanen as much as anything else. Sure, Kukkonen has decent stats this season -- five goals and nine assists with 98 blocked shots in 54 games -- and is only 25, but Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren may have tipped his hat when announcing the deal.

"Kukkonen is a player who played a couple of years with Joni Pitkanen back in Finland a few years ago,” Holmgren said in a release announcing the trade. “He is 25 years old, moves the puck extremely well and is averaging over 16 minutes a game (16:35) for the Blackhawks. He is just a real steady defender. He is a nice addition to our team.”

And there it is. Its obvious the Flyers aren’t going to give up on the underachieving Pitkanen, who may have been one of the Flyers’ best bargaining chips if they had decided to move him. Instead, they are going to try and make him as comfortable as possible and surrond him with players he is familiar with.

February 27: Flyers acquire goaltender Martin Biron from Buffalo for a second-round pick in 2007.

Verdict: Now (maybe)

This deal was surprising because it was almost a buyers move. It also gives the Flyers three goaltenders that could be starters on most teams. Of course, both Biron and current Flyer Robert Esche are free agents at the end of the year, so this deal could be looked at as just a head start on the courting process for the Flyers and Biron.

"This is an opportunity for us to acquire a goaltender that we really like,” said Holmgren. “Biron will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He would have been on our shopping list this summer. Trading for him gives us a chance to get a little more familiar with him and he can get a little more familiar with our team and hopefully see a positive direction here and want to stay here."

Now the Flyers will get the first crack at retaining Biron and if he doesn’t work out here, they can just let him walk and cross one goaltender off their shopping list this summer. A second-round pick is a high price to pay for a rental on a non-playoff team, but if Biron does play well and the Flyers keep him, it will be worth it.

The trade also spells the end for Esche unless Biron bombs and leaves Antero Niittymaki in limbo.

Michael Rushton enjoys "Appletinis" and can be reached at

Flyers' Jackson joins Phillies broadcast team

By John McMullen

Jim Jackson will join the Philadelphia Phillies broadcast team for the upcoming season.

The veteran announcer will be hosting the pre-game and post-game shows, a role handled last year by Scott Franzke, who will be doing play-by-play exclusively this year.

“We are pleased to have a broadcaster of Jim’s caliber in our mix,” said Phillies broadcasting manager Rob Brooks. “He brings a lot of experience with him, and a passion for baseball that not too many people were aware of.”

The 43-year old Jackson has been broadcasting hockey games for 20 years, the last 14 with the Flyers, but this will not be his first baseball experience. The Syracuse graduate did radio play-by-play for the Utica Blue Sox of the New York-Penn League from 1986 to 1993. Jackson also spent the summer of 2005 broadcasting the Trenton Thunder of the Eastern League and was the television voice of the Cal Ripken World Series on OLN in August 2006.

Eagles re-sign Mikell

By John McMullen

The Philadelphia Eagles re-signed safety Quintin Mikell to a four-year contract on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Mikell has been a productive defensive back and key special teams performer for the Eagles since they signed him as a rookie free agent out of Boise State in 2003.

During that span, Mikell has posted a team-leading 108 special teams tackles, including a career-high 35 in 2006 and was voted by his teammates as the Eagles special teams MVP in 2005 and 2006.

On defense, Mikell has tallied 51 tackles, an interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 64 games.

"Quintin has been a really good football player for us," said Eagles general manager Tom Heckert. "He's a vital contributor for us on special teams and does a very solid job when he's on the field defensively. We're glad to keep him here in Philadelphia."

Saints re-sign ex-Eagle

By Sean Pollard

The New Orleans Saints and defensive tackle Hollis Thomas agreed on a four-year contract on Tuesday worth a reported $12 million.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Thomas will make $6 million next season with bonuses and salary.

Thomas, acquired in a trade last offseason with the Philadelphia Eagles, was the anchor of New Orleans' defensive line in 2006, recording 43 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 12 games.

Thomas was suspended the final four games of the regular season for violating the NFL's steroid policy. He returned in time for the playoffs as the Saints edged Philadelphia in the divisional round before falling to Chicago in the conference championship.

Signed as an undrafted free-agent out of Northern Illinois by the Eagles before the 1996 season, Thomas spent his first 10 seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, compiling 284 tackles and 13.5 sacks in 126 regular season games.

Santo shut out of Hall of Fame again

By John McMullen

For the third consecutive time, the Veterans Committee did not elect any candidates to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Two ballots -- one featuring 27 players and another featuring 15 managers, umpires and executives -- were considered by the 84-voting member Committee.

Former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo and pitcher Jim Kaat, who spent most of his playing career with the Minnesota Twins, came close on the player side. Santo was named on 69.5 percent of the ballots and came up just five votes shy of entry with 57. Kaat received 52 votes and was named on 63.4 percent of the ballots. A total of 75 percent, or 62 votes, were needed to gain entry.

Umpire Doug Harvey led all composite ballot nominees with 52 votes, 64.2 percent of the tally. A total of 61 votes were needed on the composite side.

"The current Veterans Committee provides a peer review of players previously considered by the BBWAA, for as many as 15 years, while also considering the candidacies of managers, umpires and executives," said Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark. "The process was not designed with the goal to necessarily elect someone, but to give everyone on the ballot an opportunity to be elected through a fair and open process. "

Some of the other players who were left out of the Hall were Gil Hodges (50 votes), Tony Oliva (47 votes), Maury Wills (33), Joe Torre (26), Don Newcombe (17), Vada Pinson (16) and Roger Maris (15).

