Broken Twigs: Flyers 4th of July Drinking Game and FGSB Mailbag

Broken Twigs: Flyers 4th of July Drinking Game and FGSB Mailbag

Happy American St. Patrick’s Day!

On a day when we celebrate the independence of this fine nation by illegally shooting off rockets, I thought it would be appropriate to honor all of the Americans on the Flyers roster for the 13-14 season. The minor issue preventing me from doing this is that we don’t have any (just cause you're born in Phoenix doesn't mean you're AN ACTIVE AMERICAN).

But as this is a holiday steeped in history and tradition, why don’t we take a look back at some of the most prominent former Flyers that might be having one drink dressed as an American flag too many - just like you! And to honor the most American team in the most American city in the most American way possible, we’ve come up with a Flyers 4th of July Water Drinking Game. So, hit Circle Liquors (& Water), load the cooler with ice, and head off to the 18th street beach to celebrate the rock, eagle, flag and puck.

One drink: All-in-all, the Flyers have had American players come from 23 states. MN is in the lead with 12, MI has had 11, and MA has had 8 and 1 coked up Kevin Stevens zombie.

One drink: Obviously the most well-remembered American to don the Orange & Black is Johnny “.23” Leclair who played 649 games over 10 seasons in The Ill. His 643 points and 333 goals are far and away the most by any American to serve under our Supreme Leader Mister Ed Snider.

One drink: The ‘Merican with the most assists as a Flyer is Mark Howe, who represented the US in both the Olympics and Canada Cup. Howe was so GD American that when the Summit Series came calling in 1974 he lent his services to Canada just so he could get in on the Soviet bashing that was to take place. Note: A cornerstone of being American is hating everything that moshes down on your freedom, and the willingness to do anything, including whoring yourself out to Canada, to ensure continued life, liberty and the pursuit of a reality TV show. (As an aside, 12 Russians have played for the Flyers and none of them have won the Vezina during their tenure in Philadelphia.)

One drink: The only other American to reach the 500 game plateau besides Leclair and Howe is none other than current Flyers Manager General Paul “Homer, Not From the Simpsons” Holmgren. He also has over 1,200 PIM more than any other American Flyer, so even though he’s like 85 I’m pretty sure he could make me dance for him, if that's what he wanted.

Two drinks: This was slightly surprising: Matt Carle is the American with the 4th most games as a Flyer under his Tackla belt. Not so surprising is that JR has the 4th most points. (If you're young and dumb, before there was JVR there was just JR. Look it up.)

One drink: The most American American to ever have Americaed the ice in the winged P was, of course, New Jersey's Jim Dowd.

Four drinks: 4 Americans have tended goal for the Flyers (really). Boosh started 174 games, Bobby Esche had 128, Beezer was in between the pipes for 112, and Garth Snow and 3 goalies worth of equipment started 90 games.

Four drinks: American Flyers with the best names not previously mentioned are Dave Snuggerud, Aris Brimanis (Shaker Heights, OH baby!), Bob Corkum, and Moe Mantha.

Two drinks: First round selections RJ Umberger (VAN) and JVR were both dealt after notching about .50 points per game.

Three drinks: Players that just need to be mentioned because America: Joel Otto, Shjon Podein, and Paul Ranheim.

One drink, One pour: A player that also needs to be mentioned, but deserves a moment to himself  – Trent the Klatt, Breathe-Rite Spokesperson, MN Hockey God

One drink: I bet you didn’t know that Donald Brashear was born in Indiana and despite giving off an extremely French-Canadian vibe played in two World Championships for the USA in the late 90’s.

You win! Congratulations!!

And now your questions...

From Matt: What is the worst place for Briere to end up? Pittsburgh?
You have to look at this from a couple of angles:

1. Which actual jersey produces the most bile, just as a visceral reaction? For some reason seeing that #48 on the back of a Devils jersey, sometimes out on the ice on the with Patrick Elias and Danius Zubrus, makes me want to puke up the Turbo Rocket Popsicle I just ate. I hate the Devils, I hate their colors, I hate that they represent Newark, I hate their everything.

