Confession: I totally forgot about the NFL Draft.
I guess it doesn’t feel as important this time around because the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles don’t necessarily have a ton of holes to fill. This isn’t 2016, when Howie Roseman “mortgaged the future” (successfully) for a franchise quarterback. This isn’t 2017, when the Birds had a top-15 pick and the draft was held on the Art Museum steps. In 2018, it’s more placid than urgent as Howie and Joe Douglas head to Arlington with the 32nd overall pick and not much beyond that.
Here’s what they’re currently working with:
- Round 1, pick 32
- Round 4, pick 130 (from the Eric Rowe trade)
- Round 4, pick 132
- Round 5, pick 156 (from the Matt Tobin trade)
- Round 5, pick 169
- Round 6, pick 206
Seems like people think the Birds might trade out of the first round and swing that pick to someone else instead.
What say you? Good idea? Bad idea? Don’t care one way or another?
This pretty much says it all:
— Tom Steinfort (@tomsteinfort) April 24, 2018
There was an excellent piece on Giannis a few weeks ago, so my guess is this will follow a similar road and take us back to Simmons’ home in Australia (Steinfort is based there) and through his progressions as “the next LeBron.” Somewhere, Donovan Mitchell readies himself a shirt. May I suggest:
Gabe Kapler is riding high.
After a four-game winning streak, the boos that washed over Kapler during his first week as manager have subsided, freeing the skipper to thrive in his natural state: haberdashery.
Kapler challenged convention again last night by visiting a Reading Fightins game live and in-person, wearing the most fuck-off hat these eyes have ever seen:
— Reading Eagle Sports (@RE_sports) April 24, 2018
Holy shit he’s the modern-day Ira Lowenstein from A League of Their Own*:
Say, where’s Mr. Wrigley?
Kapler is so comfortable is his tightly-formed skin that it almost makes me feel insignificant. I think twice about what I’m wearing before I take the trash out, worrying about my gait and the manner with which I shut the lid of the oversized can. Meanwhile, Kapler shows up to an all-eyes-on venue dressed like Jason Bourne fucked a Mossad agent. He could kill you… or just tell you the chances of success when swinging at an outside curveball on a 1-2 count, and then guide you through the finer points of stroking your egg-ham under the warm summer sun. Fascinating.
Anyway, the players were thrilled (gripped by fear?) to see him. From The Reading Eagle:
The players, of course, were caught by surprise when Kapler strolled through for a pregame meet-and-greet.
“That was an incredible gesture,” said Legg. “He made them all feel special. The boys really dug it. It was a great moment.”
The Fightins carried that feeling onto the field, stroking three homers in an 8-4 Eastern League win over Akron.
No doubt there was a special feel to game No. 18 out of a scheduled 140.
“Obviously, it sparks you a little bit,” said Fightins center fielder Zach Coppola, who opened the game with a double, and later smashed full speed into the outfield fence chasing a fly ball. “It makes you want to play well.”
Indeed, there was a special energy on the field.
Shortstop Malquin Canelo chased down ground balls like he was the “Wizard of Oz.” He even smacked a homer his first time up.
Zach Green and Deivi Grullon also homered, Grullon’s blast landing 447 feet away in left-center.
“I’m sure it gave us a little bit of a lift,” said Reading third baseman Damek Tomscha. “You don’t want to go out there and not perform well, so you had a little extra reason to do well.”
That, and also because a quick glance from Kapler could have you swiftly removed from this Earth by a team of plain-clothed assassins who watched just the right amount of mob movies when they were young. Be bold.
*David Strathairn is excellent in Billions as Black Jack Foley. His drawl is perfect. He does old-timey elitist better than anyone. I want to rent him out for outdoor gatherings and have him just comment on my cocktails.
Shout out to Sixers Reddit user “ank1613,” who compiled a “master key” of Marc Zumoff play-by-play calls.
I quadruple checked the list and almost everything is in there. A few more suggestions popped up in the comments section below this chart:
Tonight may be your last opportunity to hear these calls for a long time, since the local broadcasts disappear if the Sixers make it to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Then you’ll be forced to listen to the national broadcast or put the TV on mute instead.
Tonight could mark the Sixers’ first series win since 2012, when they knocked off the #1 seed Chicago Bulls in six games:
At that time, it was their first playoff series win since 2003. The Sixers weren’t expected to win the series, let alone even a game. They got lucky with the injury to Derrick Rose in Game 1.
The atmosphere in the building that night was incredible, even for a team that was about to undergo one of the most scrutinized yet smartest plans the league has ever seen.
Fast forward six years. The Sixers, as a three seed, have a chance to wrap up a series many thought they would win. Instead of Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, and Spencer Hawes, the Sixers are led by Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, and church-goer Joel Embiid. What a transformation.
Unlike the 2012 team, this one is young and still growing. This won’t be their peak. They could actually win the Eastern Conference given the other playoff series going on and the losses suffered by Boston. Just take a look at FiveThirtyEight:
Kyle: Think about that for a moment– the Sixers have a better chance to win the championship than the Warriors. Regardless of injuries, that’s hard to fathom at this point.
