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Scoreless minutes for Trail Blazers at start of Wednesday’s loss to Sixers

An admittedly cranky Eric Fisher makes a list of things in sports than annoy him. Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

In memory of Eagles legend Chuck Bednarik, we bring you our Top 10 Eagles of all time.

The bottom half of this list was tough to put together, and there were at least another 10 under consideration before we made our final decisions – let us know what your think!

After explaining, sort of, why he skipped doing his column last week, the Greek God of Wrestling presents a detailed preview of Survivor Series. Achilles Heel also previews NXT Takeover: Toronto, tells you about the tournament Ring of Honor is bringing to 2300 Arena, and tells you which broadcaster got himself in hot water over the presidential election.

Archive for the ‘Fish ‘n Chips’ Category

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On November - 14 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

The bye week brought good news and bad news for the Eagles.

The good news: the NFC East race is just about over. If the Eagles (8-1) defeat the Cowboys (5-4) on Sunday night (8:30 p.m.), they will have a four-game lead over Dallas, which would need to win four of its remaining six games to catch the Eagles – if the Eagles don’t win another game this season.

So what’s the bad news? There are three teams right on the Eagles’ heels in the battle for homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

With victories Sunday, the Vikings, Saints and Rams are all 7-2, just one game behind the Eagles. The Panthers (7-3) also shouldn’t be dismissed.

The Eagles don’t have much margin for error. They also have a difficult schedule. They have road games against the Cowboys, Seahawks, Rams and Giants, with the final three coming on consecutive weeks in December. In between the Cowboys game and the three-game road trip is a home game against the Bears. The Eagles finish the season with home games against the Raiders, who could still bet battling for a playoff berth, and the Cowboys, who won’t be if they lose to the Eagles on Sunday.

But the teams chasing the Eagles don’t have a cake walk, either. Four of the Rams’ next five games are against top NFC competitors. They visit the Vikings on Sunday, and then have home games against the Saints and Eagles sandwiched around a road game against the Cardinals, and then travel to Seattle (6-3).

The Saints, winners of seven straight games, host the injury-riddled Redskins on Sunday, but then will face, in order, the Rams, Panthers and Falcons, with the Rams and Falcons games on the road. The Saints finish with home games against the Jets and Falcons and a road game at Tampa Bay, so they could post an impressive record if they can emerge from their diffuclt three-game stretch with only one loss.

After the Vikings host the Rams on Sunday, they hit the road to face the Lions, Falcons and Panthers. After a brief reprieve against the Bengals at home, they travel to Green Bay and then host the Bears in their season finale.

The Panthers have a bye this week, then visit the Jets and Saints. If they split those games, they’ll be 8-4, with home games against the Vikings, Packers and Bucs the next three weeks before finishing their schedule on the road against the Falcons.

The Eagles, of course, control their own destiny. They can render all of this schedule comparison useless by winning their games, particularly those against the Seahawks and Rams.

Why does homefield advantage matter? The Eagles’ road to the Super Bowl would be much smoother going through Lincoln Financial Field than through domed stadiums in New Orleans or Minnesota.

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HELP ON THE WAY: The Eagles are certainly making roster moves as if they are aiming for a Super Bowl. The Eagles signed veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbee and veteran offensive tackle Will Beatty this week. Before anyone gets too excited, both Ellerbee and Beatty were out of football before the Eagles signed them. But the signings demonstrate that the Eagles are trying to bolster their depth at thin positions before the playoffs.

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GATOR CHIPS: There are rumors that former Eagles head coach Chip Kelly will be the next head coach at Florida. Kelly should have more success back in college than he had in the pros, where he couldn’t recruit faster athletes than other teams had.

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HALL TALK: I have mixed feelings about Mark Recchi being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday. Part of me is happy to see a former Flyer inducted. Recchi played 10 seasons for the Flyers, and still holds the franchise record for points (123) in one season.

Recchi ranks 20th all-time in career goals, but he played 22 seasons. The two players immediately behind Recchi on the career goals list, Mike Bossy and Alex Ovechkin are geat players. Recchi was a very good player for many years, with a few moments of greatness mixed in.

Forwards Dave Andreychuk and Teemu Selanne, who joined Recchi in being inducted Monday, also rank in the top 20 on the career goals list after playing for more than two decades. Selanne ranks 11th and Andreychuk ranks 14th.

Longevity should be admired, but Andreychuk never finished in the Top 10 in Hart Trophy (MVP) balloting. Recchi finished ninth once. I’d put Paul Kariya, who ranks 91st in career goals and also entered the Hall of Fame this year, in the Hall before either Andreychuk and Recchi. He ranks lower because he played fewer seasons.

With the exception of active players, the top 31 goal scorers are all in the Hall of Fame, so it’s difficult to argue that Recchi and Andreychuk don’t belong. But, and this is true of every sports Hall of Fame, I’d reserve the Hall for the truly great, not those who were very good for many years.

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DRAMATIC START: Big Five teams didn’t waste any time. On Monday, Penn and La Salle battled through two overtimes before the Explorers emerged with a 75-71 victory. That’s the type of drama that makes the Big Five the best multi-team city rivalry in the country.

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DEAD MAN WALKING: With his slick haircut and 1-8 record, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo reminds me of one of the characters on “The Sopranos” that everyone knew was going to get whacked but didn’t realize it himself.

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PREDICTIONS ON TRACK: The four finalists for NASCAR’s championship race on Sunday at Miami-Homestead Speedway are Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski. My pre-playoff preview predicted Busch and Truex would reach the final race.

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MAJOR NEWS: Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square will host the 2020 Women’s PGA Championship and the 2027 PGA Championship.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for 29 years, did not get much of a break during the bye week.

