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Consecutive home runs for Phillies during 8th inning Sunday

Jeremy Maclin’s health and explosiveness are concerns as he enters training camp as the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver for the first time. We’ve got 10 questions to consider as the Eagles begin their second training camp under Chip Kelly.

The much-maligned Flyers defense has held steady despite the absence Braydon Coburn and Andrew MacDonald, who combine to form the No. 1 pairing. Eric Fisher takes a closer look at Nicklas Grossmann (pictured) and the other defensemen who have stepped up and kept the team afloat.

Sixers GM Sam Hinkie doesn’t seem to be making trades to help the team win. He makes trades for injured players and those who will never play for the Sixers. Eric Fisher fears Hinkie has Andrew Bynum Syndrome.

Archive for the ‘76ers’ Category

The Philly fan quiz

Posted by Eric Fisher On April - 19 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Fisher column logo2With the NFL Draft coming to Philadelphia next week, we are certain to be reminded of the 1999 NFL Draft, when Eagles fans traveled to New York to boo the selection of quarterback Donovan McNabb with the No. 2 overall pick because the fans preferred running back Ricky Williams. (In fact, you might even find that video right here at PhillyPhanatics.com.)

The booing of the McNabb selection joins the booing of Mike Schmidt and the throwing of snowballs at Santa Claus, as well as at Jimmy Johnson, in the folklore reinforcing the negative image of Philadelphia fans.

But there is a difference between booing and being a pessimist. Philadelphia fans are proud of booing the opposition. Ask any Philadelphia fan if they are embarrassed about booing Sidney Crosby, Kobe Bryant or the Dallas Cowboy of your choice.

The last time a major professional sport held its draft in Philadelphia, Flyers fans proudly attracted international attention (Canada makes it international) with deafening boos for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the Pittsburgh Penguins – as well as booing every other team – during the NHL Draft. We may have a repeat performance at the NFL Draft with the Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Patriots and any of the former Cowboys-turned-broadcasters who has the misfortune of taking the public stage.

But are we truly that negative? I prefer to think of Philly sports fans as incredibly passionate. The optimism and pessimism are two sides of the same coin, which is why I sometimes consult Joe Optimist and Joe Pessimist, whom I created to represent the two conflicting views that often co-exist within the brain of the Philly sports fan, in my columns.

Are you more Joe Optimist or Joe Pessimist? Let’s find out by taking the following quiz.

1. With the 14th selection in the NFL Draft (in Philly!), the Eagles will draft:

A) a terrific starting defensive player. The draft is deep in corners. The Eagles can’t miss.

B) a solid contributor, but he won’t get an elite starter.

C) an average player … and they’ll pass up a player who will become a star.

D) a mistake. I don’t know whom they’ll pick, but I know it will be a mistake.

2. When you hear the phrase “Trust the Process,” your first reaction is to:

A) bow down in front of your Sam Hinkie poster.

B) get excited about two lottery picks in this year’s draft joining Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric on the court next season

C) worry that Joel Embiid’s and Ben Simmons’ careers will be hindered by injuries.

D) try not to throw up from the bile rising in your throat.

3. The Phillies’ bullpen will be:

A) good once Hector Neris becomes the closer and everyone settles into their new roles.

B) decent, but it doesn’t really matter right now because the Phillies are rebuilding.

C) a problem until they can find a reliable closer.

D) lit up all summer like a charcoal grill.

4. Flyers captain Claude Giroux:

A) wasn’t fully recovered from surgery this year. He will be much better next season.

B) will bounce back next season, but will never regain his peak form.

C) should be stripped of his captaincy because he’s not a good leader.

D) is on an irreversible downward spiral. The window to trade him has already passed.

5. Carson Wentz is:

A) the quarterback who will lead the Eagles to multiple Super Bowl victories.

B) going to be a long-time starting quarterback, but he won’t be an elite quarterback.

C) vastly overrated by Eagles fans desperate for a winner.

D) a flash in the pan who will be replaced by Nick Foles by midseason.

6. Maikel Franco batting .160 through the first 13 games is:

A) not important. Once he’s warmed up, he’ll be the team’s best hitter again. It’s early!

B) mildly concerning, but nothing to worry about.

C) a sign that he might not be as much of an impact player as Phillies fans had hoped.

D) a sign that he doesn’t know how to hit. Trade Franco now while you can still get something for him.

7. Ivan Provorov, Carson Wentz, Joel Embiid and J.P. Crawford are:

A) destined to usher in a new golden era in Philadelphia sports.

B) future superstars who will help make their respective teams championship contenders.

C) overrated because Philadelphia fans are so desperate for a winner.

D) destined to leave via free agency as soon as they can get out of this cursed city.

8. The Union’s next win will be:

A) this weekend

B) in May

C) after head coach Jim Curtin is fired

D) before Christmas

9. The best general manager (or equivalent front office position) is:

A) Ron Hextall

B) Matt Klentak

C) Howie Roseman

D) Bryan Colangelo

E) There a “best” general manager in this town? Really?

