Fantastic Fourth: Mets Welcomed to Philly By Facing Cole Hamels

Fantastic Fourth: Mets Welcomed to Philly By Facing Cole Hamels

The New York Mets come into Philadelphia this
evening with a renewed hope of putting their laughable struggles of the
past few seasons behind them. It's Cole Hamels job to take the first
step in squashing that hope, and demonstrating the Phillies are, once
again, the team to beat the the NL East.

The Mets have made some changes in their decision makers, but the
core of their team remains very similar to the team of the past few
seasons. That said, the Phillies are not looking past the Mets this
season. Charlie Manuel even thinks they're going to surprise some
people.

"When I look at their team, their starting pitching usually pitches
pretty good against us, especially three or four of their starters. They
still have Rodriguez at the back of their bullpen," Manuel said. "If
you look at their lineup, they've got a pretty good lineup. They're
going to win more games than people think they are."

The Mets will throw their fourth starter this evening, the tall Chris
Young. That's pretty much the most noteworthy thing about Young, that
he's 6 feet, 10 inches tall.

"He's Big," Charlie Manuel said of Young. "He looks like he's
standing right up on top of you. He's not throwing the ball real hard.
But his fastball is sneaky. Sometimes he's kind of wild enough to be
real good."

He'll face the same Phillies lineup that started opening day, with
Shane Victorino back in the leadoff spot and playing center field after
getting the beginning to Sunday's game off.

The Phillies will counter the Mets fourth starter with one Colbert
Hamels. Asked if it has hit him until now that Cole Hamels is his fourth
starter, Manuel had this to say, "It's going to hit me tonight when I
get to see him."

Should finally hit the rest of us too.

7:05 scheduled start time from chilly CBP this evening.

*

Utley Jog Watch

After reports this morning that Utley will be able to start jogging any day now, Ruben Amaro Jr. says Utley is, in fact, not close to jogging.
"He is not close to jogging. If he was close to jogging he’d be
jogging, I guess. He has taken some ground balls. He’s done okay with
that so far. But it’s still baby steps."

So that's neat.

Charlie was asked about Chase's progress before the game as well.

"He's
slowly coming around. I watched him the last couple of days. He's
starting to move a little farther each day," Manuel said of  Utley
taking more grounders prior to each game over the weekend.

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

I like to give Flyers fans a bit of a hard time on occasion, but that's only because I love them.

One beautiful Flyers fan today reminded me of why I love them.

They took the time to send a postcard to CSNPhilly.com's Flyers Insider -- and hater of the woo -- Tim Panaccio with one single word written on it.

"Woo."

Panotch says "Someone wasted a stamp and post card on this," but I say we just generated at least 50 cents in ad revenue from those of you that are reading this right now.

Money and time well spent.

Now, if you're not up on your wooing, Panotch penned a piece on how some fans wooing at games started annoying some of the players. Panotch hates the woo. BUT... and this is an important but... the Flyers are 6-0 since this all started. 

Woo.