Tag Archive | "philadelphia"

Rights To Ricky Sanchez Podcast: A Week Till Sixers Training Camp


We’re a week (approximately) out from Sixers training camp, thank goodness nothing else big happens today in Philadelphia sports!

We predict who may make the roster, talk about the death of Moses Malone, the possibility of Allen Iverson in the Basketball Hall Of Fame, take a bunch of Twitter questions, and salute two Sixers employees who are no longer Sixers employees.

Follow The Rights To Ricky Sanchez on Twitter, run by our intern Phillip, @RTRSPodcast.

Follow Mike on Twitter @Michael_Levin, and read his work at Liberty Ballers.

Follow Spike on Twitter @SpikeEskin.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (PLEASE RATE US!)

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10 Most Expensive Philly Summer Concerts


One of the things I lost sight of while I was working in music radio is just how expensive concert tickets are. I went to a lot of shows for free, and because I went to so many shows for free, I didn’t feel like going to too many others, and I lost sight of the cost.

Not so much anymore.

My friends over at TiqIQ put together this list of the most expensive concerts (as far as secondary market goes) in Philadelphia this summer. I decided to take a crack at whether or not they’re worth it.

You can buy the tickets over at TiqIQ. What they do is aggregate all of the ticket resellers in one place, and show you what the cost of the tickets will be like with all of the pesky little fees. It’s like Kayak but for tickets.

Please remember you can always park for less money at these shows by using my friends who run the JETRO lot.

#10 – Kenny Chesney

NO WAY JOSE. Look man, I know lots of people will tell you that it’s not country music. That the vibe at the show is a lot of fun, and people are drinking and sitting out in the sun and it’s almost like a rock concert. I got news for you, IT’S COUNTRY MUSIC. Want to sit out in the sun and drink? Go to the beach.

#9 Black Sabbath

I’m torn here. On one hand, it’s Black Sabbath, the most legendary, influential metal band ever. On the other hand, their best days are probably behind them. I say YES if you fit into one of two categories: 1) you’ve never seen Black Sabbath and you like rock/metal or 2) you love Black Sabbath. You don’t want them to stop touring having never seen them.

#8 Taylor Swift

Yes, absolutely go to Taylor Swift. I only know one or two of her songs, but this seems like a spectacle and I’m all for spectacles. At the very least just find some little kids to stand in front of.

#7 Made In America

Are you above 30? Then no, don’t go to this concert. I’m so over festival concerts. Waiting around for hours in the heat for the bands you want to see, not having a seat, so on, so on, so on… Are you under 30? Sure. Because you’re probably going to be out causing trouble anyway as kids tend to do, and at least I’ll know where not to go.

#6 Bruno Mars

Yes, absolutely go to Bruno Mars. Look, his songs are awesome, and there will be a really low BRO quotient at this show. It’s sort of pricey, which is kept me away, but if you’re only going to one or two shows this summer Bruno Mars is worth it.

#5 Justin Bieber

Nah, teach this kid a lesson. I’m not a Bieber hater, but kid’s got a little out of control. Maybe if parents stop showing up at the concerts with their kids, he’ll stop showing up late on stage.

#4 Beyonce

Face it, if you go to this concert, you’re just going to be waiting around to see if Jay-Z shows up and does a song with her. And even if he does, will the $400 be worth it to see Jay-Z do one song with Beyonce? No, it won’t.

#3 The Eagles

Hell would have to freeze over before I’d pay this to see The Eagles. HAHAHA GET IT?! No?

#2 OneDirection

SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS?! Look I like these guys as much as the next fella (maybe more), but anyone who spends $700 to see them needs their head examined. Note to the “water for a dollar” guys: sell it for ten dollars at the OneDirection show.

#1 Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones haven’t been that good live for a very long time, maybe since Voodoo Lounge. I don’t even know what to say here at $875 a ticket. On one hand, I think you should see the Stones before you die, on the other hand, I might be ok with dying with a couple extra grand for a nice casket.



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Loud And Local: Listen To New Music From Just F*ck

“Wait, what’s the band name?”

That was my initial reaction when I got an email from Mike Kelly about his new band, Just Fuck. I clicked on the link, and there it was, reaffirming the band’s decision to put the f-word in their band name.

I’ll have a conversation with Mike and the guys about this eventually, after which they’ll ignore me and proceed to print on t-shirts with the word “fuck” on them that will sell very well.

In any case, Mike was most recently in the Philly pop punk band Bright And Early. Long ago he was in a great little band called Pennington, who played live on Loud and Local when they were in high school, and were favorites of both myself and Tommy Conwell.

LISTEN: Pennington’s “Daddy’s Place”

There is just one song so far from the new band, which features Mike, brothers Max (who was in Pennington as well)  and Alex Muller, and Andrew Gleason. I dig it. In the world of categories, it certainly fits in the “pop punk” bin, but it’s more raw, and less syrupy sweet than most.

