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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Rob’s Rants on Sports: Eagles Win Ugly; Embiid Shines in Debut; Flyers Comeback Win Impressive; Sports Talk Moves; more

The Eagles got an ugly win against previously undefeated Minnesota, and Joel Embiid’s long awaited debut may have been the highlight of the week. Here’s my Rob’s Rants:
Embiids tweet featured a pic of his own fist-pump

  • Five turnovers on five consecutive possessions in the first quarter marred the Eagles game. I’ll admit when I’m wrong, and, at least for a week, I was way off about Sam Bradford. More on that in a second. Carson Wentz is the concern in Philadelphia, and he looked predictably bad against one of the best defenses in the league. Yes, the Eagles won the game, but with his 2 interceptions and 3 fumbles—2 of which the Eagles recovered—there wasn’t much reason to give Wentz credit. He did have one TD pass, but his QBR was an anemic 13 as he passed for just 138 yards, completing 16 of 28 attempts.

  • Last night we finally got to see Embiid on the court in an NBA game that meant something, and he didn’t disappoint. It’s hard not to gush over his performance. He moves with a smoothness that is hard to believe for a 7’ 2” guy, can score down low, and even showed a shooting touch that apparently includes 3-point range—though I wonder if that’s what the Sixers want. In just 22 minutes, Embiid shot 6 for 16, 1 of 3 from beyond the arc, and 7 of 8 from the free throw line, which I always think is a good indicator of a guy’s shooting ability. The center helped the Sixers almost pull off the upset win over the Thunder. The best part may have been seeing other guys already starting to fall into roles in which they actually look capable by playing alongside the best player on the team—a concept lost on the organization for years under Sam Hinkie. I’ll still be holding my breath a little every time Embiid’s on the court fearing the next injury, but Sixers fans can only hope to watch this guy for the next decade.

  • The Flyers rallied from a 3-goal deficit against Buffalo on Tuesday night to force overtime. I’m sure hockey purists hate hearing this from guys like me, but the 3-on-3 format in overtime was the most enjoyable hockey I’ve watched in ages. It’s a wide open game with plenty of scoring chances. I was almost disappointed by the shootout, which gave the Flyers the win, because I wanted more of the 3-on-3.

  • Bradford flat out choked in his return to Philadelphia. Sometimes it’s difficult to know if a defense shut down an offense or if the offense just stunk. The Eagles defense is looking very good, but I just can’t get to the point of saying they were responsible for Bradford’s performance. The end zone interception he threw on Minnesota’s second possession—after the defense gave him the ball on the Eagles’ 2-yard line—was ridiculous. It looked like Bradford just threw it up for grabs because he had no idea what else to do. He was eventually sacked 6 times, but he wasn’t sacked once to that point. I have no idea how that team was 5-0.

  • I’ve laid off the topic of the comings and goings of sports talk hosts a bit for various reasons, but the move of Joe Decamera from 97.5 to 94.1 is potentially interesting. Decamera’s teaming with Jon Ritchie to replace Michael Barkann and Ike Reese in the midday slot. Somehow, Reese survived, moving to drive time with Joe Giglio, though I’m guessing it’s a short-term situation. I was hanging in with Anthony Gargano’s morning show on 97.5 until Jon Marks left. I felt like Marks made Gargano OK, and, I had such an aversion to Barkann and Reese, I didn’t want to risk hearing them even for a minute after Angelo Cataldi signed off in the morning for WIP. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed 97.5’s Harry Mayes with most of his various partners, including current co-host Rob Ellis. Before the change, I had been leaving the radio off until Mayes and Ellis came on. Now, I could see going back to Cataldi in the morning on WIP, and possibly staying there at times. Afternoon drive-time is still going to be dominated by Mike Missanelli.

  • On Sunday, I watched about 8 hours of the worst football I’ve ever seen. Now that I got my analysis out of the way, the Eagles game sucked. Five turnovers in a row is just disgraceful. Anticipation for Steelers-Patriots in the late afternoon game was dampened by Ben Roethlisberger’s injury, but the Steelers basically treated the game like an extra bye week, sitting several players as they headed into their actual bye. Despite that, they sort of hung around with a Patriots team that was blowing teams out since Tom Brady’s return. And the night game ended 6-6. Enough said.

