The 700 Level's 10 least-favorite Philly losses (and 25 favorite wins) of 2013

The 700 Level's 10 least-favorite Philly losses (and 25 favorite wins) of 2013

It wasn't long ago that our year-end lists of best and worst Philly games of the year were chock full of things like playoff clinchers, post-season upsets, and crushing losses when a championship legitimately seemed in reach. Sad to say, the stakes for sports in the city of Philadelphia were a lot lower in 2013, a calendar year in which none of our professional teams reached the second season, or even came particularly close to doing so.

Still, even in a year with no playoffs (March Madness aside), there were plenty of highs and lows to experience in the City of Brotherly Love--miracle comebacks, fluky beast performances, inspiring wins that made it all worthwhile and gut-punching losses that made you wonder why you even bother. You don't need the post-season to remind you of everything you love and hate about being a Philly sports fan.

That said...you can probably slot Sunday's game against the Cowboys in at #1 on either list pretty automatically, depending on what happens. But until then, here are The 700 Level's top 25 wins and bottom ten losses of the 2013 Philly sports season.

[Top 25 favorite wins post here]

WORST LOSSES:

10. Aaric Murray hangs 48 on Temple, Dec. 18

Lynn Greer is no longer the all-time record holder for the most points scored in a game at the Liacouras Center. That record now belongs to -- of all people -- La Salle/West Virginia/Texas Southern's Aaric Murray. Murray dropped 48 last Wednesday night as Texas Southern beat Temple, 90-89, at the Apollo. He finished 20 of 28 from the field as his team shot an absurd 59 percent. Murray's 48 points not only broke the building record, but also the all-time record for the most points ever scored by a single player in one game against Temple. To date, no one has scored more in a Division I game this season. Here's some perspective: Temple shot 56 percent from the floor and scored 89 points and lost to a team from the SWAC at home. The Owls have gotten progressively worse defensively every year since Lavoy Allen left, and all that bad team defense culminated in an embarrassing outcome last Wednesday night. If the other team has one guy -- maybe make the four other guys beat you. It worked for the other seven schools that beat TSU. Temple, on the other hand, finds itself in the company of Howard, Wiley and Norfolk State. --N.M.

9. Eagles lose to the Andy Reid-led Chiefs, Sep. 19

Every year when the schedule comes out, Eagles fans circle the dates with the Cowboys and/or Giants, but this year there was another big game on the slate. Departed head coach Andy Reid returned to town with the Kansas City Chiefs eight short months after his firing, and much to Philly’s chagrin, Big Red ended up taking a Gatorade shower. The Birds turned the ball over five times en route to a painful 26-16 loss that had Reid kissing members of the local media and everything—seriously. A sickening sight to behold, not to mention a brutal game no matter the opponent. --A.K.

8. Penguins 5, Flyers 4, Mar. 7

Yep, you guessed it--another one of those kooky Flyers/Penguins games. Except this time, it was the good guys who blew the lead and the evil Pittsburgh hockey empire that came out on top, and it was painful to watch. The Flyers couldn’t be stopped as they put up four goals – two by Jake Voracek and one each by Kimmo Timonen and Zac Rinaldo – to take a 4-1 lead into the game’s first intermission, forcing the Penguins to sub goalie Tomas Vokoun for starer Marc-Andre Fleury to start the second period. The second period was much of the same, except it was the Flyers on the other end of the whitewashing this time. The Pens got a trio of goals and before the Flyers knew it, their lead was gone and the game was tied at 4 heading into the third period. Ilya Bryzgalov took a seat to start the third and Brian Boucher – yes, that Brian Boucher – started the third stanza in net for the Flyers and promptly gave up a go-ahead goal to Chris Kunitz just 18 seconds into the period. The Orange and Black never recovered and fell 5-4. It was an embarrassing loss where the Flyers just stopped playing after the first period when they had a big lead. If you’re still wondering why the Flyers missed the playoffs last season, this game is a telling example of why. --G.P.

