Tag: NFC East

People in Sports Who Had the Best and Worst Year Ever

In life, and in sports, nearly everyone experiences prolonged periods of both success and failure. Of course, the 2014 sports year was far from different, as fans were treated to some truly memorable performances, of both the good and bad sort.

Madison Bumgarner, for example, had a downright iconic year, establishing himself as one of baseball’s all-time greats with the type of postseason pitching we’d never seen before.

In a similar vein, Russell Wilson led his Seahawks to the mountaintop and, in so doing, catapulted himself into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks.

In contrast, however, Tiger Woods battled injury all year long and lost his spot atop golf’s world rankings, while Robert Griffin did the same and lost his stranglehold on the starting quarterback spot in Washington.

So, with these guys and others in mind, we’ve done our best to highlight 10 People/Teams in Sports who had the best/worst year ever.

We should note, we’ve dodged the heavier side of sports in 2014, excluding from our list major violators like Donald Sterling, Jameis Winston, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Roger Goodell.

Instead, then, we’ve explored those who struggled for non-legal reasons, and exalted the athletes who had a dream 2014.

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New York Mets: How They Are Similar to the New York Giants Right Now

The New York Giants have made an improbable run toward the playoffs this season. When they got into the playoffs, they extended that momentum even further into a Super Bowl bid. It wasn’t easy, though. They began the season picked by almost every expert to finish last or near to last in their division.

Another team (the Philadelphia Eagles) in their division had made a flurry of offseason moves, including signing the Giants’ biggest free-agent Steve Smith and grabbed the attention span of football fans everywhere.

Still, another team in their division (the Dallas Cowboys), who were the defending division winners the previous season, were returning with a renewed focus and energy to make good on their previous success.

As for the Giants, themselves, they had lost key free agents and were wondering how and where the replacements would come from. There were questions of chemistry and an unsettling changing of the guard taking place throughout the organization. They spent money on role players as opposed to the big names.

Then, when they began to practice, that’s when everything really turned for the worse. Their top cornerback Terrell Thomas went down with a season-ending injury. That was followed by a string of several other injuries to the roster. The Giants were a team in despair—injured, mismatched and lacking motivation.

They only had two things going for them. One was a coach the players would run through a wall for in Tom Coughlin. Two, their long-time locker room leader and face of the franchise Eli Manning.

Then, something miraculous happened. They found their stride. The rest has brought them to where they are today—two weeks away from playing in their fifth Super Bowl.

You may be asking yourself  “That’s great for them, but this is a Mets’ site so what does this has to do with the Mets?”

The answer to that is very simple: with just weeks before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, the Mets are in a very similar place at this point of the offseason as the Giants were just before their season began.

Think about the staggering similarities. The Mets lost their key free agent. Everyone has spent the offseason pining over the departure of Jose Reyes.  Whether it was the right move by the Mets or not will be determined by hindsight. For now, let’s all agree that it has the potential to hurt them this year if no one steps up to fill the void.

Next, the Mets are picked to be last or next to last in the division for this upcoming season. Here’s why:

The Miami Marlins made a series of splashes (pardon the pun) in the offseason that have put them in the headlines and become the media darlings. One such move includes signing the Mets big free-agent Jose Reyes.

Another team, the Philadelphia Phillies, are the defending division champions and have an equally strong team returning with a renewed focus and determination to make good on their previous success. That’s not even mentioning the Washington Nationals’ or the Atlanta Braves’ offseason stories into the mix.

As for the Mets, themselves, they are a team entering the season replacing their roster losses with role players as opposed to big names. They are wondering where the production will come from to adequately replace the voids left behind.

They have a question of chemistry and an unsettling changing of the guard taking place within their clubhouse. There are questions of health across the board for this roster as well. In particular, Johan Santana and Ike Davis seem to have their names mentioned often in that discussion over the past few months. They are a team in despair; injured, mismatched and lacking motivation.

They only have two things keeping them afloat from last season. One is a manager the players would run through a wall for in Terry Collins (funny how he has the same initials as Tom Coughlin, isn’t it?). Two, their long-time locker room leader and face of the franchise David Wright.

