Philly March Madness: (6) Mark Recchi vs. (11) Cole Hamels

Philly March Madness: (6) Mark Recchi vs. (11) Cole Hamels

Over the next few weeks at The700Level, we'll be posting poll matchups as part of our Philly March Madness competition. Examine the cases of the two fine Philadelphia athletes below, and cast your vote at the bottom as to which you think should advance to the next round. And as always, feel free to explain your selection and/or debate the choices in the comments section.


(6) Mark Recchi

Mark Recchi spent parts of 10 seasons with the Flyers and still holds the team record for points in a season (123), a mark he set in 1992-1993. The diminutive winger, now 43 years old and still a valued member of a Stanley Cup contender, has been a member of two championship teams, although neither were in Philadelphia. Still, Recchi’s blend of grit with pure offensive skill and a trademark ability to create his own shot in a split second made him a fan favorite in Philadelphia, which he continues to be despite playing so many fruitful years of his career as a member of conference rivals Pittsburgh, Montreal, and now Boston. Some Flyers career milestones include five 25-plus-goal seasons, with 40- and a 53-goal campaigns that also saw him top the 100-point mark, and being a member of the “Crazy Eights” line along with Eric Lindros and Brent Fedyk. Recchi is also well known for being involved in two of the most significant trades in Flyers history. First, he came to the Flyers in a deal that sent Rick Tocchet, Kjell Samuellson, and Ken Wregget to Pittsburgh, and he was dealt to Montreal as part of a deal that returned two other members of our field of 64, Eric Desjardins and John LeClair. He was later traded back to the Flyers for Dainius Zubrus. It takes a special kind of player to be loved in Philadelphia long after you’ve left and played for several hated rivals (and become something of a Flyer-killer), but Recchi earned that respect during his time here. -Matt P.


(11) Cole Hamels

Although his career is still on its upswing, Cole Hamels has achieved something even some of the greatest pitchers in the game have only been able to dream about. In 2008, Cole pitched his way into Phillies history by earning the NLCS and World Series MVP honors while helping to break a decades-long championship drought in Philadelphia. In his five playoff starts that year, he posted a 4-0 record, a sub-2.00 ERA, and a 0.91 WHIP. When Philadelphia needed him most, he was at his best. There is little else he needs to accomplish to earn the love of city, but we often have an odd way of showing that. Although Hamels has had a few statements and actions that fans haven’t appreciated, most were insignificant; his continued on-field progress has most people seeing that despite his California calm, Cole is a fierce competitor with a skill set to back it up. Now seated among the four aces, he has had no problem losing sole ownership of the starting pitching spotlight he had just two seasons ago. With Hamels now throwing four pitches well, including a knee-buckling change-up, we have a feeling we’re in for many more years of highlights, possibly even a Cy Young, and hopefully another parade. -Matt P.

Who should advance to the next round?Market Research

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

After an 0-for-5 day at the plate, Odubel Herrera isn't heading to the bench a day later.

He's leading off. 

Pete Mackanin chose to move the slumping centerfielder atop the lineup card for Friday's series opener against the Reds despite Herrera's striking out in all five plate appearances Thursday.

"I think he's a .290-plus hitter as a leadoff man and I'm not going to sit him," Mackanin said pregame. "He needs to battle his way out. You figure you're the leadoff hitter once a game. After that, it's wide open."

While he hasn't batted leadoff this season, Herrera spent the majority of his time in that spot last season. In 76 games there, he batted .285 with a .359 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. 

The leadoff hitter this season has been Cesar Hernandez, who has a day off with a groin pull he's dealt with the last 10 days. Herrera primarily has been the No. 3 hitter this season and his average is down to .226 with 49 strikeouts to just 11 walks. 

Mackanin hopes the leadoff role can help change Herrera's approach at the plate.

"He was drawing a lot of walks at leadoff, so whether he has that mindset or not, I'm not sure," the manager said. "I just want to get him as many at-bats as possible. We need to get him going. We need him and [Maikel] Franco to get going."

May specifically has been tough on Herrera. He has four hits in his last 36 at-bats and has seven strikeouts in his last two games. He has just seven hits in 22 games this month. 

"I think he's at the point where he's grinding and sometimes when you grind, sometimes there's that feeling where you get lost," Mackanin said. "I've been in situations as a hitter where I've gone up to the plate saying, 'I don't care where it is. I'm going up there and just hacking.' Because you start thinking and that's not working.

"And you look for a pitch and then all of a sudden you say I'm going to take a pitch to get a look at and it's strike one. Then he throws you a nasty slider and that's strike two and your plan is out the window. So I've gone up to the plate myself saying, 'I'm just looking down the middle and swinging. I'm not thinking.'"

When asked, Mackanin said the team had not discussed demoting Herrera or Franco to the minors to take pressure off the duo.

While Herrera tries to hit his way back into a groove, Howie Kendrick is in the midst of working his way back to the majors. He was hit by pitch twice in a rehab appearance Thursday but is back in the lineup Friday in left field. 

Mackanin said Kendrick needed four days minimum in his rehab assignment and will therefore play Friday and Saturday before the team sees how he feels.

The manager also said the team would give more playing time to backup catcher Andrew Knapp. He started consecutive games for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"I'm going to try and see him as much as possible and keep him as sharp as possible instead of once a week," Mackanin said. "That's tough to hit, once a week. It's tough to hit twice a week if you don't hit back-to-back. There's no ulterior motive."

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

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Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in Australia this week, where he has accused longtime friend and former Australian men's national team assistant coach Shane Heal of defrauding him of $750,000, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Brown invested $250,000 into each of three companies for which Heal was the sole director. Brown wasn't given a legal title regarding the companies and didn't know the specifics of how the money would be used.

"I assumed that the money was going to be used for what Shane told me it was going to be used for," Brown said. "Because it was a friend that I had for 25 years."

Heal was charged last year by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission following an investigation relating to alleged misconduct in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the AAP.

The sides return to court in Brisbane on July 20.

Heal played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996-97 and was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.