Thursday, December 29

Don't You Want to Taste the Fruits?

Mike McMahon is disrespecting white quarterbacks by leaving the pocket. In a league full of chalky pocket passers, how does this man have the hubris to circumvent the unwritten rule that a white quarterback should drop back (perhaps even with shoulders squared), analyze the defense, and deliver a precise strike to his more athletic counterparts? The pocket is Eden, and Mikey has tasted the fruit from the tree of good and evil. It is in our hands to decide who has provided the apple to young McMahon. Could it be gentle McNabb, who in recent years has neglected this knowledge and returned to his sanctuary? Or the serpentine Eldorado Owens, he who has already delivered such tumult to the Eagles clan? By chance it was King Andy who stepped down from his throne to deliver the morsel to his young apprentice, allowing him each week to deliver the monotone "we like his athletic ability."

Whoever the culprit, the result has been the same. The blind lead the blind onto the field each week, and now, facing a division sweep while fans inwardly pray for a loss. It has been a season to forget, and my only hope is that the Eagles royalty understands the frailty of their gameplan and does not fall into the trap of believing that injuries were the cause of our pain.

Monday, December 26

Superman dies

So I spent my formative years as a Vikings fan, and therefore hated the Greenbay Packers. I still do, and I'm sure I always will, but you gotta love #4. This is probably his last season, and last night was probably his second to last game. They were playing the Bears, who I also hate, so I was pulling for Favre. You could tell the whole game that the Pack was defeated, but when Chatman returned that punt for a TD, I smelled a little Favre comeback. Of course that didn't happen, and they went for the field goal instead of the touchdown when they brought the ball back down the field, but they were close. Really, I just want to mention how Favre is by far the best QB I've ever seen when it comes to getting knocked around and really just not caring...even welcoming it. Even when he throws up a bomb that's sure to get picked, sometimes you think he might just run down and catch it himself. And then get form tackled by Urlacher, and get right back up.

Friday, December 23

If I Had a Hammer...

I'd hammer out the losing. I'd hammer out the fumbles. I'd hammer out the coaching. I'd hammer out the hernias. I'd hammer out the contracts. I'd hammer out the drops. I'd hammer out the special teams. I'd hammer out the defense. I'd hammer out the holding. I'd hammer out the false starts. I'd hammer out Kearse. I'd hammer out Lito. I'd hammer out Reno. I'd definitely hammer out interceptions on monday night when we're up six with three minutes to play and should have just taken a knee but Andy's a little to stubborn for that and these days I can barely even laugh when I look at his mustache which used to send me into fits.

I'd hammer out the love between the brothers and the sisters all over the land.

Thursday, December 22

Breaking News

By Bass McSweeney
Green Bleeder Correspondent

Scare At South Philadelphia Sports Complex

Eagles football practice was halted this morning after a player reported finding an unknown white powdery substance on the practice field. Head Coach Andy Reid immediately suspended practice while police and federal investigators were called to investigate.

After a complete analysis, FBI forensic experts determined that the white substance unknown to the players was the goal line.

Practice was resumed after special agents decided the team was unlikely to encounter the substance again.

Wednesday, December 21

No-Bowl Follow Up

After I got over the bewilderment of the fact that there is a Pro Bowl announcement show, I was interested/disapointed to learn that Jeremiah Trotter will be representing our 2005 Philadelphia Eagles in Hawaii this season. Although I would have liked to get the snub because it would put such a nice finishing touch on the season, it is nevertheless great to see a monster like Trot sipping fruity drinks with umbrellas and checking out girls in bikinis, which is clearly the heart of any Pro Bowl experience. The man simply can't be denied.

In relevant Pro Bowl news, big ups to the Bears, not only for their six Pro Bowl nods and their gift of a watchable Sunday night game (finally) but for an overall superb season. Teams like Chicago are becoming a rarity in the wild west that the NFL has become, and I'm throwing my full support towards them during their playoff run. And no, I'm not trying to jinx them. And no, I can't believe that the pinche Vikings have won six of seven.

For tonight, if you have the opportunity, please tune in and marvel at the magic of everyone's favorite new sixer- Shavlik Randolph. You won't be sorry for long.

Simple Hypothetical

Easy: Could you catch 4 of 10 passes thrown by Donovan F. McNabb? Please take into account the following (and I welcome all jokes, both good and bad):

1. Three-quarters of our wide receivers can't

2. He's gonna miss you by about five feet on at least two of his tosses

3. He throws about 65 mph. In case you can't remember what sixty mph looks like, take a walk out to the highway and check out the right lane.

