Phillies Greet the Mets as Joe Blanton Takes On Jonathon Niese

Phillies Greet the Mets as Joe Blanton Takes On Jonathon Niese

Hot off a sweep of the Marlins in Florida, the Phillies will return home for Jort Night at Citizens Bank Park as the Mets are in town for a three game set. There hasn't been an abundance of story lines between these two teams this season, with the Mets currently six games behind the Fightins', but that could always change at any moment.

To get you ready for the rivalry series this weekend, we highly suggest this article by former Phillies scribe turned Mets man Andy Martino about the difference between the two clubs. It involves one team having an "(expletive you) edge."

The team [Mets] has, however, lacked the swagger that, to hear those who
were there tell it, defined the 1986 Mets, and has defined the 2007-2010
Phillies. Utley will slide spikes-up into any second baseman, and
Rollins will publicly bash his opponents. When Colorado manager Jim Tracy this spring complained that the Phillies kept binoculars in their bullpen in an apparent attempt to steal signs, Charlie Manuel told him to "quit crying." The Phillies manager then, without provocation, accused the Mets of stealing signs.

It all adds up to a "(expletive) you" edge that the Mets lack. From
the general manager to the coaching staff to the star players to Chris Carter and Jesus Feliciano, they are almost all nice people. Maybe too nice.

We all love a little attitude from our clubs. Be thankful our Phillies appear to be the total opposite of the Mets in that respect.

The Mets have been struggling a bit of late, as they often do, but their pitchers line up favorably for them against the Phils. However, the home team counters with Cole and Roy to finish off the weekend, so it should be a fun series.

CSN's Leslie Gudel provided this awesome tidbit from Mike Sweeney today:

Mike Sweeney on coming to Philadelphia "Being a devout Catholic, its heavenly in the realm of baseball"

I think I like this guy already.

Sweeney will make his Phillies debut tonight and bat clean up. Curious, but that's Charlie for ya. No big shoes to fill for Sweeney or anything.

First pitch scheduled for 7:35. If you see a guy in 145 with a red t-shirt on say hello. And remember, when encounering Mets fans in the wild, be sure to bring your "(expletive) you edge."

>>'Too nice' New York Mets would do well to pick up some swagger from arrogant, condescending Phillies [NY Daily News]

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."