The Night the Croquet Gods Cried

July 3, 2016 – Grantville, PA – On the eve of our nation’s birthday, in a small town outside Hershey (an only slightly bigger town), titans clashed on a field of croquet.  The first two games of what is sure to be an ugly, hard-fought Angelotti/Skinner rivalry commenced.  After an evening full of debauchery, foul language, faulty equipment, and ugly play that surely made the Croquet Gods cry upon their mallets, the two leading members of the each clan squared off with dreams of initialing the coveted Foosball Trophy.

In one corner stands Shawn Skinner, the self-proclaimed King of Croquet.  (It should be noted that those claims are largely unsubstantiated, but hey, only a man with an ego the size of Skinner’s can dare call himself a King!  An ego so abundant that surely it has begun to eat itself.)  A swing so mighty that is equaled only by his mouth, Skinner is able to read the greens and breeze through a course with the ease of shark through water.  In the other corner stands Facebookless Joe Angelotti, The Worm.  Perhaps no one in all of backyard sports plays the mind games as well as The Worm, able to burrow his way in to the heads of his opponents; masterfully walking the tightrope between legal and illegal; and using all 50 shades of grey to bend the rules to his will.

Game 1 saw Skinner and Angelotti meeting alone on the battlefield after Skinner meticulously eliminated all other comers save one.  Angelotti finds himself in contention despite completely disregarding all decorum and abandoning his own game to headhunt the hometown hero.  Unfortunately for The Worm Skinner would make short work of him and take Game 1.  Despite the odds and his utterly reckless play, Angelotti falls ass-backwards into a second place finish.

Game 2 – the most important game of the evening some say, The Dusk Game –  would see more of the Skinner and Angelotti clans take to the field in any attempt to see that the self-proclaimed champ simply close his mouth.  This game would see all players reach the coveted position of Poison and thus, the utter free-for-all for domination.  At one point Shawn would disappear from the field, leaving his wife to handle his dirty work, yet would conveniently return just in time to finish the game in the much easier position of Poison, having seemingly skipped the hardest part of the game.  However, despite no one’s objection to this blatant spitting in the eye of the rules,  Shawn and Joe would again find themselves face-to-face fighting for the… umm, ultimate??… prize.  Game 2, however, would not go Skinner’s way.  After a critical error at the latest stage of the game, Angelotti would capitilize and surplant his name (initials) on the trophy!  As they say, Big Players make Big Plays in Big Games and thus The King was overthrown by The Worm.

If the first two games are any indication, we could be witnessing a bloody rivalry, the likes of which are only seen in Europe amongst the worst of the worst soccer hooligans.  Who knows what will happen next, who will come out on top, and what lows they will sink to.  Only time will tell.  In the mean time the Gods, who need an apology and perhaps even a sacrificial burning of a croquet mallet, can only wait and wonder where it all went wrong?

 

A team that shall not be named (in this title) won the Stanley Cup

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Anyone who knows me knows I love sports.  So much so that I chose to make it my career for 10+ years.  It’s not just a hobby or a casual thing for me.  It’s a passion.  Because of that I will root for a lot of different teams and players.  I will find a reason to root for a team if my favorite team is not playing.  I will root for the underdog.  Root for a former Philly athlete who has found success somewhere else. or maybe root for an aging player who could go out on top.  There are any number of reasons why I WILL root for someone.  But there are literally only two teams on the face of the planet that I WILL NOT root for!  These two teams quite literally make my skin crawl when they win.  They make me absolutely furious.

The first is the Clemson Tigers.  I graduated from the University of South Carolina.  GO COCKS!!  The Clemson Tigers are the most hated rival of Carolina.  Therefore, I cannot possibly root for them for any reason what so ever!  I will go out of my way in daily living to avoid using the combination of orange and purple for any reason.  Their football team recently played for the National Championship against Alabama.  Now, I have little love for Alabama, but on this particular day I yelled “Roll Tide” as loud as any backwoods Bama local yocal!

The second team is the Pittsburgh Penguins.  God, I hate the Pittsburgh Penguins!  I am a diehard Flyers fan.  I bleed orange and black from September to May.  As I said, I can usually find a reason to root for a team or a player, especially during the Stanley Cup. But tonight, I just couldn’t do it.  There’s not a single player on that team that I am happy for winning.  No possible reason what so ever.

I have watched every Stanley Cup finals since the Flyers lost to Detroit in 1997.  I have watched every team hoist the Cup.  It’s something that I love watching.  It’s the best trophy in sports and to watch the winning captain hoist it over his head and then pass it on down the line and watch as each player puts a gentile smooch on the side… it’s magical!  But watching Sidney freaking Crosby and those god-awful penguins… it totally ruined it for me!

I have a healthy respect for the Penguins.  I am fully aware that they were the hottest team in the league going in to the playoffs.  They outplayed the Sharks.  They outshot them and they blocked shots like mad men.  Matt Murray is going to be a special goalie in the future.  20-something years old and wasn’t even on the team until halfway through the year.  Ties the NHL record for wins in the playoffs by a rookie.  SHOULD HAVE won the Conn Smythe trophy!!  At no point have I said or will I say that the Penguins didn’t deserve the Cup.  I wished the would have lost and I hated watching them win, but they did deserve it.

Until next year…

Ryan Howard is not the Villain!

