2011 NLDS Game 3: Cole's Turn to Shine

2011 NLDS Game 3: Cole's Turn to Shine

We've talked about the importance of winning game 3 of a 5-game divisional series. We've talked about Cardinals' starter Jaime Garcia's crazy good numbers against the Phillies in four career starts. We've pointed out Ryan Howard's love of destroying baseballs at Busch Stadium.

But the most comforting fact for Phillies fans should be that former World Series MVP Cole Hamels is throwing for the Fightins in the pivotal game this evening. Not only is Hamels fresh off winning Pete Mackanin's season-long hitting contest, he's also feeling great and is as confident as he's ever been, a better pitcher now than ever before.

"I think '08 it was just more of sometimes you just have blind luck," Hamels said yesterday of his success en route to the World Series Championship in 2008. "And
it's like it's said, the post-season things are different, and I just
happened to be on my game and everything was just working, and I was
able to get the runs for me. I didn't really have a really bad inning."

"But at that same time, going into the post-seasons after that, I think I just feel like I'm a more complete pitcher now," Hamels said.

Roy and Cliff may get more of the love from the fans, but Cole's the only guy starting for the Phillies this postseason with a World Series ring on his finger.

Time for him to deliver and put the Phillies back in the driver seat. We don't expect anything less.

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Tonight's Lineup: 1.) Jimmy Rollins, 2.) Chase Utley, 3.) Hunter Pence, 4.) Ryan Howard, 5.) Shane Victorino, 6.) John Mayberry, 7.) Placido Polanco, 8.) Carlos Ruiz, and 9.) Cole Hamels

For the Cardinals: 1.) Rafael Furcal, 2.) Allen Craig, 3.) Albert Pujols, 4.) Lance Berkman, 5.) David Freese, 6.) Yadier Molina, 7.) Ryan Theriot, 8.) Jon Jay, and 9.) Jamie Garcia

It's an early 5:07 start time from St. Louis. This is why you watch.

Nigel Bradham will report, practice; Doug Pederson doesn’t see him getting cut

Nigel Bradham will report, practice; Doug Pederson doesn’t see him getting cut

Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham will report to training camp on Wednesday and will be allowed to participate in the team’s first full practice on Thursday, head coach Doug Pederson said.

Bradham, 26, was reportedly arrested recently for his involvement in an assault of a hotel worker in Miami. An arrest report obtained by NBC6 in Miami alleges Bradham punched the worker in the face.

Pederson had a “great conversation” with Bradham on Tuesday night, laid out his expectations, and said until the team gets more information, the Eagles have decided to let Bradham participate in training camp.

“I’m not going to get into a bunch of detail on that,” Pederson said. “He’s obviously humbled by it and understands the situation and the magnitude, but until we get further details from the authorities, I can’t speculate any further.”

Is it possible Bradham gets released because of this incident?

“I don’t foresee anything like that, no,” Pederson said.

While Pederson spoke to Bradham soon after the incident in question, he didn’t do the same when Nelson Agholor was accused of sexual assault in June. On Wednesday, Pederson cited timing as the reason; Agholor’s incident happened after OTAs, while Bradham’s happened just before training camp.

Eventually, Philadelphia’s district attorney decided to not charge Agholor, citing insufficient evidence, but Bradham’s run-in with the law is the second in the last couple of months for the Eagles.

Pederson, when asked, said he talked about his expectations for players on and off the field during his first team meeting in April.

“You always lay out your expectations, what to expect on the football field and off the football field,” the head coach said. “You gotta make smart decisions. We’re in a high-profile business and being in the city of Philadelphia, things get magnified a little bit. And you just gotta be smart and careful and make good choices. Obviously, we all suffer from our bad choices, our bad decisions, the consequences of that. I address the team quite often, actually, on making those. I addressed the rookies just the other night. And then tonight’s meeting will have the same similar message.”

While Bradham is a veteran and Agholor a second-year player, the Eagles did draft and sign several rookies with checkered pasts, starting with running back Wendell Smallwood and corner Jalen Mills.

Pederson said the team handles each situation individually, but he expects the same thing from all his players.

“I just know this: When they come to the Philadelphia Eagles, there’s an expectation level that needs to be upheld and that starts with me,” Pederson said. “And I have to be very clear from where I stand with the players and the coaches, for that matter. And make sure they understand. Again, once they leave the facility, they’re citizens, but at the same time, understand that the players represent their families, the Philadelphia Eagles and the entire organization.”

Eagles rookie DB Blake Countess dishes on hidden talent

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Eagles rookie DB Blake Countess dishes on hidden talent

We're three days into training camp, so we can't pretend to be able to project how good of an NFL player rookie defensive back Blake Countess is going to be. We don't really know much about the 22-year-old at all. What we can report, however, is the sixth-round draft pick might be a half decent bowler.

Countess was asked about his previously hidden talent after Wednesday's practice, and it turns out bowling is not only a serious hobby for the Auburn product, but another outlet for his competitive streak.

"It actually started my last spring in Michigan (before transferring to Auburn)," Countess detailed. "Me and a bunch of the guys went one Thursday and it was two dollar games, and we had such a good time. We started going every Thursday during that spring, and it kind of just carried on."

"Everybody really got a lot better throughout that spring. We were going every week, we would get three or four games and it would be like eight dollars. That's a deal you can't beat, right after Thursday practice."

"It starts getting competitive, then we start doing teams, four-on-four, whoever has the highest total score wins. It got really competitive, and it's just fun."

"Now I've got my own ball, got shoes, everything."

Countess certainly talks a good game, adding that his personal high score is 249 — not bad at all, especially considering he only picked up the sport about a year ago. It sure sounds like he knows what he's doing anyway when explaining the finer points to a complete amateur such as myself.

"It's really your setup, because if the ball leaves your hand the same way every time, you kind of know where it's going to spin, you know where it's going to hit," lectured Countess. "But if you maybe take a step too far to the left or you let go a little too late, you might get a split, you might even get a gutter ball depending on how aggressive you're spinning it. It's really about your setup and where the ball is leaving."

Where Countess eventually falls on the spectrum of sports bowlers remains to be seen. There's long-time Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who is both in the Pro Football and Celebrities Bowling Hall of Fame. Then there's former Sixers center Andrew Bynum of the NBA, who notoriously aggravated an injury while bowling and never even played for the team after a blockbuster trade.

As of right now, Countess could share the same fate as either Bettis or Bynum, though a path in between is probably more likely. He's currently battling for a roster spot as a backup safety, and notes that he's lined up at nickel cornerback as well.

Watch: Jon Dorenbos performs glass-shattering magic trick on America's Got Talent

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Watch: Jon Dorenbos performs glass-shattering magic trick on America's Got Talent

Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos was back on America's Got Talent on Tuesday night to continue his magical run on the popular show judged by Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum and their pals.

Dorenbos went with card tricks on his first two appearances on the show (trick 1, trick 2) but mixed things up last night with an interesting trick involving some homemade art.

Each of the judges were told to quickly draw something on a piece of paper and Dorenbos easily guessed who drew what. But that wasn't the crazy part. Dorenbos started the performance by walking out with a glass bottle with a prediction on it. At the end of the drawing exibit, Dorenbos broke the bottle and there was an envelope with the exact drawings labeled with each corresponding artists' name.

To move on, Dorenbos will need to earn the fans vote. The voting has closed but will be announced in the coming days. Watch the wild performance below.

He certainly has Doug Pederson's vote: