Welcome to the finest Philadelphia sports blog ran from within Temple University. This blog's focus is local sports, including Temple sports as well as news and opinions regarding the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and Sixers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On the Beat: Halladay Wins 2010 N.L. Cy Young

PBR - Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay has won the 2010 National League Cy Young Award.

Halladay, 33, lead the league in wins (21), complete games (9), and innings pitched (250.2) and finished in the top three in the NL in strikeouts (219), WHIP (1.04) and ERA (2.44).

Halladay received all 32 first-place votes. The AL Cy Young award is set to be announced Thursday.

This is Hallday's second Cy Young Award. He won the AL Cy Young award in 2003 with the Toronto Blue Jays when he had 22 wins, 204 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.25.

Temple News: Ice Hockey Vanquishes Conference-Leading UMBC

After beating the top-ranked team in its division Friday, the ice hockey club team took care of business at home Saturday.
On Friday, the Owls defeated the University of Maryland Baltimore-County, ranked No. 1 overall in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Southeastern Conference. Junior goalie Will Niefeld made 40 saves, senior forward Patrick McHugh scored two goals and the Owls won, 4-2.
“Friday night was big for us,” coach Jerry Roberts said. “We earned two important points in the standings, but more importantly, we saw what we are capable of accomplishing when we play to our potential.”
The Owls followed Friday’s game with a win over No. 11 Rider. Niefeld recorded 34 saves, McHugh scored another goal and the Owls won, 2-1.
Senior forward Patrick McHugh celebrates after scoring a goal against the Retrievers on Saturday. McHugh scored two goals in the 4-2 victory over UMBC, which was the No. 1 team in the ACHA Southeastern Conference. PAUL KLEIN TTN
Saturday’s game started in a defensive standstill. The first 10 minutes were marked with continuous play as neither team scored or committed a penalty. There was even puck distribution, and both teams recorded more than 10 shots in the first 10 minutes. A Rider interference penalty with a little more than five minutes left in the first gave Temple a power-play opportunity, and senior forward Michael Kozole netted the game’s first goal to give his team the lead.
“We’ve been struggling all season with the man advantage,” Roberts said. “We finally feel that we are making progress with it.”
Rider continued its attack for the remainder of the first period, but Niefeld made 12 saves, ending the first period with a 1-0 Temple lead.
The second period started with Rider controlling the puck and receiving the majority of scoring opportunities, forcing Niefeld to make three saves in the first five minutes. But the Broncs found themselves down one man again after a tripping penalty with 15 minutes, 27 seconds remaining. The Owls’ power play came through again, as McHugh scored his third goal of the weekend for a 2-0 lead.
“Offensively, this was not one of our best games,” Roberts said. “However, both of our goals came on the power play, which is a big change for us.”
The Owls defense also played well in the second period. Niefeld made another 14 saves, and the penalty kill eliminated three Temple infractions to maintain the Owls’ two-goal lead.
“Our defense was sound, as it has been all season,” Roberts said. “I can’t say enough about our penalty killers right now.”
The defense was also at work for the entire third period. Rider bothered Niefeld all period, consistently getting the puck deep and registering shots on goal. But penalties crippled both offenses as the two teams combined for 10 penalties in the period. A Rider goal was inevitable, and with less than 10 minutes left, the Broncs took advantage of a five-on-three and cut the Owls’ lead to one.
Rider continued the pressure in the final minutes, registering five shots on goal after the team pulled its goalie with approximately one minute left. Niefeld and the Owls’ penalty kill shut the Broncs down, allowing the Owls to win the game, 2-1.
“The past few weeks, we’ve been making things hard on ourselves by spending too much time in the penalty box, but time and time again, our PK units bail us out,” Roberts said. “If we can get our power-play unit to perform at the same level as our PK, we’ll be dangerous come playoff time, where games tend to be decided by special teams.”
The Owls are now 11-2-0-1 and have the fourth-most points in the ACHA Southeastern Conference.
“I think we made a few statements to different people this weekend – our opponents, the ranking committee, but most importantly, ourselves,” Roberts said. “The players have finally become self-aware and understand what we need to do to win the big games. There is still a lot of hockey to be played, and we haven’t accomplished anything yet. But we know what we’re capable of and are confident in our ability to execute.”