  • The World Series is underway, and I really wish I cared more. Playing the most important games of the summer sport in cold weather has to change somehow. But my main thought is that I hope the Cubs beat the Indians so Steve Bartman can just move on.

  • ESPN recently aired an Outside The Lines focused on the Lakers, called A dynasty derailed. It unwittingly reminded viewers (at least this one) of the farce that the NBA can be at times, pushing glamour franchises over others. It’s obvious every time the league sits by while a young superstar forces his way to L.A. or New York. But somehow it’s even more disgusting when a network airing NBA games treats the failures of one of these franchises as a national story.

  • Aside from watching the Sixers finally try to develop, the NBA season is potentially 7 games long this year—the maximum length of a Finals between the Cavaliers and Warriors. It’s such a foregone conclusion that they meet for the championship, the only way the season becomes interesting is if that doesn’t happen.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Rob’s Rants on Sports: Eagles Drop Second Straight; Pederson’s “Andy Reid” Moment; Bradford Returns; Looking Ahead to the Vikings; more

It was an ugly week for Philadelphia sports, and, as always, it starts with the Eagles.

  • The long awaited suspension of Eagles offensive lineman Lane Johnson finally took effect this week, and the result was as ugly as fans feared.  The first play from scrimmage saw Carson Wentz sacked with a torn jersey. It was an omen of things to come as he was sacked a total of 5 times on Sunday. He was sacked a total of 7 times in the previous 4 games. Potentially worse news came from Ron Jaworski. Talking to Mike Missanelli on 97.5, “Jaws” said that of the 27 times Carson Wentz dropped back to pass, Johnson’s replacement, rookie offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai, was left on his own only 8 times. In other words, the Eagles were already giving him help, and, well, it didn’t help.

  • Earlier in the interview, Jaworski may have offered the stat of the week to illustrate the ugliness of the Eagles’ loss. He said that teams that have a kickoff return and interception return for a touchdown in the same game—which the Birds had on Sunday—have “about a 99 percent win percentage.” He did not site a source, but it didn’t sound like he was using hyperbole.

  • I didn’t think Wentz was horrible or even bad, throwing 11 of 22 for 179 yards. Obviously, they aren’t great numbers, but he didn’t turn the ball over and he was pressured all game.

  • No one is “worried” that Jim Schwartz will soon be leaving for a head coaching job this week. Yes, the defense scored a touchdown, but giving up 135 yards rushing to Matt Jones—the second-year player has topped 65 yards only two other times, against St. Louis and Cleveland—was ugly.

  • Doug Pederson had his first Andy Reid-esque moment, punting the ball from about midfield despite being down 7 with less than 2 minutes left in the game and 2 timeouts. I understand it was 4th-and-24 and Freddie Mitchell wasn’t in the stadium. But you can’t punt the ball there. You’re not getting it back. They punted from their own 40-yard line with 1:38 left. Best case scenario, the Eagles get the ball back about where they started with a fresh set of downs and 40 seconds left. And no timeouts. It was the New Orleans playoff game all over (albeit, in a less important game). You have the ball, you have control on some level. Take the shot.

  • With Minnesota coming to town, it’s impossible not to think about the Eagles trade of Sam Bradford. It’s far too early to evaluate it, and, obviously, it wasn’t a trade involving Wentz. But, let’s face reality, the trade will be judged based on the performance of the two quarterbacks. People suddenly seem to want to call it a “win-win,” when just six weeks ago they were saying Minnesota got fleeced. With the Vikings 5-0, getting 4 wins with Bradford at QB, the adjustment isn’t surprising. I said all along that it was the right move given that the Eagles drafted Wentz, but the idea that Minnesota got robbed never made sense. According to ESPN, entering this week, Bradford is 5th in the league in quarterback rankings. His numbers aren’t stellar, but he has 6 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and, again, his team is undefeated. He’s also 1st in completion percentage. Yes, Minnesota’s got a great defense. But Bradford is still young. The biggest knock on him, besides being injury prone, is that he’s “Check-down Charlie.” (He’s actually 6th in passing yards per attempt.) At 5-0, I don’t think Minnesota cares. The first round draft pick they gave up next year for Bradford isn’t looking quite as good as Eagles fans thought it would be, and the conditional fourth rounder the following year is hit or miss. I still say Minnesota could end up with the better end of this trade.

