Thursday, October 30, 2008

World Champions

28 years after the Philadelphia Phillies captured their first World Series Championship, they have done it again. Fighting off the Tampa Bay Rays and the rain, the Phillies won the series 4-1 last night with there 4-3 victory. 

The game started off with a Geoff Jenkins double. He was then brought home by Jayson Werth on a dropped infield pop fly ball. The Phillies held a 3-2 lead going into the top of the 7th, only to have it taken away by a Rocco Baldelli on a line drive home run given up by Ryan Madson. 

But tonight was the Phillies night, and they would not be denied. Pat Burrell, who has not had a hit this whole series, was able to get a lead off double. He was then taken out for Eric Bruntlett. Pedro Feliz delivered with a single up the middle, and the Phillies took a 4-3 lead. 

That lead would not be relinqueshed. Brad Lidge, trying to finish a perfect season, shut the door on the Rays. After he struck out the final batter, the curse was broken. The team that has over 10,000 loses, more then any other franchise, was now #1. World Champions. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sixers Season Preview

Last year, the Philadelphia Seventy Sixers came out of no where to make their first trip to the playoffs since there trade of Allen Iverson. Lead by the emergence of Andre Iguodala, the steady hand of Andre Miller, and the a young supporting cast of Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams, and Samuel Dalembert, they gave the Detroit Pistons all they could handle before bowing out in 6 games.

This achievement was ahead of schedule, as this past off season was the key part of the rebuilding process. Andre Iguodala and Louis Williams were free agents, and other players like Baron Davis, Elton Brand, and Josh Smith were available for the taking. Armed with the most cap room in the league, they looked at both Elton Brand and Josh Smith. Smith, a young, athletic power forward, was the first to visit. He would have fit perfectly with their team, but would not have fit their biggest need: low post, back to the basket, power forward.

So with that in mind, the Sixers gave the "Philly Max" to Elton Brand. Brand could have taken more money to go else where, but wanted to join this team and help them take the next step. Adding other key pieces like Kareem Rush, Donyell Marshall, Theo Ratliff, and drafting Marreese Speights have made the expections for this season higher then they have been in years. Here is a position by position break down of the team.

PG: Andre Miller, Louis Williams
Miller was the perfect fit for this young team last year, running the team to perfection. He can run, but can also slow it down when needed. He was the veteran hand that this young team needed. Louis Williams finally showed the talent the Sixers banked on when they drafted him right out of high school. While he still needs work on being a true point guard, he can penetrate into the paint and kick it out, or finish.
Grade: B

SG: Andre Iguodala, Willie Green, Kareem Rush
Igoudala is a young, athletic player who can finish with the best in the league, can defend any other teams two guard, and can knock down the 3. While he might not be a All Star, number one option on a team, he is a great number two. And with Brand here, he dosn't have to be a number one. Willie Green will be counted on to bring some scoring off the bench, and when players have gone down in the past, he has stepped up. Kareem Rush was brought in to knock down the open 3 and also to provide some spark off the bench.
Grade: B

SF: Thaddeus Young, Royal Ivey
Thaddeus Young, the 12th overall pick in last years draft, came on strong at the end of last season. His defense as well as his ability to finish close to the basket made him a member of the starting line up when the Sixers ended the season. He can drive to the basket, knock down a jumper, and also has a reliable jump hook. Look for him to make a leap this year, with more playing time. Royal Ivey was brought in to provide some defense off the bench, and will start the season with a 3 game suspension from his time with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Grade: C

PF: Elton Brand, Donyell Marshall, Marresse Speights, Reggie Evans, Jason Smith
Elton Brand is one of 4 players to have career averages of 20-10 that are active in the NBA. The othes? Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Shaquile O Neal. While he might not be as dominate as any of them in their prime, the numbers don't lie. Brand will provide a legitmate lost post presence for a team that lacked it desperatly in the playoffs. He is coming off of major knee surgery, but has shown no ill effects from it so far. Marresse Speights is this years draft pick, a young energetic rebounder from Florida. Donyell Marshall has journeyed from team to team in the NBA, but is a big man who can step out and knock down the open jumper. Reggie Evans will provide hustle off the bench, as well as in your face defense. Jason Smith, who showed promise last season, injured his knee in the off season and will miss this entire season.
Grade: A