On the Beat: Phillies Hire Sandberg to Manage Triple-A Iron Pigs

PBR - The Phillies announced yesterday the hiring of Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg to manage their Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.

Sandberg, 51, was drafted by the Phillies in 1978 and played in the minor leagues before being used as a throw-in for the 1982 trade that sent Sandberg and Larry Bowa to the Chicago Cubs for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. The trade is widely considered one of the worst in the history of the franchise, as DeJesus was a bust and Sandberg went on to hit 282 home runs for the Cubs en route to his hall of fame career.

"Ryne impressed us in so many ways, but as we told him at the start of the interviewing process, we weren't going to dwell on his Hall of Fame status," Phillies assistant general manager Chuck LaMar said. "We're here to hire the best Triple A manager and the best player development person for the Philadelphia Phillies, and obviously he is that."

Sandberg was named the 2010 Pacific Coast League manager of the year after leading the Iowa Cubs to a share of the North Division title in his first season as a Triple-A manager.

"In a lot of ways, I feel like a young kid again with this opportunity," Sandberg said. "I couldn't be happier about the situation."

Monday, November 15, 2010

On the Beat: Phillies Sign Two Year Contract with Contreras

PBR - The Phillies have signed a 2 year, $5 million contract with right-handed relief pitcher Jose Contreras.

Contreras, 38, pitched in 67 games for the Phillies last year, posting a 3.34 ERA and striking out 57.

“Jose was as consistent a reliever as we had last year,” Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “We were pleasantly surprised by his durability since it was his first full year in a relief role. Jose has fit in extremely well in our clubhouse and he is a quality, back-end of the bullpen pitcher who showed versatility in a variety of roles in 2010. We’re pleased to have him on board for the next couple of years.”
Contreras and fellow Phillies' right-hander Chad Durbin are both free agents this offseason and were the most often used pitchers in the bullpen last year.

With the loss of J.C. Romero, expect the Phils to pursue a veteran left-handed arm on the market as well. Blue Jays left-hander Scott Downs is the biggest name on the market, however the Phils are reportedly already looking at Mets' lefty Hisanori Takahashi.

On the Beat: Temple Baseball Signs Five to Letters of Intent

PBR - Temple baseball head coach Rob Valli announced the signing of five student athletes, RHP Adam Dian, OF Kevin Gilbert, SS Kyle McCrossen, and twin brother starting pitchers Eric and Patrick Peterson, to National Letters of Intent.

Dian (6'3, 210) went 4-2 with 62 strikeouts in his junior season at the Vincentian Academy in Pittsburgh, PA and was named to the 2010 All-State tournament team.

Gilbert (6'1, 185) is a corner outfielder from Hunterdon Central High School in New Jersey. He was named second team all-West Jersey as a sophomore and first team all-conference as a junior.

McCrossen (5'9, 180) is left-handed hitting shortstop from Archbishop Wood. He is a three-time first team all-catholic, all-county, and all-city selection.

The Peterson brothers are entering their senior years at the Charter School of Wilmington. Eric (6'4, 180) is a right-handed pitcher who tied a Delaware state record with 20 strikeouts in a seven-inning game last year. Patrick (6'3, 190) is a left-handed pitcher who went 5-1 as a junior to go along with a 2.32 ERA. He was named as a second team all-conference player in Delaware.

"We are extremely excited about our recruiting class," Valli said. "All five student-athletes display tremendous character and work ethic to go along with their athletic accomplishments. "

The five players will begin their careers at Temple at the start of the 2012 season. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Is This the Year?

