2006 in Philly Sports

2006 in Philly Sports

We thought we'd take a look back at some of the Philly sports highlights from 2006 as well as some of our favorite posts from The 700 Level.  I hope you enjoy and thanks for reading.

January

09 - You can buy options on Super Bowl tickets.
10 - The 700 Level was the featured blog at Philly Future.
11 - Caught a Flyers game in East Rutherford, NJ.
14 - Villanova's basketball squad was starting to get praise as a legit contender.
15 - Terrell Owens and his "Get your popcorn ready" first enter our vernacular.  What was Boost Mobile thinking?
17 - The Phillies franchise was voted to be among the most miserable in baseball.
20 - We wished for Freddie Mitchell's safe return to Philadelphia as a member of the Philadelphia Soul.  Our dreams have not come true, yet.
21 - We had Rocky fever way before any sane individual.
24 - Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders and Poon.
25 - Remember Lee Nailon?  He was on the Sixers.  He also got arrested.
26 - Frank Stallone was in town.
30 - Mike Bartrum got a free vacation to Hawaii to play in the Pro Bowl.
31 - Bode Miller and skiing drunk was all the rage.  We interviewed the Birdman, our local expert on both skiing and boozing, to get his take on the topic.

February

01 - We kind of live blogged the Duke/Boston College game where BC gave Duke a scare.
02 - Donovan McNabb comes out with the whole black-on-black crime thing regarding Terrell Owens.  We're just glad all that is over.
03 - We attended our first ever Wing Bowl.  It lived up to the drunken hype.
04 - We kind of live blogged Super Bowl XL.  The wings were the highlight of the day.
07 - Former Flyer Rick Tochett gets busted for Operation Slapshot, a gambling ring.  That was a fun story.
10 - It's no surprise really that one of the most popular search results that brings people to The 700 Level is Tyra Banks and Chris Webber.
10 - We caught Olympic fever and were ready for the Flying Tomato.
11 - Pictures from the final scenes of Rocky Balboa at the top of the Art Museum.
13 - I proclaim that Kyle Korver sucks and add in some fine photoshop work I did.
13 - McNabb doesn't need to wait in security lines.
14 - Delonte West is a love machine and Allen Iverson is from Uranus.
16 - One of our great discoveries this past year was a video of Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir shopping in Turino, Italy with Philadelphia's own Vai Sikahema.
19 - Andre Iguodala puts down one of the sickest off the backboard dunks at the All Star game but is robbed of the title.
28 - Iverson got shafted from the Olympic team and Philly fans were pretty upset about it.

March

02 - Stephen A. Smith couldn't get anybody to come see his show so somebody in his staff emails me to encourage people to go.
03 - After watching Allen Iverson drop 47 on Gilbert Arenas I write my Internet famous post titled, "Don't Trade Allen Iverson, Ever."  Complete with sick Allen Iverson crossover.
06 - We bet you click on the next link because it had Oscars content but more importantly a picture of Selma Hayek.
08 - World Baseball Classic!
10 - Perhaps the most visited page ever at The 700 Level.  Video of Villanova star Allan Ray in what looked like his eye getting popped out.  He ended up okay, but Yahoo picked this up on their buzz list.
14 - Terrell Owens finally is officially released from the Philadelphia Eagles.
16 - And days after Terrell Owens departs, enter the guy who turned the Eagles season into a success.  Jeff Garcia signed on as backup QB for the Birds.
17 - Jeff Garcia's wife-to-be is a Playboy Playmate.
17 - The first move in to glorious Eagles victories against the Cowboys this season.  Much to the dismay of the Big Tuna, Terrell Owens signs with Dallas.  He also debuted a horrible rap song on his website dissing Philly.
20 - We booked our tickets to the Sweet 16 and loved ourselves some Craig Smith.  Our trip to Minneapolis didn't turn out as well as we would have liked with Villanova beating my Boston College squad.
22 - Mike Missanelli getting fired from 610 WIP turned into the most commented on post here at the level.
28 - The Phillie Phanatic gets painted red.
29 - Geno's cheesesteaks gets officially booted from the ball park in Philly.

