Friday, September 30, 2011
PHILLIES IN THREE
The Phillies can, do and probably will slump at the plate sometime during the postseason.
But in a short series, they will not slump on the mound.
As they begin the NLDS Saturday against the St. Louis Cardials, they are healthy, rested and hungry.
If the Cardinals can successfully negotiate a Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and, if need be, Roy Oswalt obstacle course, they will have exposed the Phillies' 2011 plan as flawed.
They won't. And it's not.
This is not a prediction of a world championship. There is time for that. But it is a confident prediction of this: A three-game NLDS ... and more rested arms for Round No. 2.
Check out the complete Phillies coverage in the Daily Times Saturday and on delcotimes.com
Monday, September 26, 2011
PROVIDE, DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT, PAIN
Michael Vick is paid $100,000,000 to take physical risks. Yet there he was Sunday whining about being hit too often ... in a game of pro football.
It was unseemly. It was ridiculous. It was inaccurate. And it was puzzling. Because the Eagles once were the team administering the pain, not complaining about it.
Vince Young was all but shunned for calling the Birds a dream team. But better to be so boastful then to stand there like Vick Sunday and play the pity card.
Check out my column in the Daily Times Tuesday and on delcotimes.com ... and watch for the comprehensive Eagles coverage, including a hint from Andy Reid that Young, not Mike Kafka, will play Sunday if Vick doesn't.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
A TEAM IN DISARRAY
The quarterback, recently concussed, has a broken hand. The backup, believed capable, has not proven as much. The head coach, 13 years into a never-ending mission, is growling, grumpy, barely willing to answer questions. The fans are booing --- those, at least, not leaving early.
The Eagles are 1-2, 0-1 in the divison, in last place in the NFC East, on a two-game NFC losing streak. Michael Vick is complaining about being tackled so much. DeSean Jackson wants a new contract. Juan Castillo is struggling in Season 1 as the defensive coordinator.
The linebacking rotation already has been scuttled.
The Dream Team ... those Eagles.
It's early. And the Birds typically play better late in the season than early. When healthy, they should be able to score. It might help if they tackle now and again, but that could improve, too.
At best, they probably should be 2-1 now. So they are 1-2. It's not a catastrophe. But it is telling that they have so much going on, so soon.
Be sure to check out my column --- and a sidebar on Mike Kafka --- in the Daily Times Monday ... and on delcotimes.com.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Check out Eagles Game Day Live Sunday morning at 11, as I will be making an appearance on the writers' roundtable.
Later, check out the Eagles fancast on delcotimes.com, where I will be joining Phil Heron live from the Linc parking lot before the Birds-Giants game.
Friday, September 23, 2011
MMA SHOW ON, BOXING OFF
The boxing portion of the combat-sports card at Harrah's Chester has been cancelled due to the weather. The MMA portion will go on as scheduled and be moved indoors beginning at 7.
From the promoters:
MMA PORTION STILL ON THIS SATURDAY IN CHESTER, PA
For Immediate Release
Chester, PA (September 22, 2011)—An amendment to a previous press release
This Saturday’s Boxing/MMA event at Harrah’s in Chester, PA will still feature MMA Portion of the event beginning at 7pm with the doors opening at 6pm.
The cage will be moved to a dry area outside near the race track that will be covered.
The Boxing will portion will take place on Friday October 28th at Harrahs in Chester, PA
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
A SOUR 16
The top of the Phillies' batting order was a disturbing 0-for-16 in a 7-5 loss Wednesday to the Washington Nationals.
Jimmy Rollins was 0-for-5, Shane Victorino 0-for-4, Placido Polanco 0-for-4 and Chase Utley 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.
"I am concerned about it, yeah," Charlie Manuel said. "But at the same time I've seen them hit and I know that they'll hit. I don't know what you are going to do about it."
One suggestion: Start demoting some of them to the bottom of the lineup. Begin with Utley, who is hitting .259 with a distinct lack of power.