The recent history of the Eagles success (or lack thereof) is impressive or depressing, depending on who you are and how you look at it. In the 2000's decade, the Eagles made the playoffs seven times, including five NFC Championship game appearances and a Super Bowl loss. This may qualify as an impressive resume to any team in any city in the entire country. But not the Eagles. Not in Philadelphia.
The Eagles were bashed by the local media, and Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid specifically received scorn for a lack of leadership and inability to perform under pressure. Yet, through it all, each new season provided a new opportunity for hope. Even during the Eagles' steak of three consecutive NFC Championship games losses combined with a Super Bowl meltdown, Eagles fans consistently began each season thinking, "This is the year."
Last year, the Eagles made the playoffs as a Wild Card team for the first time since 2000 and were handed one of the worst losses in franchise postseason history, a 34-14 blowout, at the hands of arch-rivals Dallas Cowboys.
As a result, the Eagles seemed to take on a new identity. They got rid of McNabb and handed the ball to their 2007 2nd round draft pick, Kevin Kolb. They seemed to be in re-building mode coming into this season and postseason expectations were low. Most people predicted the Eagles to win under ten games this year and miss the playoffs.
Most people, however, failed to take into account the play of Michael Vick.

When Clay Matthews drove Kevin Kolb's head hard into the ground in week one against the Packers, it may have been the best thing to ever happen to the Eagles. Vick took over at quarterback, and after a brief three week stint in which he was sidelined with a ribs injury, he has lead the Eagles to a 3-0 record in which he has passed for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with the best passer rating in the NFL (105.3). 
It is clear that Vick is playing the best quarterback of his career. He has combined his always threatening ground game with an unprecedented sharpness in his passes. He has developed an impressive resume with Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in just three games started and has not thrown an interception all season.
With such a formidable assortment of weapons being led by one of the most talented players in the history of the game; it leads me to wonder...why not this year?
The Eagles are 5-3 and are in second place in the NFC East. They have already overcome the more difficult half of their schedule and their destiny is in their own hands as five of their final eight games are against NFC East opponents.
They have the most dynamic offense in the league and their defense demonstrated in the week nine win against the Colts that they can play with anyone. 
It is clear that fate has played a large role in the Eagles' success. Seemingly, the Eagles were never meant to win a Super Bowl under Donovan McNabb. Maybe their destiny was to bring in a man who dealt with problems in his past and was looking for someone to reach out to for a second chance.
The Eagles have given Vick that chance, and the fact that the stakes are so high for him, and are at the level always applied by Eagles' fans, might just mean that he was meant to come here and find his redemption, and in doing so, redeem an entire city's brutal past. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ice Hockey Overcomes Third Period Deficit to beat St. Joseph's Hawks

In a game filled with 21 penalties, heavy physical play and bad blood, the ice hockey team pulled out a win Saturday.
Senior forward Ryan Frain scored two goals, junior goalie Will Neifeld made nearly 40 saves and the Owls rallied to overcome a 1-0 deficit in the third period to beat St. Joseph’s, 3-2.
“This was a huge statement for us,” coach Jerry Roberts said. “We’ve had a lot of challenges in the early portion of the season as far as our players having the ability to play 60 minutes and stay focused and be a mature team. I think they made a huge statement to themselves tonight, showing what they’re able to accomplish when they have mental toughness.”

