Archive for the ‘Philadelphia’ Category

Draft Day

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Philadelphia

Fantasy-Football-Draft-Party

As August becomes September, many people are starting, or reactivating, their fantasy football leagues.

That brings me to the most important part of Fantasy Football: Draft Day.

Even though many drafts are held online, there are still a ton of leagues that will have a draft party complete with food, beer and plenty of trash talk to go around. Personally, the draft is one of my favorite parts of fantasy. The lengths that some people go to be present for their fantasy draft is unbelievable (literally and figuratively).

I recently read ESPN Fantasy Analyst Matthew Berry’s new book “Fantasy Life”, and I was blown away by the lengths people go. Whether it is drafting from your hospital bed or from your tow truck while you are at work repossessing a car. Yeah, the draft is that important in most leagues.

However, there are some things that drive me nuts on draft day. For example, there is a timer for a reason. You have 90 seconds (sometimes more sometimes less depending on the league) to make a decision on who you want to draft. I can’t stand when the clock runs all the way down to 0; it’s like a drawn out auto pick. It is important, and more fun, when you actually strategize and build your team like an NFL general manager.

Auto Draft Sucks

But, my least favorite part of drafting by far is auto draft. Just to be clear: I HATE AUTO DRAFT!!!! I hate it with a passion. There is nothing worse than when your league is holding the draft and there are multiple teams who are auto drafting.

The next thing you know, there is a gauntlet of auto picks that you are hoping that the player you want makes it through. Auto drafting just plain sucks. It takes the fun out of drafting. (Ironically, I had internet troubles and was having trouble getting into the online draft. I wound up auto drafting the first six rounds, though I actually wound up ok).

The bottom line is if you are in a fantasy league, be it football, baseball, basketball, hockey, whatever, it is important to be present for your draft unless you have a valid, legitimate, reason.. That is why I schedule the draft for the football league that I am commissioner of on a day when as many people in the league are available.

If you are in a fantasy sports league, enjoy it. Draft your team, talk trash, have fun. Even if you aren’t really sure what you are doing, you can learn easily throughout the season (Hell, my dad won our family football league the first year he ever played fantasy and made it to the championship game the following year).

Fantasy sports have become a pastime over the years and is something that millions of people look forward to each year, whether it is to defend their title or to redeem themselves after a disappointing season. Either way, it all starts on draft day.

Rivalry vs. Reality

Posted: June 19, 2013 in Philadelphia

A few days ago, three radio hosts from Atlanta sports radio station 790 “The Zone” were suspended then subsequently fired after the station aired a fake phone call with someone being former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason.

Now, the Atlanta Falcons’ biggest rival in the NFL is the New Orleans Saints. Having lived in Atlanta for a year and a half I can vouch for that, although Atlanta is more of a college football and baseball city (but that is beside the point). The point is, Falcons fans HATE the Saints and they will be the first ones to tell you that.

That being said, there is more to the aforementioned radio skit mocking former Saint Steve Gleason that cost three radio hosts their jobs. Steve Gleason was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, back in 2011 and continues to battle the disease to this day. Anyone who knows anything about ALS knows that there is nothing funny about it. The disease is debilitating and almost always fatal (and it’s not a quick death). Make no mistake about it, there is NOTHING funny about ALS, and the toll it takes on its victims is very, very serious.

This is where us fans need to be aware of the line that separates a rivalry from reality. Unfortunately, the three radio hosts (and the heads of that station for that matter) crossed that line.

This incident was not the only time that the line was crossed.

The rivalry between the University of Alabama and Auburn University is quite possibly the most fierce rivalries in the country, and it is the most fierce during college football season. After Auburn came back to beat Alabama 28-27 in the 2010 Iron Bowl (the name given to their annual matchup), A caller named “Al” from Dadeville, Alabama called in to sports radio host Paul Feinbaum’s radio show and claimed that he poisoned the famous oak trees that fans roll with toilet paper after big wins at Toomer’s Corner on Auburn’s campus.

Harvey Updyke Jr., a retired Texas state trooper, was taken into custody on February 17, 2011 and charged with one count of criminal mischief, a class C felony in Alabama. On March 22, 2013, he received a 3 year split sentence, which includes 6 months incarceration and jail credit for time already served. Upon release, Updyke is sentenced to 5 years supervised probation with a 7 pm curfew.

Harvey Updyke Jr., a retired Texas state trooper, was taken into custody on February 17, 2011 and charged with one count of criminal mischief, a class C felony in Alabama. On March 22, 2013, he received a 3 year split sentence, which includes 6 months incarceration and jail credit for time already served. Upon release, Updyke is sentenced to 5 years supervised probation with a 7 pm curfew.

After an investigation, there were large amounts of Spike 80 DF in the roots of the oak trees. “Al”, who was actually a rabid Alabama Crimson Tide fan named Harvey Updyke Jr., had in fact poisoned the over 200 year-old trees (which were recently removed).

This is yet another example of when fans cross the lines of a rivalry and venture into reality. Don’t get me wrong, I love a fierce sports rivalry. Rivalries make sports great, not to mention they make for some unforgettable games. However there is a certain point where it is no longer about sports or your team’s rival(s), it is about real life and real life situations.

