The700Level's 4th Annual Philly Sports Awards: The KULPYs

The700Level's 4th Annual Philly Sports Awards: The KULPYs

Welcome to the fourth annual KULPY Awards, where we here at The700Level celebrate our own existence by handing out trite, meaningless honors to the sufficiently decorated professional athletes, coaches and executives in Philadelphia sports. That’s The700Level.com – Yep, We’re Still Here™. And as always, The KULPYs are brought to you by our corporate overlords at CSN Philly – proud partner of Phillies baseball!

(Hey, it’s the Phillies who should be embarrassed, not us. No trademark.)

Now that we got our plugs out of the way, we begin with an obligatory, self-congratulatory pat on the back, Barry Horowitz style. I’m not privy to the numbers, but for all I know, we did record traffic in the last year, and the outlook for those of us in the journalism industry has never been brighter! And even if that statement were 100 percent true (it’s not), somebody would probably cry fake news anyway, so why bother getting hung up on the details?

Once again, CSN has neglected to give The KULPYs so much as a brief television segment, not even on The700Level Show – I haven’t been part of this brand for the last decade or anything – but no matter. No TV, no awards banquet, no party in Enrico’s parents’ basement while they’re out of the country on vacation, no problem. The show must go on, and I promise we’ve got a great one this year, so prepare to polish the turd that is Philly sports. We’re handing out some real* coveted** hardware today.

*KULPY trophies are not real.
**Or coveted.

 

Let’s jump straight to an award that shows what The KULPYs are all about: Best Sixers Player Bryan Colangelo Is Solely Responsible for Acquiring. These are strictly players Colangelo nabbed without the aid of Sam Hinkie and The Process. That means no Ben Simmons, the outcome of years of tanking; no Markelle Fultz, obtained by trading assets stockpiled by Hinkie; not even Justin Anderson, acquired in a swap for Nerlens Noel – another Hinkie piece.

With all of that in mind, there are sure to be some real gems among the nominees.

(Nominees: Amir Johnson, J.J. Redick, Sergio Rodriguez, Anzejs Pasecnicks, Tiago Splitter)

Any time Tiago Splitter is on a list of an NBA general manager’s top acquisitions, you know that person is doing a stellar job. Sergio Rodriguez is the only one of these guys who made a significant contribution last season, appearing in 68 games for the Sixers, unfortunately. Granted, Anzejs Pasecnicks was just obtained in a draft-night trade and looks like an intriguing talent – who won’t be on the roster in 2017 because he’s staying overseas, @#$%.

It’s a two-horse race for the award, and naturally the KULPY goes to… Bryan Colangelo! After all, he is the true victor in The Process.

Even the money used to lure Redick and Johnson was a direct result of the favorable salary-cap situation inherited from Hinkie. By the time Colangelo took over the Sixers, he was walking into quite possibly the easiest setup for a new GM in the history of professional sports. “Job description: Oversee an organization loaded with young talent, top draft picks and plenty of cash.” Kind of hard to screw up. Go ahead and give him Fultz – the fact that all Colangelo had to do to sell out the building for this upcoming season was engineer a trade up two spots in the draft goes to show the hard part was already over.

 

We’ll go straight from one rebuilding team to another – they’re not very hard to find around here. We blindfolded some interns at nearby Xfinity Live and set them loose in the sports complex, and a few horrific accidents later, one of them landed on Citizens Bank Park. In honor of the one who made it, this next category is the aptly named Most Likely to Survive the Phillies Rebuild.

(Nominees: Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, Matt Klentak, Pete Mackanin, Andres Blanco)

Herrera may be on the steadiest ground, having turned his season around at the plate after a horrific start, but Philly fans are going to get sick of the lack of concentration and hustle before this is all over. Meanwhile, the club is reportedly shopping Franco, who continues to struggle, and Mackanin would be gone already if the club didn’t have the foresight to lock him up with a contract extension in May!

Better hurry up and reveal the winner before one of these guys gets canned. The KULPY goes to… Andres Blanco, in an upset!

Fun fact – Blanco is the second-longest tenured Phillies player, behind only Freddy Galvis. And unlike a lot of the other guys on this team, Blanco chose to be a part of this, opting to re-sign in December. Sure, he’s 33, batting a crisp .151 at the All-Star break and a free agent again at the end of the season. With the end of tanking… sorry, with the end of “rebuilding” nowhere in sight, Blanco probably has just as good a chance as anybody to survive.

