I know I’m stating the obvious, but I’m going to do it anyway. With Hurricane Sandy, Frankenstorm or Megastorm – whatever you want to call it – bearing down on us, sports seems a little less important this week.
All of a sudden, the Eagles-Falcons game is no longer as important as getting supplies ready in case the power goes out. The start of 76ers season isn’t as important as evacuation plans in case the house floods. The World Series is no longer … well, a lot of people didn’t care about the World Series even before Sandy starting moving up the East Coast.
Sports can be a great diversion during difficult times, so we’ll do our best at PhillyPhanatics.com to keep the site updated. But, of course, our ability to update the site is dependent on having electricity.
Hopefully, your damage will be limited to inconvenience issues rather than truly threatening conditions. If so, sports will be a nice distraction while we’re stuck in the house for a few days. But please prepare for the worst.
That’s a lesson we can learn from sports: always prepare for the worst-case scenario. If the storm doesn’t do as much damage as feared, your situation isn’t any worse. If you don’t prepare and the storm is as bad as feared, it’s like getting caught without a capable backup quarterback when your starter is injured – only a lot more serious.
I hope we all have a safe week.
10, 9, 8, 76ERS! The biggest difference between the new-look Sixers and their past is that Andre Iguodala is gone. We’ll receive an immediate reminder of the change Wednesday when the new-look 76ers debut Iguodala and the Denver Nuggets.
The trading of Iguodala isn’t the only change. Leading scorer Lou Williams and power forward Elton Brand also are gone. Veteran Jason Richardson, acquired in the Iguodala trade, becomes the starting shooting guard, which shift Evan Turner to small forward. Another change is that Thaddeus Young appears to have earned a spot in the starting lineup.
One change we won’t see yet is the impact a big center in the low post can make. Andrew Bynum continues to be sidelined by soreness in his right knee.
With Richards, Nick Young and Dorell Wright, the Sixers should be a much better 3-point shooting team than last year. But there’s only one basketball on the court at one time. It will be interesting to see how head coach Doug Collins melds the ingredients of this team together. At the very least, the Sixers should be an exciting team.
CLOSE CALLS: I boxed myself in with my Eagles pick this week. I think the Eagles will hand the Falcons (6-0) their first loss of the season. However, I don’t think they’ll cover the spread (2½ points). I’ve left myself a narrow window for being correct. The Eagles need to win the game by one or two points.
On the other hand, all three of the Eagles’ victories have been by either one or two points. The Falcons also have had some close calls, with their last three games having been decided by a touchdown or less, including a two-point win over the Panthers and a three-point win over the Raiders.
Maybe predicting such a close outcome isn’t going too far out on the limb after all.
LINE DANCING: With Dennis Kelly starting in place of Danny Watkins today at right guard, three of the Eagles’ five offensive linemen will be different that their projected starting lineup entering the season. You could argue that King Dunlap is better than Demetress Bell and that Kelly couldn’t possibly be too large a drop-off from the struggling Watkins, but that much change is a difficult challenge to overcome on the offensive line, where teamwork, cohesion and trust are important ingredients for success.
SEASON ON ICE? It appears that the NHL is dangerously close to canceling its entire season. The cancellation of all November games in one shot, instead of in two-week intervals, is a warning to the players that they are in danger of going an entire year without a paycheck.
On the other hand, at some point the owners of teams that make money are going to push back against the small-market teams that seem to be pushing the NHL’s bargaining agenda. There’s no way the Flyers, Rangers or Red Wings want to lose an entire season of revenue. The battle between the owners, however, will take place behind closed doors. Otherwise, the players could interpret it as a sign of weakness among the owners.
SEASON ON ICE: The Union finished up their season with a 3-0 loss to the visiting New York Red Bulls. I’m still befuddled by the Union’s moves this season. Coming off the franchise’s first playoff appearance, they dismantled the team, getting rid of star after star. Unless there are unreported financial problems, I can’t understand the shedding of talent.
DON’T MENTION IT: Anyone who watches Penn State football games has noticed a glaring omission. The announcers never mention Joe Paterno. Since the first home game, when there were some signs that made the subject of Paterno, unavoidable, I have not heard his name mentioned. Clearly, the broadcasters are under instructions not to mention Paterno’s name.
The broadcasters also seem to bend over backwards to praise head coach Bill O’Brien. I feel like a bad guy taking anything away from O’Brien. He’s done a tremendous job under very difficult circumstances. But it wasn’t as if the cupboard was left bare. Remember, the Nittany Lions were 8-1 last season before the Jerry Sandusky scandal became public.
The broadcasters frequently praise the leadership of players such as linebacker Michael Mauti and fullback Michael Zordich. Well, under whose program do you think they developed those leadership skills? Shhh! We’re not supposed to mention his name.
CLEAN SWEEP? The Giants’ postseason run has been remarkable. They won three straight elimination games to beat the Reds, won three more elimination games to oust the Cardinals, and have won three straight against the Tigers to put themselves on the verge of sweeping the World Series.
HARD LINE FOR HARDEN: The Thunder traded James Harden, the NBA’s sixth man of the year last season, to the Houston Rockets on Saturday. The Thunder were unable to work out an agreement on a contract extension with Harden.
The Thunder received guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick in exchange for Harden, center Cole Aldrich and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward. Unless it costs the Thunder a championship this season, I’d give the advantage in this deal to the Thunder.
FINAL THOUGHT: I hope Andre Iguodala isn’t expecting an overly warm welcome this Wednesday. Any hope he had of a polite reception was ruined when he took shots at head coach Doug Collins during the offseason.
Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for 24 years, hopes everyone has a safe week and escapes this storm with minimal damage to their homes.