2. Where would it sting the most when he had a Merlot-covered hand in a Flyers loss? While all teams in the new Kyle Calder Memorial Division have an equal opportunity to steal 2 points from the Flyers during the season, for some reason picturing Danny Briere getting a couple GWG for the Rangers, celebrating with Marty Biron in MSG, just makes me want to diarrhea the Turbo Rocket Popsicle I just ate. I hate when the Rangers win, and I hate when an ex-Flyer tastes sweet, sweet revenge at our expense, but most of all I hate when people from New York are happy; and they would be happier than a subway rat finding a dead hobo if Briere was taking us down after we bought him out.

3. Where does he realistically have a chance of winning a Cup that would also kill me a little inside? If he were to join the Penguins the possibility of this happening would haunt me until it didn’t. Watching Richards, Carter, Gagne, Handzus, Emery, and Carcillo, all guys I liked, hoist the Cup as members of Western Conference teams over the past two seasons has been confusing enough. The thought of Briere, wearing The Pig Man’s old number, winning the Cup as a member of the Penguins makes me want to both ends the Turbo Rocket Popsicle I just ate.

From Ryan: Is it weird that McGinn and Newbury kicked the butt out of each other last year and might be teammates this year?
That was quite the fight:

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/hkmZPH331Bw?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0 service=generic_embed width=590 height=332]

I think when your job involves the possibility of punching someone in the face, and you live all year with that kind of mentality, you might not even really remember a specific fight as anything more than a win or loss. I think even if they did specifically remember this bout it would be because it was a solid fight, and that's something that seems to often cause a mutual respect to develop between the combatants. Now, the interesting relationship in my mind is going to be between Rinaldo and Newbury.

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/RY5BtDco2n4?hl=en_US&version=3&rel=0 service=generic_embed width=590 height=443]

These guys seemed seriously pissed at each other. Like, they may have said some things that you can't take back like I HATE YOUR COOKING or I THINK YOU DRINK TOO MUCH. The way Newbury went to gloat in Rinaldo’s face after scoring a game tying goal near the end of the third (not the time for it), and the jawing that goes on after, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some bad blood there. Obviously you put that stuff aside in the name of professionalism (read: money) but I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes at least one training camp bout to bury the hatchet.

From @NickDobo : Why is Braydon Coburn still a Flyer? Do you think they can win with him despite not having a no. 1 dman?

Watching Coburn skate is like watching a crew race in the Olympics – it’s just so smooth. That’s the main thing that frustrates me about Coburn. I don’t care that he doesn’t destroy people at 6’5 225 lbs. I don’t care that his “rough play” in the defensive zone seems forced and reluctant. What I do care about is that he makes so many forced break out passes, or blind wraparounds to where the winger should be, but never seems to be, when I honestly think that if he was a more confident player he would just take the puck from behind his own goal line and skate it out. For whatever reason I don’t think he has the confidence that his skill level should afford him. I think he’s still a Flyer because, as you can see by this week’s draft, the Flyers want big, fast defensemen. I think they can win without putting a Shea Weber or Chris Pronger ahead of him, but I don’t think playing 46% of his time with Grossmannnnnn and 33% with Gervais helped him last year.

If it has to be him or Meszaros that goes in The Name of Vinny I think most people would vote Big Mesz off the island. Unfortunately, and I say that because I think this will be a big year for him, we might find out what life without the longest tenured Flyer is like this fall.

From @vile_mennis: with all the french influence in the locker room, how soon until #hartnelldown is selling berets?

I've seen this a couple places and I have to tell you, The Flyers are actually pretty light in the Provence de Quebec department. As of this writing, and God knows whose rights they've traded for since I hit "publish," Vinny L. joins only Max Talbot in the "French-Canadian Dudes Likely To Be On The Opening Night Roster Club." With the log jam on D Bruno Gervais should be looking for Craigslist roommates in Glen Falls and it doesn't seem like Simon fits into the Flyers plans next year (although Jay Rosehill somehow does). Unless you count Coots, which I didn't earlier out of respect to Real Americans, but am here because no one is probably reading anymore and it suits my point, the Flyboys only have 2 guys who live for the poutine. At their core the Flyers are  a hybrid of different sorts - forwards brought to you by Ontario and back end sponsored by The Euro.

