Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gagne nets hat trick, Flyers close out decade by embarrassing Rangers

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Simon Gagne posted his first hat trick of the season as the Philadelphia Flyers dominated the New York Rangers, 6-0, at Madison Square Garden.

Michael Leighton stopped all 22 shots he faced for his first shutout of the year for the Flyers, who posted their fourth consecutive victory, all away from home, on their current six-game road trip.

Claude Giroux and Danny Briere each added a goal and one assist for Philadelphia, which plays Boston at Fenway Park in the 2010 Winter Classic on Friday.

Henrik Lundqvist allowed three goals on 11 shots in the first period to take the loss for the Rangers, who have dropped two in a row after winning four straight. Chad Johnson subbed for the final 40 minutes in his first NHL action and yielded three scores on 20 shots.
Blair Betts knocked a loose puck home through a scramble in the crease just 54 seconds into the contest, and the Flyers went up 2-0 with 8:09 left in the first on Briere's nifty score in front. Just 1:37 later, it was 3-0 when Giroux found Gagne's rebound in front and stashed it home.

The remainder of the contest belonged to Gagne, the 10-year veteran and once-feared sniper.

Johnson was victimized on the first shot he faced, a Gagne wrister, 23 seconds into the second period, then Gagne added another goal during a 5-on-3 power play off a Briere pass for a 5-0 contest with 5:19 left in the period.

Gagne completed his natural hat trick and capped the scoring by redirecting a Giroux pass with 8 1/2 minutes left in the third period.

Notes:  Gagne's last trifecta came on November 5, 2005 against Atlanta. He has three career three-goal games...The Flyers had dropped the previous four meetings with the Rangers dating back to March 15...Leighton has four career shutouts, the first three coming with Chicago from 2002-04...Philadelphia's
last six-goal win over the Rangers came in an 8-2 thrashing on March 29, 1986...The Flyers also closed out the 1990's with a road win, a 3-2 overtime decision at Vancouver, then tied the Canucks on the road, 2-2, on December 31, 1989.

Richards, Pronger named to Team Canada

Mike Richards and Chris Pronger have been named to Team Canada for the Olympics.

Timonen headed to Olympics

Kimmo Timonen is latest Flyer to be named to his Olympic team. (Finland). He joins Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (Norway) and Oskars Bartulis (Latvia).

Eagles Pro Bowl alternates

Along with their six Pro Bowlers, the Eagles had a number of alternates and we have gotten a hold of the list: QB Donovan McNabb (first alternate); TE Brent Celek (second alternate); CB Sheldon Brown (second alternate); S Quintin Mikell (third alternate); G Todd Herremans (fourth alternate); DT Brodrick Bunkley (fourth alternate).

RB Hill plucked from Eagles practice squad

The Washington Redskins have signed RB P.J. Hill off the Eagles practice squad and the Birds replaced him with  RB Allen Ervin.


Ervin (5-10, 260) was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Detroit Lions in 2008. After spending his entire rookie campaign on the Lions practice squad, Ervin spent the 2009 preseason with the team but was released prior to the start of the regular season.

A native of Memphis, TN, Ervin played collegiately at Lambuth, where in 2008 he led the NAIA as a senior with 215.5 all-purpose yards per game. He was an NAIA all-conference selection that year.

Six Eagles earn Pro Bowl berths

Six Philadelphia Eagles have earned a spot on the NFC roster for the 2010 Pro Bowl: K David Akers, DE Trent Cole, WR/KR DeSean Jackson, T Jason Peters, CB Asante Samuel, and FB Leonard Weaver.

According to the NFL, Jackson is believed to be the first player in league history to be selected at both wide receiver and kick returner in the same season. The six-man contingent represents the most the team has sent to a Pro Bowl since the 2004 campaign, when 10 Eagles earned trips to NFL’s all-star game.

The AFC-NFC Pro Bowl game will be played on Sunday, January 31, 2010, at Dolphin Stadium in South Florida. The game will take place one week prior to Super Bowl 44 and will be broadcast on ESPN.

Akers leads the NFL with 139 points and 32 field goals in 2009, while connecting on a career-high 88.9% of his attempts. He tied his own team record by nailing 17 field goals in a row, en route to earning NFC special teams player of the month honors in November. He has also made two game-winning kicks in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter this season (11/29 vs. Washington and 12/27 vs. Denver). His 12 field goals of 40-plus yards this season lead the NFC. With four career Pro Bowl selections, Akers is now tied for the 3rd in NFL history for Pro Bowl berths among kickers. Only Morten Andersen (7) and Jan Stenerud (6) have registered more. Akers is tied with former Eagles Gary Anderson and Sam Baker, as well as Jim Bakken and George Blanda.

Originally a 5th round selection of the Eagles in 2005, Cole earned his second Pro Bowl nomination. He is the first Eagles defensive end drafted in the 5th-round-or-later to garner multiple Pro Bowl honors since Clyde Simmons (9th round selection in 1986), who earned two Pro Bowl berths in Philadelphia. Cole has registered a career-high 12.5 sacks this season, which ranks fifth in the NFL and third in the NFC. He leads the Eagles in sacks and hurries (26), and ranks second in total tackles (90). With 47 career sacks, Cole ranks 5th in franchise history and has registered the highest sack total ever for an Eagles draft pick in his first five seasons.

One of the league’s most dynamic players in 2009, Jackson sparkled as both a wide receiver and punt returner in just his 2nd NFL season. The 23-year old Jackson leads the NFL in yards per catch (18.7) and punt return average (16.0) and tied an NFL record by chalking up eight touchdowns of 50+ yards in a season, tying Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch (1951) and Devin Hester (2007). In fact, Jackson’s average touchdown has covered 52.8 yards, the highest ever in league annals among players with 10-or-more scores. A second round draft pick of the Eagles in 2008, Jackson became the second Eagles wide receiver to earn a Pro Bowl berth in the Andy Reid era, joining Terrell Owens in 2005*. The last Eagle draft pick to make the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver was Fred Barnett in 1993*. Jackson is also the first player in team history to be voted in as a return specialist.

Regarded as one of the league’s finest offensive tackles, Peters earned his third consecutive Pro Bowl berth and his first as an Eagle. He was acquired in a blockbuster trade by the Eagles from the Buffalo Bills this past offseason. Peters has helped pave the way for the league’s 3rd highest scoring offense (28.6 points per game), and 10th ranked offense in terms of total yards (366.5 yards per game). Originally signed by the Bills as a rookie free agent tight end in 2004, Peters made the full-time switch to tackle in 2005. He has started all but one game for the Eagles at left tackle in 2009.

Samuel earned his third consecutive Pro Bowl selection, the longest current streak among NFL cornerbacks. He became the first Eagles cornerback to post consecutive Pro Bowl berths since Troy Vincent earned five straight from 2000-04*. Samuel leads the NFL with 9 interceptions (tied with safeties Darren Sharper and Jairus Byrd) in 2009 to go along with 42 tackles, nine passes defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He has a pair of two-interception performances this year (vs. Washington on 11/29/09 and vs. Tampa Bay on 10/11/09) and six during his career. No player in the NFL has more interceptions than Samuel’s 29 since the start of the 2006 season. Samuel was signed by the Eagles on the first day of the free agent signing period in 2008 after spending his first five NFL seasons with the New England Patriots.

Weaver became the first Eagles fullback to garner Pro Bowl honors since Bill Barnes did so three times from 1958-60*. He joined the Eagles as a free agent signing this past offseason and has gone on to register career highs and lead all NFL fullbacks in rushing attempts (69) and rushing yards (321). He also has a career high in rushing touchdowns (2), while adding 15 receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Originally signed as a rookie free agent by Seattle in 2005, Weaver is the only Carson-Newman College product ever to earn Pro Bowl honors.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Charlton starts for Temple

Temple QB Vaughn Charlton regained his starting job and was under center for Al Golden in the Eagle Bank Bowl against UCLA.

Eagles sign C Reynolds; add Harrison to P.S.

The Philadelphia Eagles have signed center Dallas Reynolds to the active roster and have placed starting center Jamaal Jackson on the Injured Reserve list. Additionally, the Eagles signed safety Brandon Harrison to the practice squad.

Originally a rookie free agent signing of the Eagles in 2009, Reynolds (6-4, 314) spent the entire preseason with the team but was released prior to the start of the season. He eventually signed with the Eagles practice squad on 10/21/09. Reynolds started in 50 straight games at Brigham Young, playing all five offensive line positions and twice garnering first-team All-Mountain West honors, as a left tackle his junior year and as a center his senior year.

Harrison (5-9, 202) spent time with the Eagles during training camp, but was released prior to the regular season. Originally a rookie free agent signing of the Indianapolis Colts in 2009, Harrison was a four-year letterman at Michigan, totaling 165 tackles, three interceptions and 3.5 sacks in 50 games (32 starts).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Rockets should call McGrady's bluff

By John McMullen, NBA Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If you think about any argument with the benefit of hindsight, you will quickly realize there are three sides, your's, the opposition's and the "right side," which usually lies somewhere in between the polar opposites you might be debating.

