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Unanswered points by Eagles after Vikings take 7-0 lead in NFC Championship Game

Sean Couturier has clearly been the Flyers’ best center during March, which demonstrates how valuable he is and why the Flyers shouldn’t trade him. Eric Fisher also examines the Flyers’ dwindling playoff hopes, their special teams struggles and questions about Dave Hakstol’s future.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column on a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions about his previous Little League World Series column, the Union’s schedule and the importance of the Eagles-Steelers preseason game.

Dallas Green was a baseball giant, both literally and figuratively. He will always have a special place in Philadelphia sports history for guiding the Phillies to their first World Series title. But he will also be remembered for his honesty, toughness and passion.

Archive for January, 2018

Heel Turns: It’s Royal Rumble week in Philly

Posted by Achilles Heel On January - 22 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

The Eagles may be the toast of the town, but, with the Super Bowl not taking place until Feb. 4, the Eagles will have to momentarily step aside as WWE takes over Philadelphia for four days of wrestling at Wells Fargo Center.

The main event, of course, is Sunday’s Royal Rumble. Before reaching Philadelphia, however, WWE has some warmup shows on Friday, with a Raw brand house show at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre (7:30 p.m.) and an NXT show at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, N.J.

Saturday kicks off with a pair of appearances by WWE and NXT stars. NXT’s Aleister Black and NXT Women’s champion Ember Moon will appear at Adventureland Store in Voorhees (10 a.m.-noon). Tickers are required for autograph and photo opportunities. WWE Raw Women’s champion Alexa Bliss will be appearing at Spencer’s Store in the Cherry Hill Mall (1-3 p.m.).

If you miss Black and Moon in Voorhees, you can catch them later that night (7:15 p.m.) at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, which will air on the WWE Network. Black will battle Adam Cole in an extreme rules match. Moon will defend her title against Shayna Baszler, who comes to NXT after an MMA career. In the main event, Johnny Gargano challenges Andrade “Cien” Almas for the NXT Championship. There also will be an NXT Tag Team Championship match, with The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) defending the titles against The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar).

Jimmy and Jey Uso, the Smackdown Tag Team champions, will appear for a meet-and-greet Sunday (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) at Walmart in Bensalem. Sunday night (6:30 p.m.) is the Royal Rumble, featuring a men’s and, for the first time, women’s Royal Rumble match. Brock Lesnar defends the WWE Universal Championship in a triple-threat match against Braun Strowman and Kane, and AJ Styles defends the WWE Championship in a handicapped match against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The Raw and Smackdown tag team titles will also be on the line, as will the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

And that’s not all. Sasha Banks will be at the Cricket Wireless store at 2900 N.Broad St. on Monday (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) for autographs and photos.  Raw will take place at Wells Fargo Center that night, with Smackdown appearing at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del. (7:30 p.m.) that same night. The Smackdown crew returns to Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday (7:45 p.m.) for Smackdown Live, followed by a Mixed Match Challenge match and 205 Live.

Philly may be an Eagles town, but even amidst the euphoria surrounding the Birds’ victory over the Vikings, WWE is going to steal some of the spotlight for a few days.

Achilles Heel will be back later this week with a complete preview of the Royal Rumble.

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TICKETS AVAILABLE: The Royal Rumble is sold out, but, as of Monday, there are tickets available for NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, Raw and Smackdown, although the only lower level seats remaining for Raw are club box seats.

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RAW ANNIVERSARY: With Raw celebrating its 25th anniversary Monday with simultaneous shows from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and The Manhattan Center, the original home of Raw, we should recognize how much Raw changed wrestling. Televised wrestling used to be on weekend mornings or late at night. WWE changed that dynamic with Prime Time Wrestling on USA Network, but that was a taped show featuring taped matches. It wasn’t live.

Raw changed all that. The big matches were now on Monday night instead of at house shows and pay-per-view events. The syndicated weekend television shows began to disappear, with the focus now directed to Raw. The show wasn’t simply a vehicle to promote pay-per-view events. Raw because destination viewing all on its own.

How much did Raw change wrestling? It led to the creation of Smackdown and Monday Nitro. Today, it is difficult to imagine wrestling without prime time television programs.

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RIGHT AGAIN: It didn’t take long for another of The Greek God of Wrestling’s predictions for 2018 to come true. Bobby Roode defeated Jinder Mahal on Smackdown last week to win the United States Championship. That match was originally scheduled for the Royal Rumble, but, as Achilles Heel suggested last week, there were too many matches on the Royal Rumble card. Now there’s one less match.

Congratulations are in order for Roode, who was a very credible world champion in TNA and then was NXT champion before coming to Smackdown.

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CHIKARA’S SNOWMAN: CHIKARA provides a warmup of sorts for the Royal Rumble when it presents “Beware of Snowman” on Sunday (2 p.m.). In the main event Juan Francisco Coronado defends the CHIKARA Grand Championship against Hype Rockwell.

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GENESIS: Impact Wrestling presents “Genesis” on Thursday. IIn the main event, Impact Wrestling World champion Eli Drakes faces Johnny Impact and Alberto El Patriot in a triple-threat steel cage match. Ethan Carter defends the Grand Chmpionship against Matt Sydal and Knockouts champion Laurel Van Ness defends her title against Allie. In a non-title match Bobby Lashley battles Moose.

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NEW ARRIVALS: WWE and NXT fans can look forward to some familiar faces making their debuts. Among the new WWE signees are Ricochet, War Machine (Hanson and Rowe) and Candice LeRae. Ricochet has been an independent star known for producing excellent matches. He could be a huge asset in NXT or on 205 Live. War Machine, which starred in Ring of Honor and has competed in Japan, could feud with The Authors of Pain in NXT or make an impact on Raw or Smackdown. LeRae is the wife of Johnny Gargano, who challenges for the NXT Championship on Saturday at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia.

