Touchdown Turnaround (Week 9)

I want to have an article after each Eagles week and recap some major points from the game. 7 seem to be fitting, as in 7 points for a touchdown. So here we go, first attempt.

1. The hit on Austin Collie

Austin Collie carted off the field against the Eagles. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

I freaked out when they called this an illegal hit, as did my entire Eagles watching crew. Quintin Mikell drilled Collie with his shoulder, and Kurt Coleman came in and finished the tackle, with primarily his shoulder, and some incidental helmet to helmet brushing. Call me biased, but as far as hitting goes, this one looked clean to me. Now don’t group me in with the assholes who were happy that Collie was hurt, I only condone the cheering of Michael Irvin laying lifeless on the Veterans Stadium turf. With all of that said, the NFL is not going to fine Coleman, furthermore proving that in retrospect, the hit was clean. Since the Eagles still won, I’ll take the fact that at least Coleman isn’t being fined. 50K is a lot for an undrafted rookie safety.

The problem I have with all these hits and penalties is that this is a contact sport. Again, I do not condone players being injured, but do you want to put a speed limit out there? How often does anyone get hit by something going 25 miles an hour and not get hurt? It’s physics, and it’s what you’re taught in little league, high school, and forever: the lower man wins. The only way to get lower than the opponent is to get your head down low. If defenders have to stand up straight, Adrian Peterson is going to lower his head and demolish them every time. No man on defense standing straight up can make a tackle on a ball carrier charging at him with his head down. However, the defender charges the same way and he faces a crippling penalty, and an even more crippling fine. Intent, situation, and player history needs to always be taken into account. On this play, it was a penalty because it was incomplete…it was incomplete because Collie got leveled on a sweet hit, which is the point of the hit. Collie definitely made a football move, and although he probably doesn’t remember, he braced himself. Bracing yourself is a football move. Sorry it didn’t work, but that’s not…oh wait, that is Quintin Mikell’s fault. No, that’s actually his job.

2. Dimitri Patterson

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson, center, and safeties Nate Allen, left, and safety Quintin Mikell (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Ellis Hobbs is a bum. I’ve wondered this entire time is this hip injury is serious, or an easier way to sit Hobbs down and let Patterson roam. I know it’s only one game, but this was Peyton Manning, so as far as one game goes, this one was a pretty good test. Patterson spent most of the day against Reggie Wayne. Yeah, Reggie Wayne, the Colts #1 receiver, and an NFL elite receiver. Patterson held Wayne to 7 catches for 52 yards on 10 targets in the first half, and 11 catches for 83 yards and no touchdowns for the game. Manning went to that side of the field, and at Patterson in particular, early and often, and Patterson welcomed the challenge. This seems like the type of player that fits the Eagles mold, and the type of guy who’s up to the challenge and wants to work, which is what Eagles fans always appreciate. I’m sure he’ll have a bad game at some point, but a game like this is enough to offset even the worst of days.

P.S. The 2nd interception by Manning: Asante Samuel went to Quintin Mikell and told him to lineup at cornerback. Samuel played safety, essentially center field, read Manning, and came up with the game ending pick. I LOVE this from Samuel. Just saying.

3. Vick Returns

 

Michael Vick

See my Kolb/Vick article, but to further emphasize, I was a huge supporter of the Kevin Kolb movement, but wrote last week that I thought Vick needed to be the QB for the rest of the season, and that it was the right call. Point proven. Vick outplayed Peyton Manning, the 8th best player in NFL history as stated on the NFL’s Top 100 Players List (Top100.NFL.com). Vick continued his streak of passes without an interception, now at 154 attempts. Vick threw a touchdown, threw for over 200 yards, and ran 10 times for 74 yards. Vick also made more of an attempt to get to the sidelines, but still ran very aggressively. Overall, Manning had a passer rating of 65.7, and Vick had a rating of 93.8. Most importantly though, Vick got the win.