Check out the complete Phillies coverage on delcotimes.com and in the Daily Times Thursday.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
JUST LISTEN, WILL YA?
To WIP radio Wednesday morning at 9 when I will be the guest of Angelo Cataldi on the morning show discussing the Phillies and Eagles.
And check out my column Wednesday in the Daily Times and on delcotimes.com about the combined boxing/MMA show Saturday in Chester.
Will the combat-sport fans be able to coexist?
Monday, September 19, 2011
CALLING KEVIN KOLB
The Eagles traded Kevin Kolb for value. It was a decent play. Still, it was curious.
In a year when they otherwise were shoving all-in, they somehow decided to do not what was best for themselves but for Kolb. As if Eagles fans, thirsty for a championship, cared about Kevin Kolb,
Sunday, Mike Vick strolled out of the Georgia Dome with a concussion, and with Mike Kafka at quarterback, the Birds blew a late lead.
It happens in football. It didn't have to happen to them. They will argue that Vince Young was injured, suggesting injuries, not personnel fumbles, were to blame for their prediciment.
At best, Vince Young is acceptable. Kolb had been conditioned to be the ideal backup to Vick, whose playing style always puts him at injury risk.
Second-guess? Not really. It was said at the time, as it is said now: If the Eagles were going to risk all to win now, not later, then they should have risked hurting Kevin Kolb's feelings. It would have made them a better team --- or at least a 2-0 one.
Check out my column on delcotimes.com and in the Daily Times Tuesday about the Eagles and an early missed opportunity.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
THE EAGLES' WORST HEADACHE
The Eagles were aggressive, tricky, impressive on offensive and in a position to improve to 2-0 Sunday night. They were about to have collected their second NFC road win, which would have been of immense value later.
They were what Vince Young said they were.
"Michael Vick has a concussion," Andy Reid said.
Indications were that Vick's was not a serious condition. But concussions can be tricky.
Mike Kafka was fine as a replacement. But he is not the long-term answer. Vince Young, who looked overwhelmed in training camp, has yet to be active in the regular season due to a hamstring injury. Will he be anything close to 100 percent against the Giants Sunday?
And where is Kevin Kolb when the Eagles need him?
Check out my column on the Eagles' aggressive offense in the Daily Times and on delcotimes.com Monday, along with my sidebar on Kafka.
And it should be an interesting week, to say the least, for the Birds.
DESPERATION TIME ...
Greetings from Georgia Dome. Eagles favored to beat Falcons. Go with Falcons, take the points ... a more desperate team, and a good one, playing at home against a team making its second consecutive road game ...
Just for amusement: Falcons 28, Eagles 27 ...
Will be on twitter JackMcCaffery all night, blogging too, and contributing to chat on delcotimes.com. Check it out ... and as always, check out the complete Eagles coverage in the Daily Times Monday and on delcotimes.com
Friday, September 16, 2011
BEHIND THE EIGHTH BALL
The Phillies lost, 4-2, to the Cardinals in 10 Friday, delaying their N.L. East championship celebration.
That will happen, and soon.
Not guaranteed, thoguh, is postseason success --- not until Charlie Manuel finds a way through that eighth inning.
As usual lately, Antonio Bastardo was hopeless in the setup role, allowing St. Louis to build a 2-1 lead. Manuel says the rookie reliever has had enough rest lately, and that now it is just a matter of getting sharp.
In the meantime, Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee need a Plan B ... and quick.
Check out my column on the Phillies' delayed celebration on delcotimes.com and in the Daily Times Saturday.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
A NEW SET UP
The Phillies have classic starting pitching. The Phillies have a useful closer in Ryan Madson.
The Phillies have a playoff spot. The Phillies are about to have home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
The Phillies do not have a setup man. That much grew clear Thursday in Game 1 of a makeup doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park when Charlie Manuel came running to replace Antonio Bastardo with Brad Lidge with one out in an eighth inning about to get away from the Phils.
