I Bid You, Farewell….

June 25th, 2016 by Ryan Waterman | No Comments | Filed in General, TalkSportsPhilly
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June 18, 2014…

It was exactly two-years ago today, that I posted my first article for TalkSportsPhilly. Since then, I’ve posted roughly 100+ more. With each one, I’ve become more comfortable with my writing, and my ability to put my opinion into an article. When I first started writing for TSP, I was a nervous 16-year old with aspirations of becoming the next big thing on ESPN. As I stand here today, my hopes are to just be the best writer that I can be, and let the rest fall into place.

It is with large smile that I sit here today, and can say that I am leaving TalkSportsPhilly. I have taken this decision under consideration for quite some time, and have decided that it is in my best interest to explore other options, at this time. TSP and I are not parting on poor terms, quite the opposite actually. Leo and the rest of the TSP staff have graciously accepted me, and made me one of their own since my first day here. They have done nothing but push me to become a better writer, and put out the best product that I can for all of you to read. For that, I will always be grateful. Leo was the first man to give me a chance as a writer, and I will never forget that.

Many times, articles like this end in goodbye. But, I can tell you that this is not goodbye. It’s more along the lines of, see you later!

-Ryan

Report: Sixers Considering Jamal Murray at No.1

June 6th, 2016 by Ryan Waterman | No Comments | Filed in Basketball, General, NBA, Sixers, Sports
Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America

Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America

Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram?

That’s been the question for the better part of the last three weeks, more so since it became public knowledge that the Philadelphia 76ers became the owners of the first-overall pick in the NBA Draft. However, recent reports have suggested that things are not as cut-and-dry as they seem.

Keith Pompey of Philly.com is reporting that the Sixers vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley gave the impression that the team is considering one other player along with the duo of Simmons and Ingram, and his name is Jamal Murray. Eversley was quoted on Thursday saying, “Jamal Murray, we certainly got a chance to see him a couple of weeks ago. He’s certainly going to be one of those kids who’s going to be in contention for the No. 1 pick. We like him a lot. He’s going to bring a lot to wherever he goes in the NBA, certainly a talent.” I don’t know about you, but it certainly sounds to me like they’re big fans of this kid. 

The 19-year old combo guard from Kentucky has been widely regarded as one of the top-five prospects in this draft class, according to league insiders. Although, he hasn’t been looked at in the same light as Simmons or Ingram, this most recent report could change that.

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Should the Sixers Deal Okafor To Boston?

May 30th, 2016 by Ryan Waterman | No Comments | Filed in General, NBA, Sixers, Sports, TalkSportsPhilly
 Source: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images North America

Source: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images North America

The NBA Draft is approaching quickly, and it’s now time for the lowly Sixers to take center-stage in the city of Philadelphia. Eleven days ago, it was revealed that the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft would belong to the Sixers, which elated the fans of Philadelphia. However, fans were quick to forget that the Los Angeles Lakers were awarded the pick behind us, meaning that Philadelphia would not be receiving the Lakers’ pick this year. So, instead of having four first-round draft picks, the Sixers now have three. In addition to the top selection, the Sixers will also pick at #24 overall (courtesy of the Miami Heat), and #26 overall (courtesy of the Oklahoma City Thunder via the Denver Nuggets).

Missing out on the Lakers draft selection has brought up an interesting possibility, that could be revisited. As many of you know, the Boston Celtics were close to pulling the trigger on a “mystery deal” at the trade deadline, prior to it falling apart. Coincidentally enough, the Sixers were also receiving interest in the 2015 #3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor. This led to a report claiming that Boston’s “mystery man” was Okafor. The proposed deal would’ve seen Boston’s first-round pick (via Brooklyn) head to Philadelphia, as well as either Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley. For whatever reason, that deal didn’t come to fruition back in February. Although, there are reports claiming that talks could re-open, now that the Sixers know what pick the Celtics hold. That brings me to my ultimate question. Should the Sixers trade Okafor to Boston?

Ultimately, I say no. As much as I would love having two of the top three selections in the draft, the risk of providing Boston with a superstar is one that cannot be taken. Okafor is a player that has the capability of putting up 20/10 on most nights, and that’s something that can’t be taken for granted in the NBA. While the NBA is primarily a 3-point league now, the luxury of having a talented big man can’t be ignored. Almost every successful team has at least one strong big in the front-court. San Antonio has LaMarcus Aldridge, Cleveland has Kevin Love, and Oklahoma City has Serge Ibaka. My point, is that despite popular opinion, the front-court does actually have an effect on the game.