YinzTweet Breakdown of the Week

What this Twitter user, with over 60k followers to his 264 tweets, is saying is that Sidney Crosby, who he is some form of (like a Horcrux?) tried to enter the draft on Sunday in Newark  but was banned by NHL Security because “everybody” tried to draft him first overall. This is mildly confusing because:
a) Crosby’s contract with the Penguins runs through 2025, something I would think most GMs know
b) only the Avalanche had the first overall pick, so I imagine they received 29 offers from teams hoping to move up to the first spot because Crosby entered The Prudential Center
c) Unless eligibility rules have changed and you can draft players from other teams if they happen to be in the building where the draft is occurring, I believe that this is against the CBA.
d) Sidney Crosby was just walking around Newark looking for something to do on Sunday? Does he do that a lot? Is he a crackhead? Why wouldn't he have been with the Penguins executives if he wanted to go to the draft? Because they knew everyone was going to try to draft him?

NFL Notes: Texans place J.J. Watt on IR; Dez Bryant misses practice

NFL Notes: Texans place J.J. Watt on IR; Dez Bryant misses practice

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans placed star defensive end J.J. Watt on injured reserve on Wednesday.

The move came one day after a person familiar with Watt's condition told The Associated Press he had re-injured his back and that the Texans expect him to be sidelined until at least December — and possibly the entire season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hasn't discussed his injury.

Watt, who has won Defensive Player of the Year for the past two seasons, missed training camp and Houston's four preseason games after surgery in July to repair a herniated disk in his back. He started each of the team's three regular-season games and got hurt again Thursday against the Patriots.

The Texans signed veteran defensive end Antonio Smith to take his spot on the roster.

The team was still exploring the injury and it's unclear if it will require surgery.

It's a major blow for Houston, which selected Watt with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft. Watt has played 83 consecutive games for the Texans despite various injuries, including torn core muscles and a broken hand last season.

This was a tough offseason for Watt, who had surgery in January to repair five torn core muscles before going under the knife again in July to repair his back.

Watt, who led the NFL with 17 1/2 sacks last season, has 1 1/2 sacks this season to give him 76 for his career.

The 27-year-old is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and a four-time Pro Bowler. He's been a force since entering the league not only because of his pass-rushing prowess, but also because of his uncanny ability to swat down passes. He has 45 passes defended in his six-year career. He has forced 15 fumbles and recovered 13.

Cowboys: Dez Bryant (knee) misses practice
FRISCO, Texas — Dallas receiver Dez Bryant won't practice Wednesday after injuring his right knee in last week's win over Chicago.

Bryant injured the knee on his first catch early in the game but came back in the first quarter. He caught his first touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter of the 31-17 win.

Coach Jason Garrett said the team didn't have results of an MRI, and Bryant tweeted, "We'll find out today," to a fan who asked about his status.

Bryant missed seven games last year after breaking his foot in the opener. He also dealt with ankle injuries last season.

The Cowboys visit San Francisco on Sunday.

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Phillies-Braves 5 things: Ryan Howard's earned a job somewhere

Phillies-Braves 5 things: Ryan Howard's earned a job somewhere

Phillies (70-87) at Braves (64-92)
7:10 p.m. on CSN

The last two games for the Phillies have been about as ugly as it gets. After losing 17-0 on Sunday, they blew a six-run lead Tuesday as the bullpen continued to stumble toward the finish line.

1. No relief in sight
Pete Mackanin was peeved after last night's game and rightfully so. His relievers have an 8.03 ERA this month. Who can he even trust at this point?

The Phils have used 12 different relievers this month and only three — David Hernandez, Michael Mariot and Joely Rodriguez — have an ERA below 4.76. And even Hernandez, who has a 1.08 ERA in September, has allowed 16 baserunners in 8⅓ innings. 

Hector Neris, who Mackanin was saving last night for a save situation, is the most trustworthy option in the current bullpen. He's gotten outs most of the year, posting a 2.53 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with 100 strikeouts in 78⅓ innings. But even he has struggled lately, allowing runs in five of his last 10 appearances and walking 10 batters in his last 10 innings.