  • Once again, I don’t understand the confidence about the Eagles going into this game. Even factoring in the 3 points given to home teams, Minnesota being favored by 3 seems low. I think the final score from last week is deceiving, and the Eagles hot start is still lingering. The Vikings defense is ranked 2nd in the league—the Eagles are 3rd—and they’re only giving up 12.6 points per game, which should be concerning for Philadelphia after last week.

  • The Sixers finally open up next week. Injuries and little TV coverage has made it tough to build excitement recently, but at least Joel Embiid has increased his minutes. Jahlil Okafor will reportedly play in the opener, though Nerlens Noel apparently will not. The injuries are frustrating, but I’m just ready to finally care about NBA basketball again.

  • The NHL schedule didn’t help a newbie like me get into the game, starting the Flyers on the West coast. I imagine they get some credit for rallying from a 4-0 deficit in Chicago to tie it up before they dropped the game, 7-4. I heard Steve Coats say they have two good goalies, which usually means they don’t have one. Hopefully, he’s right.

  • Sean McDonough admitted on Monday Night Football that the game was unwatchable (because of penalties). Experts struggle to understand TV ratings, but they’re down for football. I think Thursday night games are the culprit. Sunday used to be all about football, and the Monday night games capped off the gluttony. Then they added Sunday night games, and Thursdays were a nice bonus for a few weeks at the end of the season when most shows go to reruns around the holidays. Now, for me at least, Thursday night games are irrelevant unless a team I specifically care about is playing, because I’ve already given two nights to the NFL if I even watch MNF since the league drives the best match-ups to Sunday night, leaving terrible games on Monday.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Birth of Super Crip: Chapter 1

Red closed his locker, the clang of the metal door being slammed shut coming just before the bell signaling the end of lunch for juniors. He stopped at his locker once a day after lunch because he knew he could steal a little extra time in between periods. Kids with disabilities were always allowed to leave class a minute or two early to try to get a head start on reaching their next class before the halls filled with students at the bell. Some teachers were sticklers about them not leaving too early even if the lesson ended a few minutes before the bell. But lunch monitors rarely said anything even if they left as much as five minutes early, and even then a request to use the restroom always sufficed. He pushed the lock up, pressing the shackle against the inside of the hole in the handle of the locker to clamp it down, and he used his thumb to move the dial away from the final digit of his combination. He put his book bag over the back of the seat of his power wheelchair, which most people referred to as a scooter despite his protests, and turned to head for his next class only to find Chuck Groslin blocking his way.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Chuck asked. The football player towered over Red. Chuck’s stocky build was imposing to most of the kids in school.

Looking up at the familiar crew cut and lettered jacket that Chuck would wear even on the hottest days of the year, Red rolled his eyes. “It’s fifth period, Chuck,” he said. “Try to keep up. I’m going to the same place every time you do this. Social studies. It’s high school. Pretty much the same schedule every day.”

“What?” Chuck said again, adding a look of disgust. “I can’t even understand you when you talk.”

Red felt himself tense up, even feeling slightly light-headed for a second. Cracks about his speech disability always got under his skin the most. “So maybe you shouldn’t keep asking me questions, Einstein,” Red said, dismissing any thoughts of making light of the daily ritual. The hallways started to fill, and Red noticed Chuck’s girlfriend approaching him from behind. Red slowly started to steer his wheelchair past him.

“C’mon, Chuck,” Tara said, trying to gently push him on his way. “Just go to class.”

Instead, he took a step to his left to block Red’s path. “Did I give you permission to leave yet?”

Red glared at him, tempted to take a swing at the football player. “Move,” he growled.

When Chuck just stood there, Red made another attempt at steering around him. Suddenly, he felt the bully’s hand on his chest. “Where do you think you’re going?” Chuck asked again, standing right next to him and leaning down into his face.

