Taking the First Jump: Cliff Goes for the Block in Phillies Debut

Taking the First Jump: Cliff Goes for the Block in Phillies Debut

Nobody but nobody sweeps the Phillies in July. This has been our month, with a 19-7 record overall, punctuated by sweeps of our own over the Mets, the Pirates and the Marlins. We've gone from a team barely above .500 to one of the league's elite. To finish it on the bad end of the broom, wielded by the team we'd be facing in the playoffs if the season ended today, is simply not acceptable.

How fortuitous, then, that we should be sending our new co-ace--our #1A starter, if you will--to the mound tonight. With the Phillies in a comfortable lead over the Marlins in the NL East, it seems unlikely that Cliff will have to pitch any legitimately pressure-packed games in the oncoming weeks--and hell, we'd certainly prefer it that way. But tonight will be a good fake-test of Mr. Cliff Lee's big game ability--if he can give the Phils the rock-solid start they'll need to emerge victorious in a ballpark and against a pitching staff that's been none too friendly to them this series.

Personally, I'm excited. Perhaps one day 40-50 years from now, we will all tell our grandkids about the time we watched Cliff Lee pitch his first game in a Phillies uniform--his first start in a decade-long tenure with the team, one which involved four Cy Young awards, two World Series MVPs, the first no-hitter ever to be thrown at Citizens Bank Park, a record-setting ten-home-run season at the plate, and a bizarre wild pitch that somehow managed to break three fingers and a thumb on David Wright's left hand, prematurely ending his season. Here's hoping it all starts today.

10:15 tonight at ATT Park. I'm ready for the plunge.

Nerlens Noel on Sixers' frontcourt logjam: 'I don't see a way it can work'

Nerlens Noel on Sixers' frontcourt logjam: 'I don't see a way it can work'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Nerlens Noel is standing his ground.

After saying that the Sixers' entering the season with three starting-caliber centers (himself, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid) "doesn't make sense," Noel didn't back down from his stance during the team's annual media day.  

"I don't see a way it can work," Noel said Monday. "It's just a logjam. You have three young, talented centers that can play 30-plus minutes a night." 

The Sixers attempted to play with two bigs in Noel and Okafor last season but had little success. Now that Embiid is finally healthy, the fit to the puzzle doesn't figure to get any better.

Reports swirled during the offseason that the Sixers were looking to trade either Noel or Okafor to add backcourt help to the woeful franchise, but nothing came to fruition.

"Things need to get situated," Noel said. "I think things obviously need to be moved around, someone needs to be moved around. It's just a tough situation. I can't really say too much because I have no say in the matter, so obviously that's for who can handle the situation in the right manner.

"I've gone through a whole lot. Probably the most, arguably, that any player has gone through in the NBA in losing. It's a tough situation to still be in. Year by year, to see things get more difficult to show your value. Year by year, it's always been something. It's really at a point where it's just a lot."

Bryan Colangelo said he understands Noel's viewpoint. However, the Sixers' president said he is in no rush to trade any of the centers and will wait the situation out.

"It’s not disappointing. It’s understandable," Colangelo said. "I think Nerlens actually did a pretty good job sizing up what we have, which is a lot of depth and a lot of talent at that position."

Despite each of the three centers being early in their career, Noel, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, doesn't want to hold off to see if the trio can actually mesh on the floor.

"I can't say I do really understand that (wait-and-see approach)," Noel said. "If you have a group of players, I just don't think it makes too much sense to just still come into the season with such a heavy lineup at the center position. I don't know what there is to wait and see."

Noel made sure to express that he has no issues with Okafor and Embiid and said they are some of his closest friends on the team. But when asked whether he was happy to be a Sixer, Noel deflected.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm all right, I'm in a good place right now."

Sure sounds like it.

Darren Sproles' TD from Wentz set to Sonic the Hedgehog music

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Darren Sproles' TD from Wentz set to Sonic the Hedgehog music

You may fondly remember the time Darren Sproles took a punt return to the house last season and a wonderful Twitter user set the video to the Super Mario Bros.' star music, yes?

It was great.

Now that Sproles' put on the jets again yesterday in the Eagles win over the Steelers, the same @pacdude on Twitter has done it again.

This time it's the theme music from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Please enjoy.