The Philadelphia Flyers and the Eventual Melancholy of Consistency

The Philadelphia Flyers and the Eventual Melancholy of Consistency

The following is a guest post from Ryan of Flyers Goal Scored By fame. The FGSB guys had a fantastic and original blog for years, but decided to call it quits this season. Part of the story is that blogging in addition to a day job and all of life's other demands is more challenging every year you do it. But the other part is more complicated and gets to the root of being a fan in this day and age, in this case, a Flyers fan. Ryan's words:

This was always going to be the day of our last post anyway. That it can
appear on such a prestigious website, well, that just brings a love
spot to my pants.

Our little blog that you probably never heard
of started in the Fall of 2007, to absolutely no fanfare. After 4 full
seasons of developing a love/hate relationship with the organization,
the writers, the fans, and Chris Therien we announced, to possibly less
fanfare, that the 2011-12 season would be our final foray into the
treacherous yet predictable world of hockey blogging.

As it turns out, we couldn't even make it that far, disappearing in
the middle of the night during a long stretch of W-L-W-L-W in November.
Maybe December. Who knows.

We rode the typical blog Change Curve -
new and energetic, growing and entitled, too good for the game, burnt
out and lost at sea.

During those five years the Flyers have taken a similar ride.

When
we set sail on this Italian cruise ship in 2007 the addition of Danny
Briere, Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell, and Marty Biron gave Flyers fans
reason for cautious optimism. We had just been molested by someone we
trusted - a close uncle or a distant parent - and Fin Tutuola wasn't
there to tell us everything was going to be ok. We were skeptical - of
the Curse of Billy Penn, of losing the NHL Draft Lottery, of rooting for
a team that finished so far in last place that they had packed the
finish line up in a truck before we even got there. But John Stevens
coached the crew - led up front by the future of the franchise, the
Bobby Clarke of the new millennium, Mike Richards, and Jeff "I'm going
to score 40 one day" Carter, and in the back by the gritty Jason Smith,
the surprising Randy Jones and Braydon Coburn - to a 95 point season.
Lupul scored the Game 7 overtime winner, Umberger single-handedly
Klumped the Canadiens, and then with our defense depleted, the Penguins
made us the star of their prison movie in the Conference Finals.

THE CONFERENCE FINALS!!

And despite a 0-3-3 start the next
season under new captain Mike Richards, we finished with 99 points. The
Phillies won the World Series and a new sense of true optimism swept the
city. The Flyers got their act together after Brad Lidge and Carlos
Ruiz awkwardly knee-hugged just in front the CBP's pitcher's mound, and
of course Scottie Upshall cried when he left. Not only was he leaving
his besties, but he was leaving a team that was obviously snow-balling
into a Stanley Cup champ. Jeff Carter got his 46 goals. Vets like Simon
Gagne and Mike Knuble did exactly what they were expected to do, and a
faster and younger defense had been carved out of traffic cones Jason
Smith and Derian Hatcher. We were on our way. Until the Penguins got us
again. First round. Shhhhhh. What time do we tee off tomorrow?

But no worries, right? Last in the league to the Conference Finals
to a better regular season with a playoff blip on the radar? That
happens - you lose hard-fought playoff series when you're not supposed
to. Overall, the season was a success. Please proceed to the off-season
like any other team. Draft some kids. Have a rookie camp. See you in
September for training camp.

Hold Up, heeeyyyyy (RIP Nate Dog) Oh. Oh, okay. The Flyers drafted
Chris Pronger. Wait? Wait what?!? Is that a good thing? I thought he was
too old. To be drafted for sure but even to still be effective in the
league. I've heard a lot about him but he hasn't been in the East since
he was a Whaler and I only really know the Whalers from NHL '94 and
Mitchell & Ness gear. Are we going to win the Cup? We're going to
win the Cup! We're going to win the Cup!

