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Home runs for Rhys Hoskins in 11 games since being called up by Phillies

Eagles training camp and the Democratic National Convention both began in South Philadelphia on Monday, but that isn’t where the similarity between these two events ends.

Media reports that Mike Babcock was likely to be the Flyers’ next coach were as inaccurate and irresponsible as the multitude of stories suggesting the Eagles were likely to acquire Marcus Mariota during the NFL Draft.

Not only do the Phillies have the worst record in the major leagues, but their .333 winning percentage, which includes an 11-9 start, would rank 13th worst in franchise history if they continue at that pace. Our top 10 list becomes a top 25 list as we recall the worst seasons in Phillies history.

Archive for July, 2017

Concern for Iverson

Posted by Eric Fisher On July - 31 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Fisher column logo2You hope he’s all right. That was my first reaction when hearing that Allen Iverson didn’t show up for the BIG3 event Sunday in Dallas.

Iverson acknowledged concerns for the worst-case scenario in a recent Sports Illustrated article, saying, “I know people have been worried about me. You probably thought I was sitting in a corner in my boxers with a pistol in my hand ready to blow my damn brains out.”

Let’s hope that scenario, or anything remotely close to it, isn’t why Iverson missed an event in which, even as a player-coach, he’s the main attraction.

Let’s hope Iverson simply overslept. And if you think it’s impossible to oversleep for an event that starts after noon, you don’t know Iverson. Here is another quote from Iverson in the Sports Illustrated article: “I used to stay out until six in the morning, go to shootaround at nine and play that night at seven. I could do anything I wanted as long as I got a quick little nap before the game.”

But Iverson used to do that when he was younger. He’s 42 now. Although he was once again on the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier this month, it was the magazine’s annual “Where are they now?” edition.

Where is Iverson now? That question can be interpreted two ways. The first way is literal. Where is Iverson? That was the question being asked Sunday when he didn’t show up, without giving the league any notice, for the event in Dallas. But the question can also be asked in broader, more philosophical terms.

Iverson is still the beloved figure who wears his emotion on his sleeve, endearing himself to Philadelphia fans who want their athletes to care about winning and losing as much as the fans do. Remember his voice cracking and his eyes filling up with tears during his emotional speech last year when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame?

On the other hand, Iverson is still the irresponsible person who frustrated coaches and Sixers fans. The BIG3, a league featuring former NBA players in 3-on-3 competition, sold Iverson as the main attraction. Instead, he has been a marginal player on the team for which he serves as player-coach. That is, at best, misleading. At worst, it’s false advertising.

The July 16 game at Wells Fargo Center was promoted as an opportunity to see Iverson play one more time on his Philly homecourt. But he didn’t play.

Iverson released a message on social media that he wasn’t going to play just a half-hour before the event began. Iverson cited “doctor’s orders,” although there wasn’t an official release from BIG3.

This behavior wasn’t an anomaly. In fact, it was consistent with Iverson’s behavior during his career. Iverson’s disdain for practice is well-documented. He seemed to view practice as an interruption of his nap time.

Iverson was consistently late. I remember waiting with other reporters in the Sixers locker room after a game while Iverson searched for an explanation for showing up late, only to have a media member throw him a life preserver by suggesting he may have had a flat tire or got stuck in traffic. (I forget the exact excuse, but remember it had something to do with his car.) The most infamous incident was when Iverson and Chris Webber, both of whom were sidelined by injuries, showed up late for fan appreciation night.

Another thing that hasn’t changed is that people make excuses for Iverson. We’ll never know how many times the public relations staff covered for Iverson while he was with the Sixers.

People are still covering for Iverson. On the Wednesday after the Philadelphia debacle, with many disappointed fans leaving at halftime, BIG3 co-founder Ice Cube said that when they went to Iverson’s room, they found him in bed. Ice Cube said the doctor advised him he couldn’t play, although it wasn’t clear if Ice Cube heard this from the doctor or was repeating what Iverson told him. No specifics regarding the medical reason why Iverson couldn’t play were revealed. Ice Cube also said that it was clear from the start that some days Iverson would play and some days he would coach. If that was clear from the start, the league did a superb job of hiding that information from the media and the general public.

Why do people cover for Iverson? For some people, like the public relations team when Iverson was with the Sixers, it’s because protecting Iverson was their job. For others, like Ice Cube, it may be because Iverson is the main selling point for his league.

But the tendency to forgive Iverson’s transgressions also may emanate from a love for Iverson. The heart he displayed during games. His incredible success as a sub-6-footer in the land of giants. The baring of his emotions, with his love for the game and desire to win in plain view for all to see. His independence and refusal to conform to society’s rules. Those are all reasons so many people root for Iverson. It’s why so many people are willing to forgive Iverson when he doesn’t live up to his responsibilities.

