Geno Malkin's Aversion to Popcorn, Scottie's Girl, JVR for J-Bo? and Lupul's Reality TV Appearance

Geno Malkin's Aversion to Popcorn, Scottie's Girl, JVR for J-Bo? and Lupul's Reality TV Appearance


Just my luck that as soon as I leave to spend a few days in the desert on a horse with no name, key members of the Flyers Rat Pack resumed their blog-worthy behavior.

In reverse order of the title, the most fun story to hit my inbox this week is Joffrey Lupul's brief appearance on the VH1 celeb-reality show "Sober House." If you haven't seen this gleeful trainwreck of fallen stars, it's the follow-up to Dr. Drew's "Celebrity Rehab," which was noteworthy for Steven Adler's drug-addled rambles, Special Agent Angelo Pappas' constant altered—yet not chemically—state, and the holy-shit hotness of a model turned addict (shocking twist!) named Amber Smith.

As related by the Puck Father, from whom we jacked the above pic, Smith went to a party with another hockey player named Kip Brennan, and the storyline is that once he abandoned her (remember, hockey players can do whatever they want and women will still love them), the old urges kicked in for Amber. She hit up the booze, and made the casual acquintence of one Mr. Joffrey Lupul, the swift opportunist who swooped in when Brennan was off doing god knows what. Apparently Amber still left with her date, but give Loops an gold star for the effort.

Here's a video of the segment.


Not to be outdone, Scottie Upshall's apparently in a relationship with a looker by the name of Melanie Collins, a tidbit we learned from the site Busted Coverage. The two spent the All-Star Break vacationing in the Virgin Islands. That's her on the right. Well done, sir. 

Next up, Wyshynski also posted a great interview with the NHL's leading scorer, Evgeni Malkin of the Pens. One of the questions PD's Russian correspondent asked pertained to the survey ESPN.com recently conducted, in which Philly was said to have the most disruptive fans:

Not long ago ESPN had a survey where 24% of players surveyed said that the Philadelphia Flyers have the most disruptive fans. Have you ever been, even a little, afraid of Flyers fans? 

I
agree with the players [who named Flyers fans]. I can't say that I am
afraid of them though. Although I do remember one game in Philadelphia
last year when we had popcorn thrown to our bench by Flyers' fans,
other garbage. Thank god there were no bottles thrown. And their fans
also jump on the glass behind the bench, or behind the glass. People
don't behave that good there. I have never seen anything like this
anywhere. And this survey showed that other players noticed it too. I
am surprised by those fans. But I understand that they are just
supporting their team. 


Geno apparently missed Lupul getting hit by a pizza box after scoring the back-breaking game winner in Washington, as well as a fan throwing a plastic beer bottle at Jeff Carter after the game. But yeah, that stuff only happens in Philly.

Do you just see them as being strange? Or do they unsettle you or put you under pressure in any way?

No,
they don't put me under pressure. It's just not very nice when there is
popcorn thrown on the bench, and it doesn't feel good to go out and
play hockey after such things. No pressure, but such things are not
enjoyable and are unfounded.

Listen everyone. Let's try to knock it off with the tomfoolery behind the bench. It's not very nice to play hockey amidst such conditions for the Malkins of the world.

All joking aside, Malkin's an amazing talent who is great for the sport, and Puck Daddy really put together an interesting and in-depth Q&A here. Head over to Yahoo for the rest of the interview, which also discusses the effects of the hit Mike Richards put on Geno in last season's conference finals, perceptions of Sidney Crosby, and the $1,000 Malkin put the board to motivate his teammates.

What Would Bouwmeester Cost?
Finally (via The Fourth Period) the Ottawa Sun quotes league sources as saying the Flyers remain interested in beefing up their blue line by adding Jay Bouwmeester of the Panthers. The price would obviously be high, and the sources referenced a possible package of James vanRiemsdyk and Scott Hartnell, again mentioning Paul Holmgren's displeasure over JVR's play at World Juniors. That'd be a hell of a price to pay for J-Bo, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, but any deal for him would likely involve at least one of the Flyers' many talented forwards. They simply won't have room for everyone, and they're looking thinner every day on defense. How would you react to that trade, were it to go down?