April

02 - We started the Rollins Watch 2006 with Jimmy Rollins chasing Joe DiMaggio's record.  We made our first ever opening day appearance to see Jimmy reach 37 games.
06 - I was interviewed and a nice little post about The 700 Level appeared in the Philadelphia METRO.
06 - Rollins streak was ended at 38.
08 - Ryan Howard has a big stick.
10 - Perhaps one of the wackier stories of the year; Darren Daulton proves that baseball players are a strange bunch with his metaphysical mumbojumbo.
12 - Nothing like a toddler learning how to do an Eagles chant... at a Phillies game no less.
17 - The Phanatic shows that big can be sexy.
18 - The Sixers ended their season with little to show for it.  I wondered if it marked the end of Allen in Philly?
22 - Our love affair with Sal Fasano started and wouldn't stop... until he got traded of course.
23 - Our love affair with Ryan Howard, which we hope lasts a life time, kept on trucking with a 496 foot bomb.

24 - Sal's Pals speak out and give the rest of the world a look into their cult.

May

01 - Remember the Eagles drafted that skier Jeremy Bloom?  That was fun, right?  And man, we thought Bunkley was going to be a beast.
02 - We thought Barry Bonds coming to Philly would be our moment to shine.  We had a good view of his ass, but the signage to our left was truly spectacular.  More on Bonds trip to Philly.
10 - Billy Wagner returned to Philly as a Met, but didn't get into the game.
11 - Iverson got deposed.  He wasn't happy.
11 - Perhaps the single most memorable play of the year: Aaron Rowand with "The Catch" video.  He ended up looking like he went the distance with Apollo Creed.
14 - Jeremy Bloom met President Bush and tried to give him a McNabb jersey.  Didn't work so well.
18 - Phillies road trips are fun.  I caught them play the Brewers in Milwaukee.
23 - Alex Gonzalez retired! Thank goodness.
24 - After 5 hours and 22 minutes the Phillies couldn't pull out a 16 inning game against the Mets.
25  - 'Area Athlete Named to Advisory Board of New Indoor Swim Park:' Mike Mamula!
29 - The New York Post does a feature on Sal Fasano and Alex Rodriguez.  I get interviewed by the Post for some Philly perspective.

June

01 - I catch World Cup fever.

Last night's Union game against Orlando was pretty crazy

052516_union_orlando_hl_webrefframe_1.jpg

Last night's Union game against Orlando was pretty crazy

When the Union played in Orlando last year, the game was a relatively dull scoreless draw.

And for most of Wednesday’s game between the two teams in the same venue, it looked like history was going to repeat itself.

That’s when the Kaká hit the fan.

Here’s a quick recap of all the craziness that happened in the second half of the if-you-turned-away-you-probably-missed-something2-2 draw:

  • Tranquillo Barnetta, inspired by a story I wrote about him a day earlier, scored his second goal this season -- both of which have come against Orlando

  • Warren Creavalle was taken down from behind in the box but no penalty kick was given and no red card was shown, leading head coach Jim Curtin to call the sequence “embarrassing”

  • Orlando City responded with two rapid-fire semi-controversial goals, scoring the first after Philly goalie Andre Blake was wiped out and the second on a shot Blake appeared to make the save on but the ref ruled was in (where’s goal-line technology when you need it??)

  • Ken Tribbett, the pride of Drexel, scored his first MLS goal after early collecting his first MLS assist -- after only being called into the game because of an injury to Josh Yaro

  • Orlando’s David Mateos was shown a straight red card in the final minute but Barnetta couldn’t convert a close-range free kick to win it

  • Fabinho killed a guy with a trident

To think all but one of those things happened in one half is pretty wild -- and that doesn’t even factor in several other cards, calls, no-calls and a pretty cool set piece the Union ran.


Oh, and almost lost in all the commotion, was the fact that Andre Blake gave us another memorable moment in a season full of them when he saved a first-half penalty kick from freaking Kaká.


In the end, Curtin couldn’t get over some of the refereeing decisions, particularly the no-call on Creavalle -- which, as you can see, was in fact quite bad.


