Links: Conlin's Prediction, Bengals Upset With Andrews, & Sixers Return

Links: Conlin's Prediction, Bengals Upset With Andrews, & Sixers Return

We're a little slow/busy today.  It's just so nice out, I could drop this right here...

Anyway, how about some general discussion from around town today?

- How do you like the Phils chances to repeat?  Bill Conlin likes them a lot in today's piece for the Daily News, saying they have a "better than even chance" of at least winning the pennant again.  How can you not like their odds? 

And let's tally up the assets that Manuel will carry into the most anticipated season in the history of the franchise.

Three-fourths of the infield represented by recent MVPs Jimmy
Rollins and Ryan Howard and MVP contender Chase Utley can stand with
any like trio in the history of the game.

I agree with the assessment of Paul Hagen that Manuel's outfield of
Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth is the best in the East
Division.

And everyone else is back.  Hamels, while not scheduled to pitch the opener against the Braves, still isn't slated to miss a start at the moment.  He's penciled in for April 10 against the Rockies, and just pitched a fantastic minor league outing, going 3 2/3 and allowing 1 hit, 1 walk, and striking out 5.  If they stay healthy, yes, they should be right back in it again.

It's almost baseball season.  What a relief!

- Apparently the Bengals are pissed at Stacy Andrews.  According to head coach Marvin Lewis, the club was under the impression the right tackle intended on returning.  Obviously, it didn't turn out that way.

“I was disappointed because Stacy led us to believe that he wanted to
stay [in Cincinnati], so it was up to his representative to get a
contract done.  We felt like we had a deal done and then, all of a
sudden, he walked away and that disappointed me.”

First of all, as any Eagles fan knows after the Dawkins fiasco, if you want to keep somebody, you don't let them reach free agency.  When the clock strikes midnight and those deals come pouring in, there's no telling what can happen.

Furthermore, Stacy's particular scenario is a bit more special than ordinary free agency circumstances.  Not only was he offered a big time deal from an excellent franchise, he had the chance to be with family, a brother who could really use a support system at this stage of his career and life.  For Lewis and the Bengals to view that as just another business deal seems selfish.  If they were serious about keeping their player, he would have been there.

- Congrats to the Sixers for sorting themselves out somewhat on their five-game road swing, finishing 3-2 including that huge buzzer-beater win over the Lakers. It's been such an up-and-down campaign, but much like the Flyers, they are choosing a good time to get right, as long as it's not a mirage.

My question, which I've posed on a few occasions throughout the season, is where you think this team is headed?  They've been so difficult to read.  At times, it seems they're crashing and would be lucky to take a team to six games in the playoffs.  Right now, depending on who they draw, they could make a run at the second round, though that's optimistic.  Does anyone share that enthusiasm?

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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AP Images

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.