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Strikeouts for Phillies pitchers during Monday’s 6-5 win over Cardinals

The Greek God of Wrestling struggles to describe the incredible career of the awesome and unique Undertaker into words. Achilles Heel also describes the best moments from WrestleMania 33, tells you which wrestlers are returning and which ones are moving within WWE, and bids farewell to “Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe.

The Greek God of Wrestling explains how the Hardys and other wrestlers are taking control of their careers. Achilles Heel also tells you who became Ring of Honor’s new world champion, wonders what’s next for Goldberg after winning the WWE Universal Championship, and marvels at the reaction Undertaker can generate without saying a word.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the NFL’s offseason, the decision not to reduce Jason Peters’ pay, and the tremendous impact of the late Mike Pettine.

Archive for the ‘Fish ‘n Chips’ Category

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On June - 15 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

The fortunes of the Flyers and Sixers could be dramatically affected during the next few weeks. Both teams have a pair of first-round picks in their league’s respective drafts, and both have an opportunity to improve through free agency.

The Sixers have the 10th and 26th overall picks in the NBA Draft, which takes place next Thursday. They also have four second-round selections. It’s possible that the Sixers could package their two first-round picks to move up further in the Top 10 if there’s a player available that they really like. Trading up later in the round by packaging the 26th pick and a second-round pick is also a possibility.

If they don’t trade up in the draft, the Sixers should get a good player at No. 10. Two players who could be available and would be nice fit would by Vlllanova’s Mikal Bridges and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, both of whom are swingmen who seem to fit the Sixers’ system.

But the draft is just the preliminary bout before the main event. Free agency begins on July 1. As you might have heard, LeBron James is expected to utilize the player option in his contract to become a free agent. The Sixers, with a talented young nucleus and plenty of room under the salary cap, are considered top contenders for James’ services. A backup plan could be to sign Paul George, who also is expected to utilize his player option to become a free agent.

The Flyers are unlikely to make free-agent moves as dramatic as the Sixers. Unless they trade a top line player such as Claude Giroux or Jakub Voracek, the Flyers won’t be in the hunt for center John Tavares, considered the top free agent available, when free agency commences on July 1. But the Flyers could improve through free agency by signing center Paul Stastny or left wing Evander Kane – if the price is right. A lower-priced option such as center Riley Nash or right wing Michael Grabner, a player I touted the last time he was a free agent, seems more likely.

The Flyers are more likely to make a splash in the draft, which begins next Friday. In recent years, general manager Ron Hextall has demonstrated a willingness to trade up into the back end of the first round to get a second first-round pick, which he used to select forward Travis Konecny and center Morgan Frost. This year the Flyers enter the draft with two first-round selections, the 14th and 19th overall picks. It’s possible that Hextall could package those picks if a player the Flyers really like, such as right-handed defenseman Evan Bouchard of London (Ontario Hockey League) or Noah Dobson of Acadie-Bathurst (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League), slip past the top five picks.

Hextall has made it clear that the draft is the key to the Flyers’ plan to build from within in order to make steady progress. Quick fixes through the signing of big-name veteran free agents don’t seem to be part of the plan.

On the other hand, the Sixers are searching for ways to immediately make the jump from a team on the rise to a championship contender.

Although the methodology is different, the Sixers and Flyers both could have their fortunes affected by their actions during the next several weeks.

*****

NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS: Has there ever been less real news out of a mini-camp than the Eagles’ mini-camp this week? Carson Wentz participated in 7-on-7 drills, cornerback Sidney Jones and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata didn’t participate due to injuries – and that was about the extent of the real news.

And that’s a good thing. Nobody sustained a serious injury. Nobody refused to attend. Nobody complained about their contract. There weren’t even any fights.

Although it might not be what media members want, when it relates to mini-camp, no news is good news.

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PICKING UP THE PIECES: The Bryan Colangelo mess leaves the Sixers in a bit of a bind. Head coach Brett Brown will be in charge of the draft, which is fine. Brown certainly has the knowledge to draft players, but will he have the final say on making trades during the draft? That’s something he hasn’t done before.

