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Receiving yards for Cowboys’ Amari Cooper during Sunday’s 29-23 win over Eagles

Matt Rhule follows the path of other successful Temple coaches by leaving the Owls for greener pastures at higher-profile programs. Rhule, with double-digit wins in back-to-back seasons, is the new coach at Baylor.

The Greek God of Wrestling praises Cesaro for his skill and toughness. Achilles Heel also expresses disappointment in main event of No Mercy, tells us who won the GFW tag team titles and why Jeff Hardy will be out of action for a while.

The Greek God of Wrestling discusses the difficulty tag teams have in making the transition from NXT to WWE. Achilles Heel also reveals new matches for SummerSlam, tells you about the opportunity for a Delaware Valley wrestling doubleheader on Saturday, and suggests that GFW is targeting a specific ethnic group.

Archive for the ‘Fish ‘n Chips’ Category

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On December - 5 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Despite a season of ups and downs, with the scale seemingly tipped in favor of “downs,” the Eagles find themselves in control of their own destiny with one-fourth of the season remaining.

Monday’s 28-13 victory over the Redskins improved the Eagles’ record to 6-6, [pulling them within one game of the first-place Cowboys (7-5). The Eagles, who have won two straight games for the first time this season, can gain a share of first place by stretching that winning streak to three games Sunday (4:25 p.m.) against the Cowboys.

Not only would a road win over the Cowboys elevate the Eagles into a first-place tie in the NFC East, but it would give the Eagles the edge over the Cowboys against NFC East opponents. With the Eagles and Cowboys splitting their two games against each other, an edge in the second tiebreaker, which the Eagles could wrap up by beating the Redskins in their season finale, is extremely important.

A victory over the Cowboys, however, shouldn’t be equated with a division-clinching triumph. The following week the Eagles hit the road to take on the Rams, who have the best record in the NFL and have already clinched the NFC West title. The Eagles return home on Dec. 23 to battle the AFC South-leading Texans, who have won nine straight games since starting the season 0-3. In other words, even if the Eagles win Sunday, they would still have a difficult road to travel to capture the NFC East.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys face the Colts (6-6), Buccaneers (5-7) and Giants (4-8) after hosting the Eagles. That’s a much more favorable schedule than what the Eagles have in front of them. And while the Redskins (6-6) seem to be sliding toward oblivion, especially with Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback, their schedule (Giants, Jaguars, Titans) before finishing the regular season against the Eagles, isn’t overly difficult.

The Eagles also are back in the wild card hunt, but there are too many variables there beyond their control. By contrast, the Eagles can control their fate in the NFC East.

And, although a victory Sunday doesn’t come close to guaranteeing a division crown, an NFC East title is nearly impossible without a win over the Cowboys this Sunday.

*****

MAJOR MOVE: The Phillies made a major move by trading for Mariners shortstop Jean Segura. The two-time all-star is a contact hitter, which the Phillies desperately need in their strikeout-heavy lineup.

In addition to acquiring Segura, the Phillies rid themselves of Carlos Santan’s contract, which had two more years at $20 million per season remaining. If he had returned, Santana would have either continued to block Rhys Hoskins at first base, which was unlikely, or been a defensive liability at third base. The other possibility is that Santana would have become an extremely expensive bench player.

Accompanying Santana to Seattle is shortstop J.P. Crawford, who couldn’t seem to stay healthy or hit with consistency. Now we have to wait to see if the Phillies can land a big fish – Manny Machado or Bryce Harper – in free agency.

The acquisition of Segura should convince free agents that the Phillies are committed to winning. However, Machado prefers to play shortstop over third base, so it’s possible that Segura’s presence makes the Phillies a less appealing destination for Machado.

*****

FORMER EAGLES: This was a bad week for former Eagles quarterbacks. After Colt McCoy broke the fibula in his right leg, Mark Sanchez, signed a few weeks earlier when starter Alex Smith broke his leg, was pressed into action, his first appearance since the final week of the 2016 season, when he started for the Cowboys against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Sanchez completed a respectable 13 of 21 passes for 100 yards, but he threw one interception and nearly threw another one while looking skittish against the Eagles’ pass rush.

Another former Eagles quarterback, Chase Daniel struggled during a 30-27 overtime loss to the Giants. One week after completing 27 of 37 passes, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, during a 23-16 win over the Lions, Daniel threw two interceptions while completing 26 of 39 passes against the Giants. The Bears expect quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to return from injury this week, so, unlike Sanchez, Daniel’s return to the spotlight may already be over.

*****

BARKLEY’S MAGIC: If anyone is still questioning Saquon Barkley’s value, they need to watch his play before halftime of Sunday’s Giants-Bears game. Trailing 14-7 and facing thrd-and-23 with time running out in the first half, the Giants decided to hand the ball to Barkley for a run up the middle, forcing the Bears to use their final timeout. But Barkley had other ideas.

