McNabb Takes the Bait on DeSean Quotes

McNabb Takes the Bait on DeSean Quotes

Donovan McNabb has only been a Washington Redskin since Easter, but it didn't take him long to take the media bait and respond to a loaded question regarding a quote from a former teammate. 

Reacting to comments made by DeSean Jackson to The Sporting News, in which DJacc said he was happy with the decision to trade McNabb, and that he thought the Eagles hadn't lost anything with the change at quarterback, McNabb had this to say:

"It's so wild when people get to talking when you're not there, but when you're there everybody loves you," McNabb said. "So I guess people will go deeper into it than I will. I'm a Redskin, no longer an Eagle. I had 11 great years and I'm moving on with my life, so whoever may say things when I'm gone, more power to them, but it's not making you look like a bigger man." 

Right away, Donovan has gone "deeper into it" than the quote he was responding to. And, I don't agree with ESPN.com's un-bylined statement that he "took the high road." He took, as he did numerous times throughout his 11 years as an Eagle, the sensitive road that leads to more and more media and fan scrutiny. 

The high road, particularly for a veteran who has been been through these tete-a-tetes before, is simply to not respond at all. Something like, "I haven't heard that quote in its context, so I can't reply to it." 

McNabb should know better how the media works when it comes to quotes. Context is rarely fully given, and you can't be sure you're even hearing the quote in its original phrasing when it's presented to you for response. Half the time, you're responding to one person's interpretation of a malapropism. Have you seen this guy's twitter posts?

How his handlers have not managed to better instruct him on the art of sound bite deflection is beyond me. Had Donovan not responded to the Jackson quote at all, most of us would have never even heard it. As it stands, I'm now over-dissecting two sets of quotes that are each pretty harmless on the spectrum of news-producing words from professional athletes. It's already juicing up a slow news Sunday, everywhere from ProFootballTalk to ESPN to fan blogs, and it's only Sunday morning. Just wait 'til local sports talk radio gets going this week. 

McNabb's new teammates may view this kind of press as a motivator in the near term, but as stories out of Eagles camp have started to indicate, his old teammates had grown tired of The Donovan Show. Perhaps that is what Donovan is responding to, if in fact he's heard the whispers, which have gotten surprisingly little press. Because in my admittedly biased opinion, Jackson's quote was pretty harmless. It all depends on how you read into the "happy with the decision" part, which can easily be skewed toward support of Andy Reid and the front office's decision, or 180º the other way, that Jackson wanted McNabb gone, whichever way fits your story angle better. It's ambiguous, and nowhere near the certain slam McNabb thought he was responding to. 

But that doesn't matter for McNabb, and it never has.  

And, as far as the Eagles not losing anything, "even with McNabb being gone," what is Jackson supposed to say? "Oh, Kevin Kolb? Yeah, huge step down. We'll be missing #5 all season and beyond." Sorry that Jackson didn't go out of his way to be more supportive of last year's QB, but he's got a new man under center, and that seems to be what he's most concerned about. Hell, acknowledging that they'll succeed even without McNabb could be seen as a statement that these are big shoes to fill, but he's confident in the team regardless. 

Yes, Jackson could have provided a more innocuous or complimentary quote. But how many times do you think he's been asked about McNabb's departure already? At some point, the headline-producing statement was going to drop, and as far as those go, this was remarkably tame. Had he wanted to rip McNabb, he has had ample opportunity. Of course, Donovan's response only makes it more likely we'll hear more from Jackson, rather than "moving on."

We've been big fans of Donovan McNabb here for a long time. I like to think I still am, although I'm rooting for him to have a down season because he's now a Redskin. That's just how it goes in the NFC East, and it's an unfortunate part of his being traded within the division as opposed to somewhere like Oakland, where we'd be happy to see him make the AFC Pro Bowl roster and be a great story out west. 

I'm a fan of his overall career as an Eagle, though not all of it, and since the trade, it's hard not to look forward to rooting against the side of him that I didn't enjoy when he was an Eagle. 

Union goalie John McCarthy ready for 1st MLS start of season

Union goalie John McCarthy ready for 1st MLS start of season

CHESTER, Pa. -- Long after Wednesday’s morning training session ended, John McCarthy remained on the practice field to sign autographs for a bunch of young campers.
 
This is a typical activity for the popular Philadelphia native, who in many ways is a perfect backup goalkeeper for the Union.

But this weekend, McCarthy will be more than just an ambassador for fans. With Andre Blake on international duty with the Jamaican national team, the La Salle alum will be thrust into the limelight and make his first MLS start of the season when the Union face the Chicago Fire on Saturday at Toyota Park (8:30 p.m./TCN).  

“Obviously he’s itching to get his first MLS game this year,” Curtin said. “He’s a professional. This is what he prepares for. It’s similar to a backup quarterback role — you have to be ready when your number is called, and I know Johnny will be. He’s a guy I trust a great deal. He’s a winner. He won big games last year, and I expect him to do the same in Chicago.”

McCarthy indeed had a memorable rookie season last year, starting 11 games in league play while playing a key role in the Union’s run to the U.S. Open Cup final. 

But with Blake overcoming injuries and growing into an All-Star this year, McCarthy’s opportunities for playing time have dried up. So far in 2016, he’s played in just one U.S. Open Cup game on top of the 11 starts he's made for the Union’s USL affiliate, Bethlehem Steel FC.

How has he dealt with such a change?

“You don’t want to change anything up,” McCarthy said. “You just want to be as consistent as possible, keep training the same and keep your mindset the same because it’s the same when you’re sitting on the bench. You’ve got to be ready to play — and the opportunity is here.”