Players are reviewed for election into the Hall of Fame via the veterans committee every two years. The Committee did not elect any new members to the Hall in 2005. The top vote-getters that year were Hodges and Santo with 65 percent apiece, followed by Oliva with 56.3 percent. The next vote will come in 2009.

35 Reasons to Believe

The Phanatic Magazine kicked off its 35 straight days of Phillies on Sunday, one article per day detailing each member battling for position as the season begins. Also, look for Michael Rushton's season outlook, which will cap the offseason look at the Phillies on Opening Day -- April 2nd against Atlanta.
By John Gottlieb
Justin Germano begins his first full season with the Phils after being acquired at last year’s trading deadline from Cincinnati for Rheal Cormier.
Before coming to Philly, Germano was 8-6 with a 3.69 earned run average, 67 strikeouts and 22 walks in 19 games – 18 starts – with the Triple-A Louisville Bats. However, he did give up 11 homers. He had one stint with the Reds, going 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two contests, including one start.
After the trade he spent the rest of the season with Triple-A Scranton and compiled a 2-0 record with a 2.82 ERA, 25 strikeouts and two walks in six starts.
The 24-year-old righty has got great command of the strike zone with an exceptional curveball and changeup but his fastball leaves something to be desired.
Germano could be a useful back of the rotation pitcher, but since the Phillies have an excess of starters he may see limited time out the bullpen. Germano is at best a long shot to head up north with the Phillies when they leave Florida in 30 days.
Tomorrow: Randall Simon

Flyers snare G Biron

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers acquired goaltender Martin Biron from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a second round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

"This is an opportunity for us to acquire a goaltender that we really like," said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren. "Biron will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He would have been on our shopping list this summer. Trading for him gives us a chance to get a little more familiar with him and he can get a little more familiar with our team and hopefully see a positive direction here and want to stay here."

Biron, 29, posted a 12-4-1 record, 3.04 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in 19 games for the Sabres this season.

Over parts of seven NHL seasons with Buffalo (1995-96 and 1998-99 through 2006-07), Biron has compiled a 134-115-37 record, 2.53 GAA, .909 save percentage and 18 shutouts in 300 career regular season games. He is second on the Sabres All-Time List in shutouts (18) and third in games played (300) and wins (134).

A native of Lac St. Charles, Quebec, Biron was originally drafted by the Sabres in the first round (16th overall) of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.

MLBPA calls steroid investigation a witch hunt

"The [players'] association told us this is just a witch hunt," Tigers outfielder Gary Sheffield told USA Today. "They don't want us to talk to them. This is all about getting [Barry Bonds].

Garcia talks...

"I was surprised I wasn't offered a contract," Jeff Garcia told Comcast SportsNet.on Monday. "There was never anything to negotiate over. We never know what it would've amounted to. It wasn't about the money. It was about being in a great situation."

"We just wanted to have a reasonable opportunity to be respected, to be appreciated for what took place last year," Garcia added. "Are there other reasons why I wasn't offered a contract? We'll never know."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Flyers trade Calder for D Lasse Kukkonen

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers acquired 6'1",190-pound defenseman Lasse Kukkonen (LA-she koo-KOH-nuhn) and a third round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for left wing Kyle Calder on Monday.

"With Kyle's pending unrestricted free agent status coming up, we did make an attempt to sign him, but it didn't look like we were going to get it done before the trade deadline tomorrow," said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren. "We just felt that we couldn't afford to take a chance and get nothing in return for an asset like Kyle. We did what we needed to do.

"Kukkonen is a player who played a couple of years with Joni Pitkanen back in Finland a few years ago. He is 25 years old, moves the puck extremely well and is averaging over 16 minutes a game for the Blackhawks. He is just a real steady defender. He is a nice addition to our team."

Kukkonen, 25, recorded five goals and nine assists for 14 points and 30 penalty minutes in 54 games for the Blackhawks this season. He was second on the team in blocked shots with 98.

Over parts of two NHL seasons with Chicago, Kukkonen has registered five goals and 10 assists for 15 points in 64 regular season games. Last season, Kukkonen posted 27 points (11G,16A) in 56 regular season games for Karpat (Finland). His plus +30 rating led the SM-Liiga League (Finland). He added 12 points (5G,7A) in 11 games as Karpat won the SM-Liiga championship.

A native of Oulu, Finland, Kukkonen was a member of the Finnish National Team for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games and the 2006 World Championships. He was drafted by the Blackhawks in the fifth round (151st overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Calder, 28, registered nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points and 36 penalty minutes in 59 games for the Flyers this season. He was acquired bythe Flyers from Chicago in exchange for Michal Handzus on August 4, 2006.

This isn’t staying in Vegas

By John McMullen

Popularity has its perks and the NFL knows it.

No matter how many felons, drunk drivers, wife beaters and other assorted flotsam the league employed, it knew America would be tuning in every Sunday. In fact, it cultivated an alarming, dysfunctional, almost abusive relationship with its followers.

Like a bullying boyfriend or a tyrannical father -- the NFL preyed on the fact that most sports fans loved its game and were going nowhere. So with billions of dollars flowing in, there was no impetus for change.

Simply put, the arrogance of the league enabled the omnipotent sports giant to contradict things the rest of us saw with our own eyes. But, everyone has a breaking point.

Enter Pacman Jones.

You can almost picture the scene...

Ron Burgundy addressing Brian Fantana, Champ Kind and.....Jones, regarding a Las Vegas strip club incident that ended in gunfire with a former World Wrestling Federation jobber paralyzed below the waist.