4. Good for Andy


Andy Reid fist pumped his way to his 113th win as a head coach, all with the Eagles. This was his first ever against the Colts and Peyton Manning. This has been a tough year for Reid, a very makeshift offensive line, a rotating door at quarterback, lots of moving parts on defense, and this team is 5-3 at the halfway point. A huge critic of Andy Reid myself, seeing the mess McNabb has become, and Andy having success without him, and with one of the least talented teams overall that I feel he’s had in a while, I have to give Reid a ton of credit, and I think all Eagles fans should. In a wide open NFC, it won’t be easy for the Eagles at 5-3. Not exactly sure how the tie breakers would work, but the Eagles are basically in a 3-way tie for the last wild card spot with Tampa and Chicago. I believe Tampa will fall, and we can help ourselves by beating Chicago November 28th in Chicago, not to say that game is a given. Regardless, I thought coming into this season we would be 8-8 behind Kevin Kolb, and I was accepting of it. While Kolb hasn’t had the chance to develop, the goal should always realistically be to win now, and the Eagles are. I’ll take it.

5. Good for McDermott

Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott

I miss Jim Johnson. God bless him. I think we all do. Sean McDermott learned a lot from Johnson, but it doesn’t seem like he’s shown it that often. I’ve been more of a critic of McDermott than Reid, but again, I was very impressed by McDermott calling this game. How many men, on or off the field, can say they outsmarted Peyton Manning. A defense that is far from elite really had a great game, even with all the penalties, some legit, some not so much. Same goes for McDermott as does for Patterson, it’s only one game, but that one game being this game is pretty impressive. After a breakdown against Kenny Britt and Kerry Collins of the Titans, this defense was embarrassed. To bounce back like this, and against the Colts, is all the more impressive. Hopefully this is a turning point for McDermott and this defense.

6. Time Management
I’m already done feeling good about Andy Reid, back to being a critic. This guy needs to hire someone to manage his timeouts, challenges, etc. I’d try to use Daylight Savings Time as an excuse for Reid being a little off, but he’s never ever been “on” as far as time management goes. The Eagles used their 3rd first half timeout with 7:14 left in the half. Vick had to run the 2 minute drill with 1:58 left, but no timeouts. This inevitably led to the Colts getting a last second field goal and taking a 17-16 lead. From 13:58 left in the 4th quarter on, the Eagles only had 1 timeout. There isn’t much else that can be said, except that this is unacceptable, and how much longer can this go on?

7. Trent Cole punched Peyton Manning in the head


Not really.

Another problem with the NFL. I’m all about protecting players, especially quarterbacks. They’re the show, the star, the leader. Same as managing how much you should have to drink, how much you spend on your Christmas shopping, etc., discretion is the name of the game. If you watched Winston Justice in this game trying to stop Rashean Mathis, he held him on literally every play. When a defensive lineman gets held, his arms immediately flail up, trying to show the referee where the offensive lineman’s hands are, and that he’s performing what is a holding penalty. Trent Cole was being held by Charlie Johnson, an undrafted left tackle for Indianapolis. His arms were up trying to get around it as he rushed towards Manning on a 4th and 18, and again, incidental contact happens, and it’s 15 yards and a first down instead of a turnover on downs, Eagles ball, game essentially over. I don’t think quarterbacks should be hit in the head, and any intentional hit, punch, slap, etc. should be penalized, but I don’t even think Cole moved his hand at Manning as much as his arms were up from being held, and he was just as much rushing at Manning as Johnson was driving him into Manning as well. Again, we won, so I’m not nearly as angry as if it cost them the game, but this could’ve been devastating. Adding to the impressiveness of this game for the Eagles was overcoming some very poor officiating.

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The 3 Headed Monster

Continuing on my comparison of some key Philadelphia sports positions comparisons, today I’m going to go over the 3 headed monster that is the Flyers goaltending situation.

