Written By Jason Voorhees
The 2020 NHL Trade Deadline was today and the Flyers were able participants.
On Monday the Flyers added (F) Nate Thompson from the Montreal Canadians in exchange for a 5th round pick. The Flyers then traded prospect (F) Kyle Criscuolo and a 4th round pick to the Anaheim Ducks for (F) Derek Grant.
These were certainly not the household names that Flyers fans were craving. This was not Jeff Carter or Wayne Simmonds. It was certainly not Vincent Trochek and was most definitely not Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
Those were the sexy names that most Flyers fans wanted to hear on deadline day. While Thompson and Grant are not the fancy names that everyone wanted...I will promise you that these guys are just what the Dr. ordered.
And of course you will say...how is that? The fact of the matter is that this is not a popularity contest. This is the NHL. This is a league where TEAM probably most represents every aspect and facet of the sport. These are two role players that bring veteran leadership to a still very young team and that is a welcomed addition in my book.
This Flyers team has definitely surpassed all of my expectations thus far. I firmly believe that this has already been a successful season under the leadership of first year coach Alain Vigneault; and the sky is the limit.
Everything else that happens from this point is gravy. Anything can happen. With that being said, I am not saying that this organization is without fault and that they have not made mistakes. However; they are definitely moving the needle in the right direction.
I have been extremely critical of the Flyers organization over the past few seasons and rightfully so. I have probably been one of their harshest critics. As a diehard fan I have earned that right. However; any realist must admit that this team is trending in the right direction. This team is playing with an edge and you have to love it.
Anything can happen in the NHL playoffs and you don't have to look further than last season when the upstart Blues won the Stanley Cup. Carter Hart has the talent and wherewithal to go on a run and this team definitely has the talent to win it all. Adding two role pieces to this kind of team could be exactly what gets them over the top. There is a much different vibe with this team under AV's leadership...something that has been missing since can I dare say it...2010.
Nate Thompson is a two way player that brings versatility to the forward position. He can play multiple positions and he is an excellent penalty killer. Likewise, Grant is another versatile forward that can also put the puck in the net (14 goals). While Thompson is probably a fourth line center that will see time on the PK, Grant can play 5-5, PK or even the power play.
Neither of these players are guys that are going to light up the scoreboard on any given night. They are not star players that are going to get the fans excited with energy. However; these are exactly the types of players that bring success and can definitely help this team moving forward. Thompson and Grant are veterans that add depth to a team that really didn't have much besides the youth waiting to make their entrance in the NHL.
Will the Flyers win the Stanley Cup in 2020? The answer is probably almost certainly no. Can this current team win a championship though?? Absolutely.
If you look back at trade deadline moves, the big name players more often than not do not make a difference in winning a team a ring. In fact, its usually the opposite. There are countless examples of role players that have been traded at the deadline that have gone on to help their new team win the Stanley Cup.
Only time will tell if this Flyers team is ready to move to the next level.
However; Chuck Fletcher did an excellent job today with preparing for that very task by adding two veteran role players that will provide depth and leadership down the stretch. And that is a breath of fresh air for a consistent critic like me.
I have had my issues with this team but I can honestly say that I love the direction that this team is moving. And its under the radar trades like today that could catapult this team over the top and for that I am thankful. Here's hoping that two minor moves could be the start of something huge. No matter what happens down the stretch, the sexy or fancy name will not be the deciding factor...but instead it will be the role player that gets it done.
Written By Jason Voorhees
So the year is 2020. You are the most sought after music producer on the market and are trying to make a "huge splash." Eddie Trunk from "That Metal Show" comes to you with the idea of a lifetime.
His proposal: He wants you to arrange the biggest and baddest heavy metal musical festival in history. This event should feature the best of the best in Heavy Metal...new and old. The criteria...the bands that you choose must have name notoriety as well as multi platinum status. The band should also fit into the general metal category but could also be hard rock.
Eddie wants a commitment of 40 bands as the festival will be a two day event featuring 20 bands per day.
All of the money and proceeds from this festival will be used to help fund the war against Cancer. The festival will be called METAL GODS OF THUNDER AND LIGHTNING. The festival will be played at the iconic Woodstock grounds in Bethel, New York.
At this point its being labeled the concert of the century...and the anticipation is building. The only major criteria is that the bands must fit the heavy metal category (Hair Metal, Grunge Metal, Death Metal, Thrash, Speed, Industrial, etc) in some way shape or form.
Ok...so you as the next musical guru have a month to get the lineup created. Eddie has secured Black Sabbath and AC/DC as the two headliners. Sabbath will perform on Saturday (first night) and AC/DC will perform Sunday (second night). You are also given the option of having a band that has retired to reunite. More importantly...maybe even secure a band that has lost one or more founding members.
