Video: The Kid Who Just Wanted a Ryan Howard Homer for His Birthday and Got It Made for Awesome TV

Video: The Kid Who Just Wanted a Ryan Howard Homer for His Birthday and Got It Made for Awesome TV

Most kids want video games. Or maybe some cold hard cash. The kid shown at the Phillies game last night held up a sign saying that all he wanted for his birthday was a home run from Ryan Howard. A couple of years ago that may have been an easier wish to deliver on. Coming into last night's contest with the Washington Nationals, the Big Piece hadn't hit a ball out of the park in the entire month of June.

But little Jimmy was good this year and Ryan Howard crushed a ball into the second deck in the second inning of the game and everyone in Philadelphia was happy to see the kid get his wish.

The fan was quite prepared and even had a "thank you" ready on the flip side of his sign. Impressive.

Not only did the birthday boy get his wish of a Howard homer, but he also got to witness a Dom Brown walkoff winner. Pretty good birthday, kid.

For photos of Dom Brown getting pie'd click here. And for more on the Phillies walkoff victory last night click here.

In aggressive D, Mike Martin trying to show Eagles his worth

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In aggressive D, Mike Martin trying to show Eagles his worth

When Ray Horton brought his two-gapping 3-4 defense to the Tennessee Titans in 2014, Mike Martin wasn’t thrilled. 

After all, the former third-round defensive tackle thought he was at his best in an aggressive get-up-the-field type defense, not the one full of lateral motion that Horton established in Tennessee. 

But without recourse, Martin played out the last two seasons of his rookie deal in Horton’s defense, before joining the Eagles in free agency this offseason. 

“That’s something that I was kind of disappointed in Tennessee when we were playing that, but you gotta adjust,” Martin said this week. “That’s this game. Coaches switch and you have to be able to change to stay in this game. But to be back in a system like this, excites me a lot.”

Martin, 25, admitted part of the reason he joined the Eagles was the opportunity based on the lack of depth the team had at his position, but an even bigger reason was the opportunity to play in Jim Schwartz’s downhill scheme. 

Really, it’s the main reason the 6-1, 306-pound interior defensive lineman decided to sign a one-year deal to join the Eagles in April. 

“I already knew what they were all about and then when I got to see what type of scheme they were bringing in and what Coach Schwartz wanted to emphasize, with getting off the ball and getting to our landmarks and things like that, really excited me and solidified it for me, because I know I can flourish in a system like that.”

In fact, Martin thinks he fits best in the kind of defense the Eagles will run this year. 

“Oh yeah. Oh yeah,” Martin said. “My quickness and my get-off and the type of player I am, it suits me well, so it’s exciting.”

Martin came to Philadelphia because of the defensive scheme, but he already knows a couple players on the team. Martin played at Michigan with Brandon Graham; the two have been good friends ever since. And Vinny Curry was Martin’s roommate at the Senior Bowl back in 2012. 

This offseason, as Fletcher Cox stays away from the Eagles’ spring practices while he awaits a new contract, other guys are getting extended reps. One of those guys is Martin. While Taylor Hart lined up next to Bennie Logan on the first-team defense last Tuesday, it was Martin next to him this week during the practice open to the media. 

Martin said he’s been sporadically working with the first unit and has been switching sides with Logan too. 

Eventually, Cox will return and reclaim his rightful spot as the starter and Martin will be sent back to his spot in the depth chart with the likes of Hart, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao and Connor Wujciak. 

In the meantime, Martin is just focused on showing his coaches as much as he possibly can, which isn’t very easy in May. During these practices players aren’t in pads and the hitting won’t start until training camp — even then, it’s limited. 

Still, Martin thinks he can show something over the next few weeks. 

“Really, I’m just trying to focus on my hands because we’re not allowed to have a lot of contact,” he said. “If I’m good with my hands, I can show them how I can move in this defense. I think that’s something that they can see and you can’t really deny. I’m just going to continue to improve and show them those things. When it comes time to put the pads on, it will just translate.”

I know I’m supposed to love Russell Westbrook, but I don’t love Russell Westbrook

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USA Today Sports

I know I’m supposed to love Russell Westbrook, but I don’t love Russell Westbrook

Look, let’s get one thing clear right off the bat. I love watching Russell Westbrook play basketball. The dude is bonkers. Flying around the court with reckless abandon. Tomahawk rams on people’s necks. Pogo-stick pull-ups on the fast break where he just rises up on a dime like Guo Jingjing (she’s a Chinese diver, I looked her up) bouncing off a springboard, setting himself up to hit a Triple Lindy in an opponent’s eyeball. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime talent. He could be the first person in the history of the NBA to successfully complete a flip dunk (although it could be argued that Zach LaVine is the odds-on favorite, or this dude I saw on the corner of 16th and Shunk last weekend all hopped up on mescaline). Either way, Russ is a beast, and I’m totally convinced that his anger and aggression is the only thing keeping PJ Carlesimo out of the NBA coaching ranks. He’s rugged. He’s tenacious. He just seems like a bit of a shithead. 

