Thursday, April 26, 2007


What's great about this year's draft is that it feels a bit like a bonus for the Birds. They're not rebuilding. They're not desperate. They're filling in holes. They're carefully selecting players than can make a team that by all accounts should once again win its division that little bit better. It's not about stopping the bleeding, it's about stocking up.

Or at least that's how it feels.

Still, other teams -- some of them quite good -- will undoubtedly make aggressive gains in the draft, and the Eagles can't waste the chance to get ahead.




Being a Pitt man and a fan of local players, I'm holding out hope that Pittsburgh Panther Darrelle Revis will be available when the Eagles take the stage. Revis put together 11 starts as a true freshman in 2004, and got himself named a freshman All-American. In 2005, he took All-Big East honors with 41 total tackles, one tackle for loss, four interceptions, nine pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, and one blocked kick, then went All-Big East again the next year. On the side, he does some serious special teams work in the form of punt returns.

Who else? Michigan's Leon Hall, and -- maybe the most likely pick of all -- Texas's Aaron Ross. I believe any of these dynamic DBacks would have a serious chance of improving the Birds D in big ways.


Picking up Takeo Spikes was a huge step in the right direction, but the Eagles could benefit in a big way from a young stud linebacker ready to develop into a lean green wrecking machine. Sticking with my penchant for guys from close to home, I'm keeping fingers crossed the Birds get a shot at Penn State's Paul Posluszny. This guy has been called the greatest linebacker ever to play at Penn State. I think that's about all I need to say on the subject.

Running Back

I'm not a gambling man, but something tells me there is huge upside to be found in taking a chance on Louisville's Michael Bush. Yes, he broke his leg. Yes, he missed this entire past season. But the talent was more than obvious the year before, and the size! 6'2", 247! Remember when the New York Football Giants tried to sell Tiki and Dayne as Lightning and Thunder, but really it was more like Lightning and A Slow Bag of Gardening Manure? Imagine really having that kind of double threat, with Westbrook and Bush. And imagine not having to watch Donovan risk injury every time the Eagles get inside the 5-yard-line.


Another offensive lineman.

Another mediocre wide receiver.

A player with an outsized sense of his own importance, or behavioral problems that will inspire the NFL to sit him down for a year or two. Which, I guess, is another way of saying, "Any Miami Hurricane."


The Eagles are coming off a good draft, and the potential is there for another. Still, we all know that you never, never know. I for one will be tuning in Saturday.

Monday, April 23, 2007

NYC Council Move Not Rational


New York City Council banned aluminum bats starting next school year in an overwhelming vote today. The group claims that they are trying to reduce risk to players getting injured or dying because young players "have less time to react" to batted balls. According to the article linked above, there is no statistical proof that balls hit with a wooden bat are safer than those hit with an aluminum bat.

This decision is wrong. It is not the government's place to run Little League and NYC high school baseball. All this decision will do is increase the cost to play baseball in New York. Wooden bats cost more to buy and must be replaced much more often.

Any thoughts on this topic?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Hamels K's 15!

Cole Hamels dominated the Cincinnati Reds tonight, leading the Phillies to a much-needed victory. Hamels' performance was so over-powering not even Charlie Manuel could figure out a way to screw things up and lead the beleaguered team to another loss. The Phils even managed to turn a triple play, the first time the Phillies have done so since 1999.

Speaking of things the Phils haven't done in a while, tonight was the first time a Phillies pitcher struck out 15 or more in a game since April 5th, 1998 when Curt Schilling fanned 15 against the Atlanta Braves and defeated Greg Maddux, 2-1. I can't believe it's been that long. Hamels had a performance very similar to Schilling's that night: he threw 115 total pitches, 82 of them strikes. Schilling tossed 128 in that game, 87 of them strikes. Throwing strikes--what a novel idea...still works even nine years later.

By the way, the '98 Phils finished 75-87, third in the NL East.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


The question is not, “Should the Phillies fire Charlie Manuel?” Phillie fans have answered that question and the answer is, uh, yeah.

