Happening Elsewhere: Dammit, Raul

Happening Elsewhere: Dammit, Raul

Raul Ibanez's 2011 NLDS Splits for the Phillies: .200/.200/.400
Raul Ibanez's 2012 ALDS Splits for the Yankess Through Three Games: .600/.666/1.500

Remember last year when Raul Ibanez hit a fly ball to deep right in
Game Five of the NLDS, and the TBS cameraman panned up and out like it
was gonna be a second-decker or something, and instead it dropped
innocuously into Lance Berkman's glove a couple feet short of the track?
That was frustrating—especially considering how, you know, the Phillies
didn't score at all that game and they ended up losing the game 1-0 and
the series 3-2.

Well, good news, everybody: Raul did hit a couple of those fly balls
in the playoffs last night, and this time they actually dropped on the
other side of the fence. Unfortunately, it was for the Yankees, the
second-to-last ranked team in our MLB Playoff Bandwagon Rankings, and
they came against our #1 team, the Baltimore Orioles, at the worst
possible time for them.

The first shot came off O's closer Jim Johnson in the bottom of the
ninth with New York down 2-1, when Yanks manager Joe Girardi made the
controversial-but-not-really decision to sub in Rauuuul for Alex
Rodriguez, who's been slugging at about a Wilson Valdez-caliber clip the
last few past seasons. The move paid off, to say the least, as Raul
deposited a 1-0 pitch about seven rows back in the right field
bleachers, tying the game at 2-2. Nine batters later, Raul decided not
to bother taking the first pitch, and instead blasted the first offering
from reliever Brian Matusz—in the second deck for real this
time—walking off the Yanks in the 12th with a 2-1 series lead.

Of course, we're happy for Raul, the classiest of acts during his
three years in the Red and White—we weren't even mad at him for failing
to go yard in the Chris Carpenter game (though we wanted to strangle
that fucking overzealous cameraman), and for him to become a post-season
legend at the age of 40 is a pretty cool thing. Did it have to be for
the goddamn Yankees, though? Couldn't this have been Jim Thome providing
fourth-act heroics for the plucky, upstart Orioles instead? The Bombers
already have enough natural competitive advantages without getting
pixie-dust sprinklings like this as well.

Anyway, the lesson here is obvious: Next time the Phils make the
playoffs, move the right field wall in about 15 feet. Just to be on the
safe side.

Thrust into bigger role, Sixers' Holmes stars in win over Wizards

Thrust into bigger role, Sixers' Holmes stars in win over Wizards

BOX SCORE

For as much as the Sixers’ bigs are talked about, Richaun Holmes often is left out of the conversation. 

He’s not the centerpiece of the team like Joel Embiid nor was he heavily involved in trade talks like Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. He is the backup center who bides his time on the bench and quietly stays ready when he gets the nod.

And on Friday, he was the standout player in the Sixers’ 120-112 win over the Wizards (see Instant Replay)

“He’s been sort of the person that people forget about because of the logjam of five men,” Brett Brown said. “We all sort of think, ‘Well, he should just accept it because he’s behind Joel and Nerlens and Jahlil. Good ol’ Richaun. Go to the D-League and it’s OK.’ And that doesn’t work. He’s a pro, he’s competitive. He’s handled it. He’s really been a wonderful teammate.”

Holmes was bumped up in the rotation following the trade of Noel to the Mavs. He moved into the second-unit role while Okafor started in place of the injured Embiid. 

Holmes recorded his first double-double with 12 points (6 for 9 from the field) and 10 rebounds (three offensive). He also blocked a career-high five shots, tying Embiid for the most by a Sixer this season. The second-year big man put together this impressive performance in 26 minutes off the bench. 

“Just play hard,” Holmes said of his approach. “Just go out there, show what you’ve been working on, play hard every second you’re out there. That’s the motto I’ve got.”

Holmes is averaging 16.1 minutes and has appeared in just 32 of the Sixers’ 57 games. This season he also spent time with the Delaware 87ers of the Development League to get playing time. Holmes embraced an opportunity similar to Friday’s a month ago when he scored 18 points in as many minutes against the Clippers. 

“I try to approach every game this season the same way, whether everybody was playing or people were hurt,” Holmes said. “Prepare like I’m going to play 30 minutes a game. I think having that mindset helped me to stay ready at all times and be aggressive when I had a chance.”

Brown did not rule out the possibility that Holmes could start at some point if he continues this production. The Sixers are limiting Okafor to 20 to 24 minutes per game, according to Brown. That, combined with Embiid’s injury, could lend itself to an increased role for Holmes. 

“I think in that environment, it wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary for Richaun to get a start from time to time,” Brown said. 

Even if he remains on the second unit, Holmes proved he can provide a spark off the bench. Dario Saric noted how Holmes’ impact on both ends of the floor bolsters the frontcourt in addition to a more offensively-minded Okafor (11 points, two rebounds). 

“I think he played unbelievably good in both ways,” Saric said. “Everybody knows he’s an elite guy finishing around the rim, and he stepped in Nerlens’ place, he replaced him unbelievably good. I hope he will get the same minutes for the next game because we have Jahlil, who is more like a post-up player, who likes more to score from the low-post block, and we for sure need some guy like Richaun who will play in both ways." 

Perhaps the person least surprised by Holmes' game was Holmes himself. It was the result he puts in long hours to produce.

“It’s all about the grind,” he said. “All about keep working, keep trying to move up, keep trying to get better every second and it’ll pay off.” 

Ilya Bryzgalov talks goalies playing in contract year, Las Vegas and more

Ilya Bryzgalov talks goalies playing in contract year, Las Vegas and more

Gotta love Bryz, right?

Former Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was his usual humorous, unpredictable self in a recent interview with Sportsnet.ca's Luke Fox.

From what he's doing now to talking pressure as a goalie, here are some of the highlights ...

On a goalie's mental state when job security is up in the air (referenced to Flyers goalie Steve Mason)
“So many goalies take the job for a long time, so it’s easy to be out of game. You worry. You want to find a long-term job, pay bills. It’s not a secret. That’s why when there’s no [contractual] certainty and you don’t see 100 percent confidence from your team, it might affect your game. If the season’s not going well, you start thinking about it.”

On his son playing goalie
"He chose it. He’s the guy who gives his team a chance to win. Make some saves. But he plays as a player once a week, too. Shoots the puck on goalies every Wednesday pretty much.”

On being a hockey dad
“I’m pretty calm. I only get upset when I see the referees make the bad calls. The kids work so hard and play so passionately, you can’t take sides. Only when the referee’s unfair.”

On being a pro hockey player in Las Vegas
"I’m family guy, settled down. I’ve never been too emotional or casino-addicted. For me, no problem. For the young guys to play there, it causes trouble, man. Difficult trouble. … The young ones with the cash? Las Vegas can provide lots of scenes, know what I mean?"

The rest is just as good. For the full Q&A, read Fox's article right here.

Also, Bryzgalov will be a part of Sportsnet's trade deadline coverage next Wednesday.

And side note: Bryz remains active on Twitter. And remains random as ever.

Just look at his last tweet ...