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Roy Halladay’s true legacy was his perseverance

Roy Halladay’s true legacy was his perseverance

The following is a guest post from John Finger who covered Roy Halladay's playoff no-hitter for CSNPhilly at the time.

We knew it almost immediately, as soon as we took our seats in the press box. We knew we were going to see something special.

By the end of the first inning, we knew we were going to be witnessing history.

From 2010 and even to 2013, we knew we were going to see something pretty special whenever Roy Halladay took the mound to throw a baseball. We saw it during spring training where Roy was wrapping up his day by the time most of the writer types were rolling out of bed. Every day, from before the sun rose or even after ball games, we saw the drive.

Roy Halladay worked harder, smarter and better than anyone we ever saw before. He was revered by his teammates and the fans and never took anything for granted.

It was obvious.

So, when he pitched a perfect game in Miami and made the writers wait 45 minutes while he rode a stationary bike, we knew it was no act. And when he threw that no-hitter against the Reds in the first game of the 2010 postseason — his first-ever appearance in the playoffs — we had a sense almost immediately.  

“I wonder how many times I would have struck out if I would have kept going up there,” Scott Rolen said after going 0 for 3 with three strikeouts against Halladay that night in October 2010. Teammates for parts of two seasons in Toronto, Rolen knew what we were watching.

He knew it was inevitable.

“Being his teammate, [a no-hitter] could happen every time he goes out there. You know that,” Rolen said on Oct. 6, 2010. "You don't expect it, though. We didn't draw it up like that in our hitters' meetings, but we had our hands full. He's the best pitcher in baseball in my opinion."

Joey Votto, who grounded out three times that day, might have explained it the best.

“When you’re trying to thread a needle at the plate, it's miserable. It's not fun up there trying to hit nothing,” Votto said.

But if you thought for a moment that Roy Halladay's legacy was built around perfect games, no-hitters, the pre-dawn workouts and reverence from baseball's toughest audience (its players), you didn't get it. 

Roy Halladay is the pitcher who went from the majors to the low minors in 2001. After appearing in 57 games over three seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays, Halladay was sent from the majors to Single A.

Think about this for a second — Halladay was a first-round draft pick out of high school, made it to the big leagues at age 21 and came one out away from throwing a no-hitter in just his second big-league start. He had the ethic and the pedigree and was sent from the peak of baseball to the lowest rung of organized baseball. It was the type of development that would devastate most players and end the career of a regular guy. 

But there was nothing about Roy Halladay that was normal. Nothing at all.

Instead of licking his wounds, Halladay reinvented himself from top to bottom. He took the demotion and refocused his commitment to the game. He worked with Harvey Dorfman, a psychologist, and author of "The Mental ABC's of Pitching," and remodeled his pitching delivery.

He went back to zero. Hit the reset button and started from scratch. So after reinventing and rebuilding himself, Halladay was back in the majors by July of 2001. With his new pitching motion, Halladay developed more movement with his fastball and came up with a sinker and a cutter.

The rest is well known. Two Cy Young Awards, a perfect game, a no-hitter in the playoffs and the chance to witness greatness every time he took the mound. Every time Halladay did something, you inched up closer in your seat, you noticed how the air smelled and where you were at the exact moment.

You savored it.

That's just what Halladay did when he had retired from baseball. He threw himself into his life as a retired dad of two teenaged boys and a husband to his wife, Brandi. He coached the kid's baseball team, he took sports psychology classes at the University of South Florida so he could give back to budding baseball players the way Harvey Dorfman mentored him. 

The way Halladay pitched and worked out was the way he lived his retired life. Judging from his Twitter account, no one enjoyed retirement more than Roy Halladay. His humor was as sure as his mastery of the strike zone. He took selfies of himself in a t-shirt and shorts next to an unsuspecting fan in a "Halladay" shirsey. He went to the zoo with Zoo With Roy. 

