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Jim Thome: Charlie Manuel ‘Always Believed in Me’

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Former Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Jim Thome is officially enshrined among Major League Baseball's best, forever. Sunday afternoon, the 22-year-veteran and five-time All-Star was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, along with Vladimir GuerreroTrevor HoffmanChipper JonesAlan Trammell and Jack Morris.

"Cleveland is where my career was born, but Philadelphia is where I had to grow up fast. I needed every single tool in my toolbox in Philly," Thome said. "The city welcomed me with open arms from the moment the electricians met us wearing hard hats. The fans couldn't have been batter."

Among the first people Thome mentioned in his speech who have helped shape his career, was of no surprise, but his former coach, manager and career-long friend, Charlie Manuel.

"From the moment I met Charlie Manuel, as a wide-eyed kid in the Gulf Coast League, I knew this was someone I could connect with instantly," Thome said. "Charlie took a scrappy young kid, who was anxious to hit a million home runs, and actually encouraged those crazy dreams. He told me that I could hit as many home runs as I wanted to. From day one in that dugout in Kissimmee, he always believed in me."

Manuel managed Thome in three seasons with the Cleveland Indians in 2000-2002 — and part of two seasons with the Phillies in 2005 and 2012 — but he mentored the slugger seemingly throughout the entirety of his career starting in 1989.

Continue reading "Jim Thome: Charlie Manuel ‘Always Believed in Me’" »


Sixers Announce Summer Shore Tour Details

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

The Philadelphia 76ers announced that they will continue their 19-year tradition of visiting its fans at the Jersey Shore for summertime events in 2018 by hosting a five-stop Summer Shore Tour. The event runs from August 21-25 and will make stops in Ocean City, Cape May, Wildwood, Avalon and Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Admission is free and it'll feature Sixers players, alumni, the Sixers Dunk Squad, Sixers Dances, team mascot Franklin and the official Sixers drumline, the Stixers. 

“The Summer Shore Tour is one of our favorite events of the year,” said Chris Heck, Philadelphia 76ers President of Business Operations, in the official release. “It gives us an opportunity to connect with our fans in a really unique setting. There is an incredible buzz surrounding our team and the Jersey Shore is the perfect backdrop for our fans, players and staff members to come together and celebrate as we prepare for the 2018-19 season.”

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Stark: ‘Still a Chance’ Phillies Acquire Left-Handed Bench Hitter, Reliever

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Tuesday's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching, and the first-place Philadelphia Phillies' hot stove remains active as the club looks to bolster its 25-man roster.

There is "still a chance" that the club adds a left-handed reliever and a left-handed hitter off the bench, according to The Athletic's Jayson Stark Monday morning on 97.5 The Fanatic.

Per Stark, the Phillies and general manager Matt Klentak are now looking for value without surrendering "anything of real substance." Stark mentioned Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Curtis Granderson and Texas Rangers southpaw Jake Diekman as possibilities for both player types.

Continue reading "Stark: ‘Still a Chance’ Phillies Acquire Left-Handed Bench Hitter, Reliever" »


Sixers to hold open tryouts for G-League affiliate

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By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Over the weekend, the Philadelphia 76ers announced their three open tryouts for the organization's G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. According to their official release on the tryouts, a total of 20 players from the team's open tryouts have been invited to NBA G-League Training Camp and 12 players have made the regular-season roster.

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Report: Phillies Interested in 'Practically Every Reliever Available'

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

While the Philadelphia Phillies lost out on the Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Adam Jones, the club did acquire New York Mets' infielder Asdrubal Cabrera in exchange for 10th-ranked prospect RHP Franklyn Kilome.

It appears despite landing Cabrera, the club remains active in the market with just over 30 hours remaining until the non-waiver trade deadline. The Phillies are among four teams that are "in on practically every reliever available," according to MLB Network Radio's Jim Bowden late Sunday night.

Bowden lists 12 relievers, three of which are left-handed, in which the Phillies could be targeting: Adam ConleyBlake ParkerBrad ZieglerBud NorrisCraig StammenFernando RodneyJake DiekmanKeone KelaKirby YatesKyle BarracloughSergio Romo and Tyler Clippard.

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Pennsylvania’s Casinos Go All-In on Online Poker

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Last year, Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize online gambling
Image Credit: Pexels.com

While online casinos have been operating at full throttle all over the world, the U.S. has almost been left behind. But given the vast market that the country presents for all sorts of businesses, it was only a matter of time for things to pick up. And as we’ve seen lately, they are.

During the past few years, several significant things happened for the U.S. gambling industry.

  • Three states legalized online gambling.
  • They joined a shared liquidity pool soon after.
  • The Supreme Court paved the way for states to allow sports betting.
  • Now, nine Pennsylvania casinos are on track to offering online gambling.

In this post, we are focusing on the last one.

