The Homers Were More Fun: NL Loses, Phils Phlop in 2013 All-Star Game

The Homers Were More Fun: NL Loses, Phils Phlop in 2013 All-Star Game

Three hits, one walk, zero runs. That was what the NL's collection of offensive talent was able to put up against a wrecking crew of AL pitchers in the All-Star Game tonight, a feeble performance that at least prevented the game from stretching on past midnight. The AL didn't provide a ton of offensive fireworks either, but managed a more respectable three runs on nine hits, which was enough to get the ball to Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning to close it out. (Actually, there are nine innings in a baseball game, so Joe Nathan was awkwardly brought in to double-close it out after, but Mo won the MVP anyway because SENTIMENT.)

The Phillies did not exactly represent to the fullest in this one. Cliff Lee pitched one inning of work, giving up a quick two hits and then allowing a Jose Bautista sac fly to score the AL's second run of the game. The earned run wasn't really all on him, as the second hit came on a grounder to short that the normally sure-handed Troy Tulowitzki butchered, and at least he induced a couple easy grounders to get out of the inning shortly thereafter, but when you only get one inning of work, any amount of run-sacrificing is tough to swallow.

Lee's performance was a better showing than Dom Brown's, at least. As a result of the NL lineup's disturbingly efficient outmaking, Dom played nearly half the game but only came to bat once. In that at bat: Three pitches, three strikes (two called, last swinging) and one out. If Dom was hoping to state his case for why he shouldn't have been left off the Home Run Derby roster, there would have been more convincing ways to do it, though we're hoping he'll have plenty of chances to come for both his Derby debut and his All-Star redemption before his stay in Philadelphia wraps.

Really, this was a pretty boring baseball game. The most entertaining parts of the night came outside of the game, as when an idiot Yankees fan dared Twitter to dare him to rush the field (then got smacked down by security after doing so), or when Neil Diamond took the field in the mid-eighth for an even-more-embarrassing-than-usual "Sweet Caroline" sing-along. Rivera's final All-Star Game obviously dominated the conversation, though AL coach Jim Leyland's controversial decision to use him in the eighth instead of the ninth (presumably due to fear the AL would take the lead and Mo would not be able to pitch at all) certainly robbed the moment of a good deal of its poetry. (Tim McCarver also said his fond farewell to ASG broadcasting, though it's hard to imagine many baseball fans were getting terribly choked up at that.)

Whatever. No real consequence here except that AL gets home-field at the World Series this year, and let's just say that the Phils will cross that exceedingly unlikely bridge when they come to it. Phils season starts again on Friday, and hopefully Dom will get a couple opportunities to put bat to ball again before season's end. See you back at Citi Field then.

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry from how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 — the last time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a gigantic one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.