Your 2007 Philadelphia Phillies

Your 2007 Philadelphia Phillies

March 26th,
2007: 11:30am -- I’m
walking out of my current office building on 19th and Market,
typical case of the Mondays. The biggest
decision of my miserable first day of the week was whether to spend a blogger’s
month salary for a shitty burrito at QDobba or roll the dice and go with my boy
Bob in the cart and his chicken pita special with the delicious mystery sauce for
two bucks and change. It was a gloomy
start to the week.

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quadrel, originally uploaded by damonabnormal

But then my day miraculously improved as I awaited the
street light to turn from red to green -- it seemingly wanted to stay red all
day. In an instant, a dozen cops cruised
by and shut down
Market Street. What the shit. I’m trying to get some lunch here. But then, the great red hope that is the 2007
Philadelphia Phillies came turning around the corner on the back of an early 20th
century firetruck. The Phillie Phanatic,
painted red, came cruising down the street to an uproar of cheers from the
lunch time folk who likely don’t even know who plays the hot corner for the
Fightins. For some strange reason, the
zooming fire engine slowed down as it approached. As my sorry ass stood at the corner, waiting
for the light to change from red, the Phillie Phanatic pointed at me and
laughed. I swear he did, I heard him.

It was then I realized this is going to be a fun summer.

Phillies fans have been rather positive the past few
off-seasons, hope abounds for the baseball team in South Philly when the
temperatures are freezing. The addition
of Freddy Garcia and the subtraction of Mike Lieberthal had fans all juiced
up. After all, we’ve got The Big Guy and
Chase. How can this team not be
successful?

We all fear it: the gloomy start in April, the streaky May
and June, the tease, and inevitably, the failure. We all fear it, but want to hop on for a ride
anyway. Cause after all, the ride is all
we know as Philly fans. 

Some things I think we need to keep in mind going
into opening day on Monday:

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strikeout, originally uploaded by Boston Fan in Michigan

Give Pat a
chance.
I think we can all agree
that Pat Burrell seems to be a little sensitive. The trigger happy fans are going to need to
make an effort to give him a chance. Maybe he won’t turn into the protection for Ryan Howard we’d all love to
see, but just give the guy a few at bats. We need the Pat Burrell who earned the name “Bat” and not the guy we
have come to know more as “Looking” or “Whiffed.”  He may be in there somewhere despite the gimpy
foot and poor eyes.  Just give him a
chance, at least through May or June. If
he strikes out with bases loaded, lay off the boo for a month or two. Come June or July, if Burrell isn’t
performing, then you can lay into him. But he’s fragile; we need to support him, at least early on. Hey, it couldn’t hurt. I think the type of season Burrell has will
be very indicative of how the Phils do. If they want to play into October, they’re going to need The Bat. Come on Pat! 

Run, Run, Run. Shane Victorino’s speed will certainly
give a jump start to the Phillies line up. With it looking like Michael Bourn will make the squad, the Phils will
have a speedster to come off the bench as well. Jimmy Rollins and others working with Davey Lopes on the bases could
really improve the chances of the Phillies having guys in scoring position. I think this should be a huge area of
improvement over last season.

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Mr. Chase Utley, originally uploaded by Fen Branklin

Chase, Jimmy, The Big Guy, and Cole. I can’t remember any team I’ve ever rooted for having such a stellar
core of young talent. If these guys
don’t get you excited about watching baseball every night, you’re probably at
the wrong website. I hope people
realize, I was joking on Wednesday when I commented on Ryan Howard’s
spring. The slow start they’re off to in

Florida could be a blessing in
disguise. Granted, nobody should be
playing sloppy down there, but I think they’ve tempered expectations a
bit. I’m looking for Chase to have an
MVP caliber season and Cole Hamels to turn into one of the games elite. If that doesn’t happen, the Phillies aren’t
winning anything.

Gillick and his Pen. The
currently 6 man rotation looks like it should be quality. I’m curious to see how Garcia turns out. To me, he is one of the biggest question
marks on the squad. He could be a stud,
a bust, or something in between. Let’s
hope something closer to stud. The pen,
of course, is where most of the questions lie. The first few months should be interesting. There is virtually no chance that the bullpen
will look the same in August as it does today and how this unfolds could be a
key to Gillick’s legacy in Philly.

Don’t Suck in April. We’re
amped and ready to go. J-Roll started
the talk early, but can they deliver? They will learn real quick with the stacked schedule in April and how
they come out of the first month of the season will surely set the tone of fans
all summer. It’s a scary month, with plenty
of uncertainty. We’ll know a whole lot
more about what this team is really made of come May. 

Expect the Worst, Hope for the Best. That has pretty much become my motto as a Philly sports fan. I’m not one of those depressed fans, I don’t
hate Philly, I’ve come to embrace the fact that I don’t expect them to
win. If they lose, I’m disappointed, but
it’s only a game. All that losing will
make winning all that more fun.

I can’t recall ever being
this excited about one of our teams. These are our Phillies. I’ll take
this squad over the Mets and the Braves. 

89 wins and a wild card. A
fan must have some faith. Is it Monday
yet?

Other Phillies Previews:

>>Hardball Times: Five Questions [Beerleaguer]
>>Phillies Season Preview [Deadspin]
>>Predictions [Swing and a Miss]
>>Phillies Season Previewed [BS&S]
>>Don't Forget to Join The 700 Level Flickr Group and upload all your best opening day shots.

Upon arrival, newest Eagles LB Stephen Tulloch ready — but for what?

Upon arrival, newest Eagles LB Stephen Tulloch ready — but for what?

Stephen Tulloch walked out of the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday afternoon chatting with new teammate Brandon Graham, while wearing a crisp white No. 54 jersey for his first practice.

