Tag 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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Flyers’ Wives Walk the Hottest Runway in Town

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Hair O’ the Dog, One Night to Kick Cancer

It’s not everyday Philadelphia throws the biggest black tie event of the year. In fact it only happens once.

Hosted by Wired 96.5’s Chio and Shila, this Saturday’s  The Hair O’ the Dog gala glamorizes its guests with Philly’s finest catering, top shelf open bars, gowns and glow dancers, you’ll have to see it to believe it. Guests will enjoy elegant settings at the Philadelphia Westin  Hotel and Philly’s own DJ Johnny Looch will be spinning throughout the night.

Essentially it’s a fairy tale evening, in more ways than one.

If that doesn’t sound perfect enough, founders Rob Molinaro and Dan Cronin are giving one mother the evening of a lifetime. The gala is supporting two charities on its 18th anniversary, The Garden of Reflection, Pennsylvania’s official 9-11 charity and celebrity stylist Martino Cartier’s Friends Are By Your Side, a network of salon owners and beauty experts that are dedicated to easing the stress of women fighting against cancer.

This year Christine Jock is the “Queen O’ the Dog.” The single mother in her thirties has been battling  an aggressive form of Breast Cancer, leading her to undergo a double Mastectomy. Jock was also diagnosed with melanoma as well before losing her job.

For at least one night the ‘Queen’ will be fully pampered having VIP treatment including attire for her and her date, gifts and airbrush tanning at Julie Dorenbos and Susie Johnsen’s Skin Palette.

If you really want push your party thresh hold or you just don’t want the magic to stop, Whisper Nightclub and G lounge will hold the official after parties until 6 a.m.

So dust off the old prom dress and tux, that is if it hasn’t shrunk from sitting in the closet and experience Philly the way it was meant to be lived. It’s a night you and the “Queen” will never forget.

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Beating the Winter Blues

Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” might be one track you leave off your holiday playlist. After all it’s hard to believe that during the “most wonderful time of the year” anything could be blue.
The season is full of bills, empty wallets, in-laws, traveling, layovers, hangovers, guys in red suits breaking and entering, spoiled egg nog, kids, kids, kids and of course a bit of joy.
It’s no wonder Clark W. Griswold blew a gasket in “Christmas Vacation” there’s more stress in the air these days than snow.
Okay, so maybe the holidays aren’t so ‘joyful’ after all and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, the holiday season is actually bluer that you might think. The season is just downright overwhelmed with SAD or seasonal affective disorder due to increased stress and the lack of light during winter causing some to spiral into, that’s right, the blues. Loneliness, sadness, disconnect and suicide are often sign of this depression.
The King might have known something we didn’t but the cure to depression is traditionally a long road of antidepressants full of unwanted side effects.
Until now.
A new pill free method is being put into play- hypnosis.  “Some people may be skeptical of coming in for hypnotherapy because they have friends and family as a loving support system, but what if they don’t have that support?” says Bryan Toder, certified clinical hypnotist and owner of the Plymouth Hypnosis Center.  “I believe sadness and loneliness can occur around the holidays for people lacking in these areas especially when they watch TV, or overhear a colleague talk about all the joys of their festive plans.”
Hypnosis may be deemed as taboo but with a new year comes a new state of mind. If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression know that help is available whether it’s a trip to the doctor, cutting out stressful activities, meditation, hypnosis or something as simple as a massage.  The longer you hold off the worse your situation becomes for you and your loved ones.
And before you swing by the bar for happy hour to blow off steam, remember alcohol is a depressant…

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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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Marv Albert, Coming to a College Near You

There are a precious few occasions in a persons life where they can distinctly recall the exact specifics of a particular moment.

The smell of popcorn, fresh cut grass and the proud feeling of being American at your first ballgame. Sweaty palms, some hybrid flower thing called a corsage and your first self booked hotel room at prom or your wedding perhaps, which for me is more than a lifetime away.

My first encounter with Hall of Fame broadcaster Marv Albert was one of those moments.

If you know anything about basketball, Albert is a living legend. His god sent voice and catch phrases are pure truths in the sports bible. No one can transcend a basketball game like Marv.

Heck, he was the reason I devoted my life to sports.

The irony of this individual situation, is that before I met Marv those few rare moments that you can recall so eloquently, for me at least, had to do with Marv Albert.

Um, with a splash of “Michael Jordan!” too.

When I recently had the chance to speak with Albert about calling the play-by-play for the 2011 NCAA Tournament for Turner Sports alongside Steve Kerr, I jumped on the first train to the Big Apple to talk to the new big man on campus.

Now, I have to admit I’m not one to get star-struck but this was one of those occasions where it felt good, it actually felt right, to feel like a kid again as Albert took the reigns of the conversation as only a grandfather figure could do.

You better believe I was ready to listen.

After decades of covering the greatest players in the world in the NBA how does a veteran like Marv 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 Jimmer Fredette (look him up) up until this years Sweet 16, players will be getting a little more recognition that 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 the rest of Jordan’s biggest moments throughout his miraculous career.

But after Albert went full time broadcasting in the NBA he couldn’t help wonder what it would be like to continue to solidify players careers, like only he can do, on the biggest 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.

At this moment Albert looked as boyish as I must have looked, especially when I mentioned that the Spectrum, the house that harbored this great memory for him, was being demolished as we spoke.

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

It took us a moment to run through all the names the now Wells Fargo Center has been called before we both agreed 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’d know the feeling. Essentially it’s and over crowded, fire hazardous, high schoolish gym.

The perfect storm for an inner city Big-5 battle.

“Philadelphia is a great basketball city especially in the Chaney days,” said Albert.

I was back to feeling like a kid again.

“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.”

Whether or not Albert loves Jay Wright and Villanova is another story. His Alma Mater is Syracuse, fellow Big East rival.

But like everything he does, Albert stays professional- even if the Orangemen might pull off five overtime win with him at the mic.

“In my case I’ve done Syracuse in the past but I think objectivity is more important than anything else,” said Albert when I asked him if he had ‘Cuse circled on his bracket. “You just want a terrific game.”

I never did get that bracketology 101 from him but what I did learn is that Marv Albert know his basketball and he knows it well.

With the revolutionary teaming up of CBS and Turner Sports the NCAA is in good hands.

So who will Albert deem spine tingling moment worthy in this years NCAA tourney?

Only his voice will tell.

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Cali Wins This Round

Nocturnal- beast of the night or a South Street skate shop?

Do the Dew and it’s a little of both.

The legendary Philadelphia skate shop just added to it’s gnarly repertoire, by designing cans.

Mountain Dew cans that is. Nocturnal was one of seven finalists in the King of the Mountain Dew Green Label Art Shop Series contest.

Professional skateboarders Kerry Getz and Mark Brandstetter founded Nocturnal in 2000 and along with artist J. Strickland their can design bunny hopped them into the regional finals and almost landed them smack dab on a can of Dew in 2011.

The contest was inspired by pro skateboarder Paul Rodriguez, and renowned skate artist Don Pendleton. The nation wide contest featured skate shops throughout the country but only one shop could brand their can and win the $10,000 prize.

Alas, 2010 wasn’t the year for the cup, er, can for Philadelphia as Cali’s Street Science Skate Shop took the honors.

If Philadelphia has anything to say about it, that’ll be the last time the city gets knocked of by a West Coast rival.

Besides Philadelphia’s still talking soda tax anyway.

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