The state of Philadelphia sports was bleak this past week, at least for the Flyers and Phillies. But on the bright side the Sixers pulled off a sweet, sweet Round 1 upset of the Bulls (now bring on the Celtics!).
For the Phillies it was ugly: They blew leads to the Nationals and Mets, lost five of six, couldn’t put up runs and let a games slip away with a poor bullpen performance and poor late game hitting and fielding.
For the Flyers it was uglier: The Flyers got eliminated from the playoffs, losing four straight to the Devils. And they looked sluggish and sloppy most of the game.
But we’re optimists here at SpikeEskin.com, so let’s try to look on the bright side of a really crappy sports week in Philadelphia… Yo, The Sixers! Tuesday night’s loss in Game 5 was tough to watch. It was a slow paced game, and the Sixers really never seemed like they were going to pull it off, and they didn’t. But last night, Game 6, they jumped out to a nice 12 point lead, then gave it all back, and just when we thought the season would fall apart, Iggy got it done. So naturally he gets #1…
Philly Five for May 4-10, 2012:
1) Andre Iguodala – Well, well, well what do we have here? Game on the line, down one, two seconds left. And who is the guy with the ball? Mr. Andre Iguodala. Yeah, who would have thought that he would be the guy to grab a victory from the jaws of defeat and get the Sixers onto the second round?
Iggy has had a rough season, to say the least. Yeah, he made the All-Star team, but his hometown fans were never really happy with his performance. His 4th quarter stats were terrible (I’m not looking them up because they don’t matter any more). But he played shut down D. And he did that in this series too.
Game 6: 20 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds (including the HUGE rebound on Asik’s missed FT) and the two biggest foul shots of his career. Great week for the Sixers, capped off by an great night for Iggy.
2) Cole Hamels – Not many bright spots this week for the hometown 9, but for one night baseball in Philadelphia was fun again. Hamels pitched a gem, the Phillies got out of Nats Park without getting swept and we threw some gasoline on a budding rivalry in the process.
But the big story from that game was Hamels hitting Bryce Harper with a pitch, square in the back. At first we were all thinking, “wait, that wasn’t on purpose, right? Had to have slipped.” But after the game Cole left no doubt as to his intentions to plunk Harper and show him an old school ‘Welcome to the Show’ greeting.
My only issue with the Hamels situation is not that he threw at Harper (it’s part of the game), nor that he admitted it (dumb, but whatever), it’s that he threw at a kid who was 0-7 in the series. Who really hadn’t done anything to warrant it. Did he throw at him beacusae he wanted to show him who was the boss of the division? Well, maybe Cole hasn’t looked at the standings, but we’re pulling up the rear and Washington is riding young arms and hot bats to 1st place.
Cole lit a spark with the fans, and we needed something to fire us up, so I appreciate that. But Spike had a good angle about this, did Cole do it just to get more cash on the free agent market. Was it a ‘hey look at me, I have fire in my belly’ move? Who knows. Not surprisingly Cole got suspended 5 games (really not even missing a start), and we see the Nats again in 2 weeks. The baseball world will be watching that series closely.
3) Evan Turner/Jrue Holiday – I like what I’ve seen so far from the young backcourt in this series. Turner and Holliday are looking like they could have a promising future for the Sixers. There are alot of questions about what will happen in the off-season and I expect the front office to shake things up, but what happens? What about Brand? Lou Williams is gonna get paid in free agency, will we give him enough to keep him?
I don’t know what will happen, but I sure hope that Jrue and Turner are here to stay. Let them grow together, let them compliment each other games. Turner as the bulldog, driving the lane, grabbing the boards, getting scrappy. Holiday the point man, dishing the rock, taking the long jumpers, making things happen.
It has been a rocky season for Turner. He spent a good part of it in Doug Collins’ doghouse, but there were definitely times when you could see that he was a special player. I like how he takes the ball to the hoop without fear. I like how he got into the mix in that scrum in Game 5. I like that he isn’t afraid to take the shot. At the beginning of the season I was skeptical. But not anymore, I’m on #TeamET. Hopefully he can bounce back from a tough night in Game 5 and get us to Round 2.
