So who's responsible for the new Ryan Howard at the dish? Turns out the Phillies slugger worked on his hitting with Barry Bonds over the winter. Say what you want about Bonds, the man, but the hitter (even before the roids) was always great. Howard has moved closer to the plate and he's showing more discipline in the early goings. The result: he's off to a torrid pace, while striking out only four times these first seven games. [Philly.com]
Speaking of Bonds, while the future Hall of Famer has been out of baseball for the past three seasons, is it possible he's searching for a way back... as a coach? [San Francisco Chronicle]
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In other baseball news, the Mets have quickly found themselves in the NL East basement after the first week (2-4). ESPN's Ian O'Connor asked Johan Santana after Sunday's loss to the Nationals whether the ace regretted joining New York three years ago. He probably should, but they paid him an awful lot of money to land there. [ESPN]
And across leagues, are some Tampa Bay Rays fans finally requesting they put an end to the cowbell? They're getting letters from potential ticket buyers who are refusing to attend games due to the disturbance. As long as the Rays aren't in the World Series this year, I suppose it doesn't really concern us either way. [St. Petersburg Times via Deadspin]
An open letter to Phillies fans about their treatment of Cole Hamels, who was booed after allowing a home run against Josh Willingham in the second inning yesterday. Despite his 2-0 start, people are quickly jumping on Cole for two mediocre outings so far. Maybe we should give the guy some space though. We're not that far removed from his World Series MVP performance, folks. [Crashburn Alley]
Former Flyers right winger Rick Tocchet was fired as head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning in just his second season. After taking over 16 games into the '08-'09 campaign, Tampa finished 19-33-14 under Tocchet, and this season improved to 34-36-12. Obviously we're not close to the situation down there, but it seems unfair based on the amount of improvement over a short period of time. Maybe they want to make a closer evaluation of that roster. [Sporting News]
Reminder: the Eagles actually won 11 games last season, though it's hard to tell based on reactions alone. When reviewing the holes on the current roster, it turns out they aren't necessarily all that gaping. Two points I would disagree on though: one, Patterson and Bunkley's weakness as pass rushers creates more of a need for a rusher opposite Trent Cole, and two, I'm not prepared to write off a playoff team's Super Bowl chances in April just because they are young. [Iggles Blog]
At halftime of the Sixers 107-105 loss, their final home game of the season and much anticipated Fan Appreciation Night, Ed Snider spoke on the condition of the Sixers, telling reporters the future is still bright. The owner was non-committal about head coach Eddie Jordan's future, however he did single out a player who disappointed. “I feel like we regressed this year and a lot of players regressed, Thaddeus Young and others." I actually don't disagree one bit.
Random thought: the Sixers ought to consider moving Fan Appreciation Night from the final home game of the year. The club just finished 27-53, their worst result since '96-'97. Aside from being plain awful to watch, when this club is not post-season bound, it lends an air of unpredictability to the event. Look no further than the infamous Fan Night in 2005, when Chris Webber and Allen Iverson couldn't be bothered to show up on time.
I can think of at least one day that would've been better suited for the promotion this season: the first home game, when this team still had a future.
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