'ONE OF the hardest guys I've ever had to send out," Pete Mackanin was saying as the afternoon clouds over Citizens Bank Park darkened. "Outstanding teammate, just a great guy. Always upbeat, pulled for everybody, knew his role and accepted it. Just hated to see him go, but we had to do it."
THERE WAS one out and the bases were loaded in the bottom of the ninth Sunday afternoon when Odubel Herrera came to the plate, the Phillies still trailing by five runs. David Lough had just worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch, a great veteran at-bat, forcing a pitching change and breathing more hope amid a Citizens Bank crowd of 27,869, many looking for yet another reason for another return to the cathedral they once attended regularly.
SPURRED PERHAPS by a report out of Canada, general manager Ron Hextall on Saturday opened - just a crack - the iron curtain he has constructed around all things Flyers, revealing that two of his best players competed at the end of this season without much use of their core muscles.
WITHIN MINUTES of becoming the most important Philadelphia Eagle, Carson Wentz was asked several times about our "passion." It has become our handy buzzword of late, used to describe us, to explain us, to rationalize our notoriously unsavory behavior. Most of all, it is used to pretend that we are not unlike other towns where sports really matter - which clearly, we are.
THEY ARE the overmatched underdogs of a bar fight. A messy, daily bar fight. You break a chair over them, they poke both fingers into your eyes. You smash a bottle over their heads, even pull out a big weapon, they spray you in the eyes with spritzer, do a little Curly dance, and the next thing you know, you've been wrapped inside a roll of tape.
YOU KNOW it can't last. I know it can't last. So why were we sweating the ninth inning Tuesday night, with Mr. Imperfectly Perfect on the mound, after Hector Neris churned through the Cardinals' hitters in the eighth inning, after Aaron Nola threw a near-perfect seven innings before that, allowing only a game-opening double and an infield single?
LAST THURSDAY the NFL inadvertently and unintentionally made a case for paying college players. Minutes before he was expected to go within the top three or four picks in the NFL draft, Laremy Tunsil found out both his Twitter and Instagram accounts had been hacked, sharing with any potential future employer a two-year-old video of him smoking out of a gas mask bong and messages suggesting he was paid under the table while playing for Ole Miss.
JUST THREE years ago, Philadelphia sports had as distinct a New England taste as a hot bowl of chowder. The hockey coach was from Massachusetts, the basketball coach was from Maine, and the new, exciting football coach with the new, exciting football scheme was a New Hampshire native.
THE HORN sounded with the puck a few feet from Jake Voracek's stick, his final stride of the season made with resignation, the clock finally expiring on the Flyers season nearly a week after un ugly storm of flung wristbands strongly implied that it already had.
EARL WEAVER, the late Hall of Fame manager with the Baltimore Orioles, once said he didn't believe in momentum because the next day's starting pitcher could take it from you. You can't find exactly when he said it, or whom he said it to, but there are hundreds of managers out there, if not thousands, who have embraced it as gospel ever since.
THEY'RE GASSED. It shows in the plays they make - or, more accurately, don't make. The puck finally moves around on the power play, the open man gets the cross-ice feed, and instead of firing immediately, Claude Giroux's legs are a half-stride late, delaying the shot, allowing Braden Holtby to position himself.
Ed Snider never played hockey as a kid, never watched the game until he was well into adulthood. But the next time someone calls Johnny Gaudreau “Johnny Hockey,” the next time some Rangers fan raves about Mike Richter, the next time one Philadelphia fan chides another or a member of the media for not understanding the game – their game – they do so with an unwitting nod to the man who introduced hockey to the Delaware Valley 50 years ago and who lost his long battle against cancer on Monday.
ED SNIDER hopped a cyber ride this weekend, Lauren Hart holding up her cellphone toward the singing fat lady he and his team made an eternal hockey symbol, an unintended symbol of his world view as well, even before he personally gave those Rooskies hell.
I LOVE WHAT the University of Connecticut women's basketball team did Tuesday night. Love the idea of a dynasty in any sport, the concept of unselfishness and team play, the thought of authenticating it all via a convincing, lopsided victory in the championship game.
.Sam Donnellon's career has spanned four decades and has taken him all over the world. Prior to joining the Daily News in 1992, he worked as a national writer for the short-lived but highly acclaimed National Sports Daily. He has received state and national awards at each stop and has been honored repeatedly by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, and the Associated Press Managing Editors.