A wave of energy surged through Red as he reached out to grab Chuck’s jacket, but he caught nothing but air. Blinded by darkness that came and went so fast that he wasn’t sure it happened, Red suddenly felt light-headed and saw dots everywhere. He heard a loud bang as if someone had slammed a locker. He caught a jumbled glimpse of Tara’s bulging eyes as she covered her mouth. Grabbing the armrest and handlebars of his power chair to steady himself, he wondered if he was having a seizure, though he’d only ever seen a couple of his friends have them. Other kids were pushing against him, a small crowd gathering to see what had happened.

Finally, his eyes started to focus. Chuck was lying on the floor with his head against a locker, and Tara was on her knees beside him trying to offer comfort. Did he slip? Red wondered. How did he get on the ground? He looked up again and noticed the other kids were starting to head to class.

Red took the opportunity to finally make his way around Chuck. His head felt as though it was swirling, almost like the momentary dizziness he often felt after getting out of a pool, but it wasn’t going away as fast. He purposely tried to take a deep breath, getting a good inhale on the second try. Exhaling, he was pretty sure that whatever he’d just experienced was starting to pass. It felt as though something was receding from his head. He didn’t look back at Chuck until he was several feet down the hall. His tormentor’s eyes looked up at him, seemingly as confused as he was. Feeling a couple pats on the back, Red vaguely heard kids say, “Nice job” and “Way to go.” He looked up at them, wondering why they were congratulating him.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Rob’s Rants on Sports: Eagles Finally Falter; Expectations Too Great? Doubting “DJax” Returns; Utley, Ruiz Give Phillies Fans a Playoff Interest; Remembering the Ickey Shuffle

No one thought Carson Wentz would go the entire season without experiencing a loss or throwing an interception. They also didn’t think it would be October before he did both. Here’s my latest Rob’s Rants on sports:

  • Let’s start at the finish. The Eagles lost 24-23 in Detroit, a loss that wasn’t sealed until Wentz threw his first career interception on a long pass to Nelson Agholor in the final minute of the game. Wentz blew it. There was 1:28 left in the game. In that situation, defenses are generally going to play somewhat of a “prevent defense”—keeping everything in front of them. He needed to get his feet wet in his first end-of-game 2-minute drill with some easy passes over the middle. It’s a tough way to get your first pick—he actually got away with a couple bad passes earlier—but this is what the Eagles signed up for when they handed the reigns to a rookie. The question is how he responds this week.

  • There’s really no reason to think the Wentz Wagon isn’t still rolling. Wentz was 25 of 33 for 238 yards passing and two touchdowns. He even had a couple opportunistic runs and protected himself. He doesn’t exactly look fleet of foot, but if he can grab some yards when he has the chance it will be a plus. More importantly, he took a baby step toward answering the question of how he would react to adversity. The Eagles were down 14-0 early in the game, and there was no sign of panic from Wentz.

  • The only real concern coming from the game should be about the defense. Detroit had the ball three times in the first half, and scored three touchdowns. They went 75, 80, and 75 yards. That’s a butt whuppin’. The one turnover the Eagles got in the game was a fumble Mathew Stafford of the Lions just let slip out of his hands. The “D” halted things pretty well in the second half, but they were supposedly geared up for Jim Schwartz’s return to Detroit and came out flat.

  • I love all the coaching experts on sports radio ripping Ryan Matthews for carrying the ball in the wrong hand when he fumbled late in the fourth quarter as if he’s now a bum. I think Jon Marks calls the day after a loss “Overreaction Monday,” and this was a perfect example. It’s tough the first turnover of the season setup Detroit’s game-winning field goal. But it was the first turnover of the season, and a defender put his helmet on the ball. It was going to happen eventually.

  • Expectations for the Eagles continue to be off the charts. I actually heard a guy call Sunday’s game the worst gut punch ever. If he started watching Philadelphia sports on Saturday night, he has a point. Five weeks ago this season was all about developing Carson Wentz. It still is, people! Quite frankly, I thought it was crazy that they were favored going into Detroit, and I don’t understand how they’re favored going to Washington. It’s their second road game in a row, and a lot of people thought Washington would be very good this year. With three straight wins, they’re starting to show signs of living up to expectations. I tried picking games on my old sports blog, and it’s brutally difficult. Suffice it to say, I think expectations for the Eagles for this season need to be lowered.