The Owls lacked mental toughness in the first two periods. Despite dominating puck control early on and registering 14 shots on goal in the first period, Temple’s offense was consistently crippled by penalties. The Owls had to kill four penalties in the first 20 minutes, and the first period ended scoreless.
“A lot of it had to do with the dumb penalties we were taking,” Frain said. “We weren’t really playing smart hockey.”
The second period saw a shift of momentum toward the St. Joe’s side. A superior St. Joe’s checking game led to almost total control of the puck. Temple committed seven penalties, and St. Joe’s registered 23 shots on goal. But the Owls’ penalty kill, along with Niefeld’s play bailed them out. The game remained scoreless after the second period.
“Our defense was unbelievable on the [penalty kill],” senior forward and team captain Jordan Lawrence said. “[Niefeld] played unbelievable. He really saved us in the first two periods. We broke down a lot with penalties. It was a great team effort in the first two periods defensively.”
In addition to the penalties, Temple’s offense struggled mightily in the second period. The Owls registered only three shots on goal for the entire period and failed to capitalize on their lone power-play opportunity.
“We weren’t taking any shots or generating any offense,” Frain said. “Penalties killed us the first two periods. We were playing awful.”
“We weren’t executing,” Roberts added. “It was beyond the penalties. We weren’t playing our style of hockey. The penalties were frustrating, but the bigger concern we had coming into the locker room after two periods was the fact that we weren’t playing our game.”
It was a physical game for the first two periods. There was a scuffle involving two Temple players and two St. Joe’s players after a Hawks player crosschecked Lawrence from behind after play had stopped. There were four offsetting roughing penalties distributed between the two teams.
“It’s pretty fun. A lot of guys in the locker room after the first period were saying this was the most fun they’ve had,” Lawrence said. “It gets cheap sometimes, but that’s part of the game. You just deal with it.”
“Temple and St. Joe’s has been a rivalry for as long as we’ve played,” Roberts added. “It’s one of those situations where, when you get in the rink with them, no matter what the standings are or how your seasons are going, it’s always going to a battle. It’s always going to be a close game. It’s one that the locker room gets up for. It’s pretty exciting.”
Temple came out in the third period looking like a new team. The Owls’ offense immediately set up a scoring chance, and after just 55 seconds, Frain put back his own rebound to tie the score.
“I think the light kind of went on in the locker room,” Roberts said. “We just had to get back to playing our style of game and not get caught up in their antics.”
“That first goal when we came out in the first minute of the third really helped us out,” Lawrence said. “We took off from there.”
Temple continued to control the puck and set up the offense early in the third. After two minutes and 40 seconds, senior forward George Rutter scored a rebound goal off sophomore forward Chris Hacken’s shot to give the Owls the lead.
“All four lines contributed,” Frain said. “We got the puck in deep. We generated offense. We got a couple goals. They weren’t able to touch us down there.”
Frain added his second goal of the game on a power play with 8:43 left to give the Owls a 3-1 lead. St. Joe’s scored a power play goal with 4:04 left to make it interesting, but Neifeld shut the Hawks down for the final four minutes. The Owls won the game, 3-2.
The Owls won six of their last eight games and are 8-2-0-1 on the season and 3-1 in the Mid-Atlantic College Hockey Association Northern conference. A win against the in-conference rival provided a momentum boost for the team.
“Next weekend we play UMBC, who’s No. 1 in the region and arguably one of the top teams in the country,” Roberts said. “It’s a great stepping stone going into next week.”

Friday, November 5, 2010

On the Beat: Phillies Raise Ticket Prices

PBR - The Phillies will have a $2 to $5 increase for the price of most tickets for the 2011 season.

Tickets in the first level in the first six rows behind the Phillies' and visitors' dugouts (sections 115-132) will increase from $60 to $65. Tickets along the right field foul line (sections 112-114) and the left field foul line (sections 133-135) will increase from $45 to $50, with a $2 increase in the sections in the corners (108-111 and 136-139). Tickets in the first level of the outfield (sections 101-107 and 140-148) will increase from $33 to $36.

Prices for pavilion sections (201-205, 206-211, and 306-310) terrace sections (312-329 and 330-333) and the arcade section (233-237) will increase $2 to $3. Prices for the pavilion deck (301-305), terrace deck (430-434), rooftop bleachers, and standing room only tickets will remain the same.

The Phillies set a home attendance record of 3,647,249 in 2010 and will enter the 2011 season with a streak of 123 consecutive sellouts.

Nooks from Cranney

The Flyers beat the Rangers Thursday night, 4-1. They are on a five game winning streak and currently are in the points lead in the NHL.
Here are some notes and nooks from Thursday night's game...

Rangers Offense
-The Rangers only took 21 shots, a season low.
-Longtime Rangers enforcer Sean Avery was more involved with Rangers' scoring opportunities rather than any fighting. Avery whiffed on a scoring opportunity in the first minute and was later pickpocketed late in the first by Ville Leino on an attempted centering pass in the Flyers' zone.

