Boosh on a Forgettable Day, Phillies' Record April, Akers' Numbered Days, Union Atop the Table

Boosh on a Forgettable Day, Phillies' Record April, Akers' Numbered Days, Union Atop the Table

Three Philly teams were playing home games yesterday afternoon, two of which ended in good results, while the other was something of an absolute travesty. Unfortunately, the latter was the one that mattered most. Here's a look at some of the storylines out of those games, as well as the Eagles draft weekend.

Let's start it off with a quotable that pretty much sums up the Flyers' 7-3 loss, even it misleadingly seems to harness the speaker with more than his fair share of the blame. Here's Brian Boucher when asked about the specifics of two of the goals he allowed:

“I let in so many I can’t remember the third one, I can’t recall right now."

Boosh would also say he didn't think anyone played particularly well, which is a more apt representation of the game than hanging it on the goaltending, which of course could have been better as well. Four goalie changes in eight games is embarrassing no matter who's at fault. [Mike Morreale, NHL.com]

So the Eagles drafted a kicker with a fourth round pick yesterday. Hoooo boy... Much, much more after the jump.

First, does this mean David Akers is gone? I'd have to presume so, although Reuben Frank quotes both Andy Reid and Akers' agent as being non-committal. Along with Akers' contract situation and a rocky end to the season between the longest tenured Eagle and the front office, it's hard to imagine the Eagles opening camp with this proven veteran competing against the guy they used a valuable pick to select. If ever there was a Reid quote I don't buy, it's this one when asked about the impact of selecting Alex Henery on Akers' future as an Eagle:

“Well listen, I haven’t even gone there with [general manager] Howie [Roseman],” Reid said. “But I will tell you that [Henery] is a good kicker. And so we’ll talk about that as we go here.”

That's either complete bullshit or an indication that the Eagles throw darts to make their draft choices. We've heard some of the former from the head coach in recent years, and the latter is seemingly far from true whether you agree with their choices or not. If anything, they are very deliberate, and I respect that about their drafts. I also don't really care that Reid isn't forthcoming with his quotes on what the team's intentions are with its as-yet unsigned players. It does them no good to show all their cards, and it's foolish (although somewhat understandable) for us to expect them to. But I couldn't help but laugh when I saw this one. So uh... before the draft, you didn't talk to the GM about which players you want to keep and which you want to replace? Come on Big Red...

Read more on the Akers story here, but I leave you with one thought that's troubled me more than simply losing Akers, a guy I like a lot and wish would retire as an Eagle. What are the chances this guy ends up kicking field goals for a division rival next season?

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Now some more positive news... The Phillies beat the Mets again, earning a series win before tonight's Sunday Night Baseball matchup. Roy Halladay was brilliant, throwing his first 18 pitches for strikes (most by a pitcher to start a game since 1991) and efficiently working his way through yet another complete game. It's kinda funny how much hemming and hawing there is about the Phillies this season, what's wrong with them, etc... Looking back from the vantage of the first day of May, the Phillies just posted their highest April win total in franchise history. Matt Gelb has a look at yesterday's game and how it was representative of the entire month for the Phils. [Inquirer] [Other Phils April highlights]

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In the aftermath of drafts, we're often treated to a lot of stories written by guys who have never seen their subject play a snap. That's fine, understandable given how much college football they'd have to watch in order to be experts, all while covering their NFL beats. But I still love reading up on the new guys, both the scouting reports of their on-field play, and the looks at their background stories, which give a little color to the new guys. Like how the babyfaced Danny Watkins has a nasty streak that includes chopping people in the jugular, and Temple product Jaiquawn Jarrett's mom—a Rikers Island corrections officer—may be to Birds games what Allen Iverson's mom was to the Sixers

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The Union earned a 1-0 win the hard way yesterday down at PPL Park, playing much of the match with only 10 men. I'll have more to say on this game and the team in a later post, but here's the winner off the foot of Sebastien Le Toux, as shot from The River End:

Did you happen to hear the discussion in the beginning? Sent in by Level reader and commenter Muscles, who had to cut the video short because he's one of the guys who starts the rollout after a goal. The Union currently lead the MLS in points, and despite the lack of scoring, it's looking like it's no fluke.

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First Pippa steals the show at the Royal Wedding, and now the Phanatic: 

Via the incomparable Mr. Todd Zolecki.

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone.