C: Samuel Dalembert, Theo Ratliff
Dalembert will be asked to score less this season, and focus more on defense and rebounding. However, with Brand now on the team, he should get some better looks at the basket, as well as plenty of oppurtunites for put backs and offensive rebounds. Theo Ratliff was signed to provide limited minutes off the bench, but can still be one of the premier shot blockers in the league, as well as help teach the young players.
Grade: C+

Overall: In yesterdays NBA Preview, I picked the Sixers to finish 4th in the Eastern Conference. They only improved the team from last year that gave the Pistons all they could handle. The additon of Brand, if he can stay healthy, should be able to push them past teams like the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards. Even without Brand, players like Iguodala, Young, and Williams will only improve. I think they will get of the first round of the playoffs this year, but I don't seem them being able to beat a team like Boston of Cleveland. However, the overall nucleus of the team is young. Elton Brand is only 29, and he is the oldest starter on the team. So while they will improve this season, it will not be this year that they really threaten for the NBA Championship.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NBA Preview

Here are my predictions for the upcoming NBA Season. There are some teams and players I like, and some I don't. 

I Like:
1) Miami Heat: Anyone who watched the Olympics knows Dwanye Wade is back. When he is healthy, he is one of the top 10 players in the league. Remember, he has won more championships then Lebron James. I see a huge comeback year for him. The heat also have Shawn Marion, a do it all power forward who should compliment Wade nicely. Also, by drafting Micheal Beasley, they have a Carmelo Anthony type forward who can ease some of the scoring load off Wade. Plus, they only have to do better then the Washington Wizards (no Gilbert Arenas till January), Atlanta Hawks (still young team) and the Charlotte Bobcats (the Charlotte Bobcats) to finish second in their division behind the Orlando Magic. I see a big rebound year for the Heat.

2) Portland Trailblazers: This is a huge high risk, high reward pick. On paper, the Trail Blazers are one of the most talented teams in the league. Brandon Roy is an All-Star. LaMarcus Aldridge is an underrated player. They have promising young players like Greg Oden, Nicolas Batum, and Jarryd Bayless. They can run teams out of the gym, yet have a possible defensive force in the middle in Oden. They are a young, talented, athletic team on their good nights. On their bad nights, they are unexperienced, unproven bunch of 1rst and 2nd year players. However, I am not big on the Utah Jazz or Denver Nuggets, and one team allways comes out of no where each year. I think they are this years team.

3) Dwight Howard: This beast is ready for an even bigger season then last year. He can jump out of the gym, dunk on anyone, rebound and block. He averaged 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 2 blocks last season. And that was only his 4th season. He has improved his averages in points, rebounds, and blocks in each of those seasons. I think averages of 26 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 blocks are realistic. 

I Don't Like:

1) Dallas Mavericks: After two years of being bounced in the first round of the playoffs, I don't think the Mav's will even make it that far this year. Jason Kidd barley played in this summers Olympics, forced to the bench by Deron Williams and Chris Paul. Kidd just isn't a premier point guard in the league anymore. After the Mav's made the trade to aquire Kidd last season, they struggled to even make the playoffs. They went on to fire there coach, and bring in Rick Carlise, who has not had much sucess in his most recent stops as a head coach across the league. Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard have not brought them much sucess recently, and they both are getting older, and in Howards case, higher. 

2) Detroit Pistons: Micheal Curry? As head coach? This group was known to give questionable effort on some nights with proven coaches like Larry Brown and Flip Saunders. Micheal Curry has never even been an NBA head coach. While this group does have more veteran leadership then any other team in the league, this same group of players might have run its course. Rasheed Wallace has "final year of his contract- trade bait" written all over him, and Chauncey Billups has Rodney Stucky breathing down his neck. This team has been to the Conference Finals for what seems like 100 years in a row. This year I think they finally fall apart. However, in the East, that will still lead them to the playoffs. But I don't like them at all this year. 

3) Baron Davis and Gilbert Arenas: With Arenas hurt again, and Davis relocating, I don't think this will be a good season for either player. Davis signed on in LA hoping to play with Corey Magette and Elton Brand. Now, with both of them gone, he will be the main focus of every team he plays every night. He also isn't getting any younger, and just got his big money. Also, whens the last time a Clipper had a great season? Gilbert Arenas on the other hand, signed a 113 million doller deal with his team, the Wizards, in the off season. He missed almost all of last season with a knee injury, only to come back for the playoffs and do nothing. Before the ink was even dry on his new contract, he went under the knife again, putting him out until January already. Its a shame to say, but I don't see him ever returning to the same player he was. Especially not this season. 

