Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jackson named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month

Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson was named NFC special teams player of the month for September. Jackson led the NFL with a 22.2-yard punt-return average and had an 85-yard punt-return touchdown.

· He also had 12 catches for 259 yards and two touchdowns and added five rushes for 48 yards.

· His 85-yard punt-return touchdown in Week 1 was the second-longest punt-return TD in team history.

· Jackson scored touchdowns of 85, 71 and 64 yards during the month to become the first player in NFL history to record a 60+ yard TD in each of the first three games of a season.

· In his second season from California, this is Jackson’s first career Player of the Month Award. He was recognized earlier this year as the NFC Special Teams Player of Week 1.

· Jackson is the first return specialist in team history to be named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month. He joins kicker DAVID AKERS (November 2000, October 2007) and punter SAV ROCCA (September 2008) as the only Eagles to be honored with a monthly award.

Moyer done for season

It may finally be over for ageless Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer. The 46-year-old junk-baller will have season-ending surgery after tearing muscles in his groin and lower abdomen.

Moyer was a solid if unspectacular 12-10 with a 4.94 ERA in 30 games, including 25 starts but lost his spot in the rotation to Pedro Martinez in August.

Moyer was injured on his final pitch in the seventh inning of the Phillies' 7-4 win over Houston on Tuesday night. He tore two tendons in his left groin and one in his lower abdominal region.

Sixers to practice at Spectrum

The Philadelphia 76ers will conduct a free, open-to-the-public practice at their former home, the Wachovia Spectrum, on Saturday, October 10 at 11 a.m. as part of the arena’s final farewell. No tickets are required and fans can enter the Spectrum as early as one hour prior to the start of the open practice.

“With October being the final month of the Spectrum and the excitement the team generated last season with their special Return to the Spectrum game, we felt it was important for the fans to be able to celebrate the many wonderful memories of the Spectrum with the Sixers one more time,” said Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko.

During the open practice, the players will go through warm-up drills, shooting practice, and an inter-squad scrimmage. Assistant coach Mike O’Koren will wear a microphone and describe the action to the fans as it’s happening on the court. In addition, Sixers forward Andre Iguodola will welcome the fans with a special pre-practice opening announcement.

Kolb is NFC Player of the Week

Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb was named the NFC Player of the Week today.

Kolb completed 24 of 34 passes (70.6 percent) for 327 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 120.6 passer rating in the Eagles’ 34-14 win over Kansas City. Kolb also scored on a rushing touchdown, the first of his career.

*He became the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for 300 yards in each of his first two career starts. In Week 2, Kolb passed for 391 yards against New Orleans.

* Threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DE SEAN JACKSON, the second onsecutive game the duo has combined for a 60+ yard score. The last Eagles duo to connect on 60+ yard touchdowns in back-to-back games was QB RON JAWORSKI and WR MIKE QUICK in 1985.

*In his third season from Houston, this is Kolb’s first career Player of the Week Award.

Kolb is the sixth Eagles quarterback to be honored and the first since DONOVAN MC NABB in 2004 (Week 13).

Dalembert hurts shoulder

Samuel Dalembert hurts his shoulder today at training camp on an alley-oop pass and left a team scrimmage. He was eventually able to return.

Eagles bar anti-Vick T-shirt

An Eagles fan says that she was stopped from entering last Sunday's game because she was wearing a T-shirt disparaging Michael Vick.

Kori Martin of Broomall says security guards at the gate would not allow her into the stadium until she turned her T-shirt inside out. The shirt had Vick’s name and number crossed out and the words “Losers fight pitbulls” on the front, and “You don’t deserve a second chance,” on the back

Eagles Vice President of Public Affairs Pamela Browner Crawley told philly.com that she’s never heard of any such policy banning shirts.

Deny, deny, deny...

Sixers sign F Jones-Jennings

The Sixers signed free agent forward Rashad Jones-Jennings Wednesday.


Jones-Jennings (6-8, 230) went undrafted out of Arkansas-Little Rock in 2007 after leading the nation in rebounding. That summer, he competed for the Sixers in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.


Last season, Jones-Jennings played for FC Bayern München of the German League, averaging 8.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Former Phillie Fasano hangs on for son

Former Phillie Fasano hangs on for son...

Temple - EMU radio change

The radio broadcast for Saturday’s Temple football game at Eastern Michigan has been changed.

WHAT 1340 AM will now carry the game live with Harry Donahue calling the play-by-play and former Owl quarterback Steve Joachim on color commentary.

The Mid-American Conference contest was originally scheduled to air live on Temple’s Flagship station WPHT 1210 AM. However, a time change for the Phillies-Marlins game necessitated the change.

Hot off their win over Buffalo, the Owls (1-2, 1-0 MAC) take on the Eagles (0-3, 0-0 MAC) at 1 p.m. at Rynearson Stadium.

Eagles sign Trotter; release Garcia

The Eagles have signed Jeremiah Trotter to a 1-year deal. To make room for Trotter, the team released QB Jeff Garcia.

“Jeremiah Trotter has always been one of my favorite players,” said head coach Andy Reid. “He has worked very hard to keep himself in shape and we are pleased with where he is physically. We are excited to give him an opportunity to contribute to our football team.”

A four-time Pro Bowler, Trotter (6-1, 262) is now in his third stint in Philadelphia. Originally a third-round draft choice of the Eagles in 1998, Trotter racked up 100-or-more tackles and led the team in that category in five of his seven seasons in Philadelphia. He also became the fourth linebacker in team history with four-or-more Pro Bowls, joining Chuck Bednarik (8), Maxie Baughan (5), and Bill Bergey (4).

The 32-year-old Trotter last played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007. He was released by the Eagles prior to the start of that season. Trotter has played in 134 games (117 starts) in his ten-year career, tallying 1,201 tackles, 12.5 sacks, nine interceptions (two touchdown returns), and eight forced fumbles.

Trotter spent his first four years in Philadelphia (1998-2001), garnering Pro Bowl honors following the 2000 and 2001 seasons before joining the Washington Redskins in 2002. He was released by the Redskins after the 2003 season, and re-signed with the Eagles in 2004. He spent the first seven games of that season as a reserve linebacker, but re-claimed the starting middle linebacker spot midway through the year and was instrumental in the Eagles run to the Super Bowl. Trotter went on to earn his third and fourth Pro Bowl nominations following the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

A native of Hooks, TX, Trotter starred collegiately at Stephen F. Austin. He and his wife, Tammi, reside in South Jersey with their daughter, Tremil, and their two sons, Jeremiah Jr. and Josiah.

“Jeff Garcia is a true professional and I know the players and coaches appreciated having him around these last two weeks," Reid said. "There is no doubt Jeff can still perform at a championship caliber level in the National Football League.”

Sixers need a better Brand

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA - In virtually every business, executives who get paid way too much to do way too little try to reinvent the wheel.

"Branding" or "re-branding" is a big catch phrase in corporate America. In fact, a lot of executives, looking to justify their bloated salaries, even tinker with winning formulas.

Anyone remember new Coke?

Despite what the latest hot-shot exec will tell you, "branding" is nothing new. It actually originated in the 19th century with the advent of packaged goods when industrialization moved production of many household items from local communities to centralized factories. When the merchandise was shipped, companies would literally "brand" their logo or insignia on the barrels used.

"Branding" invaded the sports world over the last 20 years or so. Looking to stick their hands deeper into the pockets of fans, many sports franchises change logos and jerseys every few years, thinking their most loyal customers will shell out the money for the new merchandise.

The Philadelphia 76ers went back to the future for their re-branding campaign this season, retrieving their classic red, white and blue logo used during their last championship run in 1982-83.

Change was certainly needed.

In a four-sport city, the Sixers are nothing but an afterthought, a nag in a four-horse race. The NFL's Eagles rule the City of Brotherly Love, while the other teams tend to navigate through peaks and valleys depending on the success they are having on their respective playing fields.

Major League Baseball's Phillies, who are coming off only the second World Series championship in their tortured history, have been able to pack their ballpark and steal the back page headlines from the Eagles on occasion. Meanwhile, the NHL's Flyers never win but are almost always competitive, and that seems to placate a small but loyal fan base.

The Sixers?