“We will all remember Roy for his amazing moments on the field, how he dialed it up in the most important situations, how he competed and left his heart on the field every time he took the ball,” said childhood friend and big-league teammate, Brad Lidge. “But he was also an incredible dad, an incredible husband and an incredible teammate. He was quiet and thoughtful but knew how to be playful. I competed against Roy since we were in Little League together and I will remember him in that way, and as a man. It was a privilege to know him and his family and to have been his teammate. Our hearts go out to Brandy, his kids and his family.”

He flew planes, logging more than 800 hours in the air. He had his instrument rating, his multi-engine rating and was working on getting his commercial rating. He wanted to teach his sons about flying, just like he showed them about baseball.

And life. Roy Halladay proved that it's never too late for the no-hitters. Perseverance has its rewards. You can re-invent yourself.

Just as long as you give it your all.

NFC East Report Week 11: Eagles fans have plenty to be thankful for this Turkey Day

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NFC East Report Week 11: Eagles fans have plenty to be thankful for this Turkey Day

Each week, we'll take a look at how the Eagles division rivals fared the previous weekend (spoiler alert: GAME OVER!) and what they have upcoming. This week the Giants make about as much sense as Ben McAdoo’s barber, Washington saw its worse choke-job since George Dubya met a pretzel, and the Cowboys, well...I’m pretty sure you heard what happened to the Cowboys.

Here’s what happened this week in the NFC East:

New York Giants (2-8)

What Happened: The Giants can't even Process correctly. A week after being hilariously humiliated by the winless 49ers, Eli Manning and Company (or what remains of the Company) went ahead and beat the previously-playoff-bound Kansas City Chiefs in overtime 9-12. Before you ask, yes, this one was about as much fun as that score leads on.

Tough loss for Andy Reid, whose Chiefs appear to be rotting faster than your neighbor's Halloween pumpkin (and the owners of both should probably think about making a change). This game featured more interceptions thrown by non-quarterbacks (two) than it featured touchdowns (one). Allegedly, the world’s least-deserving future Hall of Famer, Eli Manning, spent the pregame “firing up the troops,” which sounds about as believable as Donald Trump saying “I believe the women.” Seriously, the only individual I can imagine being less inspiring than Eli is the guy in the red jacket and mustache on the other sideline telling reporters he’s got to do a better job. 

Despite the win, the Giants were mathematically eliminated from winning the NFC East on Sunday, which is about as shocking as the fact that Mike Lombardi can’t get an NFL front office to hire him. The realization that they've been officially knocked out before Turkey Day is funnier than JoJo blocking and flopping. Seriously, this Giants season is a lot like Charles Manson, in that I was pretty surprised to hear death didn’t officially arrive until this week. Who knew?

Positive Spin: Nothing. Seriously, there is nothing positive Giants fans should take from this victory. They didn’t even act spoiler against a legitimate rival (does any New Yorker get some emotional pleasure from a victory over Alex Smith?). There are cat videos on YouTube that can prove more productive. This was a complete and utter waste.

Roger Lewis Jr., an undrafted wide receiver only in the game because Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, AND Sterling Shepard are out, made a ridiculous grab to put New York in field goal range to win it. This doesn’t turn him into the next coming of Victor Cruz, but hey, there’s not a lot of silver linings this deep down in the barrel.

Negative Spin: Everything that this team does from now till the end of the season should be focused on 2018. By beating the Chiefs, the Mara’s franchise is now back into 3rd on the 2018 NFL Draft Board. That may not seem like too big a deal, except when you consider the difference between the 2nd overall pick and the 3rd can mean the difference between, say, Carson Wentz or Joey Bosa (or even worse, Donovan McNabb vs. Akili Smith). The draft is about as predictable as what-issues-Alabama-voters-care-about, but ask yourself this; is a victory in November really worth it?

This is a franchise with a lot of tough questions to ponder going into the offseason. Winning a game in Week 11 isn’t some Earth-shattering shift, but it definitely doesn’t help in any fashion.

