Let Me Tell You About the Birds & the Knees

Let Me Tell You About the Birds & the Knees

Our man Rev is icing a sore knee. These are his words.

While
the entire football following world, and for that matter non-football
following world (thanks for checking in TMZ), races to provide us with
breaking no news updates on where Donovan McNabb will play next season,
the Eagles continue to tweak their roster and prepare for the upcoming
draft. Predicting what they will do in free agency and the draft has
not been easy. During the Lurie/Banner/Reid era the team has continually

played things close to the vest. There are not a whole lot of leaks
coming out of One Novacare Way. No one knew ahead of time about the
Michael Vick signing. Choosing Kevin Kolb in the second round was a
surprise for which no one was prepared. Removing Jeremiah Trotter’s
franchise tag in 2002, thus making him a free agent was a shocking move.

They have shown a propensity for making unpredictable moves, and keeping

those moves under wraps.

However,
not everything the organization does is unpredictable. For years they’ve

drafted and stocked up on young linemen with perceived upside (John
Welbourn, Scott Peters, Jamaal Greene, Trey Darilek, Scott Young, Calvin

Armstrong, LaJuan Ramsey, King Dunlap, etc.). They’ve also shown a
willingness to draft players from small schools who have not played
against the stiffest of competition throughout their college years
(Bryan
Smith, Andrew Studebaker, Chris Gocong, and Todd Herremans). Some of
these moves have worked out (Welbourn, Herremans, and Gocong), while
others have not. These moves show that they occasionally do fall into
trends with their thinking and philosophy.

Recently
they’ve shown a bizarre and repeated willingness to spend draft picks
and free agent dollars on guys with major knee issues. It’s getting
to the point where they cannot help themselves when given the
opportunity
to acquire someone coming off a catastrophic knee injury. Perhaps
Trotter
is to blame for all of this. He somehow carved out a Pro Bowl career
without the benefit of knees. He jokes that his knees are so bad there’s

no shot he would pass a team physical.  How the guy played middle
linebacker in the NFL without knees is beyond me.

Here
is the roll call of guys they’ve drafted or signed over the last two
years who’ve had knee problems:

  • Jack Ikegwuonu (invested
    a 4th round pick in 2008, despite suffering from a torn
    ACL)
  • Cornelius Ingram (invested
    a 5th round pick in 2009, despite suffering from a torn
    ACL)
  • Stacy Andrews (as a free
    agent in 2009
    , and coming off ACL surgery he signed for 6 years $38.9
    million)
  • Marlin Jackson (as a free
    agent in 2010
    , and coming off ACL surgeries in each of the last two
    years, signed for 2 years $6 million)

Now,
I can somewhat understand the Ikegwuonu and Ingram picks. Essentially
they could bring them along slowly, let them rehab, get acclimated to
professional football, and ostensibly give them what amounts to a
redshirt
year with that hope that the investment will pay off down the road.
That I understand. I do not understand the Andrews and Jackson signings
though. These are guys who play positions of need. Their entire
offensive
line was thrown into flux due to, among other things, Stacy Andrews
not being healthy. They have a glaring need at safety, so what do they
do? They go out and sign a guy who has had his last two seasons cut
short thanks to knee injuries. They continue to put a large number of
their eggs in the same injury riddled basket. I don’t get it.

You
know how when teams have a ridiculous trade proposal which seemingly
no one will accept they pick up the phone and call Al Davis and the
Raiders? Yeah, that’s the way agents must feel when they have a client
coming off a knee injury. Hmmm, my client has no cartilage or ligaments
in his knees? Which organization would possibly draft/sign my guy? 
I know, I’ll holla at the Eagles…they love guys with leg issues.
It’s a no brainer. It’s so bad that I am convinced that if they
were available, and the least bit athletic, the Birds would seriously
consider offering contracts to Spider from Goodfellas after being shot
in the foot by Tommy, James Caan’s character with the shattered legs
from Misery, and Lieutenant Dan. Must. Sign. Guy. With. Damaged. Legs.

Obviously
I am at total loss to explain why they’ve made the organizational
decision to acquire players with such significant injuries. They do
not strike me as the kind of team which makes rash decisions and
formulates
an action plan without first doing their homework. You’d like to assume
they’re employing some sort of sound methodology.  So, how do
you explain these decisions? FYI, during the draft keep an eye out for
Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond III. The Birds have a (k)need (see
how I did that?) in the secondary and he’s coming off ACL surgery.
They’re bound to take him.

Photo by Jonathan
Daniel / Getty Images

Instant Replay: Reds 5, Phillies 2

Instant Replay: Reds 5, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

Aaron Nola struggled and the Phillies' offense slumbered in a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies had just one hit through eight innings and three overall in losing for the 21st time in the last 26 games. They scored both of their runs in the ninth inning.

Over their last six games, five of which have been losses, the Phillies have been held to three hits four times.