They haven't been relevant since 2000-01 when Allen Iverson was taking home MVP honors en route to an Eastern Conference championship.

"No pun intended, but there's a lot of pressure on my shoulders," Elton Brand said. "I know what I was brought in here to do."
The train began to derail when the nomadic Larry Brown, the only coach to ever figure Iverson out, took his tired act to the Motor City. Iverson's legendary selfishness then teamed up with Chris Webber's laissez-faire attitude to cripple one of the league's marquee franchises from within.

Billy King was replaced at the top of the organization by Ed Stefanski during the 2007-08 season and the Sixers looked to be back on track. A Philly native, Stefanski rolled the dice in a big way during his first offseason as the team's general manager, inking Elton Brand to a massive free agent contract.

Brand, a two-time All-Star, was coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon that cost him most of the 2007-08 season. He didn't look healthy when he took the floor with the Sixers and wasn't a good fit for the team's high-octane running game. A torn labrum in his right shoulder sidelined Brand again and the Sixers righted the ship without him, making a playoff run under interim coach Tony DiLeo.

"The main thing is, it wasn't Elton," Andre Iguodala said at the team's media day on Monday. "We didn't really have a concrete plan (last year). I think we had a Plan A, but no Plan B, C, so on and so forth. Just pound it inside and see what happens from there. Once that was shut down it was kind of hectic instead of playing our game and going with the flow."

With new coach Eddie Jordan and the Princeton offense now employed, the Sixers are hoping to finally garner a return on a massive investment.

Jordan explained to the media how his philosophy is designed to work earlier this offseason. New starting point guard Lou Williams will dish to Iguodala when approaching midcourt on the dribble. It will then be Iguodala's job to pass ahead to the forward (either Thaddeus Young or Brand). The forward will continue to move the ball inside to the center (Samuel Dalembert or Jason Smith). After each pass, a variety of options exist. The guard making the original pass to the forward will cut to the basket as the center is getting the ball. The center can drive, look backdoor or pass out to a forward for a jumper.

According to Jordan, Brand seems like a natural fit for the offense. He can pass, he has a nice mid-range jumper from the elbow and he can move inside to the pivot at times. In fact, Jordan envisions Brand, Iguodala and Young much in the same way Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler excelled in the offense in Washington.

"It's going to take time," Brand said of the new offense. "I know we can put the basics in, but once we have the basics, it's still more plays, more layers we can add."

Of course Brand must stay on the floor to make things work. He spent a lot of the offseason at a Los Angeles gym playing summer pickup games with a host of other NBA stars, including Paul Pierce, Ron Artest and Emeka Okafor, trying to regain his power and explosiveness.

"The biggest thing you lost is the physicality," Brand said of his injuries. "You lose that will to kind of just bang and hit people, getting hit. Once you're injured, you're thinking, 'OK, I don't want my shoulder to get hit.' or, 'Can I jump off this leg into a guy to get this foul?'"

Brand feels he got those hiccups out of the way in Hollywood.

"Once you get the physical grind of the game, you start to appreciate that again," Brand said. "You can add that back to your game. Then everything else is secondary. (Pointing to his head) That's all up here."

For what its worth, Brand looked imposing in the Sixers' new uniform. His upper body was as thick as it's ever been and he claims to have regained nearly all the strength in his left leg.

"He looks 100 percent to me," Iguodala said.

The new logo and uniforms are nice but will mean little to a basketball- starved city. The only re-"Brand"-ing Sixers fans want is success on the floor

"No pun intended, but there's a lot of pressure on my shoulders," Brand said. "I know what I was brought in here to do."

Eagles work out DE Howard

The National Football Post is reporting that former Indianapolis Colts defensive end Marcus Howard tried out for the Eagles today. Howard also recently worked out for the Houston Texans.

A converted outside linebacker drafted in the fifth round by the Colts, Howard ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any linebacker at the NFL scouting combine in 2008 with a 4.45. The former Georgia star led the Southeastern Conference in sacks as a senior with 10 1/2.

As a rookie with the Colts last season, Howard tallied 1 1/2 sacks.

Sixers' Swift injures hamstring

Sixers center Stromile Swift left practice today with a left hamstring strain. Already a long shot to make the team, this won't help the former No. 2 overall pick.

Brown in town on Thursday

CBS Sports' James Brown will be discussing his new book, ”Role of a Lifetime: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Significant Living” at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church on Cheltenham Avenue on Thursday from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

The event is free to the public.

For more information, call 215-878-BOOK.

Kold finalist doe FedEx NFL Air Player of the Week

Kevin Kolb is a finalist along with Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco for the latest FedEx NFL Air Player of the Week. Never thought you would see Kolb mentioned in the same breath with those two. You knew there would be a QB controversy in Philly but I am stunned Kolb is involved.

Temple's Tindale in Bucks training camp

Former Temple guard Mark Tyndale has been invited to the Milwaukee Bucks training camp.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sixers add four to roster including Christmas

The Philadelphia 76ers signed four free agents in preparation for training camp which runs from Sept. 29 through Oct. 3 at Saint Joseph's University.

With today's additions of Brandon Bowman, Dionte Christmas, Sean Singletary and Stromile Swift, the Sixers roster now stands at 17.

Bowman (6-9, 225) has played both overseas and in the NBA Developmental League since going undrafted in 2006. Last year, he played for Telekom Baskets Bonn in the German league and has also played professionally in Italy. Bowman spent all four seasons at Georgetown and was named Third-Team All-BIG EAST as a junior.

Christmas (6-5, 205) was not selected in this past June's draft following a standout career at Temple. He was named to the Atlantic 10's First Team after both his junior and senior seasons and was a Second Team pick as a sophomore. Christmas played for the Sixers/Nets entry in the Orlando Summer League back in July and participated in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas as a member of the Clippers.

Singletary (6-0, 185) was drafted by Sacramento in the second round (42nd overall pick) in the 2008 NBA Draft but was later traded to Houston, Phoenix and eventually Charlotte. In a combined 37 games with two starts for the Suns and Bobcats last season, Singletary averaged 2.4 points in 8.2 minutes per game. The Philadelphia native was a four-year starter at Virginia and left as the only player in ACC history to record 2,000 points, 500 assists, 400 rebounds and 200 steals.

Swift (6-10, 220) is a nine-year veteran who entered the league as the second overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies. In 547 career games with 97 starts, he has averaged 8.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.25 blocks in 19.8 minutes per game while shooting 47.3% from the floor and 69.9% from the line. Last season, Swift appeared in a total of 19 games for New Jersey and Phoenix.

NO. NAME POS. HT. WT. DOB FROM YEARS PRO
1 Samuel Dalembert C 6-11 250 5/10/81 Seton Hall 7
4 Stromile Swift F-C 6-10 220 11/21/79 Louisiana State 9
7 Primoz Brezec C 7-1 255 10/2/79 Postojna, Slovenia 7
9 Andre Iguodala G-F 6-6 207 1/28/84 Arizona 5
11 Jrue Holiday G 6-3 180 6/12/90 UCLA R
12 Royal Ivey G 6-4 215 12/20/81 Texas 5
14 Jason Smith F-C 7-0 240 3/2/86 Colorado State 1
16 Marreese Speights F-C 6-10 245 8/4/87 Florida 1
20 Dionte Christmas G 6-5 205 9/15/86 Temple R
21 Thaddeus Young F 6-8 220 6/21/88 Georgia Tech 2
23 Lou Williams G 6-1 175 10/27/86 South Gwinnett HS (GA) 4
25 Rodney Carney G-F 6-7 205 4/5/84 Memphis 3
31 Brandon Bowman F 6-9 225 10/15/84 Georgetown R
33 Willie Green G 6-3 201 7/28/81 Detroit Mercy 6
42 Elton Brand F 6-9 254 3/11/79 Duke 10
44 Sean Singletary G 6-0 185 9/6/85 Virginia 1
72 Jason Kapono F 6-8 215 2/4/81 UCLA 6

Eagles - Chiefs wrapup

*QB Kevin Kolb was strong again in his second-career start, with 327 yards and two touchdowns on 24-34 passing. He also scored his first-career rushing touchdown. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kolb became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300-plus yards in his first two starts.

