Tag Archive | "Philly Five"

The Philly Five Power Rankings – CHOOOOOCH!

Ten days have passed since the last Philly Five. It doesn’t sound like much but since then the Sixers and Celtics have played four games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals (series tied 2-2), the Phillies knocked out 10 games (went a healthy 7-3) and Pat Burrell danced shirtless at a bar after his retirement ceremony. Who gets into the Five this week? You probably won’t be surprised at our choices.

So without further ado, here is the Philly Five for May 21, 2012…

The Chooch is Loose

1) Chooch – Carlos Ruiz is the best catcher in baseball up to this point in the season. I mean, even Tim McCarver said it on Saturday night. So it has to be true.
Let’s break down his season: .355 BA (#1), 21 runs (#1), 7 HR (#2), 29 RBI (#1), 2 SB (#2, Yadier Molina has 4!?!?).
Yes, the hitting is great, but you can’t talk about Chooch without talking about his game management, his handling of the best pitching staff in the majors. And he’s been the fan favorite for a few years, and now Chooch is finally getting some love around the league.

He’s got the stats, he’s got the memes (IceCreamForChooch.com, #VoteForChooch, #Chooch2012). Now let’s get him to Kansas City.
Vote Here. DO IT!

2) Sixers – Ok, can we just forget Wednesday night, Game 3, even happened. That was a hot mess. Sixers fell behind big and never even made a dent in the deficit after halftime. But hey, those red t-shirts were pretty nice.

You Say You Want a Revolution?

But last Monday night in Boston? Wow. And what about that epic comeback on Friday night? That is a game we will be talking about for a looooong time around here. Down 15 points early, everyone writing us off, everyone on Twitter was doing an “I told you so” to all us Sixers believers.

Then the boys managed to fight and fight and chip away at that Boston lead by playing smothering defense, making clutch shots, and finally they were able to pull away in the final 2 minutes to ice the game.

I know that a loss on Friday would have put the mail in the coffin, but we won. And we proved to everyone who wrote us off that this young Sixers team can pull together and get the job done. Some nights it’s Iggy who takes over, some nights it’s Lou off the bench as the spark. Evan Turner even made a splash in the postseason. Great to see him getting in people’s faces on Friday, letting them know “we’re not going anywhere”. And the most unlikely of heros, shutting down KG, playing inspired ball, is the kid from Temple. He played so well that I gave him #3 this week…

3) Lavoy Allen – I could have listed a few players here, but I’m going with Lavoy. The pride of North Broad and Pennsbury High School. Allen came into the playoffs pretty much an unknown player, but after handling KG for the series, the league has noticed. Celtics fans had dismissed him for 3 games, but after Game 4 I think even they are turning into believers (“Ok, Maybe Lavoy Allen Is A Defensive Problem For Garnett” – CelticsBlog.com).

I even got into the fun on Twitter (hey, this got 24 retweets and counting, a personal record. Let me gloat a little)

Lavoy has had a fabulous series, and on Friday night he held Garnett to 9 points (3-12 FG). He’s leading the team in field goal percentage (58%), and giving us 8.5 ppg and 6.5 rebs. But more noticeably he has 10 offensive rebounds, which is a part of the game the Sixers sorely lacked coming into the playoffs.

From scrub to star

My lasting memory of Allen for this series will be Game 2, when he got an inbound pass late in a tight game with almost no time on the shot clock and nailed a clutch jumper. Cold blooded.

Back in August, in an idiotic attempt to rank all the NBA players prior to the season, ESPN actually selected Allen as the worst player in the league. Seriously. Whatevs, Lavoy is getting it done when it counts. He ended the regular season just hoping to be on the 12 man roster next season, now the question isn’t will he make the team but will be be a starter?
So, props to Lavoy. Good work, rook. Now let’s do it again on Monday night.

4) Sixers Fans – back in November there weren’t many of us. When I told people I had Sixers season tickets they were mostly like “why?” And I didn’t really have a good answer. But I saw that this team had potential, and I like watching hoops. And the 10,000 people who showed up on a random Wednesday night to watch them play the Hawks or Bucks in February always knew that this team was special.

This season started off great, but in January and February when the big names came to town we were usually on the losing end. I mean, besides the Lakers and Bulls games in February, we dropped most of the big games we played. Clippers? Chris Paul drops a shot at the buzzer to win. Mavericks? We fight hard but Dirk was just too much for us. Thunder? We almost had them, but Durant went off like the MVP he is and got his team the win. The Heat? Well, we won’t talk about the Heat. They owned us. But the fight was there.

And now it is paying off. Defense and some hot shooting is winning us games. Let’s hope that we can keep the streak going. Keep your chins up Sixers fans, this is the beginning of a new era.

12 for 12

5) Jonathan Papelbon –Not much else to pick from this week, so I went with the closer. He improved his save streak

up to 12 for 12. He came in on Friday night with a 6-4 lead against his old mates, and sent the Red Sox packing. We didn’t have too many highlights from the Red Sox series, but Paps getting a save on Friday night was nice to see.

When we got Papelbon last fall alot of Red Sox fans were happy to see him go. The common refrain from them was “Yeah, he’s funny and you’ll love his personality. But wait until he starts blowing saves and see how you like him then.” Ok, we’re still waiting for that.

The Gas Face:
999) Phillies Media Relations – So the Phillies 2 biggest stars, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, are hurt. And no one really knows how rehab is going. So an intrepid, longtime Phillies writer, Bob Brookover, heads to the Clearwater complex to see what’s up with Howard. And what do the Phillies do? They throw him out. No reporters can watch the rehab. Frank Fitzpatrick also raises some questions about how the Phillies treated Howard’s injury in the first place. Then Ruben goes all “Baghdad Bob” and tries to deny there are any problems whatsoever.

Everything is fine, I assure you

I understand that the Phillies want to keep rumors to a minimum, and stick to the company line on injuries and rehab progress. But the fans are curious, and when it seems like Ruben and the team aren’t being honest with the information, then I am all for someone trying to dig for the truth.

And this wasn’t some bloggers who showed up with a Flip Camera looking for a scoop, this was a veteran sportswriter trying to find out information that the fans want to know. How hurt is Howard, and what is he up to? When is he coming back? Dennis Deitch had a good take on this on Sunday,

..and this is true, Smug Ruben is only palatable when they are winning. And we’re not winning, at least not lately. And the natives are growing restless.

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! We’ll be in the Eastern Conference Finals by then, right?

You can follow me on Twitter (@Fantasource) or email (fantasource@gmail.com)


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The Philly Five Power Rankings – Iggy, Iggy, Iggy, Can’t You See…

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.

This is definitely NOT old school

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?

Evan and Jrue. #ShowYaLuv

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.

Photoshop by @_mattmac (cross promotion FTW!)

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.

Ilya and Danny, in happier times.

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.

The Gasface:

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!

You can follow me on Twitter (@Fantasource) or email (fantasource@gmail.com)


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