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On November - 8 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Last week I wrote a column about the Eagles raising expectations by acquiring running back Jay Ajayi from the Dolphins.

Well, if the Ajayi trade raised expectations, Sunday’s 51-23 dismantling of Denver blew the expectations through the roof.

The Eagles didn’t simply win. They blew out the Broncos, scoring 31 points during the first half. The offense looked unstoppable. The defense was dominant.

These aren’t the Broncos of old. Their quarterback situation is a mess. Brock Osweiler, who started Sunday, couldn’t secure the starting quarterback job for the Browns. That’s sort of like being judged unqualified to handle the drive-thru window job at McDonald’s. But the Broncos have a terrific defense and solid running game, yet you wouldn’t know it while watching them get obliterated by the Eagles.

The Eagles enter their bye week at 8-1. That’s one more win than they had last season, and it took wins during meaningless games in the final two weeks of the season to reach seven.

The second portion of the Eagles’ schedule appears tougher than the first portion, but the playoffs already seem like a lock. In a worst-case scenario, the Eagles would go 2-5 after their bye. That would still result in 10 wins and a likely playoff spot. A 4-3 record, which is certainly reasonable, would likely earn the Eagles an NFC East title, a first-round bye and homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

You never know what is going to happen in the NFL, but the Eagles making the playoffs is almost guaranteed. And, the way they’re playing, they would be the favorites from the NFC to reach the Super Bowl.

The only legitimate danger for the Eagles is injuries. Obviously, an injury to – I won’t even say his name for fear of jinxing him – would be devastating. The rest of the team seems to feed off the excellence of their second-year quarterback. But injuries in areas in which they are already thin, such as the offensive line or linebacker, could cause this team to end up short of their goal.

One other change, though, is the feeling that nothing can stop this Eagles team. To this point, injuries to key players such as Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles, haven’t slowed down the train one bit.

Instead of the customary waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop mentality, there is an aura of positivity surrounding the Eagles, which is why expectations are skyrocketing to the point that a Super Bowl appearance seems to be a legitimate possibility.

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INTERESTING START: The Phillies certainly thought outside the box when they hired Gabe Kapler as their manager. Kapler’s initial round of media interviews when he was introduced last week indicate that the Phillies will at least be interesting.

Kapler’s views on coconut oil and “all over” tanning received as much attention as his baseball philosophy. Although it’s refreshing that the Phillies didn’t simply recycle a manager from the old boys’ network, Kapler’s lack of experience should be a cause for concern. The highest level at which he’s managed in professional baseball was with a Class A team in the Red Sox organization.

But Kapler brings a lot of energy and interesting ideas to the job. At 42, he is a relatively young manager. He also is the first Phillies manager in ages not to have a prior Phillies connection.

Will Kapler succeed? I’m not sure. But his tenure certainly should be interesting.

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FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: Congratulations to the Houston Astros, who defeated the Dodgers in seven games to win their first World Series title. For those who say the Phillies are on a similar path as the Astros, please look at the pitching staff. The Phillies have a long way to go to have a starting rotation as good as the Astros’ rotation (although the Phillies had Charlie Morton in 2016).

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LATE NIGHTS: The World Series between the Astros and Dodgers has been labeled a classic, but it may not remain in many people’s memories for very long. That’s because they didn’t see it.

The games took much too long and ended much too late. There’s not much that can be done – or should be done – about a 7-6 extra-inning game. But, if a 2-1 game is still in the sixth inning at 11 p.m., the game is taking too long.

Major League Baseball needs to begin enforcing its rules about batters stepping out of the batter’s box between pitches. That’s one way to make sure most fans are still awake to see the sports’ classic moments.

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COLLEGE HOOPS IS BACK: The local college basketball season tips off Friday night with sixth-ranked Villanova hosting Columbia (8:30 p.m.) and Drexel hosting Bowling Green (7 p.m.). Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Penn kick off their seasons Saturday, and Temple begins next week. Keep an eye out for a season preview later this week.

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HUGE LOSSES: Penn State loses road games to ranked opponents Ohio State and Michigan State by a combined four points, with the decisive points coming during the final two minutes (the final play against the Spartans), and the Nittany Lions drop from second to 16th in the national rankings. I never felt that the Nittany Lions were good enough to win the national championship, mostly because of their offensive line, but that’s a big drop for such narrow losses on the road.

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ANOTHER HUGE LOSS: If you want to know how important a quarterback can be, look at the difference in the Texans with Tom Savage at quarterback instead of Deshaun Watson, who outstanding rookie season ended with a torn ACL. One week after giving the Seahawks a run for their money on the road, the Texans lost to the last-place Colts at home on Sunday.

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UNION TURNOVER: After failing to qualify for the playoffs, the Union cut ties with a bunch of players, some of whom were once heralded as players who would put the Union over the top and make them contenders. If the Union follows their typical pattern, they will bring in some new faces next year, signaling a change in the franchise’s fortunes, and then release them a year or two later after still not securing the franchise’s first playoff victory.

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BROADCAST NEWS: I recently watched a broadcast of Upper Moreland High School’s one-point victory over Upper Dublin, preserving the Golden Bears’ undefeated season. The thrilling game was enhanced by the broadcast duo of Kevin Walder and Ryan Coyle. They may employ a little too much irony and sarcasm for some viewers’ tastes, but they were funny and entertaining while providing excellent analysis and insights. On several occasions, Coyle’s comments foreshadowed something that happened within moments after he said it. If either Coyle or Walder ends up excelling as a professional broadcaster, remember, you read about them first in Fish ‘n Chips.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for 29 years, did not stay awake for the finish of most of the World Series games.

Every out of Roy Halladay's playoff no-hitter