*WR DeSean Jackson had a career-high 149 receiving yards and one touchdown. It was his fourth-career 100-yard game and his second in as many weeks … Jackson has had a 60-plus-yard touchdown in each of the first three games (85-yard punt return; 71-yard reception; 64-yard reception). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last NFL player to accomplish that feat was the Chiefs Dante Hall in 2003 (four straight). Jack Ferrante was the last Eagle to do so (three straight games in 1945), and Brian Westbrook was the last Eagle with three such plays in a season (2003).

*Kolb and Jackson hooked up for a 64-yard touchdown, marking the duo’s second-straight game with a 60-plus-yard touchdown. Ron Jaworski and Mike Quick were the last Eagles tandem to hook up for 60-plus-yard touchdowns in back-to-back games (11/3/85 at SF – 82 yards; 10/10/85 vs. Atlanta – 99-yards) and Donovan McNabb was the last Eagles QB with 60-plus-yard touchdowns in back-to-back games (2006 – 87-yarder to Hank Baskett on 10/8 vs. Dallas; 60-yarder to Reggie Brown on 10/15 at NO).

*TE Brent Celek led the team with eight catches and notched his second-straight 100-yard receiving game (104), becoming the first Eagles tight end since Pete Retzlaff in 1965 to do so. He has led the team in receptions in each of the last four games (including playoffs).

*With Celek and Jackson each eclipsing 100 receiving yards for the second-straight game, they became the first Eagles duo to do so since Pete Pihos and Bobby Walston in 1953 (11/8, 11/15).

*QB Michael Vick played in his first NFL game since 12/31/06 at Lincoln Financial Field as a member of the Falcons. He became the second left-handed quarterback in team history to throw a pass (Allie Sherman - 1943).

*RB LeSean McCoy scored his first-career touchdown on a five-yard run in the first quarter and finished the game with a career-high 84 rushing yards on 20 carries.

*The Eagles held the Chiefs to 14 points and 196 net yards. They also did not allow a third-down conversion (0-11). The defense also held the Rams to 0-11 on third down conversions on 9/7/08 in the season opener last year … In two wins this season, the Eagles have held opponents to an average of 12.0 points, 182.5 net yards and 90.0 net passing yards per game … Additionally, the defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher or receiver all season.

*DE Trent Cole posted a half sack, marking his third-consecutive game bringing down the opposing quarterback, which is something he has done in each of his five NFL seasons … Cole now has 37.0 career sacks, trailing Seth Joyner (37.5) for sixth place and Andy Harmon (40.0) for fifth place in team history.

*DE Juqua Parker registered his second sack in as many games and the 18th of his Eagles career, tying him with DE Darren Howard for 20th in team history … Chiefs RB Larry Johnson (19-38 rushing) was held to the lowest rushing total of his career when having 19-or-more attempts in a game. Johnson previous low in games with 19-or-more attempts occurred vs. Minnesota on 9/23/07 (24-42 rushing).

*Head coach Andy Reid improved his record to 17-6 in his career against rookie head coaches (11-1 at home) … 20 of the 22 starters today were either draft picks or signed as rookie free agents by the Eagles … The Eagles offensive line did not allow a sack for the first time this season … K David Akers played in his 159th game as an Eagle, tying Randy Logan for fifth place in team history.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lehigh falls to Princeton

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Sophomore quarterback Chris Lum led a valiant fourth-quarter comeback attempt, but it was not enough as Lehigh opened its four-game home stand with a 17-14 loss to Princeton Saturday in front of 8,168 on Kids Day at Goodman Stadium. The Mountain Hawks spotted the Tigers a 14-0 second quarter lead and a pair of interceptions from junior JB Clark led to ten Tiger points as Lehigh falls to 0-3 for the first time in 27 years. Princeton improves to 1-1 with the win.

Lehigh out-gained Princeton 332-163 and held the ball for over 36 minutes, but the Mountain Hawks turned the ball over twice and converted just one of four first downs on the afternoon.

Princeton received the opening kickoff, but was forced to punt. On Lehigh’s opening drive the Mountain Hawks moved into Tiger territory, but Clark was intercepted by Steve Cody, who raced 77 yards for a touchdown to put the visitors ahead.

Midway through the second quarter the Tigers extended their lead. After Lehigh was stopped on fourth down inside the Princeton 35-yard line, Tiger quarterback Tommy Wornham ran 68 yards around the right side to put Princeton up 14-0.

A strong return from junior John Kennedy on the ensuing kickoff set Lehigh up at the Princeton 44 yard line. Late in the half, the Mountain Hawks cut the deficit in half as Clark capped a five-minute drive with a seven yard touchdown pass to sophomore Jake Drwal as Lehigh went into the locker room down 14-7.

Clark finished the first half 11-of-16 for 85 yards passing, while junior Jay Campbell paced the ground game with 75 yards on 16 rushes. Drawl was Clark’s top receiving target, catching three passes for 30 yards.

The third quarter belonged to both defenses as neither team was able to muster much offense until late in the period. Clark’s second interception of the day set the Tigers up in Lehigh territory and after 11 plays, Ben Bologna kicked a 31 yard field goal to put Princeton up 17-7 after three quarters.

Lum replaced Clark early in the fourth quarter and led the Mountain Hawks down the field, but Lehigh again turned the ball over on downs on a mishandled handoff between Lum and sophomore Matt Fitz.

After forcing the Tigers to punt, Lehigh got the ball back and Lum moved the Mountain Hawks down the field 60 yards in just five plays and eventually moved Lehigh within a field goal when he pushed the pile for a five-yard touchdown run on a quarterback sneak.

Lehigh had one last chance with 2:28 to play, but after gaining one first down, Lum’s fourth-and-20 pass for sophomore De’Vaughn Gordon fell incomplete.

Lum finished with 135 yards on 11-of-18 passing in relief of Clark who was 12-of-22 for 89 yards. Drwal was Lehigh’s leading receiver with 58 yards on six catches, while Gordon added five grabs for 46 yards. Campbell led the rushing attack with a career-high 88 yards on 22 carries.

Senior co-captain Matt Cohen spearheaded the defensive effort with six tackles, including three tackles for loss, and two sacks.

Wornham threw for just 47 yards on 9-of-20 passing, but added 87 rushing yards on nine carries. Jordan Culbreath was limited to 28 yards on eight rushes. Cody led all players with 11 tackles and the interception, which accounted for Princeton’s first score.

The Mountain Hawks will return to the gridiron next Saturday when they host the Harvard Crimson. Kick-off is set for 12:30 and tickets can be purchased in one of three ways: by calling 610-7LU-GAME, by visiting the Lehigh Athletics Ticket Office, located in Grace Hall, or by logging onto Lehighsports.com.

EXTRA POINTS… Coaches from both teams took part in the fight against Duchenne Muscular Distrophy by wearing “Coach to Cure MD” armbands, all part of a charitable project from the American Football Coaches Association… three-year old Levi Hains served as an honorary captain for Lehigh… along with Saturday’s Kids Day activities, Lehigh University and St. Luke’s Hospital teamed up in support of the Reading Rocks! program, the culmination of a month-long drive to collect 5,000 books for disadvantaged children… Saturday’s game will be replayed Sunday at 10 a.m. on Service Electric 2 Sports and Thursday at 8 a.m. on Fox College Sports Atlantic.


Temple trounces Buffalo

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, Pa. (The Phan) - Just over a year ago in Buffalo, Bulls flanker Namman Roosevelt hauled in a 35-yard "Hail Mary" pass from quarterback Drew Willy in the final seconds to stun Temple, 30-28.

It was called "the most miraculous play in Buffalo history" by the team's media relations staff. For Temple, it was just another day at the office for a team fluent in finding ways to lose.

Things were supposed to be different this season but Al Golden's team found itself in a familiar 0-2 position when things kicked off at the Linc on Saturday afternoon. A loss to No. 4 Penn State last weekend was expected but surrendering a 10-point fourth quarter lead in the inaugural Mayor's Cup to Villanova, an FCS team, really dampened the enthusiasm for a club hoping to
reach its first bowl game in 30 years.

Winning the MAC opener against Buffalo was imperative to save the season, not an easy task considering the Owls came in with a miserable 1-12 record against the Bulls with the only win coming 39 years ago, a 21-8 win at the old Temple Stadium.

