12 Days of Philly Christmas: Day 3, Win Free Darko's Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac

12 Days of Philly Christmas: Day 3, Win Free Darko's Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac

To be eligible for our 12 Days of Philly Christmas
drawing to win a copy of Free Darko's book, simply leave an intelligent comment on this
post and be sure to enter your real email address OR send a tweet on
Twitter with the following message, "@The700Level I'd like to win Free Darko's Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac, Please! T7Lxmas 3:
http://tinyurl.com/T7Lxmas3"
Feel free to do both if you'd like.


Today, we're not only giving away a copy of the amazing FreeDarko presents The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac, but we also have a chat we did with one of the main brains behind the amazing creation. Nathaniel Friedman of Free Darko and the Sporting Blog among other places answers our questions.

Enrico: Perhaps, if you like, you could briefly tell us about your Philly ties?

Nathaniel Friedman aka Bethlehem Shoals: Myself, Big Baby (illustrator/designer), and
Silverbird5000 (stats) all went to Haverford College, and lived in
Philly after graduating. I was in the area a grand total of eight
years. Also, my mother grew up in Bucks County, and a couple of my
aunts and uncles stayed in the area, so I was around there a lot when I
was younger.

E: One
of the main points of the FD Manifesto states "We find rooting for the
home team spiritually and emotionally limiting." Do you think this
holds true in all cities, specifically in a very loyal sports city like
Philadelphia?

Shoals: I'd say a lot of the Manifesto—which is a
stark, go-for-broke version of what I actually believe on the
subject—was a direct result of, or reaction to, my time in
Philadelphia, around Philly fans and teams, etc. In fact, that's
probably true for a lot of what I believe about sports. If you took the
book, and completely inverted every single word, you might have the
perfect Philly fan's Bible.

E: One of my favorite sections was the "jerseys
for every occasion." (Example: at a wedding the best man could rock a
Barkley Rockets jersey and the ring bearer could sport a Iverson
Sixers jersey.) Now how about Christmas eve dinner at Aunt Marie's?

Shoals: Do they make James Naismith masks?

E: For
the few kids out there who haven't yet seen the book, Gilbert Arenas
writes the foreword and sets up the book as being about the antics of
NBA players. When it comes to appreciating a players game and antics on
an individual level, Allen Iverson immediately comes to mind. Do you
think if you guys did this book 5-7 years ago, Bubba Chuck would have
warranted a more in-depth chapter instead of a Newport News mayoral
candidacy and a glossary item?

Shoals: We've been asked this a lot. The reason
we didn't do an Iverson section, or anything specifically
Jordan-centric, is because they're too important for that little space.
One or both of them are mentioned in like half the essays. And I
actually think Iverson warrants more consideration now than he would've
5-7 years ago, since we've really gotten a chance to see how wide and
varied his influence has been. Also, perspective has allowed some of
the more visceral feelings for and against him to cool down.

E: This
book is pretty amazing and must have taken quite a while to put
together. Did you guys have any crazy ideas that seemed great in theory
but you just couldn't translate to paper? Maybe something that hit the
cutting room floor?

Shoals: There's a lot of stuff we discussed that we're
hoping to use in the future, so I don't want to spill the beans on
anything. But I will say that there was a comic strip that ended up
falling victim to time constraints, an oral history section
(AI-related, actually) that didn't end up coming together, and some
stats about degree of difficulty that we didn't have the necessary data
for.

E: Speedy
Claxton got a shout out in the amazing 2000 NBA Draft section. He used
to live down the street from me in Havertown. Or maybe his mother did.
I'm not sure. But we always saw his sick Escalade. That was neat.

Shoals: I always liked that he and Lamar Odom were best
friends. And wondered if he ever considered reliniquishing the nickname
"Speedy" when he joined the Sixers, since AI was so obviously speedier.
He should've; sometimes I felt like it was tongue-in-cheek.

E: Regarding
Kobe, I couldn't agree more with the ambivalence factor. I often hate
him but then he's so good that it's hard not to love watching him. The
illustration accompanying his chapter is perfect. Did the art typically
come after the text or what kind of process did you guys use to come up
with some of the imagery?

