Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On March 6

Bryce Harper has yet to play in a spring training game. But he’s making lots of news.

Bryce Harper’s plane lands. Bryce Harper waves. Bryce Harper talks. Bryce Harper takes batting practice. Bryce Harper speaks with Larry Bowa and Charlie Manuel! Bryce Harper talks about recruiting Mike Trout to become a Phillie! Bryce Harper eats dinner. Bryce Harper sneezes. Oh no! Is he sick?

Most of the items mentioned in the preceding paragraph were real stories reported on credible Web sites. Philly definitely has Bryce Harper fever.

Ticket sales and jersey sales have gone through the roof since Harper signed with the Phillies. The Phillies are off to a fast start in recouping the $330 million they’ve committed to Harper.

Harper is big news. The news that Harper will play his first spring training game on Saturday has been at the top of the “first-and-10” feature on the left side of PhillyPhanatics.com all week. Harper’s spring training debut has ranked above the Sixers and Flyers, both of whom are actually playing games, and even the Eagles’ offseason moves.

Can you imagine what it will be like when Harper actually plays a regular-season game at Citizens Bank Park?

Don’t misinterpret my sarcasm at the top of this item. I’m not complaining. It’s fun to be this excited about the Phillies again.

The excitement alone might have been worth the $330 million the Phillies are paying Harper. Then again, it’s not my money.


LINE DANCE: As we count down to the NFL free agency period, which begins next Wednesday, the Eagles have been busy making adjustments along their offensive and defensive lines.

Along the offensive line, the adjustments have been financial. They signed center Jason Kelce to a one-year extension. They signed Isaac Seumalo to a three-year extension. Right tackle Lane Johnson reportedly reworked his contract to help create room under the salary cap. It wouldn’t be a shock to see left tackle Jason Peters agree to adjust his contract.

There appears to be more turnover on the defensive line. Defensive end Brandon Braham, who was slated to become a free agent, signed a three-year contract worth $40 million. But the Eagles decided not to pick up the option for defensive tackle Tim Jernigan’s contract. There also are reports that the Eagles are trying to trade defensive end Michael Bennett.

All of this shuffling of contracts indicates that the Eagles are going to be active in free agency. It will be interesting to see which direction executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman will go when free agency begins.


FOLES ON THE MOVE: The Eagles’ decision to let quarterback Nick Foles go rather than apply the franchise tag wasn’t a surprise. The Eagles can’t afford to tie up $25 million in a backup quarterback. They would have almost no maneuverability under the salary cap if they placed the franchise tag on Foles.

It’s also not surprising that, according to reports, Foles will sign with the Jaguars when free agency begins. The Jaguars are clearly looking for an improvement over Blake Bortles. Furthermore, they hired John DeFilippo, who was the Eagles’ quarterback coach, as their offensive coordinator. Foles’ familiarity with DeFilippo should enhance Jacksonville’s pitch to Foles.


REMEMBERING A LEGEND: Al Shrier is a legend at Temple, where he worked for 65 years. Yes, 65 years. Shrier, who died Monday morning at age 88, started working at Temple after he graduated in 1953, and he didn’t retire until June 2018.

I have fond memories of meeting Mr. Shrier while I was sports editor at Metro newspaper. Mr. Shrier couldn’t have been more welcoming to the new paper in town. One of my treasured memories from my years at Metro was being seated next to Mr. Shrier during the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Spectrum. I don’t remember what we spoke about besides basketball, but I remember that he was always a gentleman.

A long list of halls of fame to which Mr. Shrier has been inducted and awards he received would take up a lot of space. A simpler way of explaining how important he was at Temple is to point out that not only is the media room in the Liacouras Center named after Shrier, but there is a banner in the rafters, featuring his trademark briefcase, which he carried seemingly everywhere. How many non-athletes have a banner hanging from the rafters?

I send my condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Shrier. And I can add with complete confidence that this beloved man’s impact will live on for decades at his beloved alma mater.


TOUGH START: The enthusiasm built up during the Union’s offseason didn’t last too long. The Union lost their season opener to Toronto FC, 3-1. At least midfielder Marco Fabian, the Union’s major offseason addition, scored on a penalty shot in his first game.


END OF AN ERROR: Tight end Jason Witten is coming out of retirement to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys. This will end the misery of listening to Witten on Monday Night Football.

I won’t recount all of Witten’s mistakes. Let’s simply say that he was brutally bad.

To be fair, a lot of the blame should go to ESPN for putting Witten in that position. He jumped right to the major leagues without any training, and it showed. If Witten makes the Cowboys better, however, I reserve the right to request that he return to the broadcast booth.


FIGHT NIGHT: UFC is coming to Wells Fargo Center on March 30 for an event that will be broadcast on ESPN2. The main event features lightweights Edson Barboza (20-6) and Justin Gaethje (19-2). In the co-main event, David Branch (22-5) meets Jack Hermansson (18-4) in a battle of middleweights. In a women’s strawweight battle, Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-3) faces Michelle Waterson (16-6).

Eric Fisher, who has been writing about sports for more than 30 years, will remain a Nick Foles fan even though he no longer will be wearing Eagles green.

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