The Evster: Watching a Game at the Linc. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Weirdos

The Evster: Watching a Game at the Linc. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Weirdos

According to a recent survey, research shows that 83% of NFL fans prefer to watch football games from the comfort of their own homes. Only 16% would rather view the game at a stadium while one person (me) prefers to watch while peering through a third story window outside of a Saint Joseph's University sorority house. I'll telling you man, you have not experienced true exhilaration until you've seen Shady McCoy break free into the secondary while you hang onto a tree branch from 35 feet up and pray that a young woman will remove her socks.

Despite my preferences, my wife and I bit the bullet last weekend and went down to the Linc for the home opener versus the Chargers. At the game, I enjoyed some of the many thrills that can only be experienced live and in person while also being reminded of why I hadn't left my couch in roughly six years.

Below are just one guy's opinions on the many pros and cons that come along with watching a game at the Linc.

A Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader performs during the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Pro:  Some Female Eagles Fans Are Wearing Some Really Short Shorts These Days

There have been a lot of amazing trends in the world of female fashion recently -- from leggings to side boobs to convincing people that it's socially acceptable to wear ballet flats everywhere -- but in my opinion nothing compares to the shorts that basically show off the bottoms of women's butts. While walking from the parking lot to our seats I must've seen at least seven or eight butts peeking out of women's shorts which led me to almost walk into roughly seven or eight telephone poles. Unfortunately, the Eagles next home game is not until October 20th, so I guess bottom-butt-showing season is over, but for one sunny afternoon in early September it was a total butt-a-palooza down in South Philly.

Con:  Lotsa Dudes with Missing Teeth

I don't know if this is a thing these days, like if gangs are making their members pull out their own teeth for solidarity or something, but I saw at least four or five South Philly dudes who had legit teeth missing from their mouths. I'm talkin' like, their incisors, gone, just gone, leaving a gaping hole in their mouths and fear in my heart. At one point, after a long completion to an Eagles tight end, one guy from my section who must've had three or four teeth TOTAL, stood up, smiled wide and pointed to the Celek nameplate on the back of his jersey while yelling, "Celekkkkkk!!!" And, lemme tell ya, no one -- and I mean, no one -- had the guts to tell him that it was actually Zach Ertz who had just made the reception. As the toothless wonder continued to grin ear to ear and actually point to where Celek had signed his jersey, I began to find him equal parts terrifying and adorable.

great, great shot by enrico


Pro:  Seeing the Entire Field 

This has always been the best thing about going to the game (well, besides the whole short shorts thing): being able to see the plays develop right in front of your eyes. Even the most ignorant fan can feel like a guru when he/she sees Desean Jackson streaking down the sidelines with his arm held high, only to have Michael Vick scrambling out of the pocket in the exact wrong direction. Then everyone gets to scream stuff like, "How did he not seeeeeeee him?" completely forgetting that while we kick back in the stands, Michael Vick has seven 250-pound defenders trying to rip his skull off.

Con:  It is Nearly Impossible to Figure Out the Down and Distance 

At the Linc, there is one shafty old-school Spectrum-esque scoreboard that always keeps the down and distance, but it's located in a spot where no human being would ever look for it. However, there's also a giant rectangular, ridiculously colorful screen that hangs above the sidelines, but whenever you actually look at it, it's flashing something stupid like "TEXT 45674 TO SIGN UP FOR NFL MOBILE" or "DIETZ & WATSON HAM IS THE OFFICIAL HAM OF THE HAMGLES" or "OKAY, EVSTER, WE GET THE POINT." Trying to keep track of the game flow was probably the most frustrating part of my experience, except for when I couldn't pee during halftime because I thought an 8-year-old kid was staring at my dork.

Pro:  Watching the Cars Go By on I-95

During a 3-hour NFL game, there is only about 1 minute and 47 seconds of actual game play. The rest of the time, the players are huddled up and catching their breath while fans are looking at their phones and trying to complete level 84 on Candy Crush Saga. But if you're lucky enough to have a seat where you can see the highway, you can avoid this boredom by sitting back and watching the cars whiz by. I've never seen my wife so relaxed at a sporting event, just staring off into the Southwest corner like a newborn child. There's a chance this was due to her mixing whiskey and percocets, but I think she just might be an in-the-closet gear head.

Con:  That Stupid Axe-Grinding Music They Play After EVERY DOWN

Doesn't matter if the Eagles picked up a first down or were called for seven consecutive holding penalties, the Linc's speakers blast metal jams after every play in an attempt to PUMP YOU UP. At times it worked our section into such a frenzy that one lady started screaming at Lane Johnson to "SHOVE SOMEBODY IN THEIR FAT STUPID FACE." Personally, I find it a bit much, but I'm also a person who owns around 35 different Sounds of the Oceans CDs. I don't like the whale sounds, though. The whale sounds are scary.