  • Since the Birds are playing in D.C., bringing back DeSean Jackson when he’s a free agent next off-season has been a hot topic. I’m sure Jackson’s teammates were thrilled that he didn’t exactly shy away from talking about it this week. My guess? It won’t happen. Jeff Lurie hates drama, which Jackson brings with him, and the Eagles are known for getting rid of players too soon instead of too late. Jackson will be 30 by the end of the season. And he’s not exactly lighting it up, with 18 catches for 278 yards—102 of which came in a blowout loss to the Steelers opening week—and 1 touchdown.

  • Phillies fans still have a rooting interest in the MLB Playoffs as Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley helped the Dodgers send the Nationals packing for the season last night. Ruiz pinch hit for Utley in the 7th inning, driving in the go-ahead run and keeping a 4-run inning going that ultimately won the game. (The fact that the inning took over an hour with 7 pitching changes is an issue baseball needs to figure out.) Fun fact—Jason I-hope-Philadelphia-never-wins-another-championship Werth got thrown out at the plate by a mile in the bottom of the 6th. Utley did his part in Game 4 with a 2-out solo home run in the bottom of the 8th to break a 5-5 tie. Even Joe Blanton pitched in, earning the win in Game 4. Unfortunately, I think the Dodgers have burned ace Clayton Kershaw for the early part of the NLCS against the Cubs (who I think win the series), pitching him on short rest in Game 4 and in relief in Game 5. I thought the latter was overkill.

  • I’m hoping Browns receiver Andrew Hawkings started a trend last week when he scored a touchdown against the Patriots and didn’t celebrate. He simply put the ball down, and, almost in military fashion, walked away. Hawkings was clearly mocking the absurdity of the NFL cracking down on any sort of taunting, otherwise known as celebrating. Of all the dumb things Roger Goodell has done to the NFL, this is by far the dumbest. People like touchdown celebrations. Thank God Roger wasn’t around earlier. We never would have had the Ickey Shuffle. Or Billy “White Shoes” Johnson’s celebrations. Or Washington’s “Fun Bunch.”

The Ickey Shuffle

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Rob’s Rants on Fall TV—Thoughts on Speechless, Designated Survivor, Bull, This Is Us, MacGyver, Kevin Can Wait, The Good Place, Timeless

My DVR is working overtime as I keep up with new shows I’m checking out this fall while watching my old favorites and plenty of sports. I know, I should read more. In the meantime, here’s a Rob’s Rants on the new shows I’m watching.

Speechless: Did you really think I was starting with any other show? The show has a character living with CP. I’ve heard black people talk about calling their friends in the ‘70s because there was actually a black character on TV. I think I now understand the feeling just a bit. And, of course, I’m over analyzing the show.

The family moved to a new school district because the mom (Minnie Driver) found a good situation for J.J. (Micah Fowler), her son who lives with CP. Yet, she discovers that the only ramp into the school is where they take out the garbage. She really investigated, eh? J.J. encounters a few over-the-top reactions to his presence—an aide who is giddy to meet him and a teacher who convinces students to suggest he run for class president. J.J.’s reactions capture the “what-the-f-bomb” moments well.

I loved the able-bodied brother, Ray (Mason Cook), getting stuck with the therapy session because J.J. wasn’t there. J.J. showing interest in girls and choosing his own aide (Cedrich Yardbough plays Kenneth) was good stuff. There was some great interaction between J.J. and Kenneth, and I like J.J. breaking the rules a bit—and getting crap for it. The mother-son relationship is developing well. The TV-date hit home for me. (Hey, at least mine started with The Mentalist—not The Bachelor!)

There are some forced moments in episode 3, and the house being a dump and the dad (John Ross Bowie) picking garbage . . . it’s just weird. I get it, the dad’s coping with J.J.’s limits. Fine. Clean the damn house.

Questions remain, especially why J.J. doesn’t have a speech synthesizer instead of someone reading what he says from a board—aside from it working on the show. I’m hoping they make fewer “statements” and “bring the funny” more, but I’m definitely going to keep watching.

The Designated Survivor: Kiefer Sutherland stars as Tom Kirkland, who becomes president after the Capital is blown up during the State of the Union. The show is balancing the investigation into the terrorist attack and, for better or worse, the politics of rebuilding our government quite well. It has quickly become a must watch for me.