Still, the fact that the Union escaped a tough place like Orlando despite the ref and while playing without three of their top playmakers (Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueria and Ilsinho) is quite a nice achievement that you would never have seen with past Philly teams.

It also moved their unbeaten streak to six heading into Saturday’s showdown between the first-place team in the East (your Philadelphia Union) and the first-place team in the West (the Colorado Rapids) -- who you might recall were two of the worst teams in MLS last season.

See ya in the rockies.

Opportunity with Eagles, talk with Le'Veon Bell has Kenjon Barner hungry

052516-reich-comments-webbestvideo3_1920x1080_692990531733.jpg

Opportunity with Eagles, talk with Le'Veon Bell has Kenjon Barner hungry

Kenjon Barner is hungry, literally and figuratively.

After spending 2014 on the Eagles' practice squad and getting just 37 offensive touches in a crowded backfield last season, the running back is looking to carve out a bigger role with the Birds in 2016. DeMarco Murray is gone, and with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles away from the team earlier this week at practice, it was Barner getting the first-team reps. 

Mathews missed Tuesday's practice with an illness, and Sproles hasn't reported to the Eagles' voluntary workouts, which become mandatory from June 7-9.

So Barner, the 27-year-old RB Chip Kelly coached in college and traded for prior to the 2014 season, has had some opportunities to impress new head coach Doug Pederson. And Barner wants to make clear that despite his Oregon ties — he's one of three remaining players from Oregon that Kelly brought to the Eagles, along with Josh Huff and Taylor Hart — he's not only here because of the coach he outlasted.

"It's a great opportunity," Barner said, "just a fresh start. Go out there and continue to show what you can do, continue to make plays and constantly have your name in the coaches' minds.

"For anybody who says, 'Oh, that's Chip Kelly's guy,' no, I'm a football player. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't a football player. I wouldn't have gotten drafted if I wasn't a football player.

"It's not a chip on my shoulder. Yes I went to Oregon, yes I played under Chip, I love Chip to death, but I'm a football player. I create my own lane. I'm not gonna let anybody place me in a box and tell me what I am."

At 5-9/195, Barner doesn't fit perfectly into the box of a classic bell cow back. He's more of a Sproles-lite, a shifty back who can catch passes out of the backfield. He showed that last preseason, when he rushed 13 times for 91 yards and a touchdown and also caught four passes for 72 yards, including a 50-yarder.

That kind of backfield versatility is necessary in the offense Pederson brings over from the Chiefs, the offense Andy Reid ran for many years here. In Kansas City, Pederson and Reid utilized their running backs often in the passing game, just as they did with the Eagles. Even when Jamaal Charles went down for the year after five games last season, that trend continued with Charcandrick West catching 20 passes and DeAnthony Thomas getting some grabs out of the backfield.

"I fit whatever role they want me to fit," Barner said. "Whether it's catching balls out of the backfield or whatever it is. Jamaal Charles is a great back and if I can do half of what he's done throughout his career I'd be lucky."

Barner has patiently waited three years for this kind of opportunity. Mathews and Sproles are expected to be the Eagles' top-two ball-carriers, but both are getting older and neither is an every-down back, Mathews because of all the injuries and Sproles because he's more of a situational matchup nightmare. So even with the addition of fifth-round pick Wendell Smallwood, there should be some opportunities for Barner, who has done all he can to further his own development.

"Just older, more mature, more professional than I've been in the past," Barner said. "Understanding the offense, really going home and studying, really knowing what my responsibility is.

"For me, man, it's just about being mature, growing. I feel like if you're not growing, what are you doing? You constantly have to grow, have to evolve, not only physically but mentally. That's kind of where I'm at.

"I did take it seriously last year, but having the opportunity to go through what I've been through, go home and be with my family, have guys like (Chris) Maragos, I talk to him on a daily basis about football, about life. Sproles constantly being in my ear still — he may not be here but he's still in my ear. It's a lot of things coming together."

One change Barner made this offseason was to his diet. It came from a conversation with the NFL's best all-around running back, Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell.