Compromise is generally a good thing. When you are battling your wife, it's always a good idea to sacrifice a point now and again, especially if you don't want to find yourself sleeping on the couch. When debating health care, it would be nice if our politicians were a little more practiced in the art of give-and-take.

But, when it comes to the Houston Rockets and Tracy McGrady, I'm advocating that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey play the stubborn card.

McGrady, a seven-time All-Star, finally made his return to the hardwood earlier this month following an extensive rehabilitation after serious microfracture knee surgery.

The former two-time scoring champ made cameos during six straight games before missing the last two. Upset with his lack of playing time, McGrady pressed Rockets mentor Rick Adelman but the coach informed his former superstar that his minutes weren't about to increase any time soon.

With the writing on the wall in indelible ink, TMac requested and was given permission to fly home to Houston before the team's road game against the New Jersey Nets over the weekend.

I can see both sides of this issue.

Understandably McGrady, who is in the last year of a massive contract, wants his workload increased. After all, he needs to get back in basketball shape and show the rest of the league he has something left if another significant contract is at the end of his rainbow.

On the other hand, the Rockets have been pleasantly surprised by the way they have held up without All-Star center Yao Ming, like their young players and know McGrady isn't a part of their future. So why take minutes away from key contributors to placate a former star's ego?

The Rockets and McGrady's agent, Bob Myers, are expected to discuss the swingman's future soon with most expecting the logical conclusion to be a formal request for a trade.

Morey claims that the eight minutes a game TMac was getting is strictly a coaching decision, not a showcase for other teams and I believe him.

After all, McGrady may be only 30 but he entered the NBA as a teenager and has played a ton of minutes. In other words, he's lost plenty of tread off the tire. His skills, no matter how prolific, are not a lure for any NBA general manager.  His contract, however, will have plenty of franchises salivating.

McGrady is the highest-paid player in the NBA this season with an expiring deal valued at $23.2 million, a bargaining chip that would be incredibly valuable for any team looking to clear salary cap space for a significant free-agent signing this summer.

And that's why Morey should call McGrady's bluff. His expiring contract is every bit as valuable to Houston when it comes off the books.

So, take the small hit on the public relations front and understand a few less tickets and jerseys might be moved if McGrady sits at the end of the bench and pops off every now and again.

In this case the end game could very well justify the means.

While the Rockets have been a great story and possess one of the league's top five coaches in Adelman, the team is not a significant title threat without Yao.  A return by the All-Star center in 2010-11, along with a significant addition thanks to McGrady's expiring deal just might change that.

Bruntlett signs with Nats

Former Phillies utilityman Eric Bruntlett has signed a minor-league deal with the Washington Nationals.

Eagles' Jackson out for season

An MRI has revealed that Eagles starting center Jamaal Jackson suffered a torn ACL vs. Denver and will miss the rest of the season. Nick Cole will slide over from right guard to take over the pivot with Max Jean-Gilles moving into the starting lineup.

Eagles - Cowboys moved to 4:15

The Philadelphia Eagles today announced in conjunction with the National Football League that the kickoff time for next Sunday’s game at Dallas has been moved to 4:15 PM ET from 1:00 PM ET.

The game will be televised on FOX as originally scheduled.



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Flyers blow three goal lead, win anyway in shootout

Danny Briere posted the shootout winner, as Philadelphia blew a three-goal third-period lead but recovered to top NHL-worst Carolina, 4-3, at RBC Center.

Briere finished the first round by sliding a backhander inside the right post, then Michael Leighton robbed Jussi Jokinen to begin the second round with a prone glove save. Mike Richards then ended the game by sneaking a backhander home.

Richards, Briere and Jeff Carter hit the net for the Flyers, who picked up a win in head coach Peter Laviolette's first trip back to Raleigh since being fired as Hurricanes head coach last December.

Leighton finished with 37 saves for the win, Philadelphia's second in a row on its current six-game road trip.


Jokinen tallied twice and Brandon Sutter once for the Hurricanes, who scored three times in the third period but suffered their third straight loss. Cam Ward made 33 stops in defeat.

The Flyers took a 1-0 lead 9:47 mark of the opening period when Richards elevated a Claude Giroux rebound past Ward.

Carter's sizzling wrister from the slot made it 2-0 for the Flyers with 6:05 left in the first, and Leighton made the lead hold up through two periods by stopping all 18 shots he faced.

Briere's top-shelf wrister on a power play with 11 minutes left in regulation gave the Flyers a 3-0 advantage, but 24 seconds later, Jokinen's backhander hit a leg in front and trickled home.

Sutter cut the Hurricanes' deficit to 3-2 on a man advantage with 4:02 to play, after he outmuscled a Philly checker on a dump-in and fired past Leighton from the left side.

That set the stage for Jokinen, who tied the game less than a minute later by tapping home a loose puck in the crease.



Notes: The Flyers have won seven of the last eight meetings in North Carolina, and nine of the last 11 overall against the Hurricanes since the start of the 2007-08 season...Philly defenseman Ryan Parent did not play after suffering a lower-body injury some time during warmups...Carolina fell to 3-4 in shootouts this season.



12/26 22:46:22 ET

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vick wins Eagles Ed Block Courage Award

For courageously standing on the sidelines instead of killing dogs Michael Vick was named by his teammates as the Eagles' recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.

The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation's Web site explains that the organization "is dedicated to improving the lives of neglected children and ending the cycle of abuse."  The group "raise[s] public awareness and support[s] child abuse prevention with our radio public service announcements."  The recipient of the award should"exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage," that the recipient "symbolizes professionalism, great strength, and dedication," that the recipient is a "community role model," and that the recipient "will be identified as a team player in helping abused children and families in crisis."

How about giving it to center Jamaal Jackson, who is helping to raise his dead brother's children?

Talk about an organization that doesn't get it. Wow!

"The Philadelphia Eagles fumbled when they gave Michael Vick the Ed Block Courage Award, which was named after a man who advocated in behalf of abused children," PETA spokesman David W. Perle said in a statement. "Michael Vick should not be the person anyone points to as a model of sportsmanship, even though he has now exchanged dogs for touchdowns after serving time for extreme cruelty to animals. We wish him well in educating others, but this is not appropriate and does not mark a joyous moment in NFL history."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Flyers recall G Backlund

The Philadelphia Flyers have recalled goaltender Johan Backlund on emergency conditions from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms.

Backlund will join the team in Tampa and will be available to play in Wednesday's Flyers-Lightning game at St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla.

Backlund, 28, has a 7-8-0 record with a 2.82 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and two shutouts in 16 appearances with Adirondack this season. He was loaned to the Phantoms on Dec. 16, after being recalled by the Flyers on Dec. 8. He dressed, but did not play in five games with the Flyers during that period.

Backlund has appeared in two contests with the Flyers during the 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 Sept. 17, and 11 of 14 shots in 33:38 of play vs. the Minnesota Wild on Sept. 29.

A native of Skelleftea, Sweden, Backlund signed a one-year contract with the Flyers on March 26, 2009.

Spectrum Ice Preserved in Limited Edition Coasters

Looking for that last minute gift for a Flyers fan?

When the Spectrum hosted its final hockey game in April of 2009, Comcast-Spectacor preserved portions of the ice sheet and melted it in two 55-gallon containers. The Spectrum hockey rink (melted ice) was shipped to Chicago, IL, where it was separated and preserved into mini, freezable drink coasters. The limited edition drink coasters are now on sale at $13.50 per coaster at the Fan Gear store inside the Wachovia Center or for $15 online at RememberTheSpectrum.com.

Comcast-Spectacor is also selling the seats from the Spectrum. A pair of seats can be reserved for $395 while a single seat can be reserved for $295. The Spectrum folding chairs will also be available for $195. A
portion of the proceeds benefits the Comcast-Spectacor Foundation.

In addition to owning seats from the Spectrum, fans can also purchase the complete photographic history of the Spectrum entitled "God Bless the Spectrum" for $24.95 or a 3"x5" piece of the basketball court on an
8"x10" plaque for $76 or a 10"x10" piece on a 16"x20" plaque for  $176 at RememberTheSpectrum.com.

Demolition of the Spectrum, which is expected in the spring, will make way for Philly Live, a spectacular new retail, restaurant, and entertainment district. Cordish Company, of Baltimore, MD, a world-renowned developer of similar projects throughout North America, is partnering with Comcast-Spectacor in Philly Live.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reid says Westbrook will be back this week

At his press conference Andy Reid said he anticipates Brian Westbrook being cleared for next game.

Iverson out again

Allen Iverson missed practice again today (left knee arthritis) and will not travel with team for tomorrow's game in D.C.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Eagles on at 4:15

The Philadelphia Eagles have moved today's kickoff time vs. San Francisco to 4:15 PM ET from 1:00 PM ET due to the major snowstorm.

The change was made to accommodate fans and allow more time for city and stadium personnel to clear streets and walkways in and around the stadium.

The game will be televised on FOX as originally scheduled.

Parking lots will open to fans at 12 pm, while the stadium gates will open at 3 pm.