Much like the Giants, something magical could happen in the season for the Mets too. Everything fell into place for the underestimated and overlooked Giants team. The Mets are underestimated and overlooked too. Why can’t they find their stride.

After all, the games are won on the field, not on paper. If that were not true, the Giants would never be where they are right now, and the Mets can draw motivation and solace from that fact.

They have to play the games. They have to perform to their capabilities and see where it takes them.

If they leave it all out on the field, they will have made another miraculous New York storied season by this time next year.


(For more on the New York Giants, please visit Big Giants Boom. For more on the New York Mets, please visit Mack’s Mets.)

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Vick Scrutinized and a Bias Against Bagwell’s Hall of Fame Candidacy

Material for articles is never-ending. There is always something to write about when it comes to the world of sports.

Even on a quiet news day, a player or team can be analyzed. That’s what makes sportswriting in particular great.

On this day, three unrelated topics came to mind, two of which I would have known little to nothing about had I not hopped on twitter.

I was going to write solely about the Boston Red Sox, making the case that Jed Lowrie should start over Marco Scutaro at shortstop while also relaying the importance of a healthy Jacoby Ellsbury. That topic I will cover at a later date.

For the time being, two interesting opinions–to say the least–caught my eye, and I feel compelled to counter.


Carlson vs Vick and Obama

First, Fox commentator and vehement animal rights activist Tucker Carlson said Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick “should have been executed” for dogfighting.

Carlson just wants to get in the news, and his goal his attained by voicing such an opinion about one of the more popular and controversial athletes.

Dogfighting is a serious crime. Vick committed murder. And maybe 18 months in prison wasn’t enough. But Carlson has the viewpoint that correlates with the capital punishment theory of “kill, then you should be killed.” There is nothing to that.

What makes Carlson’s comment hard to comprehend is that he also says he “fervently believes in second chances.” Doesn’t this belief imply that to have a second chance one must have done something heinous?

What also makes his comment ludicrous is its timing, as it comes after President Barack Obama called Eagles owner Jeffrey Laurie and applauded his signing of Vick. Leave it to uber-conservative Fox pundits to make the most of an opportunity to criticize the President, as Carlson does take the time to attack Obama, saying, “The idea the president of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs is beyond the pale.”

Obama called Laurie initially to discuss the Eagles aggressive plan to bring renewable energy to their stadium, Lincoln Financial Field. The Vick segment of the one-on-one conversation, in hindsight, may have been best kept between the two, considering how many of Fox’s vultures, not just Carlson, immediately feasted the comments.

He was just the latest to criticize the President, who wasn’t condoning dogfighting. Given Vick’s play this season, Obama only acknowledged Laurie’s part in Vick’s redemption in a talk surrounding another topic entirely.

According to Laurie, the President said, “So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance … It’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.”

According to Carlson, those like Vick deserving of a second chance should be sent straight to the gallows.


Graziano vs Bagwell

Ballots are being casted for the Major League Hall of Fame, with inductees to be announced next week. AOL’s Dan Graziano was outspoken about one candidate in particular, giving his reason for leaving former Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell off his ballot.

That reason? Suspicion of steroid use by this member of the Astros’ Killer B’s.

Statistically, Graziano said Bagwell is Hall of Fame worthy. But because he played during the Steroid Era, hit hundreds of homers, and was muscular this writer feels compelled to let his opinion enter into his voting.

Perplexing stance, to say the least.

That said, he has the right to his opinion. He can believe Bagwell did steroids. But I cannot respect his leaving Bagwell out based on a hunch. Put that opinion in an article and leave it at that.

Bagwell spent 15 years with Houston, his career ending in 2005, making this his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame. Graziano is right in saying he is Hall of Fame worthy based upon his statistics; after all, Bagwell was a .297 career hitter with 449 homers, 2,314 hits, a .408 on-base percentage, and more than 1,500 rbis and runs.