Another international call-up for Blake left the door open for McCarthy to potentially start June 1 vs. Columbus Crew SC. But Curtin instead opted to go with Matt Jones, who gave up two goals but got the win in what's been his only MLS start. Jones has since been dealing with an injury though, which led to McCarthy getting the nod this weekend. 

Despite the competition, McCarthy insists he and Jones — and Blake too — have maintained a great rapport.

“We’re all really good friends,” he said. “We all sit next to each other in the locker room. We can give each other crap off the field, joke with each other and stuff, and then when it comes to [being] on the field, it’s time to work. And we work together as a group because at the end of the day, whoever’s playing, we want the best for them and we want to win.”

McCarthy certainly wants the best for Blake, who is set to start in net for Jamaica in a couple of key games vs. Panama and Haiti as the Reggae Boyz look to advance to the fifth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. 

Alejandro Bedoya will also be involved in the final two games of the fourth round of qualifying as he joins the U.S. national team. And if he plays in Friday’s game vs. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as expected, it will mark just the second time in club history an active Union player plays for the USMNT.

That’s a big deal, according to Curtin.

“Listen, when kids watch the game and they see who’s on the national team, that’s who they should all aspire to be like,” Curtin said. “I think Alejandro is a player every kid should want to be like. … To have a guy from the Union with this badge represent our country is really powerful. I think that shows the growth of our club. We want more and more of our guys to represent our country.”

At the same time, Bedoya’s absence will naturally create a big hole for the Union, who are dealing with injuries to other midfielders. Blake — who’s usually good for a spectacular save or two — not being in Chicago will be tough for the team to cope with, too.

But Curtin is eager to see some of his bench guys fill important roles this weekend — especially McCarthy.

“All goalies are a little bit crazy in their own way,” Curtin said. “I put Johnny right in that category. So he’s not fazed by pressure. I think he embraces pressure. He’s a fighter. He has a good strong mentality and he works his tail off every day in training.
“He’s one of our hardest working guys. He stays after to take shots, and puts a ton of work in. I’m happy and excited for him to get his opportunity now.”

Phillies to add 3 players Friday; Nick Williams iffy for September call-up

Phillies to add 3 players Friday; Nick Williams iffy for September call-up

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he expects the club to add three players from the minors on Friday. Rosters expand on Thursday, an off day for the Phils.

“A couple of relievers, maybe a hitter,” Mackanin said before Wednesday night's game against Washington.

Mackanin would not name names because a lot can change in a day or two.

Darin Ruf seems to be a logical choice to be the hitter Mackanin referred to. He opened the season with the big club, but got just 57 at-bats and hit just .158 before being sent to Triple A when Tommy Joseph came up. Since going down, Ruf has hit .298 with 20 homers, 65 RBIs and a .895 OPS in 94 games for Lehigh Valley.

The Phillies will likely add two relievers to fortify the bullpen. Patrick Schuster, a lefty who was recently claimed off waivers from Oakland, could be a possibility. Colton Murray, Luis Garcia, Dalier Hinojosa and Elvis Araujo all could be possibilities, as well. All have spent time in the majors this season.

The Phils can’t completely pick over the Triple A roster because Lehigh Valley’s regular season runs through Monday and that club is likely to be in the International League playoffs.

Once Lehigh Valley’s season is over, more pitching could come. Starters David Buchanan and Phil Klein could be possibilities. Alec Asher, currently serving a suspension for testing positive for PEDs, is expected to be activated by the big club next week and could provide some innings to the starting rotation.

It’s unclear which prospects will come up. Catcher Jorge Alfaro seems to be a shoo-in after Double A Reading’s playoff run. Shortstop J.P. Crawford is not on the 40-man roster and does not need to be protected on it this winter. That could prevent him from coming up as the Phillies look to use the 40-man roster spot on a player that they could lose if not protected. Outfielder Nick Williams seemed to be a lock to come up a month ago, but his performance has slipped at Triple A in recent weeks and he now looks iffy.

Williams, like Alfaro, was acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade last summer. The lefty-hitting outfielder entered Wednesday hitting .265 with 12 homers, 62 RBIs and just a .294 on-base percentage in 119 games. He entered Wednesday hitting just .187 with a paltry .204 on-base percentage in the month of August. He had struck out 34 times and walked just once in 93 trips to the plate in August.

That certainly cannot sit well with a front office that puts a premium on players who "control the strike zone."

AFL rosters announced
The Phillies will send six players to the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. The group includes three pitchers, right-handed relievers Victor Arano and Miguel Nunez, and lefty starter Brandon Liebrandt, second baseman Scott Kingery, third baseman Mitch Walding, and outfielder Aaron Brown. Brown replaces outfielder Andrew Pullin, who recently went on the disabled list at Double A Reading with an elbow injury.

Sixers waive Carl Landry, Tibor Pleiss; officially sign Cat Barber

Sixers waive Carl Landry, Tibor Pleiss; officially sign Cat Barber

The Sixers made some roster tweaks on Wednesday night.

The team waived forward Carl Landry and center Tibor Pleiss, while officially announcing the signing of guard Anthony "Cat" Barber.

The Sixers were expected to cut Pleiss, who was acquired last Friday in a trade with the Jazz. On July 21, Barber and the Sixers reportedly agreed to a partially guaranteed deal.

Landy, a 32-year-old veteran, played one season with the Sixers after being acquired last summer in a trade with the Kings, a deal in which he was essentially a toss-in as it revolved around bringing Nik Stauskas to Philadelphia. Landry, who was under contract for 2016-17 at $6.75 million, battled injury to start 2015-16 and ended up playing in 36 games (12 starts), averaging 9.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Barber, 6-foot-3, 173 pounds, will fight for a roster spot at point guard during training camp. The 22-year-old went undrafted in June after declaring following his junior season at NC State in which he averaged 23.5 points per game, seventh most in the country and best in the ACC.