For the the first time since Ryan Howard
stood motionless at home plate as the San Francisco Giants celebrated
last October, the Phillies take the field at Citizens Bank Park this
evening to play a baseball game. Granted, not a baseball game that
counts in the standings, but a game that could have meaning for a number
of players still fighting for a spot on the Fightins opening day
Charlie Manuel held his first pregame powwow in the dugout prior to
this evening's On-Deck Series game with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He did
not suddenly become shy during the offseason.
Manuel noted how many of the current stars like Utley, Howard, and
Victorino had to wait their turn before turning into stars. Following
that train of thought, Manuel says Ben Francisco will be your opening
day right fielder and said he believes Benny deserves a chance to shine
much like those guys who he'll be playing alongside got.
So what's Charlie most concerned about just days before the 2011
campaign kicks off in earnest? Production from the three and five spots
in the order.
"I'm not saying our guys can't," Manuel noted. But Jayson Werth's
2010 production will be tough to duplicate and the Phillies have plenty
of questions to be answered.
"Gotta change those question marks into exclamation marks," Manuel said.
As for second base, Charlie says he has a guy in mind to start in the
spot all Phillies fans wish Chase Utley were manning, but Chuck won't
name an opening day starter until Wednesday evening or perhaps some
Tonight, Luis Castillo will get another chance to show that he can still play.
They key word in all of this is "play." And that's what the Phillies
will do tonight in South Philly under very chilly conditions. Roy Oswalt
vs. Ross Ohlendorf. Bring your wool caps.
Video of the Phillies new HD scoreboard:
The NBA has determined a new date for the Sixers home game against the Kings, which was postponed on Nov. 30 because of unsafe playing conditions on the court.
The game has been rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. This will create back-to-backs for both teams.
The Sixers are playing in Chicago on Jan. 29. They will play consecutive games against the Bulls and Kings, then have a road back-to-back against the Mavericks and Spurs on Feb. 1 and 2.
The Kings will be on what is now an eight-game road trip. They will play a back-to-back against the Rockets the next night in Houston.
Bill Dineen, who had the distinction of being Eric Lindros’ first NHL coach, died early Saturday morning at his home in Lake George, New York. He was 84.
“Such a wonderful person, who got along with everybody,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. “I never played for him, but worked with him in scouting. Just a great guy.”
Dineen succeeded Holmgren as head coach during the 1991-92 season.
“When I got fired, a lot of our guys were squeezing their sticks,” Holmgren said. “They were tight. It shouldn’t be hard to play the game. When things got tough, they were a little under stress, Billy coming in, he loosened things up.”
Dineen coached parts of two seasons here from 1991-92 through the 1992-93 season, which was Lindros’ first year as a Flyer.
“Bill treated everyone with the utmost respect,” Holmgren said. “He was the perfect guy for Eric coming in here. That respect goes both ways. He was almost a grandfatherly figure for Eric at the time.”
Dineen served as a scout with the organization from 1990-91 until succeeding Holmgren as coach. He then returned to a scouting role in 1993-94 and remained with the Flyers as a scout through 1996-97.
Mark Howe, one of the greatest Flyers defensemen of all-time, played for Dineen as an 18-year-old rookie in the WHA with the Houston Aeros (1973-74), and also had him during his final year as a Flyer in 1991-92.
“He was one of the best people I ever met in the game of hockey,” Howe said. “He was a real players coach. Of all the guys I ever played for. Maybe a little Paul Holmgren, too.
“If you lost the game, he was one of the very few people if you went for a bite to eat or a beer after the game you lost, you actually felt poorly for letting the coach down.”
Howe said Dineen’s teams weren’t all about skill.
“He picked people that were about ‘the team,'” Howe said. “He made me earn my spot that first year in Houston.”
Dineen posted a 60-60-20 record with the Flyers. His son, Kevin, played on both of those teams before assuming the captaincy from Rick Tocchet in 1993-94.
A gentleman behind the bench, Bill Dineen was much the same person as a player. A former right wing who spent the majority of his six-year playing career with the Detroit Red Wings, he had just 122 penalty minutes in 322 games, scoring 51 goals and 95 points.
“I knew Billy for a long time," Flyers senior vice president Bob Clarke said. "He was a player and coach at the minor league level and the NHL level, but I think more importantly he was a really, really good hockey person and really good person.”
Dineen won two WHA titles coaching the Aeros and two Stanley Cups as a player with the Red Wings. A member of the AHL Hall of Fame, Dineen also coached the Adirondack Red Wings from 1983 through 1988-89.
Three of his five sons — Gordon, Peter and Kevin — played in the NHL. Sons Shawn and Jerry had their roots in the AHL.
“His boys are scattered all over the map,” Holmgren said. “Just a tremendous hockey family.”
Dineen is part of Flyer folklore trivia. He, along with Keith Allen and Vic Stasiuk, were all Red Wings teammates during 1953-53. They also shared something else in common: all three later became Flyers head coaches.