Unapologetic Avant says all fans are welcome


Unapologetic Avant says all fans are welcome

Come on back, Eagles fans!

Jason Avant wants you back on the bandwagon!

Oh man listen, who am I to allow anybody back? Avant said. Listen, Im a guy who goes over the middle, and I dont have any type of authority. Anybody is welcome back.

Avant spoke at length before practice Thursday about comments he made exclusively to CSNPhilly.com after the Eagles-Cowboys game Sunday night at the Linc.

Avant, asked Sunday night whether the Eagles would maintain the same sense of desperation at 3-4 as they had at 1-4 and 2-4, said: We look at home games like road games. We like to get booed by our fans.

Then he addressed fans that he believes abandoned the team when it lost four straight games after opening the season with a win.

We dont want people jumping on our bandwagon now, Avant said. We want people to go out and still talk bad about us. (See story.)
Avants remarks did not go over well with Eagles fans, who took to blogs, message boards and radio stations to complain about Avant, who is generally about as uncontroversial as imaginable.

On Thursday, Avant said his remarks were misconstrued. He said he didnt intend to criticize fans, just to express how the Eagles were carrying the same sense of desperation and us-vs.-them attitude into the rest of the season despite winning their last two games.

"Lets get this clear I will not apologize for what I said. Its not an apology or anything like that, Avant said. What Im saying is, is that there are faithful fans, faithful Eagles fans, we love those fans. ... Im trying to motivate my teammates to keep focused. Weve got the underdog mentality and that's my opinion. ...

All are welcome to root for the Eagles. ... Its that whether people boo us, whether people talk about us, were willing to play through hard situations and thats what I mean by that. Its not a shot at the fans, like it was taken, more so its about motivating my team to say we have to be able to go out under any circumstances and play hard like we did last week.

Avant is one of the senior members of the Eagles, going back to 2006, and hes having another very good year as the Eagles third receiver. With 31 catches for 412 yards, hes on pace for career highs of 70 receptions for 941 yards.

Because of his work ethic, toughness, willingness to run across the middle, positive attitude and personal story of overcoming adversity he grew up in poverty in Chicago selling drugs as a teenager before turning his life around Avant has always been extremely popular in Philly.

That popularity took a hit this week.

I don't really care (if people boo), you know why? Avant said. Because I play my hardest. I play my hardest for Jesus Christ and for this team. You going to boo me for playing hard? You going to boo me for being the guy thats going to chase down the play when nobody else is running? You going to boo me for being the guy thats doing special teams or going over the middle and taking a big shot? Boo me for doing whats right? ...

Listen, I understand. This is what I do respect about Philadelphia fans. They're very, very knowledgeable, and I love playing before our fans. I want to win a championship for this city so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so bad. So I respect them and I love them as fans. What Im saying is that I go out, give everything I have and whatever was said, which I don't even remember half of it, its still my opinion, no matter if it was the worst thing in the world.

In classic Philly athlete style, Avant found a way to blame the media for his own comments.

Half of the stuff is you guys fault, Avant said. Im going to blame it on the media. Half of it is you guys fault for blowing it out of proportion.
E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com.

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids


Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Brian Carroll tied it in 92nd minute and the Union escaped with a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in a showdown of the Western and Eastern conference leaders.

Carroll ran underneath Fabian Herbers' high-arching header and slotted the finish under goalkeeper Zac MacMath from close range.

The Union (5-3-5) responded only 5 minutes after the Rapids (8-2-4) opened the scoring on Sam Cronin's header in the 87th minute. Cronin made a deep run to connect with Marlon Hairston's cross from the right flank, redirecting it into the far corner of the goal.

Both Dillon Powers and Luis Solignac had shots crash off the crossbar for the Rapids after the 70th minute.

The Union extended their unbeaten streak to seven while the Rapids stayed unbeaten in their nine home games this season.

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field


Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing the New York Mets 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch -- almost certainly his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers' bench to keep teammates calm -- and later answered by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that appeared to hit him in the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings for the win. The right-hander yielded two hits, both in the first, and snapped his three-game losing streak.

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets' 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Corey Seager and Howie Kendrick also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets -- and their fans -- were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard's first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman's back by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets' dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett's first pitch of the sixth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 6-0 cushion with his 38th career homer against the Mets.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

Where are you now?
Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

Trainer's room
Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

Up next
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts against the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May -- including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

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Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

The Soul fell on the road to the Cleveland Gladiators, 63-49, at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.

The loss was just the second of the season and the first away from the Wells Fargo Center for the Soul. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh completed 25 of 44 passes for 342 yards and seven touchdownsi in a losing effort.

The Gladiators were led by receiver Quentin Sims, who finished with 10 receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns, and signal caller Arvell Nelson who completed 22 of 36 passes for 307 yards and seven touchdowns.

Next week, the Soul travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks on Saturday, June 4. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports and 97.5 The Fanatic.  Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.