Live 16. I mean, July 4th on the Parkway

Live 16. I mean, July 4th on the Parkway

Fireworks lit up the Ben Franklin Parkway and the Phillies lit up the state of Western Pennsylvania.  They are a different state than us, read the Declaration of Constitutions of Interdependantude, it says so.

Chillin' on the Parkway with some cold ones is something you can get used to real quick on a nice summer night.  Live 8 and last night's Elton John performance as part of Welcome America were both a great time.  Philadelphia Freedom.  Elton John put on a nice show with some great crowd pleasers.  I would say he topped 80% of the Live 8 acts from two days prior.

The 4th on the Parkway was much more laid back and I had a much better spot to hear the music as well as the great fireworks show.

I posted just a few of my pictures in an album here.

The Phillies bats came alive and Bobby Abreu went yard with the bases full.  Corey Lidle pitched well and the Phillies get a win just when I pronounce that it is self evident that they stink.  (see post below)  I didn't catch much of the game, but I have to admit, I did a triple take when I saw the score of 11-1.

Nothing yet on Michal Neuvirth, but plenty can happen for Flyers on trade deadline day

Nothing yet on Michal Neuvirth, but plenty can happen for Flyers on trade deadline day

It's the least favorite day of the NHL season for most players.

Welcome to trade deadline day.

Because of salary cap restraints and an ongoing rebuild over the past couple seasons, the Flyers enter this year's deadline pretty much the way they entered last year's -- as sellers, not buyers.

General manager Ron Hextall stood pat a year ago on the team that was on the upswing at the end and headed to the postseason.

That can't be said this time around for coach Dave Hakstol's squad as the Flyers entered Tuesday's games six points behind Toronto in the wild card.

There isn't a single player available that would guarantee the Flyers a playoff berth and Hextall knows that.

Hextall said over the weekend in Pittsburgh, he would be inclined to sell. Tuesday's 4-0 massacre of Colorado has to be taken with a large dose of reality (see story). The Avs are the worst team in the league.

Florida and Washington will offer considerably more of a challenge this week.

"We haven't gotten results," Hextall said last Friday. "We need to get results. It's not about moral victories or playing good against Washington. That's fine and dandy but not good enough. We have to win games."

They haven't won enough to this point and remain a long shot to earn 93 or 94 points, which could get them in.

Which is why Hextall will likely try to sell Wednesday unless there is something out there long term that benefits the club. Most teams make deals on deadline day for this season, this playoff run.

Hextall won't dive into the fray for a major signing unless the benefit goes into next year and beyond because there are no guarantees his team will even qualify for the postseason right now.

The Flyers' current scoring woes run deep throughout the roster. No single-player acquisition is going to change those fortunes this season.

Hextall has three pending unrestricted free-agent defensemen -- Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz -- one or more of whom might be of draft pick value to the Flyers in a trade.

Hextall also has two goaltenders -- Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth -- whom are set to be UFAs. Either of them might be of value as a backup to some club but that ship seems to have sailed with the L.A. Kings' rather inexpensive acquisition of Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay earlier this week.

A report by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun surfaced Tuesday night that the Flyers were trying to re-sign Neuvirth right now. Sources said no deal was reached Tuesday.

Colorado has spent a lot of time over the past month scouting the Flyers and other clubs in an attempt to move Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog.

Yet, if the Flyers were going to do anything there -- the asking price was rumored to be enormous -- they would have completed a deal Tuesday before the Flyers played the Avs to assure their acquisition wasn't injured during the game. Didn't happen.

One thing Hextall has at his disposal on Wednesday is a slew of young defensemen (see Future Flyers Report), at least two of which will be NHL-ready next fall, plus a deep pool of goaltenders, one of whom figures to be the club's next long-term franchise goalie, the way Hextall was during his playing days.

Since returning to the organization in the summer of 2013, Hextall has been very careful about protecting his assets. Both of L.A.'s Stanley Cups during this decade owe a chunk of its success to the organizational depth Hextall built and oversaw as the Kings' assistant GM to Dean Lombardi.

He won't move future parts without getting similar, significant parts in return. He hasn't forgotten that 11 players from the Kings' Cup roster of 2014 were players he oversaw in player development.

That model for success is what Hextall is trying to duplicate here in Philadelphia, amid an anxious fan base that would like to see the "process" accelerated at a faster pace.

Won't happen.

Hextall believes time is on his side and, as he said last week, he won't promote any young prospect to the NHL level until he's certain they're ready.