Heres how I see the standings ending up:

1. Boston
2. Cleveland
3. Orlando
4. Philadelphia
5. Miami
6. Detroit
7. Toronto
8. Washington

1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. New Orleans
3. Portland
4. Phoenix
5. Utah
6. San Antonio
7. Rockets
8. Denver

Eastern Conference Finals: Cleveland over Boston
Western Conference Finals: Lakers over Hornets
NBA Champion: Los Angeles Lakers
NBA Finals MVP: Kobe Bryant

Regular Season Awards:
MVP: Dwanye Wade
Coach of the Year: Nate McMillan
Rookie of the Year: Micheal Beasley
Defensive Player of the Year: Kevin Garnett

Sunshine Thru The Rain

When the tarps started to cover the field in Game 5, the whole feeling that had been building all day in Philadelphia- a feeling that today would finally be our day- got covered up as well. With Cole Hamels on the mound, today was the day that the curse would end. It started out how it was supposed to, with Victorino slapping a 2 out, 2 run double to give us a 2-0 lead. 

Then, as the rain started to increase, our lead slowly went away. By the time Hamels went to take the mound at the top of the 6th, there were puddles by the bases. With the ball hard to grab onto, Hamels was striped of his change up, and forced to stay with his fastball. And when B.J. Upton crossed home plate to tie up the game, all of the excitement of the day was offcially drowned by the rain. Hamels start was washed away. It now comes down to a 3.5 inning game that will hopefully take place tonight. 

However, while it was a dissapointment, the Phillies have the advantage on Weds. night.

 First, they will have 4 times up to bat. The Rays have 3. The Phillies bat first, and they bat last. With Cole Hamels due up next in the batting order, they will start the inning with a pitch hitter, then Jimmy Rollins, their leadoff batter. The Rays just had B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria, and Carlos Pena come up in the 6th. So its possible they could only get one at bat tommorw. And if the Rays go down in order, they could have their first at bat agaisnt the Delivery Man of the Year, Brad Lidge. 

Second, the Phillies can start the game with Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, and close it out with Brad Lidge. They have been great this postseason. Plus, Madson has been a starter, so he is at least used to being out their when the game starts. Brad Lidge hasn't pitched since Saturday, giving him 3 days off. He'll be refreshed and ready to close this thing out. Also, God forbid the Phillies were to lose tommorw and then game 6, the extra day off could lead to Cole Hamels being available for game 7. 

Finally, the Phillies have been scoring early in this World Series. They will get 4 innings at bat tommorw, and in their first 4 innings at bat over the first 5 games, they have averaged around 2.5 runs. The Rays have averaged a little less then 1 run in there first 3 innings at bat, which is how many they will have tommorw. 

So while our parade was rained on this Sunday, the Phillies should still have what it takes to end the drought tonight. 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Colts v Titans

In a game that could tell us alot about the future of both teams, the Colts and Titans will meet tonight in the premier game of the NFL week. The Titans have been the best team in the NFL so far, playing and winning all the games on their schedule so far. They have done it despite (or some would say because ) Vince Young getting hurt early in the season. They have won behind  strong defense and a strong running game. The 1-2 punch of Lendale While and Chris Johnson have allowed the pressure to be taken off of Kerry Collins, who has managed the games well. However, you need to look at who they played. They played Cincinnati, Houston, Baltimore and Kansas City. They also played Minnesota, who has been  a dissapointment, and that game was at home. You can only beat who you play, and theirs no doubt their a good team. 

However, the Colts, who are 3-3, have lost to teams who are better then the teams the Titans have beat. They lost in Green Bay and agaisnt a Chicago team that has surprised everyone. While there wins have been against Minnesota, Houston, and Baltimore, I still think they are a better team then there record indicates. That might be because of their previous success, but that should count for something. They have played and won more games then the Titans. And that is what tonight is. A big game. That is why I think the Colts will win. This game could tell us where both seasons are going- the Colts slowly back to the top- and the Titans back to the middle of the pack.