Bull: Michael Weatherly stars as Jason Bull, an expert in trial science—think “ultra jury consultant.” I was freaked out by the fact that the firm employs a mirror jury for each case. Seriously? They find people who are just like the jurors? They even look like them. Plus, it’s a service for rich people aside from pro-bono work. And is Bull going to take guilty clients and get them off? Or is every client going to be innocent? So far, the stories behind the cases are decent, but I just don’t see people relating to the show, even if it survives sandwiched between NCIS shows. I’m not sure I’ll keep watching.

This Is Us: They’re tackling a lot with this show. A couple goes to the hospital as the wife goes into labor, expecting to bring home three babies. And they do. Only one is a black baby who was abandoned at birth. The couple is white, and one of their biological triplets didn’t survive birth. Told from the perspective of the parents when the kids were young and the children when they are adults, the story has already touched on many issues, including obesity, alcoholism, race, career / mid-life crisis, and discovering one’s biological parents. It’s thankfully not pounding viewers over the head with emotion, and I’ll keep watching.

MacGyver: Angus MacGyver (Lucas Hill) works for a secret government agency, thwarting plots against America with his low tech knowledge of seemingly everything within his reach. I never really watched the original, and I have to admit I thought it would be pretty cheesy. (The freeze-frame explanations of what he’s doing may fall into that category.) Low expectations and watching on DVR on Saturday mornings may be contributing to my being mildly pleasantly surprised. The relationship between “Mac” and his partner, Jack Dalton (George Eads), adds some fun to the show, and I also like Wilt (Justin Hires from the short-lived Rush Hour, which I thought deserved more time), Mac’s roommate. For the moment, I’ll keep watching.

Kevin Can Wait: Kevin James stars as a cop who has just retired. It’s not must see TV. I’ve had a genuine laugh or two, but it’s mostly chuckles at pretty typical guy stuff. I’m not long for it.
The Good Place: A woman is accidentally admitted to heaven, and her presence is destroying paradise. The first episode put me off with the idea that only the best of the best get to heaven, and everyone else, it’s suggested, are doomed to eternal damnation. I persevered to watch all of the episodes on demand to include the show here. I’ve only laughed once, but the concept is compelling. I don’t think that works for a sitcom. I doubt I’ll watch much more.

Timeless: Someone steals a top secret time machine and is altering historical events with unknown consequences. The main character is Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer), a history professor recruited to help stop the thief. So far, the Hindenburg disaster and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln have been kept intact with seemingly minor details changed. Yet, Preston returns to present day to find her previously dying mother healthy, her sister having never existed, and herself engaged to a man she doesn’t know. The possibilities seem endless. Possibly too much so? And predictability may become a problem if events are, essentially, unaltered. Ethical dilemmas, such as saving Lincoln, could be interesting. I’ll be watching to find out as time travel stories almost always fascinate me.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Rob’s Rants on Sports: Sixers Lose Simmons—For How Long? Howard Bids Farewell to Phillies Fans; Goodell Should Chill, and Gives Brady a Deflategate Gift

Bye weeks are always tough on football fans—particularly this week, when the NFL offered up some terrible games on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the Eagles not playing wasn’t the worst part of the weekend for Philadelphia sports fans as Ben Simmons of the 76ers went down with a foot injury last Friday. At least the dull football choices on Sunday afternoon gave fans a chance to watch (part of?) Ryan Howard’s likely last game in a Phillies uniform. Here’s my latest sports rants:

  • A week later, I’m still numb to the news that Simmons broke his foot in the last scrimmage of training camp. But I don’t want to hear any of the garbage about sitting him for the season. On Sunday, Keith Pompey of the Inquirer, echoed many, including Simmons’ agent from what I’ve heard on radio, writing, “The 76ers should strongly consider ending Ben Simmons’ season before it officially begins.” Later, he added, “The typical recovery time for a Jones fracture is six to eight weeks. Teams usually add two to three weeks for recovery time. He’ll be out around three months just to make sure an eager-to-play Simmons won’t be rushed back.” No! Sitting Simmons all season would be absurd. The injury occurred in September. I’m not ripping Pompey, but even by the timetable he reported, Simmons is back right after the new year. That leaves four months of a six month season. There’s zero reason to sit him after that (assuming normal recovery). It’s unbelievable how Hinkie-ized Philly has become! Play the damn game. Learn by doing. It’s an actual thing. Adjust to your teammates. Adjust to the NBA. This whole concept of waiting for everyone to get here and be in perfect health before they start to actually try to win basketball games has been ridiculous from the start. Case in point—possibly the best player on the team just went down with an injury. Oh, scratch off another year. Things are going to happen. We’re already beyond the point where guys who were part of the beginning of the “process” are long gone (i.e., Michael Carter-Williams). Enough. It sucks Simmons got hurt. Actually, it’s un-friggin’-believable given what this franchise has put fans through. Yes, make 100% sure he’s healthy. Then play the guy.