Please fast forward your DVR until you reach December 5, 2009. Who
is that guy on the bench where John Stevens usually stands? Why did
Daniel Carcillo break that guy's face? Why are we losing to the Caps
8-2? I thought Pronger was going to win us the Cup. Why is everyone
sucking. Why does Pronger have the third most points on our team? Please
call your parents and ask if you can come to my Captain Controversy
Party! Richards can't handle it! Oh wait. Bouch made the save. We're the
7th seed! Wow, did we just mirk the Devils on a DANIEL CARCILLO
overtime goal! Who is this Leino guy? Did we just make history and come
back from a 0-3 deficit to beat the Bruins!! There's no way Richards
scored that goal. The was the best shift ever by a Flyer. Did we just
bend Carey Price over our knee and spank him to win the East!?! Grab
that trophy, Mike! Fuck superstition. We are the TEAM OF DESTN…ah shit
you JVR, I mean Patrick Kane. Asshole.

Still though. Pronger = Cup Finals. I was never good at math, but
that's something I can understand. Now if we could ever get a goalie…ah
forget about that. We're so good we don't need one.

2010-2011 is
it, baby. Mike Richards is the best captain in the NHL. This is his
team. This Giroux kid is pretty good too. No one is killing it this
season but we sure are winning a hell of a lot of games. And bam. There
it is. 106 points and 2nd in the conference. One point from winning the
entire conference. This guy can coach. This team can play. These goalies
can do what you need. Dry Island, Wet Island - who cares. We are headed
back to the Cup Finals and this this year we're going to…You know what
Boston? You sure know how to hold a grudge, sweeping us like that. It's
rude is what it is. Grow up. We at least let you play 7 games last year.
Ya jerks.

Ok but next season it all comes together. Our kids are growing into
vets. We have Pronger, Kimmo, Coburn, Carle, and Mesz on the back-end
and who knows what we'll add this off-season.

Ring, ring.

"Oh
hey Fran, Are you kidding! We got Wayne Simmonds, Braydon Schenn, Jakub
Voracek, Max Talbot, JAROMIR JAGR, a 1st rounder and Ilya Bryzgalov!!
Why don't they just hand over the Cup now? Wait what? Ha, yeah right.
There's no way. You're not kidding? Holy shit."

- - - -

If I'm being honest, I don't even know what this
season was. We had great rookies. Jagr was fun for a time. Bryzgalov was
a roller coaster. We finished with 103 points but did you ever think
"this is the team that's going to win it all?" No, you shouldn't have
anyway. At most maybe "this team could do something." Giroux emerged
into a superstar but on the flip side we lost Pronger, possibly to spend
the rest of his career in the front office. Without Pronger this team
is carnival side show - and you have no idea what to expect. Ever.

We had 457 rookies play this year - many in significant roles that
might be better filled by a Dowdian veteran. Without Pronger our defense
has been exposed. Kimmo is still a stud, but an aging stud. He's
incredible but he's not Lidstrom. These past few years were really the
club's opportunity to take advantage of all his skill. Now he's quickly
turning into the sexy woodshop teacher all the young ladies dream of
seeing on their schedule. Not old but not young. He's an overworked
Portuguese Water Dog.

The future is no clearer than it has ever been. They'll talk about
the rookies. They'll talk about Simmonds', Hartnell's, Talbot's, and
Giroux's career years. They'll talk, they'll talk, they'll talk. But
this might be the over-arching problem with trying to win every year,
from the perspective of a General Manager. We have a huge gap of talent.
So many young kids that are good in their own right and then so many
old dudes that are past their prime or nearing that point. Where is our
true core? Where is our compass?

The truth is that I'm tired of caring this much, and Billy Beane was
right about losing the last game of the season. I'll be there rooting
for the Flyers in my own way, but no longer climbing into bed on a
Thursday night thinking "why did I just waste 3 hours." No longer
staying in on a beautiful Saturday afternoon because "the boys are on."
It's not that I don't have the time, it's not that I don't have the
energy. It's that the opportunity cost is too high when I can read the
box score and watch the highlights any time I want. It's a different
world, Denise Huxtable.

The thing is that they're just going to go out there and do it again
next season. There will be some new faces and some old. Some new
storylines (ha, yeah right), some new rules, some new banners, renewed
optimism.

