Tag Archives: L.J. Smith

The Week in Review

No-show(s) of the Week

Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton, come on down! Let’s combine the stats Blanton and Kendrick offered up against the Nationals this week: 8 innings pitched, 14 hits, 10 runs allowed, 6 walks, 3 K’s. And guess what? The Phillies lost both games. To the Nationals. Not cool. The Phillies have been getting quality, quality starts from Cole Hamels, Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer. Hell, call Myers the Second-half Messiah, ‘cuz he resurrected, baby! (Editor’s note: Now hold your horses – that’s just sacrilegious). The Phillies can’t afford such a drop in performance from Kendrick and Blanton; I’m not asking them to suddenly channel Nolan Ryan, but 10 runs allowed in 8 combined innings is a surefire formula for failure 2 out of every 5 games. It puts an incredible amount of strain on the bullpen and a lot of pressure on the offense. You are, as they say, only as strong as your weakest link(s).

Stud of the Week

I don’t care if it was against the Rams, though it certainly helped: Donovan McNabb looked sharp. 21-33 for 361 yards and 3 TD’s. Yeah, that’s a damn good start. He made smart decisions, was accurate when he had guys open, and showed solid pocket presence. That, and he’s my starting fantasy quarterback. I don’t think I need to say much more than that, do I? Oh, and a quick shout-out to the Eagles receiving corps and L.J. Smith – a job well done, gentlemen. Doesn’t mean I’m retracting on my Anquan Boldin stance, because the Rams secondary was, um…well, were they even on the field? (Editor’s note: They were there in spirit, I think). But, a nice job turned in by all. Bring on the Cowbitches.

My All-encompassing Thought of the Week

God, its awesome to have football back. Does any sport cater to a gathering quite like football? Wings, veggies, dip, chips, some brews, a bunch of good people, and good ol’ Eagles football. It’s heaven, just pure bliss. Football has something for everyone, even the most casual fans. Big hits, graceful catches, ridiculous runs, bone-crunching hits. Yup, I love football. (Editor’s note: Understatement much?) I don’t think I’m going to have anything else to say about that, mostly because I’m recovering from a few too many cold ones and a bunch of greasy food. And that’s just the way I like it.

My Painfully Specific Thought of the Week

Yeah, Pat Burrell is AWOL. I didn’t want to No-show him again this week, especially because Kendrick and Blanton were far too detrimental to the Phillies against the Nationals, but the Fightins could really use his production right now. Burrell had an absolutely horrendous August: he hit .181 with an OPS of .618 and 29 K’s, the worst numbers he put up in those categories all year. To his credit, Burrell was huge early in the year, along with Chase Utley. But for the Phillies to really make their push, they’ll need Burrell to wake up. Charlie has been trying to compensate for his lack of production, mostly moving Jayson Werth all over the lineup. If Burrell starts hitting like he was early in the year, and the Phillies keep their bats hot, they’ll swing their way back into the postseason. They may do so anyway, but Burrell is a very important part of this lineup, especially hitting after Howard, When he’s swinging well, teams aren’t as likely to pitch around Ryan Howard. But if he can’t get it going again, Howard will see less pitches to drive, and the juggling lineup routine will continue.

Moment of the Week

The Red Bull Soapbox Race was an absolute blast. The fact that it was pouring all day actually made the event even more fun, in no small part because of the hordes of beautiful women walking around in wet t-shirts. It was a sloppy, wet, drunken mess of humanity (Editor’s note: Reminds me of all that was good about college) that booed when the racers didn’t crash at the end of the course and cheered when they did. The group I was with managed to find the perfect vantage point, perching on top of a small utility garage right behind the finish line. It was certainly better than standing ground level, where you were lucky to see past all of people crowding around the guard rail. That, and truly motivated drinkers requesting showers of beer made for a great downtime activity. While all of the above was classic, the highlight of the day had to be the Michael Jackson Car. The car itself was simple, with Michael Jackson hunched over on a small platform attached to the back of the soapbox. The car rocketed down the course, crossing the finish line without breaking. As the car neared the emergency hay bales, the crowd started hollering, hoping and praying that Michael Jackson was going to go balls-out in his game of chicken with the hay. We were not to be disappointed; the Jackson car rammed into the the bales head first at roughly 30 MPH, as the crowd exploded with excitement. That explosion, however, was not nearly as epic as the soapbox’s, which flipped both itself and its two inhabitants clear of the sizable stack of hay. It was a glorious collage of arms and legs and wheels and hay decorating the rain splotched sky. Michael Jackson probably got a good 8 feet of air as he somersaulted toward the pavement. It was horrifying and spectacular and utterly ballsy and one of the craziest things I have seen in a good while. (Editor’s note: Does anybody else get the impression that the Michael Jackson car was some sort of religious experience for The Pundit?) The entire day was a testament to human ingenuity, enthusiastic, drenched and drunken Philadelphians, and some good old-fashioned soapbox racing fun. Lucy and I termed it the Carcrash Downpour Derby. Thank you Red Bull for a truly fun day – we hope you will come back soon.

