Are you itching for football? Don’t worry, your scratching is almost over.
Kudos to the Phillies for getting to this point of the calendar with a competing team. They’ll continue to make a push for the playoffs, but will take a back seat to the big boys. The Sixers’ flop of an off-season will be easier to forget when the sun glistens off the very recognizable green and white helmets your beloved defending champions dawn. The Flyers are irrelevant. An 0-16 team would draw all attention away them.
Face the facts: one of the most exciting times of the year is upon us. Eagles training camp commences this Thursday, and for the first in franchise history, your Birds are coming off a Super Bowl title.
After a wonderfully short off season the Eagles report for training camp. For us the glow of February 4th still lingers but for the players the only focus is preparing for September 6th.
— Merrill Reese (@mreeseeagles) July 24, 2018
Only in Philadelphia will you care about who’s vying for the backup wide receiver, running back or linebacker positions. If your wondering whether it’s odd to be curious about Donnie Jones’ replacement at punter, don’t worry, it’s a legitimate thought. Not to mention, in what other city will free practices at a 60,000 plus seat venue essentially sell out in less than one hour?
Public Practice tickets are no longer available. We are overwhelmed by the passion and support of Eagles fans. Stay tuned for more events in the future!
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) July 18, 2018
Trust me, these practices are mind-numbingly boring, and you, the fan, probably know that. However, that doesn’t stop you from going.
The biggest question mark heading into camp is the status of Carson Wentz. It, quite frankly, is infinitely more important than any other uncertainty, whether it’s the health of the defensive line, lack of depth at linebacker, competition at corner or how the running back core will fare without LeGarrette Blount.
Wentz looked very good during organized team activities and minicamp.
— Dave Uram (@MrUram) June 12, 2018
Carson Wentz doing quarterback drills at Eagles Voluntary OTAs pic.twitter.com/J0rTFQhPW1
— Dave Uram (@MrUram) May 22, 2018
But there is still uncertainty about whether he’ll be ready for the September 6th opener against the Atlanta Falcons at The Linc. The latest video of Wentz was his wedding night, which showed his ACL and LCL are healthy enough to dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
This video of @cj_wentz and his bride Madison’s introduction as husband and wife is EVERYTHING. I mean, #11 and his groomsmen doing THRILLER?! 🙌🏻#WentzUponATime #Eagles
— Jamie Apody (@JamieApody) July 16, 2018
Whether or not he can “moonwalk” around defenders in a live game is yet to be determined. Many insiders have opinions about whether Wentz will be ready for Week 1 or not, but truthfully, no one knows. That will be determined over the next month and change.
Regardless of whether Wentz suits up opening night, it’s important to remember the best move the Eagles made all off-season was the one they didn’t. Nick Foles is a more than competent backup, leaving you no reason to worry about the Birds’ capabilities of starting 1-0.
You can’t ask for a better situation.
Time to ramp up your excitement. The 2018 season is nearing and Philadelphia lives, eats and breaths the sport. Welcome to the next five, six and maybe seven month grind of constant football conversation and coverage.
Dust off your Eagles jersey, break out a new piece of Super Bowl memorabilia, wear it proudly and make sure you say “Go Birds,” to a random stranger walking the streets of your neighborhood.
Welcome back, football.
“Manny” Unhappy Returns after Los Angeles wins the Machado Sweepstakes
The Phillies came up short on landing Manny Machado for the rest of the 2018 season, disappointing many fans hoping to land the biggest fish on the market, court him for two months, make the playoffs and re-sign him to unthinkable amounts of money in the off-season. General manager Matt Klentak said the organization made a “strong run” at Machado, without mentioning him by name. The package the Phils offered the Orioles is unknown, but rumblings imply top prospect Sixto Sanchez wasn’t involved. If that’s the case, Klentak made the right decision to not part ways with a young kid capable of throwing 100 for a potential rental, albeit one of the best players in the sport. The Dodgers were in the World Series last year, are much more experienced than Gabe Kapler’s Phillies and closer to competing for the ultimate crown against either the Red Sox, Yankees or Astros. Not to mention, their “window” is closing. The young Phils are just getting started.
That being said, if Klentak stands pat at the non-waiver deadline without adding offensive and bullpen help, then criticism is more than warranted. This Phillies team is good enough to make the postseason in a very mundane National League, even without the “high price rental” Klentak and company made a run at. But they need more production at the plate and another relief pitcher with the injury to Edubray Ramos, and the fact that Seranthony Dominguez is human. Even if Ramos was healthy and Dominguez was still throwing up zeros, experienced bullpen depth is always a strong quality to possess in September and October.
As far as Machado is concerned beyond this season, the first date is on hold for now. The playoffs are still very much a possibility, and the risk of losing him to free agency after giving up a significant haul was too strong.
Who knows, maybe I’m getting softer in my old age of nearly 30. But there’s an intrigue to see what Sanchez can provide and regardless of how great the sports scene is in this city, money talks to starts looking to land the big time bucks.
The Sixers’ Off-season Need a Laugh Track
At least I know I’m not going soft on the Sixers. Their off-season is a bigger flop than vintage Sidney Crosby. Trying to pry Daryl Money from Houston was embarrassing.