4. If you're name is Jared Wilner, think about how many passes from Skari you could catch. If it is less than four, then odds are you couldn't catch four of Donnie's.

As for me, I'm pretty sure I could grab two, maybe three with gloves. I think the first set would be tricky, but that with a little warm-up on the JUGS machine, I should be able to handle it.

Thursday, December 15

Screw Bush, Screw Castro

So Hal summed up the facts pretty well. Coming soon, World Baseball Classic. Each country with any reasonable baseball presence will be supplying a team to play first in round-robin play, then next into a knock out round. So of course there's the USA, of course there's Canada and Japan and the Dominican Republic. And of course there's Cuba. No, wait, there's not. There will be no Cuba, even though Cuba has consistently been the best performer in all amateur baseball contests, including the Olympics. While the sport of baseball on the professional level hasn't existed in Cuba since a few years after the current regime took power, it is widely recognized as one of the baseball powerhouses of the world. Livan Hernandez, his brother El Duque, Rafael Palmeiro, Jose Canseco, Danny Baez, and Jose Contreras are just a few of the superstars produced by this small country. While these specific superstars all left Cuba and the Cuban National Team by defection, most of them still hold close ties to the Cuban exile population in America, and indirectly to Cuba, either through family that has stayed on the island or otherwise. Initially, when this tournament was announced, Fidel Castro made it very clear that no player who defected from Cuba would be allowed to play on the team in the World Baseball Classic. The current American administration then made it clear that Cuba would not be allowed to participate in the USA and Japan sponsored event, due to current trade embargo restrictions with the communist country. So in essence, although Cuban baseball players have an inextricable link to the political nature of their defection, they will be banned from participating in an event that not only myself, but countless other Cuban-Americans have been looking forward to since the sport of baseball was removed from the Summer Olympic Games. In a hilarious way, it's a great comment on the child-like relationship that has existed between our country and our neighbor to the south for decades. In an entirely unfunny way, it's a great comment on that same child-like relationship. The Cuban-exile fueled politics of American administrations since Kennedy that have reduced the Cuban economy to a tourism-based shell of what it was in the 20's and 50's. Now, the spat continues to grown men arguing about who can and cannot play baseball, a sport that for over a hundred years has been loved and enjoyed by people of all ages. I, for one, have become sick at this prospect.

Cuban Baseball Crisis

Quick hit on the situation between the US Treasury and the Cuban baseball team, before Armando sinks his teeth into it later-

On the heels of the first serious attempt at a world baseball tournament, the United States has somehow decided that it is their business to decide whether or not the Cuba should be able to field a team. Setting aside the fact that they are stepping in and denying a tremendous group of ballplayers their rightful chance to play for their birthnation, the thing about this that bites my ass the most is that I can't exactly understand what makes America think that they should have any say in the matter at all. Bush has done enough to foul up international affairs and the US government should have the good sense to stay as far away from this matter as possible. The biggest and only debate on the subject of Cuban baseball should be the decision that MLB Cuban defectors have in whether or not they wish to represent Cuba or stand against the Castro regime.

The No-Bowl

Pro-Bowl rosters will be unveiled sometime next week, and the only way I can see us getting a man sent to Hawaii is if the league switches to baseball rules and lets everyone go. Last year we had nine players voted in, ten if you count Westbrook's late nod. It also marks the second straight year that Andy Reid will not man the ship, and this time he's got a far more feeble excuse.

Not only will we most likely get snubbed, there's hardly anyone on the club that even warrants an argument. You could try to back Trot, but how can you fully get behind the emotional leader on a team with no emotion? The same goes for Dawk, the latest victim of the Hal Morra jersey curse. Casualties now include Todd Pinkston (leg), Ron Artest (everything), Eric Snow (bench sores), and Shaq (ankle tweak). I'd love to back Sheldon, but after a strong start, he's been having too much trouble adjusting to the left cornerback position. Offense may be in even worse shape, especially with 8 starters missing significant burn.

Given the specific nature of this season, I think this is a fantastic situation. As if the Seattle game wasn't a big enough embarrassment, going from 10 pro-bowlers to none while being the first team in league history to sweep their division and get swept in consecutive years (if the Skins can take us down again) should be a nice Andre The Giant slap to the face. Stay warm, it's gonna be a looong offseason.