The Gist

Credit: Visitphilly.com

The change came as a way to help fill in the gap in the state’s budget.
Image Credit: Expedia.com

At the end of last year, the state of Pennsylvania passed legislation that opened the gates to online gambling. Now, a couple of months later, 9 out of the 13 casinos in Pennsylvania have already applied for licenses at the discounted price of $10 million. The permit grants the holder the right to offer online slots, poker and table games. Four casinos haven’t yet taken advantage of the offer, though it’s for sure whether they will given the imposed 54 percent tax on online slots and 16 percent on table games and online poker.  

The legislative move is among the state’s attempts to fix a hole in the budget without burdening the citizens with more taxation. The expected annual return for Pennsylvania’s treasury is $200 million. The move is quite logical given how prominent gambling is in Pennsylvania — the state ranks second after Nevada in annual revenue from the industry. And while right now, online gambling is only limited to players within the state’s borders, it is likely that soon Pennsylvania will join the shared liquidity pool that already consists of New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware — the only other states where online gambling is legal.

So, what’s the deal with them?

Online gambling is growing on a global scale, so it’s only natural for states to push its legalization
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mage Credit: Visual.ly

After a legal battle starting in 2011, New Jersey legalized online gambling in 2013. Of course, the change didn’t come without restrictions. For a casino to offer online gambling in New Jersey, its servers must be located in Atlantic City. Furthermore, to play, players must be located within the state’s borders. New Jersey imposed a 15 percent tax on revenue coming from online gambling, and the legislation is in a trial run for 10 years, half of which has already expired. Still, it looks like it’s here to stay given that in 2017, casinos in New Jersey raked in $250 million from online gambling.

 

How about Nevada? The state is only asking for $500 000 to issue an online gambling license and taxes online casino operators with as little as 6 percent. Nevada legalized online gambling in 2013 a little bit before New Jersey. But despite the state’s liberal gambling laws, it also imposed some limitations. Online gambling is limited to poker and sports betting and is only available to the state’s residents.

 

In truth, Delaware was the first one to legalize online gambling. It did so in 2012, and a year later, it already had operating online casinos. In 2014, the state joined the shared liquidity pool along with Nevada and New Jersey.

Back to Pennsylvania

Credit: Visitphilly.com

Pennsylvania is hoping to fill in a budget hole by taxing revenue from online gambling,
but how will this affect the casinos
?  Image Credit: Visitphilly.com

So, what does this change mean? For starters, the state will get a chance to fill in a long-term deficit without passing unpopular changes to the taxation system for citizens. Pennsylvania has already acquired $90 million from the licenses that it has issued, and if the other four casinos apply as well, this will add tens of millions to the budget. Given that these casinos passed the deadline for a discounted price, they’ll have to pay $4 million per gaming category. Furthermore, the legalization of online gambling should help with limiting illegal gambling, which is already taking place on a large scale thanks to offshore companies.

But it’s not so clear what’s in it for the casinos. The fees and taxes are monstrous compared to what other states are charging. However, the state has the interest to go easy on the casinos as their success will mean more money for the budget.

The third player in the game is the companies that will provide the gaming platforms. Most casinos in Pennsylvania have already signed partnership agreements with the top names in the industry. Thus, online games, such as slots and poker, will be coming to the state from experienced companies, which should mean exciting tournaments and prize pools.

The Partnerships

Credit: Visitphilly.com

All the major players in the online gambling industry will be stepping into Pennsylvania’s newly created market. Image Credit: Pexels.com

As of the partnerships, there’s hardly a casino in Pennsylvania that hasn’t already partnered with one or several big names from the online gambling niche. For example, Mount Airy has been working with 888Poker since 2014 (up until now, only on a promotional basis) while Harrah’s Philadelphia’s parent company, Caesars, is also working with the European online poker provider.

 

The online poker platform is already among the largest in the world, and with Pennsylvania’s new online gambling legislation, it will step into all four U.S. states that allow internet play. That, plus the high likelihood of Pennsylvania joining the shared liquidity pool means that 888Poker’s players will get to measure their skills against a sizable network of poker aficionados.

 

The changes to Pennsylvania’s gambling laws are too recent to draw any conclusions. Nevertheless, opinions are all over the place. While some see a significant opportunity for casinos to tap into a booming niche, others warn that the steep taxation might limit not only the casino’s earning potential but consequently, what the state will receive as taxed money. In any case, it’s too early to predict what will happen. One thing’s for sure: online gambling presents much potential for both states and gaming operators. When the state does make a move, rest assured, it will be surer than the Phillies have been as of late.


Phillies Hot Stove: Jones Opts to Stay With Orioles Amid ‘Possible Trade’

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Despite playing for the Major League Baseball-worst Baltimore Orioles — who currently trail the American League East by 41 1/2 games — it appears five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award-winning outfielder Adam Jones prefers to not get traded to the first-place Philadelphia Phillies.  

The Phillies and Orioles had a "possible trade" in the works, however Jones reportedly is giving the "impression" of wanting to stay in Baltimore to finish out the final season of his six-year, $85.5 million contract, according to Fancred's Jon Heyman. Jones has 10-and-5 rights, and prefers to not uproot his family midseason, The Athletic's Dan Connolly reports. Jones also wants to have a "proper goodbye to the fans and community" of Baltimore.