Shoals: It depended. In the case of the Kobe one, I
had a clear idea of what I wanted and told Jacob (BBB). In other cases,
he'd just work off of the essay himself. Then sometimes, we'd go back
and forth on what visual motifs would both make sense and not look
stupid before he actually sat down and tried to draw something.

E: Finally,
some simple hoops talk. How bout a little Sixers analysis. Can Iguodala
and Thad Young coexist on a successful team in the East? Is there any
hope for Sammy D.? What are your thoughts on the future of the Sixers?

Shoals: I think they should trade Dalembert,
play Brand at center, Young at PF, and Iggy at the small forward. Then
get someone to reliably hit threes at shooting guard. . . as part of
what you get back for Dalemebert. That would solve everything, right?

E: Uh, I don't know how to solve this team.

Thanks, to Shoals for taking the time to answer our questions and you should all really go buy this book right now.

Instant Replay: Pirates 5, Phillies 4

Instant Replay: Pirates 5, Phillies 4

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Pinch hitter Adam Frazier’s first career home run, a leadoff shot in the seventh inning off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos, lifted the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 5-4 victory over the Phillies on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.

It was also the first home run allowed by Ramos (1-1) in 14 career relief appearances.

The Pirates tied it at 4-4 an inning earlier when Matt Joyce hit a two-run home run off starter Vince Velasquez.

The Phillies wound up losing two of three in the series after rookie right-hander Zach Eflin pitched a three-hit shutout on Friday night. They are 3-7 since the All-Star break to fall 10 games under .500 at 45-55.

Cesar Hernandez had three hits for the Phillies while Andres Blanco and Odubel Herrera hit solo home runs off Pirates rookie right-hander Jameson Taillon.

Pirates left fielder Starling Marte also had three hits. Neftali Feliz (4-0) pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the win and Mark Melancon worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 30th save.

Blanco suffered a fractured left index finger in the fifth inning when the veteran utility infielder was spiked on the hand by Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco in a play at third base. He is expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday (see story).

Blanco was making his second straight start at third in place of Maikel Franco, who was out with a sore left wrist after being hit by a pitch Friday from Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole.

Franco took over at third for Blanco, who is hitting .271 with four homers in 75 games this season.

Meanwhile, catcher Cameron Rupp was not in the lineup after being hit in the left ear flap of his batting helmet on Saturday by a pitch from Pirates rookie right-hander Tyler Glasnow. Carlos Ruiz started behind the plate.

Rupp passed Major League Baseball’s concussion protocol both Saturday and Sunday and will likely play Monday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Marlins at Miami.

The game was delayed for one hour and 32 minutes in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Starting pitching report
Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, though he did not factor in the decision. He allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings while walking four and striking out five.

Velasquez threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

At the plate
Hernandez was moved to the leadoff spot of the batting order to replace slumping right fielder Peter Bourjos and responded by going 3 for 5 with a triple.

Herrera’s home run led off the sixth and was his 11th of the season, giving the Phillies a short-lived 4-2 lead. Herrera went 7 for 13 in the series after going 4 for 41 in his previous 11 games.

First baseman Ryan Howard went 2 for 3, lifting his batting average to .166, before being pinch hit for in the eighth inning.

Left fielder Cody Asche was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, the last coming to end the eighth inning with two runners on base and the Phillies trailing by a run.

Up next
The Phillies open a three-game series against the Marlins on Monday night at Miami.

Monday night --- RHP Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 3.84) vs. RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 7.98)

Tuesday night --- RHP Jerad Eickhoff (6-11, 3.98) vs. RHP Tom Koehler (7-8, 4.42)

Wednesday afternoon --- RHP Zach Eflin (3-3, 3.40) vs. LHP Adam Conley (6-5, 3.58)

Crash kills Nebraska punter, former Michigan State punter

usa-sam-foltz.jpg
USA Today Images

Crash kills Nebraska punter, former Michigan State punter

WAUKESHA, Wis. -- Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler have died in a car crash in Wisconsin after working at a kicking clinic, a sheriff's department official said Sunday. LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye was injured in the crash.