With Michael Leighton recovering from his back injury, the Flyers came into the season with Brian Boucher and NHL rookie Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky (further referred to as Bob) was not projected to even be a member of the Flyers roster for the 2010-2011 season. An NHL rookie, Bob played 2 seasons in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). While his team finished at the bottom of the league both of his years there, his numbers were at the top of the league. Expected to battle for a spot on the AHL Phantoms, Bob is stealing the spotlight so far in the net for the Flyers.

Bob

Sergei Bobrovsky

Eligible to be drafted at 18, those familiar with bringing players over from Russia know the trouble it can be, with players often being drafted, and not wanting to log time in the AHL or sit behind starters, they often opt to head to the KHL, instead of playing for their NHL club or AHL affilliate, due to the lack of a transfer agreement between the NHL and Russia.

With that, bringing any player over from Russia can be a risk, but Bob is proving to be worth the risk for the Flyers. Outplaying Boucher to say the least, Bob is 6-2 so far as the starter for the Flyers. Flyers fans should know better than anyone that goalies can be streaky, and Bob is unlikely to keep this pace up, but I believe he’s already proven he at least deserves to deal with his ups and downs on the NHL level.

Boosh

Brian Boucher

Brian Boucher, who already looks like he’s become the backup, and would be my candidate to move to the AHL once Leighton returns, assuming Leighton can get back on track. At 33, he is not the present or the future for the Flyers. A 1st round pick of Philadelphia in 1995, “Boosh” has never been a solid starter for any franchise. Boosh has never started more than 45 games in a season (Coyotes 02-03). He has a losing record for his career (102-123), a 2.71 GAA (Goals Allowed Average) and .900 save percentage. This is the final year of Boosh’s contract with the Flyers and I don’t see him returning.

Leighton

Michael Leighton

Then there is Michael Leighton. Leighton is a journeyman, but really played his heart out once he came to Philadelphia in the middle of last season. So much that the Flyers offered him a 2 year, 3.1 million dollar extension. Leighton was the projected starter for this season, and when he’s on, he can be a stud. Leighton however has a tendency to let in very weak goals, many of which we saw last year in the Stanley Cup Finals. At 29, and with very few starts under his belt (34-40 NHL career record), Leighton can take over if Bob is shaky, make spot starts, or even be the starter if need be. However, with how Bob has come out of the gate, if he can maintain a pace that keeps the Flyers in the heat of the Eastern Conference, I think we can all be happy riding behind what we hope becomes the next in line of the incredibly rare “Flyers franchise goalie”.

In Bob We Trust.

(I know my records left out ties, overtime losses, and shootouts, but it just looked messy. But if you care to know:
Leighton: 34 wins, 40 losses, 10 ties, 4 overtime losses
Boucher: 102 wins, 123 losses, 30 ties, 11 overtime losses
Bobrovsky: 6 wins, 2 losses)

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Kolb VS Vick

As all Eagles fans know, Michael Vick is going to be the starting QB for the Eagles this sunday, when Peyton Manning and Indianapolis come into Philly. The Eagles, at 4-3, are still contenders in the NFC, at least for now.
The Flyers lead the Atlantic Division with 15 points, 1 point behind the NHL leader Los Angeles. What looked to be a rotating door at goalie between Sergei Bobrovsky, Brian Boucher, and eventually Michael Leighton. After a Stanley Cup Finals run last year, this team still came in looking for answers. It’s still early, but many are surprised even by the success this early. I for one, am not. :p.

The Sixers are 0-4.

If you were waiting for the punchline, that was it.

It’s a pretty interesting, exciting, and yet, as usual, frustrating time in Philadelphia sports. I’m gonna break down some interesting match-ups occurring in Philly right now, and call ’em how i see ’em. This will be a multi-part column, where for the rest of the week I will break down some player comparisons regarding Philly sports.