The Giants had given up on the first half, but the rookie from Penn State had not given up. Barkley changed direction several times, juking his way in and out of blockers and defenders until he picked up 22 yards. The Giants then changed strategies, throwing a complete 9-yard pass on fourth down to set up a field goal as time expired in the first half. They then used that momentum to defeat the Bears in overtime, 30-27. But it never would have happened if not for Barkley’s remarkable 22-yard run. The Giants had give

*****

OWLS OVERCOME ADVERSITY: When Temple opened the season with losses to Villanova and Buffalo, few would have believed that the Owls would be headed to a bowl game. Even after five games, following a loss at Boston College, the Owls’ postseason hopes looked slim. But the Owls overcame their poor start to post an 8-4 record, with one of their remaining losses coming against undefeated Central Florida, to earn a bowl berth for the fourth straight season.

Temple will take on Duke (7-5) in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 27 (1:30 p.m.) in Shreveport, La. The Owls could be hindered in that game. Quarterback Anthony Russo had a cast on his hand while sitting out the regular-season finale against Connecticut. Running back Ryquell Armstead left the UConn game with an injury. The status of each player for the Independence Bowl is uncertain, but, even if the team’s top running back and quarterback can’t play, nobody should count out the Owls.

*****

LIONS’ PRIDE: Penn State isn’t going to one of the top bowls, but the 12th-ranked Nittany Lions (9-3) should be pleased that they’re going to be playing on New Year’s Day. Penn State will meet 14th-ranked Kentucky on Jan. 1 in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

If not for narrow losses at home to Ohio State and Michigan State in back-to-back games, the Nittany Lions would have gone to a higher profile game, and may even have qualified for the national championship playoffs, but Penn State should be satisfied with a New Year’s sendoff for quarterback and team leader Trace McSorley.

*****

IT HURTS SO GOOD: Hollywood can’t improve upon real life. That’s the only way to explain what happened in the SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia. This was a rematch of last season’s national championship game. In that game, Alabama head coach replaced starter Jalen Hurts with Tua Tagovailoa, who led the Crimson Tide to the national championship.

Instead of transferring, Hurts remained at Alabama instead of transferring. Hurts played the good soldier all season while Tagovailoa led the Tited to an undefeated record. But when Taovailoa was injured in the SEC Championship Game, Hurts came off the bench  to help Alabama overcome a 14-point deficit. Hurts provided the winning score with a 15-yard run with 1:04 remaining to boost ‘Bama to a 35-28 triumph. You couldn’t write a better ending to this story – unless it happens again in this season’s national championship game.

*****

TRADITION: The Army-Navy game, one of the best rivalries in college football, takes place Saturday (3 p.m.) at Lincoln Financial Field. This wonderful tradition is always one of the highlights of the college football season.

*****

WING BOWL: The Philadelphia Wings, the new lacrosse franchise whose name evokes memories of the old lacrosse franchise, opens its season on Sat., Dec. 15 (1 p.m.) against Buffalo at Wells Fargo Center.

                                 *****                               

WINTER SPORT? Yes, they’re still playing soccer. Portland and Atlanta square off for the MLS Cup on Saturday (8 p.m.). Can you imagine a soccer game at night this weekend in Philadelphia, New York, Boston or Chicago? The MLS season is much too long.

Eric Fisher, who has been writing about sports for 30 years, actually feels bad for the Redskins after watching them lose to the Eagles with a third-string quarterback and a pair of third-string guards.

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On November - 4 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

With the Eagles at the midpoint of their season and the Flyers and Sixers working out their early-season kinks, the team for which this might be the most important week is the Phillies.

Free agency started this weekend. With plenty of money to spend, the Phillies could drastically alter their future by signing the right players.

The Phillies have both money and flexibility – and they have plenty of needs. Scott Kingery and Odubel Herrera are the only two players signed beyond 2020, although, obviously, the Phillies will need to retain players such as Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins. Considering the lack of long-term contracts and players locked in at specific positions, the Phillies have a ton of flexibility in free agency.

The two major prizes in free agency are outfielder Bryce Harper and shortstop Manny Machado. There is speculation that the Phillies could try to acquire both of them. Acquiring both Harper and Machado could create salary issues down the road, but the fact that the Phillies have the potential to sign both of them indicates how much flexibility they have.

There is no question that Harper and Machado would fill some of the Phillies’ needs. The Phillies, despite winning 80 games, have so many needs. They need power hitters, better defensive players, relievers and a starting pitcher. The only position player who should feel comfortable that he has a starting position locked in for next season is Rhys Hoskins, who is expected to move back to first base.

How drastic are the Phillies’ needs? In a column for mlb.com this weekend, Mike Petriello lists the Phillies’ rankings in runs scored (21st); on-base percentage (18th); slugging (23rd); strikeout rate (28th); OPS (24th); and defensive metrics (last in nearly every category). In other words, there is room for improvement just about everywhere.

The Phillies have a golden opportunity to improve through free agency. The addition of either Harper or Machado, let along both, would be a huge step in the right direction.

