This space is usually reserved for my rants. I’ll sound off on things that have my ire that took place in the world of sports and beyond. They usually pertain to the Philadelphia sports scene. Truth be told, it’s therapeutic for me to let it out. Well, no counseling session or venting needed this week. There is just too much good to throw verbal darts. The Rants will be on hiatus for the moment, though I can’t promise they won’t return later in the week. But for now, we’re all about the love in this week’s Rob’s Raves.
It was a pretty amazing showing by the Philadelphia sports fans on both coasts. Let’s start on the west side, where a green wave engulfed Carson, California. Eagles fans always travel well, but the combination of a trip to Cali, an indifferent fan base in L.A., at best, and a small venue turned the StubHub Center into Philadelphia West. Birds fans took over. Whether you watched on television or listened on the radio, you knew regardless of geography, that was an Eagles home game. And it was not unnoticed by the team’s players and coaches.
The fans were as dominant as the Birds' running attack.
From Carson to University City, more specifically the hallowed halls of The Palestra. The Sixers held a Blue-White scrimmage there Sunday on Penn’s campus and they sold it out. I don’t care if the tickets were free — to get nearly 9,000 people to show up for an in-squad scrimmage speaks to a couple of things. First, this fan base is ravenous for this Sixers team. Home games are going to have playoff atmospheres night in and night out this season. There will be a distinct home-court advantage at the Wells Fargo Center. Second, it just furthers how in-tune and passionate the Philadelphia fans are in general. Not to mention the timing was perfect — the scrimmage tipped off at 1 p.m. and the Eagles kicked off at 4:05.
We can’t forget about Phillies fans. The club finished with the third-worst record in baseball and the first half of their season was beyond miserable. But thanks to a much-needed and in some cases way-too-late infusion of youth, they not only started winning more but dare I say it, also became fun to watch.
On Friday, GM Matt Klentak and the organization decided that Pete Mackanin was not their guy going forward to manage the team. Mackanin inherited some of the worst rosters in modern baseball history in his two-plus seasons in Philadelphia. As a result, his teams lost a lot of games. But when Nick Williams and Rhys Hoskins and guys who could actually play came up, a funny thing happened — they started to win. The club finished the second half 37-38 after going 28-58 in the first half with the likes of Michael Saunders and Brock Stassi. Mackanin presented the lineup card Sunday in his last game as skipper and as he emerged from the dugout to walk to home plate, he received a standing ovation from the Philadelphia faithful.
Class personified by the fans.
Ground and pound
While the love fest rolls on we must give some to Doug Pederson. I, for one, have been critical of Pederson's pass-run balance or lack thereof in the past. The Chiefs game was a low point. But credit Pederson with seeing the error of his ways and not only gaining some balance but also committing in a big way to the run game. The last two weeks, the Birds have run the ball 81 times for 407 yards. Not coincidentally, they won both games and Carson Wentz has not thrown an interception during that time span.
The 6-minute, 44-second drive to close out the Chargers game was a masterpiece. L.A. knew what was coming and still couldn’t stop the Eagles' ground attack. Credit the offensive line and the backs for executing in a big way. But kudos go to the play-caller, Pederson, for his commitment. He dialed up a great game against the Chargers.
How 'bout 'dem ...
OK, I couldn’t help myself. I was getting a little too syrupy. As if the Eagles' winning and going to 3-1 on the season wasn’t sweet enough for the fans, you had the exacta of a Cowboys loss and Giants collapse late Sunday afternoon. New York is winless and its season is over. The Cowboys are now 2-2 and just one loss shy of their total from all of last season. Dallas lost at home to a Rams team that is vastly improved but still won just four games last year.
In addition to the Eagles' 3-1 start, the Flyers and Sixers are both undefeated. Indeed, these are good times in Philadelphia sports.