thekrisheim’s 2013 Year in Philly Sports

thekrisheim’s 2013 Year in Philly Sports

One of our favorite end of year traditions here at The700Level.com is having one of our longest tenured commenters and friend, thekrisheim, reflect back on the year in Philly sports that was. You can read his look back at 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and today his look back at 2013 below.

No playoffs, new faces, bandwagons gathering dust, the undercurrent of disappointment has returned.  Sure, the year is ending on a high note with the Eagles seemingly headed in the right direction, but don’t fool yourself, eight weeks of Chip Kelly magic and one battle cry doesn’t mask what a downright boring and terrible year 2013 was for Philly sports.

We’ve already covered the biggest wins and losses, so lets look back at some of the bigger stories.

Under New Management

You want new coaches? Philadelphia had you covered in 2013 as all four franchises, five if you give soccer the respect that it is due, turned over the reigns to new faces at some point during the year.

The 2012 Eagles season was a disaster on and off the field and Andy Reid was finally replaced.  Who knows what happened? Who knows why Reid starting making knee jerk changes all over his coaching staff, but what it resulted in was worthy of his dismissal.  Reid deserves a ton of credit for what he achieved with the Eagles and it wont truly be appreciated for a few more seasons.

Charlie Manuel was dumped from his position on a Friday in August in a strange fashion that seemed to have been planned out so he could achieve the most wins in franchise history.  What followed was an emotional press conference where RAJ couldn’t hide back tears, Charlie was Charlie and the Ryne Sanberg era began.

Mr. Snider said it was the worst training camp he had ever seen and the coach who took an 8 seed to the finals was dumped before anyone could see Peter Laviolette's fourth orange tie of the year.

Doug Collins yelled, Doug Collins cried and Doug Collins was canned.  Collins’ firing was only one part of the failed 76ers marketing plan that sent the team into complete rebuilding mode.

Doctor’s Orders

2013 saw the end of Roy Halladay’s career. There isn’t a better athlete that represents just how fantastic and entertaining the last 7 years for Philadelphia fans were than Roy.  He came to the city in the prime of his career to win a Championship, something unheard of before the likes of Howard, Rollins, Hamels and Utley made it a reality.  He was a tireless worker, understood the fans and pitched injured. During the Phillies run it was really easy to get caught up in players wanting to play in Philadelphia, but Halladay was the first and will be beloved forever.

Culture Clash

Fans never really know what it is going on inside a franchise.  Who’s doing what?  Who’s really making the decisions? They signed who?  As the losses added up this year, may fans and writers alike tried to pull back the veil a bit and tried to decipher what was going on.

The Eagles seemed to be the easiest at this point, although following the Giants loss the over analyzing of their roster was at an all-time high.  Chip Kelly coaches, Howie Roseman GM’s.

They Flyers, “Flyered” things up this year by dumping their coach, appointing one of the most beloved goons in team history head coach, dispatched of their “goalie of the future,” got into a line brawl where their backup goalie assaulted the other team and got into arguments over their “culture” with whoever would dare question the franchise.

The Sixers went from talking 24/7 to avoiding the media, trading their best player and enter into full on tank mode except no one told the players.

The Phillies retained their GM, kept their core together, added more old guys, got a stat guy (who may be an intern) and for some fucking reason kept John Mayberry Jr.

The Year In Drugs

Chooch started the year suspended.

Antonio Bastardo destroyed any career momentum he had by getting suspended for his involvement in biogenesis.

No proof that Ilya Bryzgalov acutally uses controlled substances, but he continued to be the most entertaining Philadelphia athlete throughout the year.

There’s nothing funny about what Riley Copper said, and recording and selling the video is a whole different discussion, but if Copper could take some drugs to erase his racist remark made in a drunken stooper you’d imagine he would.

Best GIFs of the Year

5. Snow game for the ages

4. Miss you, Andy

3. Your 2013 Phillies In One GIF

2. For a 3 week stretch Philadelphia actually liked Dom Brown

1. Shady from opening night

The Year In Acquisitions

The rest of the teams don’t matter in this category, only one franchise’s scouts worked overtime to bring these guys to town.  The five best acquisitons this past year are…

5. A guy the fans love to hate? Sure, throw him in the starting rotation and don’t mind his injury history – John Lannan
4. Injury prone set-up man who may or may not have needed surgery before he signed on the dotted line? – Mike Adams
3. 36 year old career 2nd baseman who waived his no trade for a shot at the WS – Michael Young
2. Washed up, bad outfielder with off the field issues – Delmon Young
1. 38 year old journeyman? Who? What? Phillies have them for days – John McDonald

The Year In “What?”