Part 1:

Kevin Kolb

Kevin Kolb

Kolb VS Vick

The future, the guy who was putting chills down McNabb’s spine for 4 years, the franchise quarterback, Kevin Kolb. The only QB to throw for over 300 yards in his first two games (last year against New Orleans and Kansas City). Week 1, his first full season as the official starter, and Clay Matthews delivers Kolb’s head on a silver platter to the ground. Concussion.

Insert Michael Vick. Former Pro Bowler, NFC Championship Game participant, stud mobile QB. Holds NFL records for most rushing yards in a game by a QB (173), 100-yd rushing games (7), and most rushing yards in a single season (1039). Vick hasn’t thrown an interception as an Eagle, against 6 touchdown passes. Almost pulled out the win Week 1, won 2 in a row, and suffered a rib injury against Donovan McNabb and Washington.

Neither of these men have great resume’s to sit here and really break down numbers, especially Kolb. I know Vick has plenty of playing time, but I would still consider him a different player than with Atlanta, plus is on a much different offense. With that said, and as someone who came into this season with a tremendous (and maybe even absurd) amount of faith in Kevin Kolb, I believe Vick is the guy you go with right now.

Michael Vick

Michael Vick

Any Eagles fan, no matter how passive or aggressive, knows this offensive line is, for lack of a better term, a mess. LeSean McCoy has been the most welcome surprise this season. He really looks like while he won’t be an “elite” back, he can be the main RB on this team, especially in an offense like this, with no problem. Vick gives a huge advantage to any running back, especially a “slasher” like McCoy. The speed Vick has, you have to respect him on every play. Any time Vick hands the ball off, a few steps the opposite way on his part will always attract defenders. Eyes are always on him, which leaves eyes off of LeSean McCoy, where many times they will belong.

If you go by who started each game, Vick is 2-1, Kolb is 2-2. Vick’s only loss was against the Redskins here in Philly, a game the Eagles could’ve still won when Kolb entered, or could’ve won had Vick not gone down. Kolb’s losses are the opener against Green Bay, which Vick still had a chance to win, and Tennessee, where Kolb and the offense did the job early, but the defense completely blew that game.

I am still a Kolb fan, I am not on board with signing Vick after this year unless it is a contract suitable for a backup QB. Vick is injury prone, all mobile QB’s are. My confidence in Vick has a lot to do with knowing Kolb is behind him, and how comfortable I am with him coming in to replace Vick if needed. Kolb is the type of QB Andy Reid wants for this offense, and he has a longer future and more upside than Vick.

I am an Eagles fan though, and obviously I want to win now, and as far as this season goes, Vick is the guy.

Check back tomorrow for my take on the Flyers goalie situation.

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Charlie Is The MANager

(If you remember the title of this post from my first article, than thank you. It got so much positive feedback that it just seemed fitting to use it in this context as well!)

Charlie Manuel choking out Pat Burrell

Charlie Manuel choking out Pat Burrell

Do I believe Charlie Manuel is a genius? No
Do I think I could have an intelligent conversation with him? Who could?
*Insert question I use to insult the general intelligence of Charlie Manuel here*

With that said…

Do I think Charlie Manuel is more suited to be the manager of this Phillies franchise than anyone who speculates about his managerial decisions? You bet your ass I do.

I wanted to make it a point to write this article before the Phillies play Game 6 of the NLCS here in Philadelphia on Saturday night. No matter what happens, Charlie Manuel already is, and should continue to be, a hero in this town. Does that buy him a pass for every mistake that he makes? No. Should Rollins have bunted Werth over in the 8th inning of Game 5? Probably. Are you sick of me asking and then answering my own questions? I’m not sure yet.

I believe Rollins should have bunted Werth over, but that’s easy to say in retrospect (even though me and thousands of fans were screaming it at our televisions at the time i’m sure). Is it a proven fact that if he did, Werth scores? No. Werth doesn’t score on a bunt, he does score on a ball pulled to right that lands or splits 1st and 2nd. Charlie had faith in Rollins to do that, which gets him in trouble sometimes, but can pay off just as often. I also don’t think Oswalt should’ve been used, but I know that Charlie and Dubee weighed the options, and Oswalt seemed like the best choice.

