Thursday, April 26, 2012

Brian Dawkins Announces his Retirement

Brian Dawkins, the Philadelphia Eagles second round pick in 1996 has decided to retire. Arguably the most beloved Eagle of all time, Dawkins spent 13 of his 16 years in the NFL with the Eagles(the last 3 with the Denver Broncos). 

Brian Dawkins brought everything you want in a leader to the Eagles.  He was passionate, intense, proud, humble, skilled and everyone wanted to play along with him.  He led the Eagles defense so well that the team competed in 4 consecutive NFC Championship games.

In recent memory, there has not been an Eagles player who was as humble and proud as B-Dawk.  A devout Christian, Dawkins doesn't curse or get angry.  He is a very devoted man who loves to play football as well as spend time with his family.

Brian Dawkins will reportedly, sign a one-day contract with the Eagles this year so he can retire as a member of the team that drafted him all those years ago.  He will also have his #20 jersey retired, the eighth number to be retired in the Eagles 80 year history.

Brian Dawkins will always be a fan-favorite in Philadelphia.  He embodied what it meant to be a Philadelphia Eagle.  He was proud to play for the team and for its fans and fans will always appreciate that.

Good luck with retirement B-Dawk, you are truly a role model for countless people.  I feel priviledged to have watched you wear midnight green as I grew up.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Some of my Favorite Hockey Players of All-Time

As you can probably tell from reading my previous posts, I am a HUGE hockey fan.  I grew up in South Philadelphia right down the street from the sports complex so obviously I am a Flyers fan, and I'm damn proud of that. Because of this, most of my favorite hockey players are former Flyers.

I am not just a Flyers homer though, I enjoy watching all types of hockey.  I had an idea of listing some of my favorite non-Flyers players of all time.

Jarome Iginla
Without a doubt, one of my favorite players of all time is Jarome Iginla, the current Captain of the Calgary Flames.  On the ice, he is one tough guy.  He'll hit you, fight you, and then he'll score on you.  The perfect example of a captain, Iginla can do it all.  Off the ice, he is an even better guy.  All I've ever heard about Iginla is how he is a really nice, stand-up guy.  He is good at communicating with his team and the media and he is very active in his community.  If there is one player that deserves a Stanley Cup, it is Jarome Iginla.

Peter Forsberg
The Super Swede, Peter Forsberg was technically drafted by the Flyers and played here for 2 years later in his career, but Forsberg was primarily a member of the Avalance in Colorado, so I chose to put him on my list.  Peter Forsberg is another example of a player that can do everything on the ice.  One of the best playmakers of all time (assists per game is 4th all time), Forsberg was as gritty as he was skilled.  He had a bit of a slow start to his career, but once he got going, there was no stopping my favorite Swedish player of all time.  Like Iginla, Forsberg is also a class act.  His #21 jersey was recently retired in Colorado and the fan reaction was unbelievable.  An all-time great.

 Teemu Selanne
The Finnish Flash.  The Ageless Wonder. Terrific Teemu. Currently second among active players in points (behind Jaromir Jagr), Teemu Selanne has constantly been an offensive force to be reckoned with.  This all starts with his rookie season with the Winnipeg Jets.  He scored 76 goals and had 56 assists. Let me repeat that; HE HAD 76 GOALS in his rookie season.  76 goals in a season is good for the fifth best of any player in the history of the game.  To be honest I didn't know that until recently (I've always liked hockey, but just in the past couple of years is when I started getting interested in statistics).  When I was younger, all I really knew was the Flyers.  I didn't really know about any teams on the west coast, until I saw the movie the Mighty Ducks.  I learned about the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim shortly after that and was amazed by the skill level of both Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya.  Both guys who were not the biggest and strongest (something I can relate to as a kid) but were so talented that it didn't matter, they were that good.  Paul Kariya has since retired, but Teemu, at age 41 continues to be a serious contributor for the Anaheim Ducks and I am still a huge fan.

Jeremy Roenick

 JR was a member of the Flyers for a few years in the early 2000's but I included him because he spent most of his career with Chicago (along with a few other teams after).  Roenick is noted as one of the most outspoken players in the history of the NHL.  He always made the time to interact with fans, as he mentions that without the fans, professional sports wouldn't exist.  Another reason why I am a big fan of Jeremy Roenick is that he is American.  In a sport where there are not a lot of Americans, as a young kid growing up in Philadelphia, you become fans of American players just as they did when they were little (Anaheim's Bobby Ryan (from Cherry Hill, NJ) wears #9 because of his hockey hero Mike Modano, who is regarded as the best American player of all time).  Jeremy Roenick is a player who has had a long, successful career while staying true to himself and giving back to his fans, a fan favorite for sure.