The Eagles are encouraging fans to consider using public transportation to Lincoln Financial Field tomorrow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Villanova wins FCS title

Matt Szczur gained 227 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns, as Villanova dominated play in the second half to secure its first ever FCS title with a 23-21 victory over previously unbeaten Montana at Finley Stadium.

The second-seeded Wildcats (14-1), playing in their first FCS Championship Game, found a ton of success on the ground in rainy conditions, amassing 351 rushing yards compared to just 60 for the Grizzlies (14-1).

Szczur rushed for a career-high 159 of those yards on 14 carries, adding 68 yards on four catches.

Chris Whitney added 102 yards on 16 touches while connecting on 10-of-13 throws for 142 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the champions.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pierce named Honorable Mention All-American

PHILADELPHIA – Temple running back Bernard Pierce (Ardmore, Pa.) has been named a 2009 CollegeFootballNews.com Honorable Mention All-American.

Named to CFN’s Freshman All-America Team last week, Pierce is the Owls’ first All-American since 2003 when linebacker Rian Wallace earned second team honors.

Pierce has had an outstanding freshman campaign for the Cherry & White. He is the 2009 MAC Freshman of the Year and a first-team All-MAC selection. He set the freshman records for yards (1,308), touchdowns (15), and 100-yard rushing games (6). He needs just one touchdown to set Temple’s single-season records for TDs and points scored.

With his back-to-back-to-back 100-plus rushing games against Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, and Ball State, Pierce became the first Temple freshman to record multiple games of more than 100 yards rushing since the Owls began Division I-A competition in 1971.

Pierce earned MAC Offensive Player of the Week honors three times during the season, the most in school history, as well as National Performer of the Week twice. He also earned Helmet Stickers from ESPN.com.

Temple (9-3, 7-1 MAC) will play UCLA (6-6, 3-5 Pac-10) in the EagleBank Bowl on Dec. 29 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

Sixers' Williams to return soon

Watch out NBA, Eddie Jordan is about to have his full compliment of players back.

Jordan said Lou Williams may return for the Wizards game next Tuesday and will be listed as probable for the Utah game on Dec. 26.

With Mo Speights already returning early, Jordan's list of excuses is rapidly running out. E.J. is now a dismal 7-29 in his last 36 games as an NBA coach. His apologists have largely blamed that on injuries.

Phillies pick up Rollins option for 2011

The Phillies have officially picked up the option on Jimmy Rollins' contract for 2011.

Westbrook, Maclin out; Curtis in for Birds

Eagles coach Andy Reid has ruled out Brian Westbrook and Jeremy Maclin from this weekend's game with San Francisco but Kevin Curtis will dress and be available.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bengals WR Chris Henry dead at 26

Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry has died from injuries suffered Wednesday in a fall from a pickup truck.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police confirmed Henry passed at 6:36 a.m. Thursday. He was 26.

Henry played in this season’s first eight games with the Bengals, but was sidelined for the remainder of the season with a left forearm fracture he suffered on Nov. 8 vs. Baltimore at Paul Brown Stadium. Henry was in Cincinnati last weekend for an exam by the team’s medical staff. As there was no rehab indicated for his injury beyond periodic adjustments of his cast, he was cleared at that point to return to Charlotte to be with his fiancĂ©, Loleini Tonga (first name pronounced ‘LAY-nee’) and her family.

The couple had announced plans to be married in March. Henry leaves three children – a daughter (Denayla) and two sons (Chris Jr. and DeMarcus).

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

Bengals president Mike Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis addressed news media today regarding Henry’s passing.

“Here at the Bengals, we knew Chris as a teammate and a close friend,” Brown said. “To us, he was a warm, pleasant and easygoing person. He was popular with the players, coaches and team management. This is a painful feeling, a tragedy, and we will miss him. ”

Henry’s hometown was Belle Chasse, La., near New Orleans. He played in college at West Virginia and joined the Bengals as a third-round draft choice in 2005. He had a succession of legal problems early in his career, resulting in multiple NFL suspensions. But the last offense for which he was convicted occurred in 2006.

“People were surprised that we stood by Chris during his problems,” Brown said. “The reason was, we knew Chris to be different than his public persona. To the best of his ability, Chris reached out to the team, his friends and his family. Everyone tried to help, and sometimes it went awry. But Chris’ heart was always in the right place. He was a good person, and he was on the road to doing well in his football career.”

Born May 17, 1983, Henry played during five Bengals seasons (2005-09). He saw action in 55 games with 12 starts, catching 119 passes for 1826 yards and 21 touchdowns.

“We had seen Chris expand this year as both a person and on the field,” said Lewis. “He had grown and matured. We extend our deepest condolences and prayers to Chris’ family and to everyone else who held him dear.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

NFL fines Cole

The NFL has fined Trent Cole $15,000 for his role in Sunday's fourth quarter fight that broke out.

Bengals WR Chris Henry suffers "life-threatening" injuries in domestic dispute

Bengals WR Chris Henry has suffered life-threatening injuries in a car accident in Charlotte today that stemmed from a domestic dispute.

Police told the Kentucky Post that Henry fell out of the back of the bed of a truck driven by his fiance. They told the paper that Henry had jumped into the truck as it was driven away by his fiance.

Henry, 26, is on life support and the situation is currently listed as "dire".

Phils officially announce Halladay, Lee trades

The Phillies have acquired right-hander Roy Halladay and cash considerations from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for minor league right-hander Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor and catcher Travis d'Arnaud, Senior Vice President & General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced today. Additionally, Halladay agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract extension with the Phillies that includes a $20 million vesting option for a fourth season.

Halladay, 32, went 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA and nine complete games in 32 starts for Toronto this past season. He led the American League in complete games and shutouts (4), finished second in innings (239.0), third in ERA, tied for fourth in wins and quality starts (22), and was fifth in strikeouts (208). Halladay, who finished fifth in the AL Cy Young Award voting, had a 24.0-inning scoreless streak from September 20-30, which was tied for the second-longest streak in the AL, one inning less than Phil Hughes' league-best 25.0-inning streak.

"Without question, Roy is one of the top pitchers in the game today," said Amaro. "He has the talent, professionalism and makeup that embody what we look for in players and we're very happy to have him in a Phillies uniform for at least the next four seasons."

Since the beginning of the 2002 season, Halladay leads all pitchers in wins (130), complete games (46) and shutouts (13) and has the second-best winning percentage (.688). Over the last four seasons (2006-09), he has logged more innings (930.1) than any pitcher in major league baseball.

"Roy is known as the best pitcher in baseball and will have instant respect," said manager Charlie Manuel. "He's a number one, a blue chipper and I expect him to stabilize our pitching staff. Roy brings a great work ethic and tremendous character and he'll have a big presence in our clubhouse. As an organization, our goal remains the same - to get back to the World Series and win it again."

A six-time All-Star, including each of the last two seasons, Halladay won the AL Cy Young Award in 2003, when he went 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA in 36 starts. That year, he won The Sporting News' Pitcher of the Year Award and was named Most Outstanding Pitcher in the Players Choice Awards balloting. In 2008, he finished second in AL Cy Young voting.

Originally selected by Toronto in the first round of the 1995 draft, Halladay has a career record of 148-76 with 49 complete games and 15 shutouts in 313 games (287 starts) for the Blue Jays (1998-2009). Halladay will wear #34.

Drabek, 22, went 12-3 with a 3.19 ERA in a combined 25 games (23 starts) for single-A Clearwater and double-A Reading in 2009. He was the Phillies' first-round selection (18th overall) in the 2006 draft and is 19-10 with a 3.70 ERA in 50 games (47 starts) in his professional career.

Taylor, 23, batted a combined .320 with 20 home runs, 84 RBI and 21 stolen bases between Reading and triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2009. A fifth-round selection by the Phillies in the 2007 draft out of Stanford University, Taylor is a career .312 hitter with 45 home runs, 205 RBI and 44 stolen bases in 314 minor leagues games.

The 20-year-old d'Arnaud spent the 2009 season with single-A Lakewood, the South Atlantic League Champions, and batted .255 with 38 doubles, 13 home runs and 71 RBI in 126 games. In three minor league seasons, he is a .267 hitter with 23 home runs and 121 RBI.

Meanwhile, the team also announced the trade of left-hander Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for minor league outfielder Tyson Gillies and right-handers Phillipe Aumont and Juan Ramirez.

"It's never easy trading a player of Cliff's caliber, but we felt it was the right move to make at this time," said Amaro. "We've acquired three players that we think have big upsides and will strengthen our player development system."

Gillies, 21, spent the 2009 season with single-A High Desert where he hit .341 with nine home runs, 42 RBI and 44 stolen bases in 124 games. He batted leadoff all season and led the California League in stolen bases, finished second in runs (104) and on-base percentage (.430), tied for second in hits (170) and third in batting average. Gillies had an 18-game hitting streak during the 2009 season, which included nine straight multi-hit games.

Aumont, 20, went 2-6 with 16 saves and a 3.88 ERA in 44 combined games between single-A High Desert and double-A West Tennessee last season. He pitched for Team Canada in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and pitched a scoreless inning of relief after loading the bases with nobody out. A first-round selection (11th overall) by Seattle in the 2007 draft, Aumont is 6-10 with 18 saves and a 3.29 ERA in 59 minor league games (eight starts). He has 109 strikeouts in 106.2 innings (9.2 SO/9.0 IP).

