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Consecutive home runs for Phillies during 8th inning Sunday

The Sixers are on the verge of breaking the franchise record for the worst start to a season. In addition to evaluating the Sixers’ opportunities to net their first win, Eric Fisher worries about an exchange between Michael Carter-Williams and head coach Brett Brown (pictured), highlights Nerlens Noel’s best game as a pro, and tells you why Cavaliers fans are experiencing a different kind of misery.

Sixers GM Sam Hinkie doesn’t seem to be making trades to help the team win. He makes trades for injured players and those who will never play for the Sixers. Eric Fisher fears Hinkie has Andrew Bynum Syndrome.

Backup quarterback Mark Sanchez helps the Eagles defeat the Texans, 31-21, to move into first place in the NFC East, but the victory comes with a price. Quarterback Nick Foles, linebacker DeMeco Ryans and guard Todd Herremans leave the game with injuries. Ryans’ injury is reportedly a season-ending Achilles tendon injury.

Archive for the ‘Phillies’ Category

The Philly fan quiz

Posted by Eric Fisher On April - 19 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Fisher column logo2With the NFL Draft coming to Philadelphia next week, we are certain to be reminded of the 1999 NFL Draft, when Eagles fans traveled to New York to boo the selection of quarterback Donovan McNabb with the No. 2 overall pick because the fans preferred running back Ricky Williams. (In fact, you might even find that video right here at PhillyPhanatics.com.)

The booing of the McNabb selection joins the booing of Mike Schmidt and the throwing of snowballs at Santa Claus, as well as at Jimmy Johnson, in the folklore reinforcing the negative image of Philadelphia fans.

But there is a difference between booing and being a pessimist. Philadelphia fans are proud of booing the opposition. Ask any Philadelphia fan if they are embarrassed about booing Sidney Crosby, Kobe Bryant or the Dallas Cowboy of your choice.

The last time a major professional sport held its draft in Philadelphia, Flyers fans proudly attracted international attention (Canada makes it international) with deafening boos for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the Pittsburgh Penguins – as well as booing every other team – during the NHL Draft. We may have a repeat performance at the NFL Draft with the Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Patriots and any of the former Cowboys-turned-broadcasters who has the misfortune of taking the public stage.

But are we truly that negative? I prefer to think of Philly sports fans as incredibly passionate. The optimism and pessimism are two sides of the same coin, which is why I sometimes consult Joe Optimist and Joe Pessimist, whom I created to represent the two conflicting views that often co-exist within the brain of the Philly sports fan, in my columns.

Are you more Joe Optimist or Joe Pessimist? Let’s find out by taking the following quiz.

1. With the 14th selection in the NFL Draft (in Philly!), the Eagles will draft:

A) a terrific starting defensive player. The draft is deep in corners. The Eagles can’t miss.

B) a solid contributor, but he won’t get an elite starter.

C) an average player … and they’ll pass up a player who will become a star.

D) a mistake. I don’t know whom they’ll pick, but I know it will be a mistake.

2. When you hear the phrase “Trust the Process,” your first reaction is to:

A) bow down in front of your Sam Hinkie poster.

B) get excited about two lottery picks in this year’s draft joining Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric on the court next season

C) worry that Joel Embiid’s and Ben Simmons’ careers will be hindered by injuries.

D) try not to throw up from the bile rising in your throat.

3. The Phillies’ bullpen will be:

A) good once Hector Neris becomes the closer and everyone settles into their new roles.

B) decent, but it doesn’t really matter right now because the Phillies are rebuilding.

C) a problem until they can find a reliable closer.

D) lit up all summer like a charcoal grill.

4. Flyers captain Claude Giroux:

A) wasn’t fully recovered from surgery this year. He will be much better next season.

B) will bounce back next season, but will never regain his peak form.

C) should be stripped of his captaincy because he’s not a good leader.

D) is on an irreversible downward spiral. The window to trade him has already passed.

5. Carson Wentz is:

A) the quarterback who will lead the Eagles to multiple Super Bowl victories.

B) going to be a long-time starting quarterback, but he won’t be an elite quarterback.

C) vastly overrated by Eagles fans desperate for a winner.

D) a flash in the pan who will be replaced by Nick Foles by midseason.

6. Maikel Franco batting .160 through the first 13 games is:

A) not important. Once he’s warmed up, he’ll be the team’s best hitter again. It’s early!

B) mildly concerning, but nothing to worry about.

C) a sign that he might not be as much of an impact player as Phillies fans had hoped.

D) a sign that he doesn’t know how to hit. Trade Franco now while you can still get something for him.

7. Ivan Provorov, Carson Wentz, Joel Embiid and J.P. Crawford are:

A) destined to usher in a new golden era in Philadelphia sports.

B) future superstars who will help make their respective teams championship contenders.

C) overrated because Philadelphia fans are so desperate for a winner.

D) destined to leave via free agency as soon as they can get out of this cursed city.

8. The Union’s next win will be:

A) this weekend

B) in May

C) after head coach Jim Curtin is fired

D) before Christmas

9. The best general manager (or equivalent front office position) is:

A) Ron Hextall

B) Matt Klentak

C) Howie Roseman

D) Bryan Colangelo

E) There a “best” general manager in this town? Really?

10. The next of Philadelphia’s major sports teams to win a championship will be:

A) the Eagles. E! A! G! L! E! S! EAGLES!!!

B) the Sixers. Trust the process!

C) the Flyers. Look at all those young defensemen!