Bagwell first denied steroid use in 2004 in an interview with the Houston Chronicle and gives another pretty adamant explanation for why he didn’t do steroids in an interview with ESPN:

“I never used (steroids), and I’ll tell you exactly why: If I could hit between 30 and 40 home runs every year and drive in 120 runs, why did I need to do anything else?” he said. “I was pretty happy with what I was doing, and that’s the God’s honest truth. All of a sudden guys were starting to hit 60 or 70 home runs and people were like, ‘Dude, if you took (PEDs), you could do it too.’ And I was like, ‘I’m good where I’m at. I just want to do what I can do.’

“I wasn’t trying to do anything crazy. I hit six homers in the minor leagues. Six home runs. I hit 15, 18 and 21 in Houston, and then I hit 39 in 1994 when I started working with Rudy Jaramillo and he helped me to understand my swing and I actually learned how to hit. And I was like, ‘I don’t need anything more. I’m good.’ When I walked on the field I thought I was the best player on the field, and I didn’t need anything more than that. It was never an ego thing with me, and I think at some point, it became ego to some people.

“I know a lot of people are saying, ‘His body got bigger.’ Well, if you’re eating 30 pounds of meat every single day and you’re working out and bench pressing, you’re going to get bigger. You can go to every single trainer and they’ll say, ‘He was the first here and last to leave, and that dude worked his ass off.’”

After what has become of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds’ reputation, former players would be foolish to deny using steroids when they did. Because of this, as well as his detailed and emotional comments, I believe Bagwell.

Can’t a differential in home-runs year to year be because of vast, clean improvement and not syringes? In my mind, he hit the weight room, got stronger that way, and had a tremendous career without steroids.

Admittedly, he said his only regret was working out too much.

So, given how I feel about this situation, what does including biases in Hall of Fame voting do for a writer’s and voter’s credibility? I like and respect Graziano. I think he’s a good writer and I agree with many of his opinions. But casting a vote based off suspicion? That’s not right.

It’s similar to refusing to vote for a player because of their attitude and is a watered down version of refusing to vote a player into the Hall of Fame based on the color of his skin, which has also been done in the past.

Such prejudices can still be intertwined and go relatively unnoticed. Per Graziano, making a case for a potential Hall of Famer’s exclusion or inclusion doesn’t have to purely be based on statistics.

I find this to be terribly wrong and saddening, but Graziano said “writers vote because [the] Hall of Fame deems us best qualified to do so.” When I asked if a voter could, hypothetically, refuse to vote for Pedro Martinez because of his or her prejudice against him, Graziano responded, “Theoretically, yes.” It doesn’t matter if it’s speculative, based on dislike, or because of racism; opinion fused into a vote isn’t justifiable.

Rafael Palmeiro, who is also on this year’s ballot, did steroids and should be left out of the Hall of Fame, despite collecting over 550 homers and 3,000 hits.

But Bagwell hasn’t done anything wrong. And just as sourcing should be credible, voting should back up fact.

The only facts associated with Bagwell are his amazing statistics.

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2010 NLCS: Another Fall Double-Header in Philadelphia

At 1:00 PM on Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles will host the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field. 

At 8:00 PM that same day, the Philadelphia Phillies will play the San Francisco Giants in Game 2 of the NLCS. 

The city of Philadelphia is growing accustomed to these Fall double-headers, featuring the Eagles and Phillies.  Twice during Philadelphia’s World Series runs in 2008 and 2009, the Eagles and Phillies have played on the same day at their home fields. 

This Sunday should bring back memories to Philadelphia fans.  Both good and bad.  

Will the history of these double-headers in Philadelphia repeat itself this Sunday? 


Double-Header 2009

On November 1st, 2009, a war between New York City and Philadelphia took place.

Last year, the Eagles hosted the New York Giants in an early afternoon game, the same day of Game 4 of the 2009 World Series between the Yankees and the Phillies.   

The Eagles, many would say, upset the Giants that Sunday and won the game in a blowout, 40-17.  Donovan McNabb threw for three touchdowns while Philadelphia’s defense forced four turnovers.  