Bucking history was the theme today against a Buffalo team looking to replace two key playmakers but still expected to be near the top of the MAC and the Owls got it done, using a pair of 90-plus yard touchdowns to find the win column for the first time this season.

James Nixon's 92-yard kickoff return and Elijah Joseph's school record 95-yard interception return in the waning seconds of the first half proved to be enough to overcome a poor performance by Owls quarterback Vaughn Charlton as Temple downed Buffalo, 37-13.

"I'm disappointed in the loss, but I have to give credit to Temple, they played the better game," Buffalo coach Turner Gill said. "In offense, defense and special teams they made plays when they presented themselves and we didn't. "

This year's Bulls (1-3, 0-1 MAC) were without Willy, a four-year starter who threw for a school-record 3,304 yards and 25 touchdowns last year, and senior running back James Starks, the university's all-time leading rusher, who is out for the year after suffering a preseason shoulder injury.

Temple (1-2, 1-0) used the ground game to take an early 3-0 lead. Golden ran the ball 10 consecutive times on the Owls' first possession. Senior running back Lamar McPherson, who rushed three times in the team's first two games, got it five times on the drive before things bogged down and Temple settled for a 35-yard Brandon McManus field goal with 6:02 left in the first quarter.

Buffalo evened things with a 36-yard A.J. Principe field goal early in the second quarter and then took advantage of an awful Charlton interception to take its only lead. Charlton rolled left and attempted to throw the ball across the field but his touch just wasn't there and he couldn't loft it over linebacker Justin Winters, who picked it and returned the ball deep into Temple territory. New Bulls quarterback Zach Maynard couldn't move the ball, however, and Buffalo settled for another Principe field goal, this one a 32-yarder.

The Bulls lead was short-lived. Nixon returned the ensuing kickoff up the left sideline for a 92-yard TD and Temple had a 10-6 edge with 10:01 left until halftime.

Nixon's return swung the momentum and Buffalo went three-and-out before the Owls went back to work on the ground. This time it was freshman Bernard Pierce who was the workhorse. Golden refused to trust Charlton on a key third down play inside the five and instead ran up the middle, taking a 19-yard McManus field goal and a subsequent 13-6 advantage.

The Bulls put together an impressive drive in the waning seconds of the half and were poised to either tie the game or makes things closer but Joseph intercepted a Maynard pass at the Owls five, got to the right sideline and went the distance to extend Temple's lead to two TDs, 20-6, with just seven seconds left in the half.

Charlton finally made a play early in the third when he hooked up with Nixon on a post pattern for a 48-yard gain to the Buffalo two. For some reason Golden went back to the play that his signal caller threw an interception on in the first half and sure enough, Charlton threw the ball into double coverage and should have been picked. The Bulls failed to make the play, however, and Charlton rebounded to throw a 5-yard TD pass to tight end Evan Rodriguez on the next play and the Owls had a comfortable 27-6 cushion with 11:34 left in the third quarter.

A Morris Blueford fumble recovery led to another McManus field goal just over three minutes later and Temple was on top 30-6.

Facing a huge deficit, the Bulls abandoned the running game and let Maynard chuck away. The southpaw found a wide open Marcus Rivers in the back of the end zone for a six-yard score with 11:56 to go. but then threw his third interception, to nose tackle Andre Neblett, setting up Pierce's 18-yard TD run.

Charlton, who was a miserable 2-of-8 in the first half, finished 6-of-17 for 95 yards with a TD and interception, while Nixon had 158 all-purpose yards.

Pierce ran for 116 yards and a score on 20 carries while Joseph, Marquise Liverpool, Neblett and Dominique Harris all had interceptions.

Maynard was 26-of-41 for 281 yards with one TD and four big interceptions, including two in the red zone, and Roosevelt had nine receptions for 120 yards.

OWL DROPPINGS:

*Buffalo now leads the all-time series 12-2 and Bulls coach Turner Gill, the former Nebraska star quarterback, is 3-1 against Temple.

*Temple celebrated the 30th anniversary of the 1979 team that won the Garden State Bowl. That Owls team finished 10-2, losing only to Pitt (10-9) and Penn State (22-7). Temple beat Cal, 28-17, in the bowl.

*ESPN was on hand to cover the game for ESPN Plus/GamePlan and ESPN360.com. Michael Reghi handled the play-by-play and former Minnesota Viking Doug Chapman was the color guy.

*Scouts from the St. Louis Rams, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets were on hand.

*Buffalo's Roosevelt has now caught a pass in 42 straight games, the second longest streak in the nation. Meanwhile, with his fifth catch of the game, Roosvelt moved in to 12th place in Mid-American Conference history for career catches, surpassing New Orleans Saints star Lance Moore (Toledo). Roosevelt also moved over 3,000 receiving yards for his career and trails only Drew Haddad in school history for career receiving yards.

Signs point to Trotter return

When the news broke that Jeremiah Trotter wanted to return to the Eagles most chuckled, but it's now looking like the veteran linebacker is closer than ever to re-signing with the Birds.

"The thing I can tell you, I thought he moved around very well, that's what I thought," Eagles coach Andy Reid said of Trotter's workout. "I think he felt a little bit better than what he did when he was here the last time, physically. It showed during the workout."

The 32-year-old, four-time Pro Bowl selection has been toiling as a fill in host on WIP for the past couple of months and used that venue to say the right-knee surgery he underwent early in 2008 has helped him regain the agility missing when he was released by the team in the 2007 preseason.

"That's really what my problem was when I left," said Trotter. "When I got released from the Eagles, it was rightfully so; I really didn't have my explosion that I once had. I knew I needed surgery, but by that time it was pretty much too late'' to do it that year.

Unless Omar Gaither really ups his play Sunday against Kansas City, expect Trot back in Eagles green next week.

Kennedy tops Cummings in Tulsa

-Courtesy of Strikeforce

United States Army veteran and rising middleweight mixed martial arts (MMA) star Tim Kennedy (11-2) dominated a previously unbeaten Zak Cummings (10-1), submitting Cummings with a north-south choke in the second round (2:43) of their STRIKEFORCE Challengers main event battle live on SHOWTIME from Tulsa, Oklahoma’s SpiritBank Event Center on Friday, September 25.

In his highly-anticipated MMA debut, two-time U.S. Olympic wrestling team member Daniel Cormier (1-0) displayed signs of a bright future in the sport, stopping Gary Frazier (0-1) with a ground and pound offensive in the second round (3:39) of battle.

Kennedy, a 29-year-old former sniper for the Seventh Special Forces who recently accepted a position with The Texas National Guard in order to be able to pursue his MMA career more thoroughly, rocked the 25-year-old Cummings early in the first round after the two engaged on their feet.

Kennedy secured a takedown and began to unload with punches from half guard. Cummings rolled out and mounted Kennedy, but Kennedy quickly escaped and went on the offensive again with non-stop punches and regained the mount.

After surviving the first round, Cummings attempted a takedown early in the second stanza, but was caught with a left hand before escaping an attempted standing guillotine choke.

While trying to flee Kennedy’s clutches, Cummings fell to the canvas into a choke hold. Kennedy transitioned to a north-south choke hold and Cummings tapped out.

The 30-year-old Cormier, the 2001 NCAA national wrestling championship tournament runner-up for Oklahoma State University, stalked Frazier (0-1) from the outset of the card’s first live SHOWTIME televised bout. Frazier, a 21-year-old native of Shawnee, Oklahoma, attempted to run, but Cormier caught up and, in the second round, worked his way to the mount position after slamming Frazier to the canvas.

Cormier hammered Frazier with punches from the mount, prompting Frazier to give up his back. Cormier continued to batter Frazier from top position until the referee stopped the fight due to Frazier’s inability to defend himself any longer.

Another former NCAA Division I wrestling star and one of MMA’s most promising young prospects, 27-year-old Tyron “T-Wood” Woodley (4-0) of St. Louis, Missouri extended his perfect record, submitting Huntington Beach, California’s Zach “The Lisbon Outlaw” Light (6-9) with an arm bar in the second round (3:38) of action.

