Monthly Archives: March 2011

Welcome Back, Marv

There are precious few occasions in a person’s life where they can distinctly recall the exact details of a particular moment.

For college basketball fans it’s a half court shot, game winning jumper or an untimely time out.

In this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, those moments will become legendary simply because of the man making the calls.

Welcome back to the NCAA Mr. Marv Albert.

Albert will be calling the play-by-play for the 2011 NCAA Tournament for Turner Sports alongside former Chicago Bulls Champion and NCAA tournament participant Steve Kerr.

After decades of covering the greatest basketball players in the world in the NBA how does a veteran like Albert make the adjustment to the college level?

He does what all the kids are doing.

“I’m so proud I can actually watch the games on my iPhone,” laughed Albert. “I actually had to ask Steve (Kerr) how it works.”

His veteran status also helps his cause, especially in the laid back college atmosphere.

“The great advantage over the NBA is being able to go to practice,” said Albert. “To me it was always very, very helpful to sit through the practice in terms of recognition of who the players are. To be able to sit down and talk to people, that’s critical.”

There’s no doubt with Albert calling names like BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, UConn,’s Kemba Walker and Temple‘s own Juan Fernandez up until this years Sweet 16, players will be getting a little more recognition than usual.

But this isn’t the first time Albert has brought to light the stars of the future.

“Of course I called Michael Jordan back during the ’84 season,” recalls Albert. Fittingly enough, Albert would be the voice for Jordan’s biggest moments throughout his miraculous career.

After Albert went full time broadcasting in the NBA, he couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to continue to define, like only he can do, the biggest moments on the tournament stage.

“To me, it would be the Grant Hill pass to Christian Laettner,” Albert said with a pause. “I mean…wow. There’s others but not on the stage of Laettner.”

Laettner’s buzzer-beater to shock Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA East Regional Finals at the Philadelphia Spectrum is probably one of those rare moments, at least to Duke fans.

Imagine if Albert made that call. Wow is right.

“The Spectrum is a great place. It’s sad to see it go. So much history there. The new place, whatever it’s called now, not so much.”

He noted there’s only one place that might just be the Spectrum’s match.

“I remember calling games at the Palestra and it was great how we were right there. The crowd was right on top of us. The players, the coaches, everything is right there and we were in the middle of it all.”

If you’ve ever been to the Palestra on the University of Penn’s campus you know the feeling. Essentially, it’s and over crowded, fire hazardous, high-schoolish gym.

“Philadelphia is a great basketball city especially in the Chaney days,” said Albert. “Even now, Temple has a great program with all that Fran Dunphy has done. And with Jay (Wright) at Villanova, everyone — media and fans — seems to love him.”

Most Americans may not know bracketology 101 but know this, Marv Albert knows his basketball and he knows it well.

So who or what will Albert deem the spine-tingling worthy moment in this year’s NCAA tourney?

Only his voice will tell.


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Tax Freeze Doesn’t Chill Local Film Makers

If you’ve noticed untimely traffic jams, detours and yellow marker signs across the city that probably means someone’s shooting- a movie that is.

Philadelphia is quickly establishing itself as the newest Hollywood destination.  In the past two years thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue have been generated by films such as James L. Brooks’ How Do You Know, M. Night Shyamalans’ The Last Airbender, Limitless starring Robert De Niro and Philadelphia’s own Bradley Cooper and of course let’s not forget the KO champ of all movies Rocky, I through XXVIII, or however many have been made now, continue to bring notoriety to the City of Brotherly Love.

Yet due to recent cuts in the Pennsylvania Film  Tax Credit Program by Governor Tom Corbett, major productions are beginning to over look a city who has yet to peak as a film mecca.

While Hollywood’s drying up over a lack of tax credits, local film makers are salivating at the opportunity to put themselves on the map.

Among those salivating is 33-year old writer and director Tom Walton. In an attempt to bring back that fighting spirit Stallone set forth nearly three decades ago, the Upper Darby native  is in preproduction for his first full length independent feature.

And it’s creating some buzz.

His film is Dreams, a coming of age drama that follows the lives of four strangers whose lives intertwine as they strive to make it their dreams become reality. It’s not as typical as you may think.

The Indie’s grit, dirt and delusion and a national buzz to back it up, including rumors that some of LA’s biggest macho men and music talent are showing serious interest. But TMZ can break that news at a later date.

Until they do and until the state kicks its film tax break back into gear, projects like Dreams are struggling to get funding for production.

That’s when innovators like Walton decide to go old school like a good old fashion beef and beer fundraiser on March 26. While major production wait for potential investors to write that fat check, local film makers go back to their roots  for support in making their own dreams a reality.

For Walton, Dreams is a little more personal. A proceed of the benefit and the film are going to the The American Diabetes Foundation in honor of his father who has suffered with the disease nearly his entire life.