Ramirez, 21, was 8-10 with a 5.12 ERA and one complete game in 28 games (27 starts) for High Desert in 2009. A native of Nicaragua, he was signed by the Mariners as an amateur free agent in 2005 and is 22-27 with a 4.12 ERA in 82 games (77 starts) during his professional career.

Lee was acquired by the Phillies from the Cleveland Indians on July 29, along with outfielder Ben Francisco, in exchange for four minor league players and went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts for the club. In the 2009 playoffs, the 31-year-old went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five starts.

Phils officially announce Gload signing

Outfielder Ross Gload has signed a two-year, $2.6 million contract with the Phillies, Senior Vice President & General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced today.

Gload, 33, spent the 2009 season with the Florida Marlins where he hit .261 with six home runs and 30 RBI in 125 games. A left-handed batter, Gload appeared in 41 games (32 starts) at first base for the Marlins, 10 games in right field (seven starts), one game in left field and made one appearance as a pitcher in relief.

As a pinch-hitter last season, Gload batted .318 with a major league-leading 21 hits in 66 at-bats and drove in 15 runs which were tied for the major league lead. Since making his major league debut in 2000, Gload has the highest career batting average (.300, 48-160) as a pinch-hitter among active players with at least 140 plate appearances. In addition, his 48 career pinch hits rank 10th among all active players.

For his career with runners in scoring position, Gload has batted .293 with seven home runs and 156 RBI. Against left-handed pitching, he has a career .298 batting average with three home runs and 38 RBI.

Originally selected by the Marlins in the 13th round of the 1997 draft, Gload, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native, has batted .283 with 28 home runs and 192 RBI over 608 career major league games between the Chicago Cubs (2000), Colorado Rockies (2002), Chicago White Sox (2004-06), Kansas City Royals (2007-08) and Marlins (2009).

Halladay deal is done...

...and will be announced at a 5:00 p.m. press conference.

Phils get their man, but are they better?

Chris Ruddick

Philadelphia, PA - When word first started to leak out that the Philadelphia Phillies were on the verge of acquiring Roy Halladay, it seemed like Ruben Amaro Jr. had pulled off a masterpiece.

The initial reports had the Phillies shipping Cliff Lee to Seattle for a handful of prospects, who in return would be sent to Toronto for Halladay. In essence it appeared as if the Phillies were going to get Halladay for basically for the same price they paid to obtain Lee, while holding onto their own blue chip prospects.

Give or take a Joe Blanton or a J.A. Happ here or there.

Then word started to trickle in as the night went on that it actually wasn't a three-team deal, but in fact it was a companion deal. Halladay was indeed going to the Phillies, but they would be surrendering prospects, one of whom was the initially-thought-to-be-untouchable Kyle Drabek.

Lee would then be sent packing to Seattle in a separate deal for prospects to offset the cost of acquiring Halladay.

So, instead of getting Halladay basically for Lee, the Phillies got him for a little less than Toronto was asking for him back in July, plus they had to surrender the man who almost single-handedly delivered them their second straight World Series title in Lee.

I am not sure I like it so much anymore.

Let's get this straight - Halladay is the better pitcher of the two. Nobody is arguing that. At the end of the day, the Phillies still wind up with the best player in the deal. You can tout all the prospects you want. I am not sure what Kyle Drabek or Michael Taylor are going to be. I do know that Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball.

My question about the deal is, why did they have to unload Lee? He is making $9 million this year. A lot of teams can cry poverty, but the Phillies are not one of them. They have a reasonable payroll and sell out every night.

Baseball is booming in the City of Brotherly Love.

Apparently, Phillies brass met with Lee's people last week and it did not go well. He wants CC Sabathia money. Fine. Let him walk after the season though. He will be a Type-A free agent, and you will get two first round picks for him.

Any potential picks the Phillies could have reaped for Lee have as much upside as the players they got in return from Seattle.

Joe Blanton is going to make around $8 million this year. Why not deal him? Sure you are not going to get a Phillippe Aumont in return, but who cares what you get? You unload his contract and you have one of the most dominant tops of the rotation in recent memory.

And don't tell me a team would not take Blanton. Randy Wolf just signed a $30 million deal, so believe me, the Phillies could have found a taker for Blanton. Or why not just non-tender him? That deadline was Saturday. I am guessing this Halladay deal was being talked about prior to that.

How about working out a buyout with Jamie Moyer? He is on the books for $6.5 million this year. Who's to say he is even going to pitch? He is 47 and is coming off an awful surgical experience. You could have saved a few million there.

Like I said before, at the end of the day the Phillies get the best player in the deal. Not to mention Halladay agreed to a more-than-reasonable extension, signing a three or four-year deal for $20 million.

I just don't see the need to deal Lee. Plus I am not exactly sure it makes them all that much better this year. Who cares if Halladay is better over the course of 162 games? The Phillies have moved into Red Sox/Yankees territory where they now play a 162-game exhibition until October. Halladay doesn't get them to the playoffs, they were going there with or without him.


Roy Halladay has never pitched in the postseason.
I am not sure Halladay, who has never pitched in the postseason, is going to give you anything more than what Lee gave you this past year come October.

Now with that said, if Cole Hamels can be the guy we all think he can be, this is really a moot point.

Either way, though, this move will determine Amaro's legacy.

At this stage it seems like the Blue Jays got a decent return for Halladay, but who really knows? Obviously they are in a different spot than the Phillies. Winning will come down the road, not right now. You won't be able to judge this trade for a few years from their standpoint.

But by all accounts, new GM Alex Anthopolous seemed to bring in a nice haul, considering everyone on the planet knew he had to move Halladay. Reports have circulated that the outfielder he will receive from the Phillies, Michael Taylor, is going to be moved to Oakland for third base prospect Brett Wallace.

Wallace, of course, was the centerpiece of the Matt Holliday-to-St. Louis deal last season.

The big winners here are clearly the Seattle Mariners.

Seattle gets itself a bona fide ace in Cliff Lee, who along with Felix Hernandez adds up to about as nasty a 1-2 combination as there is in the league. Couple this move with the acquisition of Chone Figgins, not to mention the losses by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Mariners can state their case for a division title in the West.

I don't think they are done either.

Jason Bay is waiting for something, and I think this could be it on two fronts. One, Toronto could go hard after him to soften the blow of losing Halladay by returning one of their own in Bay, who was born in British Columbia. Or two, Bay went to school at Gonzaga and still has a house in the Seattle area. With all things being equal I am told he would love to play for the Mariners. I think they could probably get him at a discount.

But, then again, he may just be waiting for the Yankees to get into the mix for him.

RED SOX MAKE MOVES

The three teams named above weren't the only ones making waves on Monday, as the Boston Red Sox not only inked free agent righty John Lackey, but also secured Bay's replacement, signing Mike Cameron to a one-year deal.

Now the big question is, with Lackey in the fold, do the Red Sox make a strong play for San Diego slugger Adrian Gonzalez with Clay Buchholz as the bait?

The Red Sox really lack pop in their lineup. They need a bat and Gonzalez could be the guy. Keep in mind that San Diego GM Ned Hoyer learned his craft from Theo Epstein. He knows the Red Sox organization inside-and-out. He is going to get exactly what he wants in any Gonzalez deal.

The Grinch that stole Christmas in south Texas

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA - The Holidays are a lot of things to a lot of people.

Whether it's the gift-giving, the music, the greeting cards, the church celebrations, the display of various decorations or just a special meal, the Holidays are supposed to be a time for family and friends.

Not in the sports world, however. Working during holidays is just part of the package for anyone involved in the industry.

In recent years Christmas has become a big day for the NBA with five stand- alone games from noon (et) all the way until 10:30, usually with the league's marquee teams holding down the prime spots. This season the headliners feature Eastern powers Boston and Orlando followed by Kobe and the Lakers vs. LeBron and the Cavs.

Kevin Garnett and the Celtics look to take on the Magic on Christmas Day.
It's a time for the league to put its best foot forward to a potentially massive viewing audience and I've never had a problem with it.

That said, the NBA probably went a little too far when they put together the Houston Rockets' sked this season and Rick Adelman just couldn't hold his tongue when asked about his team's strange upcoming stretch that features four back-to-back games over the next two weeks.

"We have a horrendous stretch here," the Rockets' mentor said. "I don't know if the league really understands that they gave us four straight back-to- backs. It's awful."

Houston begins its torturous journey by hosting Detroit on Tuesday before flying to the Rocky Mountains for a date with the first-place Nuggets on Wednesday. A visit to Dallas follows on Friday, Dec. 18 before a home engagement with Oklahoma City on Saturday.

The team then toils on consecutive nights twice more during Christmas week, playing the Los Angeles Clippers at home on Dec. 22 and Orlando on the road on Dec. 23, before road games against New Jersey (Dec. 26) and Cleveland (Dec. 27).

