On The Edge Blog

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hey Schilling, shut up!

As the new year approaches, instead of looking back at 2007, let's look forward to 2008 with my hopes, wishes, and predictions for the next 12 months of sports.
My main New Year's wish (besides championships for all Philadelphia teams) is for Curt Schilling's computer to break so his blog, 38pitches.com, will no longer be updated. Nowadays, it seems like any idiot with a computer can blog (insert sarcastic joke about me having a blog here), and every time Schilling logs on, he proves that he is indeed "any idiot."
Apparently, Schilling has an opinion on everything from his teammates to politics to the military to the rest of the sports world. He is 100 percent correct in his belief that we need to support American troops with our prayers and donations, and I applaud his work fighting ALS, but once he starts talking about politics and steroids, he should really just flip to a YouTube clip of a monkey flinging its own feces because that would be far more productive and enlightening.
By this point, you must be wondering why I am so enraged by a former Phillie who helped lead us to our last National League pennant.
Well check out his blog posting from December 19. He talks about how steroid users should give back all of the awards they won because their statistics were attained fraudulently. Here's what he wrote about Roger Clemens: "From that point on (1998) the numbers were attained through using PEDs (performance enhancing drugs). Just like I stated about Jose (Canseco), if that is the case with Roger, the 4 Cy Youngs should go to the rightful winners and the numbers should go away if he cannot refute the accusations."
Now I agree with those sentiments, but all these statements do is make Schilling sound like a pompous hypocrite. We all knew from his time in Philadelphia that Schilling was always more concerned about himself than his teammates or fans, but we didn't know he was a hypocrite, too.
Does Curt Schilling ever write that he should hand his 2007 World Series ring to Matt Holliday or any of the other Colorado Rockies because his teammates Eric Gagne and Brendan Donnelly are named in the Mitchell Report?
What about his National League championship ring from 1993? Lenny Dykstra was named in the Mitchell Report (no surprise after his "funny vitamins" comment), and Pete Incaviglia was named in Jason Grimsley's federal testimony. What about the rest of the Phillies who suddenly bulked up in 1993, had career years and then were never heard from again?
Sure, guys who aren't on steroids always lose their tempers one minute and joke around the next. Or they spontaneously rip their shirts off to show their newly chiseled physiques. Or they suddenly start beating their wives and believing the world will come to an end on the winter solstice in 2012.
Why wasn't Schilling critical of those guys? Why hasn't he demanded to know the truth about what was going on in his own locker rooms?
Because he's a hypocritical, self-serving ball player who can't stand to be out of the spotlight. But we all knew that already.
Quick Predictions for 2008: *Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid are both back next year, and the Eagles bring in a star wide receiver from this group: Brandon Marshall, Chad Johnson, Steve Smith, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Randy Moss, and Donte Stallworth. Those guys will either be free agents or possibly available through trade because of their disgruntled attitudes.
*Brent Celek and Stewart Bradley will be huge for the Eagles in 2008. I've been high on Stewart Bradley since training camp and I thought he would overtake Chris Gocong as the Eagles starting strongside line-backer, but next year will be his chance to shine.
*The Flyers will make some noise in the playoffs this year, but they'll fall in the second round because they're still far too young and inconsistent to seriously compete for a Stanley Cup.
*The Phillies will repeat as National League East champions. Look for minor leaguers Carlos Carrasco and Greg Golson to play a big role down the stretch.
Of course, these are just predictions, and I've been wrong plenty of times before, so we'll all just have to wait and see.
Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Eagles/Saints recap

Some quick observations from the Eagles 38-23 win over the Saints:

That Donovan McNabb is terrible! Can we please bring in a generic crappy quarterback to replace him! (Please note the sarcasm in my typing)
McNabb had 263 yards passing, 3 TDs, and moved faster than I've seen him move in a few years. Imagine how quick he'll be at the start of next season, 21 months out from his knee injury last year.

Stewart Bradley is going to be a star on this team at linebacker. I thought that he'd have replaced Chris Gocong by mid-October, but Gocong picked up the defense better than I expected. He'll probably be starting next year depending on how healthy Takeo Spikes is.