There aren’t many foolproof strategies in baseball. Charlie Manuel is a guy who loves to play matchups in regards to lefty VS righty and vice versa. Just because it seems strategic, and probability says the strategy should work, it doesn’t always work. That’s why they play the game. That’s why we watch the game. That’s why Charlie manages the game.

These numbers probably won’t shock you, but maybe it can be a reality check to how good we’ve had it the past 6 years with Charlie as the manager. It’s hard to look at the big picture when we’re caught up in the moment.

Under Charlie Manuel:
Phillies Regular Season Record: 544-428 (.560)
Phillies Postseason Record: 25-15 (.625)
4 straight NL East Division Winners (2nd place his first 2 years)
2 straight (and still alive this year) NL Pennants
2 World Series Appearances (and still alive this year)
1 World Series Win (and still alive this year)
2 All-Star Games Managed
1 All-Star Game Win (1st for NL since 1996)
Total wins have increased every year the past 4 years.

Now as someone who has criticized Andy Reid for years now, I take the same things into consideration when I get upset with him. However, Charlie Manuel loves baseball, loves this team, and loves this city. I love his personality and feel he is the perfect fit for this city. As a Philadelphia fan, championships mean everything, and not only has Charlie gotten us one, he keeps fighting for more. I don’t see many of those qualities in Andy Reid, as he seems to love nothing more than a “wiz-wit”.

Just a warm-up for Andy Reid Just a warm-up for Andy ReidAndy Reid Andy Reid getting “hands-on”

Andy Reid is for another day though, as what I want Phillies fans to understand is: Win or lose, we are fans of a franchise that already has over 10,000 losses. We should never be too “up in arms” over any single loss, as we know all to well what it feels like to lose. Instead, we need to bask in the glow that is this potential dynasty we’ve been given the opportunity to watch dominate.

As fans who are so used to losing, we need to enjoy all the wins we can get. We have a chance to get two more, and then four more. If we get those, you can make sure to thank Charlie Manuel. And if we don’t, you should thank him anyway. Not only for the past and the present, but for the future, which is still bright even if this year isn’t our year.

 

So I just wanna say, before the outcome of Game 6, and this postseason as a whole:

“Thanks Charlie”

Charlie Manuel with the World Series Trophy

Charlie Manuel with the World Series Trophy

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UFC 121 – Lesnar VS Velasquez

Dan Morgan with UFC Expert/Insider Paul Hartey

Heavyweight Division

Gabriel Gonzaga
Gabriel Gonzaga
Brendan Schaub
Brendan Schaub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gabriel Gonzaga (7-4 UFC) VS Brendan Schaub (2-1 UFC)

Even though Gonzaga has been on a losing streak, it’s been against top UFC fighters. His last two fights have been losses to Junior Dos Santos (next in line for Lesnar/Velasquez) and Shane Carwin. Still, even losing to credible opponents, a losing streak can be a tough mental hurdle to overcome.

Both Gonzaga and Schaub are very good strikers, but Gonzaga has the advantage in wrestling and jiu-jitsu. This fight may be looked at as an upset either way, but we feel Schaub is slightly favored. That being said, we like Gonzaga as a slight upset, thinking his history and experience with top UFC fighters, plus being more well-rounded in the octagon will lead to a victory.

 

Welterweight Division

Diego Sanchez
Diego Sanchez
Paulo Thiago
Paulo Thiago

 

 

 

Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez (10-4 UFC) VS Paulo Thiago (3-2 UFC)

 

 

 

Same as Gonzaga, Sanchez comes in on a bit of a losing streak, and again, we like that streak to end Saturday night. However, this one is not considered an upset. Sanchez’s past two fights were losses, first to BJ Penn in the lightweight division for the title, where Penn performed well above the level he showed in his past two fights with Frankie Edgar, and then he lost his first fight back in the 170 class, which can be to blame to some extent, but an early knee to the head that Sanchez never fully recovered from (yet still went the entire distance in the match) didnt help his cause either.

