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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Moves by Phils, Eagles Offer Hope This Year & Beyond

This week not one but two Philadelphia sports franchises have made a statement that hasn’t been made around here in far too long. By trading for Donte' Stallworth and Jeff Conine, the Eagles and Phillies, respectively, brought serious life to their playoff hopes this season.

As happy as I am over Stallworth coming to the Eagles, I’m more impressed with the apparent shift in the mindset of the front office. Finally, this team came off it’s self-described “gold standard” of a blue-print for success, looked at what the off season had produced, and reacted. As we heard company line after company line about Reggie Brown and friends, the Birds seemed content (doomed?) to enter the season with the receivers they had. The addition of Stallworth was the move everyone was waiting for, but usually never sees, from the Eagles.

The Phillies got the ball rolling more than a week ago by adding Jamie Moyer. Conine’s addition speaks volumes about the apparent “turning of a corner” by the franchise. Instead of Ed Wade’s standard lies, trade deadlines passing with no movement, and the same talentless players coming up every September, the Phillies have a general manager in Pat Gillick who clearly knows how to get things done and wants to win now. It’s almost hard to believe the Phillies replaced a guy clearly in over his head like Scott Mathieson in the pitching rotation with a proven veteran.

Far from a baseball expert, I have no idea if the Phillies have enough to make the Wild Card. But if Florida wasn’t suddenly hot and back in the race, I’d put them as the favorite to win it. Regardless, the franchise is beginning to shake the city-wide notion that winning is of no consequence to them, and that’s a nice change.

As for the Eagles, I think Stallworth makes them legitimate contenders again. He’ll make Brown and the Eagles’ tight ends better simply by being a receiver other teams will have to pay attention to. I would have liked the Eagles to have signed him to an extension as part of the deal, but something about beggars not being choosers comes to mind. Reports that Stallworth isn’t a perfect citizen may also be a sign that Joe Banner and Andy Reid are slowly recovering from the trauma of dealing with Terrell Owens.

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