Philly March Madness: (7) Lenny Dykstra vs. (10) Dave Poulin

Philly March Madness: (7) Lenny Dykstra vs. (10) Dave Poulin

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.


(7) Lenny Dykstra

Dirt. Nails. The Dude. Leonard Kyle Dysktra was one of the most feared hitters in baseball during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Despite being a key part of the Mets’ World Series run in 1986 and success over the next few seasons, Dykstra was traded to the Phillies along with Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel in 1989. His career in Philadelphia was a wild ride, sadly in more ways than one. He made the 1990 All-Star team, his first of three Summer Classics as a Phillie, batting .325 with 192 hits and 33 steals from the leadoff spot. The Dude could work a count with the best of them, earning a lot of free passes and wearing down opposing pitchers. He’ll best be remembered (on the field anyway) as a key member of the 1993 Macho Row team that went to the World Series, leading the league that year in runs, hits, and walks. He continued his tear in the playoffs. hitting at a .348/.500/.913 clip in the World Series, with four homers and eight RBI in six games.

Of course, Dykstra was also the drunk driver in a 1991 accident that would considerably injure both he and Darren Daulton, and we later found out that he, along with some of his Macho Row teammates, were using performance-enhancing drugs, with Dykstra ultimately being named in the Mitchell Report. Then there’s his whole post-career life, which includes being considered everything from a financial genius to a common criminal. Dykstra’s downfall is well-documented and will unfortunately be his most enduring legacy. But the Dude was a Phillies great, and those who watched the team in the early ‘90s will always remember his fearsome fearlessness in the box, his cheeks full of tobacco (and the stained centerfield carpet at the Vet), and the crazy passion with which he played the game. -Matt P.


(10) Dave Poulin

After a distinguished career at Notre Dame, Dave Poulin skated as a Flyer from 1982-1990, making his mark early and often in Orange and Black. Poulin scored on the first shift of his NHL career, and would tally 160 more as a Flyer, along with 233 assists. He served as the team’s captain for six seasons and lived up to the C on his chest as a great leader on the ice and in the locker room, despite being just 25 years of age at the start of his captaincy and having to immediately succeed Bobby Clarke in #16’s second stint as captain. As if that shadow weren’t large enough, he was also the captain of a Mike Keenan-coached team, a mantle that comes with fiercely voiced expectations, and later helped guide the team through the sudden and tragic death of goaltender Pelle Lindbergh. The Flyers won the Patrick Division and made it all the way to the Finals in Poulin's first season as captain. He battled through a series of significant injuries, but kept getting himself back into the lineup, earning his reputation as a team player with an intense drive to win. His breakaway goal against Quebec Nordiques goalie Mario Gosselin while the Flyers had two men in the box was one of the great moments in the franchise’s history, helping to win the decisive game six of the conference finals. The play highlighted Poulin’s abilities as a leader, a goal scorer, and an outstanding two-way player—something we’ve come to love and expect from our forwards in this town.

Not surprisingly, following the 1986-1987 season, Poulin was awarded the Selke Trophy, given annually to the best defensive forward in the game. Unfortunately, his Flyers career ended unceremoniously during a down time for the team, with Poulin being stripped of the captaincy midway through the 1989-1990 season, then traded to the Bruins. But his career in Philadelphia will be remembered for leadership and clutch playoff performance—everything we expect of a captain. -Matt P.

Who should advance to the next round?Market Research

Results So Far:

East Bracket:

(1) Julius Erving (91.8%) over (16) Von Hayes (8.2%)
(8) Simon Gagne (77.9%) over (9) Seth Joyner (22.1%)
(5) Eric Lindros (70.3%) over (12) Eric Allen (29.7%)
(4) Randall Cunningham (77.6%) over (13) Shane Victorino (23.4%)
(11) Cole Hamels (82.1%) over (6) Mark Recchi (17.9%)
(14) Tug McGraw (51.1%) over (3) Moses Malone (48.9%)
(7) Darren Daulton (74.0%) over (10) Andrew Toney (26.0%)
(2) Chase Utley (93.5%) over (15) Andre Waters (6.5%)

Midwest Bracket:

(1) Mark Howe (60.2%) over (16) David Akers (39.8%)
(9) Rod Brind'Amour (73.6%) over (8) Rick Tocchet (26.4%)
(5) Brian Westbrook (93.3%) over (12) Jayson Werth (6.7%)
(4) Mike Richards (85.1%) over (13) Trent Cole (14.9%)
(6) John LeClair (89.2%) over (11) Clyde Simmons (10.8%)
(3) Jimmy Rollins (75.8%) over (14) John Kruk (24.2%)

Report: Lonzo Ball, Sixers considering pre-draft workout

Report: Lonzo Ball, Sixers considering pre-draft workout

It may be time for Sixers fans to start setting money aside for some Big Baller Brand gear.

Sources tell ESPN's Chris Haynes that Lonzo Ball is considering working out for the Sixers, who hold the No. 3 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

"A final decision will be made once Ball's agent, Harrison Gaines, and Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo have had an extensive conversation centered on the identity of the team, sources told ESPN," Haynes writes.