Sixers’ mid-term grades

Posted by Eric Fisher On January - 22 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

It’s important to remember that the 76ers are still learning. They are a relatively young team, which is one reason they’ve experienced their share of ups and downs during the first half of the season.

Barely past the midpoint of the season, it’s time to assess the Sixers (22-20), who are in the seventh playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Yes, it’s time for mid-term grades. They have many years ahead of them to improve, but these grades provide a snap shot of where the Sixers are right now. (All statistics through Sunday’s games.)

Joel Embiid: A Embiid is averaging 24 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists. He was named an All-Star Game starter and has played in 33 games, which exceeds the 31 he played last season. Barring another injury, Embiid seems destined to join the NBA’s elite.

JJ Redick: A- You couldn’t have expected much more from Redick than the 17.3 points he’s averaging. Redick, shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point range and 94.6 percent from the free-throw line, also provides veteran leadership for this young team.

Ben Simmons: B+ In his first year of NBA action, Simmons is averaging 16.6 points, 8 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. As the starting point guard, however, Simmons has to do a better job of controlling the tempo and not turning the ball over when the Sixers have a big lead. Controlling the game may come along with experience, but youth isn’t an excuse for shooting 55.6 percent from the free throw line.

T.J. McConnell: B He fills his role wonderfully, providing a little offense (7.8 points) off the bench and ranking second on the team in assists (4.8). It seems as if McConnell, who is shooting 43.2 percent from 3-point range, provides the Sixers with whatever they need on any given night.

Dario Saric (left): B After an adjustment period earlier in the season, Saric is averaging 13.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists. It seems as if he found his footing while Embiid was sidelined with a back injury. Saric took a leading role during Embiid’s absence, and the confidence seems to have stuck with him after Embiid returned.

Robert Covington: B Covington is the opposite of Saric. He started the season on fire, but has tailed off. Covington averages 13.4 points per game, but his shooting has tailed off. He hasn’t seemed comfortable since returning from a back injury. At times, Covington even seems reluctant to shoot, which isn’t his style.

Jerryd Bayless: B- The veteran guard is averaging 8.3 points and trying to provide a veteran presence.

Richaun Holmes: C+ Holmes can provide the Sixers with some advantageous matchups, but 6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game isn’t enough to raise Holmes’ grade to a “B.”

Timothe Luawawu-Cabarrot: C+ Averaging 6.1 points during the first half of the season doesn’t enable TLC to be rankied much higher than hthi..

Amir Johnson: C The Sixers are only getting 4.9 points and 4.8 rebounds from their “veteran preseance” on the front line.”

Trevor Booker: C Averaging a little more than half of what he averaged before being acquired from the Nets in the Jahlil Okafor trade. Booker is a solid player.

Markelle Fultz: Incomplete His shoulder injury, although Fultz remains sidelined after his shoulder reportedly is better, prevents Fultz from receiving an “F.” With both Redick and Bayless sidelined, Fultz’s shot still isn’t good enough for him to return the lineup. That’s a troubling development.

Justin Anderson, Forkan Korkmaz and James Taylor: Incomplete We haven’t seen enough from any of these players to provide a grade.

COACH

Brett Brown: B- Brown continues to keep a positive atmosphere around the team, but the coach must take some of the responsibility when a team frequently blows double-digit leads.

GENERAL MANAGER

Bryan Colangelo: C+ Colangelo deserves credit for signing JJ Redick. However, he traded up in the draft to select Markelle Fultz with the first overall pick, sending a first-round pick to the Celtics to get them to swap pick. The Celtics were able to draft forward Jayson Tatum, the player they wanted all along, with the third overall pick. Colangelo’s grade is also lowered for failing to trade Jahlil Okafor least winter and spring, when he at least had a little value..

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STAR POWER: Joel Embiid was selected as a starter for the NBA All-Star Game. That means he gets placed in a pool with the other “starters,” and then the captains take turns choosing players for their respective sides.

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BRAGGING RIGHTS: Perhaps Joel Embiid is beginning to take my advice regarding declaring himself a warrior or the best defensive player of the league. Embiid has put aside the personal bragging … in order to declare that the Sixers are the best defensive team in the NBA. Once again, I’d prefer if the accolades don’t come from Embiid himself.

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MEASURING UP: In my previous Sixers Notebook, I suggested that the Atlantic Division-leading Celtics, the second-place Raptors and the Bucks would serve as good measuring sticks for the Sixers. Considering that the Sixers won all three games, the answer must be that they had a terrific week. The Sixers were 0-3 this season against both the Celtics and Raptors before beating both teams last week.

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BUCKS COACH STOPS HERE: The 22-point loss to the Sixers on Saturday was apparently the final straw for Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, who was fired on Monday.

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BIG LOSS: The Sixers didn’t lose a game last week, but they suffered a major loss when it was discovered that shooting guard JJ Redick has a small crack in the fibular head of his left leg, an injury that is expected to keep him sidelined at least 10-14 days. To make matters worse, Jerryd Bayless is experiencing soreness in the wrist he had repaired last year. The Sixers sure could use Fultz these days to help out.

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TOUGH SCHEDULE: After visiting Memphis tonight (Monday) and then hosting the Bulls on Wednesday (7 p.m.), the Sixers go on the road for three games in four nights. Even worse, the road games are in San Antonio (Friday), Oklahoma City (Sunday) and Milwaukee (Monday).

Believing in Nick Foles