Woodley asserted himself with his superior athletic ability in the first round, scooping up Light and slamming him to the canvas. Woodley was able to mount Light twice in the round, but Light defended well, not allowing Woodley to create too much space between the fighters.

Woodley scored another slam in the second round and transitioned to an arm bar from which Light tapped out.

Kevin “The Shaman” Jordan (11-8) utilized his MMA experience to take down six-time world kickboxing champion and K-1 legend Ray “Sugarfoot” Sefo (2-0) in the first round of a heavyweight bout. Jordan mounted and rained down on Sefo, still a newcomer to MMA, with punches.

In danger, Sefo repeatedly popped his hips up in an effort to throw Jordan from the mount. Although Sefo was unsuccessful at changing position, he survived the round.

Jordan shot for a takedown after the fighters squared off at the beginning of the second round. On the way in, however, he dropped to the canvas in pain and verbally submitted at the 24 second mark of the round. Jordan is being examined for a possible torn quadriceps of the right knee.

Local rivals and world class kickboxers Thomas Longacre (5-0) and Travis “The Dark Knight” Calanoc (4-1) put on a fireworks show full of rapid exchanges of punches and round kicks on their feet.

Longacre dominated the matchup from punching range early in the first round before Calanoc briefly turned the tides with his own boxing skills.

In the second stanza, Longacre took over with repeated flurries. He continued to find his mark in the third round. After the fight went to the mat, Calanoc maneuvered impressively from his back and attempted an arm bar in the third round, but Longacre escaped and brought the fight back to stand up mode.

In the final 10 seconds of the bout, Longacre and Calanoc swung away at each other relentlessly until the bell sounded.

Complete STRIKEFORCE Challengers Results:

Main Card:

Tim Kennedy def. Zak Cummings – Submission (north south choke) – 2nd Round (2:43)

Ray “Sugarfoot” Sefo def. Kevin “The Shaman” Jordan – Verbal submission (injury) – 2nd Round (:24)

Tyron “T-Wood” Woodley def. Zach “The Lisbon Outlaw” Light – Submission (arm bar) – 2nd Round (3:38)

Thomas Longacre def. Travis “The Dark Knight” Calanoc – Unanimous Decision (3 Rounds) (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Daniel Cormier def. Gary Frazier – TKO (Punches) – 2nd Round (3:39)

Preliminary Card:

Dillon Smith def. Lemont Davis – Submission (rear naked choke) - 1st Round (1:15)

Josh Pulsifer def. Nick Gibbons – Submission (d’arce choke) – 1st Round (1:05)

Kenny Giddens def. Jon Carson – Submission (d’arce choke) – 2nd Round (4:15)

Trey Houston def. Brandon Gaines – Submission (arm triangle choke) – 2nd Round (1:28)

Paul Bradley def. Levi Avera – Unanimous Decision (3 Rounds) (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Jeri Sitzes def. Lacey Schuckman – TKO (Punches) – 3rd Round (2:18)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Phils have 4 of top 20 prospects in GCL

Baseball America has started compiling its top 20 prospects from each minor league. The Gulf Coast League was today and the Phillies have four of the top 20 prospects:

1. Christian Bethancourt, c, Braves
2. Kelvin De Leon, of, Yankees
3. Reymond Fuentes, of, Red Sox
4. Jarred Cosart, rhp, Phillies
5. Carlos Perez, c, Blue Jays
6. Adrian Salcedo, rhp, Twins
7. Jonathan Singleton, 1b, Phillies
8. Destin Hood, of, Nationals
9. Tanner Bushue, rhp, Astros
10. Domingo Santana, of, Phillies
11. B.J. Hermsen, rhp, Twins
12. Roman Mendez, rhp, Red Sox
13. Billy Hamilton, ss, Reds
14. Eury Perez, of, Nationals
15. Brooks Pounders, rhp, Pirates
16. Yorman Rodriguez, of, Reds
17. Caleb Brewer, rhp, Braves
18. Jonathan Villar, ss, Phillies
19. Melvin Mercedes, rhp, Tigers
20. Daniel Tuttle, rhp, Reds

McNabb, Curtis doubtful

The final injury report for the Eagles is out and both Donovan McNabb and Kevin Curtis are listed as doubtful and unlikely to play. Brian Westbrook missed practice again today and is questionable while DeSean Jackson was back and should be ready for Sunday.

LG Todd Herremans and and CB Dmitri Patterson have already been ruled out while S Quintin Demps is also doubtful.

Obviously, Kevin Kolb will start in McNabb's place while rookie Jeremy Maclin will likely replace Curtis and we might see Reggie Brown for the first time this season. I'm not sure Maclin is ready. The former Missouri star is just not a good route runner.

Flyers loan goaltender Backlund to Phantoms

The Flyers loaned goaltender Johan Backlund to their American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, on Thursday.

Backlund, 28, appeared in one contest with the Flyers this preseason, stopping 14 of 16 shots in 29:27 of play in their game vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario on September 17.

A native of Skelleftea, Sweden, Backlund signed a one-year contract with the Flyers on March 26, 2009, after he appeared in 49 games with Timra of the Swedish Elite League last season, where he posted a 2.56 goals-against average, .907 save percentage and four shutouts. He has spent the last three seasons with Timra (2006-07 through 2008-09), registering a 2.32 GAA, .909 save percentage and 16 shutouts in 145 games.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Trotter works out for Birds

The occasional shift on WIP isn't fulfilling enough for Jeremiah Trotter.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Trot, 32, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2007 keeps telling the organization that he wants to and can still play.

The Eagles, in desperate need of help at middle linebacker, took a look at Trotter this week but haven't pulled the trigger. If Trotter isn't a better option than Omar Gaither or Joe Mays, it's time for him to accept his playing days are over.

Union debut to air on ESPN2

The Philadelphia Union will open their inaugural season and celebrate the start of the 2010 Major League Soccer season on Thursday, March 25 when the club takes on Seattle Sounders FC, at Qwest Field live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Philadelphia will play its first ever home match two weeks later on Saturday, April 10 against Eastern Conference opponent D.C. United at Lincoln Financial Field.

“Playing our first match in a fantastic atmosphere like Seattle’s on national television will make for a truly historic occasion,” said Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz. “Seattle is a good team and will be an early test for us. They are a terrific organization and are one of the great expansion success stories in any sport. It will be fun and challenging to go into a hostile environment and come home with our first win. The countdown to First Kick has officially begun.”

Eagles sign TE Rucker to practice squad

The Philadelphia Eagles signed TE Martin Rucker to the practice squad and released TE Rob Myers from the practice squad.

Rucker (6-5, 260) was a fourth round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2008, and caught two passes for 17 yards in five games (one start) in his rookie season. The 24-year-old Rucker was waived by the Browns on September 22, 2009.

A native of St. Joseph, MO, Rucker played collegiately at Missouri, where he was a teammate of Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin, and set the school’s all-time record with 203 career receptions. He is the younger brother of former Panthers DE Mike Rucker.

Eagles interested in TE Rucker

Scout.com is reporting that the Eagles have interest in signing free-agent TE Martin Rucker.

Andrews gets some backup

Did you really expect a doctor to throw his own patient under the bus?


Well, think again. Shawn Andrews’ doctor is confident that the enigmatic offensive lineman will be able to get his Michael Phelps on again sometime in the future but the back pain he is experiencing right now is very real.

“He has flared up,’’ Robert Watkins told Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer in an interview. "He does not have an injury to the nerve, and there is no bad sciatic, but he is real stiff, and there is a lot of pain in his back. As he is right now, he's unable to play football because his back is hurt too badly.”

Watkins plans to treat Andrews with cortisone injections and doesn't expect the need for future surgery.

"I'm still optimistic that the prognosis will be good, and he'll return to being a productive professional athlete," Watkins said. “That's my best judgment right now. He could have come in here and needed more surgery, but that wasn't the case. I think he'll respond to nonoperative treatment. If something changes, we'll change the plan."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2009-2010 Philadelphia Flyers Season Preview

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

OVERVIEW - For all that went right during the Flyers' surprise run to the conference finals two seasons ago, that's how much went wrong for the Orange and Black last season.

