Category Archives: Philadelphia

Ryan Howard, King or Prince of the NL?

 

Ryan Howard was all smiles after winning the 2006 All-Star Home Run Derby. How big is that smile now that the King and Prince have left the building? Photo: blog.momogusknits.com

Ryan Howard is no stranger to criticism. Big numbers and big bucks haven’t necessarily been translating to big breaks for the Big Piece when it comes to Philadelphia.

Playing a loaded first base in the National League doesn’t help the 32-year old Phillie either who will start the 2012 season on the disabled list after suffering a torn Achilles during last years playoffs. From All-Star snubs to MVP short-comings it’s been tough being Ryan Howard of late.

That is until now. With the exit of both “King” Albert Pujols and  Prince Fielder to the American League this offseason, Howard now reigns as the leagues premier first baseman.

Or is he?

It’s no secret that after the 2011 season the first base position has diminished drastically.  Add former San Diego Padre turned Beantown Bomber Adrian Gonzalez to the mix and arguably the three best first baseman in the NL during the 2010 season are all gone.

Perhaps now Howard will finally get his due. But does Howard deserve all the criticism he has generated since his 2006 MVP campaign?

Sure he strikes out way too much but defensively he is quicker than he’s ever been and he’s taken major strides at the bag. Maybe it didn’t take the exit of Pujols and Fielder to realize just how good Howard is.

In order to fully compare the NL Big Three, I’ve taken a sample of each players’ averages in home runs (HR), runs batted in (RBI), on base percentage + slugging percentage (OBS), batting average (BA) and games from the 2006-2011 seasons. The sample size starts at both Howard and Fielder’s first full season in the majors, while the numbers follow Pujols’ 2005 MVP.

In that time period Howard leads in HR, (44 to 41 for Pujols and 38 for Fielder,) and RBI (133, to 118 for and 108 for Fielder) and he’s third in BA at .274, (.325 for Pujols and .282 for Fielder) the three former key triple crown stats to determine a sluggers immortality.

But the game has developed exponentially and baseball has been introduced to the Bill James (watch Moneyball and you’ll understand) of the world that have led use to judge hitters in much more efficient ways. Among those stats Howard ranks third in OBS .929, (1.037 for Pujols and .932 for Prince) and second in games played per season at 153 (160 for Fielder and 152 for Pujols.)

All in all Howard ranks first, first, third, third and second. Pretty competitive with Pujols and Fielder but I’ve determined two additional stats to see just where Howard ranks. Wins above replacement (WAR) or how many wins a specific players accounts for per season compared to the average position player (both defense and offense is calculated) and Most Valuable Player shares or how many times each player placed in the top-10 in MVP voting.

There’s no question Pujols is one of baseball’s all-time greatest hitters and his 7.9 WAR is off the charts but Howard tops Fielder with a 3.4 WAR to 3.2 WAR. MVP shares is where Howard shines. He’s tied with Pujols with 6 MVP top-10 shares while Fielder has garnered 3 over the same time period. Let’s not forget Pujols snagged 2 MVP’s during that run, Howard had one and Fielder never came closer than third in the voting.

While Pujols comes out on top again with 5 All-Star appearances, both Howard and Fielder have three each, although Fielder started at first twice while Howard started once as a designated hitter.

Clearly Pujols was the NL’s best first baseman (he also earned two Gold Gloves for outstanding fielding at first base) but Howard inches out Fielder as the leagues 2nd player in the position.

With Pujols and Prince gone, Howard will now slip into the NL’s top spot.

Then there was Cincinnati Red Joey Votto. The Reds 28-year old first baseman has emerged just as two of the NL’s biggest stars have exited. Votto, who’s first full year began in 2008, has an MVP of his own in 2010 when the league was still stacked, two All-Star appearances and he’s averaging better WAR 4.9, OBS .957 and BA .312, than both Howard and Fielder. With his 2011 Gold Glove he’s also now the best fielding first baseman in the league as well.

Votto may be the future but his 29 HR and 96 RBI are far in comparison to Howard’s monster power numbers. You can argue that each player’s numbers reflect an even advantage as far has the quality hitters in front and behind them.

Breathe easy Howard your officially the poster boy again for the City of Brotherly Love.

That is until the Reds big machine gets going, again.

 

You can follow Matthew Nadu on Twitter @MatthewNadu

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Filed under Philadelphia, Phillies

From Spike Lee to the Stage, Flash is Back!


Flash is back and he's as smooth as ever.

