The Time Team Richards Downed Team Hartnell at Boardwalk Hall In Front of Most Eclectic Spectators Ever

The Time Team Richards Downed Team Hartnell at Boardwalk Hall In Front of Most Eclectic Spectators Ever


There were almost equal parts Flyers and Rangers fans, mixed
with a healthy Devils contingency, then your token smattering of Penguins jerseys.
There were Capitals fans, Bruins fans, Maple Leafs fans, Canucks fans. There was
even a dude wearing an NHLPA sweater, apparently showing his support of union
workers.

Hockey fans from all walks descended on the Jersey Shore,
making Atlantic City the Hockey Capital of the World for one night on Saturday.
In the end, 10,792 people were unable to agree on which team to root for, but
they were almost unanimously aligned on one key point.

Sidney Crosby sucks.

It was a diverse crowd, and everybody wanted to represent. As
soon as we walked through the doors inside the great venue that is Boardwalk
Hall, we were greeted by a raucous Let’s
Go Rangers/Rangers Suck! chant. When Team Philly scored a goal, our fans
stood and cheered, waving white towels. When Team New York scored a goal –
which I’m sorry to say was far more often – their fans stood and cheered,
waving those same white towels.

Scott Hartnell’s squad fell to that of Brad Richards, his
Rangers counterpart, by a final of 10-6 in Operation Hat Trick, but that was
hardly of consequence. Sure there was a feeling of pride at stake, at least in
the stands, although that even took a backseat as well. How often are Flyers
and Devils fans in a room together, pulling for the same side?

The really cool thing was everybody in attendance actually came
together to assist the many communities still reeling from Hurricane Sandy. In
that respect, the exhibition game for charity was an overwhelming success.

The other common bond linking the motley crew that packed a
makeshift ice rink at the beach is they all miss the sport. Within minutes of
the opening puck drop, a powerful We Want
Hockey chant broke out. Then another as the first period wound down. And a
few more times for good measure. Hartnell spoke to reporters about the emotional
fan reaction following the contest.

“It was great, I love it and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I
got a little choked up when you had 11,000 people cheering they want hockey
back,” Hartnell said.

As the final minutes ticked away, We Love Hockey eventually gave way to a couple inevitable rounds of
Crosby Sucks, despite the fact No. 87
didn’t skate. Pittsburgh’s James Neal did participate however, his presence resulting
in arguably the loudest reaction of anyone during player introductions – a most
thunderous chorus of boos.

I guess Flyers, Rangers, and Devils fans do have something
else in common after all. We all despise the Pens.

Yet the Penguins were not the only subjects of ridicule. Unpopular
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was roasted accordingly. Bettman Sucks! and Fire
Bettman were songs even the Pittsburgh faithful could join in on, so there
was truly something for everyone.

As for Neal, he wound up having the last laugh. The 2012 All
Star already had a hat trick by the second period, finishing the game with four
goals. It didn’t help that Team Philly goaltender Martin Brodeur didn’t have
his best stuff. The longtime Jersey netminder and future Hall of Famer looked
like a 40 year old who hasn’t been seeing many minutes lately, letting by a
handful of scores he would probably like to have back.

The player who stole the show was standing 178 feet across
the ice from Brodeur. Henrik Lundqvist, who reportedly flew back to the States
from Sweden to be at the event, was absolutely on fire in net for Team Richards
– no huge shock given he’s had Philly’s number for awhile now. He wound up
stopping 56 out of 62 shots, foiling multiple complex, combination chances
along the way.

Among those denied from finding twine were Hartnell, a real
shame because the building was poised to erupt regardless of how or what it
meant on the scoreboard. Hartsy stuck out some tough times in Orange and Black
before eventually ascending to the top line and becoming an All-Star performer
last season, turning into a serious fan favorite in the process. Most
importantly, he was instrumental in putting OHT together, which was done in
little more than a week’s time from inception to implementation. Outstanding
job by Hartnell as his legend only continues to grow.

Ultimately, the game was just an exhibition, played without
hitting and at half the speed. By midway through the third period, you could
tell some of the guys were gassed, clearly not quite in hockey shape. It didn’t
help the effort that New York was able to knock the air out of Philly’s
second-period comeback run with a couple of soft goals late, taking a 7-4 lead
into the dressing room.