*****

ROSEMAN IS GOLDEN: The Eagles found yet another way to improve at the trade deadline. Recognizing that the offense needed more weapons, Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman acquired veteran receiver Golden Tate for a third-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

With 44 receptions for 517 yards and three touchdowns this season, the versatile Tate should immediately the Eagles offense. Having Tate to complement Alshon Jeffery, which also allows Nelson Agholor to move to his more comfortable position in the slot, provides Carson Wentz with a top-flight receiving corps. Trading for Tate is yet another feather in Roseman’s cap.

*****

THE WAITING: There’s nothing the Eagles (4-4) can do during their bye week except heal their bodies and watch the opposition. In the NFC East, the first-place Redskins (5-2) host the Falcons. The Eagles don’t face the Redskins until December, so, obviously, they would like some help in closing the gap. A Redskins victory over the Falcons would give them a two-game lead over the Eagles, who, barring a collapse by the Redskins, would have to sweep their December games with the Redskins to win the NFC East.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on the Cowboys (3-4). With a victory over the visiting Titans on Monday night, the Cowboys can move into a tie with the Eagles.

For those looking beyond the NFC East, the Saints (6-1) host the undefeated Rams (8-0) on Sunday (4:25 p.m.). The Eagles have little chance of catching either of those teams, but the Saints and Rams are the Eagles two non-NFC East road games during the second half of this season, so Sunday’s game is an opportunity for fans to do some advance scouting.

The good news in the NFC East is the Eagles, with two games remaining against both the Redskins and Cowboys, are somewhat in control of their own fate.

*****

TIME FOR CHANGE? The Union have to be happy that they made the playoffs, but they have to be disappointed about settling for sixth place and finishing their season without the franchise’s first playoff victory.

This is the first offseason for sporting director Ernst Tanner. One of the most important decisions Tanner must make is whether to retain head coach Jim Curtin. Having local roots, attending Bishop McDevitt High School and Villanova University, won’t help Curtin retain his job. He seems to have the support of his players, but if Tanner decides that many of those players won’t be members of the Union for much longer, what difference does their support matter for Curtin?

Regardless of whether or not Tanner retains Curtin, the question is whether he will tweak the roster or overhaul it as he attempts to create a more aggressive attacking team.

*****

MORAL VICTORY: Although some say there aren’t any moral victories in sports, I think Temple affirmed its improvement during Thursday’s 52-40 loss to 9th-ranked Central Florida. The Owls (5-4) actually held the lead at halftime before succumbing to the undefeated Knights.

Temple’s previous game was a victory over then-undefeated and 20th-ranked Cincinnati, so Thursday’s competitive game with Central Florida wasn’t a fluke. The Owls have certainly come a long way since starting the season with losses to Villanova and Buffalo.

*****

COACHING GRAVEYARD: This wasn’t a good week for coaches in Cleveland. The Cavaliers fired head coach Tyronn Lue after an 0-6 start. The Cavaliers, of course, lost LeBron James via free agency after being swept by the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

Hue Jackson followed Lue to the unemployment line one day later, having been dismissed by the Browns after a three-game losing streak. The Browns were 1-31 during Jackson’s first two seasons, so this season’s 2-5-1 record represents an improvement. But that wasn’t enough to save Jackson’s job. The Browns have lost some close games and there were reports that Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who also was fired, weren’t on the same page.

*****

CUP HALF FULL: Four of the final eight drivers in NASCAR playoffs compete for Stewart-Haas Racing. Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola are all still alive in NASCAR’s playoffs, but all but Harvick have their work cut out for them to qualify for the championship race.

With just two races left before the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, only Harvick is above the cut line for qualifying. Busch is 25 points away from the cut line, Bowyer is 42 points away from qualifying, and Almirola must overcome a 50-point deficit. That’s a lot of ground to make up in two races. It may take a victory Sunday in the AAA Texas 500 or next week at the Can-Am 500 in Phoenix for Busch, Bowyer or Almirola to reach the championship race.

*****

TIP OFF: College basketball season kicks off Tuesday. Locally, Villanova begins defense of its second national championship in three seasons when it hosts Morgan State (7 p.m.). The City Six rivalries get under way immediately Tuesday with Temple hosting La Salle (7:30 p.m.). Penn also opens its season Tuesday (7 p.m.) with a visit to George Mason.

But the preseason has been filled with overreaction to everything Fultz does. He scored 12 points in the Sixers’ first preseason game, including a 3-pointer. That was good news, but it was hardly worthy of the overanalysis that followed. It was one preseason game. When Fultz makes shots during the regular season, that’s when we can start to get excited.

*****

CORPORATE CULTURE: Fighting against corporate sponsorship in sports is like tilting at windmills, but I am still saddened to see an iconic venue like the Palestra get a corporate name. The University of Pennsylvania split hairs by selling naming rights to the court rather than the building, but the court will now be known as the Macquarie Court at the Palestra. Macquarie Investment Group is a global asset management firm with headquarters in Philadelphia.

I understand that this was an opportunity to generate substantial revenue, but the Palestra, which opened in 1927, is one of those special venues that should never have its name sullied by a corporate association.

Eric Fisher, who has been writing about sports for 30 years, would welcome corporate sponsorship of his Fish ‘n Chips column. 

Butler game-winner vs. Nets