Thiago is also coming off a loss, a KO by the man waiting for George St. Pierre/Josh Koscheck, Martin Kampmann. Thiago’s only clear cut advantage is in submissions, and at the same time, Sanchez has never lost by submission. Sanchez’s advantages in striking, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu make him the favorite to us, and our pick.

 

Light-Heavyweight Division

Matt Hamill
Matt Hamill
Tito Ortiz
Tito Ortiz

 

 

 

Matt “The Hammer” Hamill (8-2 UFC) VS Tito Ortiz (14-7-1 UFC)

 

 

Ortiz is the favorite, and that’s who we’re going with. Both guys feature wrestling and striking. Ortiz is a former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion, holding it for over 3 years, a main eventer, and has faced the best in the world. He has the advantage in striking, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu. Ortiz has the power to end this early, and that very well may happen.

Hamill however, is the modern day definition of the underdog. Obviously you need determination, strength, and heart to make it to and at this level, but that shows how much of all of it Hamill has, since even amongst all his UFC counterparts he is ranked at the top of the list in these “intangible” qualities.

A guy like Hamill can frustrate any opponent, and if he can frustrate Ortiz early, this could get interesting. But unlike some matchups where the length of the match can switch the advantage, even if Hamill can make it the distance, Ortiz should win.

Interesting note: Hamill is on a 4 match win streak, which he has done one other time in his career, which he then lost his next bout (to Michael Bisping in a split decision, UFC 75)

 

Welterweight Division

Jake Shields
Jake Shields
Martin Kampmann
Martin Kampmann

 

 

 

Jake Shields (0-0 UFC) vs Martin “The Hitman” Kampmann (8-2 UFC)

#1 contenders match

 

 

Another upset on the way, as we’re taking Kampmann. This is Shields’ first UFC fight, and while he has plenty of MMA experience (a former middle-weight champion in Strikeforce), including a win over former UFC and MMA legend Dan Henderson in Shields’ final Strikeforce appearance. It seems like fighters haven’t had great results in debut UFC appearances. Combine that with the fact that he’s moving down a weight class, and this could prove to be a difficult task.

Shields is favored based on his previous MMA experience, but translating that to the top tier UFC is difficult, especially adding in the switch on weight class.

Kampmann has been in UFC since mid 1996, has already made the move from middleweight to welterweight (at UFC 93, January 2009), and since then has faced top welterweight contenders. He holds wins over Paulo Thiago and former WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit.

While we think they are even as strikers, Shields holds the wrestling advantage while Kampmann holds the advantage in jiu-jitsu. Kampmann however, has proven though that he finds ways to land hits and win fights even against reputable strikers. Going with the punchers chance and Kampmann for the win, and a shot at GSP (early prediction of course).

 

UFC Heavyweight Championship

Cain Velasquez
Cain Velasquez
Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cain Velasquez  (6-0 UFC) VS Brock Lesnar – (C) (4-1 UFC)

If there’s anyone at this moment who can match up and possibly even end the impressive run Lesnar has been on, it’s Velasquez. 8-0, (6 of 8 in UFC. His last 3 wins have been devastating to say the least. Defeating Cheick Congo by unanimous decision, Ben Rothwell by TKO (punches), and Antônio Nogueira by KO (punches). Velasquez is the only fighter to KO a fully healthy Nogueira.

(Frank Mir also did, but Nogueira went into the match sick from a staph infection and hospitalization 2-3 weeks before the match, and a bad knee. He verified this months later, still giving much praise to Mir)

A vicious striker and a prestigious wrestler (two-time All-American), Cain is very versatile. Speed, technique, striking, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu all go to Cain, but as always, size and strength will go to Lesnar. Cain is a well oiled machine and whether it be by lucky blow or the scoring table, Cain can steal this fight, and the title.