This opportunity is one for the ages and will either make or break you. Eddie wants you to try and assemble the bands in order of musical lore and importance to the greater cause. You have been given unlimited funds and also an expert team of stellar recruiters. Your team includes some of the greatest musicians of yesterday as well as today. The team is composed of Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne (who will be performing with Black Sabbath), Billy Idol, Jimmy Paige, Alice Cooper and Steven Tyler.
The team sets out to recruit the best of the best and the results are gold. After weeks of work the following bands have been assembled to participate in this festival of all festivals...
Guns N Roses, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Aerosmith, Van Halen (featuring Sammy Haggar and David Lee Roth), Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Pantera (featuring Zack Wylde on guitar and Chris Adler on Drums), Lamb of God, Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, Anthrax, Overkill, Alice In Chains, Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, Skid Row (featuring Sebastian Bach), Tool, Ratt, Whitesnake, Poison, Cinderella, Alice Cooper, KISS, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Faith No More, Sevendust, Slipknot, Killswitch Engage, Marilyn Manson, KORN, Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, Bon Jovi, and Dokken.
Along with those bands, there will be a few special performances by Jimmy Paige/Robert Plant, Billy Idol and The Rolling Stones; during an opening ceremony on Friday, September 11th.
After assembling the bands, Eddie agrees that this is a very impressive lineup and that this could be a potentially epic event. Forty of Metals best. The Beasts of Metal. Some hot reunions; Star Studded Talent up and down the lineup.
After failing to secure the Woodstock grounds, the team has now settled on the New York Yankees stadium as the venue. The tickets will hold a $300 dollar price tag which will be non refundable. The $300 dollars covers the entire event (3 days). As mentioned...all proceeds will be donated to Cancer research and helping cancer patients.
The show will be held Saturday, September 12th and Sunday, September 13th with a special opening ceremony on Friday September 11th.
Along with the bands, there will be plenty of refreshments as well as donations and sponsors from Pepsi, Frito Lay, Apple, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and many others. The entire cast of "That Metal Show" will be on hand as well and will film a three day live show at the event. Guest appearances will also be made by BEYONCE, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Lopez, David Chappelle, porn's best, "The Hangover" cast, Jim Breuer, as well as other team members, Billy Idol, Jimmy Paige, The Rolling Stones and Steven Tyler.
Your team has struck gold. Eddie Trunk Salutes you. You are now a METAL GOD! Stay tuned for the show. Get your tickets as they are hot for the take. Rock on America. This is more than a fistful of metal...its more like a DUMPSTER FULL. Here is the three day lineup for the festival that is coming at the end of the year....
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 11th
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 12th
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 13th
Written By Jason Voorhees
On Wednesday, Phillies local beat writer Matt Breen had some pretty poignant comments regarding the current state of the Phillies; while speaking as a guest of 975 The Fanatic Radio Show.
"These owners are not willing to pay into the luxury tax. Nobody wants to pay and that's where the Phillies are," Breen stated. He went on to say that "I'm not going into spring training saying this is a playoff team. In fact, I struggle to say that their a wild card team."
Certainly not a glowing review for a franchise that has stated numerous times that they are not rebuilding and ready to contend. Last year at this time, John Middleton was star hunting. The Phillies managing partner was courting one of the league's biggest star free agents in Bryce Harper. We all know how that played out and the fans were stoked.
However; what a difference a year can make. Although there was so much promise going into last season, the team had a disappointing finish and they fired their manager. There is no doubt that adding a manager like Joe Girardi will make a huge difference. The team also added Bryan Price as their new pitching coach which should also pay instant dividends.
Moreover; the team signed Zach Wheeler and Didi Gregorious as free agents and those are all satisfying moves as well. At this point, I don't think there is a question that this team will be better.
However; what is the ultimate goal? Hopefully your answer is to win a championship. At the very least, your answer has to have the Phillies ready to contend this year and at least make the playoffs. The fact of the matter is that this team continues to have many holes in its roster and they are not even the best team in their own division. And that is a bothersome situation to be in.
I hate to sound like a Debbie downer but I am just not that confident. And that brings me to my biggest beef...why is John Middleton being cheap all of a sudden? Is he just another fraud sports owner that makes his bed in lies and deception?
As a die hard fan, its hard for me to have any sympathy for a professional sports ownership group when it comes to spending money. Especially when that owner is a billionaire like John. And frankly, it disturbs me even more when that same guy said that the team was ready to spend stupid money just one year ago.
As a writer that often does a lot of research; I totally get the fact that comments are often exaggerated and many times are taken out of context.
However; its also true that when comments are made they can either be backed up by actions or just flat out misunderstood. The point is that last year John made a declaration that this team was all in and that they were laying all of the cards on the table. Well, when the team traded for all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura, followed by signing Bryce Harper, David Robertson, Andrew McCutchen and more it certainly signified that he was not messing around.
