As some of you may have noticed, Inquirer columnist Frank Fitzpatrick wrote a piece on Friday titled "Morning Bytes: Blogger just your average Philly fan" which took a look at the live blogging I did for the Eagles season opener over at AOL's Fanhouse. I felt Mr. Fitzpatrick was rather off base with many of the things he said, so I wrote him a letter:
First off, thanks for writing about me and my blog in the Inquirer. It's always cool to see your own name in print. I thought I'd clear some things up for you. While I pride myself on just writing from a fans point of view, I take some offense to you saying I'm a "prototypical Philly fan" while inferring I was "quick to condemn players" and "always perched on the edge of the bandwagon, ready to leap at the drop of a pass."
I realize you've been writing about sports for the Inquirer for over a quarter of a century. Hell, that's longer than I've been alive. While this may give you "credentials" in some areas, it may detract from your "credentials" in other areas, namely the Internet and blogging. I'm not sure if you really understand the concept of "live blogging" or blogging in general. Maybe you should consult with your colleague Dan Rubin, while he, like you, may have his AARP card, he seems to "get" the idea of blogging, even if he is a few days behind the curve on some Internet phenomena.
You say "the Bird Blogger quickly revealed himself, not as the next Red Smith but as the prototypical Philly fan." I don't think you get it. The last thing I want to be is the next Red Smith, or even a Ray Didinger or Les Bowen (two guys I respect and admire) for that matter. While you may still get all your info from print papers, they are no longer the only source for sports information. There are websites and writers out there who are changing the way people watch and care about sports. I'd rather strive to be Bill Simmons than Bill Conlin, it's just more fun being a fan. I don't want or try to be objective. I'm just a Philly sports fan; I'm just not prototypical. You were close.
Now that we cleared that up, there are a few more problems with your article:
- You comment on my criticizing Donte Stallworth for dropping a pass in the 4th quarter. Prior to my comment, I praised Stallworth repeatedly; he had a phenomenal day. Perhaps you didn't notice the "!@#!" after my comment or perhaps as you get older you just lose your sense of sarcasm.
- You comment on how I stated earlier in the week that Westbrook should return punts and how I linked to that post, like people wouldn't really believe me. This is the Internet, linking is good.
- Speaking of linking, you pick and choose quotes from my lengthy live blog. What you don't do is tell your readers where they can get the full context of the quotes. It's called a URL and you MSM types seem to dislike allowing anyone to go anywhere that isn't your own domain. Yet you criticize bloggers who are the first to give credit where it is due.
- You also seem to have no idea about who I am or what my credentials are. Maybe you should try a search engine. You can find out lots of stuff on there. I spent about 2 minutes and found out you were nominated for a Pulitzer, wrote a book about the '83 Phillies, hate badminton, and live in West Chester.
- While I'm not claiming to have any credentials here at The700Level, AOL's Fanhouse is a network of paid bloggers. Not just anyone can go over and talk about the wings they ate during halftime on AOL's Fanhouse. I've done something to earn that right, even if it was while I was wearing my pajamas.
- The live blog you quote is found on AOL's Fanhouse. Fan + House = place for fans to say what fans think.
- Also, I'm the biggest McNabb backer out there, I'd link you to it all, but it seems like you don't like links.
So there you go Frank, I just wanted to clear all that up for you. And I'm probably going to start reading more of your stuff now since I know you've checked out mine. Everybody likes to be heard.
Eagles Blogger, AOL Fanhouse
Andre Blake continues to rack up the accolades.
A couple of weeks after being named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, the rising Philadelphia Union star was named to the MLS Best XI team as one of the league’s top players in 2016.
The rest of the team included:
• Forwards Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), David Villa (New York City FC) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
• Midfielders Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact), Sacha Kljestan (Red Bulls), Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas) and Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
• Defenders Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Axel Sjoberg (Colorado Rapids) and Jelle Van Damme (Galaxy)
Blake’s inclusion on the Best XI is not a surprise considering he already took home top goalkeeper honors. Even though he didn’t have the best numbers in the league, he made the spectacular look ordinary in his first full season as an MLS starter.
But it is unique for the Union, who haven’t had a player make the Best XI since Sebastien Le Toux was included for his 14-goal, 11-assist effort in Philly's 2010 expansion season.
Union winger Chris Pontius, who recently won the 2016 MLS Breakout Player of the Year award, made Best XI while with D.C. United in 2012. Former Union players to be honored on the prestigious list were Bakary Soumare with Chicago in 2008 and Justin Mapp with Chicago in 2006.
Another big honor like this will likely only increase the chatter that Blake could be sold to a big team in Europe soon. But a couple of weeks ago, the Union goalkeeper insisted his only focus for 2017 is on Philadelphia.
“From a personal standpoint, I’m hoping to have an even better season than 2016,” he said at the time. “To be able to go in and be consistent and do everything I can for the Union — and maybe be the goalkeeper to get them their first [MLS] Cup.”
There’s a number of reasons why the Flyers have a five-game winning streak, why they’re playing better hockey, and why they own the No. 1 wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Perhaps the biggest reason of all is goaltender Steve Mason, who has won four of those games, compiling a 1.71 goals against average and .945 save percentage during that span.
Mason was named the NHL’s first “Star of the Week” on Monday. St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko and San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones were second and third stars.
“The team is on a roll right now and I’m a benefactor of that,” said Mason, who needs a win Tuesday against Florida to tie his career-high streak of five set Dec. 17-30 in 2013, during his first, full season as a Flyer.
“There’s strong play in front of me. The team is playing a little tighter in our defensive zone of late and making the goaltender reads that much more simple.
“Right now, there’s a comfort level with the guys in front of me … Winning five in a row is nice and we’d like to keep making ground in the standings.”
His four victories last week were tops in the NHL. Among them, he had a season-high 45 saves in a 3-2 shootout win against Boston.
Like many goalies, Mason prefers action. Games such as the 3-2 overtime win at Ottawa last week when the Senators only fired 21 shots, bother him.
“Those games, when you are not getting a lot of shots, the ones you do get will be a high-grade scoring chance,” he said. “And when you’re sitting around a few minutes not seeing the puck and all of a sudden see a chance like that …
“It’s more difficult to play [those games] than the games where there is a constant workload and you’re not thinking, but just playing. For myself personally, those are the games I enjoy the most. When I see a lot of pucks.”
The Flyers have seen dramatic improvement over the past month in their overall defensive play, from both their defensemen in down-low coverage in the slow and with their forwards on the backcheck.
Mason said the team has gone through “growing pains” with trying to integrate some younger bodies to the lineup this season – Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, and Nick Cousins come to mind.
“You have to familiar with everybody,” he said. “Have a constant lineup where guys go out shift after shift and night after night, you know what to expect from one another. When you have that kind of confidence in guys, it makes playing easier.”
Mason’s 4-2 victory at Nashville on Sunday saw him go over .500 for the first time this season with a 9-8-3 record.
His GAA is coming down at 2.76 while his save percentage has risen to .904.
“I was aware of it obviously, just because of the way the year started,” he said. “It’s taken a lot of work to get it above the .900 level.
“We’re obviously going to continue to work at getting it even better. The way the team’s playing right now and the way everybody’s clicking, we’re going at a good pace right now.”