Thursday, March 23, 2006

Philly sports update (for SYLG High Radio)

Wyatt's SYLG High School radio station has asked me to do a five-minute Philly sports update.
Here goes...
The Phillies: You know people don't care when the biggest story out of spring training is who's going to work with who on the broadcasts. Most of the controversy surrounds the excrementally bad Chris Wheeler, who is hardly Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas' best friend. Put it this way: When Wheeler's on, I turn it off. Watch out for Ryan Howard, though.
The Eagles: Who's smart now? T.O. goes out and gets MORE money out of Dallas than he would have from his Eagles' contract. The Eagles, who could have traded him and at least gotten a couple of marginal draft picks out of the deal, got squat. Jabar Gaffney -- who? Better get used to 6-10, fans. Here comes another one, thanks to the "dross standard" Birds.
The 76ers: Mediocrity, thy name is Sixers. The best this team can hope for is a quick exit in the first round of the playoffs. This means, of course, that they will have gotten there. It also means no lottery pick, which this year doesn't seem to matter.
The Flyers: This is not the year for a Cup, Wyatt. But then again, who's got a scary-good veteran goalie in the East besides New Jersey with Brodeur? Hasek isn't totally over the hill, but he's hurt and goalies don't come back 100 percent in a season when they have a groin injury. Emery, the backup, is good, but he's also a hothead with a history of blowups that make Roman Cechmanek (remember him?) look stable. Carolina? Gerber has almost no playoff experience. Rangers? Lundqvist has no playoff experience. Buffalo? Miller's a rookie, a good one, but a rookie. Tampa Bay? John Grahame? Sean Burke? Are you kiddin' me? Montreal? Aebischer isn't the answer and Huet's green. Atlanta? Lehtonen's a rookie. After Brodeur and (maybe) Hasek, the best goalies in the East are Luongo and DiPietro, and it will take a miracle for them to get into the playoffs. Me? I prefer Niittymaki. I think the rookie is one step above Esche on the goalie chart scale, which is...
Top: The guy who can steal a playoff series.
Second: The guy who can steal a game his team has no business winning.
Third: The guy who can a lot more often than not give his team a chance to win.
Fourth: The guy who plays as well as the team does in front of him.
Fifth: The guy who can't match his team's level consistently.
Sixth: The guy who belongs in the minors.
To me, right now, Niitty is definitely on the third step; more often than not, Esche is on the fourth step.
I don't think it all rests on the goalies, though. I think it rests on getting a lineup used to playing together in these last 12 games. They need, by my reckoning, 17 or 18 points to take the division from the Rangers, get home ice, and avoid Buffalo in the first round... but the reward might be Tampa Bay if it ever wakes up the way it does when the Flyers are the opponent.
If Carter and Umberger can sustain their current streak of playing well (despite Carter's penchant for dumb offensive-zone penalties) into the post-season, they'll have a second scoring line that they desperately need.
Villanova: Can you win a national championship with four guards and a small forward? They're trying. And they just might succeed. Here's hopin'.
That's the sports news. For SYLG High Radio, this is either orr.