The schedule leaves little time for practice and, perhaps more importantly, little time for the players to spend with their loved ones during the Holidays.

"It's utterly ridiculous," Adelman said. "This is the most ridiculous schedule I've ever seen."

Realizing the league was in a no-win situation, NBA spokesman Tim Frank declined to comment on Adelman's statements in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

There is no truth to the rumor Frank's boss, David Stern, is a wicked-tempered grouch living in a mountain cave just north of Houston, planning on preventing Christmas in south Texas.

But, I'm quite sure Mr. Stern's heart won't be growing three sizes this Holiday season.

In Dr. Seuss' 1966 animated classic the Grinch figures out..."Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more."

The Houston Rockets won't have the time this Holiday season to learn the same lesson.

D-Jax is Special Teams Player of the Week

SPECIAL TEAMS: PR-WR DE SEAN JACKSON, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

  • Jackson had a 72-yard punt-return touchdown, a 60-yard touchdown reception and 261 total yards (178 receiving, 83 punt return) in the Eagles’ 45-38 win at the New York Giants.
  • His two 50-yard touchdowns in Week 14 give him eight such scores this season, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer ELROY “CRAZY LEGS” HIRSCH (1951) and Chicago’s DEVIN HESTER (2007) for the most in a single season.
  • Jackson’s 178 receiving yards set a new career-high and marked his sixth 100-yard game since entering the NFL in 2008 (fourth this season).
  • He has two punt-return touchdowns this year, tied for the single-season club mark (BRIAN WESTBROOK, 2003) and his three career punt-return touchdowns set a new franchise record.
  • In his second season from California, this is Jackson’s third career Player of the Week Award and third this season. He was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Kickoff Weekend and the NFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week 7.
  • Jackson is the only Eagle to win weekly awards for both offense and special teams in the same season.
  • He is the only player in franchise history to be named Player of the Week three times in a single season.

Phils blockbuster hung up

The four-way trade involving Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee is yet to be made official with Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reporting that one of the minor leaguers involved in the deal flunked his physical. Shi Davidi of The Canadian Press says Phillippe Aumont, who had had elbow issues, has passed.

Here's a recap of the expected deal from MLB Trade Rumors...

  • The Phillies get Roy Halladay, Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, Juan Ramirez, and $6MM. The Phillies will give Halladay a three-year extension plus vesting options.
  • The Mariners get Cliff Lee.
  • The Blue Jays get Kyle Drabek, Brett Wallace, and Travis d'Arnaud.
  • The A's get Michael Taylor.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Flyers schism


Call Adam Schefter, there is a schism in the Flyers locker room at least according to ThePhillyFour.com, which is reporting than an affair could be the reason the Flyers locker room appears to be split this season.

The Web site cites a "credible source" claiming Jeff Carter had an affair with Scott Hartnell’s wife and the entire locker room is split over the situation.

Eagles elevate TE Rucker from practice squad

The Philadelphia Eagles have signed TE Martin Rucker from the practice squad to the 53-man roster and released RB P.J. Hill.

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. He was signed to the Eagles practice squad on September 24, 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.

This move may indicate the Eagles expect to miss the 49ers game with a back injury and further indicated Brian Westbrook will likely be back this week.

FCC goes after Comcast

Bloomberg is reporting that the FCC wants to force Comcast to sell Comcast SportsNet Philly to DirecTV and The Dish Network immediately.

Flyers claim G Leighton off waivers

Paul Holmgren has confirmed that the Flyers claimed goalie Michael Leighton on re-entry waivers from Carolina.

Sixers' Speights hopes to be back by Xmas

Sixers second-year big man Marreese Speights was back on the practice floor over the weekend and is hoping to be back in the lineup by Christmas.

Speights has been sidelined since Nov. 14 with a partially torn left MCL, an injury that typically takes six to eight weeks.

"It feels just like the right one," Speights said. "It feels pretty good."

Westbrook to try new helmet

Bob Grotz of the Delaware County Times is reporting the Eagles have quietly confirmed that Brian Westbrook will be back this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers with a new helmet.

B-West is using a helmet with the same shock-absorbing technology used to protect Army paratroopers and Navy SEALS. It is more rounded and bulbous than a conventional helmet ands engineered to turn hits into glancing blows, lessening the chance of concussions.

Westbrook has missed four straight games and six of the last seven with concussion issues.

My question is why isn't everyone using these helmets?

Flyers recall D Syvret

The Philadelphia Flyers have recalled defenseman Danny Syvret from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms.

Syvret, 24, has two assists and eight penalty minutes in 13 games with the Flyers this season. In nine appearances with Adirondack, he has eight points (2G,6A) and two penalty minutes. He leads all Phantoms defensemen in points (8) and is tied for the lead on the Phantoms defense in assists (6), while both of his goals are game-winning-goals, including his most recent, which gave the Phantoms a 3-2 win vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 0.1 seconds left in regulation this past
Sunday.

In parts of five seasons of play in the AHL (2005-06 to 2009-10), Syvret has recorded 126 points (20G,106A) and 143 penalty minutes in 267 games, including 65 points (14G,51A) and 46 penalty minutes in 85 games with the Phantoms.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jerome Allen takes over winless Penn program

PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania's Director of Athletics, Steve Bilsky, has announced a coaching change within the Quakers' men's basketball program. Glen Miller will be leaving the program, and former Penn standout player and current assistant coach Jerome Allen will lead the Quakers as interim head coach.

"We thank Glen for his time at Penn," said Bilsky. "However, we have decided that a change is in the best interests of the program, the student-athletes, and the larger Penn basketball community.

"I have asked Jerome to help re-establish the identity of Penn Basketball," he continued. "For decades, Penn Basketball has been a source of pride for the University, not simply for the successes but also for the embodiment of the Palestra creed: 'To win the game is great, to play the game is greater, but to love the game is greatest of all.' Jerome was an outstanding player who respects the game and loves Penn. I believe our student-athletes will benefit from his tutelage, and our fans will unite around him during this challenging time."

Allen, of course, is one of the most recognized names in Penn men's basketball history. A four-year starter, he led the Quakers to Ivy League titles in each of his last three seasons (1993-95), all of them coming via a perfect 14-0 conference mark. (Penn went on to win its first six Ivy League games in 2005-06, as well, giving the Red and Blue a 48-game Ivy winning streak that remains the conference record to this day.)

The 1992-93 squad went 22-5 overall, wresting the Ivy crown away from Princeton after the Tigers' four-year run before losing in the NCAA first round to Massachusetts. In 1993-94, Penn went 25-3 overall and earned an NCAA first-round victory over Nebraska before losing to Florida in the second round. In 1994-95, with Allen serving as team captain, Penn went 22-6 overall and again advanced to the NCAAs, losing to Alabama in overtime in the first round.

Allen was the Ivy League Player of the Year as a sophomore in 1992-93 -- sharing the honor with Columbia's Buck Jenkins -- and again as a junior in 1993-94, making him one of three Penn players to earn the honor twice. Allen also earned first-team All-Ivy and All-Philadelphia Big 5 three times apiece during his career.

When his Penn basketball career ended, Allen was the program's all-time leader in assists (504) and steals (166). He also scored 1,518 career points, which is currently sixth on Penn's all-time scoring list, and grabbed 482 career rebounds from his guard position.

Allen was inducted into the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame in February 2009.

Following his Penn career, Allen was a second-round draft pick of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and spent two seasons in the NBA with Minnesota, Indiana and Denver. He then headed to Europe, where he enjoyed a stellar professional career before retiring at the end of the 2008-09 season.

Although this will be Allen's first stint as a head coach at the college level, he is no stranger to life on the bench. The summer of 2007 he did an internship with the San Antonio Spurs, serving as an assistant coach on their summer league team that competed in the Las Vegas NBA Summer League and the Rocky Mountain Review in Salt Lake City, Utah. As part of that program, he participated in both practice instructing and game scouting.

In addition, last February Allen was awarded the head coaching position for Snaidero Basket (in Udine, Italy, roughly 45 minutes north of Venice), with whom he had previously played for four seasons. With that, he became the person in 15 years to be promoted to head coach while still actively playing in one of the top European leagues (Italy, Spain, Greece, Russia, France, Turkey). Over the course of Allen's four seasons playing with Snaidero, the team qualified for the Italian Cup for the first time in history. Allen also enjoyed two-year playing stints in both Rome and Napoli.

Locally to Philadelphia, in 1997 Allen founded an organization called Brothers Embracing Brothers (BEB). In an attempt to convey the message of neighborhood involvement, BEB established a men's basketball league. Over the years BEB evolved and began working directly with the neighborhood youth. With a new mission in place, Hood Enriched was formed with the objective to cultivate the academic and athletic attributes of inner-city youth. The goal was to encourage self-assessment and development. With proper support and implementation, the program asserted that it could bring forth accomplished students, confident athletes, and productive citizens.

Using the motto "expect to be exceptional," student-athletes were exposed to educational analysis exams and monitored thereafter. In addition, the summer job program allowed participants to develop proper workplace behavior. Finally, the program's basketball department fostered self-development within team structure. Emphasis was place upon mastering basic fundamentals in kid-friendly environments.

