Wednesday, January 28, 2009

State of the City

It's the time of year when presidents who are not newly elected give a State of the Union address in our nation's capital. As we find ourselves lamenting another woulda/shoulda/coulda Eagles season, nearing the end of the baseball offseason, and hovering around the respective All-Star breaks of the NHL and NBA, it seems appropriate to offer up some thoughts on where we are in the World of Philly Sports.

First, to the diamond. The team that did it right continues to do it right. New Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has picked up nicely where Pat Gillick left off, and has mostly flown under the radar in doing so. Outside of snagging slugging leftfielder Raul Ibanez away from Seattle to replace the now-departed Pat Burrell, Amaro hasn't made any big splashes. That's cause he doesn't have to. He has mostly concentrated on retaining the ccore of this World Champion club (man, that's never going to get old), while showing what he's learned from his predecessor by surrounding that core with unheralded, yet solid, role players. They re-signed Jamie Moyer to a two-year deal, and avoided arbitration in locking up Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Ryan Madson, Joe Blanton, Chad Durbin, and Greg Dobbs. Not to mention they locked up World Series MVP Cole Hamels for three years, $20.5 million, which might just be the steal of the century. The Phils had eight potential arbitration cases staring them down, and now only Ryan Howard remains. I call that, as Borat would say, a "great success."

Next we turn to the gridiron, though I must admit I hate that term. (I can see the "grid," but "iron"? I don't get it...) Though the Eagles really only showed up for half the season (in every sense of the word "half"), the pieces are still mostly in place to be some kind of contender in the wide-open NFC. They have to decide whether or not to keep Brian Dawkins, and will likely have to let go of Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas from the offensive line. Runyan I'll be sad to see go, though it seems like it's time. Thomas I probably won't. It's like he's either amazing or amazingly stupid. There was a period of time where it seemed like every penalty on the offense was against him. Besides, what the hell kind of a name is "Tra"?

I've come to realize I'll never understand Andy Reid, and while I think he should be fired, it seems like that's not going to happen. And as much as Donovan frustrates me to no end, I think you have to keep him. If you're a pass-happy coach as we all know Stubborn Andy to be, it seems like he might want to consider...wait for it...a #1 receiver! Wait, you mean completed passes need to have both a quarterback and a receiver? What a novel concept! If I'm Eagles GM Tom Heckert, I'm chomping at the bit for either Cincy's TJ Houshmandzadeh or Arizona's Anquan Boldin. If I'm him and I'm not looking at those guys, then I'm probably an idiot. Think about what might have been if we'd been able to swing that deal for Larry Fitzgerald in the offseason. You can bet this week's blog would've been on a slightly different topic.

To the frozen pond (that one I love). The Flyers are doing just fine, especially considering their horrible luck with injuries. As of January 18th, one game before the All-Star break, the Fly-guys had lost 223 man-games to injury, fourth worst in the league. (Side comment: every time I hear the term "man-game" I think of Vince Vaughn's Wes Mantooth from Anchorman.) One of those injury-plagued skaters is Danny Briere, who just had groin surgery, and hopes to be back in about a month. All that said, our boys are in third in the Atlantic, jsut four points behind the hated Devils and three behind the Rangers. They have a game in hand on New Jersey, and two on New York. So I think we're in good shape. As we know historically from the NHL, and recently from baseball and football, all you have to do is make the tournament.

And lastly, to the hardwood. If I haven't said it before, basketball is far and away my weakest sport. Like not even close. But I'm trying. Since consecutive road losses to Dallas and San Antonio to kick off 2009, the Sixers have reeled off eight wins in their last ten games, and have climbed into second place in the Atlantic division, albeit 14 and 1/2 games behind the Celtics. A win tonight at Houston would even up the record at 22-22. Saturday's win over the Knicks brought them back to .500 for the first time since the second game of the season, also a win over New York. Though it ain't saying a heck of a lot in the Eastern Conference, if the season ended today, the Sixers would be in the playoffs. The stunning piece of news I just read is that they may be looking to trade Elton Brand, after the celebrated coup of signing him away from Los Angelese over the summer. If you've gotta do it, better get some good value for him.

For now, we've got the Flyers to watch, and believe me, they're worth watching. And if that's not good enough for you, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training two weeks from Saturday. And as you may know, some of those pitchers and catchers will be defending the Phillies World Series title.
Other Musings: Rex Ryan, son of former Eagles coach Buddy Ryan, has been hired to coach the New York Jets. Maybe he'll punch one of his own coaches in the face.

I really like the Turbo Tax commercials with the historical figures from our dollar bills. Especially the one where Andrew Jackson and Ulysses Grant are talking about how much money they saved doing their own taxes, and Ben Franklin says, "I invented electricity. So there's that." Can't seem to find it anywhere though....

Anyone see the new Geico ads with a wad of money staring at you? You know Funny? You know Funny's cousin, Not Funny? That's him. Shoulda stuck with the cavemen.

You know Bob from those Enzyte commercials. I hate that guy.

The other day I saw a car for a driving school called Grand Prix. Seems to me like a really poor name choice.

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