The Eagles moved to 5-2 on the season and NFC East title was in their sights…

It was a good start to the day, but the Phillies had lost Game 3 the previous night and now trailed in the series 2-1.  Could Joe Blanton shut down the New York Yankees lineup later that night?    

Let’s just say New York lost the battle, but went on to win the war. 

The Phillies trailed for most of the game, but managed to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth on a Pedro Feliz home run.  Then Brad Lidge entered the game in the top of ninth and was one strike away from pitching a scoreless inning.  A Johnny Damon single, two stolen bases, and an A-Rod single would give the Yankees the lead, as New York would score three runs in the ninth.  

That game pretty much wrapped up another World Series title for the Yankees.  


Double-Header 2008 

This Sunday would be a much better day for Philadelphia fans.  

On October 26th, 2008, the Eagles played the Atlanta Falcons, an appetizer before Game 4 of the World Series. 

Brian Westbrook was the star of the game, rushing for 167 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles defense forced the inexperienced Matt Ryan to throw two costly interceptions as Philadelphia would go on to win the game 27-14.   

Heading into Game 4, the Philadelphia Phillies led the series 2-1, so this was crucial game for the Tampa Bay Rays. They decided to put Andy Sonnanstine on the mound.  

The Phillies crushed the Rays, winning 10-2 and taking a commanding 3-1 series lead.  Sonnanstine would only last four innings and give up three earned runs, including a based-loaded walk in the first inning.  

Ryan Howard was an absolute monster: two HRs, five RBI and four runs.

Philadelphia fans knew things were going their way when pitcher Joe Blanton hit a home run in the fifth inning.  


Double-Header 2010? 

So what will happen this Sunday in Philadelphia?  How many fans will be in the parking lots from 11 in the morning until 11 at night? 

History bodes well for the Eagles.  They are 2-0 in the double-headers, winning by double digits on both occasions. 

History also bodes well for the Philadelphia Phillies.  Why exactly? 

In 2008, the Eagles hosted the Atlanta Falcons.  After their win, the Eagles and Falcons both had the same record, 4-3.

In 2010, the Eagles will host the Falcons once again.  After the Eagles win, they will have the same record as the Falcons.  Both teams will be 4-2.

Coincidence? I think not.  

Sunday will go down in history as another great day for Philadelphia sports.


Looking Ahead 

If the Philadelphia Phillies advance to the World Series, Game 1 will be at 7:57 PM on Wednesday, October 27th. 

It is the same night as the Philadelphia 76ers’ home opener, which is scheduled for 7:00 PM.  Not a big deal?  Wrong. 

It is the debut of Evan Turner and not to mention, some team called the Miami Heat. 

Will the 76ers management be rooting for the San Francisco Giants?

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Are Philadelphia Sports Fans Truly Front-Runners?


You sure are… unless the other teams are doing better.

Back on August 13th, 2008, Jimmy Rollins became a pariah in Philadelphia for a few months because of something he said on FOX’s Best Damned Sports Show, Period in response to a question about whether or not it’s tough playing in Philadelphia.

“There are times,” Rollins told the other guys on set. “I might catch some flak for saying this, but, you know, they’re front-runners. When you’re doing good, they’re on your side. When you’re doing bad, they’re completely against you.”

That was the absolute worst thing Rollins could have ever said but, perhaps enforcing his point, all was forgotten and forgiven once the Phillies won the World Series that year. The quote hasn’t really been brought up since then, but with the success the Flyers are having of late, it’s time to talk about it again.

If you’re from the Philadelphia area, take a look around every once in a while.

Before the Phillies’ improbable playoff run in 2007, did you ever see anything more than the slightest hint of Phillies red around the city? During the 90’s did you ever see a wave of Eagles green engulfing the sidewalks? Now that the Sixers are slumping, do you ever see more than a few loyal fans donning their Sixers gear?

And now that the Flyers are making a run, how much more orange and black is there all over the city? People who only a few years ago would have told you they thought the only Michael Richards was the guy who played Kramer on Seinfeld are suddenly Flyers fanatics who still think Boucher is the one shutting down the Canadiens because they haven’t watched a single game.