Who is that kid?
-Eric Wellwood played very well in just his second career professional hockey game. His hustle play on a loose puck early in the second period drew a penalty on Daniel Girardi that led to Mike Richards' power play goal.

The Fighting
-Round 1 (16:44 in 1st) Derek Boogaard (6'8, 257 lbs) vs. Jody Shelley (6'4, 230 lbs)
         -Advantage: Boogaard.
-Round 2 (16:27 in 3rd) Brandon Prust (5'11, 191 lbs) vs. Daniel Carcillo (5'11, 202 lbs)
         -Advantage: Prust, in a good, long, close fight.

-Nikolay Zherdev and Blair Betts both had good games against their former team. Zherdev scored a goal and was all over the ice all night and Betts had a fantastic individual effort on his goal in the second period.

Flyers' Power Play
-After going 0-2 on the power play in the first period, the Flyers responded by scoring on two of three power play opportunities in the second and third period.

Did You Notice?
-The lazy Flyers turnover in their own zone in the tenth minute of the second period on a delayed penalty. The Rangers gained control of the puck and ended the man advantage.
-Claude Giroux's check on 6'4, 194 lb Artem Anisimov behind the Rangers net late in the first period.
-Ville Leino's sprawling-on-the-ice play to keep possession of the puck on the Flyers first power play of the second period. Leino got the puck to Giroux, whose backhanded, cross ice pass to Richards set up the game-tying goal.
-Scotty Hartnell appeared to deliberately throw his stick across the ice for no reason when trying to make a defensive play late in the second period.
-Zherdev's goal in the second period hit Henrik Lundqvist's stick, rolled up his body and over his shoulder into the net.
-Carcillo avoided a fight with Boogaard early in the third period before moving on to the much smaller Prust.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On the Beat: Sparky Anderson Dies at 76

PBR - Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson died today at the age of 76 of complications as a result of dementia.

Anderson managed the Cincinnati Reds' "Big Red Machine" from 1970-1978, winning consecutive World Series from 1975-76 to go along with four National League pennants. Anderson also was the first manager to win a World Series with two different franchises after he led the Detroit Tigers to a championship in 1984. He is sixth all time in wins by a manager with 2,194 and is the only manager in history to lead two different franchises in wins (Reds and Tigers).

Anderson played for the Phillies in 1959 in his lone season as a player. He batted .218 with 34 RBI's and 42 runs scored in 477 at-bats.

Anderson is survived by his wife, Carol; sons Lee and Albert; daughter Shirley; and nine grandchildren.

On the Beat: De Fratus-Rising Star

PBR - Right handed relief pitcher Justin DeFratus will represent the Phillies this Saturday in the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars game.

DeFratus, 23, has pitched in five games this year for the Mesa Solar Sox, allowing no runs in five innings to go along with 10 strikeouts and two walks.

ESPN scout Jason Grey reported on Monday that DeFratus "absolutely looks like a big league bullpen arm" and that DeFratus is not far from a call up.

With the possible loss of free agent right handed relief pitchers Jose Contreras and Chad Durbin, the Phillies could look to DeFratus as a bullpen solution come this spring.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On the Beat: Phillies Considering Rowand and Ordonez

PBR - According to SI.com's Jon Heyman, the Phillies have targeted outfielders Aaron Rowand and Magglio Ordonez as possible replacements for Jayson Werth.

Rowand, 33, played for the Phillies from 2006-2007 and batted .290 to go along with 39 homeruns and 136 RBI's in his two years with the club. In 2010, his third season with the San Francisco Giants, Rowand lost his starting job in centerfield and batted .230 with 11 homeruns and 34 RBI's in just 331 at-bats. Rowand is primarily a centerfielder, so if the Phillies are serious about acquiring him they may have to move Shane Victorino to right field.

Ordonez, 36, has a lifetime .312 average and hit .371 off left handed pitching last year with the Detroit Tigers, so he would represent a formidable right handed bat in the middle of the lineup to replace Werth. Ordonez can play left or right field, so depending on how Raul Ibanez plays next year, the Phils could use Ordonez in left while developing Domonic Brown in right.

