Phillies, Manuel Establish Franchise Records

Phillies, Manuel Establish Franchise Records

Should they fail to capture another World Championship this year, 102 wins will be nothing more than a consolation prize, but by virtue of that total, the Phillies have already ensured 2011 will be remembered as a special season.

With a 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves in 13 innings, the Fightins have once again soared to new heights, setting a franchise record for regular season success, and eliminating their division rival from playoff contention in the process.

And the icing on the cake? Charlie Manuel shares a personal milestone with the club's milestone, surpassing Gene Mauch as the organization's all-time winningest manager on the same night.

While it took Mauch nine seasons to reach 645 wins, Charlie eclipsed
that in just seven during this unprecedented era.
Congratulations are in order to a manager who has earned the right to be
called the best in franchise history.

Atlanta led the game for much of the night, but closer Craig Kimbrel couldn't finish the job in the ninth. The rookie entered with 46 saves for the season, but he only managed one out while loading the bases on a single and two walks. Chase Utley tied the score with a sac fly, bringing across Pete Orr, who was running for Placido Polanco after the third basemen led off the inning with a base hit.

The Phillies bullpen kept the game knotted up long enough for Hunter Pence to hit the game winner in the top of the 13th.

After drawing a free pass, Brian Schneider was on the move with the count full and two outs when Utley slapped one past a diving Dan Uggla, advancing the runner to third. Atlanta opted to pitch to Pence with second base open and Michael Martinez on deck, and the right fielder nubbed an infield bloop between second and first that left the defense no chance for a play.

As impressive as 102 wins are though, the Phillies have more baseball ahead.

Unlike the Braves, the St. Louis Cardinals took care of their business on Wednesday night, defeating the Houston Astros 8-0 to secure the Wild Card berth. They earned the right to face Philadelphia in the NLDS, which begins on Saturday.

While the regular season achievements are ultimately meaningless to most fans, there should be genuine enthusiasm about how they finished. They could have packed it in at any point tonight, but instead they fought back from a deficit, as they so often do, and took their opponent to the limit.

In fact, any discussion of a late season collapse looks to have been premature. The Phillies ended on a high note, taking a road sweep against a desperate ball club that needed every one of these games.

Let's hope they are ready to make even more history.

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

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 co-exist 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 Jones 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.