Dom Brown, Interleague Play Descend On Philadelphia

Dom Brown, Interleague Play Descend On Philadelphia

A double dose of awesome this evening for Phillies fans as not only is Roy Halladay getting the start but beloved phenom Dom Brown has rejoined the big league club. Unfortunately, the lanky left-hander will not get the start this evening as Charlie Manuel said before the game that Brown likely won't start against lefties, at least initially, as the skipper wants to ease him into the lineup. But Manuel also noted that this isn't last season, and Brown won't be mired on the bench like the end of last season. Expect to see Dom get plenty of welcomed time this summer.

Along with Dom Brown, the Phillies will welcome Inter-League play back to Philadelphia tonight as the Texas Rangers are in town for a three game set.

Interleague Play

As for the merits of Inter-League, put me in the camp of "It's great because it allows fans to see guys they may otherwise never see." That said, you can't disregard the major flaws in the system which Jayson Stark does a wonderful job outlining. One of his most poignant examples involves some NL East discrepancies, "The Mets will play 15 interleague games against teams currently .500 or better (plus three against the Angels, who are just a game under .500). The Nationals could play none. How does THAT happen?"

Charlie Manuel has grumbled about similar situations in the past, but it doesn't appear like MLB is set to do anything about it anytime soon. As we all know to well, the Phillies have not been great in their regular season games against the AL (106-129 all-time), although they did finish 2010 with a 10-8 record against the Junior Circuit.

Straight Edge Racer vs. Doc

Kyle Kendrick is not starting for the Phillies tonight, which is nice. Roy Halladay (5-3, 2.21) will take on C.J. Wilson (4-2, 3.38) who has a relatively popular Twitter account. Just this afternoon he said this of facing Roy Halladay at the dish, "I'm up against the CYborg."

(see a higher resolution of the above Roy Halladay/Cyborg photo here)

Having spent the early part of his career in the AL, Halladay has plenty of experience against the Rangers -- 20 games to be exact. Roy is 7-7 with a 5.36 ERA against them. Not very Doc-like. Current Rangers Michael Young (.279 BA in 44 PA), Ian Kinsler (.316 BA in 21 PA), and David Murphy (.500 in 8 PA) have solid numbers against him.

The weather lately in South Philly is bizarre. It was raining earlier before it got hot and quasi sunny. It's become even more impossible to predict in recent weeks. Who knows what tonight's forecast entails.

Dom Dom Dom

John Mayberry Jr. will start in center this evening with Raul Ibanez and Ben Francisco on either side of him. Wilson Valdez will bat and play second . Your chances of seeing Dom Brown make an appearance tonight are slim, because all Roy Halladay does is complete games.

First pitch scheduled for 7:05.

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

As part of their “Salute Saturday” series, the Sixers honored the 1966-67 championship team at halftime of their 107-106 loss the Celtics on Saturday.

Fifty years after winning the title, the success of the squad (which went 68-13 in the regular season) still resonates with those representing the Sixers today. After all, they are the group Wilt Chamberlain described as “the best team ever.” 

“It’s just part of the history of this city and the organization,” said Brett Brown, who has established a relationship with Billy Cunningham through practice visits and emails. “There was a toughness with that team that he personified and the city sort of reflects. It’s stuff you hear me talk about all the time how you want our team to reflect the spirit of the city. That team did it.”

Prior to their tribute ceremony, members of the team reflected on their run in which they beat the San Francisco Warriors for the title. 

On Wilt Chamberlain
“Wilt was such a dominant figure, not only as a basketball player, but he’s almost bigger than the game,” Matt Goukas said. “He played so well, he was such a good team player – he started really passing the ball right around that time --and that enabled great scorers like Hal (Greer) and Billy and Chet Walker to do their thing, and Wilt was very happy to give them that leeway.”.

On fond memories
“It was a team that we played well together and we lived as a family and that’s what made it so good for us," Greer said. "A lot of fun, a lot of fun. We missed the next year, but 68-13 is not bad at all.”