Dom Brown attends professional football game, fans not happy

Claude Giroux hurts himself playing “golf”

The Sixers open the season by beating the Heat

Why You Should Be Positive

5. Scott Laughton

4. Cody Asche

3. The NBA Draft & MCW (tie)

2. Shady

1. “We’re from Philadelphia and we fight”

Chooch was 'a fireball,' says Ryan Howard, last of the '08 Phillies

Chooch was 'a fireball,' says Ryan Howard, last of the '08 Phillies

NEW YORK — Phillies players were greeted by a message from Carlos Ruiz when they entered the visiting clubhouse at Citi Field on Friday.

“I will miss all of you guys. Good luck the rest of the season. Love you all, Chooch! Gracias,” (see story).

Ruiz did not actually write those words on the whiteboard by the entry to the clubhouse, but they were his. He reached out to visiting clubhouse manager Tony Carullo and asked that the message be written in just that way.

Ruiz, 37, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, ending an 11-season run with the Phillies that included five NL East titles, a World Series championship, an All-Star Game, a slew of clutch hits, many words of praise from the pitching staff and a million calls of Choooooch from fans in the stands (see story).

“Everybody loved Chooch for a number of reasons,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “He’s the kind of guy you loved seeing every day, a hard-working, humble and appealing human being.

“I’d like to think when he’s done playing, the Phillies might have a place for him.”

Mackanin paused and laughed.

“As long as they don’t make him manager and he takes my job.”

Ruiz’s exit leaves Ryan Howard as the only member of the 2008 World Series championship team still with the club. Over the last few seasons, Howard has seen Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels and Chase Utley depart.

It’s a topic that Howard seems to have grown weary of talking about.

“I've had to hear about it every year,” he said. “It's again the same thing. You play with guys your entire career and now you see them in different uniforms. It's definitely going to be something to get used to but that's baseball. That's the business aspect of it. Teams make moves and that's what happens.”

Like the rest of the core of that team, Howard, 36, has been available for trade the last few seasons, but there has been no real interest because of his decline in performance and huge salary.

So he will play out the final six weeks of his contract and try to hook on elsewhere next season.

Howard saluted his former teammate, Ruiz.

“I'm trying to think of the right words,” he said.

“The thing about Chooch — he was the quarterback in a sense. The way he handled the pitching staff, the way he prepared himself for games with the pitchers, from the defensive standpoint knowing different situations, knowing what guy you want to beat you, what guy you don't want to beat you. Just the way he played the game, he was a fireball. He was a fireball out there. I'm definitely going to miss him. I hit him up yesterday a little bit after I found out. I was happy for him and wanted to wish him the best.

“Chooch, he was always very, very positive. Always trying to help guys out, trying to pick guys up when he can and it carried over onto the field. That was his mentality.”

The Phillies acquired veteran backup catcher A.J. Ellis, minor-league pitcher Tommy Bergjans and a player to be named later for Ruiz (see story). Ellis is due to join the team Saturday. In the meantime, the Phillies added prospect Jorge Alfaro from Double A (see story). He will be the backup catcher Friday night, then return to a talent-rich Reading club that has the best record in minor-league baseball and a date with the Eastern League playoffs.

Jordan Matthews sticks up for beleaguered Eagles wide receivers

Jordan Matthews sticks up for beleaguered Eagles wide receivers

Jordan Matthews is probably the only Eagles wide receiver you feel remotely good about right now.

Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff are draft picks who haven’t accomplished much yet. Rueben Randle and Chris Givens are veteran offseason pickups who’ve shown little this preseason (see story). Dorial Green-Beckham is a former second-round pick whose first team gave up on him after just one year.

It’s not a group that inspires a whole lot of confidence right now. 

Potential? Sure. But opening day is 16 days away, there’s only one preseason game left for the starters to play, Sam Bradford has two guys to throw to — Matthews and Zach Ertz — and potential is a scary word at this point.

Matthews isn’t a superstar at this point. He’s a solid pro who seems to be getting better. His 1,862 yards are 10th most in NFL history after two seasons. 

But compared to the Eagles’ other receivers, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

He's got credibility and because of that the 24-year-old Matthews has become a spokesman for the entire group. And this past week, two games into the preseason, he found himself in the position of having to defend this entire beleaguered bunch of wide receivers the Eagles have put together.