Pro:  The "Fly Eagles Fly" Song and "E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!" Chant

On it's own, the Fly Eagles Fly song is one of the lamest non-Neil-Diamond-recorded singles in the history of music, but when sung by 68,000 maniacs after an Eagles score, it's super fun. Throw in that "E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!" jawn at the end and you've got something SO MUCH BETTER than that stupid "J-E-T-S JETS! JETS! WHATEVER NEW YORKERS GET OVER YOURSELVES!" chant that is in no way similar to what we're doing, nope, no way at all, completely different, ours is completely different.

this guy does not like to keep it down

Con:  Everyone Just Constantly Yells

I totally forgot how loud people are at Eagles games. From pre-game tailgates to key third downs when the Eagles clearly aren't getting off the field, every insane idiot in that stupid stadium is just always yelling all the time. I mean, I get it, I guess that the crowd really can have a negative effect on the opposition's performance, but yo, can we all just calm down for like five quiet minutes? At one point during last week's game, a dude with earrings in both of his ears turned around to me and yelled, "HOW THE EFF ARE WE LOSING, MAN?" to which I replied, "Hmmm, not really sure, maybe it's because of the vast, chasmic hole in our secondary. Or could be the fact that the Chargers are currently 23 of 24 on third down conversions. But I'm not really sure. Maybe you should try to scream louder." I mean, I obviously didn't say that, I didn't say anything. I just sorta shrugged and made a weird sound out of my nose, but he got the point. He totally got the point.

Pro:  So Many Obscure Throwback Eagles Jerseys

I was pleasantly surprised to see so many Eric Allen jerseys being worn at the Linc. I've always thought that dude deserves more respect. Byron Evans, too. And Clyde Simmons. Also Riley Cooper sucks so much ass.

Con:  Seeing People Ruin Their Perfectly Nice Jerseys by Having Their Own Names on the Back 

Wearing a personalized jersey that has your own name on the back is just a total waste. I mean, this is your opportunity to escape your own pathetic life for a few hours and morph into any athlete you want to be! I own a COREY SIMON jersey (a TJ Maxx $5 special) and when I put that baby on, I feel like I could eat 6 whole cheeseburgers and not shit my pants. Turns out I can't, but I FEEL like I can, and so can you. So "Big Ron" or "Dingledowski" or whatever you're thinking of getting stitched on your back, ditch that idea and head over to TJ Maxx pronto.

recommended: encased meat over an open flame

Pro:  Tailgating

I'm totally lying. I hate tailgating. I only put that up there so that all the 700 Level readers who just skim these posts wouldn't get mad at me for leaving tailgating out and blast me in the comments section. I've never understood how it's fun to stand in a parking lot for hours at a time, getting sunburnt and developing skin cancer while trying to catch a football and hold a chicken wing at the same time. But if you guys love it, God bless ya. Just promise to please wear sunscreen.

Con:  Traffic, Man. Traffic. 

Ugh.

The Pro of All Pros:  Getting to Go Home

After a win, there is nothing better than walking down the ramp, high-fiving complete strangers and knowing that very soon you will be on your couch, passed out and drooling until the closing segment of 60 Minutes.

Follow the Evster @TVMWW.

NBA Playoffs: Westbrook, Thunder push Warriors to brink of elimination

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NBA Playoffs: Westbrook, Thunder push Warriors to brink of elimination

BOX SCORE

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Suddenly, these Golden State Warriors who have been compared all season to the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s are on the brink of elimination.

Russell Westbrook had 36 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Warriors 118-94 on Tuesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals. Golden State, which won a league record 73 games in the regular season, lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

The Warriors must win Game 5 on Thursday in Oakland to keep their season alive.

"We all have to bounce back," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "The good news is, we go home. Obviously we play well at home. The idea now is to go home and get one win. Do that, and we put some pressure on them and we'll see what happens."

Klay Thompson led Golden State with 26 points, but two-time league MVP Stephen Curry was limited to 19 points on 6-for-20 shooting. Curry's shooting performance was so uncharacteristic that reporters asked if he was hurt.

"He's not injured," Kerr said. "He's coming back from the knee, but he's not injured. He just had a lousy night. It happens, even to the best players in the world."

The Warriors lost consecutive playoff games by at least 20 points for the first time since Games 2 and 3 of the 1972 Western Conference semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks. Golden State's Draymond Green, who was fined for kicking Steven Adams in the groin in Game 3, finished with six points, 11 rebounds and six turnovers.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City got a boost from an unlikely source. Andre Roberson, a player the Warriors have ignored at times during the series, scored a career-high 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Kevin Durant added 26 points and 11 rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 17 points and seven rebounds.

