'Thank You, Pat' -- Remembering Pat Burrell

'Thank You, Pat' -- Remembering Pat Burrell

As far as I'm concerned, Pat Burrell retired the day he rode those Clydesdales down Broad Street. It's how I'll always remember him. So, really, today's news that the long-time Phillie and WFC has decided to call it a career is totally fine by me.
Not that I begrudge Pat his final seasons and additional World Series ring with the Giants, but watching he and Elvis lead the parade to the Citizens Bank Park will always be my lasting memory of the end for Burrell.
I remember sitting at the corner of Broad and Federal waiting for the parade. I remember that after Geoff Jenkins poured champagne onto the crowd as his float went by, a few friends and I came up with the idea of following Burrell all the way to the stadium. 
We ran through the streets to catch up with him and -- from Federal to Packer -- did our best to start as many "Thank you, Pat," "Bring Back, Pat," and "Re-sign, Pat" chants as we could. The practicality or intelligence of re-signing Burrell aside (hint: for baseball reasons, it was probably better that the club parted ways with its long-time left fielder), Burrell was not only the longest tenured Phillie, but he had helped to bring this city its first championship in 25 years. Hell, I would have given every member of the team an extension that day, including the aforementioned Jenkins.
Still, given that 99% of his career as a Phillie came prior to his winning a title, "The Bat" leaves somewhat of an amusing legacy here in Philadelphia for any number of reasons. Of course, before his send-off following the 2008 championship, Burrell had taken his fair share of flack from the fans who felt as though he had never lived up to his early hype or the money he was paid.
That said, when you think about it, Pat Burrell really has become the quintessential Philadelphia athlete, even if this designation is usually thought of differently. There's almost nothing about his persona that isn't somehow memorable. From the infamous striking-out-on-one-knee pose to the legitimate successes as a member of the Phillies to the legendary stories of his off the field "antics," Burrell honestly runs the gamut of everything you could ever expect in following a player from his days as a rookie to his final farewell. 
In short, Pat Burrell was a ballplayer, one in every sense of the word. And he was a ballplayer who understood us, just as we ultimately came to understand him. 
Who will ever forget the full page ad he took out in the Daily News to thank the fans for his time here in town? Who will ever forget his double off the wall in Game 5? Who will ever forget some of the insane stories you heard about his late-night hijinks? 
As the Broad Street Bullies continue to hang around the complex in South Philadelphia and glad hand with the fans, I wish the same for this crop of Phillies, especially Burrell. There's obviously a difference between the athletes who played in the 1970s and those of today, but it's hard to believe Burrell didn't see the lasting impact of those who had come before him and understand it fully. As he once famously told Jayson Werth, "If we can win it here, it'll be better than anywhere."
One final personal story, on the night (of the second half) of Game 5, I packed in front of a television in North Philadelphia with some of my closest friends -- as I'm sure many did with friends, family and loved ones around the Delaware Valley. Shortly before the lot of us made our run from Broad and Cecil B. Moore to City Hall and eventually the memorial base pads left in the CBP parking lot where Veterans Stadium once stood, someone had the presence of mind to start playing Burrell's walk-up music, also known as Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry." Five hours later, when we finally returned to the apartment, it was still playing as loud as ever. It had been left on all night.
It should be played at least once more today:

Eagles LB Myke Tavarres will join Colin Kaepernick, won't stand for national anthem

Eagles LB Myke Tavarres will join Colin Kaepernick, won't stand for national anthem

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines last week when he refused to stand for the national anthem during a preseason game, and an Eagles linebacker fighting for a roster spot says he'll do the same in their final preseason contest.

Kaepernick decided not to stand because of the divisive and violent racial issues that have been building in America. Tavarres has taken a similar stance, telling ESPN.com's Tim McManus on Monday that he nearly followed Kaepernick's lead by sitting out the anthem in Indianapolis.

"Oh, I thought about it. Believe me, I definitely thought about it," Tavarres told ESPN. "And usually I'm front and center on the line with the rest of the guys, and that's since pre-K all the way up. Saturday's game, I stepped back, I was in the background, and it didn't feel right to me at all, and so I will be taking a stand — or sitting down — for the fourth game.

"We've got an issue in this country in this day and age, and I feel like somebody needs to step up and we all need to step up. We've got that right. There's just a lot going on that people don't want to talk about, and I feel like us as athletes, we're looked at as role models. And I feel like with Colin Kaepernick, he's doing a great job for standing up in what he believes in, and most people may not like that, but that's his opinion, he's entitled to it, and I respect him for doing it."

Tavarres is not a lock to make the Eagles' final 53-man roster, but their lack of depth at backup linebacker has created an opportunity for him. Dave Zangaro had Tavarres on the practice squad in his roster projection Monday. 

According to the report, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had players express their feelings about the topic during a meeting Monday and Tavarres was one of the players who spoke, along with team leader Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback Leodis McKelvin.

"In this situation, I've really got nothing to lose," Tavarres told McManus. "I'm a rookie free agent, haven't signed any major contract, so there's not a lot of money on the line, I don't have any big endorsement deals on the line. Really what's at stake is my pride and what kind of man would I be and what kind of African-American would I be if I didn't stand my ground on this issue we have today?