D) the Phillies. Wait until all the kids arrive!

E) Championship? Don’t talk about championships. Let’s try to get a team into the playoffs before we talk about winning a championship. And let’s get a team over .500 before we talk about the playoffs. A championship? That’s a long, long way away.

Phillies Notebook: Pitching offers little relief

Posted by Eric Fisher On April - 17 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

The conventional wisdom before the season was that the Phillies’ pitching would be better. Twelve games is a small sample size, but it hasn’t worked out that way.

Entering their off day on Monday, the Phillies had the third-worst ERA (4.94) in Major League Baseball. Bryce Harper’s two home runs during the Phillies’ 6-4 loss Sunday pushed the Phillies to the top (or bottom) in terms of allowing home runs. They have given up 21 home runs 12 games.

Opponents are batting .267 against the Philies, tied for the fourth-worest mark in the majors. By contrast, the Phillies are batting .237.

No wonder they are 4-8.

Adam Morgan, the biggest offender in terms of home runs, allowing six in six innings, has already been sent to the minor leagues. Clay Buchholz, who has the worst ERA (12.27) on the team, is headed for the disabled list with a partial tear of the flexor pronator mass in his right forearm, an injury which could end his season after just two starts.

But removing Buchholz and Morgan from the pitching staff won’t solve the problem. Starters Jeremy Hellickson (2-0, 1.59 ERA), Jerad Eickoff (0-1, 2.75 ERA) and Aaron Nola (1-0, 3.27 ERA) have been very good. The weak spots in the rotation have been Buchholz, who will be replaced by Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez.

Remember all of those stories about Velasquez working on becoming more of a pitcher than a thrower? Well, it seems as if he’s forgotten everything he was supposed to have learned. Velasquez is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA. He has only made it through a combined nine innings in two starts because he throws too many pitches. Velasquez has 17 strikeouts, averaging nearly two per inning, but that doesn’t do the Phillies much good when he can’t last beyond five innings.

When Velasquez, or any other starter, can’t make it past the fifth inning, they leave the game in the hands of the bullpen. That’s not a bad thing when Hector Neris or Pat Neshek takes over. Neither has allowed a run in six appearances this season. But it’s not such a good development when Joely Rodriguez or one of the Phillies’ closers gets on the mound.

The plural “closers” is used because the Phillies are already on their second closer this season. Jeanmar Gomez, last year’s closer, has been a home run machine this season, allowing three in 5 1/3 innings. Gomez has allowed seven runs and has an 11.81 ERA. Ouch!

Gomez’s replacement was 39-year-old Joaquin Benoit. He pitched well in a non-closer role, but is just 1 for 2 in save opportunities after blowing Sunday’s game against the Nationals, with Harper crushing a three-run homer to center field in the bottom of the ninth inning.

If Benoit doesn’t work out, the Phillies will most likely turn to Neris. If he doesn’t work out, it could be time to move Velasquez to the closer’s role, as I speculated in my Phillies season preview.

If the Phillies can’t find a closer and reduce the number of home runs they’re allowing, it will be difficult to escape the National League East basement.

*****

RISK DOESN’T PAY OFF: If it turns out that Buccholz’s injury is serious enough to end his season, this will be the second straight year that the Phillies signed a veteran in hopes of flipping him at the trade deadline, only to have the player suffer a serious injury. Charlie Morton made four starts last season before being shelved for the rest of the year. Buccholz only made it through two starts.

It’s uncertain if Buchholz is done for the season, but any sort of long-term injury will make it impossible to trade him, which means the Phillies will eat his $13.5 million salary this season and get nothing for it.

*****

GOOD START FOR NOLA: On the positive side, Aaron Nola is off to a good start. Nola was shut down in the middle of last season due to elbow issues. He didn’t inspire confidence during spring training by posting an 0-3 record with an 8.38 ERA. During the regular season, though, he is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA. He’s only made two starts, but so far, so good.

*****

HERNANDEZ HOT: Cesar Hernandez, who led Phillies regulars in batting average last season, is batting .346 through Sunday’s games. He hit a game-winning two-run homer in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 4-2 victory over the Nationals and had three of the Phillies’ eight hits during Sunday’s 6-4 defeat.

*****

FRANCO IS NOT: Maikel Franco might be the most important hitter in the Phillies’ lineup. He leads the Phillies with nine RBI, but he is batting just .174 and has a .235 on-base percentage. Franco will have to do much better if he wants to prove he’s worthy of a lucrative long-term contract.

*****

MENDOZA LINE: Franco isn’t the only Phillies starter below the Mendoza line. Freddy Galvis, who was supposed to work on improving his on-base percentage, is batting .190 with a .222 on-base percentage. Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp are both batting .167, with Rupp’s on-base percentage at .286 and Joseph’s at a paltry .205.

*****

ROSE TO WALL: It’s old news at this point, but I’m pleased the Phillies decided to add Pete Rose to their Wall of Fame. Rose, who is banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame and from working in Major League Baseball because he bet on games while serving as Reds manager, deserves to be remembered for his contributions to the Phillies and baseball. Rose will be honored on August 12.

*****

LOOKAHEAD: After two series with the Nationals and one with the Mets, the Phillies will continue their battles with National League East opponents, visiting the Mets on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before returning home this weekend for three games with the Braves. After a day off next Monday, the Phillies will host the Marlins for three games before departing for the West Coast to face the Dodgers.


(click on logo above for 2012 season schedule)
Eagles fans boo selection of Donovan McNabb