However; now all of a sudden this team refuses to go over the luxury tax threshold. Any realist will recognize the importance of finding balance when constructing a roster. Furthermore, there is no doubt that this team needs a blend of youth (prospects) as well as veterans to sustain an upwards trend. With that being said though, today's game shows that there are still teams out there that are willing to spend and those teams continue to field superior talent.
My main concern at this point is whether John Middleton is truly commited to making this team great; or whether his real intentions are to just get the team to contend and sell tickets. While appearing as a guest on WIP sports radio in 2017, Middleton made an almost legendary quote that "We're going to get that trophy back somehow, or I'm going to die trying."
That was as close to a declaration or promise to do whatever it takes to get this team another championship, as there comes. What a way to set the bar high and with that fuel the expectations of the die hard fans. Well, it appears that Middleton is talking in riddles now. Because if he was wiling to do whatever it takes, going over the luxury tax would not be an issue folks.
Even if you are in the camp that the team cant just buy buy buy, there is no arguing that there were better moves that could have been made and it all comes down to money. And that my friends is a travesty. Now I will cite a few examples of why I feel that John Middleton is a fraud; and that he has duped Phillies nation in an epic fashion...
The bottom line is that Mr. Middleton is not backing up those promises with action. By refusing to go over the tax he is not only signifying that this team is not good enough to contend, he is also going against the basic principals that he has preached so feverishly.
I have tried to remain optimistic and patient this offseason and to trust that the organization will do whatever it takes to win.
Well, my patience has worn thin. My confidence meter now screams miniscule numbers. And my anger level has reached 911. I am afraid that Middleton is not the stand up man that he has portrayed himself as. Im concerned that he has alterior motives to not transcending the tax, motives that only have aspirations of making this team good...but not great. And my heart is telling me that John has turned back into a pumpkin and that this franchise is destined for failure.
Well I hope that my fears are just my imagination. Im praying that my opinion is just exaggerated and just an overreaction. And I am trusting that he will ultimately make me eat crow. Sometimes my meltdowns crave the voice of reason, and God knows I have had many arguments about the state of this team. But as a die hard fan, my expectations are high. And when I smell a problem, I am compelled to action.
Hopefully, the John Middleton that I thought I knew will suddenly appear. And then this will all just be blog speak in someone else's version of GOT MAIL. Mr. Middleton, you are the next contestant on the price is right...now do the right thing damnit and pay the price. Please please please...its only money. For the sake of Phillies fans everywhere...DO THAT THING!
Written By Jason Voorhees
As I sit here writing this piece this all seems so surreal.
You don't have to be a fan of heavy metal music to know who the band Metallica is. One would not have to be a fashion enthusiast to recognize the name Versace. And the same goes for Kobe Bryant...even a person that despises basketball would know the name KOBE.
I am not a huge basketball fan nor am I knowledgeable about the sport in general. The extent of my understanding of the game comes only as an occasional viewer of the local Philadelphia 76ers. However; if there ever was any basketball player that I truly respected and idolized it would be Kobe Bryant.
The "Black Mamba" as he has become to be known is a legend. This was not just some local star. He was not just a national superstar. Kobe was an international icon. He was more than a man. Bryant was an elite superstar that became more than human. Life after basketball for this man was all about family as well as him becoming an ambassador for millions of people around the world.
When I first heard the tragic news of Kobe and his daughter Gigi's death yesterday; I was in total shock. My first reaction was that this couldn't be real and that it was just fake news. Unfortunately, as I continued to refresh twitter I realized that the news was in fact true and that Kobe had died.
This is a tragedy of epic proportions. 9 Lives lost. Countless souls effected. Families torn apart and their worlds ripped upside down. First and foremost; my thoughts and prayers go out to ALL of the families, friends, fans and followers that have been effected by this terrible accident. This is a very sad day and I know many will be mourning for a long time to come.
As we all try to make sense of this tragedy, one thing that has quickly become apparent is the amount of lives that Kobe touched during his 41 years of life. The outpouring of tributes has spanned all walks of life. And this is the theme I am choosing to portray as I try to pay my own special tribute to Mr. Bryant and his Mamba Mentality.
In my opinion, Kobe Bryant is a Top 5 player of all-time in basketball history. Kobe has achieved the following awards and accomplishments: 4th all-time in regular season scoring. 18x all-star. 15x member of All-NBA team. 5x NBA Champion. 2x Scoring Champion. 2x NBA Finals MVP. 4x NBA All-Star Game MVP. He holds countless NBA as well as Los Angeles Lakers records among other achievements. That my friends is Kobe Bryant the basketball player.
