Phils Lose After Halladay Gets Pummeled, But at Least Ryan Howard Joins 300-Homer Club

Phils Lose After Halladay Gets Pummeled, But at Least Ryan Howard Joins 300-Homer Club

With the Phillies down 7-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, desperate for a win to stay alive in the NL wild card race, Ryan Howard blasted one over the centerfield fence. A clear home run from the instant of contact, the ball slammed into the ivy-covered brick wall in front of Ashburn Alley. No fans would have their lifelong home run catch wish granted on this one though, which would have been a heck of a story because it was Howard's 300th career homer. (The ball landed in the shrubs under the batter's eye in center.) Watch it here. 
Number 300 may not crack the top 100 in MLB history (Howard's now tied with former Phillie Chuck Klein at 134), but Howard is still only the second player to hit that many in a Phillies uniform, behind Michael Jack. According to Daily News beat man Ryan Lawrence, it's also the second fewest games that anyone has ever needed to reach 300. Lawrence points out that Ralph Kiner did it in 1,087 games played, just under Howard's 1,093. 
When Howard crumbled to the ground out of the batter's box in the final at bat of the 2011 Phillies postseason, the achilles injury he sustained seemed like it might wipe out his 2012 season. Among a slew of other ailments, Howard's prolonged absence is a critical reason the Phillies need other teams to lose if they want to play in October this year. But his increasing power since returning is a reason that hope isn't completely lost just yet (at least for the undaunted optimists), and at the very least, a healthy Howard is something to look forward to next spring. The Big Piece has now homered in four straight games. 
Unfortunately, the Phils couldn't do much more at the plate. The homer was Howard's only hit of the game, and only two of his teammates would join him in getting a hit on the day as Atlanta starter Mike Minor and his bullpen shut them down the rest of the way. 
Roy Halladay was chased from the mound before the second inning was over, the second shortest appearance of his career per Jim Salisbury. Doc served up six runs before departing in the second inning and was charged with a seventh. Salisbury wonders if we've seen Halladay's last appearance of 2012. Laboring and having trouble locating his pitches, it's hard to see a reason why—especially if the wild card is further out of reach by his next turn.  
With the Cardinals beating the Cubs, Saturday saw the Phils slide to four games back... 
Cliff Lee faces Tim Hudson tomorrow afternoon. 

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.