10. The next of Philadelphia’s major sports teams to win a championship will be:

A) the Eagles. E! A! G! L! E! S! EAGLES!!!

B) the Sixers. Trust the process!

C) the Flyers. Look at all those young defensemen!

D) the Phillies. Wait until all the kids arrive!

E) Championship? Don’t talk about championships. Let’s try to get a team into the playoffs before we talk about winning a championship. And let’s get a team over .500 before we talk about the playoffs. A championship? That’s a long, long way away.

Sixers Notebook: Season wasn’t a success

Posted by Eric Fisher On April - 15 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

There years ago, Sixers owner Josh Harris infamously described the team’s 19-win season as a “huge success.”

Harris must be ecstatic over this season’s 28-win effort, which equals the Sixers’ combined win totals from the previous two seasons.

Putting sarcasm aside, there were many positive signs this season. Joel Embiid is a tremendous talent. The question is whether he can stay healthy. Dario Saric appeared even more ready for the NBA than many pundits believed and is a prime contender to be rookie of the year. (Embiid would have been the odds-on favorite to win the award if injuries hadn’t limited him to 31 games.)

The Sixers may also have found some role players. Point guard T.J. McConnell proved he’s more than a marginal NBA player. Robert Covington demonstrated that he can be a valuable player even when his shot isn’t falling. Center Richaun Holmes played well enough to make Nerlens Noel expendable.

On the flip side, we learned that Jahlil Okafor’s game doesn’t mesh well with Joel Embiid’s game. Because this was Embiid’s first NBA season in which he wasn’t sidelined the entire year, finding out if he could play effectively with Okafor and Noel was an important goal entering this season.

But can a 28-win season truly be deemed a success? Have we lowered our expectations that far?

There were more than a few negative developments and new questions to accompany the positive developments. The health of Embiid and Ben Simmons were the two most alarming developments.

After sitting out two seasons due to injuries, Embiid only played in 31 games this season. He only played in 31 games despite being handled with kid gloves. Embiid didn’t play in back-to-back games and had minutes restrictions in the games in which he played. And he still got hurt badly enough that he had to be shut down for the rest of the season due to a knee injury (after weeks of the Sixers failing to disclose the meniscus tear and then insisting it wasn’t the injury that was keeping off the court).

Simmons, the top overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, followed in the footsteps of Embiid and Noel by not playing a single game during his rookie season. Simmons suffered a Jones fracture in his foot on the final day of training camp. After initial speculation that he could return in January, Simmons wasn’t cleared for full on-court activities until one game was left in the season. A slow-healing injury of this sort, especially in a weight-bearing part of the anatomy, certainly raises a red flag.

And, if Simmons is going to be the starting point guard, as head coach Brett Brown says he will, the Sixers will still be in need of a starting shooting guard and power forward, not to mention a shooter to provide a spark off the bench.

The Sixers also face a dilemma with Okafor. He, too, has a lingering knee issue after having surgery at the end of the 2015-16 season, but that’s not the problem. The problem is what to do with Okafor. He’s clearly not part of the Sixers’ future – unless, heaven forbid, Embiid never is able to get healthy – but the Sixers can’t get anything remotely close to the third pick in the NBA Draft, where Okafor was selected, in return for the underachieving big man.

The Sixers have a long offseason in which to address their needs. The first big event is the NBA Draft lottery on May 16. The Sixers have a lot riding on the lottery. They will get the Lakers’ first-round selection if it falls out of the top three. That would give the Sixers two high draft picks instead of one. They also can switch picks with the Kings if they end up higher than the Sixers.

Once they know their draft position, president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo will have to make wise selections. The Sixers also have plenty of salary cap space to sign free agents.

The Sixers definitely appear to be on the upswing. But just because the Sixers avoided having their record get worse for a fifth straight season doesn’t mean this season was a success.

I refuse to set the bar that low. Twenty-eight wins do not add up to a successful season.

*****

MEDICAL CONFUSION: Joel Embiid said that the surgery to repair his torn meniscus revealed that the injury wasn’t nearly as bad as he was led to believe. That completes the cycle of this injury’s history. It went from minor to worse to bad enough to shut Embiid down for the rest of the season and back to minor again.

*****

CONVENIENT TIMING: Guards Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist surgery) were both cleared to play during the final few days of the Sixers’ season. I’ll care when they’re cleared to play in games at the start of next season.

*****

VIRTUAL PING PONG: I have already started my full month of playing the NBA draft lottery simulator. Based on my first-day results, the Sixers have a pretty good shot at netting one of the first two picks or two picks in the top five (their own pick and the Lakers’ pick).

*****

LOOKING UP: As I noted at the end of my opening note, this will be the first time in five seasons that the Sixers’ record wasn’t worse than the previous season.

*****

EIGHT IS ENOUGH: The Sixers ended this season with eight straight losses, improving their draft lottery odds.

*****

PLAYOFF RACES: As I wrote in my NBA playoff preview, the first round of the NBA playoffs appears to be much more competitive than usual.

 

 


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Eagles fans boo selection of Donovan McNabb