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Consecutive playoff series won by Penguins

Carson Wentz put the Eagles in position to win the game, but rookie kicker Jake Elliott becomes the hero by drilling a franchise-record 61-yard field goal as time expires to lift the Eagles past the Giants, 27-24. Full story coming later.

With WrestleMania 33 taking place Sunday in Orlando, our Top 10 list becomes a Top 33 as we present the best 33 matches in WrestleMania history. Did any matches from last year make the list? Check out the list to find out.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Find out by taking the Philly fans quiz.

Archive for the ‘Fish ‘n Chips’ Category

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On April - 21 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

There is much less excitement over this year’s NFL Draft than last year’s draft. Why? Let us count the ways.

The first reason is that last year’s draft was held in Philadelphia. The excitement was evident by the record-breaking crowds that flooded the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. This year’s draft – and it was a mistake not to return to Philadelphia – is in Dallas. The only real anticipation is waiting to hear the Eagles announced as Super Bowl champions in the Cowboys’ backyard.

A second reason for less excitement is the Eagles won the Super Bowl. We had a parade and weeks of championship euphoria. The draft is no longer the football highlight of the first seven months of the year.

The Eagles also don’t have many picks in this year’s draft. They have the final (32nd) selection in the first round on Thursday night, and then don’t pick again until Saturday. The Eagles have the 30th (130 overall) and 32nd (132) picks in the fourth round and the final pick in rounds five (169), six (206) and seven (250).

Another reason there doesn’t seem to be as much excitement over the NFL Draft this year is that, unlike last season, the Sixers and Flyers are in the playoffs and the Phillies are playing well. The Wells Fargo Center was dark last season and the Phillies got off to a terrible start. We didn’t have much else to root for except for the Eagles to enjoy success in the draft.

With so few draft picks, it will be a challenge for the Eagles to improve themselves this week. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles trade out of the first round in order to pick up an additional pick. Would the Eagles trade out of the first round in exchange for a high second-round pick and a third-round pick? I think they would.

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SCHEDULE THOUGHTS: The Eagles have a balanced 2018 schedule. They alternate home and away games until after Thanksgiving. Their bye week comes exactly halfway through the schedule, with the bye coming after an Oct. 28 game against the Jaguars in London.

Predicting a record at this point is a ridiculous exercise, so … What? You really want a prediction? No, it’s ridiculous. We know so little about what the teams will be by the time the Eagles play them, that … what? OK, OK. 11-5.

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REWARDING FOLES: The Eagles reworked Nick Foles’ contract. The new deal includes a $2 million signing bonus and an option for the 2019 season. Foles’ contract had been scheduled to expire after next season. There reportedly are incentives in case Foles has to return to a starting role if Carson Wentz’s injuries don’t heal quickly enough for him to be ready at the start of the season. There won’t be any objections form Eagles fans for rewarding Foles. That’s how it is when you lead your team to its first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

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UNHAPPY HOMECOMING: Daryl Worley’s homecoming didn’t go as planned. The cornerback and Philadelphia native, acquired from the Panthers in exchange for receiver Torrey Smith, was arrested after allegedly being combative with police officers who came to the scene after Worley was found asleep in his car at the intersection of Broad St. and Pattison Ave., near the Eagles’ practice facility. Police reportedly had to use a taser to subdue Worley, and a gun was allegedly found at the scene.

There is room for sympathy for Worley. I’m not certain of the circumstances preceding his arrest. I also am not sure that a higher-profile player, such as defensive end Michael Bennett would have been released for the same offense.

Let’s hope that Worley gets his act together and earns another chance in the NFL, whether it’s with his hometown Eagles or another team.

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IN-STATE RIVALS: The Pirates are engaged in a four-game series with the Phillies at the same time that the Flyers are facing the Penguins during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Both series will be in Philadelphia on Sunday, with the Phillies hosting the Pirates at Citizens Bank Ballpark (1:30 p.m.) and the Flyers hosting the Penguins in Game 6 (3 p.m.) at Wells Fargo Center.

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OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE: How many more years can the Soul reign atop the Arena Football League? The question isn’t about the Soul as much as it’s about the future of the AFL. There are only four teams in the AFL this season: the Soul, Baltimore, Washington and Albany. The Washington team is two years old; the Baltimore team, owned by Washington owner Ted Leonsis, joined the AFL in 2017. Albany is a new franchise.

After last season, Tampa Bay suspended operations. The Cleveland Gladiators went on a two-year hiatus because of scheduled upgrades for their arena, which also is the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

If the AFL doesn’t add more teams and achieve stability, it’s difficult to imagine it surviving much longer.

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RELAYS TIME: The Penn Relays, one of the premier events in track and field each year, takes place from Thursday through Saturday, with the action centering around Franklin Field. The Penn Relays Carnival has a little bit of everything, from throwing to distance throws to the celebrated relays. Athletes range from middle school to world class athletes.

In a bittersweet moment, I remember how much Bill Cosby, currently on trial for sexual assault, loved the Penn Relays. It wasn’t unusual to see Cosby walking around the infield at Franklin Field. On one occasion, he helped up a high school runner and consoled him after a disappointing result. The runner didn’t know it was Cosby who helped him up until he saw the picture in the next day’s newspaper.

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TROUBLE REACHING GOAL: Entering Saturday night’s game at FC Dallas, the Union (1-2-2) have only scored three goals in five games this season. They have only scored one goal since their 2-0 victory over New England during the season opener. Their offensive production will have to rise in order for the Union to improve this season. And, if it doesn’t, head coach Jim Curtin may receive the blame.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 29 years, did not score a goal during his one-year high school varsity soccer career.