Did you notice that Brent Celek ran with the ball tucked away, unlike L.J. Smith, who makes it a point to leave the ball out there to be knocked loose. I hate L.J. Smith. If the Eagles bring him back, he'll be a bigger waste of money than the $24 million the Phillies gave Adam Eaton.

I know that Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown had good games today, but that doesn't mean the Eagles don't need to go out and find a true number 1 receiver. Curtis and Brown would look great falling in line behind someone like Chad Johnson, who just so happens to be quite disgruntled in Cincinnati.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Watch and Remember

I don't have any inside information here, but pay close attention to the Eagles next two games. Remember these games because the jerseys we are used to seeing every week might not be out there next season.Two weeks ago, Duce Staley came back to Philadelphia and retired as an Eagle. All it did was remind us of how fleeting stardom can be, and how quickly our sports heroes are replaced by younger and cheaper versions.
In 2003, Duce Staley, Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor were at the top of their games and leading the Eagles to yet another NFC championship game, but everyone could sense that the end of the road for them was near.
That season, Brian Westbrook was emerging as the ultimate weapon, ready to replace Staley as the focal point of the Eagles offense. Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown had gained experience and were prepared to replace the best cornerback tandem in Eagles history.
That off-season, we said goodbye to the memories of the pickle juice game and the 205 yards Duce racked up. We said so long to the memories of a young Bobby Taylor making a name for himself by shutting down and essentially mugging Michael Irvin. And of course, we must not forget Troy Vincent going 90 yards for a touchdown against the Cowboys after taking a lateral from James Willis, who had just picked off Troy Aikman in the end zone. That memory was sent to the back of our minds, as well.
Despite those fond memories, we had to say goodbye to that group, which brings me to the final two games of the 2007 season.
These last two games against the New Orleans Saints and Buffalo Bills could be the final times we see our current group of heroes wearing Eagle green. Like 2003, this could be the year the Eagles make the dramatic shift to get younger.
All the signs are there and the pieces are in place for Donovan McNabb, Brian Dawkins, Jon Runyan, and William "Tra" Thomas to be shown the door by Eagles management.
When the Eagles face the Bills on December 30, it could be the final time we see Donovan McNabb come out of the tunnel, pound his chest and point to the sky. It could be the last time we see Weapon X, Brian Dawkins, deliver a bone crushing hit to an unsuspecting receiver going over the middle.
Remember that Monday Night Football game where McNabb scrambled around for 14 seconds against the Cowboys and hit Freddie Mitchell for a 60-yard pass? That was some amazing vision he had in 2004, but it's almost 2008, and all McNabb can see is his 23-year-old replacement standing on the sidelines like a circling vulture. The Eagles chose Kevin Kolb in this year's draft instead of improving the current team and going for broke with Superfive.
Who can forget the hit Dawkins put on Alge Crumpler in the 2004 NFC title game? That hit left Crumpler doubled over on the turf for a few minutes, but as strong as B-Dawk has been, he's been the one laying on the turf quite a bit the last few years, and this season, he suffered a vicious stinger that kept him on the sidelines for half the season. We all know there's no quit in number 20, but living a normal life with fully functioning arms has to take precedence over playing for a team stuck in rebuilding mode. (I'll be completely honest, it will probably traumatize me not to see number 20 roaming around the secondary next year. I can't even remember who came before Dawkins at free safety.)
Big Jon Runyan, despite recently discovering his love for commercials, might be on his last legs at right tackle. He's started every game this millennium for the Birds, but this year, it seems like nagging injuries have lingered longer than usual. Runyan and Tra Thomas, who the Eagles drafted in the first round in 1998, have been the bookends of the offensive line for the last eight years, but with guys like Max Jean-Gilles, Nick Cole, Todd Herremans and Winston Justice gaining knowledge and experience, both Runyan and Thomas could be sent packing.
In the next two games, these four Birds won't be playing for a playoff spot, but they will be playing for pride and more importantly, a chance to solidify their rightful place in our memories.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Mitchell Report Madness...

