Here’s your boycott…

So Eagles’ fans got their first taste of a weekend without football following the loss to the Cardinals in the NFC Championship game two Sunday’s ago and it seems as if it didn’t go down too well. Lost and rudderless without the local football team to keep them anchored, the magnitude of the Eagles’ defeat resonated on the Richter scale in these parts.

Undoubtedly the depression felt during that week before the big championship game is an odd phenomenon. One would figure that Eagles fans would be used to it by now considering the team has been in just three Super Bowl/championship games since 1960 and five ever.

The big tease is nothing new from the football team in these parts.

Yet to listen to some folks – the die hards – the interest is gone. If there are no Eagles, there is no football. More interestingly, some have used the word “boycott” in conjunction with this Sunday’s Super Bowl. They won’t watch because seeing the Arizona Cardinals face the Pittsburgh Steelers in the big game is just too much to bear.

Really? Boycott? A football game?

Read the rest of this story

McCaskey in the house!

Kris WilsonNeedless to say, the e-mails are flying fast and furious amongst the J.P. McCaskey alums scattered across the area. The biggest sentiment, of course, is rooting for a nationally televised Eagles game when the starting lineup announces itself with the pre-recorded, transposed messages spread over the screen.

No. 84, Kris Wilson, McCaskey High School…

You’re damn right!

Kris Wilson, of course, is the newly signed free-agent tight end for the Eagles. After four seasons playing behind Tony Gonzalez in Kansas City, Wilson, who also plays H-back and fullback, inked a three-year deal. Wilson was also a second-round draft choice of the Chiefs in 2004 from the University of Pittsburgh, where he totaled 88 receptions, 1431 yards, and 15 touchdowns as a four-year starter. A two-time Big East All-Academic team selection, Wilson is also fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

That’s the press release stuff. But most importantly, Wilson graduated from McCaskey High in ’99, a full decade after yours truly. Unfortunately for Wilson, his McCaskey football team did not finish the regular season 10-0 and advance to the District III championship game, which, truth be told, is not something every team can do. But surely Wilson has played in much bigger games since the ones he played at the Barney Ewell Complex.

Anyway, with Wilson in the fold it gives me a good excuse to start checking out the Eagles again. They were pretty boring until they got a McCaskey guy… but then again it always takes people from the J.P. to liven things up.

Good try, team!

FootballLet’s get this straight: The Eagles lost to the Patriots on Sunday night and Philly fans are pleased? Really? Is this true? The Eagles lost and folks are genuinely pleased?

Hold on for a second while I drop to one knee to catch my breath…

Look, it was a wildly entertaining game. In fact, I even napped at halftime so I could make it the whole through the second half. For a detached “fan” like me who watches Eagles games (not the NFL… that’s too much effort) when it’s convenient, Sunday night’s game was perfectly compelling. And frankly, that’s the appeal of football – the casual fan doesn’t have to invest much to be entertained. One doesn’t have to get too deep into it like with baseball where the minutia of the game seems to be the appeal. Nevertheless, the game was fun to watch and just as riveting as the Eagles-Giants game from a year or two ago that went to overtime. Now that game was one to describe in your best Keith Jackson voice…

A real donnybrook!

Still, from what I can tell from some of the reaction around town, folks are happy that the Eagles gave the Patriots all they could handle… even though they still lost.

What, has Philadelphia become a town of happy losers? Are moral victories just as good as the real thing? Lovable losers in Philly – what is this, Chicago? Moral victories – are they turning into St. Louis fans?

Hey, I know how good everyone says the Patriots are and it seems likely that they will win every game this season. I also know that the betting line was 22 points some absurdity like that. But from what I could tell the Eagles lost a game they could or should have won. You know, kind of like those games they lost to the Packers, Redskins and Bears.

So there you have it – there’s my football analysis for the rest of the season. Makes you feel smarter, huh?

Speaking of feeling smarter (I couldn’t come up with a better transition), the free-agent/hot stove comings and goings for the Phillies are beginning to come a little clearer. Or so it seems…

***
MoraAnyway, the Phillies appear to be interested in Orioles’ third baseman Melvin Mora, according to the Baltimore Sun. Mora has a no-trade clause and signed a three-year extension with the Orioles in 2006, but reports indicate he is unhappy with the direction the team is taking. As such, Mora is said to be willing to waive the clause to play for an east-coast team.

Meanwhile, there are reports that the Astros and former Phillies’ GM Ed Wade is in the race to ink ex-Phillies Randy Wolf and Jon Lieber. Wolf, as has been well documented, has been made an offer by the Phillies after the Dodgers declined to pick up his option for 2008.

Finally, cross the White Sox off Aaron Rowand’s list of potential suitors. According to a report in The Chicago Sun-Times, Rowand and his former club are way off in contract terms. The Dodgers, Rangers and Phillies are still interested in signing the free agent center fielder.

***
Lots of folks (OK, three) have asked me what I thought about Tom McCarthy re-joining the Phillies’ broadcast team. My initial reaction was, “Cool.” Wherever he is,Tom is often the friendliest guy at the ballpark so the more often we get to see him, the better. Then I thought, “Hey, it seems like the Phillies have a lot of broadcasters now… is someone leaving?”

According to folks smarter than me, Tom is likely being groomed as Harry Kalas’ successor. That’s cool, too, I guess though I agree with Dan McQuade‘s idea that a good Harry Kalas impersonator could handle those duties for decades to come.

***
Hey, Billy Wagner is mouthing off about the Mets

Also, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Where’s the hot seat?

