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Monday, August 22, 2016

Rob’s Rants on Sports: Cheering Chase vs. the Phillies; Eagles Preseason Continues; Overestimating Saric

I went to the Phillies game Tuesday night to see Chase Utley. I helped give him the standing “O” when he leadoff for the Dodgers. And I was happy he struck out. I was done honoring Utley’s time as a Phillies player (for the night), and, though I didn’t expect it, I wanted the Phillies to win. Utley signed a bunch of autographs before the game and accepted the ovation well. I thought the Phillies handled his return with class, showing a short video tribute (in between an early half inning), and I thought Cameron Rupp stood out by stepping away from the plate when Utley first came up to bat.

Then things got a little awkward.

In his next at-bat, Utley got another standing ovation from a significant portion of the crowd. His home run in his third at-bat that gave the Dodgers a lead was met with more cheers. I gave a polite clap to both, feeling like I’d gone to see Utley and didn’t necessarily want to see him stink it up.

Why people continued to cheer each time he came to bat was beyond me, and when he hit a grand slam after the game was already getting ugly, I think the cheering was a little weird. I was also surprised to learn later—I didn’t see it at the game—that Utley gave a half-hearted curtain call after both homers. You just can’t do that. I’m guessing he didn’t really want to do it, and maybe he even did it to quiet the crowd out of embarrassment. But I just don’t think he should have done that.

I’m not ripping Utley. He’s an all-time Phillies player, and one of the best in the game at least in his time. I hope to be there when he’s enshrined on the Wall of Fame. I just think the Phillies fans gave him a bit too much love during the game Tuesday night.

  • Thursday night’s Eagles 17-0 win in a preseason game against the Steelers seemed to to leave some fans very impressed. I re-watched it on DVR—I mostly watched the Phillies—and I don’t understand the elation. The fact that the Steelers have yet to play their offensive stars in two preseason games shows how meaningless these games are. Yes, the Eagles picked off Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones 4 times, including a “pick-6.” Nelson Agholor made a nice catch, and rookie Paul Turner looked good a couple times. But, basically, the Steelers backups moved the ball pretty well against the Eagles defensive starters. I’m not sure how many starters played for the Steelers defense early on, but the Eagles scoring came directly from or was setup by the turnovers. The fact that these two teams play in Week 3—it’s ridiculous they even played in the preseason—no doubt kept things blander than usual, but I thought this game offered zero to get Birds fans excited.

  • I can’t believe how much talk there’s been on sports radio about Doug Pederson having Carson Wentz in “so late” during the first preseason game when he got hurt. He’s a football player. What’s Pederson supposed to do? Everyone knew Wentz was going to play the second half. People were joking that they might show up at halftime because they were more interested in watching Wentz than the starters. I didn’t hear anyone question the fact that the quarterback would be playing with backups for fear that he might get hurt before game. Pederson did nothing wrong.

  • I’m mildly confused by the Eagles trading Dennis Kelly for wide receiver Dorian Green-Beckham. I get that the Eagles desperately need help at receiver, and Green-Beckham supposedly has a huge upside, but apparently had a bad work ethic with the Titans. It’s a great low-risk gamble for the Eagles. But I question trading the offensive lineman who was backing up Lane Johnson, who is likely to be suspended for most of the season. Short-term, they could be sentencing their quarterbacks to serious damage. Overall, though, I think it was a good move.

  • After Croatia lost to Serbia in the quarterfinal of the Men’s Basketball competition in the Rio Summer Olympics, soon-to-be-Sixer Dario Saric said, “I don’t know what to say. We lost again, and I played like the last p---y.”* Sixers fans will love that type of talk. But I wonder if we should be concerned that Saric scored 7 points, isn’t listed as a “Key Player” in the game story, and, if I’m reading his Euroleague stats (and doing the math) properly, he averaged 11.7 points last season and 9.9 points in the previous season. Most people—myself included—thought Saric would light it up from 3-point range when he got to Philadelphia. I’m not sure that’s going to be the case. In fact, though I can’t remember enough to reference names, I’ve heard at least one, maybe two, NBA analysts call Saric a role player. Now that he’s going to be here, it’s not a huge deal. But, for me it’s just one more reason the Sam Hinkie “plan” was a joke. He was willing to use a first round pick and wait, at the time, an undetermined number of years, for a potential role player.


*Ready for sourcing hell? I heard this from Harry Mayes on 97.5, who retweeted it from @crosports_; then I googled the quote, finding it on talkbasket.net, which credited http://sportske.jutarnji.hr/.

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