What’s Next: Tryptophan won’t be the only thing putting people to sleep this Thursday. The Giants head to the district to take on Washington.

 

Washington (4-6)

What Happened: Imagine sitting down this Thanksgiving after spending the entire day slaving over a fantastic meal; full turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes with the little marshmallows in it, the real deal. Then, right before you’re about to dive into this incredibly delicious spread you’ve spent the past several hours pulling together, Drew Brees runs into your home, steals all your grub, and then on his way out, kicks all of your friends in the shins.

That’s essentially what happened to Kirk Cousins and his Washington squad on Sunday. Up fifteen points in New Orleans, the Washington D let Brees throw two touchdowns in the final minute, then gave up the GW-FG in OT to give the Saints their eighth consecutive victory and drop Dan Snyder’s squad to 4-6 on the year. Adding literal insult to injury, Jay Gruden’s crew had to put a number of players on injured reserve, including the electric Chris Thompson and the guy who is certainly NOT Alshon Jeffrey, Terrelle Pryor.

Pryor’s one season in D.C. ends with 20 catches and a touchdown. Please note that his numbers have been eclipsed by Jeffrey (whom the Iggles opted to sign instead) as well as former Washingtonian’s DeSean Jackson (who’s catching passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick) and Pierre Garcon (who’s been out since Week 8). My goodness, even Sam Hinkie made better free agent signings (looking at you, RoCo).

After the game, Cousins complained about an incorrectly-called intentional grounding penalty against him, which is justified but irrelevant (which, notably, is the same tagline for the new Justice League movie). When you blow a fifteen-point fourth quarter lead, there’s often a few issues more prevalent than the zebras.

Positive Spin: For 48-minutes, Washington beat down on a Super Bowl competitor with a Hall of Fame bound quarterback, which is comparable to saying for 99% of her swim, Chrissie Watkins had a blast. 

Meanwhile, Cousins added more evidence into the ‘sign this guy to an extension’ folder, made even more impressive by the fact that he’s doing it with a bunch of no-names at the skill positions. The NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles laid out a pretty clear blueprint on how to upgrade the weapons around a talented quarterback; if Washington’s front office can get their act together fast enough to do the same, the path back to relevancy shouldn’t be too windy for this franchise.

Negative Spin: This team is receding faster than LeBron’s hairline, and like The King’s fro, the owner seems happy to pump money into a quick rebuild. But don’t bet on it. Two years ago they won the division, a year later they just missed the playoffs, and this year they’re bolting towards the exit faster than that lazy coworker you hate. They’ve let a number of playmakers leave and many of the replacements have failed to impress (the ageless Vernon Davis notwithstanding). Considering this franchise’s history of being more disjointed than a season-arc on AquaTeen Hunger Force, the chances of a bounce-back don’t seem too good for anybody (except for us Iggles fans, naturally)

What’s Next: If Washington has any chance of getting back into the Wild Card conversation, it’ll have to get a victory Thursday night at home against the Giants. That seems unlikely, so it’s probably best for Birds fans to pull for Big Blue on Thanksgiving, in an effort to negatively impact their draft status.

 

Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

What Happened: If you're reading this, you're either a masochist Cowboys fan (oxymoron alert) or you already know. Despite playing at home, despite playing with their backs against the wall, despite Cowboys owner Jerry Jones honoring Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at halftime, and despite said owner Jerry Jones promising that his team would be better, ‘dem Boys were completely and utterly out-classed at home in front of a God and a national audience on Sunday by the future NFC East Champions.

Plenty has been said about the victory, so no need for me to get into how the Cowboys D couldn’t stop anyone come the second half, or how Dak Prescott had the worst game of his career with four turnovers, or how Dallas is now on the outside looking in on the 2017 playoffs. And I won’t even get into how they’ve only scored one touchdown in the last eight quarters, or how they’ve been outscored by 48-points the last two games, or how their offense has come to a grinding halt ever since Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension finally came through. No need to mention any of that. Lets keep it on the hush.