“That really escalated quickly,” Ron would say to his cohorts. “Pacman almost killed a guy.”

Yep, the only thing missing is the trident.

All kidding aside, Las Vegas police have questioned Jones but he is not a suspect in the actual shooting. Of course, a key witness confirmed that the pride of Tennessee was in the middle of the ruckus that allegedly led to the shootings. He also arrived and departed with the actual shooter.

Class act.

But, there is a silver lining in all of this. Jones is such a public relations nightmare that he has spurred a league that ignored a stunning behavioral problem for 20 years into action. Talks have already been held between the league and the NFL Players Association and it looks like there is substantive support for a three-strike rule.

Could that mean an NFL without Jones, Chris Henry and Leonard Little?

It’s already on the way and it only took $81,000, some strippers and an idiot who calls himself Pacman.

35 Reasons to Believe

The Phanatic Magazine kicked off its 35 straight days of Phillies on Sunday, one article per day detailing each member battling for position as the season begins. Also, look for Michael Rushton's season outlook, which will cap the offseason look at the Phillies on Opening Day -- April 2nd against Atlanta.
By Eric Redner
Clay Condrey appeared in 21 games over three stints last season with the Phillies. It was his first time he had pitched in the big leagues since 2003 when he was a member of the San Diego Padres.
The right-hander threw a total of 28 2/3 innings in his appearances and finished with a 3.14 earned-run average and a 2-2 record.
During that time he gave up a total of 35 hits and 11 runs (10 earned) with three long balls surrendered along with nine walks and 16 strikeouts.
The Phillies acquired Condrey from the Padres on March 30, 2004 for second baseman Trino Aguilar. His first two seasons in the Phillies organization were spent with the clubs' Triple-A affiliate at the time in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he started 51 games. Last year he appeared in 39 contests with the Red Barons as a reliever when he was not in Philadelphia.
Expect to see Condrey used in much the same role this year, splitting his time between the big club and Triple-A Ottawa. Whenever an injury happens in the bullpen, or injuries to starters force a bullpen pitcher into a starting role, the Phillies will call up Condrey as a middle reliever.
At this point, he appears a long shot to make the club out of camp in Clearwater.
Tomorrow: Justin Germano

Momentum grows for NFL expulsion policy

Paul Kuharsky of The Tennessean takes an interesting look at the ongoing NFL conduct problems.

Sports is Art

By Jared Trexler
If sports is a Picaso masterpiece, life really does imitate art.
Tragedy. Exaltation. Triumph. Disappointment. The list of adjectives, superlatives, words of gripping emotion are endless in describing sports' greatest stories.
Columns listing stats and copied quotes truly don't delve at the core of sports -- the fables that each and every individual can relate to, take something away from, show understanding with.
Jason McElwain, a high-school basketball trainer yes, but an autistic child fighting a national stigma. He can't play sports people said. Oh, but he did, scoring 20 points in 4:19.
Payne Stewart finally capturing American golf's greatest championship. Embracing his wife Tracey in sobs of joy. Dying suddenly in a plane crash just four months later.
Or 9/11. Disaster and devastation in America's city -- the economical and cultural capital of the United States. Rampant flames, people jumping for their lives, but ultimately their deaths. Phone calls that go something like, "Hunny, take care of the kids. Call our attorney. A plane just crashed into our building...." And after 20 years of marriage or six days after telling your boyfriend/girlfriend "I love you..." you hear "I'm probably not coming home."
Sports was America's first sign of public mourning. The first step in moving forward.
This isn't the movies, where two guys in cowboy hats turn around, count to three then shoot. Or a day in age where serendipitous occurrences lead to true love. Rather, sports is real people, showing real emotions, and if we forget the "realness" of it all, there are stories of tragedy and triumph to bring us back.
This leads to my only true conversation with an athlete. I've yelled things, some unrepeatable, and received snide glances in return. But my only true conversation with a professional athlete, albeit brief, can be understood by all walks of life.
I was standing near the 18th green on Thursday of the 2002 United States Open, waiting to catch a glimpse of my favorite athlete -- Greg Norman -- as he approached the green. Norman wasn't jovial, coming off back-to-back bogeys with a round destined for mediocrity. Yet, as he approached the green he walked in my direction.
Not to me of course. But right next to me, to a young fan in a wheelchair. He took off his straw hat, placed it on the girl's head and said, "You'll need this to shield your eyes from the sun 30 years from now."
He then turned to the girl's mother and said, "Believe. It's a wonderful thing."
As he left the green, I shouted, "That was great Greg." Not referring to his golf, but rather his gesture. He turned, smiled, and said, "Thank you."
I felt like we had talked for hours.
Life brings misfortune. It's an inevitable disservice, especially to those who don't necessarily deserve it. But sometimes it serves a purpose.
I don't know if that girl is alive five years later. But I do know that during that moment, and possibly for days or weeks afterward, she believed she would be. And so did her mom.
Life truly does imitate art.
So, at the times of misfortune, remember Jason McElwain. Remember that little girl.
To rip off a Phillies advertising slogan...
It's just one more reason to believe.
Jared Trexler can be reached at Paintings are appreciated.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

35 Reasons to Believe

The Phanatic Magazine kicks off its 35 straight days of Phillies today, one article per day detailing each member battling for position as the season begins.

Also, look for Michael Rushton's season outlook, which will cap the offseason look at the Phillies on Opening Day -- April 2nd against Atlanta.


