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?

Dave Zangaro predicts Eagles' 53-man roster 3.0

Dave Zangaro predicts Eagles' 53-man roster 3.0

The Eagles are down to one final preseason game before they’ll have to figure out their final 53-man roster. 

But no need to wait, I have it right here. Or at least what I think it will look like after watching all of OTAs, training camp and the most important preseason games. The team made it a little easier with several key cuts on Sunday (see story)

Let’s jump right in: 

Quarterback (3): Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Carson Wentz 
With apologies to the law firm of McLeod Bethel-Thompson, this was pretty easy. 

Running back (4): Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner, Wendell Smallwood
I toyed with the idea of taking Smallwood off the roster. I thought perhaps the team will try to stash him on IR — that quad could always act up again — and instead take Byron Marshall on the 53. But I just couldn’t pull the trigger. For now, the team will have to hope Mathews and Barner can carry the load while Smallwood gets caught up. 

Wide receiver (5): Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner
I’m taking only five because the unit hasn’t been very strong. The team’s decision to cut Rueben Randle and Chris Givens on Sunday wasn’t very surprising to me. They were on prove-it deals and had only proven what the Eagles probably feared. Instead, the rookie Turner is on the roster, which is an important message for the team: Effort matters. Still, expect the Eagles to keep a watchful eye on the waiver wire here.  

Tight end (4): Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton, Chris Pantale
Pantale isn’t nearly as good a tight end as the other three, but Doug Pederson seems determined to have him on the roster as a fullback and special teamer. Four tight ends and four running backs is tough to swallow in terms of roster spots available, but I think that’s the way it’s going. Look for Burton to have an increased role in the offense this year too. 

Offensive line (9): Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Allen Barbre, Stefen Wisniewski, Matt Tobin, Halapoulavaati Vaitai, Josh Andrews
I left Lane Johnson off this list because he’ll probably be suspended by the season opener and won’t count against the 53-man roster. Wisniewski will be the backup at all three interior line positions. After cutting Andrew Gardner on Sunday, the Eagles will keep Tobin and Andrews as reserve linemen. Andrews played guard on Saturday — likely a chance for him to prove he’s not just a center. Keep an eye on tight end-turned-tackle Dillon Gordon too. He has an outside chance to make the roster and a very good shot to stick on the practice squad; very athletic and versatile player. 

Defensive end (6): Connor Barwin, Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham, Steven Means, Marcus Smith, Bryan Braman
Six defensive ends is a lot, but at this point, Braman isn’t really a defensive end. He’s just a special teams ace. And with the rotation at DE, I think it’s more important to have ends than it is to have extra players in the secondary. If the team is able to trade either Means or Smith, then this number could be down to five. 

Defensive tackle (4): Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen, Taylor Hart
During training camp, Jim Schwartz said to not count out Allen and Hart just because they didn’t seem to be scheme fits. Both have proven him right this preseason. Sure, undrafted rookies Destiny Vaeao and Aziz Shittu have looked good, but they won’t be able to contribute as much this season as the veterans. At least one of those rookies should hold down a practice squad spot. Mike Martin was the third defensive tackle for a long time but was released on Sunday, after a few weeks of a knee injury. 

Linebacker (6): Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham, Stephen Tulloch, Najee Goode, Quintin Gause
Tulloch will be the primary backup at the MIKE, while Goode and Gause, the undrafted rookie from Rutgers, get the nods at the backup outside 'backer positions for now. But expect the Eagles to take a good look at the waiver wire for linebackers. 

Cornerback (5): Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll, Ron Brooks, Jalen Mills, Eric Rowe
If the Eagles keep five, I think these will be the five. Rookie C.J. Smith has been impressive but could use a year on the practice squad. I thought Denzel Rice, thanks to his special teams contributions, had an outside shot, but he was cut on Sunday. 

Safety (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Jaylen Watkins
A little light at safety, but Mills or Rowe could probably move back there if needed. Really, Jenkins and McLeod aren’t going to come off the field much as long as they’re healthy; there won’t be a rotation. If five safeties were to make the team, sixth-rounder Blake Countess would be the next one up. I think Ed Reynolds is a longer shot at this point.  

Specialists (3): Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos, Caleb Sturgis
After an impressive training camp, Sturgis takes down Cody Parkey for the kicker job. 

Practice squad: DT Destiney Vaeao, CB C.J. Smith, G Dillon Gordon, WR David Watford, WR Marcus Johnson, G Darrell Greene, LB Myke Tavarres, S Blake Countess, CB Aaron Grymes, RB Byron Marshall

Tales of Carlos Ruiz’s generosity still coming out of Phillies' clubhouse

Tales of Carlos Ruiz’s generosity still coming out of Phillies' clubhouse

NEW YORK — A.J. Ellis started (and starred in) his first game for the Phillies on Sunday afternoon (see game recap).
 
Carlos Ruiz has already been in the Dodgers’ lineup.
 
Initial reactions to the swap of backup catchers on Thursday has subsided, but there are still anecdotes worth sharing as it pertains to Ruiz’s impact in the Phillies’ clubhouse.
 
Here are a couple, compliments of Maikel Franco and Freddy Galvis.
 
According to Franco, Ruiz viewed it as his responsibility to help young Latin players learn the ropes in the big leagues.
 
When Franco, a native of the Dominican Republic, came to the big leagues for the first time two years ago, Ruiz, from Panama, immediately reached out to him. Franco was just 22. Ruiz was 35 and had eight major-league seasons on his résumé and a World Series ring on his finger.
 
The Phillies were on a road trip and Ruiz told Franco to meet him in the hotel lobby one morning. They got in a cab and ended up at a stylish mall where Ruiz proceeded to purchase Franco some road attire — a suit, some nice shirts and a couple of ties.
 