There are plenty of other non-Flyers that I like, but these are just a few of the players I am a fan of.  To me, they are all hard workers who respect the game.  They are good guys who are easy to root for.


The first round is now over for the Philadelphia Flyers.  The Flyers have beaten the Pittsburgh Penguins in a best of 7 series 4 - 2.  The team now advances to the Eastern Conference Semi-finals against and undetermined team at this point.

In a very unpredictable and outrageous series, the Flyers were able to overcome the consensus Stanley Cup favorites.  In a quick recap, the Flyers were able to win the first three games even though the defense and goaltending wasn't too great.  Game 4 gave the Flyers a chance to sweep the Penguins.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen as the Penguins won 10-3.  Game 5 was a better game for both teams defensively but the Penguins were able to win again 3 - 2.

In every game, the team to score first has lost.  However, the Flyers were able to break that trend.  Claude Giroux started the game with a monster shift.  He decks Sidney Crosby and finishes with a laser wrist shot to put the Flyers on top.

This shift reminds me a lot of Mike Richards in 2010 in the playoffs against Montreal.  He absolutely set the tone for the rest of the game.

The Penguins would get some momentum shortly after with a powerplay but were shut down by the Flyers defense and the goaltending of Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Flyers would add on 3 more goals by Scott Hartnell, Erik Gustafsson and Danny Briere before the Penguins had to pull their goalie, Marc Andre Fleury.  Brayden Schenn would score in an empty net.

The Flyers, the underdogs before this series had started have now turned into a team to be reckoned with in the postseason.  Our defense was suspect, but no other team has an offense with the potency of Pittsburgh, and our offense can beat even the toughest goalies and defenses.  The future is looking bright on Broad Street.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cliff Lee is from a Different Planet

Cliff Lee did something last night in San Francisco that I have only seen in video games.  He pitched 10 innings!

Cliff Lee vs. Matt Cain are 2 of the better pitchers in the National League.  A matchup between the two would be a sight to see.  Fortunately, this is what happened last night.  Both pitchers had great performances.  Matt Cain of the Giants went 9 innings, let up only 2 hits and 1 walkd and no runs.  Cliff Lee was also impressive, going an astounding 10 innings with 7 hits, no walks, 7 strikeouts and also no runs.  The craziest thing about this matchup was the pitch count.  Lee threw 102 pitches while Cain threw only 91.  This is absolute top of the line pitching.

Obviously this game went into extra innings.  There was a serious lack of hitting in this game.  In the top of the11th inning, the Phillies had a chance to take a lead as Carlos Ruiz hit a leadoff double.  He would advance to third on a sacrifice, but the Phillies would leave him stranded. 

Antonio Bastardo would relieve Cliff Lee and it would turn out to be the game changer.  Bastardo would have trouble getting batters out and let up the walk off hit to Melky Cabrera.  Final, Giants 1, Phillies 0.

The Phillies offensive struggles continue.  They need a spark somehow as they are currently 5 - 7 and are in last place in the NL East.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

That Sucked.

The Flyers lost to the Penguins 10 - 3 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.  Awful goaltending and terrible defense.  Bryz and Bob were not good at all.  Very disappointing to watch.

Hopefully Lavy can light a fire under this team and smack some sense into them.  Game 5 will take place in Pittsburgh, a place we have played extremely well at.  Hopefully we'll be able to close the Pens out then.

Zac Rinaldo was involved in an incident that resulted in a game-misconduct.

He was obviously over the line and deserves to be suspended.  In my opinion, what Rinaldo did tonight was bad, but not as bad as what Arron Asham did during Game 3 to Brayden Schenn.

Just to keep it even, I would say since Asham has a 4 game suspension, Rinaldo should get a 4 game suspension as well.

Are We Stooping Down? My Reaction to Cowardly Crosby News Cover

The cover of the Wednesday edition of the Philadelphia Daily News depicts Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby as the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz.  As most people in the Philadelphia region know, Sidney Crosby was a big topic of discussion after Sunday's playoff game (See my last post for more details).  Crosby was instigating a lot of fights in an immature way but always backed off when someone actually stood up to him.  This is what prompted the Daily News.

Now, I'm all for making fun of Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.  After they played the last few games, I would even say they deserve most of the verbal abuse that is going on.  However, I really don't like the idea of photoshopping Crosby on a lion for a joke, especially on the cover of a newspaper.  

