Checking In With the 76ers In Week Four of the Lockout

Checking In With the 76ers In Week Four of the Lockout

Yeah, yeah, football football football. Bully for them for getting their
act together with time to spare before the 2011 NFL regular season is
to start, but for those of us more concentrated on the upcoming NBA
season—there's probably a handful of us somewhere, maybe in Los Angeles
and Miami—it's hard to get too excited about football's return when
resolution in pro hoops still seems so far away. Who cares about Kevin
Kolb and Brett Favre when the Sixers don't even know if they're going to
be able to re-sign Tony Battie next year?

There's no particularly promising news on that front to my
knowledge, so the best I can do for you guys is to keep you posted as to
what the boys on the team have been up to while locking out is still in
effect. Here's the lowdown on how some of our guys have been keeping
themselves busy.

Andre Iguodala:

Enrico already told you about 'Dre's aspirations towards business management
(and possibly some dabbling in civil activism), and aside from his
summer reading list, he's also doing some training and made a cameo at
Sweet Lou's kiddie hoops camp. But most of what AI9 has been doing is
listening to pop music, and sharing his opinions about it via his new
Twitter account. Some pearls:

On Lady Gaga: "What do @ladygaga be talkin bout that got her 11.6
million followers???...11.6 million followers??? No one MAN should have all that power!!! ( #kanyevoice)"

On Watching ?uestlove DJ in Brooklyn: "It's mad eccentric in this joint...but I can dig it"

On Big Sean and 21st Century Music Storage: "Big Sean on his way, his cd dope...I said "cd" like I have the actual thing! Album I should say...my bad.."

On Beyoncé: "This beyonce album is the perfect shower music #isaidit...isaidit !"

Oh, and he and ET should be checking the Chicago date of Jay-Z and Kanye's Watch the Throne
tour. So if you're at the United Center show on Oct. 6th, keep an eye
out for two dorkily dressed six-and-a-half footers with awkward (and
oddly overlapping) dance moves. Can't miss 'em.

Evan Turner:

Speaking of the Extraterrestrial, he's had the most high-profile training regimen in this off-season, thanks to his working out
with renowned shot doctor Herb McGee, who's trying to get the Kid to
use his guiding hand less on his jumper. Good on Evan for putting in
work, though if he's actually hoping on being able to keep up his career
rate of shooting 50% from the field, he might want to think about
playing in a different basketball league than the NBA. (No high-usage
two guards besides Dwyane Wade even approach 50% in the pros, and
crossover moves aside, Turner's no D-Wade.)

Besides that, the Villain has also been tweeting up a storm, learning about the manipulativeness of girls (awww, Evan!!), singing along to the Backstreet Boys (does anyone actually think "Shape of My Heart" is a classic, though?) and begging for rides
to the Waffle House (bro, there's probably an IHOP within walking
distance). If the lockout continues, Evan and 'Dre might eventually have
a Russian novel between them, composed haltingly in 140-character
installments.

Jrue Holiday:

Now that he's done supporting girlfriend Lauren Cheney
on the US Women's Soccer team (losers), The Damaja is putting in time
for the kids out on the West Coast. The Sixers' point guard held his
first-ever kids basketball camp
in Porter Ranch, California this week, and is prepping another camp at
the SuperGym in Los Angeles in Early August. Featuring special guests
Shawn Marion and John Wall! Watch the awkward promo below. ("Sepulveda?") :

Oh, and not to be left out of the team's pop love on Twitter, he's also been quoting Drake, though saying you ain't went this hard since you was 18 doesn't mean so much when you were 18 like, a year ago.

Thaddeus Young:

The boy Thaddeus has perhaps the most
to anticipate about the lockout ending, given his imminent free agency
and his likelihood to demand a yearly salary in the high-seven /
low-eight digits on the open market. "I think I’m definitely underrated
by many people after all these years," Thad told HoopsHype
recently. "There’s a lot of different aspects to my game: I can take
guys
one-on-one, I can play guys out, I can dridbble… There’s a lot of
things I can do out there." There are indeed, but whether that's enough
for the Sixers to match whatever exorbitant offer he might end up
getting—under what might be a pretty restrictive salary cap by
then—remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Thad says that he'd "like to stay with
Philadelphia, the team drafted me," but qualifies that "my mindset is
that anything can happen." To be continued...