MLB Notes: Angels closer Huston Street has season-ending surgery

MLB Notes: Angels closer Huston Street has season-ending surgery

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Los Angeles Angels closer Huston Street has undergone season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

Street had surgery to repair a torn meniscus Wednesday in his native Texas.

The surgery puts an end to the least impressive season of Street's 12-year career. The three-time All-Star is 3-2 with a career-low nine saves and a 6.45 ERA.

Street hasn't pitched since July 31. He missed significant playing time earlier this season with an oblique muscle injury.

Street is expected to be healthy for next season. He is under contract for $9 million in 2017.

He is the sixth player to undergo season-ending surgery for the Angels (52-73), who are on pace for their worst season in 23 years.

Nationals: Katie Ledecky to throw out 1st pitch
WASHINGTON -- Swimmer Katie Ledecky is throwing out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday night as the Washington Nationals host the Baltimore Orioles in game three of a four-game series.

The 19-year-old Bethesda native returned from the games in Rio with four golds and a silver medal. It will be the third time Ledecky has thrown out the first pitch at Nationals Park.

The Nationals have lost the first two games of the Beltway rivalry series.

Ledecky set world records in winning the 400m freestyle and 800m freestyle. She also won gold in the 200m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay, and silver in the 4x100m freestyle.

She will be a freshman at Stanford in the fall.

Phillies beat writer promises to 'eat his shoe' if Tim Tebow ever plays in MLB

Phillies beat writer promises to 'eat his shoe' if Tim Tebow ever plays in MLB

The Philadelphia Phillies are among the teams who will go give Tim Tebow a look during his baseball workout for roughly 20 MLB teams.

That's according to Phillies beat writer Jim Salisbury who writes that the chances of Tebow making it to Major League Baseball as "extremely thin."

Then, when appearing on Philly Sports Talk on Tuesday evening, he tossed in the added bonus of shoe eating.

"I think this is more of a due dillegence thing just to say that you were there," Salisbury told Michael Barkann. "This guy hasn't played baseball in more than a decade. Before that it wasn't like he was a standout. He was more of a tools plalyer, a good athlete."

"If he ever plays a day in the big leagues I will eat my shoe," Salisbury said.

I think it's safe to say we are all pulling really hard for Timmy to make it now.

Phillies-White Sox 5 things: Can Phils pound James Shields like rest of MLB?

Phillies-White Sox 5 things: Can Phils pound James Shields like rest of MLB?

Phillies (58-68) at White Sox (60-64)
8:10 p.m. on CSN

The Phillies' brief two-game series with the White Sox ends tonight at U.S. Cellular Field. The Phils were pounded, 9-1, on Tuesday as they lost for the fifth time in seven games. They've been outscored 50-20 in those seven games.

Let's take a look at the series finale:

1. Get 'em through six
The Phillies turn to Jerad Eickhoff, who has been the most consistent of their many young right-handers. Eickhoff is 8-12 with a 3.91 ERA, and he's pitched at least six innings in 16 of his 25 starts.

That's notable at the moment because the Phillies aren't getting much length from any of their other young starters. Jake Thompson has averaged fewer than five innings in his four starts. Vince Velasquez is averaging 5.1 innings over his last four. Adam Morgan has averaged 4.3.

Unlike the others, Eickhoff has progressed rather than regressed this season. He hit a rough patch in April and early May and the struggles taught him to use his slider more. He went from being a three-pitch pitcher to a four-pitch pitcher, and the success of his slider made his fastball, sinker and curveball more effective.

That's the kind of adjustment a young pitcher needs to make. The adjustments for the others are pretty clear: Velasquez needs to mix his pitches better and get outs earlier in counts, while Thompson needs to throw more first-pitch strikes and get his slider below waist level.

Games in AL parks are always tougher on pitchers because of the DH, but Eickhoff has thrown well in both of his interleague starts in AL stadiums this season. He allowed one earned run in six innings at Target Field in Minnesota and pitched six shutout innings at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

It should benefit him that these White Sox hitters have never seen him. Players who don't have experience against Eickhoff tend to be frozen by his big hook.