With all that said, this is Brock Lesnar. If we take the several categories we basically just split between these two, it looks 5-2 Velasquez. This will almost always be the case for Lesnar. However, the incredible amount of size and strength he has will always make him a factor, not to mention he can get on a real mean streak. He will always be doubted, and there will always be reasons he can or should lose. With every match this happens, he will only become stronger. So far he had given no reason to believe he can be beaten, and until then, I won’t believe he can be.

Is this match a huge test? Yes
Is this arguably the biggest challenge Lesnar has/will face(d)? Yes
Can Cain win? Yes (and he is Paul’s pick)
Will Cain win? No

My pick: Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar WWE
Brock Lesnar WWE

The reigning WWE…i mean…UFC Heavyweight Champion

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Matt Cain’s Pitching Trends and AT&T Park Seem Promising For Phils

Admittingly, being caught up in the hype that has become the NL East division race every year, and this overwhelming subconscious desire to hate the Yankees and the Red Sox, I’ve lost my true Philadelphian way. I forgot that I, just like anyone else, am a person, and I should not discriminate against another person. If I’m going to hate opposing teams, I should hate ALL opposing teams. I know the Mets, Braves, Yankees, and all our most notable enemies, like the back of my hand. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

With that said, I admit that my knowledge on teams like the Giants and Rangers is not nearly as in-depth as other rivals, and while that may seem justified, I am NOT okay with it. I have a standard to maintain as that type of fan opposing teams fear having within an audible distance at the Linc, the Well, or CBP. So I’ve been doing some homework on the Giants. What I’ve learned so far makes me not worry about going 1-2 at AT&T Park earlier this season. As a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to going back there today.

In an era where franchises need a new and innovative stadium to maintain attendance, I’ve taken note to plenty of them. Citizen’s Bank Park here in Philly, Nationals Park in D.C., Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium in New York. I’ve even visited all of them except new Yankee Stadium. My attention when AT&T park was built, along with many other people’s I’m sure, was on Barry Bonds. So I’m familiar with McCovey Cove, the enormous Coke bottle and 4-fingered baseball glove that MLB The Show 2010 introduced me to, and the ZERO NL pennants won there without Barry Bonds.

AT&T park

The Coke bottle and 4-fingered glove in AT&T Park.

With that said, here’s the dimensions of AT&T Park:

Left field line – 339 feet (103 m)
Left field – 364 feet (111 m)
Left-center field – 404 feet (123 m)
Center field – 399 feet (122 m)
Right-center field – 421 feet (128 m)
Right field – 365 feet (111 m)
Right field line – 309 feet (94 m)

Here’s where it gets good. That infamous right field may boast a 24ft. wall, but it is also called “Triples Alley”. Speedy players such as Ichiro have actually had inside-the-park home runs in that corner, and we are a lineup with plenty of speed. We are also a lineup that loves to pull the ball, and left-handers pulling the ball will place it in right field. Tonight with Matt Cain pitching for San Francisco, the Phillies will feature 6 left-handed batters: Victorino (S) Utley (L) Howard (L) Rollins (S) Ibanez (L) Hamels (L).

More on Matt Cain: his change-up can be pretty devastating to lefties, as it runs away at the end, and this is a team that can struggle with off-speed pitches. However, Cain is a fastball pitcher, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The Phillies LOVE the fastball, and tonight they should see enough of them to put a dent in the scoreboard (located in center field, while we’re still learning about AT&T park 🙂 ]

Fastball Table

Matt Cain's Fastball Usage for the 2010 Season (Fangraphs.com)

The Phillies, a team throwing out 6 left-handed batters tonight, are also a team that can get themselves into plenty of 0-2 counts, and Cain 63% of the time will still go fastball there to lefties. Ryan Howard, I hope you read this. No sliders away today buddy.

