The 19 Inning Unsung Heroes

The 19 Inning Unsung Heroes

While Wilson Valdez's pitching performance stole the headlines and quickly jumped into the hearts of fans in attendance as the most memorable takeaway from the wild 19 inning victory on Thursday morning at Citizens Bank Park, so many guys contributed to the victory.

Raul Ibanez may have gotten the game-winner, but this was a team effort.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest keys to this game was the yeoman's effort put in by Danys Baez out of the bullpen. He threw 5 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, while upping his pitch count to a remarkable 73. Charlie Manuel joked after the game that he sure got the most out of him.

Ryan Howard hit a home run in the 10th to keep this thing going. Jimmy Rollins made sick defensive play after sick defensive play, showing off the cannon he still possesses.

Then there was Chooch. Not only did Carlos Ruiz catch two whole baseball games worth of pitches, but he also transitioned to third base once Wilson Valdez took over pitching duties. In one of the more hustle plays of the evening, Chooch went after a foul ball down the third base line like whether or not he caught it decided the fate of the entire world, not just a baseball game.

A remarkable hustle effort from Carlos Ruiz, just one memorable play in a game that had dozens of them.

Photos by US Presswire

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."