Flyers Extend Points Streak, Fall to Capitals in Shootout

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Flyers have started to make a habit out of needing extra time. For the sixth time in the last seven games, it took overtime to decide a game. For the fifth time, it required a shootout.

Facing the league's best team proved to be too much for the Flyers in the end, with the Flyers dropping a 2-1 decision in a shootout to the Washington Capitals, but not before a highly competitive and entertaining game at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.

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Flyers-Capitals: Game 18 Preview

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Flyers passed a significant test last weekend with back-to-back shootout wins over the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, both on the road. This week, the schedule doesn't get any easier.

The Flyers will be back on home ice, where they enter play on Wednesday with a 6-1-1 record, but get the task of facing the NHL's best team, the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals just had a six-game winning streak snapped with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. They are currently on a 12-game points streak.

The Flyers enter with a streak of their own, having won their last four games and earned points in six straight games.

Game time is at 7:30 p.m.

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By Mitch Nathanson, Historical Columnist 

When I was six I got a Strat-O-Matic baseball game for my birthday.  This was 1972 and, my luck, the one I received came with a starter set of 1971 Expos cards.  Imagine the fevered delight of any six-year-old when he discovers he’ll have the thrill of managing from his basement the likes of Boots Day and John Boccabella for the foreseeable future. 

I can’t remember who the other team was that accompanied the Montreal cards; all I can recall is sitting in my basement watching these Expos strike out, pop out, and ground out with stunning alacrity.  In the real world, the Phillies were sending to the plate the likes of Denny Doyle, John Bateman, and Roger Freed so from where I sat, my Strat-O-Matic experience was alarmingly true-to-life.  This was baseball, I thought.  Real baseball.  And I was not merely playing it but orchestrating it.

Just as in real baseball, Strat-O-Matic offered insight if you took the time to look hard enough.  Those ’71 Expos were terrible but the more I played the more I saw the value of a player like Ron Fairly.  Rusty Staub was the unquestioned star of that club but Fairly’s card was fantastic; he seemed to get on base all the time and was maybe the toughest out in their lineup.  Ron Hunt was another player I learned to appreciate through his Strat-O-Matic card.  Soon I was batting them first and second every game even though the real-world Expos not only moved them around the order but sometimes didn’t play them at all.  Idiots, I’d say to myself.  I know better.

Strat-O-Matic begat Statis-Pro Baseball (where I discovered the deceptive magic of Paul O’Neill years before the Yankees would), which begat Rotisserie Baseball, which begat the sabermetric boom that we’re presently in the midst of.  In the process we’re all more in the know now than we have ever been before.  In short, we’re all management now, or at least we think we are. 

In the old days, when ballclubs traveled by train and sportswriters wrote breathlessly about them, we like to think that players were mythologized beyond belief – “godded-up” as critics of that era describe how they were written about.  And they were.  But along with that came a perspective that was clearly in management’s camp.  The writers of that era were working on the owners’ dole and weren’t about to do anything to screw that up.  So fans were offered a sweetened-up version of the game; one that gave them their heroes but also beat home the idea that these heroes were lucky to be there and ought not to rock the boat.  Fans, seeing the game through the eyes of management as conveyed to them by the sportswriters they read every morning, understood this implicitly.  In the process, the Yankees won seemingly every year, a few other teams tried, most didn’t, but everybody ended up comfortably in the black each October.

That perspective starting changing in the ‘60s, such that by the ‘70s and ‘80s fans were identifying more with the players than the people who paid them.  The owners were exploiting them no matter how much money this one or that one made, the players were the game, and the best ones were worth whatever it cost, were the budding narratives.  It’s no surprise that as this mindset emerged, the Players Association grew stronger and more powerful.  And in the process, baseball became more competitive.  Heroes may have become passé but stars ruled and in this star-laden era, a wider swath of clubs participated in a World Series than ever before.  And along the way clubs made more money than ever, although they were forced to spend more in order to do so.