"[It] needs to be done. Will there be backlash? Probably. I don't think anyone has bought my jersey yet, so I don't know if it's going to be burned, but it's a major issue and I'm definitely going to stand my ground for this one."

Sean Couturier excited to play for Team North America at World Cup after rehabbing all summer

Sean Couturier excited to play for Team North America at World Cup after rehabbing all summer

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The last time Sean Couturier played a meaningful game, he got drilled into the side boards by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.
 
Couturier suffered an A/C sprain in his left shoulder during the second period of Game 1 against the Capitals and missed the remainder of the playoffs.
 
“Most of the summer was a lot of rehab, trying to strengthen that shoulder,” said the Flyers center, who is practicing at Skate Zone. “Now I feel good. I’m not gonna lie, it took me longer than I thought.”
 
The 23-year-old reported early. He’ll travel to Montreal on Sept. 4 for Team North America’s training camp and the upcoming World Cup of Hockey Tournament next month.
 
“I’m trying to skate as much as I can to get back in the rhythm,” Couturier said. “I think it’s going to be tough to get in the rhythm right away. We’re not used to playing that high level hockey in September, but every guy on every team is going to be like that.
 
“Once we get out there, the level is going to be pretty high right off the bat. I think it can help me personally be ready for the season and step right into game action.”

Eight Flyers will participate in the eight-team competition. The others: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere, Mark Streit, Radko Gudas, Jakub Voracek and Michal Neuvirth.
 
Team North America is comprised of age 23-and-under players.
 
“I don’t really listen too much to the hype and stuff in the summer, but we can definitely surprise some people,” Couturier predicted. “I don’t think there’s much attention for our team. Really no one knows what we’re gonna look like.
 
“We’re gonna try and surprise the world, basically and try to win the tournament. We’re not going there as tourists. We feel we have a good group and a lot of skill and speed and we’ll surprise some teams for sure.”
 
Couturier is a perfect North American because he has dual citizenship – U.S. and Canada. Though born in Phoenix, he spent nearly his entire childhood in Canada.
 
“For me, I’m dual citizenship, so that’s the way I see it,” Couturier said of playing favorites. “It’s a little different, but at the same time the mindset is more about trying to win the tournament. Once you’re out there and on a team you’re just trying to win and I think that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
 
This tournament offers Couturier a chance to test his shoulder competitively before pre-season NHL games start.
 
Obviously, the Flyers will open camp here without some of their best players.
 
“Everyone’s had a long summer, so I think everyone’s kind of looking forward to getting back into action,” Couturier said. “We’re lucky. We’re fortunate to get back into action earlier than we usually do. I’m just happy to be part of it and live the experience.
 
“I know a little what to expect international-wise – I went to the Worlds two years ago. This is going to be high level. No easy games.”
 
Loose pucks
Ten players, including Gostisbehere and free agent Russian forward Roman Lyubimov, who was signed in July, are also working out at Skate Zone, which is under major reconstruction. … Because of construction, the Phantoms dressing room no longer exists. The Flyers have a logistics problem of where the majority of their players are going to dress during camp. ... Construction won’t be completed until sometime this fall. … As part of the club’s 50th anniversary celebration, the Flyers have decorated walls throughout their dressing room area with steel plates from old newspaper pages, and other media, commemorating their two Stanley Cups plus other historic moments from the past. … Brayden Schenn, who will miss the first three games of the regular season on a suspension, will play in preseason.

Flyers' farm system ranked 6th in NHL by ESPN

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Flyers' farm system ranked 6th in NHL by ESPN

There's a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the future of Philly sports, although between the Phillies, Eagles and Sixers, the Flyers tend to go a little overlooked this time of year.

Maybe that shouldn't be the case. Not only are the Flyers coming off of a playoff season, unlike the other local teams, but their future might be as bright as any of the other three. Just look at their farm system, which is ranked sixth in the NHL by Corey Pronman for ESPN.com (Insider), up from number 10 last year.

It's hard to criticize the Flyers' system. Talented all-around centers? Check. Dynamic big defensemen? Check. Ridiculous goaltender depth? Check. Depth through their amateur and professional ranks? Check. Players with star upside? Check. They don't have an Auston Matthews-caliber player in the pipeline, but that player doesn't stay in your system longer than three months anyhow. Ron Hextall emphasizes patience in developing players, so I do expect this system to remain at a high level for another two seasons as the build continues.

The Flyers may not have an Auston Matthews-type, who happened to be first-overall pick in this year's NHL draft. Among the prospects they do have however are forward Travis Konecny, defensemen Ivan Provorov, Samuel Morin and Travis Sanehim and goaltender Anthony Stolarz, several of whom are already knocking on the door. This comes on the heels of what was considered another strong draft for the franchise in June as well.

And let's not forget, one of the Flyers' top prospects joined the club last season. Shayne Ghostisbehere isn't accounted for in these rankings for obvious reasons, but the fact of the matter is the dynamic blue-liner is only 23 and should be wearing orange and black for a long time.

Of course, Flyers fans already know the future is bright. Then again, seeing how their farm system is viewed relative to other teams around the league goes to show just what an outstanding job general manager Ron Hextall has done rebuilding the prospect pipeline.