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Points for Pelicans center Anthony Davis on Sunday, setting All-Star Game record

The end to this awful Phillies season is finally in sight. In addition to a quick season review, Eric Fisher agrees with the suspension of Jonathan Papelbon, suggests Maikel Franco may not be ready for the majors and applauds manager Ryne Sandberg’s classy move.

The Super Bowl halftime show may have jumped the shark with the spectacular visual display that distracted viewers from the sub-par musical performances. Eric Fisher also rates the commercials, listing his Top 10 and the worst from Super Bowl XLIX.

Eric Fisher turns over his column this week to Achilles Heel, who offers poignant memories of the Ultimate Warrior, who died Tuesday just 3 days after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Archive for the ‘Columns’ Category

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On February - 20 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

The Fish ‘n Chips column is sponsored by Legal Sea Foods – Gourmet Gift Division … so much more than Fish ‘n Chips … “If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal!”)

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Sometimes there is too much of a good thing.

I remember how thrilled I was to see the Flyers play in the Winter Classic in Fenway Park in 2010. It was exciting two years later when the Flyers hosted the Rangers in the Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park.

Next Saturday the Flyers will face the Penguins at Heinz Field, the site of the 2011 Winter Classic. It’s a cool idea, but this game, even against the hated Penguins, isn’t generating anywhere close to the level of excitement as the Flyers’ two Winter Classic appearances.

Perhaps the relative lack of excitement is because the Winter Classic was a fresh idea. The Fenway Park game was the third Winter Classic. The Citizens Bank Park game was the fifth. Playing hockey in a stadium was a novel idea at the time.

Perhaps the lack of excitement over Pennsylvania bragging rights is because this is the third outdoor NHL game in 2017. The Maple Leafs and Red Wings squared off on Jan. 1 in the NHL Centennial Classic, which celebrates the NHL’s 100th anniversary. The Blackhawks and Blues battled one day later in the Winter Classic.

How many of you remember either of those games? For the first five or six years of the Winter Classic, almost everyone remembered who played in that game.

It will be fun to watch the Flyers and Penguins play outdoors as part of the Coors Light Stadium Series, but the uniqueness of outdoor hockey games has worn off.

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FAKE NEWS? ESPN’S Ramona Shelburne reported that the Sixers were very close to sending Jahlil Okafor to the Pelicans about 10 days before New Orleans acquired DeMarcus Cousins and Omar Casspi in exchange for former Philly guard/forward Tyreke Evans, former Saint Joseph’s guard Langston Galloway, rookie guard Buddy Hield and first- and second-round selections in this year’s NBA Draft. According to Shelburne, the Sixers turned were offered a similar package except that it didn’t include Hield, the sixth overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft.

If Shelburne’s report is true, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo should be fired. The Sixers are not going to get more than that for Okafor, especially now that three of the four teams reportedly interested in the young center – the Pelicans, Nuggets and Trail Blazers – have acquired centers. That leaves the Bulls, if they’re still interested, bidding against themselves, which will keep the price low.

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ARMS RACE: The Phillies have so many quality starting pitchers at spring training that there is talk of some of them moving to the bullpen. Wait a moment. The Phillies have too many quality starters? When did this happen?

The Phillies have done a terrific job in acquiring young pitchers in exchange for established pitchers such as Cole Hamels and Ken Giles. They also have put a priority on drafting pitchers. Sprinkle in a few veterans and you have a solid rotation.

Barring injuries, the rotation will consist of Jeremy Hellickson, Clay Buchholz, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez and Aaron Nola. If Hellickson and Buchholz get off to strong startas and are moved at the trade deadline, the list of pitchers in line to fill their spots includes Alec Asher, Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin, Adam Morgan, Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta and Mark Appel. With so many young arms, the chances are good that at least two or three of them will develop into solid major-league starters.

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EAGLES GO TO MARKET: Speculation about the Eagles’ potential free agent targets will continue to build until March 7, when teams can begin negotiating contracts with free agents. Teams can begin signing free agents on March 9, which is also when trades can be made.

It remains to be seen how active the Eagles will be in free agency. They certainly have numerous areas of need, but will they spend the money for top free agents at receiver and cornerback or will they find the cost too expensive, causing them to rely on the draft for their primary acquisitions.

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FEELING A DRAFT: Don’t forget that the NFL Draft is April 27-29 in Philadelphia. Before we get to the draft, though, there is the NFL Scouting Combine, which takes place Feb. 28-March 6 in Indianapolis.

