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April 2016
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Former Eagles safety Walter Thurmond retires at 28

By: Brandon Apter, contributor

At just 28 years of age, former Eagles safety Walter Thurmond III has decided to retire. He started all 16 games for Philadelphia last season.

The Eagles signed Thurmond to a one-year contract worth $3.25 million hoping that he would compete for a cornerback spot on the defense. Thurmond moved to safety after Philadelphia was unable to draft Nate Allen's replacement in the draft. Thurmond thrived in the safety role, tallying three interceptions, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown. 

According to NFL.com, Thurmond got plenty of offers in free agency, but ultimately decided to hang up his cleats and pursue other opportunities.

The Eagles have known about Thurmond's plans for months, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, who also reported in March that Thurmond had turned down offers of $4 million-plus per year as he pondered retirement.

Thurmond spent a good part of his career on injured reserve, playing just 10 games combined between the 2011, 2012 and 2014 seasons, including a torn pectoral muscle with the Giants before signing with the Eagles in 2015. 


Phillies nuggets: Ryan Howard should announce 2016 as last season

By: Tim Kelly, Managing Editor

In the early part of the 2015-16 NBA Season, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was in a position fairly similar to that of Philadelphia Phillies star Ryan Howard. Bryant, a one-time MVP, was late in his career and after a slew of injuries, wasn't effective in a capacity even similar to what the league had come to expect to him. So on November 30, with some starting to suggest that he was holding back the franchise that he had won five championships for, Bryant announced that he would retire at the end of the season. Howard should consider doing something similar to what Bryant did. 

Howard, though he is like Bryant in having one league MVP, is very much unlike Bryant in many regards. Bryant won five titles, is a lock to be a Hall of Famer and is considered by some to be one of the top 10 players to ever play in the NBA. Howard won't sniff being a Hall of Famer and certainly won't get the type of send-off that Bryant got from the league, but he still has pretty much everything to gain by bowing out on his career graciously, rather than fighting reality. 

Continue reading "Phillies nuggets: Ryan Howard should announce 2016 as last season" »


Nationals hit four homers, send Phillies to fifth straight defeat

By: Brandon Apter, contributor

Final: Nationals 5, Phillies 1 ❖  Attendance: 18,572

Philadelphia, PA - The Phillies offense produced just one run tonight en route to their fifth straight loss and their ninth defeat in the last 11 games. Philadelphia falls to the .500 mark for the first time since they were 10-10 on April 26.

Leading all of baseball with a .397 average, Daniel Murphy hit the go-ahead homer in the sixth for Washington. The wheels fell off completely for the Philllies in the eighth as Colton Murray allowed three runs to score, one on a two-run homer and the other on an inside-the-park home run.

Phillies starter Aaron Nola gave up two solo home runs in six solid innings of work, striking out six and walking one. Joe Ross followed up his strong start against the Phils in April with seven shutout innings tonight, scattering three hits and striking out five.

Adam Morgan gets the ball in the series finale on Wednesday against Max Scherzer.

WP: Joe Ross (5-4, 2.37 ERA)  ❖  LP: Aaron Nola (4-4, 2.88 ERA) 

Continue reading "Nationals hit four homers, send Phillies to fifth straight defeat" »


Looking to snap four-game skid, Phillies turn to Nola

By: Brandon Apter, contributor

Philadelphia, PA - After a surprising start to the season that saw them climb to seven games over .500 at one point, it seems the Phillies are falling back to Earth. After last night's 4-3 loss to the Nationals, it marked the teams' fourth straight defeat and their sixth loss in the last seven games. 

The big story in Monday night's game was the decision to pull Jeremy Hellickson after throwing just 79 pitches through seven innings of one-run ball. He was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the seventh with no runners on and a 2-1 lead. The normally reliable Hector Neris allowed three runs to score in the eighth, spoiling Hellickson's strong start.

Tonight, the Phillies look to Aaron Nola in hopes of snapping their four-game skid. Washington will send Joe Ross to the mound.


Starting Pitching Matchup:

Washington Nationals (31-21) Philadelphia Phillies (26-25)
RHP Joe Ross RHP Aaron Nola
(4-4, 2.52 ERA) (4-3, 2.86 ERA)

Continue reading "Looking to snap four-game skid, Phillies turn to Nola" »


More Good News for the Sixers

The good news keeps rolling in for the Sixers. 

First, the organization was awarded the top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft at May's Draft Lottery, and now it seems as though their prized pick from the highly-hyped 2014 NBA Draft will be [finally] ready to contribute on court next season as well. 

Joel Embiid was selected with the third overall pick in 2014, and was widely considered to be the top talent in the draft before lingering injury issues clouded his future in uncertainty. The Sixers' future has hinged on Embiiid's health since his selection, as he possess the potential to be a franchise-level talent, a la Karl Anthony-Towns. However, two straight seasons on the shelf have left some to doubt whether Embiid will ever be able to consistently contribute. 

Embiid though appears confident in his own health heading into the '16-17 season - his third as a professional. 