“He's having trouble with command,” Manuel said of Bastardo. “He's not really 'busting' the ball, turning it loose and throwing it through the mitt.”
As for command, Kendrick had plenty Thursday, taking a no-hitter into the fifth. And all of a sudden, he is being considered for some postseason setup duties, even though he has been a starter or a long reliever throughout his career.
"I could consider using him on right-hand hitters, definitely, late in the game if we have to use him,” Manuel said. "And I'm not saying that won't happen. I can see him doing that. He's tough on right-handers right now.”
Check out my column and the complete Phillies coverage on delcotimes.com and in the Daily Times Friday.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
WHAT WASN'T TO LIKE?
Poor Jeffrey Lurie. He waited most of 16 years for a team as widely praised as the one he has now ... and he is reluctant to join the party.
“It wasn't one of our best performances,” Lurie said after the Eagles' 31-13 victory Sunday in St. Louis. “Nooooooo. It was an up and down performance. It started with some adversity. We came back. And we can do a lot better --- a lot better.
“It was not one of our best performances.”
Actually ... it was.
Michael Vick looked like an MVP candidate. DeSean Jackson looked like someone who deserves a new contract. LeSean McCoy looked like a Pro Bowl back. Juan Castillo's defense didn't allow a touchdown in the final 57 minutes.
But the Eagles' policy is to brace against any "Dream Team" designations.
Trouble for them is, they are going to have to brace for plenty. For they showed Sunday that, yes, they are ghat good.
Check out my column from St. Louis on DeSean Jackson and my story on Lurie in the Daily Times Monday and on delcotimes.com
Thursday, September 8, 2011
BIRDS TAKING A CHANCE
For an operation so roundly praised for going all-in with their 2011 personnel, the Eagles oddly will trust a rookie kicker and a rookie punter.
If it means anything, both Alex Henery and Chas Henry sound confident. And in a sideways sort of way, they should be. Because while other positioin players had to have been negatively affected by the lockout, kickers and punters were able to prepare as usual.
Prediction: Both will be fine.
Another prediction, this from one Charlie Manuel: "The Eagles will win 12 games this year, maybe 13. I think they are really going to be good."
Check out the complete Eagles coverage in the Daily Times and on delcotimes.com Friday
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
OSWALT NOT READY TO SURRENDER
Roy Oswalt has read all about 11-1 Vance Worley, and how the rookie may be the Phillies' No. 4 starter in the playoffs.
“When I read all the stuff in the paper, I thought I had been released,” said Oswalt, in the playful spirit of the moment. “I thought I might not have a job.”
That was before the 34-year-old veteran looked dominating for the first five innings of the Phils' 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves Wednesday.
Charlie Manuel isn't saying. He doesn't have to, not yet. But he was up front about one thing Wednesday: It's a race, and Worley is being given serious consideration as a postseason starter.
“I think that's a question that should be asked,” he said. “Look what he has done. That speaks for itself. That speaks volumes. That tells you how good he's been.”
Best guess: Worley goes to the bullpen, if for no other reason than to spare Oswalt's achy back the chore of an in-game warmup.
Check out the extensive Phillies coverage in the Daily Times Thursday, and on delcotimes.com
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
BATTLE FOR NO. 4 STARTER IS NOW A WOR
When is a trend more than a trend?
When is it a fact?
That was the 14th consecutive Vance Worley start Tuesday that the Phillies won, 6-3 over the disappearing Atlanta Braves. That made him 11-1 overall --- and not by luck, but by good stuff and a winning mentality.
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels will be the Nos. 1-through-3 starters in the playoffs. But Worley is making a remarkable bid to beat Roy Oswalt out for the four-spot.
It's not likely to happen, for Charlie Manuel will give the veteran more respect than that ... and because Worley would be better suited coming out of the bullpen. But what was once a no-doubt-about-it rotation is now muddled ... and for the Phillies, in a good way.
Check out my column in the Daily Times Wednesday and on delcotimes.com