Phillies Game

Philllies v Rays, Game 5

First off, last night was crazy. Going into the series, everybody was talking about the Rays bats, and how much power they showed in their series against the Red Sox. But thru the first 4 games, the Phillies have held them at bay, except Carl Crawford. Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena have been completely shut down. On the other hand, our bats have been great. Forget that we are not doing good with runners in scoring position. We have came thru when it counted and scored when we needed it. Take game 3 for example. When the Rays tied it in the 8th, the Phillies loaded the bases and scored without recording a single out. It seems like every inning, our leadoff guy gets on. And with the speed on this team, that causes trouble. And last night, the power finally came back to Philly. Even Joe Blanton hit a home run. 

With all that said, I don't see the game going past tonight. Hamels has been dominent this post season. He is 5-0, and tonight it will be 6. The crowd is going to be crazy. The Rays cannot fight back 25 years of excitement that will be in the stadium tonight. We have Hamels on the mound, every bat- except Burrell- is hott, and we havn't used Brad Lidge in two games. Tonight, the curse of William Penn will fall. The streets will be crazy, and the parade that has escaped Philly for 25 years and 100 seasons will be held. 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Eagles v Falcons

Enough though all of Philly was just getting ready for the Phillies, the Eagles played an important game today. Who would have ever thought that going into this game the Falcons would have a better game then the Eagles? Or that Micheal Turner would have more rushing yards then Brian Westbrook? But despite all that, the Eagles handled business. And with the Giants, Cowboys and Redskins winning, it was a must win to stay in the race. Heres what I Liked and what I Didnt Like.

I Liked:

1) The Defense: Despite that one fluke play to Rodney White in the first half, they dominated the falcons and kept us in the game. The offense started slow (more on that later), and if they defense came out like slow to, people would have been heading to the Phillies early. Good job keeping us in the game early. 

2) Run Defense: They played so well today, they deserve there own shout out. Holding Micheal turner to 58 yards on 17 carries after getting tourched by Portis and Gore the last two weeks was clutch. They needed to get back to where they were at the beginning of the season, and they did that this week.

3) Lito Sheppard: He came up huge today. If the Falcons score on that pass to Rodney White, the whole game changes. Even though it was his fault they were down because of that pass interference called, he really redeemed himself. With Asante Samuel getting hurt, he stepped in and showed why he was a Pro Bowl Starter for so many years.

4) Brian Westbrook: He's Back. Looking back on it, it was a good call to sit him last week vs the 49ers. He looked completely healed. He clinched the game with his 39 yard touchdown run at the end

5) The Refs: Thanks for giving us the game at the end!

What I Didn't Like

1) The Offense: To start out so slow is unacceptable. 3 and out on the first two drives? The coaches spend all week scripting the first 25 plays, and we couldnt get 10 yards out of our first 6? And coming off a bye week? Thank God the defense kept us in it.

2) DeSean Jackson: First off, Jackson is my young boy. He is hands down the best receiver. But to take that punt and run it back 13 yards to almost the 1 yard line was stupid. It was almost a safety. He has been a great punt returner for us this weekend, and he is a rookie, but we don't need another Green Bay game like last year. He needs to learn when to just go down or to fair catch.

3) Falcons Head Coach: Yes the refs blew that call. And yes it lost your team the game. But it was your fault you blew all your timeouts before the two minute warning! Forget the fact it left you with no challenges. You had to get a touchdown in 2 minutes, and you used all your timeouts? He has down a good year getting the Falcons 4 wins this year with a rookie quarterback, but you can't leave your team with no timeouts at a critical part of the game- let alone with no challenges. 

4) Asante Samuel: I know he had an interception today, but it seems like he gets beat all the time. Devine Hester lit him up when we played the Bears. Rodney White beat him for the TD cacth, even though it wasn't all his fault. Overall, I don't think he was worth the money or the Lito Sheppard fiasco- at least not so far. 

Whats Good

Whats Good Everybody?

I never thought I would start a blog, but tough times in school have lead to me look into a different major haha. I have allways loved sports, and I decided I want to be a sports journalist. This is my lame attempt at getting started at that. What I want to do is just write about the days big story, rumors, or upcoming games. So if your bored at work or in class, I'll be keeping this updated daily. I hope you guys enjoy it.