7. Halladay-led Phils lose 14-2 to the Marlins, May 5

The toughest part of a very tough season for Phillies fans was watching a Roy Halladay who was very obviously not the same guy who had repped for us as one of the most feared pitchers in baseball for his first two seasons in Philadelphia. His velocity was way down, his command was way off, and his general aura of invincibility had all but disappeared. It all came to a head in a May start against the Marlins--a team Doc had traditionally made fish food out of--in which our one-time ace gave up nine runs in three innings, seven of which were driven in by Adeiny Hechavarria, a light-hitting shortstop prospect who'd go on to slug .298 for the season. We may not have admitted it at the time, but we were pretty much all out of excuses--after an incredible, 15-plus-year, Hall-of-Fame-caliber career, the Doctor was finally out. --A.U.

6. Temple's epic collapse vs. No. 15 UCF, Nov. 16

The football Owls didn't just blow late leads in 2013; they turned the process into an art form. They lost on a semi-Hail Mary to FCS Fordham, failed to convert a late 4th-and-1 at Rutgers before giving up a 33-yard game-winning bomb over the top, and blew a 21-0 halftime lead against UConn. They lost four games by a combined nine points. But it never got any worse than the UCF game. Up 36-29 with 2:04 to play, Temple allowed UCF to march 134 yards, complete 5 of 5 passing attempts and score the game's final 10 points. This J.J. Worton diving, one-handed, 30-yard touchdown that tied the game would have been in the running for catch of the year if not for Auburn's miraculous finish against Georgia the week before its miraculous finish against Alabama. Temple lost, 39-36. UCF will meet Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. Temple finished 2-10. N.M.

5. Jrue Holiday goes 2-24 in a Bobcats loss, Apr. 3

You know it's a bad night from the field when even Deadspin is posting video montages of all your FG misses. It's always depressing when you lose to the Bobcats, but Jrue made it historic by taking 24 shots on the night and hitting just two of them--a night of gunning futility that not even the likes of Evan Turner have ever matched. The really incredible thing about it was that the Sixers still ended up losing just 88-83, meaning that if only two of those 22 misses had been converted, the game could have turned out totally differently. At least if Charlotte had managed to blow us out, we could have emotionally divested ourselves from whether or not Jrue's shots were falling, but cruel as the game was, we had to hang on every missed layup, every clanged jumper, every errant floater. It was just one of the many indignities inflicted upon Philly fans in the most brutal Sixers season of recent memory. --A.U.

4. 18-inning loss to the Diamondbacks, Aug. 24

Remember Casper Wells? How about John McDonald? No? Well if you do remember them it's probably because both position players ended up making a pitching appearance in the Phillies 18-inning loss to the Diamondbacks this summer which also happened to be the longest game by time in Phillies history. Wells' night was the most memorable with an 0-7 at the plate in addition to letting up 5 runs on the mound. We'll let Casper's dad have the final word on this one, “I looked at the box score, I almost died. That had to be the worst one-game performance by a baseball player ever.” --E.C.

3. Union consecutive 2-2 draws against FC Dallas & Real Salt Lake, June 29 & July 3

OK, so they weren't exactly "losses," but they sure felt like it. At home against FC Dallas, the Union were just six days removed from an emphatic 3-0 win over New York. Amobi Okugo started things off well with an early goal, before the Union gave one back before the half. PPL Park was euphoric in the 87th minute, when rookie Aaron Wheeler headed home what looked like the game-winner. Then things got wild. Sheanon Williams cleared a ball off the goal line in stoppage time to cement the win. Or so we thought. Minutes later, the Union allowed a long free kick, and then the defense and goalie Zac MacMath made an absolute mess of a loose ball, with MacMath screaming for a foul instead of pulling down the ball. Blas Perez poked it home to tie the game and give the Union one point instead of three.

Four days later, the Union went on the road to powerful Real Salt Lake, a team that eventually reached the MLS Cup Final. Sebastien Le Toux stunned the crowd with an early goal, and RSL took until the 75th minute to tie it up. Just one minute later, Conor Casey shook things up again with a goal that looked like it would give the Union a huge win in a stadium where few earn points. But in the seventh minute of stoppage time, the RSL was awarded a penalty kick, and Javier Morales banged it in off the post to finish the game in a 2-2 draw. --S.M.