“It was a beautiful thing he did for me,” Franco said. “Chooch was so good to me. I will never forget that day.
 
“The day he got traded, I called him. He had trouble talking because he was emotional. He almost cried. That boy is different. He’s special.
 
“I still have the suit. It is even more special now.”
 
Galvis also felt the warmth of Ruiz’s generosity.
 
He unexpectedly made the big club out of spring training in 2012 as a fill-in for injured Chase Utley.
 
There’s a lot of learning in your first season in the majors. Ruiz became Galvis’ tour guide.
 
“Every time we went to a new ballpark, he made sure to go with me on the first day so I would know where the entrance was, how to get to the clubhouse, things like that,” Galvis said. “He was always looking out for you.”
 
When Galvis broke camp with the club, he told Galvis, ‘You’re in the major leagues, you have to look good.’
 
“He took me out and bought me four suits, eight shirts and eight ties,” Galvis said with wide eyes.
 
That’s better than Franco did.
 
“Well, I was the only young guy on the team at that time,” Galvis said. “Chooch was good to me. That’s why I was sad to see him go, but also happy because he has a chance to win another World Series.”
 
Galvis, from Venezuela, and Ruiz were like brothers. At the all-star break in 2015, Galvis traveled to Panama with Ruiz for a few days of R&R.
 
In January, Ruiz is planning to travel back to Panama. Ruiz and his wife are expecting a child.
 
“I am going to be the godfather,” Galvis said proudly.

Jahad Thomas to lead crowded Temple backfield

Jahad Thomas to lead crowded Temple backfield

The way Jahad Thomas remembers it, the football culture in Elizabeth, New Jersey, was vibrant. Friday night meant flocking to Williams Field to watch Elizabeth High School play. In Elizabeth, football dominates while basketball and baseball take a back seat.

Elizabeth has produced several NFL players, including former Eagles defensive coordinator and Jets head coach Todd Bowles, but two that came to mind for Thomas are linebacker Khaseem Greene and running back Raymond Graham, both of whom he watched growing up.

"You know, every Friday night, we looked forward to going to them games after Pop Warner practice," Thomas said. "And just knowing that we were going to be in those shoes one day … just knowing that we had some big shoes to fill, we just loved it. We grasped the opportunity and took advantage of it."

Thomas, Temple's top offensive weapon, finds himself in a position where the Owls will have to find someone to fill his shoes soon enough. Now, the senior tailback is among the Owls' core leadership group with three sophomore running backs behind him who are expected to receive their fair amount of touches in 2016.

Both Thomas and head coach Matt Rhule said Temple will be employing a rotation in the backfield with Thomas, Ryquell Armstead, Jager Gardner and David Hood. Rhule called Armstead a "co-starter," Hood a "jack-of-all-trades" and also praised Gardner.

"They are game-ready now," Rhule said of the sophomores. "They're battle-tested a little bit more, so we'll put them in there and not even think about it."

As for Thomas, the plan still is to use him as the feature back, but move him around the field to create mismatches and other creative ways to get him the ball in space. With the depth Temple has at running back, it allows offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas the opportunity to put Thomas in the slot and not lose much by not having him in the backfield.

For Thomas, who was hurt a bit last season, the committee also allows him a chance to make plays but also help preserve his body without having to carry the ball 20 times per game.

It'd be easy for Thomas to be selfish after rushing for 1,262 yards and 1,677 all-purpose yards, third most in program history, and scoring 19 total touchdowns last season. But with Rhule asking more from him in a leadership role, he's embracing guiding Armstead, Gardner and Hood and wants to set a standard for the trio to follow.

"Just being a mentor to them guys," Thomas said. "Just show them how guys before me showed me when they were here, just lead by example, show them what a leader is. I've been here four years. I've seen a lot, I've been through a lot here. Just try to be those guys' older brother. That's what I try to be for those guys."

Last season, while Thomas was the star of the group, Hood, a redshirt sophomore, did contribute when called upon. Against Tulane, a Temple blowout victory, the 5-foot-9 tailback ran for 47 yards on 16 carries, mainly in mop-up duty, while adding a 10-yard touchdown reception.

When Thomas, dealing with some bumps and bruises, struggled against Memphis, Rhule turned to the hot hand in Hood, who rewarded the head coach with a 14-61-1 day on the ground.

Hood described Temple's backfield as group that brings a little bit of everything. Both Armstead and Gardner are power backs, Hood said, while Thomas and himself can do it all.

"We just got a lot of guys who are ready to go attack," said Hood, who had 272 all-purpose yards and two total touchdowns in 2015. "We got a lot of depth, so there's always competition every day, just fighting for a spot. Everyone is talented and able to be a starter, so every day it's lace up and play your best to get the spot."

The Owls' offense lost a dimension with the loss of lead wideout Robby Anderson, who went undrafted but is currently enjoying a fine preseason with the New York Jets.

While the younger players such as Ventell Bryant and Adonis Jennings will be relied on to help out the passing attack, the running game is the heart of the offense Rhule wants to deploy. And the Owls know how dangerous they can be on the ground with what senior quarterback Phillip Walker, a longtime teammate of Thomas' dating to as far back as high school, called a "four-headed monster."

"At any moment, any one of them can have a big game," said Walker, who himself remains a key compenent of Temple's offense (see story). "Jager had a big game last year vs. SMU. Ryquell was just consistent each game every time he played last year. Jahad just had a great season. And David Hood stepped in when Jahad got hurt vs. Memphis and played well and blocked very well on third down.

"You don't know what you're going to get from those guys each week. You just come to expect that they're all going to play good. I think we have a good group of guys and they're all consistent."