There were moments though. Brodeur received a few sets of
Bronx cheers when he actually managed to get some stops. Dan Carcillo and Aron
Asham teased a fight that never happened, instead trading penalty shots. Simon
Gagne, Steven Stamkos, and P.K. Subban were skating with Flyers. It was a truly
once-in-a-lifetime event.

Neal and Lundqvist played great, and what Hartnell did was
special, but corny as it might sound, the first star of the game was the fans.
We’re talking a total sellout, folks, not only for an amazing cause, but in a
calculated demonstration for an amazing sport. The fans in attendance weren’t
always in agreement on what they wanted to root for, yet the atmosphere was
festive, not hostile. This one time, clearly we were all on the same side.

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Sixers to host 6 more prospects for pre-draft workouts Monday

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Sixers to host 6 more prospects for pre-draft workouts Monday

After attending private, agency-run pre-draft workouts, the Sixers will host six players Monday at their practice facility for more workouts.

Joel Bolomboy, James Webb III, Tim Quarterman, Brannen Greene, Danuel House and Isaiah Taylor are all members of the third group of prospects to participate in team-run workouts in Philadelphia.

Bolomboy, a power forward, averaged 17.1 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks his senior season at Weber State.

Quarterman entered the draft following his junior year at LSU, where he played with Ben Simmons. The point guard averaged 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last year in Baton Rouge.

Webb, a forward, left Boise State following his sophomore year. He averaged 15.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals last season.

Greene declared for the draft after his junior year at Kansas. The guard averaged 5.4 points and 2.1 rebounds while shooting 49.2 percent from three last season for the Jayhawks.

House, a guard, transferred from the University of Houston to play his junior and senior seasons at Texas A&M. He posted 15.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists last season.

After three seasons at Texas, Taylor, a point guard, declared for the draft. He averaged 15.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists this past season while helping the Longhorns reach the NCAA Tournament.

The Sixers hold the first, 24th and 26th picks in the draft, which takes place on June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Simmering issue: Pete Mackanin says he will continue to trim Ryan Howard's playing time

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Simmering issue: Pete Mackanin says he will continue to trim Ryan Howard's playing time

CHICAGO – The Ryan Howard drama continues to simmer.
 
Howard’s dwindling production has led to dwindling playing time. He did not start against a right-handed pitcher for the second time in eight days on Sunday (see game recap).
 
After the game, manager Pete Mackanin addressed the uncomfortable situation and said he would continue to trim Howard’s playing time against right-handers because he wants to look at Tommy Joseph, who has 10 hits, including three homers and a double, in his first 35 big-league at-bats.
 
“We brought Joseph up here for a reason, to get a look at him,” Mackanin said. “I can’t let him stagnate on the bench like (Darin) Ruf ended up doing, so he’s going to face some right-handed pitchers to keep his timing. I don’t know when the next time we’re going to face a left-handed pitcher is, but I’m going to use (Joseph) a little bit more often than I did Ruf.”
 
Since the end of last July, Howard has gone from being a full-time player to a platoon guy, facing just righties. Now, he’s migrating toward more of a reserve role.
 
Taking away playing time from a club icon – Howard is a former NL MVP and World Series champion -- is not easy, but Mackanin has little choice. Howard is hitting .154 with eight homers and 18 RBIs in 136 at-bats over 44 games. He has struck out in 33 percent of his plate appearances. Howard’s average for the month of May is .097 (6 for 62) and he has 25 strikeouts. He recently used the word “brutal” to describe how the month of May has been going.
 
Mackanin was asked about Howard’s mindset in relation to losing playing time.
 
“I don’t know how he feels,” Mackanin said. “I’m sure we’ll talk to him and we’ll go from there. The important thing is that we brought Joseph up here to get a look at him, and as I said, if he sits on the bench for a week or 10 days and we don’t get a look at him, what’s the point of bringing him up?”
 
Howard started Saturday against Cubs’ righty Kyle Hendricks and went hitless.
 
After Sunday's game, Howard was asked if he was surprised to see he was not in the lineup.
 
“I guess, yeah,” he said. “But I don’t make the lineup. The manager makes the lineup. I just show up. If I’m in there, I’m in there, if I’m not, I’m not."
 
Howard said he was unaware of Mackanin’s intention to sit him more against righties.
 