“It’s hard to forget a situation like that where we had such a terrific team and the season went so quickly, we won so many games and then of course winning a championship,” Goukas said. “As a first year player I said, ‘This is the way it’s supposed to be, I guess.’ But of course I never won another championship as a player, but we had such a terrific group of guys and true professionals that for me as a rookie, Billy Melchionni as a rookie, we really benefited from guys like Hal Greer, Wally Jones and Harry Costello, they really showed us the way.”

On team chemistry
“It was very difficult times when you look at the sixties from a social aspect,” Cunningham said. “Martin Luther King was killed the following year we won the championship. Race relationships weren’t the best. And this time, which was just about half black-half white, I’m not even sure, it was never an issue. That’s the beauty I think of being on a team you know getting to know people, you judge them as an individual and nothing more than that.”

“I think it was our coach Alex Hannum, for one (that kept the team together),” Greer said. “And of course the big guy. He held us together most of the time, he could rebound, play defense, do it all.”

Ivan Provorov buries Chicago nightmare by showing Blackhawks his true self

Ivan Provorov buries Chicago nightmare by showing Blackhawks his true self

Ivan Provorov moved on but didn’t forget.

The 19-year-old still remembers losing his footing on the United Center ice in front of 21,263 fans, alone in his own end and costing the Flyers a goal in a blowout defeat to the Blackhawks on Oct. 18.

In just his third NHL game, Provorov had his rookie moment. He also had a minus-5 rating when the 7-4 loss was all said and done.

Well, on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, he saw the Blackhawks again and made it a point to show them his best. Provorov ripped off two goals in 31 seconds of the second period to erase a 1-0 deficit and spearhead a 3-1 win for the Flyers (see story).

Better output than last time?

Provorov laughed, paused and then laughed again.

“A little bit,” he said. “I think so.

“I was trying to use it as a positive thing. Try to prove that that’s not me, that it’s just one bad game.”

Consider that job done.

“I didn’t play my best at that game,” Provorov said. “But I put it behind me, learned from it and this was a better result tonight.”

In 31 ticks of the clock, the Russian defenseman topped his goal total through the first 25 games (see 10 observations). Provorov uncorked a slap shot and slung a wrister for the tallies early in the middle stanza.

“I think you have to keep everything in perspective from a night like that,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said of Provorov’s first game against Chicago. “He is a guy that continues to work at his game and continues to build.”

Provorov didn’t net the hat trick, but in the same period, saved a goal on the defensive end when he quickly pounced on a puck dribbling toward the goal line off and behind goalie Steve Mason.

“I came from the left corner and I saw the puck was rolling on Mase’s shoulder,” Provorov said. “It went down, rolled to the goal line. I just got there as quick as I could and swiped it out.

“I think it was close. As soon I saw the puck, I tried to get there as fast as I can.”

After experiencing some growing pains to start the season, Provorov has played better. Once he makes a mistake, he rarely makes it again.

“He’s just beyond his years in terms of maturity and the way he studies the game,” Hakstol said a little over two weeks ago. “He’s a young guy that I can probably ask him about a play that happened two weeks ago in a game and he would immediately have recall on that play. A very intelligent player, he’s handled the ups and the downs pretty well."

Mason isn't surprised by Provorov's development.

"When you come into the league at a young age, it’s not easy and you’ve got to get your feet under you," Mason said. "We’re starting to see that [with Provorov]."

And two goals in half a minute don’t hurt.

“Score one goal in a game, it’s a good feeling. Score two in one shift, it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said. “Two great plays by our forwards. The whole team, it was a great effort, we played a great hockey game, so it was easy to play.

“Every time you score, it’s like a confidence booster. For me, it’s defense first but when you get goals and assists, it’s always nice.”

The Flyers had the players’ dads on hand for Saturday’s game. Provorov’s father, Vladimir, couldn’t make it from Russia, but you can bet he tuned in.

“He watches every game back home,” Provorov said. “Today was a little easier because it’s only 9 p.m. back home when the game started, so yeah, I think my whole family watched it.”

He watches the other games at 3, 4 a.m.?

“Yeah,” Provorov said with a smile, “then he takes my brother to practice at 6.”