Eagles: Overcoming even their coaching

Joe West ignored baseball’s replay rules last week.

Have the Eagles finally found the cure for Andy Reid? Have they created a team so  talented the coach can’t possibly screw it up? It sure looked that way during Sunday’s season opener in St. Louis.

Just consider for a moment how the Eagles played in the first few minutes after Reid’s stirring pregame speech, when they allowed a sack of Mike Vick, shanked a punt and then gave up a
47-yard touchdown run to Steven Jackson on the first St. Louis play from scrimmage. Reid is not exactly Knute Rockne, is he?

Or consider the fact the Birds ran out of timeouts with 3:40 left in the first half because of confusion with the play-calling, or the two delay of game penalties, or the failed officials’ challenge. These are all classic Reid mistakes — blunders that he never has, and never will, fix.

And in this first game of a promising season, none of it mattered. Mike Vick provided the talent and the leadership to overcome all obstacles in a 31-13 victory that was as easy as that score suggests.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson was extraordinary when he needed to be, running back LeSean McCoy took over the game in the fourth quarter, and the cornerback troika simply smothered the Rams.

The more difficult Reid seemed to make it for his roster, the more they responded with the perfect antidote — talent. The most revealing moment was the 41-yard pass from Vick to DeSean Jackson that changed the momentum after Steven Jackson’s run. Vick darted around a swarm of rushers before launching a rainbow, while Jackson jumped between two defenders and snatched the ball away.

No other quarterback could have bought the time to make that throw, and few other receivers could have elevated as high for that ball. That play spoke volumes about the Eagles this year. Their best hope is that they can simply outdazzle opponents.

And they will have to do that because of Reid. The coach clearly has learned from some of his mistakes — remember when he didn’t value athletic receivers? — but he remains an enigma when it comes to the simple art of managing time. 

If you have been watching the Eagles during the 12-plus seasons Reid has been coaching, you already know that. But there may be a new and exciting twist this season. This might be the year when change isn’t needed. This might be the year when an overabundance of talent covers up all flaws.

The Eagles may finally have done it. They may finally have put together a roster so good, even Andy Reid can’t screw it up.

LaMar is the man behind the team

Most baseball executives wait a lifetime without ever experiencing the kind of dream season the Phillies are having right now. So why did Chuck LaMar, a baseball lifer, walk away from it all last week?

The Phillies assistant GM, whose primary responsibility for the past five years was the minor leagues, held a closed-door meeting with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and then abruptly announced he was leaving the Phillies. The speculation is that LaMar wanted more of a financial commitment to developing young players than the organization could provide.

If anyone had a thankless job in this time of unprecedented prosperity, it was LaMar, a former GM in Tampa and a brilliant evaluator of talent. Year after year, the Phillies have traded their top prospects for established stars (Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Hunter Pence, to name just a few.) As win-now fans, we all applauded those moves. Obviously, LaMar did not.

But to leave when the best part of a historical season is ahead makes no sense at all. LaMar, an honest and accessible voice in an organization that has become fickle about the truth, is going to be forgotten now, a victim of his own undeniable success.

Well, he shouldn’t be. It’s up to the fans to remember how the Phillies got where they are today.

How are these guys keeping their jobs?

Joe West and C.B. Bucknor are horrible at their jobs, and yet somehow they have a combined 47 years working as umpires in the big leagues. Granted, they may be part of a powerful union that protects them from their own brazen incompetence, but the matter goes much deeper than that.

It speaks volumes about the head-in-the-sand tenure of Bud Selig as commissioner.

Last week, West ignored the rules of TV replay and checked on a double by Phils outfielder Hunter Pence. According to the written laws of baseball, only home run calls are reviewable. Ultimately, West ruled Pence out on fan interference, then covered himself by claiming there was some question about whether the ball was over the wall when a fan reached out.

A few days later, Bucknor ruled that Atlanta outfielder Justin Heyward had caught a line drive before it hit the ground in a game against the Phils. Like many plays in Bucknor’s error-prone past, the call was then overturned after a huddle of the umps.

Baseball commissioners love to preach about how nothing is more important than the best interests of the game. If Selig really believes that, he will find a way to eradicate these two blights.

– Angelo Cataldi is the host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
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