“I haven’t heard anything about sitting more against righties,” he said. “I haven’t been called into the office and talked to about it, so you guys apparently have breaking news before I do.”
 
Howard's status in the lineup and with the team has been an issue for almost two years. Before the 2015 season, former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. admitted it would be best if Howard moved on. The Phillies tried to trade him last year, but there was no interest. 

Howard is in the final year of a five-year, $125 million contract that did not kick in until after he suffered a devastating Achilles tendon rupture on his final swing of the 2011 season.
 
He is still owed more that $26 million in salary for 2016 and an option year buyout for 2017.

Howard isn't walking away from that kind of money.

Would the team release him to solve this uncomfortable situation? Or will it ride out the final four months of the season and the contract with Howard as a part-time player?

Time will tell.

Phillies swept out of Chicago with another loss to MLB-best Cubs

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Phillies swept out of Chicago with another loss to MLB-best Cubs

CHICAGO – The Phillies are rebuilding.

The Chicago Cubs are focused on winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years.

And they have a team that can do it.

So the events of the last three days at Wrigley Field were not that surprising.

The Phillies suffered a three-game sweep, capped off by Sunday afternoon’s 7-2 loss.

When the Phillies departed Citizens Bank Park last week, they had a 25-19 record and were one of the surprise teams in the majors.

But the trip to Detroit and Chicago figured to be a stiff test. The Tigers pound the baseball. The Cubs do everything.

In the end, the Phillies won just one of the six games on the trip. They limp home at 26-24 for a matchup Monday night with the Washington Nationals.

Is the Phillies’ unexpected, early-season magic fading?

“That’s up for debate, I guess,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “Every team goes through a hot streak and a cold streak. How you come out those streaks, especially now with a cold streak, determines how good of a team you are. I choose to believe we’re at the bottom of the roller coaster and on our way up.”

The Phils were outscored 17-5 by the Cubs in this weekend’s series. The Cubs’ starting pitchers – Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey – combined to allow just three earned runs in 22 ⅓ innings. And Jake Arrieta, arguably the best pitcher in baseball, did not appear in the series.

After Sunday’s game, Mackanin was asked what he learned about his club on the trip.

“I didn’t learn anything about my team,” he said. “I learned first-hand that the Cubs have a lot going for them. They’re a good team, probably the best team in baseball right now and they beat us fair and square.”

They do have the best record in the majors at 34-14.

It was not surprising to hear that Mackanin didn’t learn anything about his club during the trip. He knows the Phillies are rebuilding and have glaring holes. He knows the pitching has kept them in games and allowed them to win a bunch by one run. He also knows it’s difficult to sustain that with a team that averages just 3.22 runs per game, second-lowest in the majors. Sunday marked the 19th time the Phillies have scored two or fewer runs.

Looking for more offense, Mackanin sent Ryan Howard to the bench Sunday against a right-handed pitcher and used Tommy Joseph. Joseph hit a homer in the ninth inning. After the game, Mackanin said he would continue to get Joseph playing time against right-handers.

Power-armed right-hander Vince Velasquez had a difficult trip. Against two of the toughest lineups in baseball, he pitched 8 ⅔ innings over two starts. He gave up 18 hits, five of which were homers, and 10 earned runs. The Cubs got him for nine hits and seven runs in 4 ⅔ innings. He gave up two homers, a solo shot in the second and a three-run blow in the third.

The three-run homer, by Ben Zobrist, gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead and ignited the daily Happy Hour in the stands.

Two batters before Zobrist homered, Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis failed to make a play on a hard-hit one-hopper by Kris Bryant. Galvis backed up and gloved the hot smash, but threw quickly, off-balance and wildly to first. It was ruled a hit. Had Galvis made the play, it would have ended the inning. Instead, Velasquez issued a two-out walk to extend the inning further and Zobrist hit the two-out homer.

“I don’t know why Freddy got rid of the ball so quick,” Mackanin said. “I thought he could have planted and thrown it over there. But I’m not going to be critical of Freddy Galvis. He’s been unbelievable, just outstanding.”

Zobrist’s homer was one of six the Cubs hit in the three games. Two of them were three-run shots. The Phillies had just two homers in the series. Both came Sunday after the club was down 7-0.

“We didn’t string hits together,” Mackanin said.