You can like Just Fuck on their Facebook page.

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Loud And Local: Stream Music From The Fleeting Ends’ New Album

It’s been too long since I’ve written anything about local music on this site.

It’s been too long since I’ve written about any music at all, now that I think of it.

It’s sort of funny that when I was working in music radio, all I wanted to do was write about sports. Now that I’m writing about sports for a living, I miss being around music.

After a one tweet guilt trip from Tommy Joyner (@MilkBoyTommy), here is the first step in a renewed effort to put more music on this site.

I first discovered The Fleeting Ends during the final year of Loud and Local. They’ve got a couple of attributes that almost always appeal to me immediately; harmonies and short songs with good hooks. When you add in the ability to somehow sound like they’re from the UK even though they’re from (I think) Delco, it’s pretty much an unstoppable combination. If Billie Joe Armstrong can sound like he’s from the UK and be from the bay area, these guys can do it from around here.

If you’re looking for a “sounds like this …” sort of thing, which is usually unfair but almost always helpful, I’d say that if you ever enjoyed Blur, The Fleeting Ends would be right up your alley.

They’ve got a new album coming out on January 29th called “Our Eyes Are Peeled,” and you can stream the first four songs on the album right here:

You can preorder their new album on their Bandcamp Page.

You can follow them on Twitter @TheFleetingEnds.

You can like them on Facebook on, well, their Facebook page.

You can purchase their older material on Amazon.

And you can see them perform on Loud and Local in the videos below.

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The Degenerate: Week 1 picks; Meet the Super Bowl Champs…

So, last year was a mess. 8-8. Andy and the crew salvaged the season with a 4 game winning streak at the end , but no playoffs. And you know, the Eagles didn’t deserve the postseason anyway. But this is a new year, new attitude, new everything.

Well, except the players, they’re pretty much the same as last year. Mike Vick, Lesean McCoy and Desean Jackson could be one of the top offensive trios in the league. The defense is solid, and I’m more comfortable with Juan Castillo as DC this season (but one bad defensive game and he’s back on the hot seat). To say I’m pretty optimistic about this season is an understatement, as you’ll see below I have high hopes for the Eagles in 2012-13…

(Click to embiggen)

I mean, it’s really as simple as that. 11-5, easy peezy. You might be able to swap the Ravens win and the Steelers loss, and we could grab another win somewhere else. I’m looking at 11-5, 12-4 if things break right (and Vick stays healthy). Yeah, I’m an optimistic kind of guy. And every year my heart gets smashed into a million pieces.

And yeah, this is pretty pointless, but here is my lame attempt at picking the division winners, wildcards teams and Super Bowl champions.

Super Bowl or Bust

NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles
NFC South – New Orleans Saints
NFC North – Green Bay Packers
NFC West – Seattle Seahawks

NFC Wildcard #1 – Dallas Cowboys
NFC Wildcard #2 – San Francisco 49ers
(yes, I know I left out the Falcons and Giants. 49ers should win the West, but I like Russell Wilson, so I’m picking Seattle.)

AFC East – New England Patriots
AFC South – Houston Texans
AFC North – Baltimore Ravens
AFC West – Oakland Raiders

AFC Wildcard #1 – Denver Broncos
AFC Wildcard #2 – Buffalo Bills
(Yeah, no Steelers, or Chargers, or Jets. And I’m really sticking my neck out with the Raiders. But the AFC West is a crapshoot, why not take a longshot?)

NFC Championship: Eagles over Packers
AFC Championship: Texans over Patriots

Super Bowl:
Eagles over Texans (yup, I went there).

So there you are, your Eagles will be the 2012-13 Super Bowl Champions. Get your hotel reservations for New Orleans now.

Onto the Week 1 pick, which coincidentally also involves the Eagles…

Bet #1: (a.k.a the “You saw my Super Bowl pick, of course I’m picking the Eagles” bet): Eagles -9.5 over Browns

Hi Brandon Weeden, welcome to hell.

I’ve been eyeing this game since the schedule came out. Our first step on the road a Super Bowl title. Let’s be honest, the Browns aren’t that good. They ended last season with the 25th rated offense, and they are opening the season with a rookie QB (Brandon Weeden) and a rookie RB (Trent Richardson? Um, ok.

The Eagles defense is licking their lips to get a hold of the youngsters on Sunday. They led the league in sacks last season with 50 and should be able to put plenty of  pressure on Weeden all day. Trent Richardson isn’t even 100%, so he may be limited on Sunday. I like the Eagles defense to smother the young Browns offense.