In 2010, when the Flyers were in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Chicago Tribune made a similar decision in making fun of Chris Pronger (for no real reason, he was playing well and physically dominating the Blackhawks (now that I think about it, he got knocked down once by Dustin Byfuglien, ooooh)).

Clearly, people from Chicago (Chicagoans?) don't like Pronger.  Because of a couple games they thought he was a joke and fraud because he had a bad +/-.  

The bashing of Sidney Crosby has similar roots.  This series, he's played like a little child.  However, this is how he usually plays, hiding behind the refs when someone looks at him wrong, and slashing everyone when no one looks.  That being said though, I was really annoyed when the Tribune posted this picture and I am annoyed by the Daily News.  

I understand making fun of Crosby.  In fact, I've done it quite a bit the past few days.  But to me, this cover seems petty.  It really feels like we are stooping down to what Chicago did, something very immature (like Crosby) in an official media setting.  We've been in this situation before and it certainly wouldn't make us look good if Crosby has a good game or if they win any games.

So far this series, the Flyers have taken the high road when it comes to the Penguins antics.  With this cover, I feel like we are just throwing maturity out the window. Not cool.


Game 4 will take place tonight, April 18th at 7:30 on the NBC Sports Network (Formerly VS.)

In other news, Happy Birthday to Scott Hartnell! Hopefully he'll have a good game on his 30th birthday.  Follow Scott on Twitter @Hartsy19

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Penguins are a JOKE

Disclaimer: If you are reading this and you are a Penguins fan (which is unlikely) too bad. I don't like your "hockey team."

If you have any interest at all in hockey, you likely saw or heard about the Flyers Penguins game this past Sunday.  The Philadelphia Flyers hosted Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals to their in-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins.  The term "rival" doesn't do enough justice. These teams absolutely hate each other.  From the players all the way up to the coaching and management, nothing nice goes on between these two teams.

This picture sums up what happened on Sunday.  Brawl after brawl after brawl.  The game started as one would expect, the Pens take a quick lead.  The Flyers, uncharacteristically tied the game up rather quickly, with a shorthanded goal by former-Penguin Max Talbot.  Then there was a bit of a scrum, nothing major though.

Later in the first period, Brayden Schenn leveled a Penguin with a somewhat questionable hit (possibly charging).  The crowd went nuts.  Then they got angry as former Flyer Aaron Asham steps up to Schenn with a blatant crosscheck to the throat and then proceeded to punch Schenn in the head as he was down.  This lack of respect for the game and your opponents is what made a lot of people, including myself, very mad.  Asham clearly went after Schenn to cheap shot him so he could take him out of the game (which didn't work).

Aaron Asham should be ashamed of himself.  He should be suspended well into next season for this (maybe 10 games?).  Asham was given a match penalty and has an in-person hearing with the Department of Player Safety today (good).

Sidney Crosby is a player that people either love or hate.  Anywhere in the northeast besides Pittsburgh will consist of mostly Crosby-haters.  And he sure gave reason to hate him Sunday.  Not only did he start most of the fighting in this game, but he cowered when he was confronted.  And he was acting very juvenile, he knocked away Jake Voracek's glove as he went to pick it up off the ice.

Hopefully the national media will start to realize how much of a joke Crosby is.  He makes him teammates stick up for him and skates to the refs when something goes wrong.  Crosby's post game interviews weren't much better.  When asked about the Flyers players, Sid the Kid (certainly fitting) responded with "I don't like there guys" "Why?" "Because I don't like them."  Great insight from the teams captain.

I would like to continue this rant but I will need to stop here.  For even more Penguins hating fun, listen to what radio color commentator and former Flyers defenseman Chris Therien said as Crosby was up to his childish ways. is a great Philly Sports website, Check Them Out!

Until next time,

P.S. The Flyers ended up winning 8-4 and lead the series 3 games to none. The Flyers can sweep at home on Wednesday, I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I'm Going to the Phillies Game Tomorrow!!

I'm so excited to go to the Phillies game this Thursday.  I can't wait to be back in Citizens Bank Park, my favorite stadium of all time.

There are however, both positives and negatives about this game.  For one, Joe Blanton is pitching.  It's not that I dislike Big Joe, it's just that I'd much rather see one of the Ace's pitch.  Pitching for the Marlins will be Mark Buehrle, someone I don't really like.

About a year or so ago, Mark Buehrle expressed his hatred of Michael Vick, the Eagles quarterback.  This is certainly understandable, considering Vick's past.  Buehrle said in an interview that he watches Eagles games in the hope of seeing Mike Vick get injured because he deserves it.

