Marlins Park the Site of NL Least Bowl This Weekend

Marlins Park the Site of NL Least Bowl This Weekend

Despite the fanfare surrounding Chase Utley's return, the second half of the Pirates series did not go according to plan. In dropping the latter portion, the Phillies gained nothing on a Wild Card opponent, spoiled a 10-game a homestand, and missed a golden opportunity against a seemingly inferior club.

With that in mind, and the All-Star break looming, the Phils travel to South Beach for a three game set at the Marlins' new digs. While it's always fun to tour a new ball park, the only scenery we can focus on now is the view in the standings: 9.0 back of Washington, 5.5 back of the Wild Card -- with seven teams ahead of them.

Miami is one of the teams in front of the Phillies, both in the NL East and the WC, but only by a half-game. That means the good guys have a legitimate shot at putting a rival behind them this weekend, and perhaps finally crawl out of the basement for good.

After going 21-8 during the month of May, the Marlins have fallen on hard times in June, with just six victories in 24 games, and just three since June 3. Only the Dodgers' offense has scored fewer runs per in the NL, and they at least have the excuse of missing their best player, while only the Rockies -- with their ridiculous four-man rotation -- have a higher ERA.

These are the 2012 Phillies though, and they know a little something about letting awful teams hang around so they can steal one or two. We promise not to do anything crazy, like predicting Cliff Lee (0-4, 3.72) pick up win number one tonight. This is Lee's first start versus Miami this year, but he was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA against the fish in 2011.

Josh Johnson (4-5, 3.96) is on the hill in the opener for the Marlins. After a bumpy start, Johnson has been on a roll. He hasn't allowed more than three runs in any start since May 4 -- and more than two only twice over his last nine -- a period over which he's amassed a 4-2 record and lowered his ERA from 6.61 to 3.96. The Fightins shelled a different guy back in April, when they chased the All-Star pitcher from the game in the fourth.

As for the new stadium, it looks... interesting. I wouldn't pass judgment on it without actually visiting in person, but in photographs Marlins Park looks like something that was designed for a video game, or imagined in a futuristic movie. I'm sure we'll get plenty of unique looks during the broadcast.

But that structure in center field. Wow. Okay, I feel confident enough to say that thing is patently absurd.

Utley is back in the lineup tonight, and I dig Polanco and Mayberry in the seven and eight holes. Could add some support at the back end, especially if Cliff is swinging the bat well. Go get 'em.

1. Rollins, SS
2. Pierre, LF
3. Utley, 2B
4. Ruiz, C
5. Pence, RF
6. Victorino, CF
7. Polanco, 3B
8. Mayberry, 1B
9. Lee, P

In cruel twist, former Eagle Byron Maxwell one of NFL's top corners now

In cruel twist, former Eagle Byron Maxwell one of NFL's top corners now

Remember how excited you were when the Eagles signed Byron Maxwell to a huge free-agent contract in 2015? Remember how much more excited you were this past April when the team traded Maxwell and Kiko Alonso to the Dolphins to move up five spots in the first round of the NFL draft?

Well, as it turns out, Maxwell may not have been the dog most everybody in Philadelphia seemed to think he was. At least, the sixth-year veteran is having a good enough season in Miami to boast without a hint of irony that he's the best cornerback in the league, and smart writer-types like Armando Salguero for the Miami Herald are actually buying it.

Maxwell's performance this season has him so filled with confidence, he's going right after Cardinals All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson for an imaginary title.

“Man, listen, if he wants to say that, he can say that. I’m pretty sure he believes that,” Maxwell said of Peterson being the best. “Just like I believe I’m the best.

“Nothing against him, he is a great cornerback. The answer depends on who you ask.”

The answer might depend who you ask, but pretty sure the only people who would respond with "Byron Maxwell" are Maxwell himself and maybe a few people in his family. I'm not even sure Maxwell's own mother would proclaim him the best corner in the NFL.

This isn't just Philly picking a bone with Maxwell either, a free-agent bust who the team couldn't wait to unload this offseason. While his attitude was questionable and he had little chance of ever living up to the six-year contract worth $63 million the Eagles gave him in the offseason, Maxwell actually got a little bit of unfair shake here. He made terrible first and last impressions, but was okay in between.

Whether he's one of the best corners in the NFL or not though, it turns out the Eagles probably could've used him this year. Leodis McKelvin is terrible, Nolan Carroll isn't much better, Ron Brooks is on injured reserve and the defense has had to ask way too much of seventh-round draft pick Jalen Mills.

It's just another example of how the Eagles improperly prepared at the position heading into this season. Trading Maxwell and then Eric Rowe to the Patriots as well — two players that accounted for 19 starts in 2015 — left the club little room for error with regard to how they filled those jobs.

The sad thing is, both Maxwell and Rowe are probably better than anything the Eagles have, and Maxwell in particular gets to go around bragging about how he's the best in the league. It's a gut punch to be certain, and amid an Eagles season increasingly filled with them.

Eagles Injury Update: Eagles hurting at wideout vs. Washington

Eagles Injury Update: Eagles hurting at wideout vs. Washington

The Eagles are a little banged up at their skill positions heading into Sunday’s game against Washington at the Linc. 

Jordan Matthews (ankle), Ryan Mathews (knee) and Dorial Green-Beckham (abdomen) are all listed as questionable. 

Right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) is the only player who has been ruled out. 

Ryan Mathews, who has missed the past two games with an MCL sprain, was a full participant on both Wednesday and Thursday. “Today, we’re going to back [Mathews] down just a touch, so we can keep him ready to go for Sunday,” head coach Doug Pederson said on Friday morning. 

Jordan Matthews missed the Bengals game after injuring his ankle against the Packers. It was the first missed game of his career. Matthews was a limited participant on Wednesday for precautionary reasons, according to Pederson. 

“[Matthews] was great on Thursday and no setbacks,” Pederson said. “He made it through practice. We look forward to having him a good day again today.”

It seems a little more likely that Matthews and Mathews will be able to play on Sunday than Green-Beckham. 

Green-Beckham, who hurt his mid-section during the loss to the Bengals, wasn't able to practice on Wednesday or Thursday. Still, earlier in the week, Pederson said he thought DGB would be able to play this weekend. 

“He’s still on that path,” Pederson said Friday. “He worked yesterday a little bit. It’s still sore. I want to see where he’s going to be today before making a full decision on him. I don’t want to risk having a guy out there that’s not 100 percent.”

With Green-Beckham and Matthews banged up, it looks like the Eagles will go into this game with just three fully healthy wide receivers – Nelson Agholor, Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.

Pederson said there’s no immediate plan to sign another receiver to the 53-man roster. 

So what’s the plan at wideout? The same thing the Eagles did last week. 

“Well, I’ll probably lean more on the tight ends,” Pederson said. “Trey [Burton] has kind of taken that role the last couple of weeks. Trey Burton and Zach [Ertz] and Brent [Celek]. That’d be the direction we’d go.”