On the other side of the ball the Browns actually have a decent pass defense. 2nd overall last year, only giving up 185 passing yard per game. But their rush defense isn’t so hot. 29th out of 32, 147 yards per game. So it should be a good mix of Shady on the ground this week.

The Eagles ended last season winning 4 straight by an average of 20 points. I just think this is a game where the Eagles are the better team and it will show on Sunday.

I’ll say the Eagles start their season with a big 31-13 win at the Dog Pound.

The Line: Eagles -9.5, O/U 43.5
The Pick: Eagles -9.5
Game trends (via Covers.com): Browns are 0-7 ATS in their last 7 season openers; Browns are 2-8-2 ATS in their last 12 home games.

I also was leaning towards picking Houston Texans -12.5 over Miami but I laid off once I heard Arian Foster was a gametime decision. I can’t lay that number without knowing if the #1 RB is going to play. It probably won';t make a difference, but it’s a long season so no need to force a pick here.

Good luck this week. Let’s try to bounce back off of the Giants loss on Wednesday.

Questions, comments, links to share, etc… You can get in touch with me multiple ways:

Email: fantasource@gmail.com
Or just let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Hop Sing Laundromat Is The Best Bar I’ve Ever Been To

The main dining room, courtesy of Hop Sing Laundromat via philly.eater.com

“This sucks. This is going to ruin every other bar for me. Why would you want to go anywhere else?”

That’s what my brother Jason said to me after one sip of his first drink at Hop Sing Laundromat, a super-hyped bar that’s hidden in Chinatown.

We only really went because Jason is moving back to Los Angeles, and we wanted to do something particularly ridiculous. We did visit Dino Don’s Dinosaurium earlier in the day, to give some perspective.

I’ll be honest, I was looking forward to hating this bar. As it turns out, it’s awesome. The atmosphere is awesome, the drinks are great, the bartenders are A+, the prices are fair. Look man, I don’t go to a lot of bars. I don’t drink a lot. I don’t pretend to be a man about town or any kind of expert. But I know that I’d rather be at Hop Sing Laundromat than any other bar (non-sports variety) I’ve ever been to.

The bar is located at 1029 Race St., but you won’t find signs for it anywhere. We didn’t see it, so after a quick google search, we found a picture of the door (thanks FooBooz!). There’s a black gate, with some blue light coming from behind it. There are no signs, there is no one standing at the gate. We walked up and two men came out and told us the door man would be out shortly, and closed the door.

“This is already a good story,” Jason said to me.

Out came Lee, who I had contacted on Twitter (@PreacherBourbon) about coming to the bar. He stood behind the gate, and asked why I had violated the dress code. Both my brother and I were wearing sneakers. I had forgotten sneakers were not allowed. After informing him my brother was only in town for the night, he told me to step to the side, and he’d get back to us.

We stood outside for another few minutes, in part hoping we’d be sent home and never going in, only because to us, being sent home for being improperly dressed would be a great story.

Lee came out again and asked for our ID’s. He sent us into a small waiting area before we’d be seated, along with another party that was waiting outside. The waiting area looks like an old-timey shoe shine room, only super dark. There were four monitors inside, one that monitors outside so they know when someone has arrived.

Up until this point I felt like I was in a deleted scene from Lost Highway.

Then, along with two door men, Lee gave us the rules.

1. No talking on your cell phone (texting and tweeting were allowed).

2. No recording devices of any kind (what happens here, stays here).

3. Have low expectations. Whatever you’ve heard about this place isn’t true, and they will almost certainly under-deliver (paraphrasing his words here).

The place inside is beautiful. There’s a ton of space, and I can’t imagine it’s ever overcrowded, as it appears as if there is a one seat, one person rule. There’s a ridiculous selection of liquors on the wall behind the bar. The decorations are eclectic, but all kind of fit into the “you’re in an old-timey bar that may or may not break into some kind of strange Eyes Wide Shut party” theme.

We sat at the bar and were introduced to Jo, who would be our bartender. I spent most of the evening trying to figure out if here Australian accent was fake. By the end of the night I determined it wasn’t, but I still wouldn’t be surprised if it was. She greeted us and seemed excited to serve. After finding out some about our tastes, both Lee and Jo gave us sections of the drink menu that might be best suited for us. I got a “Blood And Sand,” which is apparently a pretty traditional cocktail.

One thing that you can’t help but notice is how much care they seem to put into every drink. Though it took a while to get one, it was only because they were crafting and tasting it, not because we were waiting for service.

The drink was awesome, and whatever my brother got (some creamy yellowish thing), was awesome.

For our second drink, we decided to just let the Jo pick for us. She picked an Old Fashioned for me (perfect), and while Jo was away, another bartender chose something else for Jason. Both drinks were an A+.