"I had a talk with Le'Veon Bell back in January," Barner said. "I spoke with him and we were just talking about eating. I'm the type of guy that if I see somebody and I see a change in them and I see it's positive, I have no problem telling you, 'I like what you're doing, tell me how you did it.' I reached out to him because I've been seeing pictures of him and I've seen his body change. We came in the draft together and he's always been a big guy, but he hasn't been that cut, that ripped. So I reached out to him like, 'Yo, what did you do, what's your diet, what have you been taking, what are you doing and what are you not doing?' Just really trying to pick his brain. 

"I'm trying to be great. And if I see you doing something that's pushing you to the next level I'm gonna ask you how you did it. 

"I'm not gonna say I've been perfect. I'm just really big on sweets, I have a sweet tooth like no other and I can thank my dad for that — growing up he always had candy and snacks by his bed so I would always sneak in his room and eat them. That's the hardest thing, that's like my kryptonite."

Sweets weren't a part of the Chip Kelly regimen, that's for sure. But with the coach who brought Barner to the Eagles now in San Francisco, it's more on the players to keep themselves on track, both in the kitchen and with their sleep schedule.

"It's different, a lot slower, obviously," Barner said of practices under Pederson. "Is that good? I mean, you don't get as tired. But you're not in as good of shape as you were in Chip's offense. Chip's offense, you have to be in tip-top shape. So we're still getting there, still certain times when we're tired, times when you shouldn't be tired. So you have to do a lot of the conditioning on your own outside of here.

"Today, [Pederson] asked us who's getting eight hours of sleep. Everybody cares about it because you want your players to be at their best and you can't be at your best if you're not getting enough sleep, (but they're) two completely different people."

Let the bidding begin for Mike Trout, whom Angels must move at some point

052516-phillies-resilience-webrefframe_1.jpg

Let the bidding begin for Mike Trout, whom Angels must move at some point

Yes, the Angels are going to trade Mike Trout.

It may not happen this year or even next year, but eventually Angels GM Billy Eppler will accept the reality of the bleak future ahead for his franchise. Albert Pujols, who has five years and $140 million remaining on his contract after this season, has taken the baton from Ryan Howard for the worst contract in baseball. Good luck getting out of that deal. Other than the increasingly rare Pujols hot streak, they have nobody equipped to protect Trout in the lineup. 

The starting rotation has been patched together, with both Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney going down with elbow injuries early this season. Unless one of those guys comes back healthy, there isn’t a No. 1 or No. 2 starter on the roster. Theoretically, the Angels will have money to spend on the free-agent market with both C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver coming off the books after the season. But with Andrew Cashner and Jeremy Hellickson the likely headliners on the pitching market, a quick fix for the rotation seems unlikely. 

The 2017 free-agent market for hitters isn’t much better. Should Yoenis Cespedes opt out of his contract with the Mets, he could provide a potent presence behind Trout, but there will be stiff competition for his services and he’ll be in line for a massive payday. 

Toronto’s once-dynamic duo of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista should be available, but both appear to be trending downward. Giving either player a long-term deal is a risky investment at best. 

Building around the young players in the organization isn’t a viable option. By all accounts, the Angels have the worst farm system in baseball. You can check out those rankings here or here. This is a franchise in dire need of an infusion of young talent. 

We’ve seen the Phillies in a similar situation with Cole Hamels. Once there was no way forward to win with him, the only reasonable option was to trade him. Even the most ardent Hamels supporters have to admit now that moving him made sense.  

Yes, Trout is only 24 years old and is the best all-around player in baseball. The Angels should certainly explore every possible option to build a winner around the South Jersey native, who is in the second season of a six-year deal that will pay him $119 million from 2017 through 2020. But the franchise is trending in the wrong direction. If they cannot honestly see a path to contending with him, they should look to move him and jump-start a rebuild. There will be no shortage of suitors. 

So ignore the notion that you never trade an “inner-circle Hall of Famer,” which Trout certainly is on track to become. He is signed through 2019 and the clock is ticking. 

Let the bidding begin.