One update to the Sixers' foiled pursuit of Daryl Morey: League sources say Philadelphia indeed sought and received permission to meet with Morey, but the Rockets' GM elected to stay where is, having built the league's consensus top threat to Golden State https://t.co/Pz3CIPx0BN
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 17, 2018
They might as well bring back Sam Hinkie. In addition to that, “Star Hunter” Brett Brown missed out on LeBron James, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and now Nemanja Bjelica. Yes, “Professor Big Shots” chose the Sacramento Kings over Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. On top of that, the team traded spark plug Richaun Holmes to the Suns, soon to be “Sixers West,” for cash, while signing unproven Jonah Bolden. Not to mention, if the three-way trade to acquire Mike Muscala goes through, they’ll be landing a player who last season ripped the team and Embiid for his tendency to talk trash.
"I don't like the #Sixers. They talk a lot of sh*t, especially Embiid." – Mike Muscala
— Jeff McMenamin (@SixersBlog) July 20, 2018
And right now, the topper to this entire mess is the never ending mystery of Markelle Fultz, who could very well be that “star acquisition” if he lives up to his first overall pick status. Meantime, his saga is longer than an unwatchable four-and-a-half-hour baseball game. Well-respected shooting Drew Hanlen told The HoopsHype Podcast via NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com that the lack of informative footage of Fultz’s jumper this off-season is “purposely doing things just to protect him right now,” and he doesn’t “want to add pressure to a player when you don’t have to.”
I hate to break it to Mr. Hanlen, but the pressure is already there. Fultz was the number one overall pick. Jayson Tatum, selected two slots behind him via a trade with the 76ers to conference rival Boston, torched the Sixers in the playoffs. Every second that goes by without seeing legitimate updated footage of Fultz, the pressure rises. It’s why keeping the 20-year-old out of live action summer league play was a mistake.
I wrote it before. I’ll write it again. Sometimes it’s hard to remember this is such a young, promising team fresh off a 52-win season.
Before I forget …
• The Eagles were robbed of an ESPY last week in Los Angeles. When “The Philly Special” initially lost to Arike Ogunbowale’s buzzer-beater to win Notre Dame the National Championship in women’s college basketball, I completely understood. Her accomplishment, remarkable and clutch, was THE shot to win a title. “The Philly Special,” albeit unbelievable in its own regard, came in the first half of the Super Bowl. But then it was brought to my attention that Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beater to win Villanova the National Title in 2016 lost to Aaron Rodger’s last-second Hail Mary in the regular season against the Detroit Lions. I then reminded myself that Nick Foles, unsolicited, suggested the play to Doug Pederson. I also remembered it came on fourth down against a dynasty in the New England Patriots. In addition to that, Foles caught the ball, moments after Tom Brady dropped his. Even though it wasn’t a buzzer-beater, the Eagles won the Super Bowl by one possession. They got robbed! Fortunately, that doesn’t take away the ability to watch the play over and over again for the rest of time. Enjoy!
— NFL (@NFL) February 10, 2018
• What in the world were Milwaukee Brewers fans thinking?
Honest question. Because I don’t know and would love to hear from Milwaukee fans. Y’all empathize more with Josh Hader or Sterling Brown? I’m really curious.pic.twitter.com/oKqooz0aKZ
— Marshall Harris (@mharrisonair) July 22, 2018
During the All-Star Break, very offensive tweets posted by Brewers reliever Josh Hader from several years ago surfaced on the net, forcing the pitcher to apologize and insist he was a young and immature teenager. That certainly doesn’t warrant a standing ovation from the Brewers’ crowd, the same people that booed Manny Machado after he was traded to the Dodgers instead of Milwaukee, something that was totally out of his control.
• While Milwaukee fans showed a complete lack of judgement, Philadelphia faithful continue to prove why they rise to the moment, literally.
Chase Utley gets a standing ovation prior to his first at bat of the series. It’s the second ovation Phillies fans gave him tonight. pic.twitter.com/fvuVvuLop6
— Dave Uram (@MrUram) July 23, 2018
Chase Utley got a nearly one-minute ovation prior to his first at bat against the Phillies Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. This week is potentially Utley’s last time playing at Citizens Bank Park, unless the Dodgers and Phils face each other in the postseason. Not only did Utley get a “Standing O” before stepping up to the plate, he received one in pregame introductions.
— Cindy Webster (@CindyWeb94) July 23, 2018
There are few things cooler in baseball than when an icon appears from the depths of the dugout to greet thunderous applause from an overwhelming amount of admirers. Utley is hands down one of the most popular player in the history of this city, and it’s more than deserved. Phillie fans also gave Manny Machado applause as well, exactly the opposite of Brewers fans. This city knows how to recruit.
• Finally, kudos to this guy for making the catch of the year.
How about this catch, though?!
While holding a baby, this fan gets the one-handed/backhand grab on a home run ball. 😲 pic.twitter.com/WWXQ3YMxvY
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) July 24, 2018
It’s hard enough to catch a well hit baseball at a Major League game. This dude did so with a toddler in his hand. The Phils’ defense isn’t anything to crow about this season. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to get this fan’s phone number just in case.