Philly March Madness: (4) Ryan Howard vs. (13) Jon Runyan

Philly March Madness: (4) Ryan Howard vs. (13) Jon Runyan

Over the next few weeks at The700Level, we'll be posting poll matchups as part of our Philly March Madness competition. Examine the cases of the two fine Philadelphia athletes below, and cast your vote at the bottom as to which you think should advance to the next round. And as always, feel free to explain your selection and/or debate the choices in the comments section.

(4) Ryan Howard

Ah, the big man. The best homegrown power hitter the Phillies had seen since Mike Schmidt (and in terms of pure, raw power, he even gives Michael Jack a run for his money), Howard came up late to the Phils, blocked at first by fellow slugger Jim Thome until he was 25. But when Thome went down with an elbow injury in the '05 season, Howard stepped in and proved why the job should be his going forward, hitting .288 with 22 homers in 88 games on the way to winning the Rookie of the Year award. The next year he became the second player in MLB history to win the ROY and MVP awards back to back, as he hit .313 with 58 homers, the latter a single-season Phillies record. Since then he's solidified himself as one of the game's pre-eminent power hitters, while also improving his defense and coming up with numerous clutch post-season hits, like his famous "Get me to the plate, boys" double against the Rockies to help the Phillies win game four of the '09 NLDS. Though his swing appears to come and go at the plate, sometimes for months at a time, when he's on, there's absolutely nobody in baseball you'd rather have on your team, as he carried the Phils to the playoffs in the last few months of '08 and and tore up the Dodgers with his torrid hitting (.333 with a .933 slugging) in the 2009 NLCS. He's come under fire of late for the prohibitive $125 million deal he signed to stay with the Phils through 2016, which some feel he can't possibly live up to, but even if he doesn't earn it with his play moving forward, Ryan Howard's certainly earned the payday retroactively, and then some. -Andrew

(13) Jon Runyan

When people think of the Andy Reid era, many great players come to mind. For the better part of a decade, Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and even Terrell Owens were the faces of the offense, but arguably none of them could have made the impact they did without Big Jon Runyan. Signed as a free agent from the Titans, Runyan was the club's first landmark free agent signing for the current regime, signing a six-year contract worth $30 million, a record for offensive linemen at the time. Simply put, it was a success. A natural run blocking right tackle, the Michigan product adapted to the Eagles' pass heavy attack and became a mainstay at right tackle for nine seasons. Though his career is short on accolades, reaching just one Pro Bowl in 2002, Runyan was Mr. Dependable, never missing a single start in a Birds uniform. That would be impressive in its own right, however we know he wasn't always a picture of health. Most notably, he played half the 2007 season with a broken tailbone, despite the fact that the team would only finish 8-8. While Big Jon defined tough, he also exhibits intelligence. He famously instructed Brian Westbrook to take a knee rather than score a touchdown, allowing the team to kill the clock and secure a victory over the Dallas Cowboys, and today he is a sitting member in the United States House of Representatives. -Kulp

Who should advance to the next round?customer surveys

Who should advance to the next round?survey software

Results So Far:

East Bracket:

(1) Julius Erving (91.8%) over (16) Von Hayes (8.2%)
(8) Simon Gagne (77.9%) over (9) Seth Joyner (22.1%)
(5) Eric Lindros (70.3%) over (12) Eric Allen (29.7%)
(4) Randall Cunningham (77.6%) over (13) Shane Victorino (23.4%)
(11) Cole Hamels (82.1%) over (6) Mark Recchi (17.9%)
(14) Tug McGraw (51.1%) over (3) Moses Malone (48.9%)
(7) Darren Daulton (74.0%) over (10) Andrew Toney (26.0%)
(2) Chase Utley (93.5%) over (15) Andre Waters (6.5%)

Midwest Bracket:

(1) Mark Howe (60.2%) over (16) David Akers (39.8%)
(9) Rod Brind'Amour (73.6%) over (8) Rick Tocchet (26.4%)
(5) Brian Westbrook (93.3%) over (12) Jayson Werth (6.7%)
(4) Mike Richards (85.1%) over (13) Trent Cole (14.9%)
(6) John LeClair (89.2%) over (11) Clyde Simmons (10.8%)
(3) Jimmy Rollins (75.8%) over (14) John Kruk (24.2%)
(7) Lenny Dykstra (51.9%) over (10) Dave Poulin (48.1%)
(2) Allen Iverson (83.1%) over (15) Jeremiah Trotter (16.9%)

West Bracket:

(1) Mike Schmidt (96.9%) over (16) Keith Byars (3.1%)
(9) Wilbert Montgomery (59.4%) over (8) Jeff Carter (40.6%)
(5) Ron Jaworski (83.5%) over (12) Bobby Abreu (16.5%)
(4) Ron Hextall (94.1%) over (13) Andre Iguodala (5.9%)
(6) Mike Quick (59.8%) over (11) Hugh Douglas (40.2%)
(3) Brian Dawkins (98.3%) over (14) Scott Rolen (1.7%)
(7) Maurice Cheeks (51.9%) over (10) Eric Desjardins (48.1%)
(15) Carlos Ruiz (58.9%) over (2) Tim Kerr (41.1%)

South Bracket:

(1) Reggie White (97.1%) over (16) Hersey Hawkins (2.9%)

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.