We decided to leave because we drove, and if we didn’t leave then, we might never go. There weren’t prices on the drink menu, but I was pleasantly surprised when the bill came (drinks were $10 each). The only comparison I have is Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company, and the prices were less expensive.

Jo and Lee wished us well, and we were on our way.

I’m not the only person who likes it, either. Of its 55 reviews on Yelp, 51 of them are five stars. Just google it and read the stories written. I’m telling you, the place is no joke.

At first, I wasn’t going to write anything, as I didn’t want more people to find out about the place. I’d hate for it to become somewhere I can never get into. We decided however, that it was only fair to do so, and they deserved whatever good publicity I could give.

And for what it’s worth, we weren’t treated any differently than any other patron.

From what I understand, they’re only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday right now.

You can follow them on Twitter @HopSingLaundry.

You can follow Lee on Twitter @PreacherBourbon.

The official site is hopsinglaundromat.com.

Remember to leave your sneakers at home.


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Conroy: The Top Ten Most Important Athletes In Philadelphia

Michael Conroy is a freelance sportswriter and Flyers fan, and a guest writer for Spike Eskin Dot Com. You can find him on Twitter @MichaelConroyPM.

Summer is here in Philadelphia, and the sports landscape is barren as can be. So I thought I’d take a minute or 360 to examine who the most important athletes in Philly are right now. I based my rankings on how much of an impact each athlete could potentially have on our sports world in the next year. Who holds the keys to the city?

10. Chris Pronger

The boys call him (Cap)tain down at the Wells Fargo Center and in a lot of ways, Chris Pronger represents what Philly has been about in recent years. A huge name free agent signing that was heralded as the “answer” to our championship problem. Though in previous years his importance might hinge on his play on the ice, this year the focus should be on his employment status.

The NHL salary cap is pretty confusing in a lot of areas and the rule concerning retirement is certainly one of them. Unlike in the NFL, if Chris Pronger decides to retire, his massive cap hit will remain with the Flyers. With the team in need of an overhaul on defense, that cap space could be seminal to the success of the team.

If Pronger should decide to return to hockey, a serious question looms about his ability as a defensemen going forward. If he can be pursuaded to remain here with “Long Term Injury” status, the Flyers would be better off. The team can find a replacement who’s salary does not exceed that of the injured player which, in this case, is humangus beeg right?

Whatever Pronger decides will directly impact the Flyers’ ability to return their defense to just a league-average level. We’re gonna need that to even begin to evaluate our 9-year franchise goalie … which is kind of important.

9. Nnamdi Asomugha

Hey look, another money pit!

While I may detest the infatuation Philly has developed with big name free agents recently, I really couldn’t find anything wrong with this signing at the time of the announcement.

Nnamdi Asomugha was absolutely one of the best two cornerbacks and top ten defensive players in the entire NFL. He is a consumate professional with a fantastic work ethic and attitude. Last year, however, he just wasn’t the same player. Don’t get me wrong, I believe he actually played pretty well considering the circumstances but Nnamdi was not brought here to play “pretty well”.

This is the kind of player that a coach designs an entire game plan around on most weeks, rotating his receivers and creating new formations just to avoid him. The Eagles were coined the “Dream Team” based on that reputation; Asomugha’s reputation. He did not live up to the hype.

If the Eagles have even a thought about playing in the Super Bowl in 2013, Nnamdi Asomugha needs to stop being a great cover corner and return to being a black hole occupying an entire half of the field.

8. Cole Hamels

Much like Chris Pronger, Cole Hamels’ importance to Philadelphia is based entirely on his decisions off of the field. Most assume he will sign elsewhere at the end of this season. I will tell you that I don’t think the Phillies can contend in this division if that happens.

Call me an optimist, but I still believe there is a chance he stays.

With all of the talent the Phillies have had at pitcher in the past few seasons, a case can be made that our very own, home grown King Cole has been the best. Keeping him on the roster is the biggest personnel move the front office could possibly make this season.

If the Phillies can get out from under the Roy Halladay contract due to his current injury, signing Cole Hamels is entirely possible. With our World Series MVP (Just like Roy Halladay Cliff Lee) as the center piece, a quick re-tooling and getting some key players back in the lineup may put the Phillies right back in the discussion for a title. Otherwise, it could be a while before the next Red October.

7. Andre Iguodala

“Nowadays, everybody wants to talk like they’ve got something to say but nothing comes out when they move their lips. It’s just a bunch of jibberish and (Philly fans) act like they forgot about ‘Dre”.

I’m about 80% sure that hip-hop artist Eminem wrote those words over a decade ago about Andre Iguodala’s situation with the 76ers. I could be wrong though.

Iggy (sorry, Dre) certainly had his moments this season. As the much-maligned leader of our island of misfit toy 76ers, Andre has proven his worth. Still, as valuable a player he is, he may be an even more valuable asset.

