Monday, April 30, 2007

"Eagles Mock Draft"

Phils are finally winning; why Yankees' woes might affect Phillies; and other rantings from the week that was in sports

By Greg Wiley
The Phanatic Magazine

Don't fear Philadelphians, that earth-rattling scare that reportedly registered a 6.0 on the Richter Scale Saturday wasn't an earthquake, it was the collective thump of every Eagle fans' jaw hitting the ground when the club drafted Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb with its first draft pick. The aftershock was Donovan McNabb throwing every can of Chucky's Soup he has in his kitchen at the picture of head coach Andy Reid that hangs on his fridge.

Maybe just as surprising as Brady Quinn falling to the 22nd pick in the draft, was the Eagles taking a QB few heard of before his name was announced on Saturday. We all know why it was so surprising -- the Eagles had a number of other needs to fill, they already have a franchise signal caller and two decent backups -- but the question why he was selected still goes partly unanswered.

Yes, the Eagles' brass said that he was the best available talent, but who cares. As someone pointed out to me this weekend, how much can that talent help when he won't even see any significant game action. Players like Utah safety Eric Weddle, USC wide out Dwayne Jarrett and Rutgers fullback/running back Brian Leonard were all still on the board. I'm not a draft expert or NFL talent evaluator, but I have to think that these players might help the team more than a backup/future QB, who most likely won't play anyway even if McNabb isn't ready for the start of the season as he rehabs his surgically repaired knee.

There has to be some underlying issue with McNabb. Whether it is his injured knee, his age or the fact that he has trouble in the "big game," an interesting storyline is going to unfold in the coming weeks.

Regardless, my money is on an organizational error. I bet that the Eagles gave the wrong card to the runner that gives the information to the commissioner, or who ever called out Kolb's name. Right now, we are witnessing the cover up...

By the way, you know you're in the Philadelphia TV market when you're trying to escape the monotony of the NFL Draft by watching the FOX Baseball Game of the Week only to have the annoying text scroll at the bottom of the screen alerting viewers to who the Eagles took with their first draft pick. Thanks for the update!

Don't look now Philadelphia, but your Phillies are surging. The Phils have won seven of nine games and have won their last three series. The team is 11-13 overall, a far cry from the horrid 3-10 start to the season.

The winning must really be getting to the fans, because now they don't have anything to complain about. Not only is the team winning, but the hated Pat Burrell continues to produce, Aaron Rowand is also coming up big at the plate and Jimmy Rollins is an early contender for the MVP honor. The starting pitching is even coming through as the move of Brett Myers to the bullpen has helped secure the late-inning hiccups.

Although, there is one person the Phils fans can have an issue with -- reigning league MVP Ryan Howard. The slugger is hitting just .219 this season with three homers, 12 RBI and 10 runs scored.

It's no secret that Howard needs to produce for the Phillies to make any noise in the NL this season. The problem is that nobody seems to know when Howard is going to start to produce. Every time he shows just a glimpse of breaking out of his slump, he falls right back into it. He's been swinging at bad pitches and pulling off the pitches on the outside of the plate and striking out at the most inopportune times.

There are a number of ways to handle someone in such a slump, but Howard seems to be very fragile and anything too rash might cause even bigger problems.

Remember, this is the guy who wanted a long-term contract prior to the start of the season and not getting that has most likely affected his play.

So, if Charlie Manuel decides to rest his slugger for a few days, or moves him down in the lineup, that might cause irreversible psychological problems. I do think, however, if he moves to the third spot, in front of Chase Utley in the four-hole, then he might start to see some better pitches. The problem is he'll have to lay off the bad ones, something he hasn't been able to do...

Speaking of Uncle Charlie, he has to be happy he is no longer the major league manager on the hot seat. Over the past week he has managed to pass that torch along to Yankees skipper Joe Torre. The Yanks have dropped eight of nine games, including five of six to the rival Red Sox, which can't sit well with owner George Steinbrenner.

If Torre is going to get canned, today might be the day. The Yanks have an off-day before starting a three-game set in Texas and that might be enough time for Torre to empty his office and hand the keys over to either Don Mattingly or Joe Girardi. Both are in the organization currently (Mattingly as a coach and Girardi as a YES Network commentator) and depending on how soon the front office wants to win will determine who gets the gig.

The win-now manager is Girardi. He won the Manager of the Year award last year with the Marlins and can come in right away and get things cooking. Mattingly, on the other hand, has never had managerial experience on the big-league level and is someone who will have work out the kinks before getting the team rocking and rolling.

Why should Phillies fans worry about Torre's job status and who the next manager in the Bronx is? Well, Girardi will be the hot name this offseason to fill a managerial position, and with Manuel in the last year of his contract, Phillies fans should be keeping a close eye on what Girardi is doing. He might be the right guy for the job...

Sticking with baseball, I'm starting to think there is another undetectable steroid on the market. Why? Well, not only is Barry Bonds on pace to break Hank Aaron's home run record before midseason, but Sammy Sosa is hitting again. Sosa is a guy who went in the tank two years ago in Baltimore, and after a season away from the game already has seven home runs. I'm not complaining too much though, I have Sosa on my fantasy team and I hope he keeps sticking that needle in his butt -- until I trade him that is...

Nice showing by the defending NBA champion Miami Heat in the playoffs this week. The squad was swept in four games by the Chicago Bulls, who exploited the aging Heat for the underachieving, over-rated frauds that they are. Yeah, yeah, I know I picked the Heat to win the series, but they are an old team, with an old coach and an injured super-star (Dwyane Wade, not Shaquille O'Neal). They are the first defending champs since the 1984 Sixers to lose in the first round and first to be swept in the first round since the 1957 Philadelphia Warriors. That's the last time I jump on the Heat's bandwagon.

The Bulls are going to be a tough out for Detroit Pistons in the next round. Chicago, which won three of four from the Pistons in the regular season, has a strong perimeter game and despite not having a go-to guy in the post, the team finds ways to score inside. Kirk Hinrich can drive the lane with some of the best in the league, Luol Deng gets to the paint for jumpers and if Ben Gordon is on, there is no other player I want on my team in the fourth quarter in the NBA right now. Gordon has clutch-performer written all over him...

I wish I would've picked the Warriors over the Mavs like my gut told me too...

Oh, yeah. In case you missed it, which you probably did, NBC was to air "Barbaro, A Nation's Horse" on Sunday. But because of the 2OT Rangers-Sabres playoff game, it got bumped. Tell me, though, if Barbaro was the Nation's horse, why would a hockey game with a rating below that of the Kentucky Derby bump it? Talk about adding insult to injury, not only is Barbaro still not buried, but a hockey game cost him a shot at completing his time in the spotlight which needs to come to an end by the way.

Your rantings are always welcome at gwiley@phanaticmag.com.
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