By Michael Rushton

The Philadelphia Phillies appear to have struck gold after grabbing feisty outfielder Shane Victorino from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004 by way of the Rule 5 Draft.

Victorino is now penciled in as a starter this season for the Phillies, so the club tried again to find diamonds in the rough when they selected three players in this year's edition of the Rule 5 Draft.

One of those players was 6-foot-7 pitcher Jim Ed Warden.

Warden comes to the Phillies from Cleveland. He spent the 2006 season with Double-A Akron and finished 5-2 with a 3.05 earned run average and 11 saves in 55 games. Warden held opponents to a .167 batting average last season, a campaign that featured a season-best 14-inning scoreless streak from mid-June until late July.

A former sixth-round pick in the 2001 draft by the Indians, Warden found his callling in the bullpen in 2004 after spending his previous seasons as a starter. In '04, Warden made 40 relief appearances and was 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 13 saves. compared the tall pitcher to Chad Bradford in December because of his sidearm delivery and mid-90 velocity. However, given his experience level and the fact that he is right-handed, Warden should be considered a long shot to crack Philadelphia's Opening Day roster.

Tomorrow: Clay Condrey

Eagles lock up Feeley

By John McMullen

The Philadelphia Eagles signed quarterback A.J. Feeley to a three-year contract extension on Sunday.

The deal will keep Feeley in Philadelphia through the 2010 season and will likely mean the end of Jeff Garcia’s short tenure with the Eagles.

“A.J. Feeley has been very productive as a quarterback in Philadelphia,” said general manager Tom Heckert. “He’s won some games at crucial times for this franchise and he gives us a great amount of confidence as a back-up to Donovan McNabb. A.J.’s proven to be very comfortable in this offensive scheme and we look forward to having him in the fold for the next several years.”

The 29-year-old Feeley (6-3, 225) was originally drafted by Philadelphia in the fifth round of the 2001 draft. He was pressed into action during the final five regular season games of the 2002 season due to injuries to McNabb and Koy Detmer and led the team to a 4-1 record and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Feeley was then traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2004 for a second-round draft choice that was used by the Eagles to select wide receiver Reggie Brown. After a 1 1/2 year stint with the Dolphins, Feeley was traded to San Diego during the 2005 campaign.

He was released by the Chargers during the 2006 preseason and returned to Philadelphia on August 30. Feeley saw significant action during the regular season finale vs. Atlanta and threw for a career-high 321 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Eagles to a 24-17 victory. In that game, he also completed a career long 89-yard touchdown pass to Hank Baskett.

As an Eagle, Feeley has completed 59.2 percent of his passes (122-206) for 1,496 yards, 11 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He has led the Eagles to a 4-1 record as a starting quarterback.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Tragedy strikes Broncos again

Denver Broncos running back Damien Nash died after a charity basketball game he was hosting in St. Louis on Saturday.

Nash was pronounced dead at 7:41 p.m. (et). He was just 24.

The St. Louis coroner's office confirmed the death but provided no other details.

"The Denver Broncos organization is once again struck with profound sadness over the tragic loss of one of our players," Denver owner Pat Bowlen said. "This is a tremendous tragedy and our hearts go out to the entire Nash family.”

“The Broncos family has suffered a great loss with the passing of Damien Nash," added head coach Mike Shanahan. "I am stunned and deeply saddened by this tragedy, and send my deepest condolences to Damien’s family.”

Flyers trade Zhitnik for D Coburn

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have acquired 6'5", 220-pound defenseman Braydon Coburn from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for defenseman Alexei Zhitnik.

"Braydon is a player who we have liked since his draft year (2003) and the chance to acquire him just came up a few days ago," said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren. "He is a big, young defenseman that skates very well. He will fit in nicely with our young group. Alexei was a good player for us and we wish him nothing but the best in the future."

Coburn, 21, posted four assists and 30 penalty minutes in 29 games for the Thrashers this season. He also appeared 15 games for the Thrashers' American Hockey League affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, recording a goal and 10 assists for 11 points and 36 penalty minutes.

Over the last two NHL seasons with Atlanta, Coburn has registered five assists and 34 penalty minutes in 38 regular season games. In parts of three AHL seasons (2004-05 through 2006-07), he has recorded seven goals and 31 assists for 38 points and 175 penalty minutes in 91 regular season games. A native of Calgary, Alberta, Coburn posted an assist and 36 penalty minutes in 18 playoff games as the Wolves advanced to the 2005 Calder Cup Finals (losing to the Philadelphia Phantoms).

Coburn was drafted by the Thrashers in the first round (eighth overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. In five seasons with the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League (2000-01 through 2004-05), Coburn registered 29 goals and 102 assists for 131 points and 483 penalty minutes in 238 regular season games. He was named to the WHL West First All-Star Team following the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons and WHL Rookie of the Year for the 2001-02 season.Zhitnik, 34, has recorded five goals and 18 assists for 23 points and 78 penalty minutes in 61 games for the Flyers and the NY Islanders this season. In 31 games for the Flyers, Zhitnik posted 12 points (3G,9A) and 38 penalty minutes. He was acquired by the Flyers from NY Islanders in exchange for Freddy Meyer and a conditional draft pick on December 16, 2006.

A 14-year NHL veteran, Zhitnik has registered 91 goals and 357 assists for 448 points and 1,196 penalty minutes in 1,002 career regular season games with the Los Angeles Kings (1992-93 to 1994-95), Buffalo Sabres (1994-95 through 2003-04), the Islanders (2005-06 and 2006-07) and the Flyers (2006-07).