Spencer Hawes:

This guy did this:

Yikes. Basketball really can't get back here soon enough.

Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field

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Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — At least Odubel Herrera was honest about it.

“I didn’t expect to hit it that far,” he said with a big grin on his face late Wednesday afternoon.

A couple of hours earlier, Herrera helped key an 8-5 Phillies’ win over the Detroit Tigers with a towering home run into the right-field seats against Anibal Sanchez (see Instant Replay).

Herrera unloaded on the hanging slider and finished with his bat high.

As the bat reached its apex, Herrera didn’t just let it go. He flipped it in the air as if to say, ‘Uh-ah, I crushed that one.’ In the annals of bat flips, it wasn’t quite Jose Bautista quality, but it wasn’t far off. The flip was so dramatic that Herrera admitted after the game that he would not have been surprised if a Tigers pitcher had retaliated and stuck a pitch in his ribs later in the game.

Retribution never came. And Herrera left Detroit with a smile on his face and yet another big day for the Phillies. He is leading the club with a .327 batting average and his .440 on-base percentage is second-best in baseball.

Herrera's big home run helped make a winner out of Aaron Nola and the Phillies on a day when they really needed a win. After all, they had lost four of their previous five and are headed into the den of baseball’s best team, the Chicago Cubs, on Friday.

“For me, it was a must-win,” said manager Pete Mackanin, whose club is 26-21. “We’d lost four of five and I felt like we needed to come out of here with a win.

“The guys battled the whole game. To me it looked like they played like they had to win this game, which was nice to see. It looked like they played knowing we had to win. They were grinding and coming up with hits. Call it what you want, it was just the feeling I got.

“I’m not going to say I’m anxious to see the Cubs; they’re a hell of a team. But I’m hopeful we can take two out of three.”

The Tigers are one of baseball’s best hitting teams.

The Phillies are one of the worst. They entered the day scoring just 3.2 runs per game.

But on this day, the Phillies out-hit the Tigers, 12-10, to salvage one game in the series.

Nola went six innings, allowed four runs, a walk and struck out six. He left with a 7-4 lead. Things got hairy in the seventh, but Hector Neris cleaned up things for David Hernandez, and Jeanmar Gomez registered his majors-leading 17th save.

In between, Peter Bourjos had a couple of big hits, including his first homer of the season. Andres Blanco started at second over Cesar Hernandez and had a couple of big hits, as well. Bourjos and Blanco even hooked up on a double steal with Blanco becoming the first Phillie to swipe home since Chase Utley in 2009. (An off-line throw to second by Tigers catcher James McCann helped.) 

“We have to try things,” Mackanin said. “We can’t bang it out with most teams so we have to try that kind of stuff, take chances.”

The Phillies actually banged it on this day.

Bourjos’ homer in the seventh provided some valuable cushion.

There are no cheap homers in spacious Comerica Park. Bourjos’ homer traveled 401 feet according to ESPN’s play by play.

Though Bourjos claimed he did not see Herrera’s bat flip in fifth inning, he was aware of it. For the record, Bourjos did not flip his bat on his homer. He put his head down and ran.

“I don’t have that kind of swag,” he said with a laugh.

Bat flips make some folks, particularly old-schoolers, uncomfortable. Bautista’s famous bat flip against Texas in the playoffs last season led to simmering tensions all winter and eventually a brawl between the two teams two weeks ago.

Mackanin actually seemed a little uncomfortable talking about Herrera’s flip.

“I did not see it,” Mackanin said. “A lot of players believe that they should be able to celebrate. But I didn’t see it. I wish you never brought it up.”