“The funniest thing is last year [the receivers] played extremely well in the preseason, got into the season, didn’t play well, and everybody’s like, 'Preseason doesn’t matter,'" Matthews said.

"Then the first preseason game we don’t play well, everybody’s like, 'The preseason matters, you guys suck!' Hold on … I thought it didn’t matter. You know what I’m saying?”

What he's saying is it's too early to write this group off. Maybe Huff and Agholor and Randle and Givens — or whichever among them makes the team — will turn it on once the regular season begins.

But going into the Colts game Saturday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium, the numbers are not pretty.

Huff and Randle both have three catches for 13 yards. Agholor has two catches for 30 yards. Givens is 0 for 0.

Matthews hasn’t played yet in the preseason because of a knee injury, and the next four receivers have a combined 56 receiving yards in two preseason games.

Paul Turner, an undrafted rookie, leads the group with nine catches for 78 yards. 

Improvement? Matthews sees it.

“I take this approach,” Matthews said this week. “Every rep counts. And so if every rep counts, what are we trying to do? We’re trying to do better the next rep, and I felt like guys took steps forward for the next rep. And that’s the main thing you always want to see, that improvement.

“I understand it’s the NFL, I understand obviously people are going to say you get paid a lot of money to do one thing, but I’ll tell you what, I know the guys in that room, they want to do well. None of those guys went into that game wanting to mess up or not put their best foot forward.”

Probably no recent draft pick has infuriated Eagles fans as much as Agholor. Well, other than maybe Marcus Smith and Danny Watkins. And Lane Johnson maybe.

But it’s tough for some to be patient with Agholor when Jeremy Maclin had 773 yards as a rookie, DeSean Jackson had 912 and Matthews had 872.

Heck, even Reggie Brown (571 yards) and undrafted Hank Baskett (464) were factors as rookie wideouts.

Agholor’s 283 yards last season rank tied for 27th out of 32 wide receivers drafted in the first round over the past 10 years.

But he has a big-time supporter in Matthews.

“I felt like the jump he made from the first game to the second game [was significant]," Matthews said "Even the stuff you don’t see. Blocking? [Darren] Sproles caught a short pass and Nelson turned his route around … he ran a great route, got open, turned around, blocked and probably sprung Sproles for another 10, 15 yards.

“He had another bubble situation where he had to block for Josh and he did. Definitely better than the first game, and that’s what you want to see. That’s the biggest thing. And it gets lost in the shuffle.”

That Sproles play, a 21-yard gain, was called back because of a penalty on rookie guard Isaac Seumalo.

But Matthews is passionate when he talks about how Agholor’s lack of production as a rookie doesn’t mean anything moving forward.

“I don’t know if y’all know this, but I love Jordy Nelson (Packers Pro Bowl receiver),” Matthews said. “I love him. One of my favorite receivers. Jordy Nelson didn’t have 1,000 yards till Year 4.

“Let’s put it in perspective. Guys get better. And I feel like that’s what I want to see from my group. Are guys getting better?

“There’s two things that I really look for from my group — attitude and effort. And do Nelson and Chris and Josh and those guys bring great attitude and effort?

“Yes. That’s what I want to see, and I feel that’s what we’ve shown.”

Soul's Clint Dolezel shares Coach of the Year award with Rattlers' Kevin Guy

Soul's Clint Dolezel shares Coach of the Year award with Rattlers' Kevin Guy

For the third time in five seasons, the Soul and Arizona Rattlers will compete in the ArenaBowl. Prior to Friday night's 7 p.m. matchup, the leaders of both squads, Soul coach Clint Dolezel and Rattlers coach Kevin Guy, were each named Marcum Moss Coach of the Year.

Dolezel and Guy will share the award but not the ArenaBowl trophy, which the Soul haven't won since their lone triumph in 2008 over the San Jose Sabercats. Dolezel, who has been at the helm since August 2012, led the Soul to the ArenaBowl in 2012 and 2013 but lost to the Rattlers on both occasions.

This season, Dolezel, who spent over a decade as a quarterback in the AFL, coached the Soul to a 13-3 regular-season record. The team advanced to the ArenaBowl with a dramatic win in the American Conference championship game over the Jacksonville Sharks.

Dolezel also earned the Coach of the Year award last season for guiding the Soul to a 15-3 overall mark and a conference championship game appearance.

“Without a question, Clint is one of the best offensive minds in AFL history,” Soul majority owner Ron Jaworski said in a press release. “His success is attributed to a great deal of preparation and hard work. To make a playoff appearance every year as a head coach shows his dedication and willingness to win.”