Andy ReidI’m not going to pretend to be a football expert or even someone who knows anything about football aside from what was learned at J.P. McCaskey High School in the late 1980s. So with that in mind please excuse me if the next question is… well, dumb.

Anyway, here it comes:

Why is Andy Reid still the coach of the Eagles? Or, at the very least why isn’t he at least sitting on the ol’ hot seat?

Is this not a fair question?

Perhaps Joe Torre’s “firing” means any coach or manager – no matter how successful – is fair game. In that regard maybe Andy Reid’s biggest crime is the same as Torre’s in that they were too successful. Torre, of course, managed the New York Yankees for 12 seasons and took them to the playoffs for an unprecedented 12 straight years. He won the World Series four times, lost it twice and racked up 1,173 regular-season victories.

But, Torre did not win the World Series since 2000 and was not able to take the Yankees back to the Series since losing to the Marlins in 2003. Clearly, such a long drought was unacceptable to the Yankees’ new bumbling and egomaniacal bosses.

Never mind the fact that the egomania was built on the back of Torre’s success.

Football, of course, is a different animal than baseball. There are many more players and coaches and much more specialization. They have meetings about having meetings in football and truth be told, almost all meetings are a waste of time. Worse, they have meetings on the field before every single play. Baseball, it sometimes seems, is also becoming far too specialized, which makes for a less-interesting game to watch. Even worse, the coach actually walks onto the field to discuss strategy, which seems really odd.

Is there another sport that allows the coach to go onto the field during the middle of the game? Hell, tennis doesn’t even allow coaches to sit on the sidelines.

Anyway, the only reason I ask about Reid and his future with the Eagles is more because of Charlie Manuel than Joe Torre. After all, for three seasons Charlie Manuel was scrutinized over the tiniest bit of minutia regarding his job performance and his personality. Fans and media called for Manuel’s head because, as they pointed out, he wasn’t smart enough. They based this on the notion that he couldn’t pull off a double-switch and because he was from Virginia and talked funny.

CharlieYou know, because the double-switch is the most important move a baseball manager ever makes and because that Philly accent sounds so intelligent. And yes, I was using the sarcasm font.

So if Charlie Manuel can win more games in his first three seasons than any other manager in franchise history save for the guy who had Grover Cleveland Alexander pitching for him, and get the team to the playoffs for the first time in a decade-and-a-half while some folks are genuinely upset over his two-year contract extension, why isn’t Andy Reid feeling the heat?

Look, I know the Eagles just passed through the most successful era in franchise history and that they got to the NFC Championship for four seasons in a row. But it’s over. According to people that know better, the Eagles do not have the players needed to fit into their schemes. Even with the pass-happy offense, Reid’s Eagles don’t seem to have the receivers they need to make now immobile quarterback Donovan McNabb more effective. Actually, the Eagles did have the receiver they needed to make the rather pedantic offense good, but they ran that guy out of town because he was a diva.

Seriously, how does a coach help run the best player on the team out of town and still keep his job? Lawyers are always looking for a precedent when contemplating trying a case – is there a previous instance of a coach “firing” the best and most effective player on the team and staying on the job?

Again, I’m no expert on the NFL or the Eagles so excuse my ignorance. But as an outsider looking in from a cursory view I don’t understand why Reid isn’t feeling more pressure. Or maybe he is and I just don’t know enough to make a more intelligent point. But how come it’s OK for him to continuously take the “responsibility” for a bad game, or to tell the press that he/we “must do a better job?” He did it again after the loss to the Bears yesterday when quarterback Brian Griese marched his team 97 yards with less than two minutes to go for the winning touchdown.

He does this ad nauseam to the point that it should make one nauseous.

It seems that he has used the “responsibility” and “better job” edict so much that there ought to be consequences by now. Worse, the mistakes that necessitate such excuses are chronic and have been for a long time.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue with the track record no matter how angry fans seem to be after watching the games on Sunday. The Inquirer notes these facts in the Oct. 14, 2007 issues:

Since Reid took over as the Eagles’ coach in 1999, the 31 other teams have combined to fire and hire a total of 91 coaches. Discounting rookie head coaches, 36 of the 91 never made a playoff appearance with the team they coached. Nine others failed to win a playoff game.

Under Reid the Eagles have been really good. But it doesn’t seem as if the Eagles are going to win their first title since 1960 any time in the near future. This idea would remain unchanged even if the Eagles were 3-3 instead of 2-4.

Anyway, I’m not one of those guys who profess to know everything. That’s why I ask… maybe I just don’t get Andy Reid.

Am I the only one?

Other observations

  • There was no way that Manny Ramirez would have thrown out Kenny Lofton at the plate during the seventh inning of last night’s ALCS Game 7. But Lofton not scoring the run that would have tied the game at 3 is not why the Indians lost the game… but it didn’t help.
  • It’s official: The Red Sox and Yankees have traded places. The Red Sox are the big-monied team that is maniacally organized and always seems to have the means to get the right player to step in at the perfect time, while the Yankees are the team that replaces the manager despite going to the playoffs year after year.
  • Is there a more entertaining/maddening player than Manny Ramirez?
  • Terry Francona is heading to his second World Series in four seasons with Boston… how come the Phillies can’t get a guy like that?

Oh yeah… never mind.

  • Finally, the Phillies released their schedule for 2008. They open the season against the Nationals on March 31 after another one of those exhibition two-game series on March 28 and 29 against Toronto.

Other highlights include a two-game series in Colorado on April 21 and 22 before the return matchup at the Bank on May 26, 27 and 28. Interleague-wise the Phillies host the Red Sox and Angels starting June 16.

For the rest of the schedule, click here.