However, the Phils might be more serious about re-acquiring Werth than originally thought. Heyman also reported that the Phillies presented the idea of a Jason Bay-type contract (four years, $66 MM) to Werth this Summer and he declined.

On the Beat-Rizzotti Shines in Arizona Fall League

PBR - Phillies' prospect Matt Rizzotti has been very productive so far playing in the Arizona Fall League.

Rizotti, playing first base for the Mesa Solar Sox, has batted .410 with a OPS of .992 to go along with seven RBI's in his first ten games.

Rizotti played in all three levels of the Phillies' minor league system last season, finishing the year with Triple-A with Lehigh Valley. H e posted a .343 average with 17 homeruns and 76 RBI's in his 125 games between the three minor league teams last season.

Rizotti, 24, was the Phillies' sixth round pick of the 2007 MLB draft and is currently not on the 40 man roster. If he is not added before the Winter meeting in December, he will become eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

May Finishes in 9th to Lead Owls at A-10 Championships

The men’s and women’s cross country teams both faced significant adversity coming into the Atlantic Ten Conference championships, but that didn’t stop them from posting their best times to date.
Senior Mike May finished ninth overall, and freshman Stephanie Dorantes finished 74th overall to lead the Owls to one of their best showings in tournament history.
May completed the 8K race with a time of 24 minutes, 54 seconds, placing him on the all-conference team for the second year in a row. Last year, he became the first Temple runner to ever hold that honor. Senior Eddie Penetar, who came in 16th with a time of 25:07, missing all-conference honors by two seconds, followed May.
“It was a real good performance on the men’s side,” assistant coach Matt Jelley said. “Most of the men in the race had their personal best times.”
Juniors Travis Mahoney, Ben Thomas, Geoff Barletta and Dan Carreon finished 41st, 62nd, 64th and 76th respectively, while freshman Will Kellar came in 72nd in his first ever A-10 championship. The men finished 8th overall.
Dorantes led the women with a time of 19:35 in the 5K race. She was followed by freshman Sarah Rutter, who finished 75th with a time of 19:39. Senior Rebecca Mims, who is the team’s usual No. 1 runner, ran with a foot injury and could not lift off like she normally can. She finished in 82nd with a time of 20:05.
“I thought [the freshmen] did a great job,” Jelley said. “Our No. 1 girl was out, and we still ran a solid race despite the injury.”
The women finished 13th overall for the second year in a row, but improved on a player-to-player basis. The Owls’ average time per runner was 20:03, 47 seconds better than the previous best average. And other than Mims, all the girls in the Top 7 posted their best times ever. Sophomore Katherine Frank, senior Briana Linneman, sophomore Rayna Kratchman and freshman Taylor Goldsworthy finished in 86th, 88th, 89th and 90th, respectively.
“Our goal all along is to consistently improve,” Jelley said. “We thought with Mims healthy we could have moved up a place, but I can’t complain with them running so much faster than they ever have. They really stepped up.”
Along with the women’s team, the men’s team also proved it could respond in the face of adversity, Jelley said.
“It’s kind of hitting it on all cylinders at the right time,” Jelley said. “Unfortunately two of our Top 5 guys were sick last week, and if they ran what they’re capable of, I think we could have finished fifth or sixth. I think we definitely had more potential in there.”
On the men’s side, Richmond won the championship, with senior Andrew Benford posting the tournament’s best time. Duquesne and Massachusetts rounded out the Top 3, respectively, with defending champion Dayton falling to fourth place.
“We have a competitive conference,” Jelley said. “For a lot of the meets we go to, only one or two teams are good, but at the conference championships, not only is every team that’s there good, but everybody’s at the top of their game.”
For the women, Richmond took the title as well, with senior Nicol Traynor registering the best overall time. La Salle and Dayton placed second and third, respectively.
“[The A-10 Championship] is definitely one of the most important [meets],” Jelley said. “If you qualify for regionals, you go to nationals, which we haven’t been at that level yet. But those two are up there with our main goals for the season. Everything else is just leading up to and preparing for that.”