Short-term, fans would likely say that it’d be smart for them to move Okafor to Boston. They’d likely land Marcus Smart, and #3 overall. That move would give them a legitimate point guard, in addition to a pair of top-three selections, with which they’d likely select Ben Simmons and Kris Dunn. Would it fill out their team?  Certainly it would, but at what cost?  Marcus Smart has character issues, those of which he displayed fully during his time at Oklahoma State. Couple that with the uncertainty that whoever they select at #3 doesn’t pan out, and this deal could be a recipe for disaster.

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2016 NBA Mock Draft

May 30th, 2016 by Ryan Waterman | No Comments | Filed in Basketball, General, NBA, Sixers, Sports, TalkSportsPhilly

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The NBA Draft Lottery is officially twelve days in our rear-view mirror, and the Philadelphia 76ers are on the clock. They have until June 23rd to make the decision that will alter the course of the franchise. Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram? In what is widely considered to be a “two-player draft”, there are a number of good prospects that fall past that top-2 threshold. Prospects such as Buddy Hield, Kris Dunn, Jaylen Brown, and Dragen Bender among others round out the top-10. Over the past 10 days, I have spent time researching the prospects of this upcoming draft, and I feel that this representation of the NBA Draft will come close to the real thing. Without further hesitation, let’s get right down to it..

1.) Philadelphia 76ers- Ben Simmons (PF/LSU)

With the 1st pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select…Ben Simmons. Those will be the words uttered by commissioner Adam Silver on draft night, as the Sixers begin the post-Hinkie era. I’ll be honest, while I’m not thrilled with the way Simmons performed in his lone year with LSU, you’d be crazy to pass up on the possibility of a once-in-a-lifetime prospect. 

2.) Los Angeles Lakers- Brandon Ingram (SF/Duke)

The Lakers had luck on their side twelve days ago, as they were able to avoid surrendering their pick to the Sixers. Now that they’ve finished in second to the Sixers, the Lakers will have to settle for the second-best player in the draft. Ingram’s a very-good, borderline great player, and he’ll fit in wonderfully with a Lakers team that includes D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle. The future for Los Angeles post-Kobe, is bright following this selection. 

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The Only Choice

May 27th, 2016 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, MLB, Phillies
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Recently, there’s been a lot of talk as to what to do with Ryan Howard. Some people say the Phillies should trade him. He has no value. Even if the Phillies paid every last cent owed to Howard AND took on a bad contract to offset the ten million dollars owed to Howard in the form of a buyout, all you’d be doing is taking on a similar headache and possibly a longer-term one. So that’s a no. Some people seem to think that Howard would do the honorable thing and just retire. Cue the Michael Jack Schmidt references. Would anyone in their right mind walk away from millions of dollars? Howard would be forfeiting roughly twenty-five million dollars or so. That’s an insane amount of money to walk away from. So that’s a no too. The best one I’ve heard is the just sit him on the bench. Yeah, that’s not opening a can of worms.

While sitting Howard would give more playing time to recent call up Tommy Joseph, it would also most likely cause the Player’s Association to file a grievance. Despite Howard having more than twice as many strike outs as hits this season, it will be an issue. They’ll likely point out that Howard is also being a productive player. The MLBPA will argue that Howard has just as many Home Runs and eight less Runs Batted In than teammate Maikel Franco in forty less at bats. There will be plenty of counter arguments that will play against the Phillies if they were to try to just sit Howard. So that’s a no go.

The only choice? Release Howard. Pay him the remainder of this season. Pay him his buy out. Hell, maybe you’ll get lucky and someone will pick him up for the league minimum and allow the Phillies to recoup the money to pay a minor leaguer to play ball in South Philly. What’s even more valuable is the roster spot that Howard is clogging up. No, I don’t think he’s blocking Joseph or anyone else from debuting and sending the Phillies to the next level, but just having the flexibility to put someone there is paramount. Eventually, Cody Asche is gonna need a spot unless he gets optioned to AAA Lehigh Valley. Being able to bring someone off the disabled list without making a move makes life so much easier.

Just release him. Get it over with. I keep hearing how the like having Howard around because of his club house presence. You know what you call someone who can’t play the game anymore at the highest level and inspires team mates to perform? A coach. We have plenty of them. The players will get over Howard not showing up. That’s what players do. It’s a business, not the Boy Scouts.

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Eagles and the SuperBowl

May 27th, 2016 by Leo | No Comments | Filed in Eagles, Football, General, NFL
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As we know here in Philly, the last time the Eagles won a championship was in 1960 and one of the only major franchises to not win a superbowl.  The philly fans are clamoring for a superbowl so bad that when that day finally comes I fear for the city during the celebration and parade.  So as we look to next season with the Eagles with Sam Bradford at the helm or will it be rookie Carson Wentz, it doesn’t look the Eagles are posed to bring home a SuperBowl win for the city.  Certainly things will be interesting as there currently is no clear No. 1 QB and neither have 1oo percent secured the starting position this early in the year.  There was an interesting article on NFL.com dicussing the situation.