Okay, I've had nearly a day to digest the Mitchell Report and while it's a great start, I have some problems with it.
First, it seems like all of the names are based on three areas: Mets/Yankees, A's/Giants, and the Orioles. What about the other 25 teams in baseball? I know Sen. Mitchell said that the report included players from all 30 teams, but that only meant that at some point in their careers they played for those teams.
This report gives just 85 names, past and present, in a league that regularly employs 1,200 players after the rosters expand each September. This means all that was accomplished here was the dragging of 85 players into the court of public opinion, while allowing the majority of 20 years of steroid use to be forgotten or swept under the rug because it wasn't included in this report.
I'm just speculating without any proof, but where are the guys from the Cleveland Indians in the mid-1990s, or the Colorado Rockies from the late 90s, or even the rest of the Phillies from the 1993 team. The report only named Lenny Dykstra because of his connection to the Mets, but didn't delve deeper into the problem and see if the steroid use extended throughout the Phillies clubhouse upon his arrival in Philadelphia. Can this report really absolve guys like Albert Belle, Darren Daulton, or Bret Boone from any wrongdoing?
Take a look at Bret Boone's statistics. He was a nobody through 2000, then at 32 years old, he magically becomes an MVP caliber player for three years, has an average year in 2004 and then is never heard from again. Doesn't that seem a little odd?
That's just one of the hundreds of examples of fishy performance growth that the Mitchell Report didn't uncover because of the limited range of the investigation.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Initial reactions from the Mitchell Report

I'll be honest, I didn't read the Mitchell Report (how could I in the past hour?) I just quickly skimmed through it looking for as many names as I could find, and my biggest question (besides the "Why God? Why?" about Roger Clemens, who is/was my favorite baseball player of all time) is why did so many players still stink after taking steroids?
Here's a few of the nobodies on the list: Marvin Benard, Jeremy Giambi, Randy Velarde, Todd Pratt, David Sequi, Larry Bigbie, Mike Lansing, Tim Laker, F.P Santangelo, and Todd Williams.
Those guys are terrible! Steroids clearly did nothing for them, except give them huge heads, a bad temper and a bunch of injuries.
Then comes the list of star players: Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Miguel Tejada (How funny is it that our old friend Ed Wade just traded for Tejada to come to his Astros?), Kevin Brown, Jason Giambi, Eric Gagne, Andy Pettitte, Gary Sheffield, Troy Glaus, Paul Lo Duca, Gary Matthews Jr., Jose Guillen, and a few others.
If what is said in the report is accurate, then steroids helped guys like Clemens, Bonds, Pettitte and Sheffield revive or extend their careers, and for guys like Eric Gagne, Jose Guillen (who just signed a 3 year/$36 million contract with the Royals), Troy Glaus, and Jason Giambi, steroids helped launch their careers.
For example, it was pretty obvious to anyone who watched a Dodgers game that Eric Gagne was on steroids. He stunk in 2000 and 2001, then he was dominating for the Dodgers from 2002-2004 at an estimated weight of 225-240 pounds, although still being listed on the roster at a svelte 190 (his current baseball card weight is 240 pounds). Then, like most steroid users, he suffered through a few seasons of injury and ineffectiveness. In 2005 and 2006, he played just 16 games due to injury.
Based on some of these names, one has to ask if steroids even work. Apparently, it can help some players become stars, and help extend the careers of good players, but it seems like a lot of bench guys took steroids to help them crack the starting lineup, but they appear to have wasted a lot of money.

Another question I have to ask is how Lenny Dykstra is only 1993 Phillie on the list? Come on! We all knew they were on more than t-bones and booze! More importantly, I could not be happier that David Justice is on the list. A few years ago I was watching a spring training game that he was announcing, and he said that "there were some monsters" on the 1993 Phillies. Guess that's a perfect example of the pot calling the kettle black, huh?