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Every time I try to defend Philly fans for their passion, they go and totally destroy all credibility.  Some idiot threw a beer bottle at Ryan Howard last week!  First of all, didn’t your mommy teach you any manners??  If she had taken the time to put the Bon-Bons down and taken her eyes off “her stories,” maybe she would have seen what a little douchebag she was raising!  Second, your memory must be a little fuzzy!  Ryan Howard is one of the reasons you are able to even root for the Phillies in your nice lower level seats at a beautiful ballpark like Citizens Back!  Without Howard, Utley, Rollins, Hamels, this team would still be at the bottom of the barrel and we’d still be buying tickets for Veteran’s Stadium!  I don’t know if you legitimately have Attention Deficit Disorder or you’re just the most ungrateful fan in history, but either way, you no longer deserve to be a Philly fan! I say Go away, I here the Cubs bandwagon still has room for you!

A three time all-star, a Silver Slugger award, a Hank Aaron Award (voted best hitter by the media), 2005 Rookie of the Year, 2009 NLCS MVP, and the 2006 National League Most Valuable Player.

1,512 games, 1,433 hits, 1,155 RBI, and 366 homeruns, ALL as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Second on the Phillies’ all-time home run list and third all-time for RBIs.  He averaged 50 homeruns and 140+ RBIs for four years!  Now let’s throw in Five Division titles, two National League Pennants, and a World Series.

No, Ryan Howard is not the villain here!  Howard has done nothing but represent our team and our city with class.  You never hear of Ryan Howard being arrested for hitting his wife in an elevator, or partying until 4 am in Vegas, or driving drunk.  His career has been one of integrity and 100% heart.  Even knowing that his playing time is going to decrease, he still comes to the ballpark everyday, ready to do whatever is needed for his team, and to be there to support his teammates in the clubhouse.  Oh by the way, so far this year he is second on the team in homeruns and third on the team in RBI, despite hitting a dismal .150.

I know his numbers have slipped… ok, nose dived… since his big contract extension.  And many people have said that he is stealing money from the Phillies, but can you blame him?  Would you turn down money??  Would you say no to a contract that practically guarantees you a paycheck and a place to work until you are ready to retire??  I don’t blame him for signing that contract!  I don’t blame him for being past his prime!  No one out runs Father Time (especially a guy who only has 12 stolen bases in 1512 games).

I say nay-nay! Ryan Howard doesn’t deserve this treatment.  And he certainly doesn’t deserve to have a bottle thrown at him on the field!

You wanna be mad at somebody, you had better hop on a plane and take your anger up to Boston.  Buy a ticket to Fenway (have fun, I hear tickets are expensive), on the first base side, and boo your pretty little head off at Ruben Amaro!  He is the one you should direct your anger at.  He is the one who thought it would be a good idea to sign a 32 year old to a six year contract and pay him $20+ million a year to the point that now his contract makes him unmovable!  Ruben Amaro did a lot of good early on for this team, but he lost his ever loving mind when he thought that was a good idea.

Certain ESPN writers claim the Phillies don’t owe Howard anything.  WHAT?!?!  Did they not read what I just wrote at the beginning of this post?  Howard has earned the right to go out on his own terms.  If he wants to retire a Phillie, than the organization needs to respect that.  Give him the opportunity to not only save face, but go out with dignity and his pride intact.  If he wants out, than both sides are going to have to compromise to find a way to move him.  The problem is, no general manager with half a brain is going to take anything less than the Phillies eating a LARGE portion of the contract.  An outright release is always an option, they’re going to pay him his money anyway.

Yeah, Ryan Howard probably deserves better from the organization, but he damn sure deserves better from the fans!!

 

Because it’s the Cup!!

IT’S TIME FOR SOME PLAYOFF HOCKEY!

One of my favorite times of the year, hockey playoffs.  I will watch every single game that is on TV.  Obviously I’ll be rooting for the Flyers, but I’ll also be rooting against the Penguins!  I have hopes for the Orange and Black.  No, seriously, I do!  I know we had to do it the hard way and scratch and claw into the post-season, but it hasn’t been awful.  The Flyers have some momentum going in.  And of course they have a little added inspiration.  #winitforEd

But there are other reasons why Philly fans should feel good going in to the series with the Capitals.  For starters, the Capitals are coasting in.  They clinched their spot long ago and they have no momentum.  They’ve been lazy and resting the last 15 games or so.  It could be hard for them to ramp themselves back up in time.  In the last 25 games of the season, the Flyers amassed 35 points in the standings, the Capitals only 30.  In that same stretch the Fly-guys have a +12 goal differential over Washington.  Now the we needed that because we were giving up stupid amounts of goals to teams we should have been beating easily, but I digress.

Here’s the biggest and I think most important reason to feel good:  the Washington Capitals are NOTORIOUS under achievers in the playoffs!!  Since the 1999/2000 season there have been 15 years of playoffs (16 years, but minus one year for the lockout).  The Caps have made the playoffs 10 out of 15 seasons.  Not too shabby, but they have NEVER made it past the second round!! Ouch!  In fact, they have SIX first round losses in those ten years!  Now the Flyers have made the playoffs only two more times, 12 of 15 years, but in those 12 years we have four Conference Finals appearances and one trip to the Stanley Cup.  Only five times out of twelve have they lost in the first round.

I suddenly like our odds!