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.

Bryan Colangelo on Joel Embiid setback: 'We're reacting in a way that's proactive'

Bryan Colangelo on Joel Embiid setback: 'We're reacting in a way that's proactive'

The timetable for Joel Embiid's return to the court keeps getting murkier.

Embiid was ruled out indefinitely on Monday and will now have an MRI on his injured left knee (see story). He initially suffered a bone bruise on Jan. 20 and it was revealed on Feb. 11 that he had a minor meniscal tear.

The Sixers previously had a plan of rest and rehab in place and targeted a March 4 return for the big man. 

"With respect to what's developed over the last couple of days, it's quite simple, Joel developed a little bit of swelling and soreness," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said during Monday's edition of Philly Sports Talk. "We're reacting in a way that's proactive. We wanted to be more communicative with our fans. We wanted to make sure that there's less question about whether or not he would be available. This is literally changing out for the next two games now to out indefinitely."

That's a quick change of events. As recently as Friday, Embiid was on track to be back in uniform this week.

"I was in a situation where the latest update on Friday was that he was doing well through his planned progression toward returning to play," Colangelo said. "In recent days, his training has developed a reaction with swelling and soreness, and thus we wanted to take a step back, put him on ice for a minute and make sure that we do everything possible, including getting another scan done."

Embiid initially suffered the injury against the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 20. The rookie sensation missed three games before coming back vs. the Houston Rockets in a national TV matchup on Jan. 27. He has missed all 13 games since facing the Rockets.

Even with Embiid’s diagnosed tear of his meniscus and recent flaring up of the knee after rehab sessions, the Sixers are being supremely cautious when it comes to any potential procedures. The team is not in a rush to put the center back under the knife after he missed the first two seasons of his career because of a pair of foot surgeries.

"With all due respect, medical injuries are injuries that require care and attention," Colangelo said. "When I take information that comes from the medical team, including doctors and the training staff and the physiotherapists, we apply it as instructed and we do that to protect the athlete. In a case of jumping into someone's knee to operate, when the circumstances are known but the conditions and how he's reacting to certain things are still unknown, I think you go through the planned progression of steps as prescribed and evaluated by doctors."

The quick decision to label Embiid out indefinitely is a sharp contrast to prior updates on the phenom. Just last week, Embiid lamented how the Sixers never announced a true timetable for his return (see story).

Now just days later, Embiid has a prognosis that could technically keep him out for the remainder of the regular season. 

Embiid has proven his worth in 31 games this season by averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 25.4 minutes a night. But with only 23 games left on the schedule, will he suit up again this season?

"Out indefinitely means just that. It's indeterminate at this point," Colangelo said. "I think we're all hopeful to get him out there. It would be beneficial for the fans to see him again. It would be great for us as a unit to have him out there as we continue to strive toward winning as the season concludes.

"But at the end of the day, the health and performance of our athletes is first and foremost. We don't want to jeopardize the long-term health."

Rays 7, Phillies 2: Mackanin calls Eickhoff 'a pretty darn good pitcher'

Rays 7, Phillies 2: Mackanin calls Eickhoff 'a pretty darn good pitcher'

BOX SCORE

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff pitched two innings, allowed a hit, a run, walked one and struck out two in his spring debut on Monday.

Afterward, manager Pete Mackanin was asked what he believed Eickhoff's ceiling was.

"He's a pretty darn good pitcher right now," Mackanin said.

Indeed, he is.

In his first full season in the majors last year, the 26-year-old right-hander led the Phillies' starting staff in ERA (3.65), starts (33) and innings pitched (197 1/3).

He delivered 20 quality starts and became just the fourth Phillie in the last 20 years to make 33 starts and record a 3.65 ERA or better, joining three pretty good pitchers named Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Curt Schilling. He walked just 1.92 batters per nine innings and that was fourth-best among NL starters.

"Eickhoff is the kind of guy you can count on," Mackanin said. "He throws strikes. He knows what he's doing."

Eickhoff is intent on building on last year's success in 2017. The guy has a Halladay-like work ethic. He arrived in Clearwater on Feb. 1 and got right to work. After his two innings of work on Monday, he put in a couple of hours in the weight room and on a back field running.

"I just have to continue working," he said. "I have a very high standard for myself as a lot of us in here do. We want to be the best players that we can be."

Eickhoff is working on improving his changeup this spring and his overall goal is to make every start -- as he did last season.

"That's the priority -- make every start," he said. "That's always a priority for me.

"I'd also like to incorporate the changeup a little more and use my slider and curveball and not get heavily reliant on one or the other, which happened several times last year and I think got me into trouble at times. So incorporating both for the duration of the season and just being more crisp with execution and location is my goal.

"I'm always looking to get better. I think the sky is the limit. I'm going to continue working, whether it's being Greg Maddux-esque with command or having a good breaking ball, or throwing a changeup like Maddux and guys like that did. There's always something I'm working on and trying to develop and sharpen up."

Eickhoff lines up to start the second game of the regular season behind projected opening day starter Jeremy Hellickson.

The game
The Phillies lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-2. The Phils are 2-2 on the spring.

Maikel Franco had two hits, including his third homer of the spring. It was a long drive to left field on a 1-2 fastball. He also had a single to right field.

"The thing I like early in the spring from him is he's going deeper into counts," Mackanin said. "I think he's working toward a good year this year."

Stassi impresses
Non-roster player Brock Stassi, a candidate to win a job as a reserve first baseman and outfielder (see story), did not play in the game. He, however, has a single, double and homer in the first three games.

Mackanin gushed about Stassi’s defense when asked about it Monday.

"He's one of the best first basemen I've seen in a real long time," Mackanin said. "He has no need to improve on his defense and I like the way he swings the bat. He's a real solid baseball player so he's a guy I really want to get a good look at."

Pitching matters
Starting pitchers Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin are both projected to pitch at Triple A. Both have been slowed early in camp because of health reasons, but are progressing well. Thompson has a sore right wrist and Eflin is recovering from a pair of surgeries to address tendinitis in both knees.

Both pitchers will continue to throw in the bullpen this week and ramp up to live batting practice next week. There is plenty of time for both pitchers to get their arms ready to open the season. However, the Phillies may decide to take a cautious approach with Eflin and let him build some more strength in his knees before they turn him loose. He could stay in Florida for a couple of extra weeks before joining the Triple A club.

Up next
The Phillies host the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. Clay Buchholz will make his first start of the spring. Here is the Phillies' posted starting lineup for the game:

1. Freddy Galvis, SS
2. Howie Kendrick, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Michael Saunders, DH
6. Tommy Joseph, 1B
7. Chris Coghlan, RF
8. Cameron Rupp, C
9. Scott Kingery, 2B