Waukesha County Sheriff's Lt. Thom Moerman said speed was likely a factor in the single-vehicle crash that happened around 11:45 p.m. Saturday.

The 24-year-old Sadler, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was driving. He and 22-year-old Foltz, of Greeley, Nebraska, both died at the scene. Delahoussaye, 21 of New Iberia, Louisiana, was also a passenger. He was treated at Waukesha Memorial Hospital and released. A statement from LSU said his injuries were minor and that he was scheduled to return home Monday.

Moerman said in a statement that Sadler lost control on the wet pavement, left the roadway and struck a tree.

The University of Nebraska said Sunday the team will skip this week's planned Big Ten media days in Chicago because of Foltz's death. Officials with Michigan State didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Foltz was a three-year starter for the Nebraska team and last year he was named the Big Ten's punter of the year. Foltz graduated from Nebraska with a degree in agronomy in May. He led the Big Ten in punting last year at 44.2 yards per kick and ranked fifth in school history (42.6).

Nebraska Coach Mike Riley said Foltz was respected on the team, and had a positive influence on everyone he interacted with.

"The young men in our football program are hurting but I know that their strength of character and resolve will bring us together and we will honor Sam every day moving forward," Riley said.

Several hundred friends and teammates of Foltz gathered outside Memorial Stadium in Lincoln Sunday afternoon to remember him. Several players talked about how hard Foltz' worked and his faith in God.

"Sam was a kind and thoughtful young man who was a leader on the playing field, in the classroom, and in his community," Nebraska Chancellor Ronnie D. Green said in a statement. "He was an exemplary student-athlete who grew as a player and as a person on his path to recent completion of his degree in agronomy from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and anyone who knew him can testify that he had an enduring influence on those around him."

Sadler was a four-year starter and four-time academic All-American at Michigan State. He finished his college playing career after the 2014 season. He drew something of a cult following during his playing days because of his sense of humor and wit.

"I just asked my waitress what sport she thought I played. Her answer? Disk golf. Time to reevaluate my life," Sadler once tweeted.

He helped get his own mock Heisman Trophy candidacy rolling one season by pushing the hashtag (hash)sadler4heisman. He would also regularly exchange funny lines on Twitter with the (at)FauxPelini account, a popular parody of the former Nebraska and current Youngstown State coach Bo Pelini.

"Mike impacted so many people not only as a football player, but also from an academic standpoint and in the community as well," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. "The world has lost a rising star who dreamed big and was accomplishing those dreams, one after another. He was one of those people that brightened your day."

Dan Tracy with Kohl's Kicking said both Sadler and Foltz had been working at a weekend clinic at the camp in Wisconsin. Tracy said the camp ended early Sunday after an announcement about the deaths.

A statement from kicking camp director Jamie Kohl said the staff was mourning with the players' families and football programs.

"We mourn today with all of the people who were better men and women for knowing Sam and Mike," Kohl said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with them."

Andres Blanco fractures left index finger, likely heading to 15-day DL

Andres Blanco fractures left index finger, likely heading to 15-day DL

PITTSBURGH --- Utility infielder Andres Blanco suffered a fractured left index finger in the fifth inning of Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates and is expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday.

Blanco was injured when Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco slid into his hand during a play at third base. Blanco was making his second straight start at third in place of Maikel Franco, who was out with a sore left wrist after being hit by a pitch Friday from Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole.

Franco took over at third for Blanco, who hit a solo home run off Pirates rookie right-hander Jameson Taillon in the first inning. Blanco is hitting .271 with four homers in 75 games this season.

Meanwhile, catcher Cameron Rupp was not in the lineup after being hit in the left ear flap of his batting helmet on Saturday by a pitch from Pirates rookie right-hander Tyler Glasnow. Carlos Ruiz started behind the plate.

Rupp passed Major League Baseball’s concussion protocol both Saturday and Sunday.

"If you get hit in the head, you probably want to take a little bit more precaution than if it was another part of your body,” Rupp said.