It doesn’t matter how much you hate a team or the players on that team. Off of the field/court/ice, things are different. When news spread of the failed skit by the Atlanta radio station, everyone was outraged. When the trees were poisoned, Crimson Tide fans were just as disgusted with Updyke as Auburn Tigers fans were.

When you watch your team play, by all means cheer, boo, be a fan and enjoy the game. There is nothing wrong with hating your rivals, it’s part of what makes a great rivalry.

Just don’t cross the line into real-life. You will regret it, just like those three unemployed radio hosts in Atlanta.

Sports Come Second

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Philadelphia

In the nearly 23 years that I have been on this planet I have learned many things. One of them is that there are things that happen that you really…well you really just can’t explain.

What took place this afternoon was one of those things.

Patriots’ Day is a widely celebrated holiday in Boston. It is as big a part of Boston as the Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins. One Patriots’ Day staple is the annual Boston Marathon.

As runners crossed the finish line of the 117th installment of the Boston Marathon, two consecutive explosions rocked the celebration, killing 3 people (as of now) and injuring more that 130 others. But enough about the number of killed and wounded, the media has already glorified that.

Now people are left with many questions: Who did this? Why did they do this? How did they do this? Now it is only a matter of time before we know who did this, and how they did it for that matter, but the question of “why?” may never be answered. The thing is there really is no explanation for why, and frankly there may never be one.

One thing is for sure, the joy and celebration of one of Boston’s oldest and most storied traditions quickly turned into what one of the hospital officials described as a war zone.

Obviously things like this should not happen, especially not on a day like today, which was not only Patriots’ Day in Boston, but Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball commemorating Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. The Boston Marathon is such an important event in the United States and it means so much to so many people. (On a personal note, my dad ran the Boston Marathon back in 1988, before I was born,  and has told me about it multiple times. He did not come in first, but he did accomplish his goal of finishing the race).

These kind of events really put things into perspective. They make you take a step back and ask yourself “is it really worth getting so angry or fighting with someone over a game?”. When something like this happens and lives are lost, no matter how many, it is a reminder that no matter what happens in the game, things could be worse for you than watching your team underperform.

It is times like these that also remind us that sports are more than just games that people are paid, sometimes too much, to play. Sports are a way of coming together and embracing each other. Sports are a release for some from what is going on around them. That is what makes sports great.

Even as an avid Philly fan, I’ll admit Boston is one tough city. They aren’t going down this easily, they can, and will, recover.

What Makes Philadelphia Fans Great.

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Philadelphia

Recently at an autograph session, Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, when replying to a fan asking about his poor performance, was quoted as saying to the fan “you care too much”. He was also joking about fans in Winnepeg chanting his name (a common practice of fans in an attempt to get inside the opposing goaltender’s head) during last night’s Flyers game against the Jets.. “It was nice to hear cheering ‘Ilya, Ilya. I never heard that before anywhere. When 15,000 people support you, it’s a great present.” he said”Just like Philly, huh?” he was asked. “No, here there is cheering”, he replied. “In Philly they boo me”

Now, I am not one to jump to conclusions (and an argument can be made about the context in which he said that). I have nothing against Ilya Bryzgalov, I was happy that the Flyers signed him in the offseason, and I understand he was making a joke about Flyers fans booing him when talking about the Winnepeg fans. 

However, there is something that I hope Ilya fully understands about Philadelphia fans (and if he doesn’t the sooner he fully understands it, the better playing in Philadelphia will be for him).

There is a reason he has sometimes been booed by Flyers fans this season. He has not been playing the way that Flyers fans had expected an established all-star goaltender like Bryzgalov to play when the Flyers signed him this off season to a five year $51 million contract.

All of my bias aside, Philadelphia has some of the most passionate fans in the country. And that does not just apply to the Flyers, they love all of their sports teams and expect nothing but the best year in and year out. That is one thing that any athlete playing in Philadelphia loves about playing here, perhaps more than anything else: The Philadelphia fans.

It is those same players that understand that when they are mercifully booed out of the arena/stadium/ballpark, it is because us fans want to see them play the best that they can and win. When that is not happening, us fans are almost always the first ones to let the players know that they need to step up their game. Those players relish and embrace heir time in Philadelphia, and in turn, have some of their best years of their career while playing here.

That is what makes us Philadelphia fans great. We have a passion for sports that is unlike most other cities. We stick with our teams win or lose. When the Flyers/Eagles/Phillies/76ers win, we sell out game after game and embrace and enjoy it. When they are losing, we still sell out game after game and support our teams, while letting them know loud and clear that whatever they are doing now is not good enough and they need to play better.

It has been said that the boos in Philadelphia are some of the loudest in all of sports. (Those boos are usually directed at opposing players, especially players on a rival team). It is not uncommon for those infamously loud boos to be directed at our own players. That is our way of letting our teams know that they need to play better.

Once players fully understand the method to our madness, they enjoy playing here more and more each game. And frankly, there is not a thing I would change about Philadelphia fans, and their sports (except, of course, the lack of championships).