Some people suggested to me today to just right a prediction piece, what I think will happen today. I’m a Phillies fan, I’m biased. While I do consider myself a realist, I didn’t want to just obviously write: “PHILLIES WILL WIN 7-0 TODAY!”

However, i’ll even admit, while I did wake up today thinking we’d win today, in writing and researching for this article, my confidence grew in leaps and bounds.

So with that said, “PHILLIES WILL WIN 7-0 TODAY!”

Or something like that.

Go Phils!

phils

Go Phils!

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No One Thought We Would Be 4-2

Jeremy Maclin makes a catch in the end zone for a TD.

Jeremy Maclin makes a catch in the end zone for a TD.

I remember listening to WIP and 97.5 The Fanatic before the Eagles regular season began, and all the hosts and callers who would run down the schedule, predicting wins and losses for each game. Pretty much everyone knew this was going to be an unpredictable season, yet I never heard so much predicting of our season. Everyone ranged from as poor as 5-11 to 12-4. It’s safe to say no one calling in would dare predict us going 4-12 or worse (only a cowboys fan would dare do that).

So for the most part what I remember being the general consensus to this point in the season…

Week 1: Green Bay – Loss
Week 2: @Detroit – Win
Week 3: @Jacksonville – Split (Jacksonville always being decent at home accounted for a few votes for “Loss”, but it being Jacksonville accounted for just as many “Wins”)
Week 4: Washington – Win (Everyone assuming we’d split, so giving each team the win at home)
Week 5: @San Fransisco – Loss (Out west, on the road, Sunday Night Football)
Week 6: Atlanta – Split (I feel like it leaned slightly toward “Loss” due to their running attack, but it is a home game)

So it’s fair to say there was fluctuation for somewhere between 2-4 and 4-2, so we’ll say 3-3 at best. So 4-2 doesn’t seem that unbelievable right? Wrong, and here’s why.

This was supposed to be the year of King Kolb! Save us from Donovan’s smile that makes the top of my head blow off from steam release like a Looney Tunes’ cartoon, passes that were intended for Mother Earth, and always hit the mark. Save us from the man who didn’t know the overtime rules of a game he gets paid millions of dollars to play, who’s Super Bowl puking offends me far more than the infamous “Pukemon” Phillies fan of 2010.

Then Clay Matthews came from behind in the second quarter of the first game and literally and figuratively [bleeped] our chances, and our franchise QB, in the [bleep].

Kevin Kolb is sacked by Clay Matthews

Now Kolb wasn’t lighting it up before that moment anyway, arguably he didn’t have much of a chance. Either way you looked at it, it wasn’t good. All our nice, new, ready to be worn for the next 11 years (This is assuming Andy Reid owns the Eagles soul and can’t be fired, and wants another 11 year marriage to his QB) Kolb Jerseys already seemed as worthless as

TO

Terrell Owens

those #81 Eagles jerseys we bought back in 2004.

In stepped Michael Vick, and that insane, risky, image crushing acquisition in the summer of 2009 became an absolute miracle. He almost brought us back down 13-3 at the half and 27-10 at the end of the third quarter, then won two games in a row (albeit two games we should’ve won, and two defenses that can’t stop the practice squad) until a rib injury against Washington. Kolb came in and again, the replacement of the starter was in a position to win the game in the 4th quarter.

This leads me to what I find to be truly incredible up to this point: The Eagles are 4-0 when the QB who starts the game finishes the game. Their two losses are by a combined deficit of 12 points (less than a touchdown per loss) showing they’ve been in every game.

Factor in a young, identity lacking, first full year coordinator run defense, Leonard Weaver gone for the season, a makeshift offensive line

The Blind Side

King Dunlap stars in "The Blind Side"

that now features King Dunlap on the blind side, and Asante Samuel’s poor excuse for tackling, and there’s no way anyone would think we’d be 4-2.

But here we are.

Thanks Andy Reid?

You bet your [bleep]

(all images are courtesy of the NFL, The Associated Press, and Warner Brothers)

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