Head coach John Stevens had to learn some hard lessons along the way, in a year which saw personnel problems and salary-cap issues linger from the preseason forward, bafflingly inconsistent play from top forwards and defensemen, the general manager's public questions about the level of commitment from his players, and a stultifying first-round playoff collapse to a bitter rival.

If there's one buzzword for the upcoming season which can be twisted into a corporate slogan and pressed into brightly-colored tee shirts, it has to be "passion."

With the infusion of some bona-fide nastiness and the release of talent who was pegged as caring more about off-ice issues, the Flyers are seeking another quick turnaround by harnessing the spirit of the Broad Street Bullies once again.

Wasting a three-goal lead at home in an elimination playoff game with some uninspired play does have a tendency to overshadow most of what the Flyers actually accomplished and cast into doubt what they have yet to achieve. It doesn't change the fact that a solid, young core has produced despite a steep learning curve.

Mike Richards continues to blossom into a leader in the Bob Clarke mold, emerging as a shorthanded threat while breaking team and NHL records in the process. Jeff Carter needs a little more prodding but has the potential to become a sniper the club hasn't seen since Ilkka Sinisalo. Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Ryan Parent showed flashes of potential and Claude Giroux was a revelation late in the year.

As always, the man behind the bench remains a wild card. This is Stevens' fourth year and third full turn as head man. He will be expected to repay the patience of his bosses but it may be his biggest challenge yet, having been given a mandate in the summer to rethink his entire game plan at both ends of the ice.

FORWARDS - Offense wasn't a problem last year, the Flyers having a league-high six players scoring 20-or-more goals, including four cashing in at least 30 times. They punctured the opposition 264 times in 2008-09, tied with Pittsburgh for third most in the East.

Carter was at the head of the pack, posting career highs in goals (46), assists (38) and points (84). His 46 tallies ranked second in the NHL to Alex Ovechkin, the first time a Flyer has ranked so high in a full season since Tim Kerr's 58 scores was second to Wayne Gretzky's 62 in 1987.

Simon Gagne (34), Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell (30), Joffrey Lupul (27) and Mike Knuble (25) rounded out the barrage.

This time around, subtract Lupul who has gone back to Anaheim via trade and wave goodbye to Knuble who left as a free agent to Washington. If a healthy Danny Briere (11 goals in 29 games) and his flashy fellow Quebecois Giroux (27 points in 42 games) step in to their full potential, the front lines will be every bit as potent as they have been for the last four seasons.

The club's second-overall choice in 2007, James vanRiemsdyk, has been handed a golden chance to crack the lineup and a lot will ride on his preseason performance. Even if he doesn't get a spot right away, he's expected to land in the AHL for some fine tuning before a call-up.

The bottom two lines, which were the anchors of the club's resurgence two years back, went through a state of total flux last year with almost a dozen skaters providing support in six slots.

At the very least, bringing in veteran firebrand Ian Laperriere from Colorado should provide more guidance and stability. It will benefit guys like Arron Asham, Darroll Powe, Dan Carcillo and Riley Cote -- players who need a steady hand and the wisdom to know when to bring down the hammer and when to provide scoring support. Castoffs such as Mark Bell, Krys Kolanos and Blair Betts may also be in the mix, competing to be this year's feel-good reclamation project in the Glen Metropolit or Jim Dowd mold.

DEFENSE - It wasn't so much a paper-thin defense as it was a case of total mental letdown plus lack of physicality which capped that crushing Game 6 loss to the Penguins, but by trading for All-Star, former MVP and nasty SOB Chris Pronger the Flyers aren't going to let anyone get away clean -- not even themselves.

Nothing hurt the club more than having the presence of Derian Hatcher removed due to a career-ending knee injury as well as Jason Smith's departure to Ottawa, so bringing in Pronger is the strongest sign yet that clearing space in the middle of the ice is priority number one and learning how to maintain composure under pressure is a close second.

Along with consummate vet Kimmo Timonen, he'll have his hands full trying to shepherd a defense which has yet to mature or gel. A little bit of tough love is warranted for an inexperienced corps which includes the speedy Carle, punishing Coburn, traffic-cone substitute Randy Jones and Parent.

Depth and toughness issues were further addressed when the club elected not to bring back the often-hesitant Andrew Alberts, lured Ole-Kristian Tollefsen back from Europe and retained Ossi Vaananen. Danny Syvret and Michael Ratchuk are next in line to prove themselves in the final spot that Luca Sbisa occupied last season.

How all the pieces fall together and if they manage to pick up an offense which goes through yearly mid-season slumps should be a prime indicator of how strongly the club can finish.

GOALTENDING - It's the same old song year after year, that the situation in the Flyers crease is always unsettled at the outset and works itself out far too late.

Martin Biron's two-plus season run as the starter was pretty good but not great, and Antero Niittymaki emerged as the scourge of the Atlanta Thrashers but little else.

The never-ending search to find a successor in the Parent-Lindbergh-Hextall line wound up plucking Ray Emery, the disgraced ex-Ottawa Senator, all the way from Russia's KHL.

Apparently, the front office believes that it can tame Emery's wild side and refocus his energies into becoming the netminder who helped the Sens to the 2007 Finals. He went 33-16-6 with five shutouts and a 2.47 GAA that year, his only full one as an NHL starter, and displayed a fiery streak that old-time hockey fans latched onto.

Spelling Emery will be Brian Boucher, back for a third term with the club. The one-time wunderkind must once again prove himself worthy of an NHL roster on a full-time basis after a solid campaign backing up Evgeni Nabokov in San Jose.

PREDICTION - There's been an interesting trend with Flyers clubs over the last 25 years.

In the first season of a new regime pulled from the ashes, the club exceeds all expectations, then in the second year, takes a big step backwards only to find the balance in a long playoff run in year three. It happened under Mike Keenan from 1984-87, then again with Terry Murray in charge from 1995-97. If there's any logic and justice in the hockey world, Stevens and the revamped roster should give the city of Philadelphia quite a thrill come spring.

The cycle seems to depend upon the continued maturation of top players into team leaders, and that points squarely to Richards, Carter, Coburn and Gagne along with a huge assist from Pronger. They've done well so far but need that extra kick in the pants to reach their full potential.

What will be a better indicator of where the team is headed will be the maturation of Stevens. He needs to be able to demonstrably shake off the label of an unemotional, unimaginative bench boss and kick up his hockey IQ several points in order to avoid falling into the same traps that defined stretches over the last three seasons.

Nonetheless, if everything fails to come together right away, the Flyers are not going to disappoint if they post their usual 40-win, 90-point, middle-of- the-pack playoff seed campaign.

Phils' Ruiz return to Philly for examination

Phils catcher Carlos Ruiz has flown back to Philly to have his left wrist examined. He is expected to rejoin the team in Milwaukee.

Union will debut in Seattle

The expansion Philadelpha Union will makes their Major League Soccer debut against the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field on Thursday, March 25.

The Union's home opener will be against DC United on Aril 10 at Lincoln Financial Field since ongoing construction at the Union's eventual home stadium in Chester will not be finished.

Meanwhile, the Union also announced a partnership with the Philadelphia Eagles on a multi-year agreement to bring the best teams and the best players in the world to Lincoln Financial Field.

“Bringing our great fans together with D.C. United’s supporters should create an incredible atmosphere to kick things off,” explained CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz. “In crafting this relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles and Soccer United Marketing, we’re ensuring that our fans will have an opportunity to see the absolute greats of our game from around the world and throughout our league for many years to come.”

"Since we now know that our stadium will not be ready in early April, we made this decision to enable the League to move forward with its plans. Construction is moving along rapidly, and I can assure everyone that we will play the vast majority of our games in Chester this season,” Sakiewicz added.

Sixers unveil new jerseys


No more doubt: Greinke is your AL Cy Young winner

By Chris Ruddick

Besides playoff positioning and the American League Central race, there is little intrigue heading into the final week of the season.

Lately, the biggest question has been who is going to win the American League Cy Young Award. More specifically, can Kansas City right-hander Zack Greinke take home the honors?

Greinke may have ended that discussion all by himself on Tuesday, when he tossed another masterpiece against the Boston Red Sox, scattering two hits over six scoreless innings to lower his major league-leading earned run average to 2.08.