That’s the beauty of local filmmakers. They have a purpose and a real story to convey to the world. Any publicity is just an added bonus, a nice bonus but a bonus.

What would Rocky do? Go support your local filmmakers as they keep the industry and your entertainment afloat. For more information on how you can help visit the official site of the Dreams and Diabetes Fundraiser Beef and Beer or contact Walton directly at 610-227-5930.

In the meantime keep a look out for other local filmmakers who dream big.



Follow Matthew Nadu on Twitter @matthewnadu

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Pronger Out as Flyers Continue to Slide

Things have gone from bad to worse for the Philadelphia Flyers.

The team announced on Monday that defenseman Chris Pronger will undergo surgery to repair a right hand fracture.

Pronger will go under the knife on March 15 to repair the injury that has been nagging him since he blocked a Ty Wishart  shot off his right hand against the New York Islanders  on February 24.

Pronger who has played in 50 games for the Flyers this year, had been listed as day to day although he was scene recently wearing a hard cast that the team originally said was nothing serious.

“Chris had a CT scan on his right hand on Sunday and a small fracture was discovered,” Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said.  “Our doctors believe surgery is the best route to take with the injury. Surgery will be done Tuesday morning in Cleveland by Dr. Tom Graham. Chris will be able to return to play in 3-4 weeks.”

The news couldn’t have come at a worse time.  The Flyers are quickly seeing their number one seed in the Eastern Conference slip during their current 4-4-2 slide including blowing a three point lead in the third period in an overtime loss to Atlanta Saturday.

Pronger, who has 25 points this season and leads the team in average ice time (22:09), has been the teams’ worse critic of late, calling out the teams intensity and desire to finish games.

With the Washington capitols winning nine of their last ten games, the Flyers hold only a one point lead for the conference’s top spot.

With only 14 games remaining in the regular season, the Flyers are nearly guaranteed a playoff spot but without their defensive leader, home ice which seemed like a lock just two weeks ago, could be in jeopardy.

Follow Matthew Nadu on Twitter @matthewnadu

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Pronger Sees the Flyers Big Picture

Chris Pronger isn’t one to church things up.

Especially when he isn’t happy.

Just ask anyone who knows him. After the Philadelphia Flyers(41-19-6) win over the Edmonton Oilers(23-35-8) Tuesday the defensemen didn’t hold back his frustration.

“I think there’s winning and then there’s winning in spite of how you play.”

After jumping out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period the team went stagnet the rest of the way allowing 13 turnovers.

“The wheels fell off and we started turning the puck over and stopped moving our feet,” says Pronger. “If you turn the puck over like that the other team is going to gain a lot of momentum.”

The Flyers lost four straight heading into Tuesdays game but Pronger didn’t see the victory as baby steps in the right direction.

“Baby steps in what way, how we played one period?”

The Flyers were however able to hold an opponent scoreless in the third period for the first time in ten games. The team has struggled all year with goals allowed in the period giving up 73 third period goals while scoring 74.

Perhaps the team is sitting back after out scoring opponents 80-54 in the second.

With just 16 games remaining in the regular season, the Flyers are still the best team in the Eastern Conference- points wise.

But Pronger has been voicing his concern with the numbers even before the current slide.

 “It’s not the way we are built to play.  We are built to get better with every period and take over in the third period and dominate like we have in the past.  Lately, it seems like that has been our Achilles heel.”

After blowing a 2-0 lead against Toronto on March 3 in the midst of a five game streak of giving up the lead in the third, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette began showing his frustration as well.

“When you lose the third like that; we aren’t happy about it. We aren’t happy about it and they aren’t happy about it. The fans aren’t happy with it. The organization’s not happy with it. It is unacceptable.”

The intensity of the team as a whole has been in question for some time now. Big leads don’t seem big enough anymore as the Flyers begin to face teams desperate to make the playoffs.

The Flyers should know, it’s exactly where they were last season.

“We need to work on things and that it what we are battling right now. We need to stick to the work and the work ethic. We need to push.” Laviolette points out. “I said from the start, the month of March is going to be a month where we need to push in practice and in games. The only way to turn things is to keep on pushing.”

The intensity of the playoffs is nothing new for Philadelphia but they need to all get on the same page and quick if they expect to have another Stanley Cup Championship run.

“There’s been a lot of talk and sometimes talk is cheap,” admits Pronger. “We still have a lot of work to do and we need to sharpen up.”

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Will 2011 Be One for the Record Books?

There are certain moments in sports that come up once in a lifetime. Grandfathers reminisce of these moments like old war stories, children witness their first super heroes and Cooperstown locks them away for generations to awe over.

These are the moments where legends are born.

Fortunately we’ll witness one of these moments in our lifetime. In 2011 to be more specific.