Hey, you’ve got to appreciate the man’s loyalty.

 

Seeing as there’s so little to celebrate in the immediate past, let’s take a moment to honor a Philadelphia sports legend. Congratulations to longtime Flyers winger and former general manager Paul Holmgren – this one is for you. It’s The Paul Holmgren Award for Worst Flyers Contract.

Not coincidentally, most of the people up for this award actually have Holmgren to thank for their awful, awful contracts. And to think, the man stepped down three years ago.

(Nominees: Claude Giroux, Andrew MacDonald, Matt Read, Jori Lehtera, Jakub Voracek)

Believe it or not, Read’s contract finally concludes in 2018, so guess we can finally OH MY GOD, MACDONALD STILL HAS THREE YEARS LEFT AT $5 MILLION PER. Meanwhile, current Flyers GM Ron Hextall chose to pay homage to Holmgren with some recent moves, taking on the final two years of Lehtera’s deal at $4.7 million annually, and awarding Voracek $8.25 million per year until 2024. Hey, Voracek will still be off the books before Ilya Bryzgalov, so there’s that.

But the KULPY goes to Claude Giroux, the human embodiment of the cement shoes attached to the Flyers’ Stanley Cup hopes for the foreseeable future.

I would love to be wrong about that, by the way. There was a time when Giroux was legitimately one of the best players in the NHL, and would do cool things like put Sidney Crosby on his ass and score a goal in the same shift. Unfortunately, the last two seasons have not been kind to the Flyers captain, and he simply does not look like the same player. Signed through 2022 at $8.25 million per, with a no-trade clause and turning 30 in January, there’s almost no way this ends well.

 

If every other Philly sports team gets its own award, the Eagles need one, too – Joe Banner insisted. Oddly enough, one NFL team managed to have five semi-prominent quarterbacks on its roster in the last year, so the following KULPY is for Eagles Quarterback of the Year, because there were enough of them to choose from.

(Nominees: Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Nick Foles, Matt McGloin, Carson Wentz)

Fun fact – Bradford and Daniel will cost the Eagles nearly $12 million under the salary cap for 2017. The three guys who are actually on the roster: a little over $8 million. Guess we know who the real winners are here, and it’s not Wentz.

The KULPY goes to… Sam Bradford, who did more for the Eagles in the last year than any of the other guys. Let’s be honest, Wentz is going to be awesome, but he was pretty useless in 2016 when he didn’t have anybody to throw the ball. In the meantime, Bradford netted the Eagles first- and fourth-round draft picks in a trade with the Vikings, which are a lot more useful than leading the team to the same 7-9 record Wentz did.

 

Thank you, Sam, and thank you, readers… for clicking through to Part 2. Still to come: The Ryan Howard Memorial Award for Athlete or Sportsperson Most Inexplicably Still in Philadelphia, Philadelphia Athlete of the Year, and The Competency Award for Philadelphia Sports Executive of the Year. Also, a special In Memoriam video you won’t want to miss!

>> PART 2 <<

6 cornerbacks Eagles could trade for before training camp ends

6 cornerbacks Eagles could trade for before training camp ends

Eagles coach Doug Pederson opened the door on Monday to speculation the club could add another cornerback to the mix before the preseason comes to a close.

“It's a position that we continue to look even outside, as we do every position,” Pederson said following the first practice of training camp. “And as you know, we're going to continue to look and try to bring in guys if we can and just create as much competition at that spot.”

On its face, Pederson’s statement is innocuous enough. NFL teams are constantly evaluating their options. Players will come and go, especially as the league whittles its rosters down from 90 to 53, and even as the season progresses. There will even be a handful of trades.

Yet, given the track record of Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman for wheeling and dealing, Pederson’s words can be construed as more than a throwaway line. The Eagles are actively searching for talent, and cornerback is an area where it’s sorely needed.

Roseman likes a good bargain, too. With that in mind, we’ve scoured depth charts around the league for the type of young prospects who may be had in a trade for relatively cheap, but possibly reward the Eagles with high-quality play.