  • Meanwhile, there’s still plenty to watch with the Sixers this season—assuming the tank-athon doesn’t resume. Finally seeing Joel Embiid on the court Tuesday night was encouraging. Stating the obvious, the man is huge. I can’t remember the last time I saw an NBA player truly stand out for his size among other NBA big men. It’s tough to make any judgments on him based on the little he played, but he actually seems to have a light touch on the ball. Last night, I only saw highlights, but it looked like he showed flashes of dominance down low. Dario Saric wasn’t exactly lighting it up on Tuesday, but he looks like he can shoot as advertised. Thursday’s 5 of 7 shooting, including 2 of 3 from 3-point territory, in 18 minutes seems promising.

  • Ryan Howard did a great job addressing the crowd just prior to his presumed farewell appearance as a player for the Philadelphia Phillies. Some questioned the lack of emotion from the first baseman leading up to the final game, but I think it made complete sense as he has said repeatedly that he wants to continue playing. He actually surprised me with the emotion he showed on Sunday, a tear running down his cheek and his voice cracking at one point. As I wrote last week, there is no championship parade in Philadelphia in 2008 without Howard. I’m glad he got the farewell he deserved from fans.

  • I heard this on 97.5’s “15 Seconds of Fame”—the Phillies congratulated the New York Mets for clinching the Wild Card on the scoreboard after Saturday’s game at Citizens Bank Park. (Confirmed here.) Seriously? I’m all for a kinder, gentler society, and better sportsmanship. I just don’t think we need a huge message on our home scoreboard congratulating our division rivals on going to the playoffs while our team goes home—especially when the Phillies had a chance to play spoiler and came up short.

  • Someone please give Roger Goodell a “chill pill.” Antonio Brown was fined again for a touchdown celebration. I will never understand why the commish worries about such nonsense. It’s part of what people like about the NFL. They even advertise TD celebrations. I know, the excuse was that the celebration was sexually suggestive. Thankfully there are never any sexually suggestive ads on the game broadcasts or scantily dressed cheerleaders on the sidelines. (Shhh! Don’t tell Roger.)

  • Tom Brady returns from his Deflategate suspension to face . . . Cleveland. A little in-season preseason-esque game as an olive branch from Roger?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

I’m Not Here to Inspire You is Now Available on SmashWords—Don’t Let the Title Fool You!

Cover of I'm Not Here to Inspire You featuring Rob finishing the MS Ride
World Cerebral Palsy Day seemed as good a day as any to finally put my first book, I’m Not Here to Inspire You: Essays on disability from a regular guy living with cerebral palsy, on

I self-published the book a little more than three years ago through iUniverse. I’m simply re-publishing it through SmashWords to take advantage of the pricing flexibility they offer writers.

Nothing has changed about I’m Not Here to Inspire You, though I’ll admit that there have been times that I wished I had gone with a different title. (I have lost track of the number of wisecracks I’ve heard about it.) And, rereading the book before giving a copy to a friend not long after putting the book on SmashWords, I will add that at times my delivery might be a bit softer now. Yet, I still hope there are some positive messages in the book.

I wanted to get people’s attention with the title, and I guess I did.

A few people with disabilities indicated that they like the title, and that helps me remember why I published the collection of short essays in the first place. I especially hoped young people living with disabilities would read it.

Recently, I’ve enjoyed hearing them offer the same message about what some now call “inspiration porn.” This summer, a young woman named Anastasia Somoza, who is also living with cerebral palsy, spoke at the Democratic National Convention. In a video released around her brief but strong appearance at the DNC, she said, “I think it’s a bit silly when people give me the sense that they think I’m inspiring, just because I live my everyday life. And I think that is what we need to change.”