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Filed under Eagles, MLB, NFL, Phillies, The Week in Review

Eagles Preview and more

This Eagles season, more than many in recent history, is chock full of questions. So many, in fact, that I decided to do my entire Eagles preview in question format. I could make a slew of blanket claims, hoping I got some of them right, guys don’t get injured, etc. Instead, I’m going to focus on the aspects of this team that are huge question marks. I’ll put the answer that would benefit the Eagles, but not necessarily my opinion, after the question. At the end, I’ll give my prediction based upon how many questions I think the Eagles will answer to their benefit. Everybody have their number two pencils ready? And…go!

1. Will Donovan McNabb stay healthy? (Huge Yes)

2. Will Brian Westbrook continue to be one of the best best weapons in football – for 16 games? (The Biggest Yes)

3. Can Tony Hunt become a reliable fullback? (Yes)

4. Will Lorenzo Booker and Correll Buckhalter be able to spell Westbrook? (Yes)

5. Will the receiving corps hold water until Kevin Curtis comes back? (Yes)

6. Will they drop too many passes again this year? (No)

7. Will DeSean Jackson be a big-play threat? (Yes)

8. Will L.J. Smith reestablish himself as a quality TE? (Yes)

9. Will the offensive line stay healthy? (Yes)

10. Will the offensive line protect McNabb? (Yes)

11. Will our offense be more productive in the red zone? (Yes)

12. Will Andy Reid commit more to the running game? (Yes)

13. Will the DT’s get a surge up the middle, stuffing the opposing team’s running game? (Yes)

14. Will one of the DE’s other then Trent Cole become a consistent pass rusher? (Yes)

15. Will we get a bit more production from Darren Howard? (Yes)

16. Will the young linebacking corps swarm to the ball, wreaking havoc on the opposing team’s running game? (Yes)

17. Will the young linebacking corps make too many mental mistakes? (No)

18. Will the three corner circus be effective? (Yes)

19. Will Asante Samuel live up to his huge contract? (Yes)

20. Will The Agent Fatale turn Lito Sheppard into a media whore, convincing him to go by an alternate moniker such as LS or Lito Dos Seis? (Nooooooooooooooooooooooo)

21. Is Brian Dawkins past his prime? (No)

22. Will Quentin Mikell be a liability? (No)

23. Will Jim Johnson draw up a wild array of blitz schemes that work? (Yes)

24. Will David Akers return to form? (Yes)

25. Can DeSean Jackson and Quintin Demps consistently be dangerous return men? (Yes)

Quick note: A couple of these are huge, much more drastic than the others – namely, number 1 and 2. If McNabb or Westbrook get hurt, they won’t make the playoffs. So, the following scores are assuming that McNabb and Westbrook will stay healthy.

If the answers to 23-25 of these questions benefit the Eagles, they represent the NFC in the Superbowl.

If the answers to 20-22 of these questions benefit the Eagles, they win the NFC East

If the answers to 15-19 of these questions benefit the Eagles, they make the wildcard.

Any less and they miss the playoffs.

The Pundit’s Take: I have the Eagles positively answering 18 of these questions, putting them solidly in the wildcard. Questions I think they fail on: 3, 5, 6, 8, 12, 14, 17. Again, if either McNabb or Westbrook gets hurt, all bets are off. And now, your full NFL season prediction.

NFC Playoff Teams

1. Dallas (Wins NFC East, and yes, I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate writing this)

2. Green Bay (Wins NFC North)

3. New Orleans (Wins NFC South)

4. Seattle (Wins NFC West)

5. Philadelphia

6. Minnesota

(Eagles beat Seahawks in first wildcard, and Minnesota beats New Orleans in a wild weekend. Dallas beats Minnesota, and the Eagles shock the Packers, at Lambeau, behind a classic performance from Mr. McNabb. And then, in the most tragic moment in Eagles history, the Cowboys beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship game, causing the city of Philadelphia to be the first area ever in American History to be put into a “State of Depression.” Nobody shows up to work for a week, mass looting ensues, and broken beer bottles littered on the street make it impossible to drive anywhere. God, I really, really hope that I’m wrong.)

AFC Playoff Teams

1. New England (AFC East champions, losing three in the regular season)

2. San Diego (AFC West champions)

3. Jacksonville (AFC South Champions)

4. Pittsburgh (AFC North Champions)

5. Indianapolis

6. Cleveland

(Jacksonville crushes the Browns, and the Colts beat the Steelers in a competitive game. Jacksonville’s defense and running game are just enough to propel them past the now Merriman-less Chargers, and the Colts squeak by the Patriots in another classic between the two, this one ending in overtime. Jacksonville relishes its opportunity to play at home, exorcising their Colts demons and winning to go to the Superbowl)

Superbowl prediction: Every year, I want to put the Eagles here. I really, really do. And every year, I pray the Cowboys don’t make it here. But this year, they will. And I think that they will beat the Jaguars. (Editor’s note: Feel free to find The Pundit and to kick the shit out of him). I’m sorry, I feel like a traitor, but I think Adam Jones is going to be a clutch addition, I think Tony Romo will be a more focused force, I think Marion Barber will have a big year. I just don’t see a ton of weaknesses on this team. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sit in a cold shower with my clothes on (Editor’s note: YES HE DESERVES TO DIE, AND I HOPE HE BURNS IN HELL!)

Oh, and please read this in case you’re not sure what just happened above. Focus on paragraph four. And ignore Sports Illustrated from now on, please.

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