I have never actually met Russell Westbrook. He could be a totally nice guy. KD certainly seems to think so. And despite the fact that I’m a world famous local celebrity, and could easily use my status to get a media credential for an OKC-Sixers game, or even the Western Conference Finals, and potentially meet Russ in person to find out what he’s all about, I haven’t. So my opinions of Russ comes from the exact same place as yours do, from my couch. This entire blogpost is just speculation based on his piss-poor body language and his butthead actions on and off the court. I wish I could root for him. I really do. I just can’t. Which is shocking because I grew up idolizing King Kong Bundy, and later married a woman with a major, major, major attitude problem. 

Let’s get into it. 

From the moment Russ first shows up to the arena, he struts in looking less like Dominique Wilkins and more like Dom DeLuise. With the bandanas and the berets and all the cute little outfits. And that’s fine, because honestly who cares how you dress. He’s young. He’s just trying to express himself. I get it. I mean, even as I’m writing this, I’m wearing a shirt that says “Cracklin Oat Bran is for Hustlas.” But there’s just something about his air of nonchalance that conflicts with his obvious craving of attention. And what image is he going for anyway? One day he’s rocking a Slayer t-shirt. The next he’s wearing overalls like Mario and Luigi. Not that a Slayer fan doesn’t love playing Super Mario Bros., it just doesn’t seem genuine. Plus, the sheer fact that he’s from Los Angeles only adds to his layer of ugh’ness. It’s like, enough with these LA dudes already — James Harden (we get it), Swaggy P (barf) — guys that grew up in that red carpet culture of “Hey look at me I’m different I’m crazy I eat avocados.” But whatever, ultimately, like I said, it doesn’t freaking matter. I don’t really care, and this is by far my weakest argument I’ll have in this post. I’m not really sure why I decided to start off with it in the first place. Russ is just annoying. Plain and simple. Just put on a belt, bro. You’re an adult. 

Then there’s that whole nightly tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein that he puts on before every game with his little mushroom-headed dance partner, Cameron Payne. What is that cornball isht? It’s not even good dancing. They’re just like, flailing their arms around like idiots. Plus, what the freak are they doing?! Dancing in and of itself is not very masculine. And I know, I know, in this day and age, God forbid you do anything macho, but this is sports afterall, this is basketball, and there is still some sense of ruggedness that is appreciated on the hardwood (boner joke). I’m not a Dane Cook guy (and let me repeat myself for all of you who may be skimming this part of the post, I am NOT a Dane Cook guy), but he does a pretty funny bit on how you will never hear a group of dudes gather together on a Friday night and say, “You know what I want to do tonight? I wanna dance. I just wanna express myself through the art of dance.” That doesn’t happen. I’m not knocking dancing. It has its place in this world. Like, at weddings and celebrations. Or in your kitchen while you’re doing the dishes and listening to Whitney Houston. Or in the basement of some disgusting fraternity house while you try to impregnate every woman you meet. It just doesn’t have a place in NBA pregame warmups. I don’t need to watch Big Bad Russ and Coochie Coo Cam Can doin’ the Tennessee Twinkle Step. Just rub some baby powder on your balls and get it poppin. That worked for Dolph Schayes. 

I appreciate Charlie Villanueva trying to step in there a few weeks go to shut it all down, but c’mon Chucky V, we know you’re not really #bout #dat #lyfe. You’re a big softee at heart. I know this because I follow both you and your lovely wife on Instagram and I have NEVER seen two people who are more in love. Poor Charlie. Russ clowned him both in the moment and later at the postgame press conference. It’s a shame Charles Oakley is no longer in the league. Or Rodney Rodgers. Those dudes woulda put an end to this Derek Hough nonsense IMMEDIATELY if not sooner. For the record, I always thought Rodney Rogers would’ve dominated if the NBA were to ever hold a Royal Rumble. Sad that he ended up the way he did. Damn shame what they did to that dog. 