In September, Zach Anner, a very funny comic living with cerebral palsy who won his own show from Oprah Winfrey (though I don’t know if it ever ran), came out with a list of the top 10 things people should know about cerebral palsy. Number 7? He’s not inspiring just because he has cerebral palsy.

And before the haters come calling, no, I don’t think they got the message from my book.

Even though my book was out first!

I hope people will take a chance on the book—the deal on SW makes it easier than ever—and read beyond the title. The very first paragraph of the introduction points out that there’s nothing wrong with true inspiration. The title is merely a nod of understanding to other people with disabilities who have experienced the person in the supermarket, restaurant, or anywhere else, who makes a point to tell us just how wonderful it is to see us there—in all of our disabled glory, apparently. Praise Jesus! You’ve gone out of the house, you inspiring miracle!

Ok, I got a little carried away. Though I have read stories of disabled people actually having strangers pray over them. And I understand that people mean well. Yet, besides the occasional awkward encounter it creates, the basic image of people with disabilities that has been available in the media for years—someone with a disability who inspires others by simply being alive—is problematic.

It lowers the bar for people with disabilities.

Imagine that the only picture of a disabled person an able-bodied individual has in their mind is the beaming individual using a wheelchair, happy to simply exist and take hollow compliments. Think about the reaction that person will have when someone using a wheelchair enters their office looking for a job. Is that person really going to take the job applicant seriously? If the same two people meet in a bar, will the able-bodied person see the other as a potential date? If they meet at a PTA meeting and have differing opinions on a particular subject, will the individual with a disability truly be listened to?

The answer is “no.” The able-bodied person is much more likely to politely (in their mind) dismiss the person with a disability, perhaps think it’s “nice” they were included, and quickly move on to the business at hand.

Of course, I’m Not Here to Inspire You is about more than this one concept. I wrote about my experiences as a mainstreamed student, doing physical therapy and lifting weights, the problem with politically correct language, what I call the hierarchy of disability, a Christmas memory about the way people with disabilities view each other, cycling, and the struggle to find love and, yes, sex. I don’t pull any punches, which I know some folks have taken as bitterness. My hope, instead, is to offer a real picture of life with a disability.

Another topic I write about is the fact that older people with disabilities are an under-utilized resource by schools for their disabled students. Writing about my experiences in a realistic manner is my effort to fill that role in a small way of allowing young people with disabilities to hear from someone who has been through some of what they’re experiencing. I hope readers will learn from some of my mistakes. I also write about doing the MS Ride in 2010. It’s not to brag. It’s to let a kid with a disability know that as much as I want her or him to be realistic about their life with a disability, I also want them to push their limits—for themselves, not to inspire others.

I hope other people will read the book, too. World Cerebral Palsy Day, as I understand it, is about raising awareness about living with CP. I believe my book fits in with that goal. And, by the way, readers have called the book “funny,” said it “hit home,” and that if “you’re disabled, it’s the sort of book to buy, read, and pass along to the important people in your life.”

I really hope the deal outlined below makes it easy for you to give the book a chance. Remember not to let the title fool you, and that I’m still not here to inspire you.

Get I’m Not Here to Inspire You and The Birth of Super Crip for Less than $5

Starting today, World Cerebral Palsy Day, through November 3rd, both of my books are available through SmashWords for less than $5! I’m Not Here to Inspire You: Essays on disability from a regular guy living with cerebral palsy is available for $3.99. But readers can get it for just $1.99 by using coupon code CU34Q, which is valid through November 3rd. (Remember, don’t let the title fool you!) That is the one-year anniversary of the official release of my novel, The Birth of Super Crip. By using coupon code FJ39U, readers can now get a dollar off the novel, making it available for $2.99. This coupon is also valid through November 3rd. Not to sound like a used car salesman, but that’s both books for less than 5 bucks.

UPDATE: The coupons have expired, but the books are still very affordable. Learn more each book on their home pages: Click here for The Birth of Super Crip, and here for I’m Not Here to Inspire You. (The links can also be found at the top of each page as of this update.) Thank you.
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