The big knock on Greinke is his 15-8 record. But, he leads the AL in shutouts (three), WHIP (1.059), hits/nine innings (7.57), batting average against (.228), on-base percentage (.272), and is second in complete games (six) and strikeouts (229).

Greinke is probably going to get two more starts and could wind up with 17 wins. The only other starter to win an AL Cy Young with less than 18 victories was another Kansas City hurler, David Cone, who was 16-5 in the strike- shortened 1994 campaign.

Plus, 16 of the 17 AL pitchers who have won the award despite at least eight losses also won 20 games - a plateau Greinke won't come close to reaching.

But how can that be a knock against him when the Royals are a pitiful 63-88?

Had he played for a contender, Greinke surely would have at least 20 wins. Consider that he allowed three runs or less in all of his eight no- decisions, giving up one or less in four of those outings, and surrendering just one run in two of his losses.

In fact, in his eight losses, the Royals have mustered just 15 runs. Not to mention, his 4.72 runs of support per start are the lowest in the league.

His main competition figures to come from Seattle righty Felix Hernandez, who is 16-5 with the second-best ERA in the AL at 2.45. King Felix has had a terrific season, but has been nowhere near as dominant as Greinke.

New York's CC Sabathia could win 20 games, but eight of those victories have come against last-place teams. Plus, his 3.31 ERA is more than a run higher than Greinke's

If I was voting, my vote would go to Greinke. Forget his whole back story for a second, he has been hands-down the best pitcher in the American League this season.

When the voting is done, I bet it won't even be close.

NO MORNEAU, NO PROBLEM FOR TWINS

Things looked pretty bleak for the Minnesota Twins heading into action on September 13. They were in the midst of a three-game losing streak, were in third place in the AL Central, and 5 1/2 games back of the division-leading Detroit Tigers.

As if things were not bad enough, the Twins learned that former AL MVP Justin Morneau would miss the rest of the season due to a stress fracture in his lower back.

Something clicked, though. Because since that time, Minnesota has won eight of its last nine and has pulled within 2 1/2 games of the Tigers in the division.

Doing most of the damage for the Twins has been Morneau's replacement, Michael Cuddyer, who took home the most recent AL Player of the Week honors thanks in part to his big weekend against the Tigers.

Minnesota claimed two of three in that pivotal set, as Cuddyer drove in five runs in the two wins. In the nine games Morneau has been out, Cuddyer has driven in 15 runs.

You have to like the Twins' chances here. After they finish their set with the Chicago White Sox, they head to Kansas City for a three-game set, before visiting the Tigers again for three games. Minnesota then closes its season with what it hopes won't be the final series at the Metrodome, another three- gamer against the Royals.

Oh, by the way, they will likely face Greinke in both of those series against the Royals.

Eagles add Penn State's Norwood to practice squad

The Philadelphia Eagles signed WR Jordan Norwood to the practice squad to replace Danny Amendola, who was signed by the St. Louis Rams yesterday.

Norwood (5-11, 179) was originally signed as a rookie free agent by the Cleveland Browns this past spring and saw action in three preseason games before being released as part of the Browns final roster cut down on September 5.

The 22-year-old Norwood finished his collegiate career at Penn State with 158 receptions for 2,015 yards and 13 touchdowns. As a senior, he caught 41 passes for 637 yards and six scores. Norwood was born in Honolulu, HI, and starred at State College (PA) High School.

Eagles' "playmakers" miss practice

Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson all missed practice today. I would be shocked if McNabb or Westbrook suited up against the Chiefs.

"DeSean Jackson went through the walk through this morning. He won’t practice this afternoon," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He has a groin strain. Donovan [McNabb] will not practice this afternoon. He is making progress. We’ll just see how he does as we go through this week. With that, [QB] Kevin [Kolb] will be in at the starting quarterback spot. Brian Westbrook has a slightly sprained ankle, so we’ll hold him out today and we’ll just see how he does here throughout the week. It’s a day-to-day thing there.”

Asked point bank whether Westbrook will play Sunday, Reid seemed upbeat, “We feel pretty good about that today," the coach said. "We’ll see how he does here in the next couple of days.”

Reid also gave an update on starting left guard Todd Herremans, who remains sidelined. "He’ll visit with the doctor next week," Reid said. "Then, we’ll go from there and just see how he’s doing. You’ve seen him cruising around on that little coaster thing; [he’s] still not able to put weight on that foot. We’ll just see what the doctor says next week.”

Finally Reid addressed the pending debut of Michael Vick. “I think he’s in pretty good shape," the coach said. " I’m not sure exactly how we will use him or if he’ll play or how much he’ll play. I think he’s in better shape than at that particular time. He put on a couple of pounds, I mentioned that, when he was out of football. He’s back down now. It looks like he’s moving around pretty good.”

And, since it now seems to be en vogue to treat everyone like an idiot Ala Eric Mangini, Reid indicated there is a chance Vick might be inactive on Sunday. “We’ll see. I haven’t gotten that far with it yet. We’ll take it this week and see where we’re at with it," Reid said.

ROH calls South Philly home


By John McMullen

Philadelphia, Pa (The Phan) - Nestled on the corner of Swanson and Ritner Streets in South Philadelphia is a former warehouse and bingo hall that is world famous.

Elias Stein and Leon Silverman purchased the nondescript warehouse in 1986 and named the facility Viking Hall when the South Philadelphia Viking Club, a local chapter of Mummers, began utilizing it for storage and rehearsal purposes.

The building gained worldwide fame as the "ECW Arena" when it served as the home base of Extreme Championship Wrestling from 1993 until the promotion's demise in 2001. The weekly ECW television series prominently showcased both the venue and South Philadelphia fans as the company grew from a local promotion into a national and international phenomenon.

Paul Heyman, the brains behind ECW, changed the wrestling world by giving smaller, athletic workers like Chris Benoit, Eddy Guerrero and Oscar "Rey Mysterio Jr." Gutiérrez their first real exposure in the United States.

Despite a fanatical fan base, ECW didn't have the deep pockets to compete with Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Entertainment or Time Warner's World Championship Wrestling and declared bankruptcy in April 2001. The WWE subsequently purchased the assets of ECW and relaunched the brand as another franchise in June of 2006.

The watered-down WWE version of ECW never caught on with its former fans, however, leaving a huge void to a small but loyal group that thrived on the promotion's "workrate" and action.

"The Arena" stayed as active as ever becoming the unofficial home to a number of smaller promotions, including HDNet's Ring of Honor.

After the death of the original ECW, its video distributor, RF Video, wanted a new promotion to replace its best-seller. So, the company's owner, Rob Feinstein, made the decision to start his own promotion.

ROH's first event, titled "The Era of Honor Begins", took place on February 23, 2002 and included a bout between Guerrero and Francisco "Super Crazy" Islas for the IWA Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship, as well as a triple threat match between Daniel "Christopher Daniels" Covell, Bryan Danielson and Brandon "Low Ki" Silvestry.

The new company took a major hit in March of 2004 when Feinstein was caught in an Internet sex sting set up by Perverted-Justice.com. Feinstein, who was 31 at the time, tied to pick up a 14-year-old-boy by claiming to be a wrestler with the Los Angeles-based Pro Wrestling Guerrilla promotion. He eventually asked the boy if he could meet him at his home for sex and was met by a local news crew. Although no formal charges were ever brought against him, the incident proved to be a public relations disaster for Ring of Honor.

Cary Silkin, a ticket broker by trade and behind the scenes money man for ROH, was eventually forced to buy out Feinstein and take over the day-to-day operations. Through it all, the business plan stayed the same -- DVD sales of fans obsessed with workrate fueled the company and made it profitable.

Booker Gabe Sapolsky, a Temple graduate, loaded the events with high spots and spectacular workers from top to bottom. The old mentality of building a card and leaving certain things to the main eventers went out the window.

Despite earning Booker of the Year honors from The Wrestling Observer Newsletter for four straight years (2004-2007), some began to grow tired of Sapolsky's methods. His often four-hour marathon cards burned out audiences and the weakening economy hit DVD sales hard.

Silkin relieved Sapolsky of his duties in October of last year and headed in a new direction, naming Adam Pearce, a more conventional booker, his new head of creative.