Once the game starts, Russ gets shot out of a cannon (in a good way!), but God forbid you lay a finger on him or he’ll scowl at the referee like he shot his dog. And I know, everyone yells at the refs these days. It’s horrible. Even the golden unicorn himself, Tim Duncan, acts like a total p.o.s. when he’s called for a whistle. But there’s just something inherently nasty about the way Russ berates an official. Like, I don’t think Westbrook ever goes up to Leon Wood after the game and is like, “Oh, hey Lee-Lee. Sorry I was barking at you all night. I get kinda worked up and lose perspective sometimes. I’m sorry, Duke.” No, instead he just yells at some OKC public relations intern to fetch him some more fettuccini alfredo. 

HEAT THIS UP, MELVIN. 

THE CHEESE IS STARTING TO CONGEAL.

Once again, I have no idea what I’m talking about, and have no idea if any of this is true. I’m just speculating purely on my Jewish intuition. 

Then there was the time Russ yelled at those poor idiots sitting in the front row in Dallas, telling a guy to “just sit there with your wife and shut the [eff] up.” 

And I know, fans are friggin’ annoying. I mean, look at me. I’m spending 1,600 words ripping a guy who I legitimately do not know. It’s just like, we get it, Russell, you’re angry. And Russell’s anger is just really, really angry. And the weird thing is, I normally like angry! Matt Barnes. Metta World Peace. Da Black Mamba. But at least those dudes had a sense of humor about themselves. Well, maybe not Barnes, but Metta and the Kobester are definitely aware that they are complete and total maniacs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Russell smile. He acts as if every human being is always out to get him. And that’s probably what drives him. That’s probably what makes him such a warrior on the court. But calm down, dude. Show some semblance of human personality for once in your life. Just once!

It’s sad, because outside of Westbrook (and Cam Payne, and Dion Waiters, and Kyle Singler’s hair), the Thunder have a pretty likable team -- KD, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, ENES KANTER THA GAWD, even Anthony Morrow and his buttermilk jumpshot -- but I can’t possibly root for them in the Finals. 

Can I?

The alternative is to pull for LeBron and the Cavs, another incredibly polarizing figure. And I’ll admit, LeBron has his faults: the weird pettiness with Kyrie on Twitter, being a blatant jerk to David Blatt, getting David Blatt publicly burned at the stake, like, legitimately getting that dude fired despite the fact that they got to the Finals without Kevin Love and Kyrie last year, and were first in the East when he was fired this year. But ultimately, I think LeBron’s a good dude. His teammates love him. He was absolutely fantastic in Trainwreck. And he is an absolute F-lord who has demolished pretty much everything the NBA has put in his path. I mean, the guy wants to bring a title to Cleveland. CLEVE-LAND. Have you been to Cleveland? It’s a cesspool. It’s an urban pool of cess. 

So look, love Russ. Hate Russ. Love LeBronski. Hate LeBronski. It doesn’t matter to me. But there’s just something about Russ that rubs me the wrong way. I appreciate his talents. I appreciate his desire. I know no one is perfect. Charles Barkley. Latrell Sprewell. Tom Brady. Literally any human being who has ever walked the earth. But I also know that there’s a way I like my human beings to carry themselves on and off the court. I know that when it comes down to ultimately liking and pulling for people -- Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Elle McPherson, Barack Obama, Kim Kardash, Donald Trump, Bobcat Goldwaithe -- that personality counts for a whole lot more than you think. 

So go ahead, Russ. Keep entering the arena with that smug look on your face. Keep dunking on people’s necks. Keep whining at officials and barking at fans and doing the Chattanooga Choo Choo with your little rinky-dink dance buddy. 

I love watching it all. You are wildly entertaining. And I can’t wait til Kyrie puts you on skates. 

(Or, y’know, Golden State comes back and renders these last few paragraphs meaningless.)

Report: Sixers in California for NBA draft workouts

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Report: Sixers in California for NBA draft workouts

As the Western Conference Finals are taking place in Oakland, the Sixers are looking for new talent of their own in California.

This week, members of the Sixers' front office are attending pre-draft workouts organized through multiple agencies, including BDA Sports Management, CAA Sports, Landmark Sports Agency, Octagon and Wasserman Media Group.

While the Sixers hold the No. 1 pick, these workouts are opportunities for them to evaluate players that could be fits for their 24th and 26th selections.

On Thursday, the list of workout participants included projected first-rounders Deyonta Davis (Michigan State) and Cheik Diallo (Kansas), according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

The scouting process takes NBA teams coast to coast. Earlier this week, the Sixers reportedly attended a private workout with Excel Sports Management in New York City, in which Brandon Ingram and Jamal Murray participated.

The Sixers have held two workouts at their own practice facility, bringing in a total of 12 prospects thus far.

As the draft nears, 57 early-entry candidates withdrew their names from the 2016 draft.