We can’t guess the time, place or situation but at some point we’ll witness something magical. The Four Horsemen will deliver in 2011.

The Big Four. The Fantastic Four. Fab Four. R2C2. Four Aces. Four of a Kind. Mt. Fourmore. Roys R Us.

Whatever you want to call the Philadelphia Phillies four starters know this, 2011 will be un-phour-gettable.

With the reacquisition of Cliff Lee in the offseason to joining Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt, then throw in  Joe Blanton, the Phils have the potential to round out the greatest starting rotation baseball has ever seen.

At least on paper.

They’ve combined for six 20-win seasons, 13 All-Star game appearances and three Cy Young Awards.

This isn’t a Hall of Fame induction class (at least not yet) but the unbelievable reality for Philadelphia.

Compare them with the greats such as the ’54 Indians, ’71 Orioles and Braves rotations from ’96-’98 .

Unlike the above mentioned teams the Phillies have the chance to be  the first to win a World Series, because they are built for the long haul.

Here’s the cold hard facts.

In 2010 the five combined for a 67-49 record with 1059 innings, a baseball rotation best 3.17 ERA and 24.1 WAR (wins against replacement player.)

Don’t let the record fool you. Oswalt was a mid-season pickup with a 6-12 record with Houston before going 7-1 with Philadelphia, Halladay had just switch leagues and teams while Lee switched leagues and teams, twice.

The 24.1 WAR ranks 6th all-time and that’s in a season where they never had the opportunity to all play with each other. They’re also just the fourth team in history with four starters with a WAR of  at least 4.3.

All four aces all threw over 200 innings in 2010, led by last year’s National League Cy Young Award Winner Halladay’s Major League best 250.2 innings.

Halladay and Lee  led their leagues in complete games and strikeout to ball ratio last season. Throw Oswalt in the mix and the three all rank in the active top 15 in both categories. The trio is also in the top eight of active career winning percentage and the first threesome to post a .620 or better win percentage in 54 years.

But when it comes down to it, winning a World Series is what matters and these five turn it up in the postseason with a combined 22-8 record, 3.30 ERA, seven Fall Classic appearances, two wins and a World Series MVP.

Enjoy the hype in only comes around every few generations.

combined for six 20-win seasons, 13 All-Star game appearances and three Cy Young Awards. 

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Baseball Brings Out the 8-Year Old in All of Us

Baseball is life. Plain and simple.

As a kid there was nothing else. My room was a fortress surrounded by a moat of Donruss, Topps and Bowman baseball cards. Cal Ripken, Jr., Don Mattingly and Lenny Dykstra Starting Lineup figures roamed as they pleased guarding my sacred stash of magazines -Baseball America.

Only my mother thought those magazines would be the appropriate reading level for an 8-year old. While the other kids in school were trading Albert Belle and Randy Johnson for Kirby Puckett cards I was always looking to the future. Kids laughed as I swapped a Junior straight up for some rookie named Derek Jeter. Vladimir Guerreo’s came in by the dozens at the hands of those thinking they had me hoodwinked. Four Pujols for a Juan Gonzalez, I guess I can make that trade.


I chose to amass my autograph collection from Harrisburg, Reading and Trenton while other kids waited for hours outside the professional stadiums like the Vet and Camden Yards, twenty rows deep from ever seeing the pros .

Who needs stocks when you can invest in history?

Every dime growing up was spent on baseball memorabilia. Artifacts such as Veterans Stadium seats, a Stan Musial glove, Warren Spahn’s 1948 Bowman rookie and a New York Times of the passing of The Babe lined my shelves while my friends spent their money at Pep Boys supping up their Civics that only had a thousand miles left in them.

I guess for me there was never really an option. From the first time I walked into a baseball stadium I fell in love with the sights and smells of the ballpark, even if it was the Astroturf, concrete and spilled beers of Philadelphia. I loved it just the same.

Senior skip day in high school meant a trip to the Vet for Opening Day even if it meant the beginning of yet another disappointing year.

As each new October rolled on, I eventually found myself sitting amongst a sea of new-found fans as the rains pummeled me in Game 5 just before Carlos Ruiz pounced into Brad Lidges’ arms reaching for the heavens.

There’s magic in baseball. There’s hope. For me it’s all I ever wanted to do. Even when I had to turn in my glove for the pen I felt no resentment. Just the idea that the long proud history of writers who capture the suspense on paper in ways only our imaginations could recreate, can accompany legends such as The Splendid Splinter, The Mick, Campy and of course the Iron Horse in the baseball Vatican nestled on the lakes of Cooperstown is inspiring.

My love for baseball as a writer, enthusiast and as a fan comes from somewhere deep down in that chubby 8-year old’s heart.

Despite the hardships of life, April to October are a welcoming reminder of the past and present that there’s still good in this world.

Even if that good is just a game.




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