A national television timeslot on the fledgling HDNet was then secured in early 2009 and the first tapings were held at The Arena in late February. Instead of DVD sales, television -- both domestic and international -- was going to be the new Golden Goose.

Since few in ROH knew exactly what it took to put together a major league production, HDNet brought in Dave Lagana, the former Friends writer who spent six years in WWE's creative department, to help Pearce.

A longtime fan, who learned the business under Heyman in WWE, Lagana thinks ROH can be successful.

"We are not trying to compete with the WWE," Lagana said in a phone interview. "It's a different product with a different audience. This is all about exposing new talent, the actual wrestling and a more intimate setting. It's like seeing a big time rock band before they become stars."

Before the HDNet deal, ROH seemed to be able to cruise along under the WWE's radar but wrestling's 500-pound gorilla has seemingly now taken an interest in the group, inking its two biggest stars, Danielson, who many consider to be the best wrestler in the world, and Steven "Nigel McGuinness" Haworth.

"I don't think they are targeting [ROH]," Lagana said. "Bryan and Nigel weren't under contract so it was kind of expected. I think they [WWE] are more concerned with the [proposed new Hulk] Hogan promotion. We are just going about our business."

The heir apparent to Danielson and McGuinness seems to be Colby "Tyler Black" Lopez, a 23-year-old Iowa native that combines impressive martial arts skills with the high-flying ability that has become a ROH staple.

"A lot of the guys deserve to be noticed and Tyler certainly has the talent to be a star," Lagana said.

Black is under contract for another year giving Pearce and Lagana plenty of time to build to significant matches.

Ring of Honor will be back in Philadelphia taping for HDNet at The Arena on November 5 and 6.

Jackson stuns UFC, retires

Quinton Jackson has chosen acting over fighting, at least for now.

The former UFC light heavyweight champ announced his plans on his Web site and indicated he was disappointed with the UFC fans and the company itself, which wasn't thrilled that Jackson postponed a planned fight with Rashad Evans when he got the role of B.A. Baracus in the upcoming A-Team movie.

Like many fighters Jackson always wasn't thrilled with the way he was booked claiming he was never promoted as undisputed world champion when he beat former Pride FC champ Dan Henderson and he went into the Octagon with both Wanderlei Silva and Keith Jardine despite a painful jaw injury. Jackson also wasn't thrilled with a proposed rematch with Evans, preferring a title shot at
Lyoto Machida.

"I told them I wanted to fight Machida for the belt but [UFC president] Dana [White] told me if I coach TUF against Rashad that I could fight Machida afterwards cause this was a different type of ultimate fighter show they were doing," Evans wrote.

Evans claimed White changed his mind on the Machida fight and people began to think he was afraid of the champ. He also claimed that he asked White to move the Evans fight, which was scheduled for Jackson's hometown of Memphis, back one month when the acting role became a possibility.

"Dana went on the Internet and mocked me because of that and I still did nothing," Evans continued. "Dana and I finally talked and we made up and then after that he went back on the Internet and said some bullshit and he was talking bad about the movie when information is not even supposed to be released and talking about payments which is not even true could really hurt my future acting career, which could very well last longer than my fighting career.

"So I'm done fighting. I've been getting negative reviews from the dumb ass fans that don't pay my bills or put my kids through college. So I'm hanging it up. I'm gonna miss all my loyal fans but hopefully they'll follow me to my new career and I will gain more loyal fans along the way. And all you hater fans out there can kiss my big black hairy ass and anybody that don't like what I just said can come try and kick my ass."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Myers problems

Phillies pitcher Brett Myers underwent an MRI on his right shoulder today in Philadelphia. The Phils still waiting on the results.

South Gwinnett High honors LouWill


South Gwinnett High School in Atlanta dedicated a wall to new Sixers starting point guard Lou Williams today. Williams was the National High School Player of the Year during his senior season at the school.

Flyers cut four more

The Flyers reassigned Sean Curry, Krys Kolanos, Joey Mormina and Jared Ross to their AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, today.

Amendola to Rams

The St. Louis Rams have signed wide receiver Danny Amendola off the Eagles practice squad.

Sims, Flutie headline UFL broadcast team

The United Football League announced today that four broadcasters will lead the television coverage of the UFL on VERSUS.

Veteran play-play announcer Dave Sims joins the broadcast booth with color analyst and former NFL standout Doug Flutie. Former Steelers Quarterback Kordell Stewart and radio and television host Anita Marks will serve as sideline and features reporters.

“We have assembled a top-notch team to lead our inaugural telecasts on VERSUS,” said Frank Vuono, COO of the UFL. “The combined football experience and knowledge of Dave, Doug, Kordell and Anita will help us provide unprecedented access to professional football while allowing the home viewer prime viewing position that will truly make them feel like they are part of the action.”

A two-time Emmy Award winning sportscaster, Dave Sims is best known as the television play-by-play voice for the Seattle Mariners and the radio play-by-play announcer for Westwood One’s NFL Sunday Night Football. In addition, Sims continues to be a mainstay on the college sports scene where he has been calling basketball games for ESPN since 1991. A veteran of the local New York sports scene, Sims worked at WCBS-TV as a reporter/anchor, has hosted talk shows at Madison Square Garden Network and WFAN-AM Radio and spent seven years as a sportswriter for the New York Daily News. In addition to his Emmy Awards, Sims accolades include the 2005 Big East Conference Media Award and the American Football Foundation’s 2003 Lindsey Nelson Outstanding Sportscaster Award.

A phenomenal college football player who rose to prominence during his playing days at Boston College, Doug Flutie is probably best remembered for his 1984 “Hail Mary” touchdown pass. A Heisman Trophy and Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award winner, Flutie has had experience playing at all levels of professional football including the USFL, the NFL and the CFL. Flutie led the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts to back-to-back Grey Cup victories and was named CFL’s Most Outstanding Player a record six times and MVP in all of his three Grey Cup victories. As a member of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, he earned Pro Bowl and NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors. In 2006, Flutie was the top ranked CFL Player. In 2007, Flutie was named to the College Football Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the first American born player to be inducted. In combining his CFL, NFL and USFL statistics, Flutie ranks sixth among the all-time pro football passing leaders in attempts, completions and touchdowns.

Kordell Stewart joins the UFL broadcast team as sideline reporter. As quarterback at the University of Colorado, Stewart is also heralded for his “Miracle at Michigan” pass which led the Buffaloes past the University of Michigan 27-26 in 1994. He became one of the most prolific quarterbacks in school history, setting several records including most completed passes, most passing yards and most touchdown passes. In Kordell’s first season as a starting quarterback in the NFL, in 1997, he led the Steelers to an 11–5 record and the AFC Championship Game. In 2001, Stewart led the Steelers to a 13-3 regular-season record and the top seed in the AFC playoffs. He had the best professional season of his career throwing for over 3,000 yards, completing 60 percent of his passes and attaining a passer rating of 81.7. Stewart threw for 14 touchdowns and ran for five more. Stewart’s year culminated with his being elected to the Pro Bowl and being named Steelers MVP. Among NFL quarterbacks, Stewarts’ 38 rushing touchdowns ranks second all-time behind Steve Young’s. Stewart was given the nickname “Slash” early in his career due to his abilities as utility player playing running back/wide receiver/punter. Most recently, Stewart served as studio host on ESPNews for its college broadcasts.

Anita Marks learned about football by playing the sport competitively. She fine-tuned her football skills and dominated the Collegiate Flag Football Circuit for four years while attending the University of South Florida (USF) where she graduated with a Communications degree. Upon graduation from USF, Marks transferred her passion for sports into a career as a sports producer for the local CBS affiliate in Miami. The opportunity to return to the gridiron and play professional football occurred in 1999 when Marks served as quarterback for the Miami Fury, a women's professional football team, for four years and the Florida Stingrays for one year. Known for her incredible arm strength and pinpoint accuracy, Marks developed a reputation for being one of the best QB's to ever play women's professional football. Upon conclusion of her playing days, Marks transitioned back to the media and currently hosts her own afternoon sports talk show on Baltimore's ESPN Radio 1300, which is also simulcast on television’s Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN). Marks also hosts the Ravens pre- and post-game shows and has her own television show on MASN called Fantasy Blitz.