Tuesday, December 13

Great googily moogily

So I'm sitting here watching the Flyers battle the Bluejackets of Columbus, Ohio, and I can't help but notice a few hilarious things. First of all, does it blow anyone's mind that Chris Therien still plays for the Flyers? I know people love him, and he's really not that bad, but man. He just looks dumb sometimes when he's out on the ice, like he doesn't know what he's doing. To top it off, he's played more games as a Flyer (706 before this season) than everyone but Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, Brian Propp, Joe Watson, Bob Kelly, and Rick Macleish. If that doesn't blow your mind, you don't know enough about hockey. In more positive news, Peter Forsberg continues to make people look something like Hollis Thomas on ice, and when the rest of our team heals up, well, get the hell out of the way.

Monday, December 12

Sorry guys, someone's gotta talk about soccer

So the World Cup groupings were released last week, and I figure someone's gotta say something. Everyone says this is Team USA's best chance to win the whole thing in history, and we're even ranked in the top 10. Who'd have thought that would ever happen? So everything's going well, and then the bracket comes out, and looky-looky...they drop the Italy bomb on us for the first round. Our other opponents, Ghana and the Czech Republic are slightly easier match ups, but those Czechs can pull some magic out every once in a while. So it's going to be a tough one, but exciting nonetheless. Now, I'm sure most of you might rather watch competitive cheerleading on ESPN than soccer, but you have to acknowledge the importance of the event. More people in the world play soccer than just about anything, and they'll all be watching. Do yourself a favor and watch, even just so you've got something to talk about. Those two dudes up there ^^....amazing. I might be a closet soccer fan, but I'll be proud to watch this one, and maybe for once get to openly support something that my country does.

Sailing Away

The flotilla has hit the high seas, as Vicente Padilla has been traded to the Rangers for a player to be named later, who will most likely not be Hank Blaylock. Looks like the new plan is to move the wall back, make room for Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson, Gavin Floyd, and duke it out will all comers. Best of luck, gentlemen.

In trade news that may be able to help one of our teams, the Indiana Pacers have put Ron Artest and his handler on the market, ready to terrorize a city near you. I'm gonna go right off and propose Kyle Korver and Jamal Mashburn straight up for Ronron, which is amazing for many reasons, not the least of which being that it works. We'd be absolutely fearsome with Igoudala and Artest on the perimiter and Dalembert goaltending everything down low. This trade has me going third-grade all over.

Crocodile Tears

Admit it, Sunday's game was kinda fun, wasn't it. We got to see some fine football, a breakout talent horrifically managed by a certifiably insane coach, and overtime to boot! I sign on for 60 minutes of football, anything past that I consider a gift. And we're inching closer and closer to Reggie Bush. Add in Eli's three interceptions that he threw with both hands firmly around his neck and wow, that was easily the most entertaining Eagles loss in years.

I feel fine making jokes about this team because it all feels like a bump in the road, and one that we should have seen coming a long while back. But have you ever seen anything like this from a coach that we once considered among the best in the business? At this point, I'd put him a step above Mike Tice, and that's just on the merit of his moustache and four straight NFC Conference game appearances. But is he officially off the deep end? How do you justify giving Reno 10 touches when you have Moats leaving scorched earth in his wake and Mike McMahon at the helm? How do you keep Greg Lewis on the field while he's wearing Mike Lieberthal's cement shoes as gloves? It looks like he's taking night classes at the Dom Capers school of draft board climbing, but at this point I think if we ended up with Reggie Bush Andy would just put him on special teams until he blew out his ACL covering punts.

Still, it was a little fun wasn't it? All the touchdowns and turnovers, watching Dallas struggle on the scoreboard, it felt almost like a real football game. And then, when the pocket collapsed and Mike laid it on the turf for the final time, did you mind? Or did you picture that draft board and just dream of next year's training camp? This is football, and I'm in it for the long-run. We're not gonna win every year (although not getting swept in the division would be nice), so let's do what we can to get in shape for the next go at it. Donnie's set to start throwing again next April (he'll probably play a game before Randy Wolf), and sometime soon all will be well again in Eagleland. Until then, is there anything better than watching Koy buckle his chinstrap and toss it around with Mike Bartrum? Not in my eyes.

Friday, December 9

Gotta Have It: Relax

No playoffs, no worries. Grab a mug, put this baby on, and you can sleepwalk through the rest of the season. Only four games left, so step to it. With the passing of thanksgiving, it's high time to be thankful for everything the Birds have given us and take this as a time for easy relaxation. This is the first time this century that we haven't had to worry about losing, so really relish it. Come next year it'll be back to the grind.