Best of MLB: Stephen Strasburg wins 14th as Nationals down Indians

Best of MLB: Stephen Strasburg wins 14th as Nationals down Indians

CLEVELAND -- Stephen Strasburg shut down Cleveland for seven innings and bounced back from his only loss this season, leading the Washington Nationals to a 4-1 win over the Indians on Wednesday.

Strasburg (14-1) began the season with 13 straight wins before he was beaten by the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 21. The powerful right-hander shook off that blemish, holding the Indians to only three hits as the Nationals recovered after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth and losing on Tuesday night.

Washington rookie Trea Turner drove in three runs and Daniel Murphy hit his 20th homer off Carlos Carrasco (7-4), who nearly matched Strasburg but was done in by one bad inning.

Nationals reliever Blake Treinen stopped Cleveland's threat in the ninth, getting a game-ending double play for his major league save.

Strasburg walked one and struck out seven (see full recap)

Cardinals snap Familia's saves streak, rally past Mets 5-4
NEW YORK -- Yadier Molina and pinch-hitter Kolten Wong each stroked an RBI double in the ninth inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals ended Jeurys Familia's streak of 52 straight saves in rallying past the New York Mets 5-4 on Wednesday night.

Yoenis Cespedes hit a go-ahead homer off Adam Wainwright to cap a three-run comeback in the seventh that gave the Mets a 4-3 lead. But then Familia, who hadn't blown a regular-season save opportunity since July 30 last year, finally faltered.

Jedd Gyorko drew a one-out walk in the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Randal Grichuk. Molina hit the next pitch to deep center field, and Grichuk scored standing up to tie it.

Molina was thrown out at third by Familia (2-2) on pinch-hitter Jeremy Hazelbaker's comebacker, but Hazelbaker stole second and scored when Wong lined a double just inside the left-field line.

Familia's franchise-record saves streak was the third-longest in major league history behind Tom Gordon (54) and Eric Gagne (84).

Jonathan Broxton (3-2) tossed a scoreless eighth and Seung Hwan Oh got three quick outs for his sixth save (see full recap)

Padres hit 3 HRs to extend streak, beat Blue Jays 8-4
TORONTO -- Adam Rosales hit a two-run home run, Alex Dickerson and Brett Wallace each hit solo shots and the San Diego Padres beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-4 on Wednesday, avoiding a three-game sweep.

San Diego extended its club-record streak of games with at least one home run to 25. It's the longest run since the 2002 Texas Rangers set a major league record by homering in 27 straight.

Luis Perdomo (5-4) allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings to win back-to-back starts.

Wallace reached base three times. He was hit by a pitch and scored on Rosales' homer in the third, connected off R.A. Dickey in the fifth and hit an RBI single off Joe Biagini in the sixth.

Dickerson homered for the fourth time in four games when he connected off Franklin Morales in the eighth. He is first Padres rookie to homer in four straight games.

Dickey (7-12) allowed seven runs, six earned, and four hits in 5 2-3 innings. The knuckleballer is winless in three starts and has allowed six home runs in that span (see full recap).

Eric Rowe explains 'hiccups,' ready for fresh start in pads

Eric Rowe explains 'hiccups,' ready for fresh start in pads

Earlier this week, Doug Pederson admitted cornerback Eric Rowe had some “hiccups” during the spring, and seemed to indicate they stemmed from learning a new defense. 

Rowe says that wasn’t the problem at all.

“It wasn’t the new defense that was giving me whatever hiccups [Pederson] was talking about,” Rowe said on Wednesday as he reported for his second training camp (see Day 3 observations). “It was just, I was having trouble breaking on top of the routes, specifically the curl routes. But fade ball, deep post, digs, I didn’t have any trouble there. It was just curl routes. I just knew I had to work on it after the OTAs.”

Rowe, 23, said the problem was technical; he just needed to get his feet down quicker.

Whatever the problem, whatever the hiccups, it seems as though Rowe’s standing within the organization and on the depth chart isn’t what it once was.

Many thought he would be a starter in 2016, like he was at the end of 2015, but that wasn’t the way things were in the spring. Instead, Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks took those positions, and it looks like Nolan Carroll, returning from an injury, and rookie Jalen Mills, who hasn’t yet practiced in pads, are vying for playing time, too.

In back-to-back days earlier this week, Pederson and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz failed to mention Rowe’s name while listing players at the cornerback spot. Coincidental omissions or a vocalized unofficial depth chart?