In the midst of the Western Conference Finals on Monday evening, Embiid posted a photo of himself sporting his Sixers jersey to his Instagram account with the caption: "Wish we could fast forward to the next season #FinallyHealthy #TrustTheNewProcess" 

 

Wish we could fast forward to next season #FinallyHealthy #TrustTheNewProcess

A photo posted by Joel Hans Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Embiid has to be pretty confident in his own health to post such a message publicly, especially considering the surrounding circumstances and pressure on him. By openly shopping Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, the Sixers are placing a lot of faith in Embiid as the franchise's front court future. 

It is still not known whether Embiid will participate in the upcoming summer leagues, but all signs point to him being ready to go for the season's start. 

The possibility of adding two potential franchise-caliber talents in a single offseason is extremely exciting for a team coming off of several consecutive seasons of struggle. The Sixers busy summer is off to a solid start.


Flyers Legend Rick MacLeish Passes Away at Age 66

The Flyers family has lost another legendary member.

Rick MacLeish, who scored the game-winning goal in the Flyers 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins in the deciding Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Final, passed away on Monday night at age 66. Another Flyers legend, Reggie Leach, broke the news via Facebook. The Flyers confirmed the news on Tuesday morning.

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2016 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Kieffer Bellows

The Stanley Cup Final is underway, which means the NHL season is drawing near and the offseason activity will start to pick up soon enough.

Now less than a month away from the NHL Draft in Buffalo, the Combine has started to take place as prospects get one last chance to audition for NHL teams.

In the meantime, we continue our series on potential draft targets for the Flyers, who hold the 18th overall pick. Our profile series continues with a look at US U-18 winger Kieffer Bellows.

Continue reading "2016 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Kieffer Bellows" »


Eagles look for Improvement in Secondary with McLeod, McKelvin

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 12.44.01 AM

In 2015, the Eagles finished 30th in team defense and 28th in pass defense, leading to the demise of Billy Davis and another offseason of searching for answers in personnel.

The Eagles hired Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator, but are hoping for so much more than just improvements with Schwartz now in the organization.

The additions in the secondary of safety Rodney McLeod and cornerback Leodis McKelvin were meant to add more talent and depth to the secondary and create what will hopefully be improvement in the defensive numbers next season.

Continue reading "Eagles look for Improvement in Secondary with McLeod, McKelvin" »


Neris spoils stellar outing by Hellickson as Phillies drop fourth straight

By: Brandon Apter, contributor

Final: Nationals 4, Phillies 3 ❖  Attendance: 21,993

Philadelphia, PA - Despite a stellar outing from Jeremy Hellickson, the Phillies lost their fourth straight game tonight with a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the NL East leading Nationals. Philadelphia has now dropped six of their last seven games.

Leading 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Emmuanel Burriss came in to pinch-hit for Jeremy Hellickson with no one on base. Hellickson had thrown just 79 pitches through seven innings of one-run ball, but Pete Mackanin opted to go with his back-end combination of Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez. The move backfired as Neris allowed three runs to score in the eighth. Neris walked three in the inning after walking just three during the entire month of May prior to tonight.

The Phillies hit back-to-back doubles to climb to within one in the ninth against Jonathan Papelbon, but were unable to complete the comeback.

Aaron Nola will get the ball for the Phillies on Tuesday night. He'll be opposed by Washington's Joe Ross.

WP: Tanner Roark (4-4, 2.70 ERA)  ❖  LP: Hector Neris (1-2, 2.20 ERA) ❖ SV: Jonathan Papelbon (14)

Continue reading "Neris spoils stellar outing by Hellickson as Phillies drop fourth straight" »


Phillies Monday mailbag: Dylan Cozens, Darin Ruf, trade deadline

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Dylan Cozens leads the Eastern League with 14 home runs (Frank Klose/Philliedelphia)

It is time once again for a Phillies 97.3 ESPN Monday Mailbag.  We take your questions every Monday and then we talk about them during the Sports Bash with Mike Gill on Tuesday afternoons at 2:30 p.m.   If you are not in South Jersey, you can listen online at 973espn.com.

Read More: Phillies Monday Mailbag: Ryan Howard, First Base Offense, Cam Perkins | http://973espn.com/phillies-monday-mailbag-ryan-howard-first-base-offense-cam-perkins/?trackback=tsmclip

Do you see Dylan Cozens making a move up to the bigs? He is putting up solid numbers.
~Bryan

One name that has caught the attention of fans at AA Reading is Dylan Cozens, right fielder.   It is not much of a stretch to say that so far in 2016, Cozens has been the Eastern League offensive MVP, belting a league-leading 14 home runs and driving in 42 runs in 49 games with the Fightin' Phils. Cozens is ranked the Phillies' 22nd best prospect on MLB Pipeline, a testament to the depth of prospects that the Phillies have.   However, Cozens is not likely an immediate option.

Continue reading "Phillies Monday mailbag: Dylan Cozens, Darin Ruf, trade deadline" »