In many ways, Iverson hasn’t changed. But what has changed is he is no longer the transcendent star he was during his first 10 NBA seasons.

It’s been 10 years since the Sixers traded Iverson to the Nuggets. It’s been more than seven years since his swan song with the Sixers, a 25-game stint that followed a forgettable NBA tour that included time with the Nuggets, Pistons and Grizzlies (for three games).

In Sports Illustrated’s “Where are they now?” article, Iverson says, “I would never – and I know this might be selfish in some ways – be just another player. I had to be the guy who actually led the team to victory. I couldn’t be the used-to-be.”

But, despite the way that BIG3 is marketed, Iverson is clearly the “used-to-be.” He is barely just another guy, a marginal player in a 3-on-3 league featuring retired players. He jokes at the end of the Sports Illustrated article about the 3-on-3 league convincing an NBA team to sign him to a 10-day contract, but perhaps Iverson’s experience in the 3-on-3 league finally made him realize that his playing days are over.

We can only hope that, at age 42, Iverson is OK with that reality.

Actually, until we find out why he missed Sunday’s game, we must first hope that Iverson is OK. Period.

Heel Turns: Battleground gets bad rap

Posted by Achilles Heel On July - 29 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Achilles HeelPerhaps it was because the Greek God of Wrestling entered Battleground with modest expectations, but I thought Battleground was a good show.

Many have panned Battleground, making it seem like an awful event. But there was nothing awful at Battleground – except possibly the Breezango skit, which has gone on too long and isn’t particularly funny. The worst matches were nothing less than average. Although Battleground was missing the awesome match to elevate its status, it was a good show.

Let’s start with the main event. The Punjabi Prison setup hurt the first part of the match. Other than the 60 seconds when each of the doors on the inside of the prison are open, there isn’t much drama as long as the competitors are inside the interior cage. The fact that the prison structure obscures the sight lines into the ring also contributed to the disinterested crowd reaction to the main event.

The main event picked up once Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal reached the exterior cage. First, Orton climbed the interior cage and then stretched to step from the interior cage to the exterior cage without dropping to the floor first and climbing back up. The use of chairs and kendo sticks added to the brutality of the match and brought the crowd into it. Orton knocking Samir Singh off the exterior cage and through the broadcasting table was a huge highlight. And then, just after it appeared Orton had overcome all of the obstacles and was about to regain the WWE Championship, the Great Khali comes down the ramp – in a huge surprise – and helps Mahal retain the title.

The second half of the main event, and it was more than half the match in terms of time, was terrific.

Another match some felt was hurt by the stipulation was the flag match between John Cena and Rusev. Instead of having the wrestler win by removing his flag from the pole, WWE changed the stipulation so that the wrestler had to remove the flag from the pole and then place it in a flag-holding standard on a set of steps up the ramp. Although this took away some of the early drama in the ring, Achilles Heel preferred these rules to the typical flag match. Because of the rule changes, there was more suspense and drama at the end of this physical match, which was won by Cena.

Kevin Owens regained the United States Championship from A.J. Styles in an exciting match. Some people complained about the ending, with both sets of shoulders down for a moment, but the Greek God of Wrestling didn’t see any problem with the finish.

The women’s 5-way elimination matched ended rather abruptly, with all four eliminations within a few minutes, but I have no problem with Natalya winning. Unlike many critics, I don’t complain about the “wrong” person winning.

The New Day defeating the Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship was a wonderful match. JBL enhanced this match with his early comments about the strategy of New Day choosing to use Xavier Woods instead of Big E as Kofi Kingston’s partner. This strategy favored speed over power, with JBL, in a nice twist, adding that Jimmy and Jey Uso had prepared for Big E, so they were taken by surprise.

Shinsuke Nakamura’s victory over Baron Corbin by disqualification was a physical match. The disqualification ending nicely set up their match on Smackdown, which Nakamura won by pinfall. The crowd was quite for Sami Zayn’s victory over Mike Kanellis, which was in the tough spot before the main event, but the match itself was fine. Aiden English’s upset win over Tye Dillinger in the kickoff match was a fine opener.

Was Battleground outstanding? No. But that doesn’t justify all the complaining about a pretty good card.

Of course, that’s just one man’s opinion.

But that man is almost always right.

*****

RUMBLE TICKETS: Without completely giving it away, Achilles Heel strongly hinted to you that tickets for the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia next January would be put on sale at Battleground. That’s exactly what happened – you should always listen to Achilles Heel. Unfortunately, the tickets went on sale during the main event, which is poor planning.

For those who didn’t get their tickets at Battleground or during the presale, tickets go on sale to the general public on Saturday (10 a.m.).