The question is not, “When should the Phillies fire Charlie Manuel?” Phillie fans have addressed that one, too, and the answer is, uh, now.

The question is, “Who should the Phillies hire to replace Charlie Manuel?”

In figuring out what traits his replacement should possess, it’s important to ask one more question: “What’s the worst thing about Charlie Manuel?” I know, it’s a tough one. It’s kind of like saying, "What was worst day during the Siege of Stalingrad?" Or, “What was your least favorite thing about the Great Depression?” Or, “What’s the most annoying thing about watching an NBA game announced by Bill Walton?” But, considering the team he’s managing, I think I’ve figured out what Manuel is most obviously lacking: the ability to mentally prepare a squad for competition. In more colloquial terms, a little get up and go.

Think of the Eagles.

I know, it’s nice to do that, isn’t it?

Anyway, think of the Eagles. Is Andy Reid a tough guy, like Bill Parcells? Is he a manic football head, like John Gruden? Is he a nutty professor, like Bill Belichick? No, of course he’s none of these things. He’s a likable and level-headed football coach who seems to get along with any football player not named Terrell. And he wins. The point is, the Eagles don’t need a disciplinarian. They don’t need a hothead, and they don’t need an eccentric. Even under the seemingly gentle leadership of a guy like Reid, they’re ready to play. There’s a complex answer to why, I’m sure, but I’ll give you the simple answer: Brian Dawkins. He’s not the only Eagle who knows how to get excited for a game, but there is no player in professional sports who can set a tone more authoritatively than BDawk.

Do the Phillies have a similar player?

I love the way he talked trash before this season, and I love the way he’s playing right now, but unfortunately JRoll is not BDawk. Jimmy Rollins’s words and actions—as good as they are—are simply not heating the team up. For all of his get up and go, the team ain’t getting, and the team ain’t going, and they haven't done so in the early part of any season since Charlie Manuel came to town.

Ryan Howard is a huge talent, one of the biggest in the Major Leagues, but so far in his career he seems a quiet guy who likes to do what he does. Chase Utley has a bright future ahead of him, but at least on the field he doesn’t exhibit much leadership drive. And let’s not even worry about the arms; except for an old warrior named Flash Gordon, that’s an entire pitching staff praying for more days off.

And what happens if you do exhibit actual, impressive leadership qualities while playing for the Phils? You get shipped off to Siberia. I’m sorry, I mean Ottawa. (Phillies caps off to the guys at We Should Be GMs for their recent column on the sad-nay, tragic-status of short-lived city legend Chris Coste:

The Phils need somebody who can walk into that clubhouse and put some fear into these guys when that’s what’s called for, and some confidence into these guys when that’s what’s needed. Vince Lombardi once said, “There are other coaches who know more about X’s and O’s. But I’ve got an edge. I know more about football players than they do.” And what a huge part of any coach’s job that is—to know your players. To know how to motivate them. To know how to help them become the best players they can become.

Charlie Manuel seems like a fine guy to me. If I met him, I’m sure I’d like him. (Hell, who among us hasn't been tempted to challenge Howard Eskin to a brawl?) But after all of the Phillies slow starts, all of the moments of indecision and confusion exhibited on the field (let alone what must go on in the locker room), I have to assume Charlie just doesn’t know his team.

Keep in mind that Manuel was brought in for one reason: to make an experienced veteran named Jim Thome feel comfortable. Well, he’s not dealing with a team of Jim Thomes-or, anymore, even one of them. He's dealing with a dugout full of guys who by and large have not witnessed all that much winning in the bigs-a dugout full of guys who to some serious degree need to be taught how it's done. Some teams need a brilliant skipper, some need a drill sergeant. This team needs a motivator, and that doesn't seem to be Charlie's role.

Manuel’s biggest problem isn’t necessarily that he’s an idiot. Teams coached by idiots have won before, and they will win again. His biggest problem is that he’s the wrong kind of idiot for this team.

Monday, April 16, 2007

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE INEVITABLE: A Quick Look at the Eagles Off-Season Moves

I’m sure that eventually the Phillies will give me a good reason to stop thinking about the Eagles. Until then...