To this I say grow up Mark Buehrle.  I understand that people have their opinions and they are entitled to them but don't say you want another athlete to get injured.  That's juvenile in my mind.  Buehrle can just as easily get injured and he shouldn't make fun of someone he doesn't like because I'm doing that right now.  Mark Buehrle is a jerk, he should just continue to pitch for the new Marlins and enjoy the crowds of 10,000 people that will be at their home games.

That being said, back to the actual game on Thursday.  While I don't love the pitching matchup, there are benefits of going to a game during the home opening series.  Thursday is going to be the first Hatfield Dollar Dog Night of the year! I understand the staff makes them hours in advance but if you get there early enough they aren't so bad, especially if you only have one or two.  I've seen people eat as many as 30 hot dogs at a single game, that doesn't sound like a good time at all.

The best part about going to the game, is watching the Phillies play!  Growing up just down the street from the complex, the Phillies were always a part of my life.  I have countless memories of the Phillies. I skipped school on Halloween 2008 so I could go to the World Series Parade.  I've been up to the 700 level of the Vet(The nosebleeds of all nosebleeds).  One game at the Vet years ago, we had a plastic bag full of snacks(allowed at the time).  At one point the wind blew the bag onto the field and where would it land? Right next to shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who put the bag in his back pocket.  I always thought that was cool.  I even caught a foul ball at a game last year(The pitch was thrown by Cole Hamels, my favorite pitcher on the team).

To summarize, I love the Fightin' Phils and love going to games.  The stadium makes for such an enjoyable experience for the whole family which I think is really cool.  I can't wait to go to the game on Thursday, hopefully the bats will liven up.


Note: I know I wasn't nice about Mark Buehrle, I just didn't like the way he handled that interview and now he has a bad reputation to me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Phillies Stumble out of the Gate, Fans Should Remain Optimistic

It's no secret that the Phillies haven't started the regular season as they had hoped.  They are 1 - 3 and have had a very tough time scoring runs.  I have already seen some fans show disdain for the team, which I think is very irrational.

The baseball season is extremely long.  We are only four games into a 162 game season.  The Phillies have shown time and time again that they can overcome a slump.  I've noticed over the past 5 years or so that this happens often to the Phillies.  They start off slow in April, catch some fire in May, slow down a bit until the All-Star break and then dominate until the end of the season.  I have no doubt in my mind that the team will find they're rhythm soon.

Don't forget that the Phillies have injuries to some of their best players.  Even though Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are getting older and less effective, they still provide the team with good hitting and leadership on and off the field.  The return of these two players will help the team tremendously.

I know the season doesn't look too great so far, but give it some time Phils fans, pretty soon it will be "hitting season" as Charlie Manuel always says.  Things can only go up for the Fightin's.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why I Hate the New York Rangers

As a die-hard Flyers fan, it's not hard to comprehend that I dislike our rival teams.  The Rangers however, are at the top of my list for most hated teams.  I have multiple examples why. (Very opinionated and bias post on my part, I realize this)

For starters, I just don't like the city of New York.  I went to college in Hoboken for a year and was part of the New York scene.  Over the course of that year, I never truly saw a passionate sports fan base.  I have some friends who like the Giants, Devils and Jets but it seemed like they weren't really into it.  People from New York also have a demeanor about them that just turned me off.  Granted, I know I'm completely bias in this as I am from South Philly, but the people there weren't nice at all to me.  The city has an attitude where no one has time for anything, everyone is constantly in a rush.

Finally, to the Rangers.  I realize that the Flyers lost all 6 games to them this year, but that doesn't necessarily make them the better team.  I feel that the goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist is second to none, and the team has a great defensive corp, but I don't know, I feel that even with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik they just have a slightly inferior offense (not necessarily compared to the Flyers, but amongst the entire league).  They have some players who are very skilled, don't get me wrong, but based on the money these guys get, you would think they would be top of the class type players (Dubinsky makes 4.2 mil a year?)

Simple fact: I don't like John Torterella. Period.  He is a great coach, he won a cup with Tampa back in 2004.  I even realize that he and Lavy have similar in-your-face coaching styles.  But I just don't like how he expects everything to be given to him (somewhat similar to Crosby and Malkin of the Penguins) and how he reacts when things don't go his way.