Rumors surfaced last week about a potential deal involving Andre Iguodala and the Toronto Raptors. Essentially the trade would net the 76ers a top ten draft pick…in a so-so draft.

I guess what Sixers fans should be asking themselves is whether that draft pick has any shot whatsoever at bringing Philly a title before Andre could. I’d say we’d be lucky to grab a player the caliber of Iguodala at that spot in this draft. Regardless of the salary difference, this would most likely be an immediate downgrade.

The 76ers’ playoff success and general direction in the coming years will depend heavily on what is done with Iguodala. Questions remain about whether this team will be blown up despite this season’s success. You’d have to believe this decision will help to determine how long Doug Collins’ tenure in Philadelphia lasts. Making this trade will toss everything up in the air and once that happens, there’s no telling what will come back down.

6. DeMeco Ryans

The quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense has arrived. Having demonstrated his leadership and defensive skills for years as a Houston Texan, acquiring Demeco Ryans has created a Nnamdi-like buzz around the Novacare Complex right now. This guy (Gruden voice) brings a level of experience to this linebacking core that cannot be over-emphasized.

In a scheme like the wide 9, the responsibilites of the linebackers are magnified because gaps open much (wide)r along the defensive line.

Last season, teams exploited our young linebackers’ lack of experience with those gap responsibilities ad nauseum. The hope is that in bringing in Ryans, a linebacker familiar with responsibility management, the younger players will have a lot less thinking to do pre-snap.

Imagine the difference between having to find out which guy you’re about to run into at full speed and just having someone grab you on the shoulder and point. Demeco Ryans’ direction of the Eagles’ front seven will be a major key to success and development in the upcoming season.

5. Claude Giroux

Remember that this list is not of my top ten “favorite” players in Philly. If it were, you can rest assured that Mr. Orange Jesus would be a firm #1. Instead, I want to point out an elephant in the room after almost any successful season in the NHL.

As Flyers fans can vividly recall, superstars in hockey are often a mirage. Moreso than with any other major sport, talent on the ice can vanish as suddenly as it appears. Claude Giroux was an absolutely electric playmaker in the 2011-2012 season but it was his first season with this level of responsibility. It is imperative that the star center does not take a step back next year.

It was his leadership and vastly improved play on the ice that made the preceding off-season’s controversial overhaul a success. Be it for injury or over-confidence, Giroux cannot allow his team mates to face another season without their probable captain. Next year will be the difference between “G” becoming a cornerstone of this storied franchise or just another flash in the pan.

4. Ryan Howard

As the fourth most important athlete in the city, Ryan Howard sort of symbolizes the downfall of the 2008-2011 Phillies juggernaut. His massive contract was the first thing we were able to complain about after that World Series Championship held our negativity hostage for so long.

Howard’s injury this season has been the only worthwhile storyline concerning the Phillies’ aging core. If you have an opinion at all, you either believe or do not believe Ryan Howard can help to put the team back in playoff contention.

This is an important distinction to make. When you consider what this Phillies team has meant to Philadelphia, it’s hard to imagine blowing it up. That, however, is precisely what will happen if this group does not improve after Howard’s return to the lineup.

Ryan Howard needs to come back. He needs to hit early and often to validate those who still believe in this current roster. If this last gasp isn’t enough, it will most likely be the dying breath of our World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

3. Evan Turner

E.T. phone home already. We’ve all been waiting for so long to hear from you and Philly is growing restless. It would be too easy to write off Turner as a bust at this point in his young career, especially when he has shown such flashes of brilliance in a 76ers uniform. Unfortunately time is running out and the franchise needs to know where this team is and where it is going.

The young shooting guard’s upcoming season could have very easily been ranked as the city’s most important. Regardless, if Evan Turner does not develop some sort of consistency this year, we’ll stop caring about his potential and moves will be made in the Sixers’ front office to cut bait and move on.

As passionate as I am about allowing players to develop and excercising patience, the 2012 baskeball season will be a make or break scenario and I do think that’s justified. It’s time for dis dude to get it done!

2. Ilya Bryzgalov

I enjoyed our first year with Bryz. as rocky as the road seemed at times, he survived the initiation by fire that is goaltending for the Flyers. From opening the season with a win over the defending champions in their house to that defining shootout victory in Calgary,  Ilya’s season had some potent high moments.

Playing behind as undisciplined a defense as I’ve ever seen on ice for most of the year, Bryzgalov still managed to set a franchise record for consecutive shut out minutes in a season. Still, the low moments were just as memorable. His benching for the Winter Classic may live on in Flyers lore forever.

In the NHL, a hot goalie can win you a Stanley Cup. Bryzgalov has shown us how hot he can be but the peaks and valleys in his performance need to level out going forward. If the defense is fixed in the off-season, there will be no excuse for this team falling short in the Playoffs again.