*****

TRADING TITLE: Kevin Owens’ latest championship reign didn’t last long. Two days after winning the United States Championship from A.J. Styles at Battleground, Owens lost the title back to Styles on Smackdown in an excellent triple threat match that included the surprise return of Chris Jericho.

*****

SUMMERSLAM TAKING SHAPE: Three championship matches have been announced for SummerSlam, which takes place Aug. 20 in Brooklyn. In the blockbuster news, Raw general manager Kurt Angle announced that Brock Lesnar will defend the WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman in a fatal four-way at SummerSlam.

Both women’s titles will be up for grabs, with Alex Bliss defending the Raw Women’s Championship against Bayley, who defeated Sasha Banks on Raw to earn the championship shot, and, as mentioned earlier in Heel Turns, Natalya will challenge Naomi for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. It was also announced that Jinder Mahal will defend the WWE Championship against the winner of a Smackdown match next Tuesday between John Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura. (The Greek God of Wrestling expects Baron Corbin to interfere and cost Nakamura the match, leaving Cena to face Mahal at SummerSlam.

*****

BAD SIGN: Global Force Wrestling has cancelled its August 6 show in Bridgeport, Ct., due to “unforeseen circumstances and logistical challenges.” That usually translates into not enough ticket sales, especially when an event is canceled this close to the scheduled date. Tickets can be refunded or used for the show in St. James, N.Y., on Friday or the Staten Island show next Saturday. That should tell you that either very few tickets were sold for the Bridgeport show or that ticket sales aren’t great for the two New York shows – or both.

*****

SYMPATHY FOR THE VIPER: Despite the big angle at the end of the Battleground, neither Randy Orton nor the Great Khali were on Smackdown. That doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The Greek God of Wrestling feels a little bad for Orton. He’s been stuck in some strange matches, from the House of Horrors match to the WrestleMania match with the weird special effects in the ring to the Punjabi Prison match at Battleground. Orton has made the best of those matches, particularly the House of Horrors and Punjabi Prison matches, but the structure had a negative impact on the first portion of both of those matches. Orton worked hard and took quite a beating – look at his arm and back during the Punjabi Prison match – but didn’t get the accolades he deserves.

Orton had his title reign ended prematurely due to the decision to push Mahal in order to excite the huge India market. Now he’s lost two rematches due to outside interference. Hopefully, this isn’t Orton’s final shot to be at the top of the card.

*****

BACK IN SPOTLIGHT: Achilles Heel is pleased to see the profiles of Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas elevated as part of the Miztourage. Axel is an excellent technical wrestler who is lacking a little bit in charisma. Dallas is also a good wrestler with a personality, but he couldn’t seem to escape that “Bo-lieve” personality. Both Axel and Dallas were buried until being rescued by The Miz, who made them his henchmen.

Axel and Dallas went from being non-factors to being in the main event of Raw this past week, teaming with Miz against Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. It’s good to see both Axel and Dallas get some time in the spotlight.

*****

CHANCE OF A LIFETIME: Legendary CZW champion Masada will challenge Shane Strickland for the Combat Zone Wrestling Heavyweight Championship at “Once in a Lifetime” on Sat., Aug. 5 (7:30 p.m.) at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. Strickland captured the title in a four-way match with Lio Rush, Joe Gacy and defending champion Davey Richards at Evilution on July 8.

Atsushi Onita battles Father Matthew Tremont in what is certain to be a physical confrontation. Rush, who is headed to WWE, will battle Joey Janela in what is likely his final match in CZW. There will also be a meet-and-greet session with Onita from 4-6 p.m. The session costs $40 and is first-come, first-served.

*****

CHIKARASAURUS REX: On Sat., Aug. 5, the same day as CZW’s “Chance of a Lieftime,” CHIKARA will present Chikarasaurus Rex: Flesh and Stone (3 p.m.) at The Wrestle Factory in Philadelphia. Johnny Kidd Invitational winner Rory Gulak challenges CHIKARA grand champion Juan Francisco de Coronado in the main event. Other matches include Dasher Hatfield vs. Merlok, Razorhawk vs. Everett Connors, and Missile Assault Man vs. The Whisper.

This will be the final opportunity to see CHIKARA before its King of Trios tournament, which takes place at the start of September in England. The next chance to see CHIKARA in the United States will be Sept. 30 at The Wrestle Factory.

*****

NORTH CAROLINA HONOR: Ring of Honor presents its final event before going to England on Saturday (7 p.m.) in Concord, N.C. In the main event, The Bullet Club (Cody Rhodes, Adam Page and Marty Scurll) battle Bully Ray and Mark and Jay Briscoe. Other matches include The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) defending the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship against the Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin).

Ring of Honor heads to the United Kingdom for “War of the Worlds: UK,” which begins on August 18 in London.

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