Through Hood Enriched, from 2003-05 Allen led summer basketball camps in Italy, with 36 kids from all parts of Philadelphia traveling to Latina, Rome, Bologna, Cessenatico, and Pesaro. These groups included current or former Division I players like Dionte Christmas (Temple), Parrish Grant (La Salle), Sammie Givens (Drexel), Shannon Givens (Drexel), Clayton Brothers (Hartford), Tywain McKie (Coppin State), Tamir Johnson (Central Conn.) and Khalif Foster (Robert Morris).

The Hood Enriched Summer Job Program also allowed four kids, over the course of four summers, the opportunity to work at City Hall for the Mayor's Action Center. And the program's Reading and Math Assessment, involving roughly 60 kids a year, made it a requirement once a week for the kids to attend both reading and math enrichment sessions. These classes were normally held on Saturday mornings.

Allen is a local product, having played his high school ball at Episcopal Academy. At Episcopal, he helped lead his team to four consecutive Inter-Academic League titles and was the Inter-Ac's MVP as a senior when the Churchmen went 27-2 overall.

Phils on verge of a Halladay

The Phillies have acquired Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay in a three-team deal that will also send last year's postseason hero, Cliff Lee, to Seattle, pending a physical and contract extension for Halladay. Prospects would head to Toronto in the trade.

Philadelphia is expected to sign Halladay to a three-year, $60 million extension beyond the $15.75 million he will make in 2010 under his existing deal.

Halladay, 32, is 148-76 lifetime with a 3.43 ERA. He won the 2003 Cy Young Award and finished in the top five in the Cy Young voting four other times. Last season, Halladay went 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA with an MLB-best nine complete games in 32 starts for Toronto.

Lee, who was acquired from the Indians on July 29 for four minor leaguers, quickly became Philadelphia's ace. He went 4-0 with a 1.56 mark in five postseason outings, including 2-0 in the World Series.

According to The Associated Press, the commissioner's office granted a 72-hour window on Sunday for Toronto and Philadelphia to complete their trade.

Philadelphia could give up pitchers J.A. Happ, Joe Blanton and outfielder Dominic Brown as part of a deal. Those three players along with Halladay also took physicals in Philadelphia on Monday.

On the other hand, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com says that Phillies pitching propsect Kyle Drabek and other top propsects are in the deal but Brown will stay.

Maclin out with torn plantar fascia

Eagles rookie wide receiver Jeremy Maclin will miss next week's game with San Francisco after tearing plantar fascia tissue in his left foot.

Eagles head coach Andy Reid addressed the injury at his Monday press conference and labeled the situation week-to-week, intimating a definite possibility of Maclin being out longer.

Maclin could be seen leaving Giants Stadium on crutches following Sunday night's 45-38 win over New York. He suffered the tear during the first half and had entered the game already dealing with the plantar fasciitis condition itself -- essentially a painful inflammation along the arch of the foot.

The Eagles' first-round draft pick this year, Maclin has 46 catches for 623 yards and four touchdowns.

Broncos - Eagles moved to 4:15

The NFL finalized its schedule for Week 16 by moving the matchup between the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles from 1 p.m. (et) to 4 p.m. (et).

The originally scheduled NBC prime time contest for December 27 will remain Dallas at Washington.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Phils invite players to spring training

The Phillies signed OF Chris Duffy, C Paul Hoover, INF Cody Ransom, INF Andy Tracy, OF DeWayne Wise, INF Wilson Valdez and LHP Bill White to minor league deals with an invite to spring training.

Lashley signs with Strikeforce

Former World Wrestling Entertainment star and undefeated mixed martial arts fighter Bobby
Lashley has signed a multi-year agreement with STRIKEFORCE and will make his debut for the world championship MMA promotion at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla., on Saturday, January 30.

The 6-foot-3 inch, 250-pound Lashley, also a former collegiate wrestling star for Missouri Valley College and member of The United States Army, will face an opponent that has not yet been determined during the live SHOWTIME telecast of STRIKEFORCE: Miami, the historic, first-ever STRIKEFORCE event in the state of Florida.

In his last MMA start on June 27, 2009, the 33-year-old pulverized and scored a first round (3:17) TKO over 6-foot-5 inch, 350-plus-pound goliath Bob “The Beast” Sapp with a barrage of punches in Biloxi, Miss. The win upped Lashley’s MMA record to 4-0.

“I’m looking forward to fighting for STRIKEFORCE and challenging myself by taking on some of the top heavyweights in MMA,” said Lashley, a native of Junction City, Kan., and resident of Denver, Colo.

After competing in several matches in both the WWE Raw and SmackDown! shows in 2005 and 2006, Lashley captured the WWE United States Championship by defeating rival “JBL.” During this stint with the league and another in 2007, Lashley wrestled several top superstars, including The Big Show and John Cena.

Lashley made his MMA debut on Dec. 13, 2008, earning a 41-second TKO over Joshua Franklin after Franklin sustained a cut and could not continue.

Earlier this year, Lashley joined Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling. In his first appearance with the league on July 30, he helped tag team partner Mick Foley defeat superstars Kurt Angle and Kevin Nash.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Video: Iguodala is great when it doesn't count

Astros sign Feliz

Where else would an ex-phil go? The Astros have agreed to terms with third baseman Pedro Feliz on a one-year, $4 million dollar contract.

Phils take two pitchers in Rule 5 Draft

The Phillies selected RHPs Kenneth Herndon and Angelo Sanchez in the Rule 5 draft today.

Herndon, 24, went with the 17th pick and was 5-6 with a 3.03 ERA and 11 saves in 50 appearances last season with Double-A Arkansas, which is the Los Angeles Angels affiliate.

The Phillies also selected right-hander Angelo Sanchez in the Triple A portion of the draft. Sanchez, 20, went 5-1 with a 5.52 ERA in 12 starts with rookie-level Elizabethton, which is a Minnesota Twins affiliate.

Meanwhile, the Mets selected RHP Carlos Monasterios from Phillies.

Sixers worth $344 million

Forbes has announced its annual valuations of the National Basketball Association’s 30 teams, naming the Los Angeles Lakers the most valuable team at $607 million.

The champion Lakers replace the New York Knicks, who slip to #2 after four years at #1, and are now worth $586 million, down four % from last year.

The Sixers came in 14th with a value of $344 million, also down four percent. The team did have an operating income of $7.6 million, however.

Recession woes impacted the NBA as consumers are thinking twice about paying an average of $50 to attend an NBA game, while companies are reconsidering sponsorship and luxury suite deals.

Highlights include:
* This year marks the first time that team values have declined since Forbes began tracking NBA finances 11 years ago.
* The average team value fell 4% over the past year, to $367 million, while overall league revenue was flat at $3.8 billion.
* 12 teams posted an operating loss last season, the most since the lockout shortened 1998-99 campaign.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Blockbuster kicks Winter Meetings into high gear

Chris Ruddick

Philadelphia, PA - After a relatively quiet first day at Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, the New York Yankees - who else - fired the first salvo to really get things rolling.

The Yankees are on the verge of pulling off a three-team, seven-player blockbuster, as they acquired center fielder Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers, with the Arizona Diamondbacks also having a part in the deal.

Detroit picked up righty Max Scherzer and left-hander Daniel Schlereth from Arizona, lefty reliever Phil Coke and outfield prospect Austin Jackson from New York, with the Diamondbacks netting right-handers Edwin Jackson from the Tigers and Ian Kennedy from the Yankees.

My first impression of the trade is that the Yankees made out here.

Forget Coke and Kennedy, Austin Jackson was the only thing they gave up. Considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Jackson's ceiling at best, though, was probably what Granderson is right now. An absolute no-brainer from Brian Cashman.


Granderson can play either center field or in left for the Yankees.
His contract is also manageable, as he's due $5.5 million next year, $8.25 million in 2011, $10 million in 2012 and then $13 million or a $2 million buyout in 2013.

Granderson can play either center field or in left and his arrival also puts a little pressure on Johnny Damon, who, really, is no longer needed in the Bronx. Of course, the Yanks would love to have him back, but not at the price he and agent Scott Boras dictated to the Yanks a few weeks ago.

Now there are some concerns with Granderson. He has been in a steady decline since his record-setting season in 2007 that saw him become just the second player in big league history with at least 30 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a single season.

His season a year ago saw him hit a career-low .249, while also belting a career-best 30 home runs. The Tigers lacked pop last year and Granderson swung for the fences, probably hurting his average and overall on-base-percentage. Whatever pop he gives the Yankee lineup is gravy. If Granderson does what he does in that lineup, he will be an All-Star every year.

As for the Tigers, kudos to general manager Dave Dombrowski, who received a starter who can step in right away in Scherzer, a potential closer in Schlereth, an outfield replacement for Granderson and a quality setup man in Coke.

Now that is how you get younger and slash payroll all in one swoosh.

Now with the Diamondbacks, I have no idea what their thinking is here. If I am J.P. Ricciardi, Kevin Towers or any other general manager out there looking for work, I'd have my resume ready to go because Arizona GM Josh Byrnes is on borrowed time.