With an elite offense, and the resources to make the defense better, a goalie who’s shown he is capable needs to step up. If Bryzgalov can make that last leap, the Philadelphia Flyers will win a Stanley Cup or two in the next five years. There is no doubt in my mind.

1. Michael Vick

Well who were you expecting at number one? As entertaining as I’ve tried to make this list, my hands were tied here. The most important athlete in Philadelphia is Michael Vick. I took a trip to the Novacare complex recently for the Eagles’ Academy for Men and had the opportunity to chat with several members of the organization.

From the faux press conference with Howie Roseman to the scouting lesson in the locker room, one message remained consistent. Every member of the organization believes this team is good enough to win a Super Bowl. From top to bottom on defense, offense, special teams and coaching, there just aren’t any excuses for failure…except for one.

Michael Vick needs to be on the field. Since entering the league, Vick has consistenly been sacked more frequently than any other quarterback. This hasn’t always been his fault but this year, if it continues, it will be.

When Michael Vick plays every snap of a game for the Philadelphia Eagles, they can compete with any team in the NFL. That is why every decision he makes to turn upfield instead of getting to the sideline; every extra second taken waiting for Desean Jackson to come open sixty yards downfield matters.

Each irresponsible decision Vick makes this year will be and should be married to him. How our quarterback handles that pressure will likely define his entire career. It could define how we view the careers of Howie Roseman and even Andy Reid.

Last season, I wrote that Vick was no longer playing with house money. This season, all he’s got is the deed to his house and a very nice watch. He should think long and hard about when to hold and when to fold the fantastic hand he’s been dealt.

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An Ode To Marreese Speights

Farewell Mo, we hardly knew you.

Marreese Speights was (finally) traded today in a three-team deal, which will land him in Memphis and will supply the Sixers with two second round picks in next year’s draft. It’s a good deal for Mo, because it gives him a fresh start in a new city, where he will certainly get some playing time right off the bat with Zach Randolph’s injury. It’s good for the Sixers because well, they weren’t going to play him anyway. It clears the room on the bench and the room off the cap to add another player this season if needed without going into luxury tax territory.

Speights managed to get himself deeper into Doug Collins’ doghouse than any player since Collins became coach last season. I mean, really deep. I mean, for a few games, he was behind Darius Songaila. Speights became the poster child for unrealized potential on the Sixers. The common belief was that Speights didn’t try very hard, didn’t value defense, and was a selfish player. There may be some truth to all of those things.

But this, like most situations like this one, are probably slightly more complicated than we give them credit for.

To me, the Speights ordeal goes back to the Eddie Jordan season. Speights started off the season playing very well. In the blog I was keeping back then (my first blog ever!), I often campaigned for more time for Speights. Then, on November 15th Speights injured his knee and missed the next eight weeks of the season. He was never the same after that.

I’m not saying it was the injury that’s kept him from performing, but I think it started to snowball. Speights came back from the injury and wasn’t in good shape. He stumbled the rest of the season. Mind you though, by the time he returned, the season was an absolute, unmitigated, certifiable disaster. Every player had checked out, and the entire organization knew the coach was going to be fired. Not a great situation to come back to.

When Collins took over, he didn’t take to Speights. Maybe Collins didn’t see Speights working hard enough, maybe it was Speights not picking up the defensive assignments, whatever it was, but it wasn’t working. Instead of using it for motivation, it seemed to continue to spiral downard for Speights. When he’d get his limited playing time, he’d shoot almost every time he touched the ball, probably trying to prove himself the wrong way. You can guess what happened from there.  Proving you should play more by trying to fit 20 minutes of playing time into five minutes doesn’t work.

Finally, after the extended off-season that had many of the Sixers return in great shape, reports were that Speights came in the opposite. He hasn’t played for the Sixers this season, and now he won’t ever.

I don’t think Speights worked hard enough here in Philly. I think if you asked him privately he may agree with that sentiment. I don’t think it means he’s incapable of doing so though. Sometimes, things just don’t work out the way you want them to.

People can be pretty mean on the Internet, but Speights always seemed like a good natured, light hearted guy who legitimately enjoys playing basketball. When I repeatedly complained about his lack of defense last season on Twitter, he still greeted me with a smile and a handshake.

For whatever reasons, it didn’t work in Philadelphia for him. I hope it goes well and he finds a good basketball home in Memphis. I also hope his dream of freeing Lil’ Boosie eventually comes to fruition. We’ll always have you tweeting twitpics of fat chicks.


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The Degenerate: Week 17, The Friday Pick (On Thursday): Getting Exotic

So, we can finally put the 2011 Eagles season to bed. It’s over. They did all they could down the stretch, but it was too little, too late. The Eagles ended the season with a nice winning streak but their problems went all the way back to the beginning of the season.