2. Eagles back-to-back futility against Cowboys and Giants, Oct. 20 & 27

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a point in the Eagles’ season where serious doubts were beginning to spring up about the viability of Chip Kelly’s offense in the NFL. In back-to-back weeks against the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, Nick Foles, Mike Vick and Matt Barkley managed to lead the Eagles to a combined three points. That’s zero offensive touchdowns in 120 minutes. The loss to Dallas was particularly hard, as Foles played the worst game of his pro career, and the Birds missed on their early bid for first place in the NFC East. --A.K.

1. Flyers lose 7-0 to Capitals, Emery starts fight, Nov. 1

Where to even begin here? There’s so much to tackle with this one. The Caps led 1-0 after a rather uneventful period where the only thing of note that happened was that Steve Downie got his face broken in a fight in his first game back as Flyer, an omen of things to come. The Flyers gave up five third period goals and Ray Emery replaced Steve Mason in net. All tolled, it was 6-0 Capitals after 40 minutes. Just over five minutes into the third, Washington kicked the extra point and led 7- 0. After the ensuing faceoff, all hell broke loose when Wayne Simmonds squared off with Washington’s Tom Wilson. While that was going on, Emery raced down the ice and challenged Washington netminder Braden Holtby to a fight. Holtby resisted but Emery didn’t take no for an answer and pummeled Holtby into submission. Brayden Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier found themselves in simultaneous fights and Lecavalier wound up with a facial injury that forced him to miss a game and wear a guard on his helmet for an elongated period.

The Caps won 7-0 but that isn’t what people where talking about afterward. Things were so ugly that even Wheel of Fortune’s Pat Sajak chimed in on twitter. He was greeted with responses like this, this and this (Very NSFW language). Love you, Philadelphia. --G.P.

[Top 25 favorite wins post here]

Instant Replay: Nuggets 106, Sixers 98

uspresswire-sixers-joel-embiid.jpg
USA Today Images

Instant Replay: Nuggets 106, Sixers 98

BOX SCORE

The Sixers were shorthanded against the Nuggets and it showed.

Playing without Jahlil Okafor, Robert Covington and Jerryd Bayless (see below), the Sixers didn’t get enough throughout the game from their offensive leader Joel Embiid. He finished with 17 points, but scored only seven through the first three quarters. 

The Nuggets’ second-half push led them to a 106-98 victory over the Sixers. 

How it happened
The Sixers led 27-18 after the first quarter and led by 10 with 3:27 to go in the first half. The Nuggets, however, closed out the second quarter on an 11-3 run. Jamal Murray scored 14 points in the quarter. 

The Sixers faltered in the third as the Nuggets outscored them 23-17. They shot 5 for 19 (26.3 percent) from the field, including 0 for 6 from Embiid, who scored one point off a free throw. Danilo Gallinari and Will Barton combined for 17 of the Nuggets’ points. After only committing five turnovers in the first half, the Sixers committed seven in the third quarter alone. They dropped to 0-11 when trailing after three.

The Nuggets opened the fourth quarter on a 5-0 run. The Sixers were left chasing down the stretch. Embiid drained a three with 1:15 remaining to bring the Sixers within four, but that wasn’t enough. The Nuggets held them off to improve to 8-14 while they Sixers dropped to 4-17. 

Inside the box score
• Embiid struggled for most of the game, shooting 2 for 11 from the field through the third quarter. He totaled 16 points on 5 of 15 shooting. Embiid did record a career-high five blocks, but also had three turnovers.

• Dario Saric followed up Saturday’s double-double with another strong performance: 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting and eight rebounds.

• Ersan Ilyasova (eight rebounds) and Sergio Rodriguez (seven assists) also scored 17 points each.

• The Nuggets were led by a season-high 24 points from Gallinari. Barton dropped 22 points and eight rebounds, while Murray also scored 22 points off the bench. 

(Lots of) injury updates
Okafor missed the game because of gastroenteritis and will not travel to Memphis. Covington was out his second game in a row with a left knee sprain. Bayless sat out his fifth straight game with left wrist soreness. 

Nelson applauded
St. Joe’s alum Jameer Nelson received a warm welcome from the Sixers’ crowd when he checked in for the Nuggets. The 13th-year NBA veteran was a leader on the 2003-04 Hawks team that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and went 27-0 in the regular season. Nelson played high school basketball in Chester, PA. On another St. Joe’s note, Nelson’s former teammate Dwayne Jones has been helping the Sixers rebound during shooting drills at practice and pregame warmups. 