Speed and strength no guarantee of success

Here are the best marks posted at the NFL scouting combine since 1999 courtesy of

40 Yard Dash Times :
4.24 - Rondel Menendez, (WR), Eastern Kentucky - 1999
4.28 - Jerome Mathis, (WR), Hampton - 2005
4.28 - Champ Bailey, (CB), Georgia - 1999
4.29 - Stanford Routt, (CB), Houston - 2005
4.29 - Jay Hinton, (RB), Morgan State - 1999
4.29 - Fabian Washington, (CB), Nebraska - 2005
4.30 - Darrent Williams, (CB), Oklahoma State - 2005
4.31 - Johnathan Joseph, (CB), South Carolina - 2006
4.31 - Aaron Lockett, (WR), Kansas State - 2002
4.31 - Santana Moss, (WR), Miami - 2001
4.32 - Troy Williamson, (WR), South Carolina - 2005
4.32 - Chad Jackson, (WR), Florida - 2006
4.32 - Tim Jennings, (CB), Georgia - 2006
4.32 - Chris McKenzie, (CB), Arizona State - 2005
4.32 - Tim Carter, (WR), Auburn - 2002
4.32 - Kevin Garrett, (CB), Southern Methodist - 2003
4.32 - Antwan Harris, (CB), Virginia - 2000
4.33 - Carlos Francis, (WR), Texas Tech - 2004
4.33 - Karsten Bailey, (WR), Auburn - 1999
4.33 - Chris Chambers, (WR), Wisconsin - 2001
4.34 - Ahmad Carroll, (CB), Arkansas - 2004
4.34 - Domonique Foxworth, (CB), Maryland - 2005
4.34 - Tyrone Calico, (WR), Middle Tennessee State - 2003
4.34 - Tye Hill, (CB), Clemson - 2006
4.34 - Kevin Brooks, (CB), South Carolina - 1999

225 Pound Bench Reps
51 - Justin Ernest, (DT), Eastern Kentucky - 1999
45 - Mike Kudla, (DE), Ohio State - 2006
45 - Leif Larsen, (DT), Texas-El Paso - 2000
44 - Brodrick Bunkley, (DT), Florida State - 2006
43 - Scott Young, (OG), BYU - 2005
42 - Isaac Sopoaga, (DT), Hawaii - 2004
41 - Terna Nande, (OLB), Miami (OHIO) - 2006
41 - Igor Olshansky, (DT), Oregon - 2004
40 - Zach Piller, (OT), Florida - 1999
38 - Tony Pashos, (OT), Illinois - 2003
38 - Craig Page, (C), Georgia Tech - 1999
38 - Jeff Smith, (C), Wyoming - 1999
37 - Wayne Hunter, (OT), Hawaii - 2003
37 - Haloti Ngata, (DT), Oregon - 2006
37 - Roberto Garza, (C), Texas AM-Kingsville - 2001
37 - Victor Leyva, (OG), Arizona State - 2001
37 - Moran Norris, (FB), Kansas - 2001
36 - Gabe Watson, (DT), Michigan - 2006
36 - Vince Wilfork, (DT), Miami - 2004
36 - Liam Ezekiel, (ILB), Northeastern - 2005
36 - Scott Peters, (C), Arizona State - 2002
36 - Makoa Freitas, (OG), Arizona - 2003
36 - Ryan Denney, (DE), BYU - 2002
35 - Tim Bulman, (DT), Boston College - 2005
35 - Evan Mathis, (OG), Alabama - 2005

Highest Vertical Jump
46 - Gerald Sensabaugh, (FS), North Carolina - 2005
45 1/2 - Derek Wake, (OLB), Penn State - 2005
45 - Chris McKenzie, (CB), Arizona State - 2005
45 - Chris Chambers, (WR), Wisconsin - 2001
43 1/2 - Dustin Fox, (FS), Ohio State - 2005
43 1/2 - Jay Hinton, (RB), Morgan State - 1999
43 1/2 - Kevin Kasper, (WR), Iowa - 2001
43 1/2 - Jerry Azumah, (RB), New Hampshire - 1999
43 - Scott Starks, (CB), Wisconsin - 2005
43 - Cedric James, (WR), TCU - 2001
42 1/2 - Jonathan Carter, (WR), Troy - 2001
42 1/2 - Nate Burleson, (WR), Nevada - 2003
42 1/2 - Brock Williams, (CB), Notre Dame - 2001
42 - Kerry Rhodes, (FS), Louisville - 2005
42 - Ellis Hobbs, (CB), Iowa State - 2005
42 - William Green, (RB), Boston College - 2002
42 - Vernon Davis, (TE), Maryland - 2006
42 - Mark Anderson, (DE), Alabama - 2006
42 - Boss Bailey, (OLB), Georgia - 2003
42 - Scott Fujita, (OLB), California - 2002
42 - Raonall Smith, (OLB), Washington State - 2002
42 - Rashad Holman, (CB), Louisville - 2001
42 - Santana Moss, (WR), Miami - 2001
42 - Pierson Prioleau, (FS), Virginia Tech - 1999
41 1/2 - Reuben Houston, (CB), Georgia Tech - 2006

Sixers bow to Bobcats

Andre Iguodala was held to just 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting as the Sixers fell to the Charlotte Bobcats, 102-87, in an uninspired effort.

Tick...tick...boom to bust

By John McMullen

One game matters.

To illustrate my point, I give you Brady Quinn and JaMarcus Rusell

Quinn was the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2007 NFL Draft before the LSU Tigers faced his Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Sugar Bowl.