Eagle fans all have their own opinion about when it fell apart. Some people say Week 2 at Atlanta, when Vick got hurt and the Eagles blew a lead and went to 1-1. Others might say the Giants game, where the pass defense was exposed by Eli Manning (Victor Cruz??). But the moment that sticks out for me is Week 4, they have the 49ers on the ropes, leading 20-3 at halftime. But the 49ers come out in the 2nd half and thanks to a series of miscues by the Eagles, San Francisco pulls out a 24-23 win. We didn’t know at the time that the 49ers were actually a pretty good team, but that loss dropped the Eagles to 1-3 and the panic started to overtake the fan base.

We can look back at the 2011 season and dissect it 100 different ways, but bottom line it was a disappointment. High expectations and nothing to show for it. Ending the season on a four game winning streak is a nice consolation prize, but who really cares if they finish 8-8? I don’t.

Fire Andy? Probably not, we'll have him back in 2012.

Week 17 is always a crazy week for NFL gambling. You have some teams who are playing for division titles or playoff seeding, while a bunch of teams are just playing out their season and hoping to escape in one piece. So how can you handicap a game when both teams have nothing to play for? The short answer is you can’t.

The marquee game this week is the 8pm Sunday night game, Dallas v. NY Giants. Winner will win the NFC East, loser goes home. It can’t get more dramatic than that. On the opposite side we have our hometown Eagles hosting the Redskins. Both teams are eliminated from the playoff race, so neither has any real reason to give 100%. Will Washington come in and try to get some revenge against the Eagles? After all, it was their Week 6 loss to the Eagles that started the Redskins free fall from NFC East leaders to NFC East basement. But honestly if it wasn’t the Eagles then someone else would have done it. This Redskins team is not very good, and if you have to look to John Beck halfway through the season to jump start your offense, then you are in trouble.

The Eagles could have some motivation this week. Yes, it’s been a disappointing season (to put it mildly) but a win on Sunday will move them to 8-8 and also give them a 5-1 record against NFC East division teams.

Stephen McGee helped us hit our 'Christmas Eve Parlay'

But you know what? I have no idea what will happen. It looks like LeSean McCoy will be sitting, Asante Samuel is already OUT. What about Mike Vick? He’s been banged up this season, will he play 4 quarters of a meaningless game? Or will we see what Mike Kafka can do? Does DeSean Jackson put out 100%, or is he saving his body for free-agency? Will Jason Babin play the whole game and try to get the sack record? Will his over-aggressive play hurt, or help, the defense as a whole?

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, and I’m not going to lay 10 points to find out. There are alot of other good matchups on the card this week, so we can look past the Eagles / Redskins game and find value elsewhere.

In Week 17 I only like to bet on motivated teams. Teams that know a win will mean something, and if they are playing a team who has already been eliminated then that makes it even more enticing.

At Thanksgiving we gave out the “Thanksgiving Threesome” (we went 2-1), last week we gave out the “Christmas Eve Parlay” (Eagles and UNDER – winner), and this week we are keeping the holiday theme alive with another exotic bet the “New Years Teaser”. I know Spike hates teasers, even more than he hates parlays but hey, this is a special occasion. So let’s close out the 2011 regular season with a winner.

Bet #1: (a.k.a. The “not a tease, more like a sure thing” pick)

Three Team Teaser:
Atlanta Falcons -2 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Francisco 49ers -.5 over St Louis Rams
New England Patriots -1 over Buffalo Bills

So I’m looking at three teams that still have a reason to play to win on Sunday, and they are playing against teams who are already eliminated from the playoff race. These motivated teams are laying high numbers (10+ in all cases) but with a 10 point swing on a 3 team team teaser these line will all drop below a field goal, so basically we are looking for just three winners. I think we will get it.

In case you didn’t already know, a teaser is a type of bet that gives you points to use in your favor. For this 3 team teaser, we are getting 10 points on each game. Since we are going with all favorites, we are getting 10 points taken off of the line. Sounds great, right? The downside is that it usually has higher juice (lose $60 for every $50 bet). So a $100 bet will lose $120. And all 3 teams have to cover the new spread in order for you to win your bet. Oh, and if any of the games push (or tie), then you lose the whole bet. So all those points come at a price.

Atlanta Falcons -2 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We all saw that beating that the Falcons took on Monday night against the Saints, Drew Brees was out to set a passing record and he didn’t let the Falcons pass defense get in the way. But this week Atlanta gets a whole different animal, the 4-11 Tampa Bay Bucs.

This is probably Raheem Morris’ last game as Bucs head coach, his team has lost 9 in a row, and they are 1-8 ATS in that span. That’s not a good resume to have to explain at annual review time.