THE GOOD: Linebacker

The acquisition of Takeo Spikes is huge. Big, athletic, and aggressive, Spikes brings a spark that the Eagles defense has been lacking. This is especially true of last year’s Birds D, which (obviously, through no fault of their own) was missing one of its two best players in Jevon Kearse.

But beyond providing a defensive playmaker, this move does two important things. First, it relegates Dhani Jones to a much smaller role. Anything that accomplishes that (trade, free agency, freak hot air balloon accident) is welcome. Second, it reflects an intriguing change of approach. The Eagles have for a few years been a team focused on quarterbacks, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, and defensive backs, leaving often gaping holes at wide receiver, linebacker, and (ignoring one notable exception, who until last year was better utilized as a receiver) running back. A big pick-up like this sends a message that the Eagles have made the linebacker spot a priority, and this will pay benefits all season against the run and the pass.

THE BAD: Wide Receiver

Kevin Curtis appears perfectly capable of being an excellent #2 receiver—which is to say the Eagles, what? Third #2 receiver? Great. Yeah, you can never have enough of those.

Part of the beauty of last season was that the team finished the way it did in spite of devastating losses. And while the crucial figure in the turnaround was no doubt Jeff Garcia, he wouldn’t have had half the impact he had without a serious deep threat, which opened things up not only for the throwing game but also for the much improved running game. And that deep threat came from Donte Stallworth. I’ve already heard from a number of fellow fans that Curtis has as much to offer as Stallworth had to offer when the Birds picked him up. Well, excuse me for getting all realistic on your faces, but I don’t see it.

Stallworth offered better size (6’0", 196 to Curtis’s 5’11", 186), a more impressive best season (70 catches, 945 yards, and 7 touchdowns to Curtis’s 60 catches, 801 yards, and 6 touchdowns), and better career numbers (233 catches, 3516 yards, and 28 touchdowns to Curtis’s 136 catches, 1714 yards, and 12 touchdowns) over a nearly identical number of seasons (6 to Curtis’s 5).

Oh wait, why am I worried? The Eagles also picked up Bethel Johnson. Yet another mediocre receiver. Whew!

I know I’m strengthening the stereotype of cynical Birds fans, but I have to call it like I see it: This is a definite and disappointing downgrade.

(Please God say you bring something more intimidating than that haircut.)


After the end of last season, like a lot of people I was cheering for the Eagles to find a way to keep Jeff Garcia on. I mean, how many times do we have to see Donnie M. injured before we’re allowed to cheer for a first-class back-up? That said, it was as clear to me as it was to anyone (anyone, that is, except for those crazy people who were hoping to see McNabb replaced by Garcia permanently) that Jeff had earned his day to play. It would have been unrealistic to expect him to stick around.


So in the big moves so far, the Birds have one big win, one big loss, and one unfortunate departure they couldn’t have stopped if they wanted to. Sounds something like a draw, right? And yet, in a way, we’ve gained ground. After all, our NFC East rivals keep on fighting tooth and nail to give us all new reasons to remain optimistic.

*The Giants have given up on key leaders like Luke Petitgout and Carlos Emmons and replaced potential (if not probable) hall-of-famer Tiki Barber with Reuben Droughns.

*The Cowboys have swapped legend Bill Parcells for journeyman Wade Philips.

*And the Redskins…ah, nevermind. Let’s stay focused on what’s relevant.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

CBS Should Replace McManus

Just a few days ago, March Madness concluded. Perhaps you remember this. Or, perhaps you are still waiting for CBS to come back from commercial. Luckily, as an Eagles fan, I do not watch on a regular basis CBS's coverage of the NFL. But, as a college basketball fan, I am forced to watch the NCAA tournament on the Commercial Broadcasting System. CBS News and Sports president Sean McManus must be replaced by CBS if they hope to remain a legitimate source for either.