Thursday, December 8

Welcome to Miami!

Finally, I know where Penn State will be playing its bowl game. Although when girls or casual fans ask me why, it's still a difficult challenge to explain why we are playing in the Orange Bowl and why we are playing Florida State. All bowl politicking aside, does anyone know what the line is? I would set it at about 14. Florida State has 4 losses and is only in the Orange Bowl because it beat an overrated Marcus Vick in a conference championship game. Penn State wins the same way it won all it's other games. Defense and Robinson.

The popular back story is of course the coaching match up between all time wins leader Bobby Bowden and loveable legend Joe Paterno. The two combine for over 700 division 1-A wins and over 150 years of being old. I won't bother researching any other statistical comparisons because I wouldn't want to steal the thunder of those covering the game, who will no doubt wax nostalgic until my ears start bleeding.

A win will leave Penn State at 11-1 and a #3 ranking for the year. 3 is the best we can do. I have mixed feelings about what an undefeated season would have meant. Apparently State would still be 3rd behind Texas and Southern California. But would 12-0 put us above the loser of the Rose Bowl for the #2 ranking? Really, who cares? It was a hell of a season, and knowing that had we gone unbeaten we still wouldn't have a shot takes a little sting out of the loss to Michigan (although I still f#cking hate that school).

The bottom line is that Joe Pa and Penn State football are back on the map. I won't get into who's coming back next year and such until after the bowl game but GreenBleeder correspondent Andrew Belli has just informed me that Penn State has filled the Sept. 16th schedule vacancy with Division 1-AA Youngstown State. The preliminary line is 35 and Morelli's preliminary confidence is sky high.

The game is Jan 3rd at 8 pm on ABC. It is the last time this football season I will have a chance to watch a meaningful game for a team I care about. If all goes well, I will be in the stands and will return with a full report of my first bowl game experience.

Hypothetical: Speed Kills

Here's an easy one, although it depends more on your personal athletic ability than the others. Picture yourself on one end of a 25 yard by 10 yard plot of land (half an endzone). Now picture Lito Sheppard on the other end with a football under his arm. If you had 10 minutes and neither of you could leave the area, could you tackle him? Could you get the ball loose? For the sake of argument we'll use the 2004 Lito, before he became the second coming of Al Harris and then broke his ankle.

I'm 95% certain that I'd have no chance at all, but I can think of a few people who might have a shot. How about you?

Wednesday, December 7

You Say Tomato, I Also Say Tomato

How we ever got rid of Jim Thome, I'll never know, and boot in the fact that we got a baseball player in the deal, well... I'm just blown away. Other than this and the Billy Wagner downgrade, management has found time to bring in a few sub-average middle relievers and a utility infielder, so it's just your average offseason here in Philly.

Fact is, we got rid of Ed Wade, the single move which assured a successful winter break. Thankfully we still get to hear residual Wade trade rumors like Abreu straight up for Manny, one of the great laughers of the year. Nothing would beat Aaron Rowand ranging over and stealing fly balls from him like Kelly Leak while Manny listens to Young Jeezy on his sunglasses.

In other non-player movement news, the team has approved plans to move the left field wall back five feet and raise it 2.5 feet up to a height of 10.5 ft, which means Pat Burrell won't be able to stash his dip in the flowers anymore. Tough breaks all around. Tentative plans are brewing to install a ladder so that he might catch a home run or two. Would anyone be against replacing the warning track with a trampoline? Who doesn't want to see Gary Sheffield break a ball over his head after Torii Hunter gets 15 feet of air to rob him of a dinger? Ideas like this don't even seem that ridiculous after watching centerfielders stumble up and down the hill in Houston.

Tuesday, December 6

It's just that kind of day

It's usually kind of tough to talk about baseball in the middle of football season, but I'm feeling bold. It is trade time for Major League Baseball, and since the Phillies are in the middle of it, some things demand evaluation.

First transaction. Aaron Rowand and Dan Haigwood from the White Sox for Jim Thome and cash considerations. Seriously? I didn't think anyone would want Thome, but I guess the World Series champs are willing to take a risk on an aging big bat. Not to mention Rowand's value, especially in a position the Phils have been lacking in the past few seasons. Great fielder, decent bat, and hopefully not gonna sit on the DL or take the season off. He's no Carlos Beltran, I'll certainly take him.

Second transaction. The Phillies sign infielder Abraham Nunez, who had played previously for the Cardinals. He's an average hitter, and a slightly above average hitter, but I'd bet he's better than David Bell. At least it's a fresh face in the line up.