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ALL-STAR AVOIDANCE: The two minutes of the NBA All-Star Game that I watched were enough to remind me why I can’t stand watching all-star games. Any resemblance between the West’s 192-182 win over the East and actual basketball was purely coincidental.

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FLAT TAX: I sincerely hope that Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving was joking when he said the world is flat and seemed to indicate that “they” are trying to convince people the earth is round. I thought we were at least several hundred years beyond real debate over whether the earth is round, or thinking that the assertion that the earth is round is some sort of conspiracy theory.

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PRESEASON KICKS OFF: In case you missed it – and I’m guessing many of you did – the Union kicked off their preseason Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay at the Suncoast Invitational in Florida. Chris Pontius scored the game’s only goal.

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ALMOST TOURNAMENT TIME: Is college basketball’s regular season really almost over? Some conference tournaments begin in less than two weeks. On the positive side, that means that the NCAA Tournament is less than a month away.

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GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES: There is an entire week of activities at Daytona leading up to Sunday’s Daytona 500, which officially kicks off the NASCAR season. Can Jimmie Johnson successfully defend his title? Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. make a successful return after being sideline by a concussion? Check out my NASCAR preview later this week.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 28 years, is fairly certain that world isn’t flat.

To tell the truth

Posted by Eric Fisher On February - 12 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Fisher column logo2Trust the process? I don’t know how anyone can trust anything that comes from the 76ers these days.

When Joel Embiid was first injured, head coach Brett Brown described the injury as a hyperextended left knee.

Then it became a knee contusion.

Then the knee contusion was transformed into a bone bruise.

Finally, on Saturday president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo acknowledged that an MRI after Embiid sustained the injury on Fri., Jan. 20 against the Trail Blazers revealed a tear in his meniscus. A “very minor” tear, according to Colangelo, who reiterated that the bone bruise is the bigger problem.

Colangelo emerged Thursday from the cone of silence apparently left in the office by former general manager Sam Hinkie, making an appearance on The Fanatic. One day later, Colangelo appeared on WIP, disabusing people of the notion that he was training to become a monk.

During his appearance on The Fanatic, Colangelo said it was doubtful that Embiid would play before the All-Star break. He also left open the possibility that Embiid and Ben Simmons, the top overall draft pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, may not play together this season.

During his WIP appearance, Colangelo responded to questions about the severity of Embiid’s injury by saying, “I really don’t understand the skepticism.”

I hope Colangelo was lying. If he truly doesn’t understand the skepticism, he’s completely out of touch with the world outside the 76ers’ bubble.

In addition to the shifting descriptions of Embiid’s injury, much of the skepticism stems from Embiid’s participation in a home game against the Rockets one week after injuring his knee. He missed three games, returned for the 123-118 loss to the Rockets, and then has missed the last nine games.

The initial skepticism involved doubts about the severity of Embiid’s injury. Why was he healthy enough to face the Rockets – he poured in 32 points – yet wasn’t healthy for any other game since sustaining the injury? Was it because ESPN altered its schedule so it could show the Sixers-Rockets game?

After letting speculation build for two weeks, Colangelo took to the airwaves on Thursday and Friday. Embiid told reporters on Friday that he’s not healthy enough to play. (Embiid was healthy enough dance on stage at a Meek Mill concert Friday night, but that’s another column for another day.)

The situation took another twist Saturday when Colangelo confirmed a report by Derek Bodner, formerly of Philadelphia Magazine, that Embiid has a meniscus tear.

The question is no longer why Embiid is sitting out so many games. The question now is why the Sixers risked Embiid’s health by playing him against the Rockets.

Playing Embiid runs counter to the way the Sixers have handled injuries to Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Ben Simmons. The Sixers have been extremely cautious, perhaps overly cautious, about putting players on the court before they’re ready to return. We’re supposed to believe, however, that the only game in the past 13 for which Embiid was healthy enough to play coincidentally happened to be a nationally televised home game?

Yes, I’m skeptical of the explanation. And I’m far from the only skeptic.

If Colangelo doesn’t understand the skepticism, perhaps he needs to emerge from his bunker a bit more often to gain an appreciation of the perspective from the outside.

Don’t be afraid, Bryan. The media and fans don’t bite.

Trust us.

 

Classic George Steele (RIP) match, interview