But they have to win this game tonight to continue their journey. They can’t have 26 turnovers like they did on Saturday, even if they do make a strong comeback in the fourth quarter. With the home fans behind them, the Sixers should have a huge advantage. But anything can happen, just ask Dwyane Wade and his Game 2 performance.
8 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia and TNT. Let’s have some fun tonight. It’s our time now.
The Roundup: Continue Reading
JJ Redick was asked on Monday afternoon how a close-out game differs from any other game in a playoff series.
He started by explaining that both teams begin by throwing jabs, then stopped to ask a rhetorical question:
“Why are boxing analogies so perfect for every other sport?” Redick laughed. “I don’t know why. But no, you’re throwing jabs and feeling each other out. Then later on in the series you have to deliver a crushing blow; you have to finish them. A team like Miami, their culture, their organization, their group of guys, they have fighters and warriors on their team. Every game in this series has been tough, and there’s no expectation that game five will be any different.”
That’s what the Sixers will try to do on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center – deliver the crushing blow. They ripped off a game four win despite turning the ball over 26 times and struggling through three quarters before turning up the intensity and executing brilliantly in the fourth quarter.
Redick was asked if he views game four in a positive lens or whether he feels like the team has a lot of things to improve on in game five.
“I think you’d be doing your opponent a disservice if you didn’t acknowledge how difficult it is to win a playoff game,” he said. So I think we can always take positives from any playoff win, especially against a team that is together and playing hard. But we I think realize that having that many turnovers in a playoff game is a recipe for disaster. I think we have to be a lot better there.”
From Ian Rapppppppopopopopopoport:
#Eagles are in contact with the White House regarding a visit. “We are honored to receive this invitation and view this not only as an opportunity to be recognized for our achievements, but also as an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the leaders of our country."
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 23, 2018
#Eagles have not committed to a White House visit, but they are discussing it. Given Malcolm Jenkins' role in calling attention to social issues, this is an important discussion. The statement alludes to using the time to engage the White House, rather than skipping it.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 23, 2018
Kind of surprising here given how liberal many of the Eagles are. My guess is that this is the sort of thing where they agree to go and maintain decorum, giving Trump the photo op he wants, but only if there is a substantive conversation before hand about race and inequality.
My first thought was to be reactionary.
After the Flyers season came to a crashing end Sunday in a classic Flyers manner – blowing a two goal lead – it was easy to put the target on this team, who ended up playing 88 games this season, winning 44 of them and losing 44 of them, as still not being ready for prime time.
It would be easy to target the coach – as I have for much of the season. The goaltending – for the umpteenth time. The defense – for their inherent lack of ability in getting the puck out of their own zone. The star players – who couldn’t score.
It would be easy to target all the negatives – and some negatives deserve to be highlighted – but the biggest takeaway of all of this is that even though the Flyers took a small step forward – making the playoffs after a one season hiatus, and doing so with a lot of young players in the lineup, there is still a long way to go before they can compete with the likes of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
And that’s the one thing that is going to make the upcoming offseason so crucial for the Flyers. They need to finally address holes in their roster via trades and free agency and need to stop trying to get by with band aids – marginal NHL veterans who provide no scoring punch.
It’s almost certain that a number of players who played in Sunday’s loss won’t be back. This Flyers team will have a much different look to it when training camp begins five months from now, but will it have a different feel? Or will we still look at how the roster has been put together and consider them a borderline playoff team, much as they have been the past six seasons, which includes three first round exits and three seasons where they missed the playoffs entirely?
So, I thought, let’s examine this roster, the impact each player had on this first round loss to Pittsburgh and what the future holds.
But, before we do, some telling statistics:
- The Flyers allowed eight goals in an elimination game for the fifth time in franchise history (1979, 1982 [nine goals], 1985, 2001, 2018). That’s a lot.
- The Penguins scored at least five goals in eight of the 10 games played against the Flyers this season, and all five of the games played in Philadelphia. That’s got to be considered completely unacceptable.
- The Flyers allowed 28 goals in the six games against the Penguins – tying a franchise record for most goals allowed in a playoff series and setting a franchise record for any series fewer than seven games.
- Jake Guentzel scored four goals in the series clincher against the Flyers, becoming the first player since Mario Lemieux in 1989 to score four goals in a playoff game against the Flyers (Lemieux had five).
- Guentzel and Sidney Crosby each finished the series with six goals and seven assists for 13 points – more than two points per game, as the Flyers had no answer for their line.
- Game 6 was the first time the Flyers lost a playoff game under Dave Hakstol where the team scored more than one goal. in his previous seven losses, the Flyers were shut out four times and scored one goal three times.
- Continuing on the last bullet, in Hakstol’s four career playoff wins, the Flyers have outscored their opponents 13-4. In Hakstol’s eight losses, the Flyers have been outscored 38-8.