The Diamondbacks gave up perhaps the two pitchers with the most upside in the deal in Scherzer and Schlereth for what? Edwin Jackson, a one-half wonder last season who pitched to a plus-five ERA after the All-Star break and Ian Kennedy, who after failing to make the Yankees out of spring training, missed most of the year anyway with an aneurysm under his right armpit.

If you want to tell me Edwin Jackson is an upgrade over Scherzer I might listen. I don't agree, but I could live with it. But if you think Kennedy is going to give you more than Schlereth, I have a big problem with that. Kennedy has shown nothing in his albeit limited big league career. Plus there are questions with his makeup.

Not to mention Jackson can become a free agent in two years and with Boras as his agent, he is almost certain to leave.

Now where this deal leaves the Yankees with regards to Roy Halladay, who knows? Cashman lately has preached the growth of his farm system. I have a hard time believing he is going to unload any more to get the Toronto ace.

GAMMONS LEAVING ESPN

The bigger news to come out of the meetings on Tuesday, though, was the announcement from ESPN that Hall of Famer Peter Gammons would be leaving the network, effective at the conclusion of the festivities in Indy.

Now in a release Gammons made it perfectly clear that this was not a retirement and that he will pursue new endeavors.

I would be shocked if Gammo does not re-surface on the MLB Network in the coming weeks.

OTHER RUMBLINGS

* No movement on either Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. The popular belief is that if Bay does not re-sign with the Red Sox, which is becoming more and more less likely by the day, that they will go hard after Holliday.

Surprisingly, the Seattle Mariners have come calling on Bay, who went to school in the area and has a house near Seattle. The Mariners, though, are not sold on his ability to perform in left field at Safeco Field.

The M's finalized things with Chone Figgins and with possibly Bay in the mix, they think they have a terrific chance at unseating the Angels in the AL West.

* The Braves are listening on reliever Rafael Soriano, who accepted arbitration on Monday. With Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito already signed, Atlanta wants no part of having to pay Soriano. He has reportedly already given general manager Frank Wren a list of teams that had interest before the arbitration offer was extended.

* Everything is also quiet on the Halladay front. It is almost a little too quiet. If something happens in the next few days, I will have to tip my hat to Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos. We know he has been talking to some teams, but not a lick of information has been leaked. Kind of remarkable considering the age we live in.

* Speaking of the age we live in. The big winner of this year's Winter Meetings without a doubt has been Twitter. You can't find anyone without a Twitter account. That is where the news is being broken. It is also a bit of a detriment, as every single rumor on the planet is also being "tweeted".

Phils add depth with Gload

The Philadelphia Phillies continued to piece their bench together, as they have signed the versatile Ross Gload to what the team's official website is reporting a two-year deal.

Gload, a left-handed bat who will assume the pinch-hitting role that Matt Stairs had filled for the Phillies, led the majors last season with 21 pinch hits and is a .308 lifetime hitter in those situations,

The 33-year-old Gload appeared in 125 games for the Marlins last season and hit .261 with six home runs and 30 RBI, while playing right field, left field, first base, and even pitching a scoreless inning..

Gload is a career .283 hitter with 28 home runs and 192 RBI in 608 games for the Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals and Marlins.

Flyers' Gagne cleared for contact

Flyers winger Simon Gagne has been cleared to take contact in practice. He will not play this weekend, however, but is getting closer, coording to coach Peter Laviolette.

Sixers' ratings increase over 300 % with AI

The Sixers first game with Allen Iverson drew a 4.9 rating, a 300% increase over the Sixers average 1.2 rating this season.

Eagles sign Gamble, Norwood to practice squad

The Philadelphia Eagles have signed FB Joel Gamble to the practice squad and re-signed WR Jordan Norwood to the practice squad.

Gamble (6-2, 255) has spent time in both the Arena Football League 2 and the American Indoor Football Association, most recently playing for the AIFA’s DC Armor in June 2009. A four-year letterman, Gamble was a tight end at Shippensburg and has played fullback and linebacker professionally.

Originally a rookie free agent signing of the Cleveland Browns in 2009, Norwood spent weeks 3-11 on the Eagles practice squad and was promoted to the active roster on December 1. He played in his first NFL game at Atlanta (12/6). Norwood was released by the Eagles on 12/7/09.

Reid gets his extension

The Philadelphia Eagles have extended the contract of head coach Andy Reid through the 2013 season.

Reid, also the club's executive vice president of football operations, is in his 11th season as the team's head coach. He is the second-longest tenured coach in the NFL, behind only Jeff Fisher, who has been with Tennessee for 16 years.

The Eagles are 8-4 this season and tied for first place in the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys.

Reid has a record of 105-66-1 in the regular season and a mark of 10-7 in the playoffs. He has taken the Eagles to the postseason in seven of his first 10 years, with five division titles and five trips to the NFC Championship Game.

The Eagles reached the Super Bowl only once, however, after the 2004 season, losing to the New England Patriots.

Last year's Philadelphia team made the playoffs on the final day of the season and, as the NFC's sixth seed, beat Minnesota and the New York Giants on the road before falling at Arizona in the conference title game.

After seven seasons as an assistant under Mike Holmgren at Green Bay, the last two as quarterbacks coach, Reid was hired by the Eagles. He took over a team that finished 3-13 in 1998 and had the Eagles in the playoffs in his second season.

Reid was rewarded as Coach of the Year after the 2000 and 2002 seasons.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Emery to have abdominal surgery

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that goaltender Ray Emery will undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn muscle in his lower abdominal wall.

He is expected to be out for approximately six weeks, according to club General Manager Paul Holmgren.

Dr. William Meyers, from Hahnemann University Hospital will be performing the surgery.

Emery, 27, has an 11-8-1 record with a 2.83 goals-against average and .901 save percentage, including one shutout, in 21 appearances with the Flyers this season.

Philadelphia also they have recalled goaltender Johan Backlund right wing David Laliberte from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms.

Backlund and Laliberte will be available to play in tonight’s Flyers-Islanders game at the Wachovia Center.

Backlund, 28, has a 6-8-0 record, with a 2.81 goals-against average, .903 save percentage and two shutouts in 15 appearances with Adirondack this season. This is his second recall with the Flyers after he was originally recalled on Sept. 27. In addition to his time with the Phantoms, he also appeared in two contests with the Flyers during the 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 Sept. 17, and 11 of 14 shots in 33:38 of play vs. the Minnesota Wild on Sept. 29.

A native of Skelleftea, Sweden, Backlund signed a one-year contract with the Flyers on March 26, 2009.

Laliberte, 23, has two goals and three points in eight contests with the Flyers this season after he made his NHL debut on Oct. 31 vs. the Carolina Hurricanes, where he recorded a goal and an assist. With the Phantoms, he has four goals and eight assists for 12 points and 10 penalty minutes in 17 games. His 12 points are tied for second on the team in scoring and his eight assists rank third on the Phantoms.

In parts of three seasons of play in the AHL (2007-08 to 2009-10), Laliberte has recorded 69 points (35G,34A) and 66 penalty minutes in 114 games, all with the Phantoms.

A native of St-Liboire, Quebec, Laliberte was originally selected by the Flyers in the fourth round (124th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and signed a three-year entry level contract with the Flyers on May 17, 2007.

Video: Mark Cuban on RAW

Eagles make practice squad moves

The Philadelphia Eagles signed offensive lineman Gerald Cadogan to the practice squad and released OL Greg Isdaner and CB Stoney Woodson from the practice squad.

Cadogan (6-5, 309) was a two-year starter as a left tackle at Penn State before signing with the Carolina Panthers as a rookie free agent following the 2009 draft. After being released by the Panthers on August 31, Cadogan spent time on the practice squads of the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers.

A native of Portsmouth, OH, the 23-year-old Cadogan earned Academic All-Big Ten honors three times and Academic All-America honors twice at Penn State with a double-major of rehabilitation services and psychology.

The Birds will also likely bring back WR Jordan Norwood to the practice squad.

Iverson is home

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA - "You Can't Go Home Again" is a novel by Thomas Wolfe, published posthumously in 1940.

The book tells the story of George Webber, a novice author who pens his own work that makes frequent references to his home of Libya Hill, a town filled with residents that read the book and are upset about the "truths" Webber exposes.

The title of Wolfe's book comes from the finale of the novel when Webber realizes..."You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time -- back home to the escapes of Time and Memory."

Well, George Webber never met Allen Iverson.

For Iverson home meant 20,664 at the Wachovia Center cheering his every move from the minute he hit the floor. It meant kissing the Sixers' logo at center court.

Of course, it also meant showing up at 5:57 (et) for a 7:00 p.m. start and eventually it will mean the TGIF on City Line Avenue, The Borgata in Atlantic City and The Palmer Social Club in Center City.

But, for one night, the moribund Sixers were relevant again thanks to "The Answer."

"Just the fans. It meant so much," Iverson said when asked about his return to Philadelphia in a 93-83 loss to Denver. "It's like a marriage, both sides what to feel wanted and obviously I have a connection with these people."