But at the same time everything will be the same. There will be
injuries, suspensions, FA signings, a draft, trades, the Flyers will
win, lose and participate in shootouts. Their record will be 22-0-1 when
entering the 3rd period with the lead. They'll be 28-13 at home.
Whatever on the road. They'll go to Carolina. There will be fights,
goals, beautiful passes, horse shit penalties. This will all happen for 8
months. And then they'll come out and look, honest to God, like your
kid's Pee-wee team playing against the Selects and not even able to
break out of their own zone. Or they'll win the Cup and I'll celebrate
with everyone else. And then get up and go to work the next day. Just
like the day before.

Still a fan, still love the sport, but I just don't really care what
they do anymore. Not specifically anyway. Not in the "no no no no he's
our # 4 defenseman" kind of way. Hope to catch some games live next
year, but not as many as years before. And I'll definitely not feel like
any less of a fan when I have to text a friend or ask my buddy at the
bar "who is that No. 42 guy?"

Top Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak adds muscle, looks for big season 2017

Top Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak adds muscle, looks for big season 2017

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The difference was striking.
 
When Mickey Moniak arrived in Philadelphia to sign his first professional contract six months ago, he was rail-thin and 170 pounds.
 
On Tuesday night, Moniak made a quick visit to the winter meetings to be honored as Baseball America’s high school player of the year for 2016. 
 
He’d added 20 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame.
 
“It’s all muscle,” Moniak said proudly.
 
The Phillies selected Moniak with the first pick in the June draft and signed him for $6.1 million. Just a few months of professional baseball convinced the 18-year-old centerfielder that he needed to get stronger. He recently capped off his first year of pro ball with a three-week stint at the Phillies’ strength and conditioning camp in Clearwater.
 
“It’s something the Phillies wanted me to do and I knew I definitely needed it, too,” Moniak said. “I really enjoyed my first year. I got a taste of what it was like to play baseball for a job and it was a good time.
 
“There were a lot of positives that came out of the first year. I felt like I jumped in there and really competed. I hit well in July. In August, I started to fatigue and I wasn’t prepared for that, being my first season. But it was a good learning experience. I needed to get stronger.”
 
Moniak hit .284 with a .340 on-base percentage, 11 doubles, four triples, a homer and 28 RBIs in 46 games for the Phillies’ prospect-stacked Gulf Coast League team. That club, loaded with young Latin players and first-year talent from the 2016 draft, went 41-17 and advanced to the finals of the league playoffs before losing to the Cardinals.
 
After the playoffs, many of the players from that club participated in the Florida instructional league. Moniak played sparingly, however, after dealing with some soreness in his right hip. He was checked out by doctors in Philadelphia and there are no more concerns.
 
“It was just tightness,” Moniak said. “Everything is good. I’m 100 percent. They said it was either a growing pain or just tightness. I just have to stretch more.”
 
Moniak is an athletic centerfielder with speed and a good left-side bat. He has been compared favorably to former All-Star Steve Finley.
 
"Collectively, we believe Mickey was the best player available in the draft," Johnny Almaraz, the Phillies head of amateur scouting, said on draft night in June. "He's a true centerfielder with incredible offensive ability and the potential to be a perennial All-Star."

Moniak hit .476 with seven homers, 12 triples and four doubles at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California, during his senior season. He impressed a rival scout who saw him play five times during the season.

“The bat is good,” the scout said. “He’s going to hit and hit for average. He’s a good centerfielder. He can run. The question is how many home runs will he hit? If he ends up getting stronger, he could be a corner bat that’s unbelievable. There’s no negative here. It’s a good pick.”
 
Now, Moniak is stronger. He looked sturdy in a dress shirt and tie at the winter meetings Tuesday night. He is eager to see how it all translates on the field in 2017.
 
“I’m excited for the season,” he said. “I’m just going to go to spring training and compete and hopefully end up in (Single A) Lakewood, stay healthy and hopefully have a winning season and win a championship. That’s the ultimate goal and if personal stats come with that, too, that’s great.”

CSN's NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys surging, Eagles continue to fall

CSN's NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys surging, Eagles continue to fall

With Week 13 behind us, it's clear that there is major separation at both the top and the bottom of the league, led by the surging Cowboys and anchored by the lowly Browns. However, With just a quarter of the season remaining, the race for the Wild Card is closer than ever. 

