Roy Halladay on How to Talk to an Ump (and How Not to)

Roy Halladay on How to Talk to an Ump (and How Not to)

The last time Roy Halladay threw at Nationals Park in DC he wound up covered in icy champagne and beer as the Phillies celebrated their clinching of the 2010 NL East crown after Doc threw a complete game shutout.

That September victory was certainly not Doc's first successful outing against the Nationals. In fact, Doc was a fantastic 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA against them last season in which he allowed only one earned run and sixteen hits over three stars. He's also 8-1 against the Nats for his career.

Halladay hasn't missed a beat on the mound early in 2011, allowing one earned run in his first start against the Astros and keeping the Mets off the board through seven innings of work last Thursday. In what is perhaps the only minor knock on Doc early this season, Roy hasn't been able to pitch as deep into games as we become accustomed to seeing him do last year. Part of that is Charlie Manuel not wanting to push his ace too far in game No. 1 of 162, but it's also Roy being a little less efficient. At least that's what he'll tell you.

Doc was asked by Jayson Stark last Thursday following his seven innings of shutout work against the Mets if he's as dialed in as he's ever been. He admitted to feeling pretty good about his stuff, but wanted to be more efficient. This after throwing 21 first pitch strikes that day. That's like Jessica Biel telling you she thinks she's looking pretty good these days, but needs to do a few more butt crunches.

Doc did look a bit unhappy with home plate umpire Mike Everitt's strike zone on on a number of occasions against the Mets, and was seen chatting with him between innings. It's not the first time Roy has talked to an ump between innings, but what exactly is the conversation there?

"I'm just trying to find out, you know, really where he's at," Roy Halladay said. "I think for a pitcher it's always hard to see exactly where the balls are, you can't really tell if you're a couple inches on or off, up or down. Just trying to find out from him how close it was. Just trying to get a read really."

But isn't talking to an ump a tightrope walk that could get you in trouble?

"I think you get in trouble if you're asking in the middle of an inning, but most umpires are good if you wait until after the inning and you're not too rude about it," Roy said.

Doc also said that his status as one of the best pitchers in the game doesn't help him sway an ump into making any calls in his favor.

"I wish I could talk them into calling pitches for me but it's never worked," Doc said. "Really for me, I think it's two fold. One, obviously trying to find out where you're at, and two, I think anytime you can talk to those guys, they can give you feedback and at least you have an idea of where you're at and where they're at."

"Everybody I've ever talked to said to ignore them. Sometimes that's hard to do. I've had conversations with a few of them over the years. As long as you just establish you're trying to find out where you're at and not questioning your judgement, I think you're okay. As soon as you start telling them they're doing something wrong, that's when you start getting in trouble."

So all of you fans sitting out in the stands [yelling] at an ump for missing a call, Roy Halladay says you're doing it wrong.

*

Halladay (1-0, 0.69) vs. the evil John Lannan (1-0, 3.60) tonight, 7:05 scheduled start time from sunny Washington, DC.

Rating the Rumor: Eagles 'In on' Alshon Jeffery

Rating the Rumor: Eagles 'In on' Alshon Jeffery

Ian Rapoport for the NFL Network reports the Chicago Bears are not expected to place the franchise tag on free-agent wide receiver Alshon Jeffery before the March 1 deadline. Meanwhile, league sources previously told Jason La Canfora for CBS Sports that they “anticipate” the Eagles “being in on” Jeffery should the 2013 Pro Bowler become accessible.

Put two and two together, and there are folks around the NFL who believe the Eagles will pursue Jeffery when free agency opens on March 9.

Yet while receiver is one of the Eagles’ two greatest needs this offseason, whether they should make a run at Jeffery and whether they can afford him might be two different answers. Getting another weapon for Carson Wentz seems like it will be the top priority in free agency, but doing so will not be cheap, and the club is up against the salary cap.

There’s little doubt the Eagles will reach out to Jeffery. Aside from the organization being known for always doing its due diligence with players, the 27-year-old is hands down the best option on the market. Over the 2013 and ’14 seasons, Jeffery averaged 87 receptions, 1,277 yards and 8.5 touchdowns per year. He’s dealt with injuries and a terrible supporting cast in the two years since, yet still managed to go over 800 yards receiving in each.

Jeffery has some baggage, specifically the four-game suspension for violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy in 2016. Despite everything, only nine active players are averaging more than his 72.2 yards per game, and only 10 better than 15.0 yards per reception. The talent is undeniable, and with a quarterback of Wentz’s caliber throwing him the football, the sky is the limit.

The Eagles absolutely should pursue Jeffery. Actually signing him is where this begins to get tricky.

