Sports Tonight: Phillies' Nick Williams learned lessons in maturity

Nick Williams celebrates his two-run home run with teammate Cesar Hernandez on Thursday.

The Phillies’ Nick Williams learned the hard way, but the good thing is that the lesson came at an early age when questions about maturity and discipline can be excused as something a 22-year-old has time to grow out of.

Maybe the best thing to happen for Williams was that the Phillies did not reward him with a September call-up in 2016. Perhaps that was the thing that drove home the point that a successful major-league career isn’t only about physical talent and potential.

Williams came into 2017 with a purpose and hit .280 with 16 doubles and 15 home runs in 78 games with the triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Most importantly, Williams showed Phillies management he would be ready for the call when it happened. That came on June 30.

Were it not for the sensational debut of Rhys Hoskins, Williams would be the most talked-about call-up for the Phillies.

Tonight at 7:05 when the Phillies play at Atlanta (TV: CSN; radio 94 WIP), Williams will take a .285 average with 11 home runs and 50 RBI into his 75th MLB game.

That’s far from where he was at this time last September.

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Boise State quarterback Montell Cozart, top, dives for a touchdown over Washington State safety Jalen Thompson (34) on Sept. 9. Washington State won, 47-44. 

Virginia taking big risk by playing at Boise State

Because of commitments to league opponents, college football teams don’t usually have more than three spots for non-conference games. Two are normally cupcakes that you pay to come to your place and lose. The third is typically against an opponent that doesn’t generate strange looks if you lose the game.

Giving those circumstances, tonight’s game featuring Virginia of the Atlantic Coast Conference at Boise State of the Mountain West (8:00 on ESPN2) doesn’t fit conventional wisdom.

It makes sense for Boise, as a “Group of Five” school, to schedule any “Power Five” team because a win might help land it in a “major” bowl game while a loss keeps the team at its current bowl level. To get a “Power Five” team to come to your stadium is a bonus.

Virginia is “Power Five” only in name. It’s an underdog at Boise, which won in Charlottesville in 2015. A win would do little for the Cavaliers, but a loss could hurt come bowl selection.

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New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) leaps over Detroit Lions’ Glover Quin (27) as Jarrad Davis (40) watches during the first half Monday in East Rutherford, N.J.

What I’m reading

The Eagles secondary is beaten up and under normal circumstances, the New York Giants receivers should be looking at a big day Sunday. Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News writes that circumstances aren’t normal.

Training camps always feature players unexpectedly grabbing attention. That’s what Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim is doing, according to staff writer Sam Carchidi.

The merit system is supposed to be the ultimate decision-maker in sports, and when you give a player a job instead of making him earn it, things can go wrong. Staff writer Paul Domowitch says the Eagles are learning that lesson with guard Isaac Seumalo.

It’s Friday, and the writers have put together their predictions for the Eagles game Sunday against the New York Giants.

The Union are winding down a disappointing MLS season and captain Alejandro Bedoya gives staff writer Jonathan Tannenwald some assessments that won’t make fans happy.

This won’t take long to read, but is worth it. Ohio State backup quarterback Joey Burrow had the perfect response to finding out that the Buckeyes plus Oklahoma and Texas football programs are valued at $1.5 billion.

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Defendant Aaron Hernandez listens during his double-murder trial in March. 

The riff

There has to be some limitation.

We can accept that repeated concussions and CTE can be connected to football and the National Football League has some culpability in the number of cases involving former players because it hid and downplayed the severity of risks to players.

Still, as debilitating as this disease is, it cannot be allowed to become an excuse for every bad thing that a former NFL player, even one diagnosed with CTE, does.

The estate of convicted murderer and former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has sued the NFL and is contemplating suing the NCAA and the University of Florida because an examination of Hernandez’s brain showed he had severe CTE when he committed suicide in prison at age 27.

The implication is that the NFL, the Patriots, Florida and every other entity that Hernandez played football for is responsible for his murderous actions and subsequent demise – not the immoral base and nature of the man himself.

Perhaps Hernandez did suffer from the depression and mood swings that CTE is said to cause, but that can’t be used to excuse a plotted-out murder and the attempt to cover it up.

Tonight’s schedule

TV/Radio

Baseball
Phillies at Braves, 7:30 p.m. (CSN; WIP-FM 94.1)
Cubs at Brewers, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Indians at Mariners, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)

Preseason Hockey
Blues at Capitals, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
Kings at Ducks, 10 p.m. (NHL Network)

College Football
Virginia at Boise State, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Utah at Arizona, 10:30 p.m. (FS1)

Golf on Golf Channel
Champions Tour: Pure Insurance Championship, 6 p.m.

Boxing
Gilberto Ramirez vs. Jessie Hart, super middleweights, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Auto Racing
NASCAR Trucks: UNOH 175 practice, 3:30 p.m. (FS1)
NASCAR Xfinity: VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 practice, 4 p.m., 6:30 p.m. (NBC-SN)
NASCAR Monster Energy Cup: ISM Connect 300 qualifying, 5 p.m. (NBC-SN)

High School Football
West Catholic vs. Lansdale Catholic, 7 p.m. (WNPV-AM 1440)

CFL
Hamilton Tiger-Cats at British Columbia Lions, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)