After taking in all the action from this past week, here's CSN's NFL Power Rankings for Week 14, compiled by Derrick Gunn and John Boruk.

1. Dallas (11-1)
While others in the conference struggle, Dallas continues to glide through its schedule and became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot. - Gunn (1)

Impressively, the Cowboys beat the Vikings despite just 13 first downs and 264 total yards. - Boruk (1)

2. New England (10-2)
If the Patriots get home field advantage in the AFC, I’d bet on them to win the conference even without Gronk. - Gunn (2)

Best first quarter team in the NFL. Easy to win when you make your opponent one dimensional. - Boruk (2)

3. Oakland (10-2)
The Raiders can get physical or play the finesse game. Their six-game win streak and overall record are no joke. - Gunn (3)

They dominate the trenches.  Oakland has allowed 13 sacks, fewest in the NFL. - Boruk (3)

4. Seattle (8-3-1)
The loss of Earl Thomas for the season will hurt, but this team is so good at dealing with adversity. - Gunn (4)

The loss of Earl Thomas will be huge to that secondary.  He covers up a lot of their flaws. - Boruk (4)

5. Kansas City (9-3)
The Chiefs' last two wins over Denver and Atlanta were quite impressive and set the stage for a huge showdown Thursday with Oakland. - Gunn (5)

Safety Eric Berry has been one of the top-five defensive players in the league. - Boruk (5)

6. Detroit (8-4)
The Lions' defense was a weakness but now is a strength. In their last four outings, the Lions haven’t allowed more than 83 yards rushing in a game and have held their last six opponents to 20 points or less. - Gunn (6)

Detroit’s offense is 100 percent in the red zone this season – a TD or FG on every drive. - Boruk (7)

6. Denver (8-4)
The Broncos are solid everywhere, but quarterback play could hold this team back. - Gunn (7)

Denver has been bad against the run.  How will they stop DeMarco Murray/Derrick Henry? - Boruk (6)

8. Baltimore (7-5)
The Ravens stopped the Dolphins' win streak at six and control their own playoff destiny. - Gunn (8)

Have won four of their last five, lead the AFC North and as of today, they’re 43-1 odds to win the Super Bowl. - Boruk (8)

9. Pittsburgh (7-5)
When the Steelers' offense is on point it can be lethal. - Gunn (9)

11-1 over their last 12 December games. Can Ladarius Green follow up on his performance against NYG? - Boruk (9)

10. N.Y. Giants (8-4)
G-men have potential to be really good, but last four games vs. Dallas, vs. Detroit, at Eagles and at Washington are not an easy road to travel. - Gunn (10)

Steelers snapped the Giants' six-game winning streak. Allowed 24 points for the first time since Week 4. - Boruk (11)

11. Atlanta (7-5)
Falcons have lost two of last three. - Gunn (11)

They found ways to win earlier this season.  Now, the Falcons are finding ways to lose games. - Boruk (12)

12. Tampa Bay (7-5)
During their current four-game win streak, the Bucs have beaten the Chiefs, Seahawks and Chargers. - Gunn (13)

Four-game winning streak. Defense has stepped up and allowed just 53 points during the streak. - Boruk (10)

13. Washington (6-5-1)
Will Jay Gruden chewing out his guys after a second straight loss wake the Skins up? Time will tell. - Gunn (12)

Defense has allowed 62 points in a two-game losing streak. Should bounce back against Eagles. - Boruk (13)

14. Minnesota (6-6)
The Vikings are 1-6 over their last seven games. An Adrian Peterson return could save their season. - Gunn (14)

One win over their last seven games. They get Jacksonville this week to remain in the playoff chase. - Boruk (17)

15. Miami (7-5)
Getting smacked by the Ravens wounded the Dolphins. Key players are banged up. - Gunn (16)

There goes that six-game winning streak. Completely manhandled by the Ravens on both sides. - Boruk (15)

16. Indianapolis (6-6)
In a three-way tie with Houston and Tennessee in the AFC south. If Luck stays healthy, I look for the Colts to win that division. - Gunn (18)