Third Transaction, Fourth Transaction. Signed Julio Santana from Milwaukee and signed Sal Fasano who had been with the Orioles. A reliever and a catcher. Neither particularly good, but anyone's better than Mike Lieberthal, even at warming the bench.

Fifth Transaction. Tom Gordon signed from the Yankees. He's the replacement for Billy Wagner. Now, I think it's hard to be in favor of signing Billy Wagner at the amount of money that he wanted, not to mention his age, but I don't really like this signing. Gordon's a perennial playoff dud, and while he's done some decent pitching in his career, he's no Billy Wagner. If they manage to reinforce the bullpen in some other constructive ways, he might serve the purpose adequately.

The Rowand deal is obviously the standout so far, but Abreu and Burrell still seem to be tradable commodities on this team. I heard they weren't interested in Manny Ramirez for Abreu, but the optimist in me just ignores that out of spite. Clearly the team is in desperate need of a real No. 1 pitcher, and they believe Abreu is the one who can garner this in return.

Now for my feelings. I'm relieved Thome is gone, watching him rot on the bench was painful. Oh wait, he was never even on the bench. Good riddance, welcome Rowand. Gordon is slightly past his prime, but might suffice if we can build up the pen. I like Nunez, but he's not gonna help this team unless he gets Bell off the field. Really....I think the best chance the Phillies have is moving one of those outfielders for an ace, the obvious move. There are an infinite number of possibilities, although only a few are reasonable, and I hope Gillick can get it done with this one. So far he's shown a willingness to move the pieces around, and has managed to reduce some payroll, so you gotta be happy so far.

In all seriousness though, I still think the Eagles have a better chance at winning the World Series than the Phillies. I heard Gillick say that he thinks Bell and Lieberthal are two experienced veterans who know how to win. Enough said.

It Wasn't As Bad As it Looked

There's few things that you can say in front of a group of 2nd graders after a game like that, but here's one of them: it wasn't actually that bad. Although my dad and I openly hoped that Lurie would postpone the Reggie White ceremony and instead bring in Agent K and give us a memory-flash, I'll go ahead and argue that it wasn't even the worst loss of the season. My vote for that one goes to either game vs. the pinche Cowboys. (I'd say the first was the worse beating and the second was the tougher loss). Sure, we got beat forty-two to nothing on national television by Matt "we'll take the ball and we're gonna score" Hasselbeck. Sure, we turned the ball over 6 times and never got past the Seahawks' 38, one of two times we held the ball in Seattle territory (we made it to their 47 on the other one). But here are six examples of why this beating wasn't as bad as it looked.

Wait for it.

So here's what happened. I started this column, tried to come up with some reasons, put some stats down and you know what? There's no way around this one. They got flat out slapped in the mouth. They are a bad football team. I was going to wax on and on about how they didn't march all over the field, and didn't leave power through the middle but it's just not gonna happen. They had Maurice Morris and Seneca Wallace in the damn game. I love a bad football team. If you still love the Eagles too, then understand, you love a bad football team. So let's have some fun, watch the rest of the season without that anxious feeling in our stomachs, and just enjoy some professional football (they still get paid, so there's no way around calling them professionals).

Since you knew all this already and I had the luxury of sitting in the Linc for this one, I'll share a few things that didn't turn up on the TV.

1. On one of the plays after McMahon's second interception he scrambled a bit and threw the ball away, leading to someone in the stands shouting 'What are you doing! 54 was wide open!'

2. On Shaun Alexander's 2-yard touchdown run after Koy's first interception the Eagles replay crew ran a close-up of the left tackle holding maybe 15 times. That was what the all the laughter was about.

3. Randall Cunningham was in attendance during the halftime proceedings and was met with a chorus of 'Don't Leave!' and 'Grab a uniform!' on his way out.

4. Jeffrey Lurie getting savagely booed during his Reggie White speech.

Basically, Mike McMahon, I knew AJ Feeley. And you sir are no AJ Feeley.

Friday, December 2

Hypothetical: The Final Countdown

Here's the situation: you and four other dudes (plus a bench) holding a 13 point lead with one minute left against the Nba team of your choice. Can you hold on? I say 9 out of ten times they scrape out the victory and maybe that one time you get happy at the free-throw line. They're gonna come hard, shoot threes, and foul. All you gotta do is kill some clock. Can you do it?

Tying in another question, if it goes to overtime, where would you put the over/under and the spread. I'd say them -35, with an over/under of 36