The Evster's Guide to Annoying Sports Small Talk

The Evster's Guide to Annoying Sports Small Talk

Labor Day is an excuse to BBQ. And BBQs are an excuse to eat massive amounts of food, run through sprinklers with your dog, and take a bunch of hallucinogenics with your whacked-out neighbor, Carl. Unfortunately, most BBQs also require you to talk sports with grown men wearing socks and flip flops. That's all right though, because I've figured out a way around that.

The key to talking sports with idiots is to sound knowledgeable enough to keep your street cred, but stupid enough so that no human being would ever want to keep talking to you. Because the best way to enjoy these holiday functions is to be alone. That way, you can eat your chicken and drink your beer without being judged. So this weekend, while you try to hide in the corner and shove potato salad into your face, use this guide to help you escape whatever bozos that decide to chat you up.

"So whaddya think of the Eagles chances this year?"

What a boring question from a boring person -- and one that you've probably already answered 37 times this summer. If the person asking the question seems nice enough, and you feel like he was just trying to make casual conversashe, tell him you're excited about the Eagles' O, but nervous about their D. If the person is even half the dweebazoid he seems to be, tell him the only thing softer than the Birds' defensive line is his son's limp-wristed throwing motion.

"How 'bout this Ryne Sandberg fella? Is he the right guy for the job?"

This question is a little more acceptable, but still not worthy of your full attention. Everyone knows that it's not a manager who could fix this team, it's Miguel Cabrera. Dude, that guy is incredible. Complete and total domination. I actually feel like Cabrera did not get NEARLY enough pub after winning the Triple Crown last year, and now he's going for another?!?! If the person you're talking to does not share your excitement for Miggy's accomplishments, take his chicken leg from off his plate and launch it over the nearest fence.

"Dude, Miley Cyrus?"

Finally someone worth talking to. Tell this guy that even though Miley has a miniature acorn butt (and that you have no idea what's going on with that whole tongue wagging thing), you'd still pay big bucks to give her a foot massage. If your BBQ buddy agrees, show him this secret snapshot that you took earlier this week of a girl walking down 12th Street.

Wowzers

If he's into it (and c'mon, he's totally gonna be into it), ask him if he too has any secret snappers that he wants to share. Then spend the rest of the weekend walking around Sea Isle taking secret snappers of every 19-year-old girl and drunk divorcée.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Secret Snappers?"

I know, I know, it's totally wrong and possibly illegal, but how could I not share that picture with The 700 Level's readers?

"What about the Sixers? They've certainly been wheelin' and dealin'."

Ugh, calm down Mark Zumoff. No one knows what'll become of the Sixers. Not Ric Bucher, not Charles Barkley, and especially not some stiff who wears his sunglasses on the top of his head. In an effort to cut this conversation off before it even starts, just say that you're encouraged by their offseason moves and are about to explode with tumultuous diarrhea.

"Is Lamar Odom dead?"

I hope not. He seems like a really nice guy who has had a really rough life. Yeah, he's got millions of dollars and a caring wife (she seems to really love him!), but dude's childhood was devastating. Did you know that his father was a heroin addict and his mother died when he was 12? Also, in 2011, his lost his 6 1/2 month-old son to SIDS. That's really sad! Geez, thanks for bringing the mood down, Barbara Walters Jr. I'm getting more chicken.

"Think the Union have a shot of winning it all?"

This conversation is over.

For more secret snappers, follow The Evster @TVMWW.

Instant Replay: Reds 5, Phillies 2

Instant Replay: Reds 5, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

Aaron Nola struggled and the Phillies' offense slumbered in a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies had just one hit through eight innings and three overall in losing for the 21st time in the last 26 games. They scored both of their runs in the ninth inning.

Over their last six games, five of which have been losses, the Phillies have been held to three hits four times.

The Phillies have scored just nine runs in their last six games.

Nola came off the disabled list and pitched seven innings of one-run ball Sunday in Pittsburgh. He failed to build on that outing against a Cincinnati club that entered the game with nine losses in its previous 12 games.

Starting pitching report
Nola, who entered the game having given up just one home run in 23 innings this season, gave up a pair of long balls in the first two innings as the Reds jumped out to a 3-0 lead. In all, the right-hander gave up six hits and five runs over six innings.

Nola is 2-2 with a 4.34 ERA in five starts.