A healthy Andrew Luck certainly goes a long way. They’ve scored 311 points and have allowed exactly 311 points. - Boruk (14)

17. Green Bay (6-6)
Rodgers says the pack can run the table. So far, two in a row and counting. - Gunn (15)

WRs aren’t usually this consistent, but Jordy Nelson has a TD and at least 90 yards in five of his last six weeks. - Boruk (22)

17. Buffalo (6-6)
QB Tyrod Taylor holds the Bills back. - Gunn (21) 

Tough loss for the Bills who were leading 24-9 midway through the third quarter before losing to Oakland 38-24. - Boruk (16)

19. Tennessse (6-6)
Marcus Mariota has really improved. He has 5th best passer rating (101.9), and it helps to have the No. 2 rusher DeMarco Murray behind him. - Gunn (19)

We’ll see if the Titans can benefit from a Week 13 bye with the Broncos coming to Nashville. - Boruk (20)

19. San Diego (5-7)
If only the Chargers could stop turning the ball over. Tied for the league lead with 25. - Gunn (20)

Shocking...Chargers blow another fourth quarter lead. Haven’t been at .500 since Week 2. - Boruk (19)

21. Houston (6-6)
How is this team at .500? Offense has scored more than two touchdowns in a game just once this year. - Gunn (22)

Still in the AFC South race with three of their final four games against divisional opponents. - Boruk (18)

21. Arizona (5-6-1)
The Cardinals team that just beat Washington... where’s that team been all season? - Gunn (17)

Love watching David Johnson play. The Cards' RB is on pace for 2,300 yards from scrimmage. - Boruk (23)

23. Cincinnati (4-7-1)
Had to move Bengals ahead of Eagles for obvious reasons. - Gunn (23)

Dismantled the Eagles at one point, leading 29-0 just 34 minutes into the game. - Boruk (24)

24. New Orleans (5-7)
Drew Brees' record streak of home TD passes in 60 games has ended. - Gunn (26)

When was the last time Drew Brees didn’t throw a TD pass at home? It had been nearly 8 years. - Boruk (21)

25. Carolina (4-8)
How the mighty have fallen. The defending NFC champs are at the bottom looking up in NFC South. - Gunn (25)

A piece of advice for Cam Newton...wear a tie. Don’t show teammates the rules don’t apply to you. - Boruk (25)

25. Eagles (5-7)
Can't sustain drives. Can't get to the QB. Can't defend the pass. Can't get off the field on third down. Can't win! - Gunn (24)

Defense allowed five passing plays over 20 yards in Cincinnati’s first six possessions, and that’s an offense without A.J. Green. - Boruk (27)

27. L.A. Rams (4-8)
Rams Head coach Jeff Fisher says his team is close. I ask close to what!? - Gunn (27)

Rams managed just 25 yards in the first half, the fewest by a team in a game this season. Forget about having Eric Dickerson on the sideline, get him in the game. - Boruk (26)

28. Chicago (3-9)
When the Bears beat the 49ers, it was first time this season they held an opponent to single digit points. - Gunn (28)

Jordan Howard, a Fifth-round pick from Indiana, just another example why you don’t draft RBs early. - Boruk (29)

29. N.Y. Jets (3-9)
I Wish I could rank them lower after their embarrassing performance against the Colts. It’s the Bryce petty show for the rest of the season. - Gunn (30)

Jon Gruden’s dissection of the Jets' defensive line mailing it in was some of the best analysis I’ve seen this season. - Boruk (28)

30. Jacksonville (2-10)
The Blake Bortles era has been brutal. Could be coming to an end. - Gunn (29)

Jaguars fans deserve some sort of a refund on their tickets this season. Just dreadful to watch. - Boruk (30)

31. San Francisco (1-11)
The positive this season for chip Kelly is...thank goodness the Browns are worse. - Gunn (31)

Colin Kaepernick was sacked more times (5) than he had passing yards (4). - Boruk (31)

32. Cleveland (0-12)
If rumors are true that RG3 could be returning, does it enhance the Browns' chances of winning a game? - Gunn (32)

Battle of Ohio. Putting it out there: Browns get their first win of the season this week. - Boruk (32)