Jimmy Rollins Could Learn Something From Theo Ratliff

Jimmy Rollins Could Learn Something From Theo Ratliff


Ed Stefanski sounds like a guy who just hit the lottery.  In a lot of ways, he has.

The Sixers GM was gracious enough to hold an open Q&A session yesterday with several writers from the web, including Matt and myself, and we had the opportunity to discuss basketball with a bright man and true fan of the game.  As excited as the fans are for this coming season, Stef is equally as enthusiastic about the club's off-season haul.

Describing last season as very rewarding, Stefanski acknowledged there was a "residual effect" from the team's surprise playoff run, and players wanted to be a part of the Sixers because they expect the team to be good.  Once Brand opted out of his contract, he became the club's main priority, and Ed seized the opportunity.  From there, the plan just fell into place.

The number one question on my list was whether or not Stef thinks this team, with the addition of Brand and re-signing of Iguodala, is good enough to win an NBA Championship.  Ed would not definitively answer yes or no, replying only time will tell, but with the opinion the team has undoubtedly moved in the right direction.  As he said at the very beginning, "We look good on paper, but paper doesn't play."

One of the highlights of the interview was when Stef talked about the decision to bring Theo Ratliff back to the club.  The addition was purely a result of the unfortunate injury to Jason Smith, with Theo only expected to see limited minutes, but it's the former Sixer's opinion of the fans that I found interesting.


"He said he loves Philadelphia.  He loves the fans because the fans make him play hard, and the fans are always there for him, and he knows if he puts in the effort, the Philadelphia fans will like him.

He figured the Philadelphia fans out.  Philadelphia fans are all about effort.  When you give the effort, and maybe it comes up short, they're gonna forgive you.  When you don't give the effort is when the fans get on you."

Refreshing to hear in light of some recent comments from some of the other athletes in this town.

Stefanski had nothing but positive things to say about everybody on the team, and touted the team's versatility when asked about what guys would play which positions.  "We have a lot of guys that I would just term basketball players," while explaining a lot of players would rotate between different spots in the lineup depending on the situation.

The interview was a lot of fun, and we covered just about everyone on the team, so I've posted some more excerpts below.  I'd also like to thank Ed Stefanski for taking the time to hold the conference.  It was great to hear what his enthusiasm firsthand.

* Sweet Lou, recently rewarded with a contract worth $25 million, received high acclaim from Stefanski.  "I think Lou Williams is a hell of a basketball player, I really like the way the kid plays." 

* Stef revealed Thaddeus Young has spent the summer improving his ball-handling in preparation of seeing more minutes at the 3 position.  "There's no question he has gotten better."

* The Sixers are very pleased with the development of Marreese Speights at this point.  Stefanski gushed about the rookie, who he described as skilled and athletic.  Despite the rumors about Speights' work ethic, the skills are there, and the injury to Smith may give the kid an opportunity this season.

* Willie Green was given a vote of confidence from the Sixers GM.  For now, there are no more moves planned, so Willie is part of the team.  He also disclosed that Green was playing hurt last year, and was hopeful there would be some improvement this season.

No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

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No. 10 Washington dominates No. 7 Stanford in rout

SEATTLE -- Jake Browning threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns, Myles Gaskin added 100 yards and two scores, and No. 10 Washington was dominant on both sides, overwhelming No. 7 Stanford 44-6 on Friday night.

After months of hype that Washington (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) was on the verge of a breakout, the Huskies showed they were ready for their return to the national stage.

And they did it emphatically, handing Stanford (3-1, 2-1) its worst loss since a 41-3 setback against Arizona State in 2007.

The Huskies raced to a 23-0 halftime lead, scored early in the second half to go up 30-0 and coasted to their biggest victory over an AP Top 10 team since beating No. 5 Southern California 31-0 in 1990. That game 26 years ago announced Washington as a national contender and the Huskies went on to share the national title a year later with Miami -- taking the coaches' version while Miami topped the AP media poll.

Browning was the leader of an efficient offense that scored on six of its eight drives. He threw touchdowns of 3 yards to Dante Pettis, 19 yards to John Ross and capped the night with a 3-yarder to Aaron Fuller with 5:30 remaining. Browning was 15 of 21 and did not commit a turnover.

Equally important was Washington's ability to establish a running game. The Huskies rushed for 214 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

Meanwhile, Stanford star Christian McCaffrey saw his Heisman Trophy aspirations hit a major speed bump. McCaffrey was held to 49 yards rushing on 12 carries, five catches for 30 yards and continued his streak of never scoring an offensive touchdown in a road game.

