Cataldi: Show Doug Collins the door

Philadelphia 76ers v Chicago Bulls
Doug Collins should resign as Sixers coach immediately, according to Cataldi.

Doug Collins is an embarrassment — to his team, to his fans and above all to himself. The fact that he is still coaching the Sixers has become a daily indictment of the organization’s inept new ownership.

These days, Collins is a dreadful coach with a knack for saying ignorant things at inopportune times. The low point of his miserable season came last week, when he launched an idiotic appeal on behalf of Andrew Bynum after the no-show center was finally ruled out for the season.

“I hope we all keep him in prayer,” Collins said.

Is it possible to say anything more insulting to a Sixers fan base that spent millions on worthless tickets? It is a matter of public record that season-ticket sales doubled after the Bynum trade, and 10-game plans were sold at four times the pace of the previous season. Recently, those same tickets were selling for as low as four cents apiece.

If Colllins were still thinking clearly, he would be expressing sympathy for the fans, not a player who re-injured his fragile knees while bowling. … A player who said “it doesn’t matter” when he returns, and received $16.9 million for doing nothing. And there’s no need to say a rosary for the Sixers, either. They had insurance on Bynum’s contract. They will get most of his salary back.

The only real victims in this Bynum fiasco are the fans, and yet neither Collins nor his bosses took a moment to acknowledge that injustice. Believe it or not, the team’s last public statement is that Bynum is “Plan A” for next season. Owner Joshua Harris, CEO Adam Aron and GM Tony DiLeo have all vanished from public view (except for Aron on Twitter) at a time when Sixers games have become jarring to the sensibilities.

Make no mistake: Right now, the team is every bit as infuriating on the court as it is off it. For example, there was the unimaginable meltdown in the final nine seconds of a loss in Denver last Thursday night. After they had to use two consecutive timeouts because no Sixer could get free for an inbounds pass, TV color commentator Malik Rose screamed, “No one was hustling! No one even tried to get open!”

Despite their win over putrid Sacramento on Sunday night, the team obviously doesn’t care anymore. His constant screaming is white noise to them now. After that Denver debacle, Collins launched into yet another mindless tirade — not at the players this time, but at the media.

“You were watching the game, right?” he shouted. “What do you want me to say?”

Let’s all answer that question in unison. We want you to say goodbye — to this awful season and to your tenure as coach of the Sixers. You have become an embarrassment to all of us, and especially to yourself.

Doctor’s orders: Stop coddling Halladay

The Phillies are afraid of Roy Halladay. Manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee live in constant fear of the veteran pitcher.

It was obvious that Manuel and Dubee were intimidated by Halladay near the end of last season, when he insisted on pitching with a sore right shoulder. In the history of medical science, no doctor has ever prescribed violent stress on an inflamed joint, with one notable exception, Doc Halladay.

Manuel and Dubee have deferred to Halladay again this spring. That’s why the former ace was out there nine days ago, trying to overcome the nausea of a stomach virus. After one inning, Halladay had to leave. The manager’s response was that Halladay was “hard-headed.” Hard-headed? Doesn’t the manager have ultimate say over who plays?

Then there was Dubee’s decision last Saturday not to test Halladay against Baltimore in Sarasota, citing a fear of “germs” on the hour-plus bus ride. Instead, Halladay stayed back and faced minor-league hitters in Clearwater, the only germ-free city in America.

The pitcher got shelled in that appearance, allowing 11 of 18 batters to reach base, but that’s not the worst part. With two outs and the bases loaded, Dubee called off the first inning. That’s right. He told the umpires that Halladay had already thrown 27 pitches, and all parties agreed to pretend there were three outs. If that isn’t coddling a player, what is?

Roy Halladay still has a chance to help the Phillies this season, but not until his bosses grow a backbone and handle him like all of the other Phillies. There’s a reason why doctors don’t treat themselves.

Kelly adjusting on the fly

Psst. Wanna know a secret? The Eagles have a new coach, and he really enjoys privacy — so much so that Eagles training camp is no longer at Lehigh, and his first national appearance was more about who he isn’t than who he is.

Chip Kelly has always been most comfortable when lurking in the shadows. That’s one of the reasons he took college football by surprise a few years ago with his innovative style. He loves to exploit the unprepared.

Unfortunately for him, the NFL is a public entity. Football relies on open training camps and media accessibility to feed its unrivaled popularity. The Super Bowl is a media orgy for a very obvious reason, because it generates anticipation, which produces massive revenues.

How Kelly adjusts to this new world should be a fascinating subplot in his rookie season. Already, he is being asked to install his new systems at open summer camps, by mandate, to the public. (The move from Lehigh does build in more control for him, but not nearly as much as he wants). Meanwhile, he is plotting how to outwit his more experienced counterparts in the draft.

At the NFL owners’ meetings, Kelly downplayed talk about his unusual style, basically saying the speculation is much ado about nothing. These are the best coaches in the world, he said. They wouldn’t fall for his college tricks anyway. Hmmmm. Do you think he made the same points during the interview process with the Eagles? Uh, no.

Chip Kelly is going to need some time to get used to Philadelphia, a city known to nitpick every word. And we’re going to need some time to get used to him, too.

Idle thoughts from Cataldi

» Bravo to LaSalle, and especially Tyrone Garland, for a magical trip into the Sweet 16. Even if the Explorers don’t get any further in the NCAA tournament — and who’s going to bet against them now? — we’ll always have the amazing “Southwest Philly Floater.”

» Isn’t it bizarre that, during the most chaotic week of the year for the Sixers, we saw a lot more of his son T.J. at Temple than we did of GM Tony DiLeo? If he really wanted to go into the federal Witness Protection Program, Tony shouldn’t have taken the GM job. That’s all I’m saying.

» Darin Ruf, the best young bat on the Phillies, was sent back to the minors last weekend because he also has the worst young glove. If he can’t learn to play the outfield, the Phils will have to trade him. Those who have watched him regularly this spring say his best position, by far, is designated hitter.

» NFL coaches love to preach loyalty, and then, one breath later, they cut local heroes like Brian Urlacher in Chicago and Ed Reed in Baltimore. Didn’t these football geniuses learn anything from the Eagles’ catastrophic decision three years ago to dump Brian Dawkins?

» Donovan McNabb was hired last week to do a daily radio show, in afternoon drive time, for NBC sports. This way, his many brilliant and provocative insights will not be restricted to one city, or one sport. The world eagerly awaits his thoughts on the infield-fly rule.



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