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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.