Games like Strat-O-Matic and Statis Pro pushed back against the rising player-centered narrative, albeit inadvertently.  And fantasy baseball and sabermetrics crushed it into the dirt.  Today we’re back, if not quite where we started – baseball gods reside only in heaven nowadays – but pretty damn close.  Once again we see the game through management’s eyes, tinkering with our rosters here, looking for underappreciated value there, mixing this with that to see what might happen.  The players exist primarily as assets or liabilities; widgets of one sort or another, to be plugged in here or there, or nowhere if we might save a dollar or two in the process.

Which explains why players such as Mookie Betts, Kris Bryant, and Francisco Lindor are on the trading block right now.  All of these players are popular in their home cities, in the prime of their careers – 26 or 27 years of age – and on clubs seemingly built to contend next season.  Yet they very well might be moved.  Forty years ago fans in Boston, Chicago and Cleveland would be screaming bloody murder.  Today they calmly talk about “acquiring assets,” “cost certainty,” and “maintaining payroll flexibility” in giving management not merely a pass but a hearty pat on the back for reducing the likelihood that their hometown club will be able to compete for the postseason in 2020. 

Today’s fan not only sides with management, in his eyes he IS management. 

The brainwashing is nearly complete.  Baseball is not only run by bean counters; its most ardent supporters consider themselves kindred spirits.  To the astonishment of just about everybody, the accountants won.  Who knew they were even playing?

It would be one thing if there was solid evidence that the type of thinking now being sanctioned by armchair GM’s predictably worked, but for every club like the Astros (who, in any event, may very well have gotten where they are as much by old fashioned sign-stealing as new-age player development metrics) there are a large handful like the Pirates and Marlins, who sell and sell and sell while chanting breathlessly and vaguely about a future that each season seems to be another year further off on the horizon.  Now it’s not only the Have-Not’s who are doing the selling but the Have’s as well.  And still the armchair GM’s cheer.

The means have become the end.  For too many clubs the goal now is cost-control.  Achieve that and call the season a success irrespective of the results on the field.  To this, amazingly, the crowd roars. 

We’re all in our basements now, rolling the dice, flipping the cards, running the numbers.  The real games are on TV upstairs.  But the living room’s empty. 

Most Marvelous Mustaches in Flyers History

By Matt Mastrogiovanni, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Many this month are letting their facial hair run wild as part of "No Shave November." However, a select few choose to swap out a full beard for just a mustache; thus the synonymous tradition of "Movember." Both month-long activities serve as symbols for Men's Health Awareness just as the pink ribbon symbolizes the fight against breast cancer.

In the National Hockey League, whether it be Movember or not, many marvelous mustaches have come and gone throughout the years. As the Flyers are in the midst of the current season, it's time to take a look back at some of the most iconic "mo's" in franchise history:

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Gabe Kapler is Named Manager of the San Francisco Giants


The Phillies hired Gabe Kapler to be their manager on Halloween two years ago.  Both seasons the Phillies started out strong but faded down the stretch, and the Phillies decided to replace Kapler at the helm on October 10.  One month and two days later, Kapler has a new job.

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Kapler will be manager of the San Francisco Giants.  Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported around 10:00 p.m. Eastern time that an announcement was imminent.  The word broke within a half-hour of the announcement. 

Kapler was reportedly a finalist for the position alongside Joe Espada, bench coach for the Houston Astros, and Matt Quatraro, bench coach of the Tampa Bay Rays.  Shortly after Slusser's report that an announcement was imminent, word came that Espada did not get the job from Jon Heyman of MLB Network.  

Kapler has a strong relationship with Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, dating back to the time both spent in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.  The move comes after new general manager Scott Harris was named.  Harris came from the Chicago Cubs organization that had just interviewed both Kapler and Espada for the managerial vacancy there.

Kapler managed the Phillies to an 80-82 record in 2018 and an 81-81 record in 2019.

In San Francisco, Kapler replaces Bruce Bochy.  Bochy won three World Series titles with the Giants: 2010, 2012, and 2014.  Bochy is likely headed for the Hall of Fame.