Go on take the money and run

Aaron Rowand is now officially a San Francisco Giant, and it will only cost them $60 million over the next 5 years. I'm disappointed that Rowand didn't come back because I liked the hustle and fire he showed every game, but I'm not too distraught over seeing him leave.
Here's the bottom line: You don't hand $60 million to a 30-year-old centerfielder coming off just his second good season in the last four years. Rowand's numbers were pretty pathetic in 2005 and 2006 (combined .267 average, 25 homers, 116 RBIs) but then magically in a contract year, he batted .309 with 27 homers and 89 RBIs.
Will the Phillies miss Rowand's numbers from 2007? Of course they will, but Rowand wasn't going to provide that punch with a repeat performance in 2008, and he certainly won't do it consistently through 2012!
In addition, despite his Gold Glove award this year (and for anyone who needs proof that the Gold Glove is meaningless, Bobby Abreu has won the award despite cowering in fear of the right field wall), Rowand's defense is getting worse, and he has the tendency to forget that he's slower than he once was. Flyballs that were caught in 2004 and should have been singles in 2007 were turned into triples when he dove and missed. If you want proof that he's getting slower, look at his stolen base numbers the last four years: 17, 16, 10, 6. Those 6 steals in 2007 came despite having the highest on-base percentage of his career.
So how do the Phightins replace Rowand's production? Go sign Pedro Feliz! He's a 3B who hit 20-22 homers each of the last four seasons in a pitcher's park, and he committed just 11 errors last year at the hot corner, which means he won't need to be replaced in the late innings. That would mean a lefty/righty platoon of Greg Dobbs and Jayson Werth in right field, which should provide the comparable power numbers as Rowand's 2007 performance.

....Go Phillies!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Flyers/Penguins...Lupul and Umberger with Hat Tricks

I'm watching the Flyers/Penguins game and Joffrey Lupul just earned himself a hat trick. I love seeing all the hats come flying down onto the ice, but even better is seeing the fans that are way too far away from the ice failing miserably as they try to send their hats on to the pond. Lupul also tacked on three assists for a six point night...
This performance leads to the question: What was the best off-season move made by Flyers GM Paul Holmgren? Daniel Briere is clearly the best player the Flyers acquired, but he came with a very high price tag (8 years/$52 million), so wouldn't turning the disappointing Joni Pitkanen into new Flyers captain Jason Smith and Joffrey Lupul be the best swindle of the summer by Holmgren?

...Leading 7-2 with about 6 minutes to go, Jeff Carter just beat down Ray Whitney and Scott Hartnell wrecked Colby Armstrong. It's always good to back up a thrashing on the scoreboard by delivering a few black eyes.

...A Penguin player just slid into Flyers goalie Marty Biron. If a Flyer did that, he would have been tossed from the game and everyone would have been talking about how dirty the Flyers are, but the Versus announcers didn't seem to think intentionally taking out the legs of a goalie was a big deal. Earlier in the game, Ben Eager hit a player with his shoulder and the announcers were screaming about how dirty the hit was, even though it was clean and didn't garner a penalty. I don't mind announcers calling out the Flyers for questionable hits, but at least call it both ways.

...and on the ensuing power play, R.J. Umberger comes through with the hat trick! Where did people get more hats? And why didn't they throw those hats for Lupul? Maybe those are the hats thrown from the 200 level that didn't reach the ice.

...and the Flyers roll over the Penguins 8-2

By the way, is there anything better in hockey than hearing a "Crosby sucks" chant and seeing Sydney Crosby nearly in tears while he's whining about calls?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Eagles/Giants wrap up...

Well that field goal hitting the uprights sure summed up the Eagles 2007 campaign, didn't it?
Here's some quick hits from the Standing Room Only steps in the corner of the end zone at the Linc:
*Brian Westbrook might be the best running back in the NFL. LaDainian Tomlinson could have something to say about that, but I'll use my East Coast bias and give the nod to 36 West.
*The Eagles receivers are terrible! Donovan McNabb looked like he regained some mobility yesterday as he was avoiding blitzers, but the receivers never got open, or simply fell down. The Giants don't even have good cornerbacks. Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown made Sam Madison look like the beast shut down corner from Madden 2002, instead of the 33-year-old, past his prime cornerback that he really is. (By the way, Madison and Patrick Surtain were an unbelievable cornerback tandem in Madden back in the day)
*The Eagles front seven has definitely become a dominant force at the line of scrimmage. They hold their ground, make solid plays and tackle well. The only problem is that nobody other than Trent Cole gets to the quarterback and causes a negative play.
*The Eagles corners are either hurt or have lost their confidence. Sometimes they play perfect coverage, and sometimes they are easily beaten by a quick stutter-step. To their defense though, they are lacking a solid nickel corner for the first time in their careers, so maybe they're playing more downs than usual. I guess the Eagles should have given Rod Hood the starter-money that he wanted.
*Brian Dawkins and Takeo Spikes are monsters. They never give up on a play and turn touchdowns into field goals when teams get inside the Eagles' 5 yard line.

