Phillies Drop Season Opener, Nobody is Shocked

Phillies Drop Season Opener, Nobody is Shocked

Phillies Opening Day Ceremony 2007, originally uploaded by stksave27

The Crowd.  A great showing by Philly's baseball faithful.  CBP was packed and loud the entire day.  Granted, nobody listened to my plea to lay off Pat and the majority of the park was booing Burrell after his first at bat.  Thankfully, I did not hear an Eagles chant the entire day.  The park was a mob scene and lines for everything were ridiculous.  I ended up only eating ice cream out of a min baseball hat -- Graham Slam! -- because it was the only place with no line.  There was an amazingly wide array of fans at this game.  From an infant with his dad, to an old guy who looked like this was his 50th opening day, from business men in suits, to 400 pound drunks, this game truly ran the gamut of fandom.

The Weather.  It felt like August and I'm willing to bet most fans have the farmer's tan to prove it.  Perfect weather to watch the start of a new season.  Far and away a much better day than last year when it was cold, rainy, and miserable.

The Game.  Disappointing, yet not surprising.  We've seen it too many times before to be upset by it.  The Phils simply didn't capitalize on their opportunities at the plate; the second and third with no outs was particularly tough to watch.  Brett Myers made a bad pitch to let the Braves back in it and Ryan Madson pressed the panic button among fans and their desire to complain about the bullpen.  Did Manuel make the wrong move in keeping his ace in there a few pitches too many?  Howard batting third was certainly interesting.  It was opening day, we'll write this one off as bad luck.

Random Anecdote.  We sat in right field where a group of very vocal rowdies got on Jeff Francoeur for the better part of 3 innings.  Fairly entertaining to mildly annoying, a good effort none the less.  But Francoeur took it well, and even gave his hecklers a nice acknowledgment.  After the acknowledgment, the crew changed tones from commenting about Francoeur's wife (I believe he isn't married yet, but is engaged) to chanting he belonged in the Hall of Fame.  Only in Philly.

The Day.  All in all a great day in South Philly.  The weather couldn't have been better, the Phils got a new season started and while they certainly disappointed on the day, it's a marathon.. yada, yada.  There were things to be excited about and there were things to be worried about for sure.  We're used to worrying.  The 2007 Phils are finally here.  Now go out and get a win on Wednesday for crying out loud.  Personally, I'm exhausted.  That sun, some beverages, camera troubles.. I need another day off just to recover.

Only 161 more to go.

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).