Jim Schwartz wasn’t sure if Tulloch would make it onto the field Tuesday because of all the “administration stuff” the linebacker needed to do, including putting ink to paper. But as the Eagles took the field at around 1:30 p.m., Tulloch joined them. He wouldn’t miss it.

After all, practice is where the 31-year-old feels most comfortable.

Schwartz on Tuesday morning recalled a story from training camp several years ago, when, as the head coach of the Lions, he wanted to give Tulloch a veteran day off. The coaches even told the training staff that Tulloch wouldn’t be participating that day.

“He came in my office mad as a hornet and was ready to practice,” Schwartz said.

Tulloch then told his head coach that he was ruining his streak. Forget games — dating back to high school, the linebacker hadn’t missed a practice.

Schwartz admitted he’s not one for compromising, but did make a compromise that summer day. Tulloch was allowed to practice, but his reps were cut down some.

“He knows how I am. I prepare,” said Tulloch, who remembered the story. “To me, practice is more important than that game. When you miss a rep, you miss something and you can’t make it up. I try to be present every day that I’m out here on this field. We’re playing a kid’s game. I’m 31 years old and to be able to come out here and play this game, it’s pretty fun.”

Tulloch was 28 during the 2013 training camp and went on to play and start all 16 games in the 2013 season. In 2014, he played just three before tearing his ACL, but returned to play in all 16 last year.

Tulloch told Schwartz he has been working out twice per day while unemployed this summer. “Guys like that, they know how to get themselves ready,” Schwartz said.

“I have tremendous respect for guys that get 10 years in the NFL because you can’t make 10 years on talent alone,” Schwartz said. “You can’t make 10 years by being a try-hard guy. You gotta have a great combination of things and also in 10 years, you’re going to be working with different coaching staffs in 10 years. You gotta have the ability to work in a lot of different schemes, whether you’re an offensive player or a defensive player. I’ll bow down to guys who play 10 years in this league because that’s tough business.”

Tulloch has been a starter in the NFL for years but likely won’t have that role in Philly. The Eagles have a starting linebacker group of Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham. Doug Pederson said Tulloch will compete at the middle linebacker spot, but Hicks is still the starter for now (see story).

For a long time, Tulloch was very good. He's one of just nine players in the league to have five interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries since 2006. And he’s played six of his 10 NFL seasons under Schwartz, who already has three of his former players in prominent roles this year.

Schwartz said Tulloch is “not here to replace anybody,” but added that a rotation isn’t out of the realm of possibility. The defensive coordinator, citing an analogy in which everyone brings something different to a party, said it’s important to accentuate each of his players' strengths.

Despite starting for most of his career, Tulloch in 2016 will likely be a backup, which includes playing special teams. Earlier in the week, Pederson said he wants to get Tulloch on at least one special teams unit. The veteran linebacker on Tuesday said he hasn’t played special teams since 2006 or 2007.

“Whatever’s asked of me, I’ll do,” Tulloch said.

Tulloch was informed of his release from Detroit in February, but he wasn’t officially cut by the Lions until July, after he healed completely from a minor ankle surgery. He said he felt good a long time ago, and had a couple other teams interested in him. Ultimately, though, he decided to join the Eagles and reunite with Schwartz, for whom he has great respect and whose defense he feels most comfortable in.

Even if Schwartz tries to make him take a day off.

“I just love football,” Tulloch said. “I think this is my 26th, 27th year of playing football. I started back in 1991 when I was five years old. It’s just a way of life for me. It’s something I do. I have a passion for practice, I have a passion for the game. I play hard, I work hard, I take care of my body. I do what I have to do.”

Tonight's lineup: Phillies load up with righties vs. White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon

Tonight's lineup: Phillies load up with righties vs. White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon

The Phillies are loading up with right-handed hitters for Tuesday's series opener at U.S. Cellular Field against White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon.

Odubel Herrera is out of the lineup and Aaron Altherr takes his place in center field. Peter Bourjos and Tyler Goeddel are in the outfield corners. 

Carlos Ruiz serves as the designated hitter against Rodon, who has huge platoon splits. Righties have hit .305/.365/.484 against Rodon; lefties have hit .220/.268/.286.

Rodon has a changeup to stave off right-handed hitters, but he's used it only eight percent of the time this season. He's thrown his 94 mph fastball, sinker or slider with 92 percent frequency (see game notes).

Emmanuel Burris gets a start at second base.

Ryan Howard is out of the lineup. U.S. Cellular Field is the only active stadium in which he's never played. The Phillies haven't been there since 2004.

1. Peter Bourjos, RF
2. Aaron Altherr, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Carlos Ruiz, DH
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Tyler Goeddel, LF
9. Emmanuel Burris, 2B

Philadelphia to host 2016 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony

Philadelphia to host 2016 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony

Philadelphia will host the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Nov. 30.

USA Hockey on Tuesday announced that the Flyers will host the event for the first time.

The 2016 Hall of Fame class includes legendary high school coach Bill Belisle, former NHL forward Craig Janney, and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey team. 

That team featured Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Abington native Mike Richter. It also has a special connection with Philly. The 1996 World Cup of Hockey was the first sporting event played at the CoreStates Center (now the Wells Fargo Center). The U.S. would go on to win the tournament.

“We’re excited to bring the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Celebration to Philadelphia,” Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, said in a statement. “It’s one of our nation’s very top hockey cities, thanks in large part to the decades-long efforts of the late Ed Snider, and fans in the area will enjoy being part of enshrining the Class of 2016. This is always one of the most anticipated events on the calendar each year and we’re grateful for the advance support we’ve received from the Flyers and our Atlantic Affiliate.”

Tuesday also marks 50 days until the Flyers begin their 50th anniversary season.