Loose pucks
With trade deadline day Wednesday, Hextall has his key people in town (scouting and personnel), including senior vice president Bob Clarke, who Hextall leans on for advice about the makeup of certain players. ... Michael Raffl's injury against Colorado was listed as lower body, but the fact is, he took a very hard hit to the upper body along the boards.

Penn State loses thriller to Ohio State on layup in final seconds

Penn State loses thriller to Ohio State on layup in final seconds

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Ohio State players swarmed one of their own, offering hugs and handshakes before assembling the traditional postgame line to offer the same to their opponents on Tuesday.

Jae'Sean Tate saved Ohio State with a late layup that lifted the Buckeyes to a 71-70 win over Penn State.

Tate took a pass at mid court, spun by two Penn State defenders in the lane and kissed the ball off the glass for the game-winner. It countered a deep 3-pointer from Penn State's Tony Carr that gave the Nittany Lions a 70-69 lead with nine seconds to play.

"Tremendous finish by J.T. there," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.

Marc Loving added 14 points and Trevor Thompson chipped in 11 for the Buckeyes (17-13, 7-10 Big Ten) who won on the road for just the fourth time this season. Tate finished with 12 points and nine rebounds and also committed six turnovers, the most by any player.

That fact elicited a long pause from Matta who's watched his team stumble to a 4-7 road record in what's been a disappointing season.

"Obviously we felt comfortable with it and he had his reads," Matta said. "He made the right read and we had plenty of time there to pass if he needed to."

Penn State was out of time and a desperation heave fell short. The Nittany Lions lost their fourth straight.

Carr finished with 21, Shep Garner notched 20 points and Lamar Stevens added 16 for Penn State (14-16, 6-11).

Penn State coach Patrick Chambers fought off emotions after the game.

"The guys that competed really competed hard and they gave us a chance to win," Chambers said. "This is our process. This is our journey. Can't put my finger on why the ball is not bouncing our way. But this is our process and we're going to learn from these and hopefully we'll learn quick."

It appeared they did just that in-game. After the Buckeyes took a 40-36 lead into halftime, the Nittany Lions came out in the second half and took advantage of room on the outside.

Garner, who hit three of his five 3-pointers in the first half, made two in the first two minutes of the second. Penn State took its first lead on a pair of Stevens free throws with 18:22 to play before the Buckeyes used a 22-14 run to regain control with an Andre Wesson 3-pointer with 6:39 to play.

Meanwhile, Penn State's offense went cold. The Nittany Lions went without a field goal for 4:29 of the final 5:11 before Carr cut Ohio State's lead to 69-67 with a layup with 42 seconds left.

Big hurt
Watkins hobbled to the locker room with cramps midway through the second half. He emerged minutes later and was able to return to the game.

But Penn State's big man wasn't feeling well and kept stretching his legs as play went on. Watkins, who entered the game second in the Big Ten with 75 blocks, finished the game on the bench, not under the hoop when Tate scored the winning shot.

Chambers said Watkins was cramping for much of the game.

Watkins' loss wasn't the only one for Penn State.

Guard Josh Reaves left the game in the second half and did not return. Forward Payton Banks didn't play due to an illness and forward Julian Moore, nursing an injury sustained Saturday, played just 14 minutes.

"These are facts, not excuses. No Payton Banks. We lost Josh Reaves with six minutes to go. We didn't have Mike Watkins for long stretches. Julian Moore played on one leg."

Buckeyes good in close
Ohio State took advantage of Penn State's banged up forward corps. The Buckeyes finished with 37 rebounds to Penn State's 28 and outscored the Nittany Lions 34-16 in the paint.

Tate, Loving and center Trevor Thompson combined for 22 rebounds.

Another close loss
The Nittany Lions have lost six conference games by a possession or in overtime.

"You know what they're not doing?" Chambers said. "They're not planning a spring break. We've got winners in that locker room who are invested, who want to get better, who want to see this team turn."

The big picture
Ohio State: The Buckeyes sometimes hopeful, often frustrating season can be summed up by looking at their last two games -- a complete effort in a win over No. 22 Wisconsin and this back-and-forth tilt with middle-of-the-pack Penn State.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions have often looked like a completely different -- and much more competitive -- team at home. With youth on their side, the Nittany Lions just need more consistency to take the next step.

Up next
Ohio State hosts Indiana on Saturday.

Penn State is at Iowa on Sunday.