Herrera explained that he always flips his bat, even when he makes outs. This one had a little extra oomph, he said, because, "I didn’t expect to hit it that far.”

And how far did he hit it?

Well, ESPN’s play by play said it traveled 409 feet. MLB’s Statcast said it went 427.

Either way, that’s a long Uber ride.

Herrera was asked what was more impressive, the flip or the homer?

“Both,” he said with a laugh.

Herrera has become a more demonstrative player in his second year in the league. He’s letting his emotions show. On Monday night, frustration over a poor at-bat got the best of him. He did not run out a ball back to the pitcher and was benched.

On Wednesday, his emotion was more triumphant, hence the bat flip. But sometimes that can make an opponent angry. There were no repercussions Wednesday and probably won’t be because the Tigers and Phillies don’t see each other again this season. But down the road?

“I’m not worried,” Mackanin said.

“It was nothing personal,” Herrera said. “It was natural.”

Maikel Franco says ankle injury is mild, vows to play Friday

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Maikel Franco says ankle injury is mild, vows to play Friday

DETROIT — The Phillies have an off day Thursday.
 
It will come in handy for Maikel Franco.
 
The third baseman suffered what was termed a sprained right ankle while sliding into second base in the top of the seventh inning Wednesday. He hobbled off the field before the start of the bottom of the inning.
 
After the game, both Franco and manager Pete Mackanin stressed that the sprain was mild.
 
Franco received treatment after coming out of the game and he will again on the off day. Mackanin said he would exercise caution in determining Franco’s availability for Friday afternoon, but did not rule out playing Franco.
 
Franco was adamant. He’s playing.
 
“It’s a little bit sore, but it’s fine,” he said. “It already feels better. I’ll be ready for Friday. With the day off, I know I’ll be OK.”
 
If Franco can’t play, Mackanin would insert super-sub Andres Blanco into the lineup. He had two hits, including an RBI double, and scored two runs in Wednesday’s win over the Tigers (see Instant Replay).
 
Franco had a pair of singles and is 7 for 15 in his last four games.

Frank Reich: Sam Bradford won't be handed Eagles' starting job

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Frank Reich: Sam Bradford won't be handed Eagles' starting job

After the Eagles drafted quarterback Carson Wentz, head coach Doug Pederson declared that Sam Bradford was still the No. 1 quarterback.

Pederson reiterated it when a scowling Bradford chose to skip some voluntary workouts and did so again after Bradford returned to the team.

But Pederson's assistants haven't been so clear.

On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz discussed the topic when asked how he brought along QB Matt Stafford — the first overall pick in 2009 — while serving as head coach of the Detroit Lions. 

"Don't judge him on somebody else, and then also don't predetermine the results of the race," Schwartz said. "Just let him go play. Don't put pressure on him."

At the moment, it certainly seems like the results of the race are predetermined. It's Bradford, Chase Daniel and Wentz ... right? 

On Wednesday, offensive coordinator Frank Reich was on 94-WIP and was asked by Angelo Cataldi about the "impression" that Bradford is the No. 1 QB and there isn't an open competition. 

“No, I would actually say that’s probably not the right impression. I'll tell you why,” Reich said. “I’ve been around this business a long time as a player and as a coach, and one of the things I’ve really come to appreciate is it’s not a contradiction to say that you’ve got to have order. Because if you don’t order it’s chaos. 

"So if you’re the head coach you, gotta come in and you’ve gotta establish order. There has to be organization, there has to be order, but the other thing that, as coaches, that you’ve got to establish is a culture of competition. I mean this is one of the most competitive industries in the world — and so, to say that there’s not competition, that’s just the furthest thing from the truth.

“So I don’t see the problem with creating order and competition at the same time, personally. Every one of us as a coach and a player, you’re working harder to get better, but in that process you have to establish order, and things have a way of working themselves out.”

So there has to be a order — hence Pederson's QB depth chart — but there also has to be competition.

In other words, there is a depth chart, but it's written in pencil. And a big eraser is nearby.

Let the saga continue.

Training camp is still two months away.