Quotable: Billy Beane on Joe Blanton

Quotable: Billy Beane on Joe Blanton

Hol-ee Kalas, I think I might jump out of my face. The WFC Phillies are going to play some baseball today. It'll  be the most meaningful meaningless game we've ever heard (tune in: 1PM on WPHT 1210 AM or WUBA 1480 AM), with Jamie Moyer scheduled to get the "start" and Hammerin' Joe Blanton taking the mound for the next few innings against the Buccos.

We could all write the book on the hero that is Mr. Moyer, but there's plenty more we could learn about Blanton. For instance, this quote that David Murphy dug up from Blanton's former GM Billy "Brad Pitt" Beane:

"You can see it on the mound," A's general manager Billy Beane said.
"He's grinding his teeth to keep it in. Early on, it affected him a
little bit, but, as he matured, he found a way to keep it under
control. The guy's a warrior. He's an absolute and total warrior
between the lines. He and Tim Hudson are the two best competitors, as
far as pitchers, we've ever had."

Pretty glowing praise from a guy known for valuing statistical production above just about everything else. Like the rest of his 2008 teammates, Blanton has earned lifelong respect in this town. He hit a home run in the frickin World Series.

But we've yet to see him over the course of an entire season, something we'll get to do beginning this afternoon. A relatively strong season from Blanton could be one of the key components of another division title this year, as we saw in 2008, when his addition helped shore up a lost rotation. He wasn't perfect, but he was more than good enough down the stretch and in the playoffs.

In one start against the Pirates last year, Blanton one-hit them for
seven innings, striking out seven. Am I making too much of what's
likely to be a two-inning appearance today in the Grapefruit League? Oh you bet.

The Zo-han has today's starting lineup for the Phils. Can you believe it's here?

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.