Haynes also states that the main concern between Ball and the Sixers would be how the former UCLA point guard would fit in on a team that plans to feature 2016 No. 1 pick Ben Simmons as the primary ball handler.

This news comes after Ball declined to work out for the Boston Celtics, who own the top pick in June's draft.

"We don't deal with [Ball's camp] all that much," Celtics president Danny Ainge said on 98.5 The Sports Hub radio during The Toucher and Rich Show Thursday. "They didn't show up at the combine, which is very common — many of the top 10 or 15 players don't show up for the combine. ... We just tried to get him in for a workout and they politely said no."

Ball's father, LaVar, has previously stated several times that his son would only work out for the Lakers, who will select at No. 2. Plus, Lonzo Ball has said he would rather be drafted by the home state Lakers instead of going at the top of the draft.

"I'm a family dude," Ball said during an interview on ESPN last month. "All my family is in L.A. So, to be able to play in front of them, I think that would mean more to me."

Even with all the pre-draft posturing and the outspoken nature of his father, Ball has proven to be a top-tier talent. The 6-foot-6 Ball averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds as a freshman at UCLA as he was named a consensus first-team All-American.

We previously looked at how Ball would blend with the Sixers, which one analyst called a "perfect" fit.

The Sixers may be having similar thoughts.

500 plate appearances in, Tommy Joseph an above-average offensive 1B

500 plate appearances in, Tommy Joseph an above-average offensive 1B

BOX SCORE

Tommy Joseph is making the Phillies' situation at first base quite tricky.

Joseph on Thursday continued building on his red-hot month of May by going 2 for 5 with a game-tying homer in the seventh and a walk-off RBI single in the 11th inning of the Phillies' 2-1 win over the Rockies (see Instant Replay).

He's hit .329 in May with six doubles, six homers, 15 RBIs and a .657 slugging percentage. The only first basemen in the majors with a higher slugging percentage this month are Yonder Alonso, Justin Bour and Paul Goldschmidt.

That'll hold off the eye-popping production of Rhys Hoskins for now (see Future Phillies Report).

Extending it further, Joseph has played 148 career games with 499 plate appearances in the majors. That's just a bit less than a full season. He's hit .255 with an .804 OPS, 28 home runs and 23 doubles. He's provided above-average offensive production from first base.

Most Phillies fans know Joseph's story — big-time catching prospect acquired from the Giants in the 2012 Hunter Pence trade, series of concussions, position switch, hot start to 2016 at Triple A, promotion, production.

It was a long, winding road for Joseph, and when he was asked Thursday if he expected to be this solid 500 plate appearances into his major-league career, he brought up health.

"My goals were to be healthy, to be able to play in 162 games and that's all I really want to be able to do," Joseph said. "That's something I haven't been able to do in my career and it's something that I'm looking forward to. I'm looking forward to the challenge to go through the mental challenge and the physical challenge and I'd say that's my No. 1 goal, that's my only goal. Because if I'm able to stay healthy and stay on the field then I'm able to enjoy this great game and getting to share it with my teammates."

As for the May adjustments, Joseph said the standard things about communicating with hitting coach Matt Stairs, working in the cage and staying consistent with his approach. His timing wasn't there in April but it's certainly been there in May.

"There's no telling what clicks in a guy, it's just a matter of making a minor adjustment sometimes, possibly getting better pitches to hit," manager Pete Mackanin said. "There's no telling what it is, but he just looks a lot more comfortable at the plate."

Bullpen bouncing back
It's been completely overshadowed by the Phillies' recent skid but the bullpen has pitched very well of late. The unit that was overworked and criticized in April has combined to allow just two earned runs in its last 22 2/3 innings. On Thursday, six Phillies relievers — Edubray Ramos, Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris, Luis Garcia and Jeanmar Gomez — pitched six scoreless innings.

Neshek made the play of the day, diving and landing on his head to snag a pop-up bunt attempt before turning and firing to first base for the double play.

"I said early on that I think it's one of our strengths," Mackanin said of the bullpen. "And after today you can see why I have a lot of confidence in them."

Neshek, who has pitched in the postseason for four different teams, said Thursday that he thinks this is one of the best bullpens he's ever been around. It's not lip service, either. The unit was terrible in April, there's no getting around that. But some of that really did have to do with the overuse. Setup men were entering in the sixth inning. Opportunities for holds and saves were few and far between. Roles were not defined.

Stuff-wise, repertoire-wise, there is a lot to like about the Phillies' bullpen. Neris, Benoit and Neshek all offer vastly different looks and have track records of success.

While Neshek didn't totally endorse Benoit's comments from a few weeks ago that everything would settle down once the relievers knew specifically which inning they'd pitch, he did say that he too feels most comfortable coming in during a hold opportunity.

"I think my numbers show that I'm best in those situations, coming into a hold opportunity when we're ahead," Neshek said. "We haven't had much of those lately."

The horrendous start to the season for the Phillies' relievers will skew their stats all season long, but it's nice to see that at least one aspect of this team is starting to get into a groove.