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On April - 2 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Overshadowed by Villanova’s run to the national championship game, Joel Embiid’s injury, the Flyers’ push for a playoff berth and Gabe Kapler’s mismanagement of his first series was Maurice Cheeks’ selection for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Cheeks is even overshadowed on the Hall of Fame story on NBA.com. The headline reads: Kidd, Nash, Hill, Allen headline class of 2018. Guess whose name and picture aren’t featured?

In a way, it’s appropriate that news of Cheeks’ induction is overshadowed by both local events and his fellow inductees, who include fellow point guards Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. Cheeks is accustomed to operating in the background. On the 76ers’ championship team, the headliners were Moses Malone and Julius Erving. Even Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones seemed to get more attention than Cheeks.

But Cheeks was the glue that kept that team together. Without a trace of ego, the unselfish Cheeks spread the ball around, feeding the hot hand while keeping all of the stars happy. He was also an outstanding defender. Cheeks averaged 2.1 steals per game – 2.3 during his 11 seasons with the Sixers – and was the NBA’s all-time steals leader at one point (he ranks fifth today).

Even being fifth on the career steals chart doesn’t fully represent Cheeks’ prowess on defense. He was an outstanding team defender, doubling down on players in the post and flashing into lanes just long enough to cut off drives to the basket and prevent passes to open players. When I was in middle school and high school, when I attended a Sixers game, I used to focus on Cheeks for one quarter so I could learn how to be a better team defender.

So much of what made Cheeks a great player doesn’t show up in statistics. He averaged 11.1 points and 6.7 assists per game. Even if we limit his career to his 11 seasons with the Sixers, removing five seasons with four teams at the end of his career, his averages of 12.2 points and 7.3 assists don’t jump out at you.

Those numbers are why I never thought Cheeks would be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I was happy just to know he made the list of finalists under consideration the past two years.

If you watched Cheeks play, however, you knew he was, at the very least, a borderline Hall of Fame player. He was an incredibly efficient player. His scoring average was compiled while only taking 8.5 shots per game. Some point guards today take more than eight shots before halftime. But Cheeks made 52.6 percent of his shots from the field.

Cheeks was never the star of his team, which isn’t the case with most Hall of Famers. But his willingness to cede the spotlight was part of his value. He played with high-profile Hall of Famers like Malone, Dr. J and the irrepressible Charles Barkley.

Perhaps Cheeks’ willingness to operate in the background was due to his unassuming personality. Or, perhaps it was because of his lack of pedigree. Kidd and Grant Hill, two other members of the 2018 Hall of Fame class, were selected second and third, respectively, in the 1994 NBA Draft. Ray Allen and Nash, the other two 2018 Hall of Fame inductees featured in the NBA.com headline, were selected fifth and 15th, respectively in the 1996 draft (in which the Sixers selected Allen Iverson first overall and Kobe Bryant was selected 13th by the Hornets). By contrast, Cheeks was selected 36th overall in the 1978 draft out of West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M).

If forced to point to one thing that qualified Cheeks to be a Hall of Famer, it would be that he made his teammates better. Whether it was getting them the ball in the right spot on offense or stepping into a lane on defense to cut off a drive to the basket and give his teammates a split-second to recover, Cheeks made everyone he played with a better player.

In my mind, making your teammates better trumps hollow numbers. I’m thrilled that the Hall of Fame committee has made the same determination.

Although he’s still overshadowed, his selection for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame means that Cheeks is no longer underappreciated.

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WILDCATS’ STRIKE: On its path to the national championship game, Villanova has won all of its NCAA Tournament games by at least 12 points.

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IRISH EYES ARE SMILING: Congratulations to Notre Dame, which won the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Irish defeated Mississippi State, 61-58, in the championship game Sunday. I’ll have more about Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, who has local roots, in my College Basketball Notebook later this week.

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NOTEBOOK PREVIEW: In addition to more on Villanova’s NCAA Tournament run and the championship won by Notre Dame’s women’s team, my College Basketball Notebook will include La Salle parting ways with head coach Dr. John Giannini and the impending departure of Temple head coach Fran Dunphy.

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TITLE TOWN: Add another championship for Penn State. After winning the NCAA Wrestling Championship for the seventh time in eight years, Penn State won the NIT with an 82-66 victory over Utah on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

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TAKING MY ADVICE: In my last Fish ‘n Chips column, I recommended that the Phillies have Scott Kingery start the season in the majors instead of keeping him in the minor leagues for a few weeks so they could delay the clock on his major league career, thereby keeping control of him for an additional year before free agency. The Phillies took my advice, signing Kingery to a six-year contract and starting the season with him in the majors.

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OVERSHADOWED: If Maurice Cheeks didn’t mind having his Hall of Fame selection overshadowed by high-profile local sports events, the Union must have been absolutely thrilled to have their 3-0 loss to Colorado on Saturday buried below the avalanche of local sports news.

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TRAFFIC CONCERNS: The overlap of the start of Phillies season with the end of the NBA and NHL seasons can create traffic nightmares around the South Philadelphia sports complex. The Phillies’ home opener on Thursday (3 p.m.) is followed by the Flyers hosting the Hurricanes (7 p.m.). Flyers fans will be arriving as Phillies fans are leaving. The situation will be reversed on Saturday, with the Flyers finishing up the regular season against the Rangers (3 p.m.) and the Phillies hosting the Marlins (6 p.m.).

Sunday will feature two games starting within a half-hour of each other. The Sixers host the Mavericks (1 p.m.) and the Phillies host the Marlins (1:30 p.m.).

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 29 years, usually takes the Broad Street Subway to home games, which avoids potential traffic nightmares.

Couturier scores Game 5 game-winner