The Winter Classic ended in a bizarre kind of way, there was a scrum in front of the net, and a penalty shot was awarded to the Flyers.  The call could have gone either way, obviously as a Flyers fan, I like the call, but I get how it could have been called just to give the Flyers one more chance at tying the game.  Danny Briere took the shot and Lundqvist made the stop.  The game is over, alright, the team didn't have enough.  Congrats to the Rangers for winning the biggest game of the regular season. I'm serious, with all of the media and attention this game was getting, good for them, they earned the win.  The thing I don't like however, is how Torterella got mad at that penalty shot.  He was claiming that the game was fixed so it could go to overtime.  I get he has an opinion but the fact is, he won the game.  As Ilya Bryzgalov would say "Why you heff to be mad?"  Torterella was fined 30k for this incident.

Rangers players think they are tough.  I respect Ryan Callahan as a player, he hustles and is a good guy to have on your team.  But players like Brandon Dubinsky really get me going.  He isn't a bad player by any means(he led the team in scoring last year) but I feel like he thinks he's tough when in reality, that isn't quite the case.  I will say that hockey players are a tough bunch, but when you try to agitate an opposing player into making a penalty or fighting and then you just hug that player, you're not tough.  If you look at most of Dubinsky's fights, he just tries to hug the other player so neither can get hit.  Because of that, I just don't respect Brandon Dubinsky.

I looked up this video after I wrote this, excellent example on Dubinsky not wanting to fight after he's picked a partner.  I feel that he lacks respect for the game.  When Flyers players get in fights, I expect them to stand up for themselves and fight back.  Even if Dubinsky was on my favorite team, I still don't think I would like him.

Don't get me started on Sean Avery. I'll keep it short, he is just a nuisance on the ice.  I get that that is his job but to me, he really just wastes space(I realize that isn't nice).  I get what he brings to the table but I just feel that it distracts the team.  Look up Sean Avery on youtube and see what I mean.

Pair all of this together with the fact that the Rangers and Flyers are bitter rivals and you now know why I hate the New York Rangers.  Sorry for venting(not really), maybe I'm just upset at the season sweep(probably), but what I know is that the Flyers and Rangers is one of the best matchups in the league today(fact).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Nike Unveils New Line of Football Jerseys

Since the contract between the NFL and Reebok is up, it's time for Nike to start making the uniforms the players wear on-field.  This has been a much anticipated move for a couple of years now.  Nike claims that their new uniforms are more comfortable and offer better movement, allowing players to be lighter and faster than before.  The jerseys are said to be 20-30% lighter than the former Reebok models even with some padding in the new equipment.

There weren't a whole lot of upgrades in terms of visuals.  The only team to get a major overhaul were the Seattle Seahawks.  Other teams have changed some things but the main design of the jerseys have remained the same.

Some people wanted completely new designs for all of the teams but I think that messes with the traditions of some of the teams.  For example, it would be devastating to Packers fans to see their team wear something other than the current jerseys, as they are so recognizable.

The Eagles received little change in their equipment.  Some people wanted Nike to take on a retro look and make the jerseys kelly green like they used to be.  While I think that would be awesome as an alternate jersey, I like keeping the modern midnight green look.  It gives the team an intimidating look.

When I see an official jersey in person, I will really think about picking one up.  I love collecting and wearing jerseys so this change is right up my alley.  I already have a Shady McCoy jersey, the real question is; who is next?

QB Mike Vick showing off the new jersey.  It's definitely fitting he is involved with this campaign, "Fast is Faster"

It's Finally Here!! Phillies Baseball!!

It's that time of year again.  The weather is getting nicer, the trees are starting to grow leaves again, the lawn is coming in nicely, shorts and t-shirts are making more appearances and the Phillies start their regular season.  As per, baseball opening day was voted as the most anticipated sports event of the year for a Philly fan, and it couldn't come soon enough.

Sure, the regular season doesn't actually start until tomorrow but the Phillies just hosted a 2-game on-deck series with the Pirates over the past two days.  Not many places would sell out two exhibition games against a not-so-good team, but Citizens Bank Park did.  The purpose of this series is to reach out to the fans and let them know the game is really all about them. 

Since these games don't count, not many of the starters played, but that didn't stop them from making appearences around the ballpark.  Outfielder and all-around good guy Hunter Pence made a surprise visit to the stands to help celebrate a lucky kid's birthday.

Teams like the Phillies are rare.  They truly care about the fans and want to make the game as enjoyable as they can.  I can't vouch for other teams but I have a feeling that the Phillies have some of the happiest fans and players in the Major Leagues.  To put on events such as these are special, it makes me proud to be a life-long Phillies fan.  I can't wait for Opening Day.

Starting Pitcher Vance Worley signing autographs for two fans during the game.

Shortstop and longest tenured Phillie Jimmy Rollins signing autographs at Spring Training.

Follow the Phillies on Twitter @Phillies Hunter Pence @HunterPence3 and myself @PhillySteve15