As for Westbrook, it was his first triple-double of the playoffs after posting 18 in the regular season. It was his fifth career playoff triple-double.

"I play every game like it's my last, regardless of who's in front of me," he said. "That's my job, and my job is to worry about my team, and that's all I do."

The Thunder know they have to close. Nine teams have rallied from 3-1 deficits to win.

"I think we're in a good place, but like I said, this game is over," Westbrook said. "We've got to move on to the next game. Every game is different."

The Thunder led 30-26 at the end of the first quarter, then gained control in the second. In the most unlikely of connections, Adams threw a bullet pass to Roberson near the basket for a dunk that gave the Thunder a 56-43 lead with just over four minutes left in the first half.

Oklahoma City finished with a flurry and led 72-53 at halftime. The Thunder matched the most points they have scored in a first half in franchise playoff history, a mark they set the previous game against the Warriors. It also matched the most points Golden State has allowed in a half this season for the second straight game.

Westbrook had 21 points, nine assists and five rebounds in the first half, and Durant had 18 points and six boards.

Thompson tried to keep the Warriors in it, scoring 19 points in just over seven minutes to start the third quarter. But the Thunder maintained their composure, led 94-82 at the end of the period and remained in control in the fourth.

"This is a tough situation to be in, but the series isn't over," Curry said.

Quotable
Kerr, on the pressure of trying to win a title after setting the regular-season wins record: "We had a tremendous regular season, our guys competed every single night and did something no one has ever done and they're proud of that. But in the playoffs, everybody starts 0-0. So there's no extra pressure, whether you're talking about defending our title or trying to back up the regular season."

Stat lines
According to Thunder Public Relations, the last team to score 72 or more points in the first half of two straight playoff games was the 1987 Los Angeles Lakers.

Tip-ins
Warriors: Curry went 1 for 7 in the first quarter, and made just 1 of 4 3-point attempts. ... Thompson committed his third foul with 7:55 left in the second quarter, and C Andrew Bogut committed his third about two minutes later. ... Curry made a 3-pointer for his 48th consecutive playoff game, extending his NBA record. ... The Warriors were 12-0 this season the game after a loss.

Thunder: Westbrook had five points, six assists and three rebounds in the first quarter. ... Oklahoma City forced 13 turnovers in the first half. ... The Thunder improved to 19-0 this season when Westbrook gets a triple-double. ... The Thunder outrebounded the Warriors 56-40 and outscored them 31-19 from the free throw line.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins fight off Lightning to force Game 7

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NHL Playoffs: Penguins fight off Lightning to force Game 7

BOX SCORE

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins made good on Evgeni Malkin's pledge to force Game 7 in the Eastern Conference final.

Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist, and Phil Kessel, Kris Letang, Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored Tuesday night in a 5-2 victory that evened the best-of-seven series with the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-3.

Game 7 is Thursday night, with the Penguins hoping to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2009 and the Lightning looking to advance to the Cup Final for the second straight year.

"I just told them to embrace the moment. It's a great opportunity for us. These are the type of circumstances to where you have an opportunity to write your own story," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan.

"They had a certain mindset going into this tonight: `We're going to leave it all out there and do everything we can to bring this back to Pittsburgh,'" Sullivan added. "And, certainly that's what they did."

Malkin was the most demonstrative of the players expressing confidence the Penguins could take the series back to Pittsburgh, saying he believed in himself, his teammates and that they could return home for a seventh game "for sure."

Crosby stepped up with his third game-winning goal of the series. The Penguins captain assisted on Kessel's 5-on-3 power-play goal in the opening period and later skated around Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman into the clear before sending a wrist shot between goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy's legs for a 3-0 lead in the final minute of the second period.

"We know the circumstances. It makes you go out there with a mindset of playing desperate," Crosby said. "I think we had confidence in the whole group. I think everyone played great.

"Everyone contributed in their own way. In a big game like this you, don't do anything special, just do your job. I think that's gotten us this far."

Rookie goaltender Matt Murray returned to the lineup after being replaced as the starter for Game 5 by Marc-Andre Fleury, but his 10th playoff victory did not come without a bit of suspense.

Brian Boyle scored twice in the third period for Tampa Bay, with one of the goals bouncing off Kessel before getting past Murray, who finished with 28 saves. The second score drew the Lightning within one goal with 7:17 remaining.

Instead of flinching, the young goalie who turns 22 on Wednesday retained his composure down the stretch to help the Penguins avoid relinquishing a third-period lead for the second straight game.