The 76ers were a 5-15 club coming in to Monday's night game with the Nuggets. They were a team suffering through an ugly nine-game losing streak with a first year coach that has made the Johnny Davis-era in Philly a nice memory.

The Sixers are a team that can't shoot, can't rebound and can't defend. A team that has already lost two of its most important players, Lou Williams and Mo Speights, to injury.

In one fell swoop, Iverson erased all that, if only for one night.

The national media showed up in droves. The local media, which has been largely absent magically reappeared, and the building was taken over by electricity not seen since the 2000-01 NBA Finals.

Iverson was on his best behavior, save for the late arrival. He played unselfishly and deferred to the new "star" in town, Andre Iguodala.

At the end of the day, however, the Sixers faltered again to one of the NBA's best teams thanks to a 14-0 Nuggets run to start the fourth quarter, most of it with the enigmatic 10-time All-Star sitting next to Eddie Jordan on the bench.

"It was bittersweet," Iverson said. "I wanted the win so badly whether I played well or not. My heart said yes but my body said no. My legs were heavy. My arms were heavy. It was tough. I didn't know if I would play today but I gave it everything."

The Prince was going to show up at the Wachovia Center and figure out the slipper didn't fit sooner rather than later.

Iverson or no Iverson, Jordan still can't coach and the Sixers are a deeply flawed team.

But, for this one night, basketball was back in Philadelphia thanks to Allen Iverson.

Welcome home.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Eagles cut Norwood

The Eagles cut WR Jordan Norwood to make room for the returning Joselio Hanson.

Hobbs has surgery

The Philadelphia Eagles announced that CB Ellis Hobbs underwent a successful anterior cervical decompression and fusion for a herniated disk.

The procedure was performed today at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia by Dr. Alexander R. Vaccaro.

Hobbs is expected to make a full recovery and return to the field next season. Hobbs was placed on the Injured Reserve list by the Eagles on November 11, 2009 after suffering a neck injury three days earlier in a Sunday night game vs. Dallas.

The Tiffany Network is tarnished

By John McMullen

We all need to make a living, and disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy is doing his best to do exactly that.

The ex-con scored a plum spot on CBS' 60 Minutes Sunday night to hawk his new book, "Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal That Rocked the NBA."

The book was dropped in late October by Random House over liability issues, but that didn't stop a Florida-based company called VTi Group, Inc., from running with the sensationalistic garbage.

It also didn't stop the Tiffany Network, which evidently now feels ratings trump journalistic integrity, from giving Donaghy a virtually unfiltered forum.

Of course, unlike FOX News or MSNBC, CBS still has designs on keeping some of its credibility, so the network didn't let Donaghy do a Billy Mays impression. The result was the same, however, nothing more than an infomercial for a book described as an "in-depth look at the betting scandal that rocked professional basketball."

Evidently it's also a story of redemption, as the gritty Donaghy claimed he refused to make calls to affect games even if it meant he lost money and it angered the mob.

What a guy.

"I just told them that I wasn't making calls in games to influence the outcome," Donaghy told 60 Minutes. "And I'm not going to be able to obviously predict the winner every night, and they have to accept that's what's going to happen."

In his deluded world, Donaghy was just using his insider knowledge of other officials' biases, not his own. He claims he was winning 75 percent of his wagers, drawing the attention of the mob, which then threatened his family if he didn't provide his insider picks to them.

"They basically told me that I needed to give them the picks and if I didn't, that it's a possibility that somebody would go down and visit my wife and kids in Florida," Donaghy said.

Sure, those two statements contradict each other but you can never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Eventually, Donaghy's connection with the underworld caught the attention of the FBI and he ratted on Tony Soprano and Company, believing that was the best course of action to protect his family.

"It's in the back of my mind, but I'm not going to live my life in fear," Donaghy said of possible retribution from his unsavory past. "I was informed by the FBI agents that they certainly had an eye on what they called these wiseguys and that if anything would come up they would inform me immediately."

By this point, I was wondering where to look for the book at my local Barnes and Noble.

I naturally gravitated to the fiction section.

Instead of ignoring this latest round of drivel by Donaghy, NBA commissioner David Stern took the bait and released a statement after the interview aired, pumping up Lawrence Pedowitz, a former investigator in the U.S. attorney's office, who led a review of the league's officiating.

"Mr. Pedowitz' review revealed that the NBA's core values of neutrality and accountability were not compromised by anyone other than Mr. Donaghy," Stern said.

So where are we?

As far as I can surmise, Donaghy was just a was a simple country boy, some might say a cockeyed optimist, looking for a little Christmas money by taking advantage of Joey Crawford's disdain of Tim Duncan when he got caught up in the dirty game of gambling and the Mafioso.

Scorsese is scouting locations for the film-shoot right now.

As for me, I'm about to ring CBS and ask for 20 minutes of time to peddle my own book on the 50 greatest Minnesota Vikings that currently sits on the shelf of a now-defunct publishing company based in the Midwest.

Hey, it's worth a shot.

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Phils are BA's Organization of the Year

Baseball America is set to name the Philadelphia Phillies as "Organization of the Year".

Screamin A. lands a job with FOXSports Radio

Kissing A.I's ass has its perks, Sports Business Journal is reporting Stephen A. Smith has landed a job at FOXSports Radio. He'll also keep his Philly Inquirer gig.

Iverson night on CSN

Comcast SportsNet will be providing six hours of coverage of Allen Iverson's return to the Sixers on Monday.

It begins with Daily News Live at 5 p.m., followed by SportsNite at 6 p.m., Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m., Sixers-Nuggets at 7 p.m., and Sixers Post Game Live and concluding with SportsNite at 10 p.m.

Marc Zumoff, Ed Pinckney, and Jamie Maggio will cover the game. Donyell Marshall and John Celestand provide analysis for the pregame and post-game shows.

World B. Free's ex murdered

The ex-lover of former NBA All-Star World B. Free was shot to death Sunday night, according to the New York Daily News.

Police say Audrey Johnson, 51, went outside her family's Clinton Hill, NY home about 9:30 p.m. after her niece's boyfriend, a former convict, was jumped. Shots rang out and Johnson was hit in her head.

"She's just an innocent victim of gun violence," her brother Kenny Johnson told the Daily News. "She was a beautiful person."

Iverson returns to Sixers tonight


They say hate isn't really the opposite of love -- apathy is.

And, the apathy Philadelphia fans have shown toward their basketball team is the reason Allen Iverson is back in town.

Hoops haven't been much fun in the City of Brotherly Love this season. The 76ers, who have struggled with Eddie Jordan's system and suffered a number of key injuries, are one of the NBA's worst teams and have been playing before half houses at the Wachovia Center.

Looking for a bit of a jump start and some relevance in a crowded sports market, general manager Ed Stefanski pulled the trigger last week and brought game the enigmatic Iverson, one of the franchise's all-time most popular players.

"The Answer" will be back in lineup tonight as the Sixers host the powerful Denver Nuggets, hoping to put the brakes on an ugly, nine-game losing streak.

Philadelphia's current slide is its longest since a 12-game skid from Nov. 25- Dec. 20, 2006.

Iverson, who spent the first 10-plus seasons of his career with Philadelphia previously announced his retirement only days after being released by Memphis, but the Sixers decided to bring the 10-time All-Star back after starting point guard Lou Williams was sidelined indefinitely with a broken jaw.

Iverson hasn't played with the Sixers since the 2006-07 season, when he demanded a trade and was sent to Denver. He split last season between the Nuggets and Pistons, then signed with Memphis in the offseason.

"He's something to get us going right now," said Sixers forward Elton Brand. "He's a prolific scorer, especially during my era of playing the game. We're going to make it work. We're glad to have him."

Most recently, Philly finished winless on a four-game road trip when Raymond Felton ended with eight assists and 18 points, none bigger than his go-ahead layup with 4.7 seconds left in regulation that helped Charlotte upend the Sixers, 106-105.

Willie Green scored 26 points, while Thaddeus Young chipped in 17 points and 11 rebounds the 76ers. Andre Iguodala added 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists but his potential game-winner as time expired hit all iron.

The Northwest Division-leading Nuggets, meanwhile, turned into a Western Conference power last season when they dealt Iverson to the Motor City for a package that included star point guard Chauncey Billups.

Denver opened up a four-game road trip in positive fashion Saturday when Carmelo Anthony poured in 34 points to lead the Nuggets in a 106-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Billups notched 18 points and five assists and J.R. Smith scored 17 for the Nuggets, who rattled off a third straight win and seventh in the last eight games. Nene had 12 points and Ty Lawson 11 in the win.

"In the second half our defense tuned in," said Nuggets coach George Karl. "I think offensively Carmelo had the good hand all night. We just kept going at them, but I think our defense was the key to the game."

The Nuggets swept the home-and-home series between the two clubs last season and have won in three of their past four visits to Philadelphia.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

First look at Iverson back in Sixers Uni

-Courtesy of Sixers Twitter account

Eagles inactives...

...are DeSean Jackson, Brian Westbrook, P.J. Hill, Akeem Jordan, Stacy Andrews, Mike McGlynn, Kevin Kolb and Kevin Curtis.