It was McCaffrey's fewest yards rushing since 2014 at California when he had 19 yards on three carries.

Stanford's only TD came late in the third quarter on a 19-yard pass from Ryan Burns to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

Burns was 15 of 22 for 151 yards, but Washington controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. Stanford quarterbacks were sacked eight times, six in the first half. Stanford had allowed only four total sacks in the first three games combined.

Stanford was playing short-handed without starting cornerbacks Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder, starting wide receiver Francis Owusu and starting fullback Daniel Marx. Starting right tackle Casey Tucker limped off with an apparent leg injury late in the fourth quarter.

Takeaways
Stanford: The Cardinal were unexpectedly sloppy. Stanford committed 11 penalties after entering the week as the least penalized team in the Pac-12. There were communication issues in part due to the roaring Washington crowd, but also a lack of sharpness not normally seen from David Shaw's team.

Washington: The defense was up to the task of keeping McCaffrey under control and forcing Burns to beat them through the air. McCaffrey had 34 yards on 10 carries in the first half and forced the Cardinal into numerous long third-down situations. That allowed Washington to bring extra pass rushers to get to Burns.

Up Next
Stanford: The Cardinal head home after two straight weeks on the road to host Washington State.

Washington: The Huskies travel to Oregon looking to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Ducks.

Best of MLB: Darvish stars as Rangers beat Rays 3-1 and clinch home field

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Best of MLB: Darvish stars as Rangers beat Rays 3-1 and clinch home field

ARLINGLTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish looked playoff-ready with a season-high 12 strikeouts in six innings as the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 on Friday night and clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

The Rangers can be tied by only the Cleveland Indians and they own the tie-breaker by winning the teams' season series. The AL owns home-field advantage in the World Series thanks to its win in the All-Star Game.

Darvish (7-5) allowed one run, three hits and one walk. His 28th career game of double-digit strikeouts is the second-most in a pitcher's first 100 major league starts, topped only by Dwight Gooden (31). Darvish will likely start Game 2 of the Division Series following Cole Hamels.

Shin-Soo Choo returned to Texas' lineup after missing 39 games with a fractured left forearm. Choo pulled a single to right in his first plate appearance since Aug. 15 and went 1 for 4.

Matt Andriese (8-8) gave up three runs and seven hits, including solo home runs to Carlos Beltran and Rougned Odor (see full story). 

Cabrera hits 2 HRs, Tigers move up in playoff race, beat Braves
ATLANTA -- Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs, Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton also connected and the Detroit Tigers moved up in the playoff race, beating the Atlanta Braves 6-2 Friday night.

The Tigers won their third straight and pulled within a half-game of Toronto for the second AL wild-card spot. The Blue Jays lost at Boston 5-3.

The regular season is scheduled to end Sunday, but the Tigers might need to play beyond that. They were rained out against Cleveland this week and would have to make up that game if it impacts their playoff chances.

Daniel Norris (4-2) gave up one run, five hits, two walks and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings.

The Braves, playing their final series at Turner Field before moving north to the suburbs next year, had won 10 of 11. Matt Wisler (7-13) was chased in the fifth when James McCann's RBI single made it 5-0 (see full story).

Trumbo hits 47th, Schoop 5 RBIs as Orioles top Yankees 8-1
NEW YORK -- Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 47th home run, Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones also went deep in a six-run fifth inning and the Baltimore Orioles beat the New York Yankees 8-1 in steady rain Friday night to maintain their AL wild-card lead.

Baltimore began the night tied with Toronto for the AL's two wild cards at 87-72, with Detroit 1 1/2 games back and Seattle trailing the Tigers by a half-game.

Trumbo and Jones homered off Michael Pineda (6-12), who started with 3 2/3 hitless innings and suddenly became ineffective.

Schoop tied his career high with five RBIs, hitting a go-ahead, two-run double in the fourth and adding a three-run homer in the fifth against James Pazos -- Baltimore's big league-high 250th home run this season.

Yovani Gallardo (6-8) won for just the second time in nine starts since Aug. 5, allowing two hits, three walks and Mark Teixeira's sacrifice fly in six innings (see full story). 

Ortiz delivers another HR, Red Sox beat Blue Jays 5-3
BOSTON -- Opening his final weekend with yet another game-winning homer, David Ortiz lined a two-run shot into the right-field stands to break a seventh-inning tie and help the Boston Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Friday night.

The AL East champion Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak and stayed one game ahead of Cleveland in the race for home-field advantage for the playoffs.

The Blue Jays fell one game behind Baltimore in the wild-card race and are now within range of Detroit and Seattle in the fight for the AL's final postseason berth (see full story).