It’s not easy walking through the club everyone knows that. It doesn’t make it any easier when the crowd goes wild when a Motown oldie pops on.
“Heartbeats!”
That term might not process especially when your drink ends up wearing you. That is unless you’ve seen the holy grail of soul films in Robert Townsend’s “Five Heartbeats.” More particularly when you see the womanizing, slick, should be  Sammie Davis Jr. protege, Flash, played by John Canada Terrell.
JCT was smooth but it’s hard to be Flash when you can’t dance at the club and let’s be honest that’s basically everybody. Fortunately the star that debuted his film career in Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” will be performing for one night only in local writer and actor Derrell Lawerence’s play “;Do You Trust Your Best Friend?” at the Temple Performing Arts Center Saturday December 3 at 7:30pm.
Terrell plays a smooth talking former junkie that finds faith, success and a whole lot of mess as betrayal runs rampant between best friends.
Terrell is sure to bring that Motown mystic to the stage by playing one of the few voices of reason that leaves you wondering “can I really trust my best friend?”
Well, can you?

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Filed under Hollywood, Philadelphia, Uncategorized

Dunn was More than Jackass

By now you’ve probably heard all the trending twitter rumors and unfortunately they are true.

Jackass star Ryan Dunn has passed away.

Dunn, who passed away early Monday morning when his vehicle ran the road outside his stomping grounds of West Chester, will always be remembered for his hilarious antics with life long friend Bam Margera as part of MTV Jackass franchise

But to those who knew Dunn best, he was more than just the ‘jackass’ we’ve all grown to love.

Dunn was original to say the least. From his Grizzly Adams beard to his plethora of tattoos, Dunn knew how to be different and that’s what made him so likable. Yet what made him unique was his love for his family and friends.

You couldn’t find a more genuine guy who just wanted to enjoy life with the people he cared about.

I had the pleasure of working on several movies with Dunn. The first time I met him a few years back I thought wow, this guy is the living breathing Lebowski. He was The Dude. Yet the thing that struck me the most about him wasn’t his hilarious comedic timing, that was more of a side-stitch, it was his professionalism towards everyone.

Believe it or not Dunn took acting very

Owen Schmitt sent out this photo of him and Dunn eating pickles on the film Booted.

seriously. As popular as the Jackass franchise made the 34-year old, his on-screen shenanigans could never prepare you for the genuine guy he really was towards everyone.

The last time I really had a chance to really talk with him was last October 7th. I distinctly remember the date because Dunn, an avid Philadelphia sports fan, was beside himself that he missed Roy Halladay throw his infamous no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds during his first ever career postseason start.

Dunn missed the game because he flying from his Los Angeles Jackass 3-D premier to re-shoot several scenes as a pickle loving degenerate health inspector in the Philadelphia based comedy Booted. Exhausted and unshowered, which he bragged about with several  headlocks, Dunn filmed late into the evening d

evouring dill pickles and Yuenglings with Eagles fullback Owen Schmitt and the rest of the cast and crew on a house boat on the Delaware River.

There would be other games and Dunn, dedicated to the craft of acting, came prepared and nailed his scene as he usually did despite various distractions.

At the end of that nights shoot

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pite all the questions about his new box office hit and taking countless photos with the cast and crew, all he could talk about was how glad he was to be back home with his wife and friends.

That’s the guy he was, too cool for cool. He never let his fame or popularity get to his head, which was usually bandaged. He was the kind of guy that stuck to his Philly roots and they were deep. Despite his short-lived life he lived it to the fullest.

I received countless texts about the pass

ing of Ryan Dunn including Schmitt, who sent me a photo of all of us eating pickles together which couldn’t keep me from laughing.

I only knew Dunn for a brief time but I’m proud to say he was a frie

nd. It’s a shame he never had the chance to show his true acting talents. Some of his last works include the  the comedy Living Will, while taking a more serious role in festival bound Close-Up. Still, no one could make people laugh like Dunn and that was enough.

The news of his death is devastating but in a weird sense I envy him.

Sure he found fame and success but most importantly he found laughs, he found friends and he found love. It seems that only the good do die young.

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Filed under Matthew Nadu, Philadelphia, Uncategorized

JVR, Fans Lose with Heads Held High

Echoes of  “U-S-A!” chants were still ringing throughout the Wells Fargo Center long after the Philadelphia Flyers starting line-up was announced.

Long after Philadelphia police and firefighters were honored and long after the heavenly voice of Lauren Hart sang God Bless America sending shock waves up every single spine in the arena.

