In a strange off-season marked by mediocre players netting exorbitant multiyear deals, Phillies fans have been wondering what the team will do regarding the contract of reigning NL MVP Ryan Howard. Entering the third year of a contract that netted him a relatively paltry $355,000 last season, the Phillies first basemen isn’t eligible for salary arbitration until 2007, and won’t be a free agent until 2011, according to the Inquirer’s Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki.
Questions regarding the likely renegotiation of Howard’s contract increased yesterday when he fired his agent, which could indicate he's looking for a new deal sooner rather than later, but Howard wouldn’t comment to Zolecki on why, offering a great variation on "No comment":
Howard had hired Larry Reynolds - his second agent in 2 1/2 years - before the 2005 season. Now, like Jim Turner before him, Reynolds is out. Reached last night, the affable slugger took a line from Top Gun when asked to comment.
"Negative, Ghost Rider," he said.
The question remains: What should the Phillies do with the contract of a guy who was the NL Rookie of the Year, and then hit 58 HR and 148 RBI in his sophomore season? Should they lock him up along with arbitration-eligible Chase Utley with a pair of lucrative long-term deals, or should they play it conservatively given the team’s past history with dishing out such contracts when they weren’t actually necessary to retain a key free agent?
I know what I’d like to see… I just hope Howard doesn’t sign on with Scott Boras…
Carson Wentz's Rookie of the Year odds took a hit, the Eagles' Super Bowl odds shortened and the Vikings' lengthened after Sunday's 21-10 win.
The Eagles are 33/1 to win it all, a week after being listed by Bovada at 50/1. The Vikings, meanwhile, went from 7/1 to 9/1. They still have the third-shortest Super Bowl odds in the NFL and are two spots ahead of the Cowboys (14/1).
Wentz, who had his worst statistical game against Minnesota, is now 9/1 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, according to Bovada. Last Wednesday, he was 6/1.
Wentz trails Cowboys studs Ezekiel Elliott (2/5) and Dak Prescott (11/5) on that leaderboard.
As far as this week, Wentz is favored to throw for more yards than Prescott. Wentz is 5/7 to outgain Prescott through the air in Week 8, while Prescott is 1/1 to outgain Wentz.
Elliott's over/under rushing total against the Eagles is 99.5. He's rushed for 130-plus yards in each of his last four games, and the odds are 3/1 that he'll reach that number again this week.
The Eagles have allowed just one 100-yard rusher this season, Washington's Matt Jones (16 for 135).
Elliott is also now on pace to break Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record. Dickerson had 1,808 in 1983; Elliott is on pace for 1,875. Will Elliott break that 33-year-old mark? A "yes" bet pays 2/1; a "no" bet pays 1/3.
Many, though not all hockey games, have a tipping point or pivotal moment that factors into the outcome.
Sometimes it’s obvious what it was and when the moment occurred. Other times, it’s overshadowed by something else on the ice.
Ask the Flyers which moment would define their come-from-behind 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo on Tuesday and the response will be virtually unanimous: when Dmitry Kulikov leveled Jakub Voracek with a high hit that made contact to the head in the third period.
Voracek was forced off the ice under the NHL’s concussion protocol.
That hit incensed the Flyers, who went on to score two power-play goals and tie the game, 3-3. The comeback was on.
Yet there was a less obvious but significant point that happened late in the second period, and it concerned goalie Steve Mason.
Matt Moulson had given Buffalo a 3-0 lead on Michal Neuvirth at 15:43, when Flyers coach Dave Hakstol elected to make a goalie switch.
Rather than call a simple timeout to buy Mason some warm-up time and allow his team to collect itself on the bench, Hakstol challenged the goal, claiming “goalie interference.”
Replays won’t show any direct interference on the shot itself. Neuvirth was speared several seconds before the play developed.
Hakstol knew the goal would likely not be overturned, but his strategy was to buy time for Mason and his team. By using a challenge, he knew the review process would take a lot longer than the 60-second timeout.
Either way, he was going to use his only timeout.
“You know what, I think we needed a timeout at that time, anyway,” Hakstol said coyly. “Pretty low probability of it being successful. Everything worked out well in the end.”
Mason appreciated what his coach did, too. Buying extra time for you?
“Yeah, probably,” Mason replied. “Regardless of the situation, you’re sitting on the bench, you know? You’re not really gauged as much as when you’re playing, obviously. So, you just try and ramp things up as quickly as possible.”
Mason had two saves in that shortened period, five in the third period and one in the overtime to register his second victory.
“There’s a never-quit attitude in this room,” he said. “We showed in Chicago — we were just talking about that. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to close that one out.
“But guys have a belief that you get one [moment] and it comes. [Travis Konecny] got us going with his first NHL goal, which is great. The guys really pushed to capitalize on their chances.”