Random Philly Thoughts

Random Philly Thoughts

On my drive home from work yesterday I  listened to Glen Macnow commenting on the recent booing going on at the Phillies games.  He also noted that yesterday's game against the Washington Nationals drew the smallest crowd ever at Citizen's Bank Ball Park..  The smallest by 9,000 People!  I find that incredible.  Philly fans are some of the best fans in all of sports; you can't convince me otherwise, but they are fickle.  Anyway, back to Glen.  He was talking about booing Charlie Manuel, Placido Polanco, and Kenny Lofton.  Glen says the fans aren't booing Charlie of Mayberry and his players, they are booing 20 years of losing.  They are booing the lack of aggression by the front office.  They are booing the Sixers sub .500 record.  They are booing Ed Wade and Dave Montgomery.  They are booing no playoffs in over 10 years.  They are booing the Eagles loss in the Superbowl.  They are booing the lack of Flyers hockey.  They are booing Tito Francona going to Boston and winning a world series.  They are booing Rich Kotite, Mitch Williams, and Freddie Mitchell.

Philly fans are frustrated, and they have a right to boo.  Some people hate the fact that Philly has a bad rap as fans.  They boo Santa, they throw batteries at J.D. Drew, they throw snowballs and pee on your wife for wearing a Giants jersey.   Most of this is a creation of the Media, but not all of it.  You would be nuts to bring a wife or girlfriend to an Eagles playoff game, unless she knew what she was in for.  I love the fact that Philly has a bad rap.  I was in Boston last year to see the Phillies at Fenway and I saw a very nice looking female at the game sporting a great tee shirt; it said, "I'm from Philly.  Don't F$*K with me."

You have to realize there are extremes to all fans.  There is the guy who drinks 14 Miller Lite's by the 6th inning and can't talk anymore from screaming at Chipper Jones, and then there are the stat heads who analyze players win shares and make graphs and charts of the effect bringing Jeromiah Trotter back would have on the Eagles payroll and potential chances of making it back to the big game.

I like to think I'm somewhere in the middle of the two.

Tranquillo Barnetta will not return to Union next season

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USA Today Images

Tranquillo Barnetta will not return to Union next season

Tranquillo Barnetta is going home.

In an abrupt announcement on Tuesday, the Union declared that the skillful Swiss attacking midfielder will not renew his contract with the club and will return to Switzerland following the 2016 season to play for his hometown club, FC St. Gallen.

According to MLS Players Union, Barnetta’s exit will free the Union of $687,500 next season.

“The entire soccer community here was so welcoming and I’m so thankful to everyone at Philadelphia Union for making me feel so appreciated,” Barnetta said. “Playing in front of my friends and family and making plans for life at the end of my career where I want to live is a force I can’t resist.”

Although the timing of the announcement is a surprise, the move isn’t one. With Alejandro Bedoya now in the mix, currently playing out of position in a box-to-box midfield role, the Union will replace Barnetta with Bedoya at the center attacking midfield spot. It’s a position that Bedoya is comfortable in, playing there with his previous club, FC Nantes.

Bedoya played for the injured Barnetta in the center midfield spot last Saturday and scored his first goal of the season in a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC.

But even with Bedoya ready to take over, the Union will miss Barnetta. Since joining the Union in 2015, Barnetta, 31, has been one of the better possession playmakers in MLS, scoring six goals and seven assists in 37 games.

“Tranquillo has been a key piece in what we’re trying to build here in Philadelphia but we appreciate his decision to return to Switzerland,” said Union sporting director Earnie Stewart, whose club has three matches left in the 2016 season, and will likely make the playoffs. “We look forward to continuing to push for the postseason.”

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

The Eagles are 3-0. They’re alone atop the NFC East and have been the biggest surprise of the young NFL season.

Doug Pederson’s message to his team: You haven’t done anything yet.

Although the Eagles are riding high, Pederson doesn’t want his team to change its outlook or hard work. That’s what teams have to worry about once they’ve found some success.

“The biggest thing is complacency,” Pederson said Monday. “You think you've arrived. You think you are all that. When that creeps in, that's when you get beat. It's my job not to let that creep in. I've got to keep the guys focused and grounded. I told them this week they're going to travel and go home and people are going to pat them on the back and say how great they are.

“But next Monday, I'm going to tell them, ‘Hey, we're back to work. We're 0-0. This is Game 1 and let's go.’ That's just the way it has to be. You are building for one ultimate goal and that's a few weeks down the road. That's what you are trying to get to. But you can't get there unless you take care of the next opponent. It's my job to keep them focused that way.”

Being 3-0 (they’re one of five 3-0 teams) gives the Eagles a head start, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee them a playoff spot. This is the ninth 3-0 start in franchise history. They’ve made the playoffs just five times in the previous eight. And they recently missed the playoffs after starting 3-0 in 2014 under Chip Kelly.

In NFL history (before this season), there have been 276 teams to start with 3-0 records. Of them, 200 (72.3 percent) have made the playoffs.

“We just have to approach it the same, one day at a time,” Pederson said. “That's the way this business goes. You are on top of the world one minute, and you can be at the bottom of the heap the next. Just got to keep things even-keeled and can't get too high, can't get too low. Approach it the same. Like I mentioned earlier, you can't substitute for hard work. That pays off on Sundays. We just have to stay the course. Again, a lot of football left.”

While the Week 4 bye comes pretty early, the Eagles have a couple key players who will use the time to get healthy. And Connor Barwin pointed out that the bye is coming about closer to the halfway point between when the team started its tough training camp and the end of the season.

Pederson told his players to use the week to get away from football and free their minds. Meanwhile, Pederson and his coaches will use the extra time to self-scout and prepare for the final 13 games of the regular season.

With a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback who was thrust into action a week before the opener, expectations outside (and perhaps inside) the building were tempered.

The Eagles aren’t an underdog anymore.

“We kind of enjoyed flying under the radar, but obviously a win like this against a team like the Steelers will open some eyes around the league,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “For us, nothing different. We’ll keep our preparation the same. We’ll stick our heads down and focus on the work day to day and understand what’s gotten us to 3-0.”

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