For starters, the Eagles are currently sitting at an estimated $9.69 million under the cap, according to OverTheCap.com. Only three teams are in worse shape. There may be more moves to free up space in the coming days, which will help, although even if they get that figure closer to $25 million through a series of trades and releases, the numbers are tight.

Jeffery collected $14.6 million under the franchise tag in ’16, and while he might not see quite that much annually on his next contract, it’s not out of line with expectations. Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant are all making $14 million or more per season. Jeffery may not have the body of work of those players, but as the top receiver available, the market will value him and be willing to pay as such.

That $25 million the Eagles can theoretically free up might be the best case scenario. It likely won’t be that, which means signing Jeffery would take up practically all of their cap space for ’17. Obviously, there are ways to structure a contract to push money into future years, and the case could be made the Eagles don’t need to sign any other free agents.

No matter how you slice it, there are some logistical concerns here. Until the Eagles shed some of those contracts and we can see what they’re working with, it’s difficult to envision how they win a bidding war against suitors with upwards of $50, $60, even $70 million to spend.

It’s not so much a question of interest for the Eagles. It’s whether or not signing Jeffery is realistic in the first place.

Rating the Rumor: We’ll see

Flyers-Avalanche 5 things: Final showing before trade deadline

Flyers-Avalanche 5 things: Final showing before trade deadline

Flyers (28-26-7) vs. Avalanche (17-40-3)
7 p.m. on CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 6:30

A day before the NHL trade deadline, the Flyers welcome the hapless Colorado Avalanche to the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.

Here are five things to know for the matchup:

1. Final hurrah?
Prior to Saturday's outdoor game in Pittsburgh, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall admitted his team's final two contests before deadline day could have some impact on decisions.

The Flyers lost to the Penguins at Heinz Field, 4-2, and now host the NHL's worst club in the Avalanche. It could be the final game before the Flyers look a bit different the remaining 20 contests of the regular season.

The Flyers enter Tuesday six points behind the Maple Leafs for the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot. At 63 points, they also trail the Islanders (68), Panthers (66) and Lightning (64), with the Sabres (62) and Devils (62) breathing down their necks.

With three expiring contracts on defense and young blueliners at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, Hextall has pieces to sell and reasons to do it. Defensemen Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz are set to be unrestricted free agents this offseason. Goalies Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth can also hit the UFA market come July 1, as can role forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde.

The Flyers are clearly not in a win-now mode with the way things have gone recently, so dealing parts, clearing space and acquiring draft picks would certainly help expedite the road to contention.

2. Avoid an Avalanche
This really is a game that would be inexcusable for the Flyers to lose.

They have one last chance to make an impression on their GM.

They're in serious need of a win to keep postseason hopes flickering.

And they're on home ice against a team that has won six games over the last 2½ months.

"Everybody is frustrated right now," Claude Giroux said Monday. "We can't be pointing fingers.
 
"Everybody needs to be a little bit better and give a little more and go one game at a time here. [Tuesday], we're back in front of our fans. We've got to get this win, we know that. We've just got to keep at it."

The Avalanche are in the NHL cellar with 37 points. The next closest team is the Coyotes at 51 points. Colorado is dead last in goals per game (2.02) and goals allowed per game (3.30), and has also been interested in the Flyers as a trade partner, a source told CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio.

3. Different defense
Del Zotto should get a chance to showcase himself Tuesday night.

That's because defenseman Brandon Manning will serve the first game of a two-game suspension handed down on Monday for his hit on Penguins forward Jake Guentzel during Saturday's loss.

Del Zotto, who will likely enter the lineup for Manning, has played just 32 games this season because of injury and healthy scratches. The 26-year-old also understands that trade rumors swirl this time of year.

"It happens every year," Del Zotto said last week. "It's not like it’s the first time. I've been traded before. It is what it is. It's a business.

"You realize that pretty early in your career. I understand where I'm at as far as my contract, being a UFA this summer."

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: Giroux has two goals in his last 26 games. However, he has six goals in nine career games against the Avalanche, who are giving them up in bunches this season. You'd have to think this is a game in which the captain could break out a bit.

Avalanche: Matt Duchene has been the subject of trade rumors and leads Colorado in goals with 16. The 26-year-old center has also played well against the Flyers in his career, posting seven points (four goals, three assists) in nine matchups.

5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Steve Mason is expected to start for the first time since Feb. 9. He's played just twice since Jan. 31, allowing eight combined goals in two losses. Mason is 16-17-6 with a 2.90 goals-against average and .900 save percentage.

• Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard was scratched last Saturday because of a stiff neck. If he can't go, 27-year-old rookie Jeremy Smith will make his fourth career start.

• The Flyers have lost eight of their last 11 games.

• The Flyers have scored the NHL's fewest goals (68) since Dec. 5.