CBS's coverage of the tournament consisted of more commercials (and the same ones over and over again... that John Mellencamp song is just annoying!) than it did anything else. In the early rounds, when there were multiple games on at one time, you probably experienced something similar to this: your game went to halftime and there was a commercial break. Back in the studio, Seth Davis and Clark Kellogg analyzed the first half of the game for about 8 seconds before Greg Gumbel said it was time to go peek in on another game. For about 4 minutes, you got to see this other game. Then, Gumbel said it was time to go back to your game. Long commercial break. After this break, Gubmel said, "Coming up, the second half!" Immediately, there was another commercial break. The play-by-play announcer then came on and said something like, "It's just about time for the second half to start." Then, yet another commercial break. Finally, after 12 minutes of commercials, the second half started. A couple of minutes into the second half, you were magically whisked to another game that was "closer" but also happened to be 15 seconds from a TV timeout, which, of course, you were subject to sit through again.

Even when there was not a commercial break, the play-by-play announcer would have to plug some CBS show at every stoppage of play, rather than allowing the color commentator to analyze something that had just occurred.

Furthermore, McManus continues to employ Billy Packer. Packer is widely considered to be a marginal announcer and not well respected. Yet, every year, when the championship game rolls around, there he is.

McManus is also in charge of CBS News, which is currently in 3rd place in the ratings. Of course, rather than attempting to develop a solution to the problem, he simply says that Katie Couric is the vicitim of a gender bias. He even went so far as to say that it's tough for her because she has to be concerned about "a lot of things the male anchor doesn’t have to worry about, like how she looks or what she is wearing." Yep. That's right. I remember many nights when Peter Jennings would be on screen in his blue jeans, the shirt he was wearing to paint the kitchen, and a baseball cap.

CBS should reconsider keeping this guy around if they want to remain a player in the News and Sports industries. McManus clearly doesn't know what he is doing.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Martini Chuck's Insanity

Guys, I've impugned pretty much everything about Charlie Manuel on this here blog. Now, I'm going to impugn--basically the only thing left--the man's sanity. The brilliant physicist Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It finally occurred to me, in the wake of yet another dismal start to a Phillies season, that Einstein's quote applies to Manuel and maybe even Phillies management.

Charlie Manuel insists on doing things the same way year in and year out, day in and day out. It's actually quite amazing how Manuel "manages" to do this without apparently noticing. Opening day, the Phils get a great start from Brett Myers and, going up against John Smoltz, the Phils' bats aren't exactly roaring, so they go to the 10th inning tied at three. Watching on a "gamecast," the minute Ryan Madsen's picture popped onto my computer screen I knew the game was going to be blown.

Game two: the Phillies are in practically the same situation and Manuel, for some incomprehensible reason, went back to Madsen. (Madsen's precipitously decreasing effectiveness is another discussion entirely). And, predictably, Madsen blew the game again. Phillies fans the world over get treated to another round of Charlie Manuel quotes like this: "Nobody likes to start the season at home by going 0-3, but sometimes that's a good measuring [stick] for your team. We'll see what kind of team we have."

By now, Manuel should know what kind of team he has! It's basically the same team he's always had: underachieving. Waiting around for Ryan Howard to bail him out with homeruns is not managing a baseball team.

Of course, all of this calls the sanity of Phillies management into question considering they insist on sticking with Manuel and getting the same squalid results: they started 1-6 in 2006 and 1-4 in 2005. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times! Manuel has got to go.

So When's the NFL Draft?

It's been quite some time since we here at the Broad Street Journal have been posting information, but this post will look a lot like the last posts we made...

I know it's only April 6. I know there are 159 games to go. But the Phillies are 0-3. Aaron Rowand is claiming that two of the games were a coin flip and that they could have easily been 2-1 as they boarded the plane for Miami. But they're not.

The Phils have done an excellent job of one thing so far this week... showing their fans that some things never change. Utley is batting .357, Rollins has a .533 OBP, and Burrell is at .364. Great. But they have left 32 men on base. That's over 10 per game. Hitting with runners in scoring position haunted them all last season. And here we go again.

The bullpen, which was widely considered to be the weakest part of the team, has shown that they are. Strong outings by Myers and Hamels were wasted.

So what do we have to look forward to for the rest of the season? I'm scared to find that answer.