Now that it is post draft who are the favorites and where do the Eagles stand in the mix.  Well, so far the odds on favorites are 3 of the teams who didn’t make it to SuperBowl 50: Pittsburgh, New England, and Seattle.  The trio are all scoring high odds so far to win SuperBowl 51 on February 5th, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

The other teams who are in the hunt next year are Green Bay, Arizona, Carolina, Cincinatti and SuperBowl Champions from 2016, the Denver Broncos.  Peyton Manning should be an interesting story to watch as he did not announce his retirement yet but most feel that SuperBowl 50 will be his last game.

How do the Eagles fair in the rankings to win the SuperBowl?  Well, as us Philly fans always like to believe this will be the year, most have succumbed to reality and figure we don’t have a chance.  It is possible that in the weak NFC East division that the Eagles have an outside chance of winning the division and making the playoffs, but they would have to overcome their higher ranked rivals, Dallas, the Giants, and Washington.  So where are the Eagles ranked so far?  The answer is 23rd, not the worst, but holding a 50-1 odds chance of winning the big one.  Don’t feel so bad though, Chip Kelly and the San Francisco 49ers are at the bottom of the list if you are wondering.

If you would like the take a look at who the Eagles drafted, there was a great article put out Grading the 2016 draft on TalkSportsPhilly earlier in the year.  Keep your heads up Philly fans as there will be a lot to talk about this year no matter what happens.

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The “All In” Mentality

May 24th, 2016 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, MLB, Phillies
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allin

After Monday’s 5-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers, the Phillies sit at 25-20, good for third in the division, but just 2.5 games out of first place. As each day passes and hope gets brighter, I keep getting reminded of how impatient this town and its fan can get. More and more I hear that the Phillies should acquire a bat in order to “go all in”, “make a run”, or the ever clichéd “catch lightning in a bottle”. I don’t want to seem like a Debbie Downer, but Christ, can we be more naive? Everybody wants to believe that this team is a move or two away from the World Series. I couldn’t disagree more. If the Phillies want to be a perennial power house, GM Matt Klentak needs to stay the course and let the team evolve naturally.

The Phillies success is not sustainable. The young pitching has been outstanding, or has it? The Phillies pitching staff is tied for seventh best Batting Average on Ball In Play (BABIP). For those who aren’t familiar, that means opposing teams have been “unlucky” facing Phillies pitching. Basically, opposing teams are hitting balls, for the most part, right at the Phillies defensively. There is a lot promising talent on the team right now, but not sustainable enough to be a playoff contender…..yet. The offense on the other hand, while better as of late, has been fairly horrible. The Phillies have the 7th worst run differential in MLB. Only two other MLB teams have a winning record and a negative run differential: The Miami Marlins (23-21, -10) and the Kansas City Royals (22-21, -13)  The Phillies, on the other hand, have a run differential of -32. Almost three times worse than teams fighting to stay above .500.

Enter the “Get a bat” conversation. This, in my humble opinion, is one of the worst ideas you could conceive. Let’s start with who are you going to acquire. Is there a player that can significantly increase the Phillies offense without strip mining the farm? For a while, there were rumors wondering if the Angels should considering trading Mike Trout. Sure he’d be an instant favorite, and not even because he’s the local product, but that would require more long-term talent than what its worth considering salary you’d have to commit as well.

A better idea is to let the farm produce a bat. I mean there are some legitimate prospects that could be long-term solutions. At AAA Lehigh Valley alone, Cameron Perkins is hitting a solid .304 albeit with an unimpressive .327 on-base percentage. Nick Williams has struggled recently, but has the tools to succeed. The Phillies top position prospect, J.P. Crawford, was just recently promoted, but most likely isn’t anything more than a September call up short of a series of catastrophic injuries. At AA Reading, Jorge Alfaro is looking like the real deal hitting .355 with a .371 on-base percentage. Alfaro could definitely be helpful to the offense, but a promotion to AAA should be first. It would be no surprise to see him get promoted after the Eastern League All Star Game. Outfielder Dylan Cozens is showing promise. While hitting a rather pedestrian .276, he does have a .348 on-base percentage and .558 slugging percentage with 11 home runs.

So the Phillies do have options to bring up and potentially be long-term solutions, but none of which are currently ready to make the impact that the team would need to be “All In”. At least not in 2016. The Phillies are returning from baseball obscurity and moving any pieces right now would just be foolish. With all the money the Phillies will be gaining with the new TV contract, the top draft picks, and top international signing bonus pool, the future of the franchise is about to become the present.

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