Russell? A junior with a strong arm projected to be a first day pick if he declared. (That’s a third rounder for those of you uninitiated with draft speak.).

Today, Quinn has fallen -- albeit not too far -- and Russell has been a shooting star, the new presumptive No. 1 with a ticket to the Bay Area in sight. When you consider how much money NFL teams pour into scouting, it’s really stupefying that an organization could possibly change its draft boards to such a degree after just one game. But, that‘s exactly what happened all around the league.


Sure, the Tigers trounced the Irish but it wasn’t all that hard to figure out why -- LSU had vastly superior speed on both sides of the ball. Quinn certainly didn’t forget how to be an NFL quarterback in one night, his receivers couldn’t get separation and his offensive line was whiffing against better athletes.

“When you look at a senior, people start to beat them up a little bit more easily than they can the juniors who only come out January 15th,” NFL Network's lead draft analyst Mike Maycock said in a recent conference call. “Brady Quinn hasn't thrown the football since the bowl game. The bowl game was a tough game for Notre Dame.”

So with that one tough game, Quinn went from sure fire hit to a free-fall and Mayock for one is isn’t quite sure why.

“I mean, to me Brady Quinn is still the same quarterback I watched as a junior, and he's still a franchise-type quarterback,” Mayock said. “All those perceptions don't really get to me because I can sit down with the game tape.”

Of course, Mayock still gushes over Russell like everyone else. “From a physical skill set perspective, I've never seen a college quarterback with more ability than JaMarcus Russell,” Mayock raved. “You put the tape on and it's frightening. He's 6-foot-6, 260 pounds. He can make every throw. He's got better touch than you would expect. He's got a pretty good feel for the game for a guy that hasn't had all that many snaps.”

So why wasn’t Russell a sure fire star on January 2?

The questions with JaMarcus Russell are going to come up on the work ethic side and how much the guy loves football or doesn't love football,” said Mayock.

And there you have it -- we just might be witnessing the sequel to Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf.

“At the top end of that NFL Draft, you're playing guys $10, $15, $20 million guaranteed top,” Mayock said. “If you miss at the top end, you can set your franchise back three to five years, especially with a franchise quarterback. As we get closer, the scrutiny on JaMarcus Russell will increase, especially off the field. So how much does the guy love football? How hard is he willing to work? Really that's what Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders have to decide.”

In every draft -- history is the ultimate judge.

The Raiders have about six weeks to figure out which side of history they want to be on.

John appears on this page every Saturday. You can contact him at

Friday, February 23, 2007

War of words good for Phils

By Michael Rushton

In case you haven't heard, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins sparked a "war of words" when he not once, but twice stated that Philly was the team to beat in the NL East.

And I say bravo.

In one sentence, Rollins established what the clubhouse leaders before him could not; an identity. Even if it is one of arrogance and confidence, so be it.

Like it or not, with the exits of Mike Lieberthal , Randy Wolf, Jim Thome and even David Bell, this team, or the clubhouse at least, is J-Roll's.

And I say bravo.

Much like the Flyers or the 76ers without Allen Iverson, the Phillies have lacked identity for who knows how long. Scott Rolen, Pat Burrell, Jim Thome; all boring by nature. Players, sure, but boring non the less. A blue-collar working attitude can only take you so far.

And is what Rollins said really that bad? In essence, he just put the rest of the league on notice that the Phillies believe they are going to be a force in the league this year. Except he didn't wait until the the bats were swinging to do so.

What would the conservatives have had Rollins say. Something like this?

"Well, we really improved this offseason but the Mets and the Braves are still the teams to beat in the East."

In other words, we are still Atlanta and New York's doormats until further notice.

Nope, the slick Oakland native boldly claimed instead that his team, a club that hasn't sniffed the playoffs since 1993, are the new powerhouses.

And I say bravo.

Even the fallout of the event wasn't that bad. Sure, the media and some fans got all up and arms about Rollins' statement. But the Mets seemed to take it in stride.

Neither David Wright, Carlos Beltran, manager Willie Randolph or even the dreaded Billy Wagner seemed to be fazed by Rollins' comments. Wright and Beltran even went on to say what a good guy they think Rollins is.

No one threatened to target Rollins, or even worse Ryan Howard, in the batters box when the two clubs meet on April 9. No one insulted the Phillies' weak bullpen or brought up the year 1993. Heck, no one even threatened to take Cole Hamels out drinking at the local New York bars.

The Mets know what Rollins is trying to do for his club, and unlike the media, they don't care.

Now it will be up to Rollins and company to make good on those words in early April, a month that has not been kind to Philadelphia over the years. But thanks to Rollins' words, they should trot into the Big Apple with a little swagger and attitude. And hopefully they'll leave with it as well.

And I say bravo.

Taunt Michael Rushton with your war of words at

Drexel Wins in NCAA Women's-Record 5 OTs

Drexel’s 98-90 five overtime win over Northeastern last night was the longest game in NCAA women's basketball history.

Broad Street Style

The Ottawa-Buffalo brawl last night got The Phanatic Magazine thinking back to 1997, when the Flyers had a memorable throwdown with the Sabres of their own.

Ahh, the good old days.

Clearwater Coverage

The Mets and Phillies are already exchanging verbal blows -- and Spring Training games haven't even started. Davey Lopes, one of the new coaches with managerial experienced added by Charlie Manuel during the offseason, has one main goal this spring -- turn the fleet-footed Phillies into serious basestealing threats.

