The Phillies, man: Four in a row! Four games back!

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The Phillies, man: Four in a row! Four games back!

omg he got airborne!

The world is just a little bit better place when you wake up on a Friday morning and the Philadelphia Phillies are atop the New York Mets in the standings. Because it's Friday, obviously, but also because even in our darkest hours, being worse than the Mets is still really, really depressing. But the Phillies haven't been depressing at all as of late! In fact, they won their fourth straight game last night and now sit a remarkable four games back in the NL East. The NL East is not good. Not one bit. But winning the division seems absolutely feasible this fine morning. The Fightins won their fourth straight on Thursday night thanks in large part to Ryan Howard's continued penchant for home cooking in St. Louis. The Big Piece simply loves playing in his home town and bashes balls like that guy we once knew who hit 58 home runs in a season. [mlbvideo id="33866675" width="640" height="360" /] Howard was 2-4 with a homer and 3 RBI in the Phils 4-1 win over the Cardinals. This wasn't a one night fluke, either. Howard's swing has been looking nice as of late. And Phillies beat writer Jim Salisbury gets to write some happy words for a change:

Howard drove in six runs in the three wins at Atlanta. Playing in his hometown, he had three more RBIs on Thursday night and now has 50 on the season. He singled in a run in the fourth inning and smacked a two-run home run, his third in four games, in the sixth. In short, Howard is carrying this club right now. We’ve seen it before, but not in some time. Howard is healthy and his swing looks crisp. He’s swatting pitches where they are pitched, using the whole field and hitting balls hard.

And David Buchanon put in the best work of his career. 7.2 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER. If he can become a reliable arm in the rotation and Cliff Lee returns in normal Phifer form, who knows... The Phillies don't stink at the moment and are actually playing some entertaining ball. It's the weekend. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Gone but not forgotten: Joel Embiid remembers Harambe on 1-year anniversary of death

Gone but not forgotten: Joel Embiid remembers Harambe on 1-year anniversary of death

Gone, but not forgotten … as long as Sixers superstar center Joel Embiid has his way.

On the one-year anniversary of Harambe's death, Embiid remembered the slain gorilla on Instagram with the caption: "Gone but never forgotten #RIPHarambe."

The Instagram post was accompanied by a picture of Harambe along with a longer message and acquired over 22,700 likes within the first 37 minutes of its posting.

Gone but never forgotten #RIPHarambe

A post shared by Joel "The Process" Embiid (@joelembiid) on

There are some factual errors in Embiid's post, however. The picture stated that Harambe "would've been 18 today," which was posted Sunday.

Harambe's birthday was May 27, 1999. He would have been 18 years and one day old Sunday.

This was not Embiid's first participation in the Harambe Internet meme.

Regardless, the tragic killing of Harambe, a popular male gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, sparked outrage and then Harambe became an Internet meme.

Catching up on some big Eagles stories from Week 1 of OTAs

Catching up on some big Eagles stories from Week 1 of OTAs

It was great to be back at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday and take in an Eagles practice, even if it was non-contact. There’s a lot of buzz around the team right now, and minimal time to cover everything, so let’s dive into some of the storylines that slipped through the cracks during the first week of OTAs.

The thought that the Eagles are secretly fuming over Carson Wentz seeing a private quarterback guru seems ridiculous. It’s not uncommon for NFL players -- even quarterbacks -- to seek council during the offseason. Tom Brady did it, and I don’t recall any drama ever unfolding with the Patriots as a result of that. Perhaps some mild concern has been expressed behind closed doors, as Wentz’s mechanics are a constant work in progress, and Eagles coaches surely prefer he learn the methods they’re teaching. Then again, I highly doubt somebody earned the title of “quarterback guru” if they’re not passing along standard NFL techniques. It was an even bigger reach to suggest Doug Pederson’s displeasure over this development was on display during his press conference on Tuesday.

I’m not one to place a whole lot of stock into OTAs, but seeing rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas on the field with the first-team defense in nickel situations is a promising sign. He didn’t look out of place, either. At 6-foot-2, 209 pounds, Douglas matched up well with Alshon Jeffery. I could see his size being an asset against NFC East rivals like Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall and Terrelle Pryor -- bigger receivers the Eagles will face two times each this season. While performance in OTAs typically means squat, it was about this time last year when Jalen Mills began ascending the depth chart, and he wound up playing quite a bit. It’s early, but given the situation at cornerback, not at all far-fetched to anticipate a similar role coming for Douglas.

While I agree with the premise Nelson Agholor could improve and go on to have a respectable NFL career, Eagles teammate Brandon Graham isn’t really the most relatable example. It’s time for the seemingly annual reminder that Graham’s progression was derailed by a major knee injury as a rookie. He essentially missed the following season, and was buried on the depth chart upon returning. A year later, the defense switched to a 3-4, which was an adjustment as well. Yet, time and time again, Graham would perform at a high level whenever he got into games, finally earning his starting job back in 2015. Agholor has been a starter the past two seasons, and aside from a high ankle sprain his rookie year, he’s been relatively healthy. What’s the excuse here? Agholor may be a late bloomer, but Graham’s experience breaking into the league was vastly different.

The revelation that Vinny Curry was affected by a knee injury last season can be taken one of two ways. Some may see it as an excuse for his modest performance after signing a massive contract extension a year ago, which currently looks like an expensive mistake. I prefer to view the injury news as another reason to give Curry a slight pass. We’ve all seen what an explosive pass rusher he could be, racking up 9.0 sacks in 2014 while playing only one-third of the Eagles’ defensive snaps. If he was hampered by the knee -- Curry admitted wearing a brace for much of the season -- that could certainly help explain why he often seemed invisible. Even if he simply wasn’t very good, Curry has another opportunity to prove himself in 2017. Might as well take the optimistic outlook.