Walks for Phillies during 4-1 win over Brewers on Saturday

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On November 30

Thank goodness the Eagles beat the Cowboys. If the Cowboys had won, the Delaware Valley would have been in danger of sinking into a sports depression.

The 76ers are awful. Yes, we knew general manager Sam Hinkie’s master plan is for the Sixers to be bad. But I don’t think many people understood that the Sixers were going to be historically bad.

The Sixers (0-16) have set a franchise mark for the worst start to a season. That’s one more loss than the 1972-73 Sixers had at the start of their season. That team, of course, finished 9-73. This year’s Sixers may yet challenge that standard for the worst record in a full NBA season. First, they have their sights on avoiding an 0-18 start, which would equal the NBA record for worst start to a season.

The Flyers aren’t winless, but they only have one win in their past nine games. The team seems to be unraveling. The fear is the Flyers could get worse before they get better. If they get better.

The Phillies missed out on Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas, who signed with the Diamondbacks. The news that the Phillies wouldn’t sign Tomas was preceded by the obligatory stories questioning Tomas’ conditioning and defense, thereby softening the blow when the Phillies didn’t sign him.

Almost everywhere you turn on the Philly sports scene, there is bad news. That’s why we should be particularly thankful for the Eagles’ victory over the Cowboys this Thanksgiving weekend.


NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS: Let’s hope that Mark Sanchez’s terrific performance against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving will put an end to stories about the Thanksgiving “butt fumble” two years earlier.


SENIOR TRIBUTE: Finding a silver lining in Penn State’s 34-10 loss to 10th-ranked Michigan State isn’t easy, but two tributes on Senior Day stood out. Running back Bill Belton wore No. 28 as a tribute to injured running back Zach Zwinak. Similarly, cornerback Jordan Lucas wore safety Ryan Keiser’s No. 23.

Zwinak, a hard-nosed running back who has played for four head coaches at Penn State (including interim head coach Tom Bradley), injured his left leg on the opening kickoff of the Ohio State game. Keiser, a former walk-on who worked his way up to team captain, returned to the sidelines Saturday after being hospitalized for three weeks. A fractured rib pierced a bowel, leading to several surgeries and a week in intensive care.

It was a shame that Zwinak and Keiser, who have represented Penn State so proudly during some difficult times, couldn’t play on Senior Day. But, as they stood on the sideline, they were well-represented by two of their appreciative teammates.


NO BOWLING: Temple has missed opportunities to become bowl eligible in its last three games. After beating 21st-ranked East Carolina to improve to 5-3, the Owls have lost three straight games, including Saturday’s 14-6 defeat at the hands of Cincinnati.

The Owls’ only remaining game is Saturday (7:30 p.m.) at Tulane. Even if Temple wins that game, it’s far from a sure thing that the Owls will be invited to a bowl game.


PLAYOFF REPORT: Villanova, which had a first-round bye, will host Liberty, a 26-21 winner over James Madison, on Saturday (4:30 p.m.) in the second round of the Football Championship Series tournament.

In the Division III playoffs, Widener advanced to the national quarterfinals with a 37-27 victory over Christopher Newport. Widener will face Linfield, a 31-28 winner over the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, on Saturday (noon).

In the Division II playoffs, West Chester’s season ended with a 51-36 loss to undefeated Concord (12-0), the top seed in the East Region.


BUSINESS AS USUAL: The timing of the announcement that former pitcher Jamie Moyer would not be returning to the Phillies broadcast booth in 2015, reportedly so he can spend more time with his family in California, raises suspicions. I can’t tell you that the reason cited for Moyer’s departure isn’t true, although he certainly struggled during his first season as a broadcaster. But I can tell you that, by announcing the news on the Friday afternoon following Thanksgiving, Comcast SportsNet followed the textbook for businesses firing employees.

In the business world, the preferred time for releasing bad news is Friday afternoon, preferably on a holiday weekend. If the holiday Friday includes the fallout from a huge Eagles victory, an afternoon Flyers game and the Sixers on the verge of setting a franchise record for futility, it’s even better for the purposes of burying your story so it doesn’t attract too much attention.


PLAYOFF PICTURE: In the NFC, it’s quite possible that a team without a winning record will make the playoffs while a team with a 10-6 record will miss the playoffs. Unless the winner of the NFC South runs the table the rest of the season, the champion won’t be above .500. Meanwhile, Thanksgiving’s outcomes left the Seahawks, Lions and Cowboys in second place in their respective divisions, all with 8-4 records. If those teams remain in second place, at least one of them will miss the playoffs, and all three of them will probably reach double digits in wins.


RAM TOUGH: It’s customary for the Coach of the Year Award to go to someone who led his team to the playoffs, but Rams head coach Jeff Fisher should get some consideration despite his team’s losing record. The Rams have beaten the Seahawks, 49ers and Broncos. They lost the Eagles by six points and the Cowboys and Chargers by three points. Did I mention that the Rams lost their starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, to a torn ACL before the season started, and their backup quarterback to a calf injury. Rams defense end Chris Long also missed a substantial portion of the season due to an injury.

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is probably the front-runner for the award. Arians used to coach at Temple. Fisher was the Eagles’ defensive coordinator under Buddy Ryan before being passed over for the Eagles head coaching job. The Eagles elevated offensive coordinator Rich Kotite instead.

A potential third candidate to be coach of the year also has a Philly connection: Chip Kelly.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for 26 years, was far from alone in believing the Eagles should have hired Jeff Fisher instead of Rich Kotite when Buddy Ryan’s contract wasn’t renewed.

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