QuoteStart: Buff Out, Manuel on Hitting, Stairs to the Booth, Superman on Sixers, Musser Calls

QuoteStart: Buff Out, Manuel on Hitting, Stairs to the Booth, Superman on Sixers, Musser Calls

Dwight Howard on whether he'd like to play for the Sixers. “This is a great team. They’re playing great basketball right now. For myself, it’s a blessing to be wanted by a lot of teams and cities. I feel honored. Right now, the only thing I can control is what I do with my team,” Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard said diplomatically. “The Sixers do look great. They’ve got some great fans behind them. But my job is to my team. And I’m going to continue to lead my team no matter what.” [John Finger, CSNPhilly]

Charlie Manuel on the Phillies approach at the plate this season:

"We're going to talk about how to hit in the count and when to
take and when not to. We're not talking about walks. We don't teach
nobody to walk. Hitting is offense." [Mandy Housenick, Allentown Morning Call]

Winnipeg coach Claude Noel on which Jets will miss tonight's meeting with the Flyers: "Byfuglien is close, but will not be a player (Tuesday). But he’s close and we’re hoping… soon," said Noel. " I’m not sure if it’s the next game or not, but it’s going to be close. Burmistrov, we’re going to keep him out for another day but he’s also close. "Other than that, everybody’s ready to go healthy-wise. We’ve just got to get our rust out. There was a lot of rust out there on the ice today. We had to get a special Zamboni out there to come in and clean it up." [Winnipeg Free Press]

"Long drive to left field, he buried it!" Andy Musser highlight video:
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Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien on the status of Nathan Horton, who hasn't played since being hit by Tom Sestito: "He is getting better," Julien said. "But for at least three days we won't be doing anything with him. He's still at the point where he hasn't ridden the bike yet, but he is getting better. When you have a concussion it's about headaches and everything else, and everything is going in the right direction right now." [ESPN]

Redskins Hall of Famer Darrell Green on Todd Bowles and Juan Castillo working together: "I think Todd will bring great value to an underachieving secondary," said Green, a Redskins great. "This may be the missing link, from a defensive standpoint. These are two good people. These guys have worked their butts off, and I pray nobody tries to pit them against each other. That wouldn't be fair to either of them." [Les Bowen, Daily News]

NESN's Sean McGrail on the addition of Matt Stairs to the Boston Red Sox broadcast team: “Matt brings incredible passion for the game of baseball and a great sense of humor,” said McGrail. “He adds a unique perspective since he has played with or against most of the current major league players, including one year with Adrian Gonzalez in San Diego.” Also, uh… Jenny Dell. [Boston Globe]

Get Ya on Yer Way
How's this for a creative cover?

Sixers reach respectable spot in ESPN's latest NBA power rankings

Sixers reach respectable spot in ESPN's latest NBA power rankings

Everything seemed status-quo in ESPN’s Marc Stein’s most updated NBA power rankings. As expected the Warriors, Spurs, and Cavaliers occupied the top spots. But when you venture down to number 15, you may gasp. 
  
Yes, the Sixers (15-27) are gracing the middle of the power rankings at number 15. Stein is starting to "trust the process" after the team’s recent 8-2 stint. It isn’t just Joel Embid making headlines with his record-breaking numbers and internet love life, but the team is now getting its due.  
  
“Philly is doing plenty of interesting things,” Stein wrote. “Ersan Ilyasova and Robert Covington have combined to drain 51 threes over the past 10 games. The Sixers, as a team, have moved into the league's top 10 in defensive efficiency.”

Covington and Ilyasova are part of a new-look starting five along with Embiid, and guards T.J. McConnell and Nik Stauskas. McConnell and Stauskas had spent the majority of the season coming off the bench, but Stauskas has started the last 12 and McConnell 10 of the last 11 (McConnell was sidelined for one game with a wrist injury). The Sixers are 7-3 with that starting guard duo.
 
Despite the most recent loss to the Hawks, the Sixers have won four of their last eight victories by one possession. Giving them plenty of momentum to jump up ten spots from the last power ranking. 
 
The Sixers will be at home to play the Clippers this Tuesday night at 7 p.m. They will be without Joel Embid who continues to rest his injured left knee. 
 

Jim Gaffigan warned Pope Francis not to mention Santa Claus in Philly

Jim Gaffigan warned Pope Francis not to mention Santa Claus in Philly

Comedian Jim Gaffigan opened up for Pope Francis when he visited Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families back in 2015.

That would seem like an odd opener for the Supreme Pontiff. And Gaffigan admits as much.

Gaffigan was a guest of Stephen Colbert's on Friday on his Late Show and talked about the surreal experience of warming up the crowd in Philly.

"I'm not a good Catholic," Gaffigan says. "If there was a test for Catholics, I would fail. But most Catholics would fail which is probably why there's not a test."

The comedian also got in a few low level digs at our town.

"'Philadelphia: the City of Brotherly Love,' which if you've been to Philly you know they mean that sarcastically," he says. "I mean, I love Philly but they mean that the same way they say 'Syria: the place for peace.'"

Meh.

"I was nervous at the sound check so I had to come up with some Philadelphia jokes. What do I know about Philadelphia? I know about the Liberty Bell, I know the cheesesteak, and I had just watched this ESPN 30-for-30 about Eagles fans throwing snowballs at Santa. Not on the brand of Brotherly Love. So when I was finally introduced there was still nobody there, I figured I'd just do my set. So I said, 'It's good to be here in Philadelphia,' and I heard a roar from crowd on the highway, so I thought I'd play to the crowd in the highway. 'Philly loves the Pope!' and I got another roar. 'Not that I was worried but you guys weren't that nice to Santa Claus.' Nothing. Silence. And then I heard something that sounded like booing... because it was booing. It wasn't everybody, maybe ten percent, so like 100,000 people booing my Santa joke before they saw their religious leader who was going to talk about mercy."

"Eventually I got a chance to meet the Pope and I was in this room and everybody was saying something to the Pope and I didn't know what to say. So when it finally came my turn, I said, 'Don't bring up the Santa incident.' The Pope didn't say anything but he gave me a look like, 'Dude, I would never bring that up.'"

The ESPN film that Gaffigan mentioned was actually a spoof. It was just kind of okay. You can watch it here.

The Pope part starts around the 5:10 mark in the below video. You can also catch Gaffigan's new standup special titled "Cinco" on Netflix.