Brown is certainly better able to attract free agents than Colangelo. Although Colangelo’s connections throughout the NBA were supposed to make him adept at attracting fee agents, the Twitter disaster certainly would have made free agents hesitate before signing with a team whose president appears to be connected to Twitter accounts on which players were criticized, which is one reason why Colangelo lost his job. But, unless the Sixers hire a general manager before July 1, there is still an unknown for free agents because it’s unlikely that Brown will continue to wear both hats as coach and GM.

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SUPER NOVA: As many as four players from Villanova’s national championship team could be drafted during the first round of the NBA Draft. One of the ironies, however, is that guard Jalen Brunson, who won several national player of the year honors, could be the fourth Wildcat selected.

Mikal Bridges, the 6-foot-7 swingman, is likely a top 10 pick. Remember, the Sixers have the 10th selection. The next Wildcat likely to be drafted is guard Donte DiVincenzo, who was named the most outstanding player in the Final Four. He likely won’t last until the Sixers pick at No. 26, but forward Omari Spellman and Brunson could both be available at that spot. There’s a possibility that Spellman (6-foot-9, 255 pounds), with his raw power and talent, could be selected ahead of Brunson, which highlights the difference between the NBA and college games.

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STEWART LEAVES UNION: Although it obviously didn’t generate the same headlines as Bryan Colangelo’s dramatic departure from the 76ers, the departure of sporting director Earnie Stewart may have a more dramatic impact on the Union. Stewart left to become the general manager of the United States National Team, which failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup.

Stewart leaves behind a mixed legacy during his 2½ years with the Union. His signings have produced mixed results, but he has been given credit for improving the Union’s player development. Most importantly, he seemed to give the Union direction. With Stewart gone, it’s unclear who will provide that direction in the future.

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CUP TO PHILLY? The 2026 World Cup has been awarded to North America, with games to be held in the United States, Mexico and Canada. Lincoln Financial Field has been mentioned as a potential site for games. Local soccer fans should be excited about the possibility of Philadelphia hosting a World Cup match.

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CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS: Although the NBA Finals had the marquee matchup, I preferred seeing the Capitals and Alexander Ovechkin win their first Stanley Cup to seeing the Warriors win for the third time in four years. Each event had its merits, but I liked the fresh matchup of Las Vegas, in its inaugural season, trying to making history against the Capitals, who were also chasing their first Stanley Cup, to seeing the same two teams in the finals for the fourth straight year.

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HEART AND SOUL: The good news for the Soul is that every team in the shrinking Arena Football League makes the playoffs. The bad news is that the defending-champion Soul have slipped to 4-4, including a 49-48 home loss last weekend to Washington, which had yet to win a game. The Soul have lost four of their past five games.

The biggest difference is that quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, who finished last year’s ArenaBowl victory despite a torn ACL, is on injured reserve after tearing his labrum. Raudabaugh is eligible to return on July 14, which would be just in time for the start of the Arena League playoffs. But will he recover in time to save the season?

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 29 years, had nothing to do with the Eric Jr. Twitter account reportedly linked to Bryan Colangelo.

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On May - 1 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Instant analysis of the NFL Draft is, to put it mildly, an inexact science. If everyone else is going to have an opinion, thought, I might as well put in my two cents.

This was an unusual draft for the Eagles. They entered the draft with the final pick of the first round and no picks on the second day (second and third rounds). As it turned out, they traded their first-round selection and picked up a second-round pick.

It was hardly surprising that the Eagles traded out of the first round. In fact, the last sentence of my pre-draft Fish ‘n Chips was “Don’t be surprised if the Eagles trade out of the first round in order to pick up an additional pick.” All they needed was a team to want to move up to the end of the first round. The Eagles found their partner in the Ravens, who selected Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Eagles dropped back to the Ravens’ pick at No. 52, picking up a second-round pick in 2019 in the process.

I would have preferred that the Eagles receive a higher second-round selection, but you can only get the picks of the team that wants to move up to your draft position. The only way this looks like a bad move is if one of the guards selected early in the second round, Austin Corbett, Will Hernandez and Braden Smith, turns out to be a terrific player, or if Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki, selected 42nd by the Dolphins, turns out to be much better than tight end Dallas Goedert.

The Eagles selected Goedert with the 49th overall pick. Apparently concerned that the Cowboys would select Goedert with the 50th overall pick, the Eagles made a trade with the Colts to move one spot ahead of the Cowboys, who are concerned that tight end Jason Witten will retire.

