MORNING STOVE: Charlie Manuel Still Has Hope, LeBron James’ “Defining Fourth Quarter,” Bryce Harper A Future Yankee?
Ready? Hungry? OK. (In a near-weekender special, in homage of Burger King's brilliant stroke of confectionary, artery-clogging genious...) Let's SIZZLE!!!
AUDIO (CSN Philly): Chahhhlie seems pretty pumped about the Phils 6-1 win over the Twins, to take their first series in their last four. (The last three were sweeps.) Resorted to very good ol' fashioned Chahhhlie vintage: good ol' fashioned "one game at a time" fortune cookie wisdom.
AUDIO (Philly.com): Les Bowen hammered out (suffered through?) a for-the-web stand-up to wrap Eagles OTAs Thursday. Landed good (by OTA standards) quotables from Andy Reid and Mike Vick. Reid says he's digging the energy. Vick says he wants players' bookwormishness to continue. (Frame of reference: Last time we used "worm" in a compound word to talk Eagles, it was "wormburner." Rejoice.)
AUDIO (CSN Philly): Puzzling series of statements by (newly liberated) Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz yesterday, when asked about tossing Peter Nowak. Shielded Nowak, saying the team fully supported each of the trades that, you'd figure, would be just cause for his firing. (Team traded the uber-popular Sebastian Le Toux, Danny Mwanga and more. Without explanation. Or, really, getting value in return.) But then threw barbs, basically saying that he didn't like the guy. (Citing "philisophical differences." Whatever. Semantics.) Maybe tried to rebound for earlier answer -- if the fans hated Nowak for the trades, and you said you were really the Andy Reid to Nowak's Joe Banner... -- citing the Union as an authentic Philly sports team. (Also used verbiage like "passionate." I didn't. On purpose. Conjured imagery of those godawful Sixers PSAs. Vom'd in my mouth a little.)
SCRITPUALS (Philly.com, CSN Philly): Fletcher Cox (understandably) used the media as a sounding board upon his return to NovaCare Thursday. (Cox was in Mississippi for the first three days of Eagles minicamp, tending to wounds of the death of his cousin. Sincerest condolences, Fletch.) Wasn't quite Danny Watkins, but didn't go all LeBron James when asked to manage reporters' expectations of his rookie season, either.
SCRIPTUALS (Oklahoman): Somebody missed a potential game-tying shot with 12 seconds left in Heat-Thunder Game 2 last night. Can't... remember... Wait? Who was it again, Berry Tramel? Oh? And you say he should've driven all the way to the hole? Would've been very "killer instinct" of him, wouldn't it?
SCRIPTUALS (Sheridan Hoops): And not everybody's boo-hooing for a Lebron James sixth foul call, either.
SCRIPTUALS (Sporting News): Still. Woeful fourth quarters, Shane Battier skepticism, quieting Kevin Durant? Heat have questions to answer yet.
SCRIPTUALS (CBS Sports): As does Russell Westbrook. (Take this with a grain of salt. Or a xanax. Only way you can read Gregg Doyell. Too salty already. More would only make it worse.)
SCRIPTUALS (NESN): Totally aside, Kevin Durant's mom calls LeBron James a "sweetheart." (With VIDJEO!!!) (No Delone West jokes, please.)
SCRIPTUALS (SI): Fighting... ADD... Ian Thompson touts LeBron's Game 2 as the "defining fourth quarter" we've long awaited.
SCRIPTUALS (ESPN New York): Come 2018, Andrew Marchand writes, Bryce Harper might not be the Phillies problem anymore.
SCRIPTUALS (USA Today): Manny Pacquiao fans acting totally rationally.
SCRIPTUALS (Philly.com): David Murphy hammered out a buyer's guide for the Phillies, should they go seller at the deadline. (He also examines Cliff Lee's curious no-trade clause, which applies to all but nine teams, and all but nixes the chances he goes. Anywhere. Especially since, as Murphy puts it, the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers are the only contenders who can afford him.)
STATISTICALS (ESPN Stats and Information): The Heat are 10-1 in their last 11 playoff games following Dwyane Wade scoring less than 20 points. Wade has increased scoring in 9 of those 11 games.
STATISTICALS (ESPN Stats and Information): Lebron James was 12-12 on free throws in Game 2. It's only the second time in his playoff career he's made at least 12 FT without a miss.