Rowe could possibly go from starter to deep bench player, but that’s not what he’s planning on.

“I know I had a little ups and downs in OTAs, but now the pads are coming on,” Rowe said. “I feel like it’s a fresh start for me and I’m just ready to get out here.”

Pads go on Saturday.

“Right now, I think I still stand in a good position (with the team),” Rowe said. “Football is about the game with pads on. Now we’re really about to see in a couple days when we put the pads on.”

Small in stature, Wendell Smallwood likes to play big

Small in stature, Wendell Smallwood likes to play big

He looks like a small back. He's built like a small back. He wants to play like a big back.

Wendell Smallwood, trying to make the Eagles as a reserve tailback, stands 5-foot-10, 208 pounds, but he said he’s got a surprise for defenders that think he’s one of those itty-bitty backs that dances around looking pretty … until they get hit.

“I think that’s what most people expect,” he said Tuesday. “But when I actually put my head down and fight for those extra yards and get under guys, guys start to say, ‘Hey!’ They start to feel me a little bit.

“So I definitely think that started to show my last year in college, and I started becoming more of an inside zone type of runner instead of an outside runner.”

None of this should be a surprise considering Smallwood’s position coach is Duce Staley, who during his 10-year NFL career was much more interested in running over people than around them.

Smallwood is nowhere near as big as Staley, who played at about 235 to 240. But that’s the kind of back he wants to be.

“It’s definitely important to me and it’s definitely what Duce wants me to do,” Smallwood said. “He wants me to hit the holes and hit ‘em hard and that’s the reason he got me here.

“Duce, he doesn’t like small backs. He doesn’t. I don’t think he believes in those guys. He was a big boy. Running dudes over left and right. That’s what he wants.”

Smallwood played sparingly as a freshman at West Virginia, shared time with Rushel Shell as a sophomore, then took over last year when he led the Big 12 with 1,519 rushing yards and added nine touchdowns, 26 catches and a 6.4 rushing average.

The Eagles plucked him out of Morgantown in the fifth round, and in an uncertain running back picture, he’s got a realistic chance to not just make the team but also play a role.

Just don’t expect him to play like a typical guy his size.

“I don’t consider myself a small back anymore,” he said. “People have always said that and I kind of started to agree, but then I looked at some of the guys who are around and I’m not a small back at all.

“I’m not little and the running style I like to do is suited for a big back, and my catching kind of throws people off. I definitely think I’m a mixture of both.”

Smallwood ranked 13th in Division I in rushing yards last year, and his 6.4 average was tied for ninth among backs with at least 200 carries.

He said a lot of defenders expect him to be a finesse back, a guy who likes to juke safeties and linebackers instead of bowling them over.

“Get me going downhill and I’ll get you what I can get you,” he said. “A lot of [defenders] kind of take the easy route and think it’s going to be easy and then the rest of the game they’re going low and trying to take my legs out.”

Look at the Eagles’ running back picture.

The starter is Ryan Mathews, who is talented but injury-prone. The backup right now probably is Kenjon Barner, who has 34 career carries. Then there’s Darren Sproles, whose 3.8 average last year was his lowest since 2009 and second lowest of his 11-year career.

With a strong camp, there’s no reason Smallwood can’t work himself into that picture.

The last frontier for the Northern Delaware native is blitz pickup. Something he was never asked to do at WVU.

“I don’t think I did basically any in college,” he said. “They didn’t ask me to block at all. I was mainly running routes.

“But as soon as I got here, Duce emphasized, ‘If you want to get on the field, you’re going to block. If you’re not going to block, you’re not going to play.'”

Staley’s No. 22 wasn’t available, but Smallwood is happy to wear the jersey number of another one of his favorite backs growing up, Correll Buckhalter’s No. 28, who he seems quite similar to.

It’s not fair to compare Smallwood to Staley, Buckhalter, Brian Westbrook or any other former Eagles back until the pads go on and we see what he’s really made of.

But Smallwood said he’s thrilled Staley is his coach and said there’s nobody he’d rather be playing for.

“I think he’s a great fit for me as a coach,” Smallwood said. “I need a kind of guy who drives me, tough guy, who’s not going to let up, who’s going to keep his foot on my back. I definitely need that kind of coaching.

“Just being around him growing up and seeing what he did when he was here and how he runs and him being one of my favorite backs, I was kind of star-struck to be around him, and now he’s my coach. It’s definitely a great situation for me.”