The Ravens trade kept on giving during the draft. As part of the trade, the Eagles and Ravens flipped fourth-round picks. With the 125th overall selection, the Eagles picked Pittsburgh cornerback Avonte Maddox. Five picks later, the Eagles selected Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat.

The Eagles went with size for their final two picks. They selected TCU offensive tackle Matt Pryor (6-foot-7, 338 pounds), who has the versatility to play tackle or guard, in the sixth round. And then they traded up in the seventh round to select Jordan Mailata (6-8, 347), an Australian rugby star.

I have no idea if Mailata will make an impact in the NFL – and neither does anyone else. The one player who will be expected to contribute next season will be Goedert. He will likely be used in two-tight end sets with Zach Ertz. With so few picks in the early rounds, it was unrealistic to expect the Eagles to improve themselves too much by next season.

We’ll know for certain in a few years if the Eagles had a good draft. For now, though, it appears the Eagles got good value while picking up a second-round pick for next year’s draft.

*****

WHAT HAS BROWN DONE FOR YOU? There were three players among the first six picks who are legitimate possibilities to be among the top players at their positions. The Browns, with the first and fourth overall picks, didn’t pick any of them.

The Browns selected Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick. If the Browns were sold on Mayfield, why didn’t they trade down? Unless they thought the Jets would have selected Mayfield at No. 3, the Browns could have traded down in exchange for extra picks and still selected Mayfield at No. 4. Instead the Browns picked Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward at No. 4. After leaving Penn State running back Saquon Barkley on the board at No. 1, the Browns picked Ward instead of North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb or Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, who were selected fifth and sixth, respectively, by the Broncos and Colts.

The Browns selected Nevada guard Austin Corbett with first pick of the second round, and then took Georgia running back Nick Chubb two picks later. Even if the second round turns out well, there is the feeling that the Browns missed out on some generational players.

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GIANT PICKUPS: The Giants resisted the temptation to select at quarterback with the second overall pick and selected Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. There isn’t anything Barkley can’t do. He is off-the-charts strong, incredibly quick and can block and catch passes out of the backfield. I am confident that Barkley will be a better running back than any of the quarterbacks selected early will be at their positions. Some people believe the Giants needed to draft a replacement for quarterback Eli Manning. Instead, they significantly upgraded the talent around him.

The Giants also made a nice pickup with the second pick of the second round, selecting Texas-El Paso guard Will Hernandez, whom some people suspected the Eagles would have picked at No. 32 if they hadn’t traded that pick. The Giants found a quarterback, Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta, in the fourth round.

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BRONCOS MAKE SPLASH: The beneficiaries of the Browns’ puzzling first-round picks were the Broncos. Team president John Elway must not have believed his eyes when North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb dropped to the Broncos at No. 5. Imagine Chubb paired with defensive end Von Miller.

In the second round, the Broncos selected SMU receiver Courtland Sutton. In the fourth round they further enhanced their receiving corps with Penn State’s Daesean Hamilton. In between the two receivers, they selected Oregon running back Royce Freeman..

The Broncos may have picked the premier defensive player from this draft, as well as some weapons to help new quarterback Case Keenum.

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SEVENTH HEAVEN: Boston hosted a Game 7 during the Stanley Cup playoffs and another Game 7 in the NBA’s opening round. Even better for the home fans is that the Bruins and Celtics both won their mathups.

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RACE TO THE TOP: Joey Logano’s victory Sunday at the GEICO 500 prevented Kyle Busch from sweeping April. Busch won the first three races in April to vault to the top of the NASCAR standings. Logano interrupted the streak, but Busch remains the circuit’s hottest driver entering Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway.

*****

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Union don’t have much time to celebrate their 3-2 victory over D.C. United last Saturday. With the three goals against D.C. United, the Union (2-3-2) match their scoring output in their first six games. But those goals won’t have much impact if the Union don’t survive their upcoming road trip.

The Union play three games in eight nights, starting Friday (8 p.m.) against Toronto FC. The Union will visit Columbus on Wed., May 9 (7:30 p.m.), and then will wrap up the stretch of road games on Sat., May 12 against Montreal.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 29 years, wasn’t thrilled to stay up late Thursday, only to watch the Eagles trade their first-round pick.

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