In Phillies notes, Jimmy Rollins' declaration -- "We are the team to beat" -- may not bother the Mets on the field, but the Mets fans will surely remember the words when the two clubs do battle in the Mets home opener on April 9. Brian Sanches agreed to contract terms -- meaning, yes, Ryan Howard is the only unsigned player on the 40-man roster. Danny Sandoval could be in camp today after having trouble in Venezuela because of a mistaken identity. Eude Brito still has stiffness in his neck and shoulder from a motorcycle accident last month. He has thrown off a mound, but hasn't faced live hitters.

Owls still learning to fly as Hawks take off

A conference battle at the Palestra Thursday night went to St. Joseph's. The Hawks (17-10, 9-4 Atlantic 10) used a big-time spurt during a 10-minute stretch of the second half to distance themselves from Temple (11-15, 5-8) in a 92-76 victory.

Sixers trade Alan Henderson, exchange draft picks

By Jared Trexler

The NBA trade deadline went by without any big names -- Vince Carter, Mike Bibby, Pau Gasol -- finding new homes, but look on the bright side.

Alan Henderson was sent to Salt Lake City, Utah along with some cash for the rights to switch second-round drafts picks with the Jazz this season.

The 34-year-old Henderson was averaging 3.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 34 games for the Sixers this season. The 12-year veteran has career averages of 7.9 points and 5.0 rebounds with Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas and the Sixers.

Trading Henderson, who was making the veteran minimum of $1.18 million, sheds about $700,00 and gives the Sixers some breathing room below the $65.42 million luxury tax number.

Flyers go down in a Hurricane

Philadelphia stormed back from a 2-0 deficit only to go down in a storm during overtime, falling to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Thursday night at the RBC Center. Glen Wesley's shorthanded goal in the extra session was the game-winner.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Former Celtics star Johnson dead at 52

Former NBA star Dennis Johnson died Thursday at age 52. Johnson, who was part of three NBA champions and had been coaching the Austin Toros of the NBA Developmental League. The cause of death is not yet known.

Draft shouldn't be in Reid's hands

By Tim McManus

There has been a lot of speculation regarding the effect that Andy Reid's absence is going to have on the 2007 Eagles, and most of it's bogus.

Will he be too out of the loop after a month off? Will the team miss out on potential free agents/coaches? With most head coaches working 365, can an NFL team thrive with a temporary absence at that position?

Any such concern is ultimately unwarranted. This is not a first-year coach without a blueprint here, but rather a very meticulous, systematic intellectual that has created one of the most successful and full-proof infrastructures in the league.

Be assured, someone will answer the phone at the NovaCare Complex even if the boss isn't in.

There is, however, an element that will most definitely be affected by the big man's absence -- Draft Day.

Right now, the brain trusts of all 32 teams -- including 31 head coaches -- are in Indianapolis for the Scouting Combine. As we speak, hundreds of the most influential men in the league are gathered around the talent, equipped with a stop watch, a yard stick and a trained eye.

Just as importantly, they're engaging in interviews with the future of their franchises, deciding whether they're closer in character to Warrick Dunn or Pacman Jones; deciphering if said player will vibe with their team or not.

After several days of gathering information -- followed by endless hours analyzing all of the data -- Tom Heckert and the rest of the Eagles brass will package and hand deliver it all to Reid.

So yes, Big Red will have all the vitals in hand, and more than enough time prior to Draft Day to sift thoroughly through all of it. But what he won't be armed with is the same kind of first-hand experience. He can see the definition of a player's body on tape, but not necessarily the glint in his eye.

Couple that with the fact that he will be several weeks behind in his work, and Reid is going to have to yield some of his power come April 28.

That could present a slight philosophical shift. While "Reid-type" players will still be targeted, it will be others besides Reid deciding who those players are. Even if that means selecting a linebacker or bruising back in the high rounds, you ask? Well, let's just say the chances are marginally better.

Like other areas surrounding the Eagles and Reid's absence, this isn't a major concern. Again, he has built a fluid network that is able to survive and thrive even in the moments he isn't steering the ship.

He must trust that network when the Eagles go on the clock.

Tim appears on this page every Thursday. You can contact him at

Vote for the Phillies Wall of Fame

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia Phillies

Fans will have a voice in which former Phillies player, manager or coach is selected to the team's Wall of Fame in 2007.
Beginning tomorrow (Friday, February 23), fans can vote online exclusively at Voting ends at noon on Friday, March 23.

Fans can select their top three choices from a 15-man ballot of Phillies Alumni. A first place vote is worth five points, second place three points and third place one point. The top five fan consensus choices as determined by total points will serve as the final official ballot for a special Wall of Fame Selection Committee that will choose this year's inductee.

Eligibility Requirements

Phillies players with five or more years of service are eligible. Managers and coaches need four or more years of service. In addition to a player's statistical record, consideration is given to longevity, ability, contributions to the Phillies and baseball, character and special achievements.

Alumni Weekend

Induction ceremonies will occur at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, August 10, prior to the 7:05 p.m. game with the Atlanta Braves, the first day of Alumni Weekend. A 14"x20" cast bronze plaque of the honoree will be added to the Wall of Fame display located in the Memory Lane section of Ashburn Alley.