Heyman adds that it is uncertain if there was an "official decline" from the 13-year veteran. Heyman first reported last Wednesday that the Phillies are "considering" Jones, but NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman argued he would be a "strange fit," if acquired:

Jones hasn't played a position other than center field since 2007. That's not to say he couldn't fill in capably in right field or left field, he just hasn't done it. ... The bigger issue is that Jones is the polar opposite type of offensive player the Phillies seek. He swings at everything. He never walks — he's averaged 24 walks per season since 2013. ... In terms of a platoon situation, Jones has actually been significantly worse in his career against lefties (.265 BA, .726 OPS) than he has been vs. righties (.282 BA, .793 OPS).

Entering Sunday, Jones, 32, slugged 28 doubles, 11 home runs and 43 RBI in 99 games this season, while slashing  .281/.307/.431.

The Phillies already added one former All-Star this past week in infielder Asdrubal Cabrera from the New York Mets, but appear to have fallen short in acquiring another in Jones. Less than two days remain until the trade deadline.


Former Phillies 1B Jim Thome Set for Hall of Fame Induction

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

After 22 seasons, 2,543 games, 10,313 plate appearances, 612 home runs, 1,699 RBI and 1,747 walks, former Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Jim Thome will officially be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Cooperstown, New York.

"I was blessed to be around wonderful teammates throughout every organization I was in," Thome told WPVI's Jeff Skyversky. "I was in organizations that competed to win. ... Having teammates that were winners and that were wanted to be 'in the moment' — we call it as a baseball player — and I think that rubbed off. I was blessed to have great managers as well that pushed ... and did the things to help me and my teammates to become good players."

One of Thome's managers that he bonded with the most is former Phillies World Series champion skipper, Charlie Manuel. Thome told MLB.com in August 2016 that Manuel "meant everything" to him, and that he taught him "confidence," how to hit, and "everything about baseball." The two first met in 1989, and during Thome's rookie season in 1991, with Manuel as the Cleveland Indians hitting coach. Manuel managed Thome in three seasons with the Indians in 2000-2002, and part of two seasons with the Phillies in 2005 and 2012.

Continue reading "Former Phillies 1B Jim Thome Set for Hall of Fame Induction" »


Phillies, Eflin Seek 5th Series Split in Finale With Reds

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Behind RHP Zach Eflin, the Philadelphia Phillies (58-46) will aim for their fifth series split of the season as they take on RHP Luis Castillo and the Cincinnati Reds (47-58) in Sunday's matinee series finale at Great American Ball Park. The Phillies are 17-13-4 in 34 series overall this season.

The Phillies fell for the second straight game against the Reds on Saturday, 6-2, as Asdrubal Cabrera made his club while starting at shortstop. Rhys Hoskins' two-run home run, his 21st, accounted for all the Phillies' run production. Cabrera went 0-4 with a strikeout, partly in opposition of his former New York Mets teammate, Matt Harvey. Phillies starter Vince Velasquez allowed two runs on six hits, five walks and four strikeouts spanning five innings and 94 pitches. Reliever Tommy Hunter was credited with the loss, his first as a Phillie, as he surrendered two runs in the sixth inning to break up the 2-2 tie.

Cabrera will make his second start as a Phillie on Tuesday, batting second at second base behind leadoff hitter and his former Cleveland Indians teammate, Carlos Santana. Cesar Hernandez has been battling an foot injury since fouling a ball off it earlier this month.


Starting Pitching Matchup:

Philadelphia Phillies (58-46) Cincinnati Reds (47-58)
RHP Zach Eflin RHP Luis Castillo
(7-2, 3.41 ERA) (5-8, 5.30 ERA)

Continue reading "Phillies, Eflin Seek 5th Series Split in Finale With Reds" »


Sixers bring back Demetrius Jackson on two-way contract

By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

It's been a slow last couple weeks for the Philadelphia 76ers in the news recently, no signings or trades besides the obvious. Mike Muscala is a Sixer, after being traded in the Carmelo Anthony three-team deal that sent Melo and Justin Anderson to Atlanta, Muscala to Philly, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Sixers made a rather bland transaction on Friday, re-signing point guard Demetrius Jackson to a two-way deal for the second straight season. Jackson, a No. 45 selection by Boston in the 2016 NBA Draft, appeared in a total of 15 NBA games between the Rockets and Sixers. He also saw action on each team's G-League level teams, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and Delaware 87ers (now Blue Coats). He averaged 14.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.2 steals in 28.8 minutes in 26 games at the G-League level last season.

Jackson saw time on the Sixers' Summer League team this past summer, posting averages of 8.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists, in 24.8 minutes across six games in Vegas.

Per NBA rules, the Sixers are permitted to sign two two-way players in addition to the 15-man NBA regular season roster. The two-way players may spend time with the Sixers' G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, but can only spend up to 45 games with the Sixers. The team has already signed both their two-way guys in Jackson and second-round pick Shake Milton.