Matt Ryan and the Falcons are looking to end the season on a high note.

The Bucs offense is 25th overall, and the defense is even worse at 31st. I don’t see how Tampa can hang with the Falcons who are coming off a bad loss to the Saints and who are looking for a positive end to their regular season.

I don’t think the Falcons want to limp into the playoffs on a two game losing streak. They are still playing for seeding, if Atlanta wins and Detroit loses then Atlanta moves to the #5 seed and plays the NFC East winner. If they end up as #6 seed they will either make a return trip to New Orleans where they just got slapped around, or take a trip out west to play the 49ers. So they need help to get that #5 seed and play the NFC East winner, but the first step would be to get a win on Sunday.

I expect the combination of “we need to bounce back  from an ugly loss” + homefield advantage will get them a win. HC Mike Smith could start resting starters if Detroit pulls out to a big lead against Green Bay but even if they cycle out some first stringers I still think they can get it done.

Let’s say Atlanta gets some revenge from a Week 3 loss and knocks off the Buccaneers. Atlanta wins 30-14.

San Francisco 49ers -.5 over St Louis Rams

Whenever you are one of the teams in the Week 17 “what team is the worst in the NFL” argument, you know you are bad.

Kellen Clemens vs. the 49ers Defense? I'll take the Niners.

St Louis is the worst team in the NFL (in my opinion). It took them a while to steal the title from the Colts, but coming into Week 17 they have taken over the  (not really) coveted #32 Overall Team Efficiency ranking at FootballOutsiders.com. St Louis has lost six games in a row, they’ve been shut out twice in their last four games, they are only averaging 11 points per game this season, and QB Sam Bradford is probably not playing this weekend. Besides that, they’re golden.

All you need to know about this game is that the Rams are #32 in offensive efficiency, and they are going against the 49ers, who come in at #2 in defensive efficiency. So, there is a very good chance that the Rams get shut out. I mean, the 49ers shut them out in Week 13, 26-0, why can’t they do it again?

The 49ers are also playing to secure a bye week. If they win they get a week off to rest up. If they lose they could be hosting a game next weekend.

That is some good motivation.

The line is 10.5, and the game is in St Louis. I’m not comfortable laying that many points on the road, but when we tease it down to basically a pick ‘em game, I’m all over the 49ers.

I think the 49ers defense will continue to dominate and shut down the Rams. I’m saying 49ers win 24-6.

New England Patriots -1 over Buffalo Bills

Remember back in Week 3 when the Bills were riding high? They were 3-0 and they were coming off a huge win over New England. My how times have changed. Fast forward to Week 17, the Bills are 6-9, and 1-6 in their last 7 games. And now they travel to Foxboro for a rematch with the Patriots.

Bill Belechik remembers that loss. You know he does. And his team is playing Week 17 to lock up the #1 seed in the AFC, homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Brady has the #1 seed, a model wife and he is working towards an NFL passing record. What about you?

Yeah I know, the Patriots defense sucks, #32 overall. Wow, and they’re still 12-3? Yeah, because they have the #2 ranked offense, Tom Brady is putting up yards like no one else (except Drew Brees) and the Patriots have found a way to win without having to rely on a shutdown defense.

Add into this equation that Tom Brady is still in the hunt to break Dan Marino’s single season passing record. Drew Brees may have gotten the headlines on Monday night by being the first to break Marino’s record, but Brady is only 190 yards behind him. And I think if it takes Brady throwing for 500 yards to break the record, then he will try to do it.

Buffalo is coming off a nice win over Denver last week, they shut down Tebow and broke a 6 game losing streak. But a win over Tebow isn’t as impressive as it may have been a few weeks ago. And don’t forget, the Patriots beat them the week before, so let’s call that a draw.

I hate the Patriots but this is the type of game where I love to bet on them. Similar to the “what about us?” motivation when they played Tebow two weeks ago, Belechik and the boys are probably sitting back saying “yo, we’re the #1 team in the AFC, Brady is close to the single season passing record, and all everyone is talking about is Drew Brees?”

I think they come out big and prove that they are a team to be reckoned with. I’ll say the Patriots get fired up, lock up the #1 seed in the AFC, get revenge for Week 3 and knock off the Bills. Pats win 34-24.

Enjoy your New Years Eve and the Mummers Parade. And let’s get a winner to end the regular season!





We’ll be back next week with a breakdown of the NFL playoffs, maybe some playoff prop bets and some Wildcard weekend picks!

Season Record: 22-17. You can see all my picks for the 2011 season documented here.

Questions, comments, links to share, etc… You can get in touch with me multiple ways:

Follow me on Twitter: @Fantasource
Email me: fantasource@gmail.com
Or just let me know your thoughts in the comments


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