2007 Ballot

The 15 Phillies Alumni who appear on the online ballot:

Pitchers: Larry Christenson, Jim Konstanty*, Ron Reed, Dick Ruthven, Rick Wise

Catcher: Darren Daulton

Infielders: John Kruk, Fred Luderus*, Juan Samuel, Pinky Whitney*

Outfielders: Lenny Dykstra, Von Hayes

Manager: Gene Mauch*

Coaches: Mike Ryan, John Vukovich


NFL Scouting Combine 2007

Michael David Smith of Fox Sports and Football Outsiders gives you a list of players to watch for at the combine.

Meanwhile, the good people at have furnished us with their updated list of the top 50 pro prospects:

Top 50 Pro Prospects for the NFL Draft ’07
* underclassmen Rating – late Feb ’07 before the NFL Combine

1 * Calvin Johnson WR 6-4, 235 Georgia Tech
2. Joe Thomas OT 6-8, 305 Wisconsin
3 * Adrian Peterson RB 6-2, 220 Oklahoma
4.* JaMarcus Russell QB 6-6, 255 LSU
5. Gaines Adams DE 6-4, 265 Clemson
6. Brady Quinn QB 6-4, 230 Notre Dame
7 * Ted Ginn WR 6-0, 180 Ohio St
8.* Jamaal Anderson DE 6-6, 255 A kansas
9. LaRon Landry FS 6-2, 205 LSU
10.* Alan Branch DT 6-6, 330 Michigan
11.* Dwayne Jarrett WR 6-5, 210 USC
12. Levi Brown OT 6-5, 325 Penn St
13.* Marshawn Lynch RB 5-10,223 California
14.* Greg Olsen TE 6-5. 255 Miami
15. Leon Hall CB 5-11,195 Michigan
16.* Sidney Rice WR 6-1 190 South Carolina
17. Paul Poluszny LB 6-1, 238 Penn St
18. Amobi Okoye DT 6-2, 290 Louisville
19.* Lawrence Timmons LB 6-3, 230 Florida St.
20.* Darrelle Revis CB 5-11,190 Pittsburgh
21.* Zach Miller TE 6-5, 260 Arizona St
22. Daymeion Hughes CB 6-2, 190 California
23. Adam Carriker DE 6-5, 280 Nebraska
24.* Reggie Nelson DB 6-1, 190 Florida
25. Jon Beason LB 6-0, 225 Miami
26.* Jarvis Moss DE 6-6, 255 Florida
27. Aaron Ross CB 6-0, 195 Texas
28.* Charles Johnson E 6-2, 275 Georgia
29. Michael Griffin FS 6-0, 205 Texas
30. Ryan Kalil OC 6-2, 290 Southern Cal
31. LaMarr Woodley DE 6-2, 270 Michigan
32. Justin Blalock OG 6-4, 330 Texas
33. Patrick Willis LB 6-2, 230 Mississippi
34. Marcus McCauley CB 6-0, 210 Fresno St
35. * Brandon Siler LB 6-1, 235 Florida
36. Anthony Spencer DE 6-3, 260 Purdue
37. * Eric Wright CB 5-11, 190 UNLV
38. Dwayne Bowe WR 6-2, 220 LSU
39. Brian Leonard FB 6-2, 235 Rutgers
40. Victor Abiamiri DE 6-3, 260 Notre Dame
41. Quinn Pitcock DT 6-2, 295 Ohio St
42. Drew Stanton QB 6-3, 230 Michigan St
43. Quentin Moses DE 6-5, 250 Georgia
44. Justin Harrell DT 6-3, 305 Tennessee
45. Rufus Alexander LB 6-1, 230 Oklahoma
46. Tank Tyler DT 6-0, 330 North Carolina St
47. Brandon Meriweather FS 6-0, 190 Miami
48. * Robert Meachem WR 6-2, 205 Tennessee
49. Joe Staley OT 6-5, 295 Central Michigan
50. Brandon Mebane DT 6-1, 305 California

And to finish things up -- you can take a look at the pro day calendar here.

Clearwater Coverage

Aaron Rowand's heard about the rumored deal sending him to San Diego for relief pitcher Scott Linebrink -- but the man goes about his business for the 2007 season without those thoughts in his mind. Jon Lieber spoke about his situation -- the odd man out in a six-man rotation as Spring Training begins. Karim Garcia, after a two-year hiatus, has another shot in the big leagues, refining his swing in Japan last season with moderate success. He is vying for one of the two final bench spots -- battling Chris Coste, Chris Roberson and Greg Dobbs.

In Phillies notes, the club will wear polyester-blend hats instead of the traditional woolen caps this season; southpaw Matt Smith and Shane Victorino came to contract agreements (terms not announced), making Ryan Howard and Brian Sanches the only two remaining unsigned players on the 40-man roster; pitcher Yoel Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Ottawa, Eude Brito is trying to return from a car accident and Danny Sandoval still has not left Venezuela -- seems to be an identity issue with the country's justice department.

The Phanatic Magazine's Phillies Season Preview begins February 25th.

Drexel avenges loss to William & Mary

HUGE would be too small of a word to describe Drexel's 64-57 victory over William & Mary at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. The win kept the Dragons' (21-7, 12-5 CAA) at-large hopes alive.

Soul Shorts

The Phanatic Magazine will have in-depth coverage of the Philadelphia Soul this season, on-site at every home game and bringing you a Season Preview to remember. Until then, listen to owner Jon Bon Jovi's feelings on the franchise and the upcoming Arena Football League season. Also, Marc Narducci of the Inquirer says that its time quarterback Tony Graziani became a leader. If you can't make it down to the Wachovia Center, the Soul will be hitting your living rooms a lot this spring. The Soul will make a league-high seven national TV appearances on ESPN with another five coming to you on Comcast Sportsnet.