STATISTICALS (Elias, Elias): Kevin Durant has 33 combined fourth-quarter points in his first two career NBA Finals games. That's 10 more than anyone else since the merger. He's also the first player since the merger with 16-plus fourth-quarter points in consecutive NBA finals games.
STATISTICALS (ESPN Stats and Information): This series (as of second quarter), Lebron James 10-16 (62.5 percent) when guarded by Kevin Durant, just 3-11 (27.2 percent) when guarded by Thabo Sefolosha.
STATISTICALS (ESPN Stats and Information): After shooting less than 50 percent in six straight playoff games for the first time in his career, Wade shot 50 percent in Game 2. He was 7-for-19 from the field in Game 1 but a more efficient 10-20 in Game 2.
STATISTICALS (ESPN Stats and Information): Shane Battier has four 3-pt FG in three straight games. Last player to do that? Dennis Scott in 1995.
STATISTICALS (AP): Jim Thome's homer (in the Phils 6-1 win over the Twins) was his 99th in a Phillies uniform. One more and he becomes the fourth player to hit at least 100 homers with three teams, joining Alex Rodriguez (Mariners, Rangers, Yankees), Reggie Jackson (Angels, Yankees, Athletics) and Darrell Evans (Braves, Giants, Tigers).
STATISTICALS (Matt Gelb, Philly.com): Jim Thome with nine RBIs against Minnesota this week, the most in any three-game series during his 22-year career.
STATISTICALS (Jim Salisbury, CSN Philly): Six games into the Phils nine-game interleague stretch, Thome's first action since his rehab assignment in Clearwater a little over a week ago, Jim Thome is batting .458 (11 for 24) with two doubles, three homers and 13 RBIs.
STATISTICALS (Todd Zolecki, MLB.com): Entering Thursday, Phillies had allowed 126 runs in their previous 24 games -- their worst 24-game stretch since the beginning of the 2009 season (132 runs). Joe Blanton Thursday : complete game (9 innings), one run, seven hits, seven strikeouts.
STATISTICALS (Matt Gelb, Philly.com): Blanton's 9.91 ERA in his previous five starts was the highest in all of baseball. He had allowed at least five earned runs in five straight starts, leaving him one shy of tying the franchise's modern record for futility held by Calvin Maduro.
Friday (7:07 p.m. ET) – Vance Worley (3-2, 3.00 ERA) vs. Drew Hutchison (TOR, 5-3, 4.66 ERA)
Saturday (1:07 p.m. ET) – Cliff Lee (0-3, 3.18 ERA) vs. Ricky Romero (TOR, 7-1, 4.15 ERA)
Sunday (1:07 p.m. ET) – Kyle Kendrick (2-6, 5.08 ERA) vs. Henderson Alvarez (3-6, 3.87 ERA)
“I just go out and be who I am. Not trying to be some Superman, just go out and do what I did back in college and get better. I can’t be Superman, trying to do things that I can’t do.”
-- Fletcher Cox, on his approach to his rookie year
By November, 2018, The Decision could be in the hands of Bryce Aron Max Harper. At that time, Harper will just have turned 26 ... and he may be the undisputed king of baseball.
The Yankees will no longer have the contracts of Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter or Mark Teixeira. There will likely be new big names with big deals that take their place, but surely they will find enough money to pay Harper, if he wants to come.
-- Andrew Marchand, on the stars aligning for the Yankees and Bryce Harper
"(Oklahoma City's) problem is bigger than (the Miami Heat), because they don't understand why it has happened.
"Specifically, Russell Westbrook doesn't understand why it happened. Which is a problem, because Russell Westbrook is why it has happened. And if he doesn't realize he's the problem? That's a problem. That's a major problem."
-- Gregg Doyell (CBS Sports), on Russell Westbrook
"It was a shot you expect Durant to make — especially in a game in which he once again took over in the second half. ... Yes, James’ arms got a little locked up with Durant’s. ... This is a man’s game, the two guys who are “The Man’ for their teams were matched up for the key possession of the game, and if a foul had been called on James for that kind of contact, it would have been an injustice to the Miami Heat in a game they ended up winning 100-96."
-- Chris Sheridan, on Kevin Durant's baseline jumper with 12 seconds left
"I'm not the one to blame. I'm not the one to blame for the results. The judges saw the fight the way they saw it."
-- Timothy Bradley, on death threats he's received
"Blanton basically chewed us up."
-- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, with first and last such words ever to be uttered about Joe Blanton