Holiday showed me in Game 4 that he isn’t afraid to be the man and take the shots. He had a terrible start to the game, 1-14 shooting? Ouch. But he kept shooting, ending the game on a 6-9 streak including two huuuuge threes at the end to give a nice 7 point cushion.
I’m not saying they’ll be the second coming of Mo Cheeks and Andrew Toney, but knocking out the Bulls will be a nice start to this tandem’s bright future.
4) Joe Blanton – We have 3 aces in the rotation… and then we have Blanton. Over the last few years Blanton has been the butt of many jokes, he was left out of the “4 Aces” talk last year and is pretty much the forgotten member of the rotation. Seems like people have more good things to say about young Vance Worley. But Blanton is a solid pitcher. He’s not gonna win a Cy Young and he’s gonna have some stinkers. But once in a while he’s gonna toss a gem. And that’s just what he on Thursday at Atlanta.
Heavy B tossed a complete game, three hitter in a 4-0 win over the Braves. Then he comes back on Monday and goes 6.2 innings, 5 hits, 4 earned runs. He left the game in the seventh with two out, men on first and second and a 4-2 lead. Then Chad Qualls came in and did Chad Qualls things and suddenly it’s 5-4 Mets. Can’t fault Joe, he gave us 2 solid starts this week and for the #4 man in the rotation, that’s pretty good. Hopefully he can keep it up, God knows we can use all the help we can get.
5) Ilya Bryzgalov – The Flyers dropped 4 straight to the Devils to lose in the second round. But you know what, I’m not pinning it on Bryz. The Flyers looked flat and unmotivated for most of the series.
Yes, Bryz gave up a soft goal (it was pretty much as close to an ‘own goal’ as you can get without shooting it in yourself) in Game 5 that gave the Devils a 2-1 lead that they never lost, but if you’re pointing fingers you might want to point at everyone except the goalie.
We can whine all we want at Claude Giroux getting suspended, and how other players did worse things and got nothing, and that Giroux has no history of anything like that, etc. But he made a dumb play in a critical game, and he got himself suspended. And the Flyers lost. I don’t know if X would have been the difference maker in Game 5, but not having your best player available is never a good thing (ask the Bulls).
The Game 3 OT winner wasn’t Bryzgalov’s fault, we had a bad line change and New Jersey took advantage and got a great scoring opportunity. And Bryz was great in Sunday’s loss in Game 4 (42 shots on goal!). He was ok in Game 5, I would have expected more in a clinching game, but it was a team effort (or lack of effort) that cost us. The bigger issue was the defense around him.
Honestly, I wanted to have someone represent the Flyers in the Philly Five this week, and Bryz was the lone bright spot I could fine. So he didn’t really have alot of competition.
But not everyone agrees with me, this guy at Hockey News actually wrote that Bryz was the 3rd worst playoff goalie in Flyers history (Roman Cechmanek was #1? Wow, blast from the past).
And we have him locked up for 8 more years, so love him or hate him, he’s probably here to stay.
999) Phillies Sell-Out Streak – So the Phillies managed 3 sellouts against the Mets but every night there was a buzz on Twitter, “does the streak end tonight?”, “no way they fill it in the rain against the Mets”. But you know what? The streak continues. 233 straight sellout at home, including postseason.
But c’mon, let’s be real. These games aren’t sellouts. We need some scrappy investigative reporter to dig into this caper. The Red Sox claim a sellout streak of over 700 games, but the folks up in Boston had had enough and did their own investigation last week and found out it was a bunch of PR garbage. Maybe we need to do the same here.
The issue with announcing the streak is over is that the media and the fans will say “well, we were fairweather fans, now we’re losing and the city doesn’t care anymore.” But that’s not true. I’ve been to many games over the past few years when the 400 level seats were half full. Does the team buy the few hundred or so extra tickets and dump them on StubHub? Do they do what the Red Sox do and count tickets given to charity as part of the sell out. I don’t know.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not a big deal, but the longer the team perpetuates a lie the worse they’re gonna look when the truth comes out.
(and yes, I could have given the Gas Face to the Phillies bullpen, but I did that last week. And something tells me we’ll have alot of opportunity to do it for the rest of the season).
Do you agree with the Five this week? Disagree? Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@Fantasource).
See you all next week!
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