Today in Philly Sports History: Sir Charles Elbows Angolan Dude, 1992

Today in Philly Sports History: Sir Charles Elbows Angolan Dude, 1992

Charles Barkley was the Sixers' lone representative on the historic 1992 Dream Team, although truth be told, by the time he actually started competing, he wasn't even ours anymore, having been traded to the Suns for Andrew Lang, Tim Perry and Jeff Hornacek about a week and a half earlier. The Sixers might've been glad to get rid of the headache when in just the first game of play--a 116-48 demolition of a not-particulary-star-studded Angola team on July 27th, 1992--Sir Charles caught himself in the middle of a media controversy. Barkley offended fans and teammates alike by elbowing Angolan young'n Herlander Coimbra in the middle of the rout.

Barkley claimed that it was in retaliation for Coimbra hitting him in the head as he got off a fast-break dunk, but with the US squad already leading 38-7, it was perceived as excessive on-court bullying on the part of the Round Mound. "If he keeps this up, they're going to throw him out of the Olympics," peeped fellow Dream Teamer Michael Jordan. David Robinson was similarly disapproving: "We're trying to tell Charles that he can't get too much out of control." However, Charles continued to approach the situation with a sort of moral objectivity. "Eye for an eye," said Barkley. "It's a ghetto thing."

The Dream Team would, of course, easily cruise to a gold medal in the '92 Olympics, and if the Sixers thought themselves lucky to be rid of Barkley, the feeling wouldn't last. In the '92-'93 season, Chuck averaged 26 and 12 for the Suns, on the way to both an MVP award and a finals appearance--neither of which he achieved in his time with the Sixers. Meanwhile, Philly suffered through a 26-56 season, officially starting a dark period in Sixers history, one which stayed dismal until the team drafted a scrappy guard from Georgetown with the #1 pick in 1996.

Saint Joseph's signs two players to National Letters of Intent

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Saint Joseph's signs two players to National Letters of Intent

Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli on Wednesday announced the signing of two players to National Letters of Intent during the early-signing period. 

Taylor Funk, a 6-8 forward from Columbia, Pa., and Manheim Central High School, and Anthony Longpre, a 6-10 forward originally from L’Assomption, Quebec and attends Glenelg Country School in Maryland, both signed their letters of intent and plan to enroll at Saint Joseph's in Fall 2017.

As a junior, Funk averaged 21.3 points per game and was a PIAA Class AAA All-State Third Team selection. His ability to score as well as shoot the three will make him a valuable asset to a young Hawks squad that features nine underclassmen. Funk enters his senior year at Manheim Central High School with 165 career threes.

Longpre, who has only been in the United States for two years, has been a major contributor at Glenelg Country School since arriving. He averaged 15.5 points per game in his sophomore year and followed that up by averaging a double-double (12.7 points, 10 rebounds) in his junior campaign. 

Martelli had nothing but praise for Funk and Longpre when discussing the recent signings. 

“Taylor and Anthony are welcome additions to a young group of terrific people," said Martelli. "They will add to the character of our team and program. Taylor is a skillful young player who embraced Saint Joseph’s at a young age. We greatly look forward to helping him pursue his dreams. Anthony’s game and basketball IQ are beyond his years. He has received exceptional coaching at a young age, which is something that excites me about the future.”

The Hawks (3-4) are in the midst of a four-game losing streak after opening the season 3-0. They take on Drexel in a Big 5 showdown at the Daskalakis Athletic Center on Sunday. 

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Tuesday night he'd still like another veteran bat in addition to Howie Kendrick, though he understands the front office is conscious of not blocking young prospects.

The Phillies need offense and the clearest area to upgrade is an outfield corner. But don't expect to see the Phils go after Jose Bautista, Michael Saunders or anyone of that ilk, because those players will require multi-year guarantees and everyday playing time. If you sign one of them, you're basically telling two of Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr that they won't be needed much the next three years. 

That would be unwise. The whole point of rebuilding is filling a roster with young, inexpensive talent and then eventually supplementing that core with established players who fit. Look at what the Cubs did. Look at what the Astros are doing now, adding older players like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Nori Aoki and Josh Reddick to fill in the holes around Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.

For that reason, a player like Seth Smith would be a worthwhile addition for the Phillies.

Smith, 34, makes $7 million in 2017, the final year of his contract with the Mariners. When Mackanin discusses "professional hitters," Smith is the type. He has one of the better batting eyes in baseball, chasing about eight percent fewer pitches outside the strike zone the last three years than the league average.

He's a career .261/.344/.447 hitter who averages 29 doubles, 16 homers, 56 walks and 102 strikeouts per 162 games.

The left-handed Smith can play both outfield corners, and he's always been very effective against right-handed pitching. He has a .272 career batting average with an .827 OPS against righties compared to .202 with a .594 OPS vs. lefties. 

Smith is a fit for the Phillies for several reasons. They need more offense from the corner outfield. Logically, that outfielder should be a left-handed hitter because the Phillies' projected middle of the order has four right-handed bats in Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp and Kendrick.

Furthermore, Smith, unlike Saunders, for example, does not require everyday playing time. Smith shouldn't start against lefties. That would provide opportunities to Altherr and Quinn in 2017, while protecting against ineffectiveness from Altherr and another injury to Quinn.

And lastly, Smith is not going to cost anything meaningful via trade. He's a 34-year-old platoon player in the final year of his deal. The Phillies could likely land him for an insignificant prospect, perhaps a pitcher who had a high strikeout rate last season in the low levels of the minor leagues. 

For Seattle, it would be more of a salary dump. The Mariners' 2016 payroll is already $20 million more than it was last year, and per reports, they seem willing to spend to improve their starting rotation.

Smith is not a game-changer, that's not the argument here. He's not J.D. Martinez, a much bigger name and better player. Martinez would also fit the Phillies as a one-year option, and they'd likely be interested in keeping him around longer if they could acquire him. But any trade with the Tigers for Martinez wouldn't be nearly as painless for the Phils as acquiring Smith. 

So perhaps more than other available outfielders, Smith would be an offensive upgrade and a player who fits the Phillies' goal of improving without stunting a top prospect's growth.