So it’s been more than two months since my last post. Yikes.
Other media colleagues of mine blog daily or at least several times a week. I can’t promise that (and even if I did would you believe me anyway?), but I will do my best to keep up with blogging more, both here and at Lions Land, my Penn State blog.
So where am I starting here? I’ll go locally first. It was an interesting Sunday for me. I’m usually at my desk, designing pages, but instead I took in the Mountain Valley Conference championship game pitting top-seeded Pleasant Valley against No. 3 East Stroudsburg South. Knowing that the Bears had won the two regular-season games by a combined score of 31-6 I wasn’t so sure Sunday would be the most competitive of title games, but it was. The Cavs were right there, leading 6-5 and needing just six outs to win their first MVC softball crown, but the Bears rallied for three runs in the sixth and reliever Rikki Correll worked around a leadoff single in the seventh to deliver PV’s seventh title in eight years. And on a side note, thanks to Bill Bergen (and the many fans around me) for being a good sport as I chewed, and spit, sunflower seeds throughout. Even after I accidentally spit a shell on Bill’s shoe he just laughed it off. Good guy.
I was in Philadelphia last night for Chase Utley’s first game of the season, and although he went 0-for-5 as the Phillies pummeled Cincinatti 10-3, he did hit some balls hard. I was amazed as I watched batting practice and how nonchalant some Phillies seemed to take it, trying to serve the ball to all three fields instead of just making hard contact. When Utley stepped in though he did so with a purpose. He worked on pulling the ball, hitting it up the middle and going to left field, but tried to hit every ball hard. Here’s hoping that kind of seriousness could make trickle around the ball club with Utley now back in the fold.
This is a couple weeks overdue, but another Flyers’ season ended in disappointment with more unanswered questions about who the team’s goalie will be going forward. Who could have guessed? Finding a top-flight, No. 1 goalie is probably harder than finding a No. 1 starting pitcher. Across the street at Citizen’s Bank Park the Phillies have four No. 1 starters. Combining all the Flyers goalies probably wouldn’t add up to one No. 1 goalie. Brian Boucher is a serviceable backup, but at this stage of his career that’s probably the ceiling. Sergei Bobrovsky has a lot of promise, but seemed to wilt as the season wound down. I would be stunned if Michael Leighton figures into the team’s plans going forward. There are ways to hide an average goalie. Having a suffocating defense would be a start, or a defensive system that doesn’t include multiple turnovers deep in their own end of the ice which lead to average goalies being hung out to dry. But that’s not something that can be done overnight. And I haven’t even addressed the issues “captain” Mike Richards seems to have with the Philadelphia media. This will be an interesting offseason to say the least.
OK, what else? With the NFL still in lockout mode there isn’t a whole lot to discuss when it comes to the Eagles. Their draft was average in my eyes. The two biggest holes on the team, pass rush and cornerback, weren’t addressed and who knows what kind of free agent system will be in place when football is back in business. Picking a 26-year-old in the first round, even if Danny Watkins can come in and start from Day 1, is odd considering the Eagles are one of the most, if not the most, obsessive teams about the age of their players. It’s obvious, to me and I’m not alone, that the Eagles plan on chasing Nnmadi Asomugha (with the pedal to the medal perhaps?), but they won’t be alone in pursing the game’s top corner. So if that doesn’t work what then? Not really a big fan of putting all your eggs in one basket, but who am I to question the gold standard of NFL franchises.
One more with me saving the best for last in the Sixers. Listen, it’s great that Doug Collins helped Philly get into the playoffs with an average roster and get the city enthusiastic about basketball again. And there are positives to build upon like Jrue Holiday and Thad Young seeing their games take off and the return of Elton Brand as a top-50 NBA player, but this team is still light years away from even competing in their conference let alone winning a championship. And with the 16th pick in next month’s draft, completing the puzzle to get to contender status won’t be completed. So who do they go after? I’d like to see someone who can both rebound and defend two positions (either the 2 and 3 or 3 and 4). It would be a bonus if they can score a little. And what happens with Andre Iguodala? He seemed pretty disinterested in the playoffs and there have been grumblings that he wants out, which the Sixers probably would be OK with but I’m not sure who would trade for his outrageous contract. What could hurt the Sixers the most is a possible lockout. This is a young team that needs more time on the court together. That would be the first step to getting better, and more importantly, more consistent.