But is it just me, or is Dez Bryant's heart just not in it anymore? It use to be painful watching him throw a temper tantrum worse than a small toddler deprived of a happy meal, but the fact that he wasn’t seen on the sideline berating some poor wide receivers coach arguably is enough to put him in the NFLs concussion protocol. Dez, like this squad as a whole, seems a shadow of his former self. 

Meanwhile, Jones won't be suing the NFL after all, showing he has the same steel legal cajones as his President. It doesn’t matter if Sunday night was the turning point to send Dallas’ season spiraling into irrelevancy; the Jones/Goodell brouhaha is likely to dominate this team’s headlines for the remainder of the year, and I, for one, don’t have nearly enough popcorn.

Positive Spin: If you’re a Cowboys fan trying to put down the bottle this week, here’s what you need to grab onto; your squad was missing a Pro-Bowl running back, a Pro-Bowl offensive lineman, a Pro-Bowl linebacker, AND a Pro-Bowl kicker. Despite it all, Big D was leading at halftime. Prescott, meanwhile, will presumably only get better, and therefore the gap between the Cowboys and the NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles isn’t as wide as the 37-9 final score would lead one to believe.

Negative Spin: Every bit of that is bull. For starters, the Iggles were also missing a Pro-Bowl running back, a Pro-Bowl offensive lineman, a highly-rated linebacker, and their starting kicker. Shoot, the Birds had actually lost TWO kickers by the time this one hit the second quarter, and you can bet your Thanksgiving stuffing Birds fans wouldn’t have accepted that as an excuse had Doug Pederson’s squad been embarrassed Sunday night.

The Cowboys stink, for all the natural reasons we’re all very familiar with. But as currently constructed (and football-lord forgive me for typing this), they’re not a bad team. However, to suggest that they’re anywhere near being on the same level as this Eagles squad, healthy or not, is a clear indicator you’re (like Dez) probably suffering from symptoms of a concussion. Either that, or you sniff the same glue Skip Bayless uses. That guy’s a bigger joker than Mark Hamill. 

What’s Next: The Cowboys face the Los Angeles Charges tomorrow on T-Day, then have a relatively easy schedule, facing New York, Washington, and Oakland. They could win all four and still lose this division, so don’t under-appreciate how big the Birds win Sunday night was. This year, there’s plenty for Iggles fans to be thankful for.

For me, I’m thankful the Cowboys owner hasn’t fired GM Jerry Jones yet.

Ben Simmons asks: should Sixers bring back old school black jerseys?

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Ben Simmons asks: should Sixers bring back old school black jerseys?

Does Ben Simmons know something we don't?

The Sixers have already unveiled their alternative jerseys for the 2017-18 season, including the retro "Spirit of 76" City Edition complete with Liberty Bell as well as the red Statement Edition look with scripted Sixers font.

But that didn't stop Simmons from polling his Twitter followers as to whether the team should bring back the old black jerseys from the Iverson era.

Fans were overwhelmingly supportive of bringing back the black -- myself not included. Almost 32,000 people voted in his poll with an 80-20 result favoring bringing them back.

Now the question becomes, was Ben used by the team to gauge fan interest for potentially bringing them back down the road? Or was he simply posting something he happened to be thinking about?

Here's what the NBA website says about the 1997-2009 era unis: 

1997-2009 - The Sixers unveiled a completely new look including the first major logo change since becoming the Philadelphia 76ers in August of 1963. In keeping with the traditional red and blue, the logo was “modernized” by adding silver, gold and black. For the first time in franchise history, the Sixers wore black uniforms on the road. Trimmed in red and gold, the jersey that features the word “SIXERS” on the front with white numbers trimmed in red on the back. At home, a white jersey features black numbers trimmed in red. Philadelphia added a hot new second road uniform combining the styles of the old and the new.