The Eagles could also wait to see what cut-down day produces, too, and no doubt will. But waiting usually isn’t Roseman’s style.

Bears CB Kyle Fuller
Pulling off a swap for Fuller is not an original thought. Best I can tell, it was first pitched by USA Today’s Turron Davenport in March (with the Eagles sending linebacker Mychal Kendricks), and continued to gain some traction until about a month after the draft.

That’s because it makes sense, perhaps more than any other idea I will pitch. A first-round draft pick in 2014, and a player the Eagles were rumored to covet, Fuller has fallen out of favor in Chicago and far from a lock to make the team. He missed the entire 2016 campaign with a knee injury, and was inconsistent his first two seasons, but is only 25 and flashed potential as a playmaker with 6 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles in 32 NFL games.

Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas served as the Bears’ director of college scouting in 2015. He has access to inside information on Fuller, and ties to the organization that may help facilitate a trade. Some type of exchange certainly seems plausible.

Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard
Like Fuller, the Eagles were believed to be interested in Dennard in the first round of the 2014 draft. And like Fuller, Dennard might be on the trade block in Cincinnati.

Dennard has remained stuck firmly behind Bengals cornerbacks Adam Joes and Dre Kirkpatrick on the depth chart, starting just four games in three seasons. Josh Shaw, a fourth-round pick in 2015, surpassed Dennard last season as well. The Bengals also spent a first-round pick on William Jackson last year, though he missed his rookie season with a torn pec. Clearly, there is a ton of competition there.

Less clear is whether the Eagles would be interested in a deal. Dennard hasn’t been elevated to starter for a reason. And the Eagles could have chosen Dennard in ’14, opting to trade down instead. Meanwhile, the Bengals picked up the fifth-year option on Dennard’s contract, and while the $8.5 million he’s owed for 2018 is only guaranteed for injury, that could impact any decision.

Steelers CBs Ross Cockrell or Senquez Golson
Cornerback was an area of concern in Pittsburgh last season. Now the Steelers might have too many bodies. The club used third- and fifth-round picks on Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen in April, creating a log jam of sorts on the back end of the depth chart.

Depending on the outcome of job competitions at training camp, either Cockrell or Golson might be available. Cockrell, 26 in August, started all 16 games for the Steelers last season, but the Steelers were dangling him for the low price of a fourth-round pick as a restricted free agent this offseason. A second-round pick in 2015, Golson missed both of his first two NFL seasons with a shoulder and foot injuries, and may have missed his shot with the team as a result.

Then again, William Gay is 32, and the Steelers could just as easily decide to move on and keep both Cockrell and Golson. With Sutton and Allen on their heels, even Gay’s departure could leave the door open for moves.

Dolphins CBs Tony Lippett or Bobby McCain
Oddly enough, Miami was rumored in February to have interest in trading for a veteran starting cornerback to pair with Byron Maxwell. Odd, because the defense already has a nice mix of experienced players and intriguing prospects.

It looks like 2016 second-round pick Xavien Howard will start opposite Maxwell, and third-round rookie Cordrea Tankersley is good for a roster spot at least. If Tankersley can contribute right away, either Lippett or McCain – a pair of fifth-rounders in ’15 – might be expendable. Lippett actually outplayed Howard by some measures in his 13 starts last season. McCain has been a little shaky at times, but only turns 24 in August and has 12 career starts under his belt.

The Dolphins have shown a willingness to work with the Eagles in recent years. Should either Lippett or McCain become available, Roseman could be among the first to receive a phone call.

Phils fan double fists way through rain-delayed blowout loss to Astros

Phils fan double fists way through rain-delayed blowout loss to Astros

Thunder may only happen when it rains and Philly fans may only love these Phillies players when they're... drinking.

At least that was the case last night when the Phils got their butts whooped by the Houston Astros, 13-4, after a lengthy one hour and 52 minute rain delay.

There was one fan who had some pretty great seats for the loss who was there pretty much the entire night with two beers in hand. 

Here he is in the fourth inning (two beers):

And later in the seventh: 

Not only is the man double fisting, but he's also rocking a pretty sweet Hawaiian shirt, elevating his legend even higher. 

He wasn't the only standout from the stands last night. Check out this sweet one-handed grab in the second level.

Phils fans are the real MVP for sitting through this season.