There have been many players who have spent a good portion of their career in Philadelphia.

Most of them make you say “If only they won a championship for the (Flyers/Phillies/Sixers/Eagles).”

I have compiled a top 10 list for each of Philadelphia’s four major sports teams of players who (while in Philadelphia) basically did everything except take that championship parade down Broad Street. Over the next four days the lists will be revealed.

What a Forgettable Weekend

Posted: October 25, 2010 in Philadelphia

What a forgettable weekend this was for Philadelphia sports.

The weekend started out ok. The New York Yankees were eliminated by the Texas Rangers in Game 6 the American League Championship Series on Friday night, which meant that Game 6 of the National League Championship Series between the Phillies and the San Francisco Giants would be in prime time at 7:57 pm on Saturday night, the slot that was reserved for the ALCS had the Yankees forced a Game 7.

Saturday started out fine. Temple and Penn State both won their respective football games. Saturday night was a busy night down at the Sports Complex. at 7 pm, The Flyers faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center. 57 minutes later, Game 6 of the NLCS began across the street at Citizens Bank Park. The Flyers played well and went on to beat the Maple Leafs by a score of 5-2, and the Phillies jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Giants.

Then after the first inning, the Phillies bats went cold. Unfortunately, that was not something new for the Phillies. Despite putting up 6 runs in Game 2 and 4 runs in Game 5, the Phillies bats were relatively quiet throughout the series. The Phillies basically hit themselves out of any and every chance they had at scoring runs. Then in the 8th inning, San Francisco’s Juan Uribe hit a go ahead solo home run off of Ryan Madson that just barely cleared the right field fence.

To the surprise of many people, Giants ace Tim Lincecum made only his second relief appearance of his career in the bottom of the 8th. After allowing two hits, Lincecum was pulled for closer Brian Wilson. Wilson was able to get Carlos Ruiz to line out into a double play, ending the 8th and squandering yet another great chance to score some runs.

In the 9th Placido Polanco and Chase Utley were able to get on base, and, with two outs, Ryan Howard, who had a horrendous post season at the plate, stepped up to bat. with the count full Howard struck out looking, ending the Phillies season and sending the Giants to the World Series.

After spending Saturday night and some of Sunday morning  discussing and debating “The Called Strike Heard ‘Round Philadelphia”, Sunday afternoon arrived which, of course means only one thing this time of year: Football. The Philadelphia Eagles had a 1:00 game against the Tennessee Titans. The hope for this game was that the Eagles would win and help us take our minds off of that bitter NLCS loss, at least for a few hours. Well, the Eagles did help us take our minds off of the Phillies, but it was for all the wrong reasons.

About 5 minutes into the third quarter, the Eagles were marching right on down the field. They were on the 3 yard line leading 19-7, and were poised to make it a 3 possession game. Then a botched hand off between QB Kevin Kolb and RB LeSean McCoy resulted in a fumble that was recovered by the Titans. This play, coupled with the Eagles inability to cover Titans WR Kenny Britt, spelled doom for the Eagles.

The Titans lit up the Eagles for 27 fourth quarter points, led by Kenny Britt, who finished with an unprecedented 225 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, the most yards a receiver has ever gotten against the Eagles. To make matters worse, the Eagles only points after the fumble came on a David Akers field goal 2 and a half minutes into the fourth quarter. The Titans would go on to beat the Eagles in a 37-19 rout. Fans in Philadelphia could not wait for this weekend to be over.

The Flyers won, so it wasn’t a total wash. Still, this may go down as one of the worst weekends in Philadelphia sports history.

It’s the end of an era here in Philadelphia.

The Flyers have traded long-time left wing Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth-round draft pick in 2011, a move which was done to clear up cap space.

I’m not exactly thrilled about this though. You see, Simon Gagne has been my favorite Flyer ever since I went to my first Flyers game back in 2000 against the Edmonton Oilers. He scored the first goal of the game in the second period while seemingly diving over the outreached stick/arm of Tommy Salo. Ever since then, I have donned the #12 home Flyers sweater while watching the Flyers, whether I am at the game or watching from home.

Unfortunately, Gagne’s career has been hampered by a laundry list of injuries. (No pun intended.) From a groin injury to a concussion a couple of years ago to a foot injury that kept him out of the first half of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Bruins. Also, he was unable to win that Stanley Cup in Philadelphia he rightfully deserves. (not that it was his fault)

As for the trade itself, I understand that cap space was needed,a but I was a bit surprised when I learned what we got in return, defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth round draft pick in the 2011 draft. Honestly, I had never heard of Matt Walker until today. That being said, I can’t really say that we got nothing in return. Although at first glance, this seems like a trade of a goal scorer for penalty minutes, like when the Flyers traded Scottie Upshall to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Dan Carcillo. (Carcillo has improved his game since then.) Truth be told, I am not a huge fan of this trade.

This obviously is not the way any Flyers fan wanted to see the Simon Gagne era end in Philadelphia.

At any rate, it’s been a great 11 years. Thanks for the memories Gags.