Early prediction on the Eagles/Cowboys game: Dallas 31, Eagles 17

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Quick thoughts for the day...Eagles 24-16 over the Giants. Westbrook 145 total yards and 2 TDs. More importantly, there will not be a Winston Justice sighting today. Sorry Giants fans!

Upset special: Falcons over the Saints (no Reggie Bush playing)
Sure Bet: Cincinnati over St. Louis

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Donovan McNOW!...again

So, quick show of hands: who still wants A.J. Feeley as the Eagles starting quarterback? Yeah, didn't think I'd see many hands (I'm guessing very few, if any of you would have raised your hand if we were in the same room).

I very rarely break out the "I told you so," but I've been a Donovan McNabb guy all the way and have told anyone who will listen to me that McNabb is the best quarterback the Eagles have had and any success without him should be credited to Brian Westbrook and the running game.

Now, all of my readers don't deserve this "I told you so." If you have been in McNabb's corner the last nine years, read this column and say "Yeah! Right on Fleishman!" If you have been rooting for anyone but number 5 to lead the Birds, read the rest of this column and learn some loyalty for crying out loud!

I get it; everyone loves the backup quarterback when they see what they can do in limited minutes. But let's all get real here, A.J. Feeley was the backup quarterback for a reason. He failed as a starter in Miami, and never even saw the field in San Diego.


The reason everyone wanted him to start last year was because of his 4-1 record in 2002 when he filled in for McNabb and Koy Detmer. I'll be completely honest with you, he wasn't good in 2002 (the defense allowed just 11 points per game in his five starts) and he's not good in 2007.

More importantly, where were all of these proFeeley fans when Jeff Garcia led the Eagles to the playoffs? I know you all were there when Garcia and the Eagles got crushed by the Colts last year, but after that I didn't hear any more calls for A.J.

So now that Feeley has thrown seven interceptions in his two starts, while McNabb threw just six picks in 10 starts, can we all agree that the best chance the Eagles have is with number 5 at the helm?

Now I'm not oblivious to the fact that McNabb has missed games in four of the last six seasons. I agree that a solid backup quarterback is needed for this team, but let's support the quarterback who led us to four straight division titles, and to the playoffs five straight seasons.

Everyone knows that the NFL really stands for "Not For Long" and we live in a "What have you done for me lately?" time, so you can say he hasn't led us to a division title since 2004, but let's examine what McNabb has done recently.

Last year when everyone started ripping on Donovan McNabb, he happened to post the second best passer rating of his career (95.5). That 95.5 was good enough for fourth best in the NFL. John Elway never had a passer rating that high. 95.5 is better than any passer rating Tom Brady has posted until this season.

Even this year, McNabb has 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. His passer rating is 87.3, which is BETTER than his career rating of 85.4.

Could it possibly be that the man so many Eagles fans want run out of town is actually getting better with age?

Let's think about this rationally.

First off, McNabb isn't old. He's 31. In fact, A.J. Feeley is just six months younger than McNabb! Secondly, did the Eagles waste Donovan McNabb's talent by giving him just 1.5 seasons with a star wide receiver? Yes. Should the Eagles go out and get a star wide receiver to help McNabb and Brian Westbrook? Of course.

Finally, before giving up on McNabb's career with the Eagles, shouldn't we wait to see how he does next year when he is fully recovered from his knee injury? Obviously we should!

I want to make this last point clear. McNabb isn't perfect. But after seeing Lofa Tatupu become Feeley's favorite receiver, and seeing Jeff Garcia get hurt mid-way through the season (because he's actually old and can't make it through a full season just like the Eagles thought), shouldn't we support the best quarterback ever to wear Eagle Green?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Coming soon

Stay tuned to www.yardleynews.com for my On the Edge blog.
My Photo
Name: Matthew Fleishman, Yardley News Editor
Location: United States

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]