Cincinnati right-hander Tim Adleman's 20th big-league start was the best of his career. The right-hander pitched eight shutout innings and allowed just four baserunners on one hit, two walks and a hit batsman. He struck out four.

Adleman entered the game with a 6.19 ERA this season.

Bullpen report
Mark Leiter Jr. pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three for the Phillies.

Asher Wojciechowski lost the shutout in the ninth. Raisel Iglesias came on for the final two outs. He struck out Maikel Franco, the potential tying run, hacking wildly at a full-count breaking ball to end the game.

At the plate
Andres Blanco, the Phillies' No. 2 hitter, singled in the first inning. The Phillies did not have another hit until there was one out in the ninth.

Aaron Altherr doubled in the ninth to break up the Reds' shutout bid.

Odubel Herrera batted leadoff and ran his slump to 0 for 13 before doubling in the ninth. He hit a ball hard earlier in the game, too, but Cincinnati leftfielder Adam Duvall made a nice diving catch.

For Cincinnati, Duvall and Scott Schebler took Nola deep. Jose Peraza had a two-run single against Nola in the sixth inning. He has a 12-game hitting streak.

In the field
Cincinnati catcher Devin Mesoraco made a terrific play in starting a 2-4-3 double play to end the seventh inning.

Minor matters
Second base prospect Jesmuel Valentin had season-ending surgery on his left shoulder in Philadelphia on Friday. Valentin, who was playing at Triple A Lehigh Valley, is looking at a recovery time of four to five months. He should be ready to play winter ball in his native Puerto Rico. Valentin went down to the final days of camp in a bid to make the Phillies' opening day roster in spring training (see story).

Up next
The series continues in a 4:05 p.m. start Saturday. Jerad Eickhoff (0-5, 4.70) pitches against Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 6.75).

NHL Notes: Predators' P.K. Subban rides whirlwind to Stanley Cup Final

NHL Notes: Predators' P.K. Subban rides whirlwind to Stanley Cup Final

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It has been an extraordinary 11 months for P.K. Subban.

The defenseman moved from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference. Left his native Canada to live in the American South. Blended in with new teammates, created a new home and learned a new system of money, too.

Oh, and along the way the former star for the Montreal Canadiens played a key role in Nashville's stirring run to the Stanley Cup Final.

The best way to sum up Subban's approach? C'est la vie.

"I just tried to have the right attitude when change comes my way," Subban said. "I think when you have an open mind, an open mind is like a gold mine. You just have an open mind, you can only go up from there regardless of what comes your way and just always try to approach things in a positive way."

The Canadiens and Predators shocked the NHL last June 29 when Nashville swapped captain Shea Weber for Subban in a rare one-for-one trade of All-Star defensemen. Adding Subban's offensive skills immediately made the Predators a popular pick to be right where they are now as the Western Conference champions.

The stylish Subban has as much flair on the ice with his goal celebrations as off with his hats and stylish suits. The Predators and their fans have embraced all of it.

"When it happened, I came in here with the right attitude and just wanted to be a part of this team and do whatever I can do to help a team win," Subban said (see full story).

Penguins: Team rides maturity, resilience back to Cup Final
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz stood shoulder to shoulder at center ice as midnight approached, crowd on its feet, Prince of Wales Trophy in hand. Another shot at the Stanley Cup in the offing.

On the surface, it could have been a scene ripped from 2008 when the longtime Pittsburgh Penguin teammates earned their first crack at a championship together, the one that was supposed to be the launching pad for a dynasty.

A closer look at the weary, grateful smiles told a different story.

This team has learned over the last decade that nothing can be taken for granted. Not their individual greatness or postseason success, even for one of the NHL's marquee franchises. Not the cohesion it takes to survive the crucible of the most draining championship chase in professional team sports or the mental toughness (along with a dash of luck) needed to stay on top once you get there.

So Crosby paused in the giddy aftermath of Pittsburgh's 3-2 victory over Ottawa in Game 7 of the helter-skelter Eastern Conference finals to do something the two-time Hart Trophy winner almost never does. He took stock of the moment, aware of how fleeting they can be.

"Every series you look at, the margin for error is so slim," Crosby said. "We've just continued to find ways and different guys have stepped up. We trust in that and we believe in that and whoever has come in the lineup has done a great job. That builds confidence. We've done it different ways, which is probably our biggest strength" (see full story).