2. Benefit of fresh arms
The Phillies' bullpen has been taxed lately because of the injuries and ineffectiveness of the starting rotation. Phils relievers have pitched an average of 3.9 innings per game in August. The starters have accounted for only 57 percent of the innings pitched. Not good.

Thankfully, the Phillies have been able to turn to somewhat fresh relievers. 

Edubray Ramos has made 23 appearances in July and August and shown flashes. He's struck out 29 and walked just six in 25⅓ innings this season. 

Michael Mariot, who missed the first six weeks of the season with an ankle injury, has a 3.24 ERA and has allowed just four baserunners in 8⅓ innings.

Manager Pete Mackanin spoke last week about wanting a few more relievers when rosters expand on Sept. 1. It would allow the Phillies to give Hector Neris more rest. Neris hasn't exactly been overworked — he's made 63 appearances and is on pace for 81 — but it could only help to lessen his load as the season nears its conclusion.

Neris continues to dominate, by the way. He's pitched 7⅔ scoreless innings in a row with 14 strikeouts. In 64⅓ innings this season, he has a 2.24 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 82 strikeouts and 18 walks. His opponents have hit .195.

3. Not the same James
The Phillies face veteran right-hander James Shields, who is having by far the worst year of his career. Shields, who began the year with the Padres before being traded at the beginning of June, is 5-15 with a 5.98 ERA. 

His numbers are even worse with Chicago — 3-8 with a 7.62 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. Everyone's pounding him — lefties, righties, good teams, bad teams. Shields' opponents have hit .297 with a .902 OPS. It's caused him to shy away from contact more and his walk rate has risen from 2.3 per nine in his previous 10 seasons to 4.3 this year.

Most teams stayed away from Shields in free agency prior to 2015 because of all the wear and tear on his arm. He was about to turn 33, and he had pitched an average of 223 innings over an eight-year span heading into that offseason. (He also pitched 60 total innings in the playoffs during those years.)

Those concerns appear to have been warranted, as Shields' stuff has declined in his mid-30s. Shields' fastball averaged 92.3 mph from 2012 to 2014 and is down to 90.4 this season. 

His changeup has always been his best pitch, even in recent years. From 2012 to 2015, his opponents hit .215 in 1,044 at-bats ending in a changeup. This season they've hit .263 with 14 extra-base hits, six of which were homers.

The Phillies saw Shields in the 2008 World Series. That was his third big-league season. A few Phils have hit him well — Odubel Herrera is 4 for 6; Peter Bourjos is 5 for 10 with a double and a homer.

4. Platooning Herrera?
Herrera has sat against most left-handed starting pitchers recently. Mackanin and the Phillies are trying to get him back to hitting the way he was earlier in the season, when he was seeing a ton of pitches and utilizing the opposite field. He hit .294 with a .378 on-base percentage in the first half but has hit .252 with a .321 OBP since the All-Star break.

Interestingly, Herrera fared well last season against lefties. He hit .293 against them in 123 at-bats as a rookie. In 2016, he's hit .225 against them in 120 at-bats. But a lot of those failures have come against left-handed relievers, who by nature are stingier against same-handed hitters because that's their specialty. 

Herrera, whose bat was missing from Tuesday's lineup against tough lefty Carlos Rodon, is actually hitting .309 (25 for 81) with a .398 OBP this season vs. left-handed starters. Against lefty relievers, he's 2 for 39.

5. Cell tower power 
U.S. Cellular Field is the only active big-league stadium in which Ryan Howard has never played. He sat last night but is expected to start tonight against the right-hander Shields.

Howard, who has taken Shields deep before, has homered in 25 of the 33 parks he's played in. If he hits one out tonight, that would be 26. 

It's not out of the realm of possibility given how locked in Howard has been. Over his last 13 games, he's 16 for 43 (.375) with four doubles, five homers and 13 RBIs. He's third in the majors in slugging percentage (.814) since July 29, behind only Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon.