Amid the hail, tornadoes and power shutdowns crushing the Delaware Valley last weekend, there were some rays of sunshine.
Start with the Phils. Last week in this spot, I called for manager Ryne Sandberg to get the ax. The Fundamentals Manager then beat everyone to the punch by quitting.
That, in itself, will not rescue this sinking ocean liner. But if you listened to Sandberg’s words at Friday’s newser (at least if you could hear them over Ruben Amaro’s snuffling), you got the message: “With looming changes at the top. . . I did not want to be in the way of progress going forward.”
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It’s as clear as Dom Brown’s ineptitude: Pat Gillick and Amaro are on their way out – or at least to a safe sideline. Andy MacPhail is coming to run the franchise. Sandberg was only the first of many exit interviews the Phils will be conducting this summer.
So there’s hope – distant as it may be. Long-term hope is also all we can have for our basketball squad.
The Sixers owned the third pick in a three-player NBA draft last week. Thankfully, GM Sam Hinkie did the right thing by selecting Duke big man Jahlil Okafor. While that seems the obvious choice, I feared Hinkie would outsmart himself and fall for some stringbean Latvian project.
The Sixers now have three ascending big men in Okafor, Nerlens Noel and the gimpy Joel Embiid. They also have no one who can distribute the ball or shoot from the outside. I’m not sure why Hinkie didn’t package any of his five second-round picks or his four 2016 first-rounders to get a point guard.
But in the spirit of optimism, I’ll look forward to the Triple Towers in 2015-16. The rest of the world says it’s a guard-driven league. Let’s see if coach Brett Brown can find a winning formula with 21 feet of talent crammed into 96 minutes of playing time. Or let’s see if they at least mesh and develop enough to spur a franchise-caliber free agent to sign here next year.
The best moves of the week were made by Flyers GM Ron Hextall, who has slashed away at the Old Time Hockey culture that dominated the franchise for decades. Hextall kept owner Ed Snider in check at last season’s trade deadline, and then hired a college coach – rather than a retread – to guide his team.
Now he appears to have emerged from last weekend’s draft with two plum first-rounders. He also traded cement-footed Nick Grossmann and somehow managed to swap long-retired Chris Pronger for $5 million of cap relief. Now, if he can just discard Vinnie Lecavalier.
Hey, none of these three franchises is going to contend for a title anytime soon. Only the Flyers even stand much chance to make the playoffs next season. But, if you look between the raindrops, you can finally see a little light.