Every team has their loyal fanbase that sticks with them through thick and thin. If their team is down by 21 points, 10 runs, or 5 goals they’re still in the stands or in front of the TV watching until the very bitter end because the hope for a miracle is still there.

But now, more and more, we’re seeing the “casual fans” who go out and buy a jersey-shirt or two and toss it on when they go out to the bars with their buddies. They learn a few names and regurgitate something they heard on ESPN until they’re welcomed aboard as a fan.

Every city has their group of people like that, but Philadelphia truly might be one of the worst cities when it comes to that sort of thing.

After a win, the city is littered with that respective team’s merchandise. But after a loss, it’s like they’re once again the red-headed stepchild.

The worst, however, are girls wearing Phillies shirts who probably couldn’t tell you the significance behind the phrase “Struck him out!” (in my best Harry Kalas) past it’s what happens when the guy holding the wooden stick gets three—maybe four— strikes.

I would never lump all Philly fans together and say they’re all front-runners, but there is a large group of Philadelphians who truly are nothing but fair-weather fans.

It’s fine to support your city’s team when they’re in the playoffs, just don’t pretend like you’ve been watching since day one and go blow an entire paycheck on some new gear if you can’t formulate your own opinion on the team because you’re far too ignorant on the subject and are simply parroting someone else.

By the way, I think Cole Hamels needs to be traded for Cliff Lee, Kevin Kolb is the savior, Michael Leighton is the greatest Philadelphia hero since Dr. J, and Andre Iguodala needs to be traded immediately.

(If you believe all of that, I’m probably talking about you.)


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Is the Media Evil or Is DeSean Jackson Saying Too Much?

DeSean Jackson has been finding himself in the headlines a lot this week.

One interview with The Sporting News has turned into a giant fiasco, pitting Jackson against his former quarterback and his offensive coordinator.

When Jackson took the interview, I don’t think he had any intentions of bad mouthing, throwing under the bus, or anything else. However, Jackson’s words have been put in the national spotlight with a negative connotation. He’s even been compared to T.O. in terms of his attitude off the field.

So now we’re forced to ask the question: is DeSean Jackson’s mouth a problem?

First of all, the comments that involved Donovan McNabb were blown way out of proportion.

When asked how the team would be without McNabb, did you really expect Jackson to say “we’re screwed”? Regardless of whether or not he thought that (which I really don’t believe he does), he’s not going to say it. If Ty Detmer was announced as the starter in 2010, Jackson would still say positive things even though we’d all very well know the Birds would be screwed.

Jackson’s comments were to simply state that he is confident in Kevin Kolb and believes Kolb will pick up right where McNabb left off.

However, the media took Jackson’s comments and made it sound like he was simply bad-mouthing McNabb. They then fed McNabb these quotes out of context and McNabb made his typical defensive comments. Since then, Jackson has come out wished McNabb the best of luck, basically an apology.

I don’t think this was necessary but I suppose it was the “right” thing to do.

After everyone had a couple days to dwell on the Jackson-McNabb battle and the dust seemed to settle, the stories started breaking about Jackson’s comments on Marty Mornhinweg. This was a surprise, as you wouldn’t think a coach would rush a player back from a head injury. The Eagles coaches certainly shouldn’t be the ones rushing players back after seeing what happened with Brian Westbrook firsthand.

Obviously, the Eagles offense is better when DeSean Jackson plays, but there should be no pressure on a player to come back from an injury like that or judge their toughness.

I heard a radio interview with The Sporting News writer who interviewed Jackson, and he said that there was no remorse in Jackson’s voice when speaking of the incident. From what I heard, it sounded more like Mornhinweg really wanted Jackson to play due to the importance of the game. Of course, the media loves to blow the words out of proportion to make good headlines.

Overall, I think this interview was probably a good experience for Jackson.

He’s a superstar on the rise and is going to see a lot of attention in the future. After this interview, he’s seen first hand how anything you say can be misconstrued and turned against you. From this experience, you would think Jackson will start to be more careful about what he says.

I hope he does.

DeSean Jackson

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