"I just think it's part of his DNA. He has a calming influence. He doesn't get rattled if he lets a goal in. He continues to compete," Sullivan said.

"That's usually an attribute that takes years to acquire. And to have it at such a young age is impressive. I think one of his biggest strengths is just his ability to stay in the moment."

Rust's breakaway goal at 17:52 of the third gave Pittsburgh breathing room, and Bonino added an empty-netter to finish it off.

"We had a great chance tonight and just tip-toed around a little bit," Boyle said. "We were tentative and weren't aggressive."

Kessel's goal was his team-leading ninth of the playoffs. Crosby had the primary assist, his first point since delivering game-winners in Games 2 and 3, and Malkin also had an assist to extend his point streak to four games after a slow start in the series.

The Lightning had an apparent goal by Jonathan Drouin waived off a little more than five minutes into the game, when Sullivan successfully challenged that the young Tampa Bay winger was offside on the play before tapping in a rebound off Ondrej Palat's shot that bounced off Murray's pads.

Sullivan announced the decision to go back to Murray following Tuesday's morning skate.

Murray started the first four games of the series. Fleury replaced him during the third period of Game 4, then made his first start in nearly two months in Game 5, which Tampa Bay won 4-3 in overtime.

Before Game 5, Fleury had not started a game since March 31, when he suffered a concussion.

Tampa Bay entered the game determined to not come out flat in Game 6 of the conference final for the second straight year.

The Lightning beat the New York Rangers on the road to go up 3-2 in that series, but were badly outplayed at home the next game and had to return to Madison Square Garden to finish the series.

Now, they'll have to win on the road again to make the third Stanley Cup appearance in franchise history.

"I know we can. I've got confidence in this group. We believe we can do that," Tampa Bay's Ryan Callahan said. "We've had success on the road in the playoffs. We've had success in their building already. It's going to be a good one."

Notes
The Penguins were 1 for 3 on the power play and are 4 for 19 in the series. The Lightning were 0 for 1, dropping to 2 for 12. ... Malkin was penalized in the first period for slashing Tampa Bay Bay's Ryan Callahan in what appeared to be retaliation for the Lightning forward whacking him across the wrist with his stick. ... Murray improved to 4-0 following a loss. He's 10-4 overall in the playoffs.

Best of MLB: Jackie Bradley Jr. extends hitting streak to 28 games

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Best of MLB: Jackie Bradley Jr. extends hitting streak to 28 games

BOSTON -- David Price scattered five hits over seven innings and Jackie Bradley Jr. had a pair of hits to extend his streak to 28 games as the Boston Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies 8-3 on Tuesday night.

David Ortiz had a two-run double and a two-run single, and Dustin Pedroia added three hits to help Boston win its third straight game. Price (7-1) allowed three runs, walking one and striking out six to earn his third consecutive win.

Colorado lost for the fifth time in six games.

Jorge De La Rosa (1-4) made his first start after spending almost a month on the disabled list with a left groin strain. He gave up two runs in the first, two more in the second and left with one out in the fourth with two on and one run already in (see full recap).

Polanco, Pirates crush Diamondbacks
PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco hit a three-run homer and drove in a career-best five runs as the Pittsburgh Pirates rolled by the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-1 on Tuesday night.

Polanco's shot to the concourse in right-center field off Shelby Miller (1-6) in the first inning gave Pittsburgh an early boost. Francisco Liriano (4-3) scattered two hits in 5 2/3 innings and added an RBI single as the Pirates improved to 6-2 during a 10-game homestand.

After a short adjustment period, Polanco has thrived batting third in the lineup, hitting .317 (20 of 63) with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 15 games. The Pirates spread their 17 hits among 11 batters.

Miller's recent recovery from a miserable start with the Diamondbacks took a step backward. Less than a year removed from an All-Star appearance with Atlanta, Miller's ERA ballooned to 7.09 after surrendering six runs in five innings (see full recap).

Strasburg strikes out 11 in Nationals' win
WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg remained unbeaten with an 11-strikeout performance, and the Washington Nationals hit three of their season-high five home runs off struggling Matt Harvey in a 7-4 victory over the New York Mets on Tuesday night.

Strasburg (8-0) gave up two runs and four hits over 6 2/3 innings in defeating Harvey and the Mets for the second time in six days. Strasburg has five games this season with at least 10 strikeouts and 26 over his seven-year career.

Harvey (3-7) stumbled through a third straight ineffective start, allowing five runs and eight hits over five rocky innings. The right-hander has yielded 16 earned runs and 31 hits over his last three outings.

Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon hit successive solo shots to put Washington ahead in the fourth inning, and Daniel Murphy added a two-run drive off his former teammate in the fifth for a 5-1 lead (see full recap).