The Phillies have scored just nine runs in their last six games.

Nola came off the disabled list and pitched seven innings of one-run ball Sunday in Pittsburgh. He failed to build on that outing against a Cincinnati club that entered the game with nine losses in its previous 12 games.

Starting pitching report
Nola, who entered the game having given up just one home run in 23 innings this season, gave up a pair of long balls in the first two innings as the Reds jumped out to a 3-0 lead. In all, the right-hander gave up six hits and five runs over six innings.

Nola is 2-2 with a 4.34 ERA in five starts.

Cincinnati right-hander Tim Adleman's 20th big-league start was the best of his career. The right-hander pitched eight shutout innings and allowed just four baserunners on one hit, two walks and a hit batsman. He struck out four.

Adleman entered the game with a 6.19 ERA this season.

Bullpen report
Mark Leiter Jr. pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three for the Phillies.

Asher Wojciechowski lost the shutout in the ninth. Raisel Iglesias came on for the final two outs. He struck out Maikel Franco, the potential tying run, hacking wildly at a full-count breaking ball to end the game.

At the plate
Andres Blanco, the Phillies' No. 2 hitter, singled in the first inning. The Phillies did not have another hit until there was one out in the ninth.

Aaron Altherr doubled in the ninth to break up the Reds' shutout bid.

Odubel Herrera batted leadoff and ran his slump to 0 for 13 before doubling in the ninth. He hit a ball hard earlier in the game, too, but Cincinnati leftfielder Adam Duvall made a nice diving catch.

For Cincinnati, Duvall and Scott Schebler took Nola deep. Jose Peraza had a two-run single against Nola in the sixth inning. He has a 12-game hitting streak.

In the field
Cincinnati catcher Devin Mesoraco made a terrific play in starting a 2-4-3 double play to end the seventh inning.

Minor matters
Second base prospect Jesmuel Valentin had season-ending surgery on his left shoulder in Philadelphia on Friday. Valentin, who was playing at Triple A Lehigh Valley, is looking at a recovery time of four to five months. He should be ready to play winter ball in his native Puerto Rico. Valentin went down to the final days of camp in a bid to make the Phillies' opening day roster in spring training (see story).

Up next
The series continues in a 4:05 p.m. start Saturday. Jerad Eickhoff (0-5, 4.70) pitches against Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 6.75).

NHL Notes: Predators' P.K. Subban rides whirlwind to Stanley Cup Final

NHL Notes: Predators' P.K. Subban rides whirlwind to Stanley Cup Final

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It has been an extraordinary 11 months for P.K. Subban.

The defenseman moved from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference. Left his native Canada to live in the American South. Blended in with new teammates, created a new home and learned a new system of money, too.

Oh, and along the way the former star for the Montreal Canadiens played a key role in Nashville's stirring run to the Stanley Cup Final.

The best way to sum up Subban's approach? C'est la vie.

"I just tried to have the right attitude when change comes my way," Subban said. "I think when you have an open mind, an open mind is like a gold mine. You just have an open mind, you can only go up from there regardless of what comes your way and just always try to approach things in a positive way."

The Canadiens and Predators shocked the NHL last June 29 when Nashville swapped captain Shea Weber for Subban in a rare one-for-one trade of All-Star defensemen. Adding Subban's offensive skills immediately made the Predators a popular pick to be right where they are now as the Western Conference champions.

The stylish Subban has as much flair on the ice with his goal celebrations as off with his hats and stylish suits. The Predators and their fans have embraced all of it.

"When it happened, I came in here with the right attitude and just wanted to be a part of this team and do whatever I can do to help a team win," Subban said (see full story).

Penguins: Team rides maturity, resilience back to Cup Final
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz stood shoulder to shoulder at center ice as midnight approached, crowd on its feet, Prince of Wales Trophy in hand. Another shot at the Stanley Cup in the offing.

On the surface, it could have been a scene ripped from 2008 when the longtime Pittsburgh Penguin teammates earned their first crack at a championship together, the one that was supposed to be the launching pad for a dynasty.

A closer look at the weary, grateful smiles told a different story.

This team has learned over the last decade that nothing can be taken for granted. Not their individual greatness or postseason success, even for one of the NHL's marquee franchises. Not the cohesion it takes to survive the crucible of the most draining championship chase in professional team sports or the mental toughness (along with a dash of luck) needed to stay on top once you get there.

So Crosby paused in the giddy aftermath of Pittsburgh's 3-2 victory over Ottawa in Game 7 of the helter-skelter Eastern Conference finals to do something the two-time Hart Trophy winner almost never does. He took stock of the moment, aware of how fleeting they can be.

"Every series you look at, the margin for error is so slim," Crosby said. "We've just continued to find ways and different guys have stepped up. We trust in that and we believe in that and whoever has come in the lineup has done a great job. That builds confidence. We've done it different ways, which is probably our biggest strength" (see full story).