The chants that rose above the never ending sea of orange and American flags lasted just long enough for the James van Riemsdyk show to begin.

Behind the fans the Flyers struck early in a redemption Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, just 29 seconds into the first period on JVR’s sixth goal of the playoffs after a 7-3 blowout to the Boston Bruins in Game 1.

On the day when most of America found out that terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden had terminated by United States Armed Forces, the nation wasn’t soon to forget a decade of anguish and despair.

JVR let Flyer nation know early he hadn’t forgotten those events either, or the beating the Boston put on Philadelphia in Game 1, 9:02 later when he netted his second goal of the evening.

The crowd went into a frenzy that lasted the rest of the night.

“Obviously being an American and playing in a city like Philadelphia , one of the most prominent American cities is pretty cool and the fans were unbelievable,” said JVR after the game.

As the game proceed and with each shot on goal, JVR displayed a confidence only matched by the unity of our own country.

Perhaps it was the momentum of the game. Perhaps it was the “U-S-A!” chants that exploded from every mouth as videos of veterans and scenes from New York City during 9/11 flashed on the big screen giving fans more than just hockey to cheer about. Perhaps it was his last professional hockey game as a 21-year old kid.

Or perhaps it was just the heat of the moment.

Either way Philadelphia fans have been in the right place at the right time over the past two evenings.

Starting with the Phillies-Mets game Sunday straight into Monday nights showdown, Philadelphia has seemingly reversed it’s ruffian reputation, at least for the time being.

Yet for the second straight night Philadelphia found itself on the losing ended of an extended game as the Flyers fell in over time 3-2.

Despite falling 2-0 in the series to Boston, Philadelphians left the arena with a sense of pride.

Call it patriotism, call it jubilation, call it revenge, call it whatever you’d like but unless you witnessed Philadelphia pride first hand there’s no true way to put the past two evenings into words.

“Yeah it was great,” said Claude Giroux who assisted JVR’s first goal.  “I had some goose bumps and it got me going a little bit.”

This phenomenon isn’t just happening in the City of Brotherly Love, it’s spreading throughout country.

The nation has united in ways we almost forgot how to during nearly a decade of frustration that began on that fateful September morning in 2001. Since then, the United States of America has declared war on all terrorist threats.

And the Flyers have declared war on the Bruins.

Yet beating Boston goaltender Tim Thomas seems as impossible for the Flyers to beat as it was for our troops to find bin Laden amongst the vast desert. Thomas has never lost to the Flyers in Philadelphia going a perfect 6-0 in the regular season and 2-0 in the playoffs.

Philadelphia attacked relentlessly, launching a new home franchise record 22 shots in the third period. Still Thomas remained resilient.

That didn’t seem to phase the Flyers Monday night as “U-S-A!” chants gave way to “Let’s go Flyers!” before the arena began to boom “J-V-R!”  “J-V-R!” every time No. 21’s line hit the ice.

“[The fans] are so passionate about our country and our sports and to hear that it was pretty special,” said JVR.

Overnight the home team watched van Riemsdyk become a man on the greatest of stages on the greatest of days.

“It was really awesome to watch him play like that,” said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. “It was such a good night for him. It makes you anxious to see his future unfold. Tonight he was an impact player. I thought it was the most dominating performances that I have seen from a player.”

“He’s our best player right now,” added Giroux.  “He has a lot of energy and a lot of confidence.  I think we just need to follow him.”

The Bruins would tie the game 2-2 and as OT kicked off with the toll of the Liberty Bell to AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells it seemed evident this night was destined to be in Philadelphia’s favor. However, Thomas saved 52 total shots and the Bruins emerged victorious once again on the road against JVR and Philadelphia.  Sometimes the script doesn’t go the way you plan. Just asked Boston who let a 3-0 Conference final series lead slip to the Flyers last season.

Game 2 was more than just another hockey game in Philadelphia. It was bigger than anything any of us can explain or perhaps  ever witness again. For three hours we were united as a team, as a city and as countrymen.

“You know certainly tonight was awesome,” said a humble Laviolette. “The fans, the way they got going, and you know I just listened to the way God Bless America played out to the fans, and the events of the last couple days; just being a part of a sporting event that you can rally around like that is a special night.”<div class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 650px"

“U-S-A!” Monday’s Flyers game in South Philadelphia echoed “we will never forget.”

<div class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 650px"

“U-S-A!” Monday’s Flyers game in South Philadelphia echoed “we will never forget.”