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.

Matt Klentak: Trade was about doing the right thing for Carlos Ruiz

Matt Klentak: Trade was about doing the right thing for Carlos Ruiz

The Phillies’ decision to trade beloved catcher Carlos Ruiz to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday was ultimately made by Ruiz himself.

“This was about doing the right thing for Carlos because he has meant so much to this organization,” general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday night.

“Once Carlos cleared trade waivers last week, we started thinking about it. The Dodgers expressed some interest. Pete [Mackanin] and I talked to Carlos over the weekend. We discussed whether he wanted to finish the year with us or get the chance to chase another championship ring.

"He took a few days to discuss it with his family and got back to us Wednesday in Chicago and said that he'd be interested in exploring the opportunity and we finalized things with the Dodgers today.”

As a veteran of 10 seasons in the majors and five consecutive with the same team, Ruiz, 37, could have vetoed the deal. He chose to accept the deal because he wanted another chance to play in the postseason. He will serve as a backup to catcher Yasmani Grandal with the Dodgers, but is expected to get playing time. Ruiz's .368 on-base percentage from the right side of the plate could be a nice complement to the lefty-hitting Grandal.

The Phillies acquired the Dodgers’ backup catcher, veteran A.J. Ellis, minor-league pitching prospect Tommy Bergjans and a player to be named later in the deal. The Phils will not decide on the player to be named until after the minor-league season ends in mid-September. The Phils also sent an undisclosed amount of cash to the Dodgers. Ruiz is owed about $2 million in the form of salary and a contract buyout for 2017. Ellis, 35, is finishing up a one-year deal that pays him $4.5 million.

"This deal was not motivated by cash,” Klentak said. “It was about doing the right thing for Carlos, giving him the chance to get another ring.”

Klentak said he was "adamant" about getting Ellis back in the deal. The Phillies have two catching prospects in the upper minors in Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp, but the club would like to see them finish their minor-league seasons.

“Carlos has been such an important leader for so long, we knew we had to fill a role on and off the field,” Klentak said. “There is a reasonably good chance one of our young catching prospects will be in the big leagues before the season is over. Both our Double A and Triple A teams are in pennant races and we believe it's important for them to continue to get meaningful at-bats and play in meaningful games.”

Ellis is expected to join the Phillies in New York this weekend. It’s not easy going from a first-place team with legitimate World Series hopes to a rebuilding club.

“I talked to A.J. this afternoon,” Klentak said. “He is a true professional. It's never easy for a guy who has been in one place his whole career to be told out of the blue that it's time to go. A.J. is determined and excited about contributing to the Phillies.”

Bergjans, a 23-year-old right-hander, pitched at Haverford College. He was an eighth-round draft pick of the Dodgers in 2015 and is 3-13 with a 4.98 ERA for Single A Rancho Cucamonga this season. He has 133 strikeouts and just 29 walks in 130 innings.

"Tommy was an excellent college performer,” Klentak said. “He has controlled the strike zone well in a tough league. We're always looking to add starting pitching and we had a chance to do it. He strikes out better than a batter an inning and limits walks which was appealing.”

Sources: Phillies shake up amateur scouting department

Sources: Phillies shake up amateur scouting department

The Phillies have undergone massive changes on the field and off over the last couple of seasons.
 
Those changes have reached the club’s amateur scouting department.
 
According to major league sources, the club recently fired three longtime members of that department, including Mike Ledna, a high-ranking coordinator and national cross-checker. Ledna was the No. 2 man under former scouting boss Marti Wolever, who was let go two years ago and replaced by Johnny Almaraz.
 
Almaraz has overseen the last two drafts with a staff of mostly holdover scouts. He has clearly begun to put his stamp on the department with his recent shakeup. Ledna’s firing was preceded by the club’s decision to part with Steve Cohen and Paul Scott. They covered the talent-rich state of Texas.
 
It is not clear whether more changes on the scouting staff are coming. Over the last year or so, the Phillies have hired a new club president (Andy MacPhail), general manager (Matt Klentak) and manager (Pete Mackanin). The playing roster has also been churned, most recently with Carlos Ruiz being traded to the Dodgers on Thursday (see story). His parting leaves Ryan Howard as the lone member of the 2008 World Series championship team still with the club.

Soul's ArenaBowl chances hinge on slowing Rattlers' potent offense

Soul's ArenaBowl chances hinge on slowing Rattlers' potent offense

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The postseason accolades and awards are nice, but Soul defensive back Tracy Belton has a much higher goal.

Named as the Arena League Football Defensive Player of the Year during an awards ceremony Friday, Belton, considered the passion and spirit of the Soul defense, is more than comfortable putting aside individual honors and pushing his teammates to greater heights.

Reaching the ArenaBowl against the Arizona Rattlers Friday in the Gila River Arena (7 p.m./ESPN) the prize is out there, and Belton has his blinders firmly affixed. The focus and concentration is not in question, so the task ahead remains paramount.

“I want that ring, I need that jewelry,” Belton said during media day Friday. “Oh yeah, it would definitely be nice to get that ring.”

To obtain that shiny piece of hardware, Belton and his defensive teammates have the task of trying to shut down the most potent offense in the league.

Guided by quarterback Nick Davila, the AFL’s Most Valuable Player, the Rattlers are averaging 80.3 points per game. From an offensive standpoint, Arizona led the AFL in many offensive categories, including scoring, total offense, rushing, third-down conversion and fourth-down conversion.

To complement the offense, the Arizona defense ranked first in the league in defensive scoring defense, rushing defense, interceptions, turnover ratio and sacks allowed.

In a league which glorifies offense, the task ahead for the Soul defense is considered a challenge. After all, these teams each finished with a 13-3 mark and each defeated the other team on their home turf.

“To win this game, we hope they make mistakes,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said. “They are very explosive, but our secondary is playing at a high level. For us, we need to limit our mistakes.”

If Davila, who is the first player in AFL history to win the MVP award three times, is to be challenged, the Soul’s offense need to be proficient. Coming into the ArenaBowl, the Soul averaged 59.0 points per game. That was good enough for fourth in the league, but quarterback Dan Raudabaugh put up better numbers, in certain categories, than Davila.

In head-to-head competition, Raudabaugh tossed more touchdown passes (14 to 13), passed for more yards (541 to 431), completed more passes (48 to 32) and averaged more yards per game (270.5 to 215.5) through the air. Yet, the Rattlers’ offense is swift, quick, efficient and lethal.

“In this league, the quarterback is the most important position,” Davila said. “You have to make decisions quickly, and facing a defense like Philly, that’s the challenge for us. It’s about limiting mistakes. The team which makes fewer mistakes is the team that usually wins.”

Notes
Since the Phoenix Mercury are scheduled for a home game in Talking Stick Arena in downtown Phoenix Friday night, home site for the Rattlers, the title game was switched to home of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes. … Among league leaders this past season for the Soul, Belton was fourth in tackles, Jake Metz led in sacks, Darius Reynolds was sixth in receiving and Jeramie Richardson was second in rushing. … In comparison of QBs, Raudabaugh was second in the league in passing (101 TDs, 63.3 passing percentage) and Davila placed third (110 TD passes, 69.6 passing rating). … This is the third league title meeting between these two teams. The Soul dropped the previous two championship games, 72-54 in 2012 and 48-39 in 2013.