The Phillies will have money to spend this offseason and even if they don't spend it on A-list names, they could allocate some of it toward relievers who have better stuff than this bunch. Excluding closers like Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon, the free-agent reliever class includes decent veteran options like Brad Ziegler, Sergio Romo, Jim Johnson, Neftali Feliz, Fernando Rodney, Joe Smith and Brett Cecil, among others.

Giving one of those guys $6-8 million wouldn't stunt anyone else's development.

2. Stay a while
With the way these relievers have been batted around the last two games — 20 earned runs allowed in eight innings — the Phillies badly need some length out of Adam Morgan tonight. He hasn't given it to them in his last two starts, going just 9⅓ innings combined because of high pitch counts.

Morgan has been pretty good lately, though. Since returning to the majors on Aug. 14, he's allowed more than three runs only once in eight starts. He has a 3.86 ERA over that span, and if you exclude his poor outing against the Mets on Aug. 26, it's 2.92.

Morgan has missed more bats lately than we're accustomed to seeing. He matched a career-high with eight strikeouts in his last start, five starts after K'ing eight Mets. He's induced 25 swinging strikes in his last two starts. Over his last six outings, Morgan has a swinging strike rate of 12 percent; the MLB average for starting pitchers is 9.5 percent.

Morgan has faced the Braves twice this season. Both games were in May and he pitched well in each of them, allowing one run over seven innings and two over six. 

Morgan's season numbers are still ugly (2-10, 5.57 ERA), but it's pretty clear he's been a different pitcher since learning a two-seam fastball and coming back to the majors. Whether that holds up long-term remains to be seen, but Morgan is the rare Phillies pitcher finishing 2016 better than he started it.

3. Piece of the action
Ryan Howard continues to produce in his final days with the Phillies. He hit a grand slam last night for his 24th homer of the season and third in his last five games. 

Howard has homered 12 times since the All-Star break, equaling his output from the first half. And look at his numbers since July 7, a span of 44 games and 136 plate appearances: .266/.331/.621, 13 homers, 31 RBIs. He's locked in.

Howard can still do damage against right-handed pitching. He has 23 homers off of them in 313 plate appearances. Over the last 11 seasons, the only other player in baseball with that many homers off righties in so few plate appearances was Mark Teixeira in 2015. 

You mean to tell me an American League team can't use him next season in a role that only accentuates his strengths and mitigates his weaknesses?

Howard will play again tonight and likely in all of five of the Phils' remaining games. He's 3 for 4 with a homer off tonight's opponent, Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz.

4. Scouting Folty
Foltynewicz, a power-armed 24-year-old, was the Braves' return in the Evan Gattis-to-Houston trade prior to 2015. He's a classic case of a big, straight fastball not translating to success.

In 223⅔ innings in the majors, Foltynewicz has a 4.99 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. He's allowed 1.5 homers per nine innings (bad) and his opponents have hit .289.

Foltynewicz has a 7.62 ERA in three career meetings with the Phillies. They jumped him the last time they saw him, July 5, homering four times in his 5⅔ innings. 

Current Phillies are 15 for 43 (.396) off Foltynewicz. Howard, Tommy Joseph, Maikel Franco, Cody Asche and Peter Bourjos have all taken him deep.

Foltynewicz (8-5, 4.41) hasn't pitched since Sept. 12, when he allowed five runs on 11 hits to the Marlins in just 3⅔ innings.

5. This and that
• Roman Quinn's season is almost certainly over after he suffered an oblique strain last night. If that's the case, he'll finish his first taste of the majors with a .263/.373/.333 batting line, five steals and four doubles in 69 plate appearances. Quinn looks like a significant part of their future, but the Phillies really can't move other pieces around for him because of his lengthy injury history.

• Freddie Freeman in 17 games against the Phillies this season: .381 BA, five doubles, six homers, 11 RBIs, 17 runs, 10 walks. He's had a tremendous season in all aspects, but the most impressive stat might be that he's hitting .307 against righties and .307 against lefties. Prior to this season he was a .300 hitter vs. righties and a .260 hitter vs. lefties.

• Last night's two-hour rain delay probably cost Jerad Eickhoff a chance at reaching 200 innings. He's scheduled to start the final game of the season but would need to pitch 8⅔ innings to reach that plateau.

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