Up next
The Sixers are traveling to Memphis Monday night to play the Grizzlies (13-8) on Tuesday. The team will continue on to New Orleans to face the Pelicans (7-14) Thursday.

Cesar Hernandez remains a person of interest as Phillies look to improve

Cesar Hernandez remains a person of interest as Phillies look to improve

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Phillies have completed the signing of veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit to a one-year, $7.5 million contract (see story). The deal could be announced Tuesday and will require the club removing a player from the already-full 40-man roster.

Benoit is one of three additions that the Phils have made to their bullpen this offseason — the club traded for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and picked up lefty David Rollins on waivers — and more will likely come, probably on minor-league contracts, before the team reports to spring training.

Now that the bullpen has been addressed, let’s take a look at what could be next for the Phillies this winter.

• The addition of Benoit could create enough back-end bullpen depth that GM Matt Klentak could look to trade either Jeanmar Gomez or Hector Neris. Gomez saved 37 games in 2016, but struggled down the stretch. Neris showed great promise in recording a 2.58 ERA and striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings in 79 games in 2016. The hard-throwing righty is young (27), talented and inexpensive so the Phils would have to be overwhelmed by an offer to move him. Last year, Klentak moved a young closer in Ken Giles for a significant return from Houston, so he has history in making these types of moves.

• In addition to more potential comings and goings in the bullpen, the Phils will look to add a backup infielder and maybe a backup catcher in the coming weeks. Andres Blanco could return as that extra infielder. A.J. Ellis could return as the catcher. But nothing is firm. In fact, Klentak hinted Monday that he’d be comfortable bringing Andrew Knapp up from Triple A to be the backup catcher next season.

“I don’t think we need a veteran backup catcher,” Klentak said. “If it works out, we’re open-minded to that. But Andrew Knapp just finished his age 25 season in Triple A. He has a full year of at-bats in Triple A. At some point for both he and (Jorge) Alfaro, we’re going to have to find out what those guys can do at the big-league level. During the 2017 season, we’ll have to find out — not just about those two guys — but others.”

• One of the biggest remaining issues facing Phillies management this winter centers around the outfield and the offense. Basically, Klentak and his advisers are weighing the merits of adding another veteran hitter — the club already traded for Howie Kendrick — to improve the offense or giving a significant playing opportunity to a promising youngster and potential future core piece such as Roman Quinn in what currently projects to be one opening in the outfield.

“That topic is the one that we have spent the most time discussing, not just here but this offseason, about striking the right balance between adding a veteran bat or veteran free agent to this team to make our team better, but again, not taking playing time away from players that need the playing time.

“That’s part of the dynamic that we have to consider there. Roman Quinn came up at the end of the year and, at times, looked like a legitimate major-league contributor. But we also have to be mindful of the fact that he hasn’t logged a single at-bat at Triple A yet.

“This doesn’t have an obvious answer. We are continuing to talk about trade acquisitions and talk to agents for free agents to see if the right opportunity exists to blend all those factors together. But what we do not want to do is bring in so many veterans that we are denying opportunities to our young players.”

This brings us to a situation that could potentially satisfy the team’s desire to improve the offense without taking away a playing opportunity from Quinn.

J.D. Martinez of the Detroit Tigers is an outfield bat that the Phillies like. They like his production and the fact that he’s signed for just 2017. In other words, he wouldn’t block a young prospect’s pathway to the majors, at least for long.

Martinez, owed $11.75 million, which is very affordable for the Phillies, is a serious trade candidate for the cost-cutting Tigers and the Phillies have spoken to Tigers officials, dating to the early part of the offseason.

According to sources, the Phillies and Tigers could be a trade fit if the Tigers were to deal second baseman Ian Kinsler. If the Tigers move Kinsler, they could look to move Martinez to the Phillies for second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Phillies officials have said they are in no hurry to deal Hernandez, but the team does have depth at second with a pair of prospects (Scott Kingery and Jesmuel Valentin) on the way and a ready-made stopgap in Kendrick at the position. 

So keep an eye on Kinsler. If he moves, the Phillies could pursue the veteran bat that would make their offense better. And it would not cost Quinn an opportunity as he could play left field with Kendrick moving to second.