But Kobe Bryant the person was so much more than a man. He was one of the most beloved people on and off the court. When I think of Kobe Bryant "the person," the following adjectives come to mind...
Self Driven, Motivated, Passionate, Competitive, Fearless, Compassionate, Tenacious, Humble, Confident, Relentless.
Those are some serious attributes and Kobe was elite through all of them. This is a guy that transcended the game. Bryant was an exceptional human being that inspired countless others in all walks of life. Kobe Bryant was much bigger than an athlete. He was almost Super Human.
These are the characteristics I choose to remember as I pay tribute to Kobe.
One thing that these types of tragedies bring light to is just how fleeting life is.
And as we pay tribute and mourn all of the lives that were lost yesterday, we all need to face the fact that we are all mortal. Life is not promised. And as we come to this realization, we can all take a page out of Kobe's resume as a role model of how to live our lives.
Live life to its fullest and embrace every challenge like its your last. Face every obstacle as a fierce competitor and take things head on. Treat others with respect. Tell your family members that you love them. Be an ambassador for doing the right things.
Embrace the Mamba Mentality. Kobe Bryant was More than a Man. Kobe Bryant was legendary.
To pay tribute to Kobe Bryant, maybe we all could just try to model ourselves like him and in doing so his death will not be in vain. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and this tragedy can now have more meaning. Just embrace Kobe Bryant and what he stood for and maybe we will all find peace. Kobe Bryant your legacy will live forever and we will always remember you and your family. Thanks for all of the memories and the lives you touched! Rest Easy Kobe.
#RIP #MAMBA #KOBE #GIGI
The undertaking of any all-time greatest list is never easy.
When it comes to music, the task can be even more difficult. So the question remains...how do you chose the best guitarists of all-time when there are so many styles and techniques to choose from?
Some guitarists are technically brilliant. Others may be less skilled in the technical aspects but more of a "feel and attitude" type player. And then there are the freestyle "wow factor' players that have lead to the "legendary" status that they invoke today. No matter which category these guitarists find themselves in, they all share one thing in common and that's the way they command themselves on the stage and the way they operate the axe.
I have composed many lists in my day and this will undoubtedly be one of my toughest tasks to date. However; I am confident in my ability to navigate the landscape and narrow it down to the ultimate group of upper echelon elite. To do so, I will combine rankings based on a myriad of polls as well as expert opinions. I will then use my own musical research to take the rankings and populate the list.
As with any list, this is a matter of opinion and I am sure there will be many who disagree along the way...and certainly that's ok. In fact, I love these types of disagreements because it sparks some excellent conversation. With that being said, here are a few guitarists that I absolutely love but unfortunately just missed the cut....
I know you are all waiting to see which players made the cut...so without further a do...Ladies and Gentlemen here are the Top 25 Guitarists of All-Time...
24) Mark Knopfler
The lead guitarist and co-founder of the band Dire Straits. He is a fingerstyle guitarist that can absolutely bring it on all levels. He may not have the name notoriety of many of the other greats; but what he lacks in name he definitely makes up for on the stage. A terrific song writer with underrated talent.
23) Duane Allman
An American session guitarist and the founder of the band The Allman Brothers. Known as the "Skydog," Duane was one of the hardest working guitarists in the bizz. He is most known for his expressive slide technique and for his use of improvisation. The world will never know his true potential as he tragically died at the age of 24.
22) Neil Young
A Canadian born musician known for his talents on multiple instruments. However; most of his fame came on the axe as he fronted multiple bands, most notably Buffalo Springfield and Crazy Horse. His work with the latter led to his nickname "The Godfather of Grunge" as he has been attributed to the beginnings of this important genre of music. Neil is known for his wide range of styles which combines folk, rock and country with rampid use of distortion.
21) Alex Lifeson
One of the co-founders of the band Rush, Lifeson is known for his well rounded approach on guitar. His dexterity and versatility has been praised by many artists alike. He is an active member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has won the Best Rock Guitarist award twice in his lifetime. James Hetfield and John Petrucci have both cited Lifeson as major influences on their careers. Definitely underrated and a stone cold lock for this list.
20) Angus Young
Co-Founder and Lead Guitarist of the Australian rock band AC/DC. The second "Young " to make this list. Angus is a tremendous guitar player that brings an added level to the stage that is rarely matched. He is well known for wild on stage antics that have helped cement his legacy among the greats. Many people have criticized his often simple chord progressions while failing to recognize his unending repertoire of arpeggios. No matter what difference of opinion may arise about Young's talent, there is no underselling of his place with the greatest of all-time.
19) Pete Townshend
Another dual musician threat, Pete was the leader and co-founder of The Who. Townshend thrived at his craft despite never having any formal training. He is well known for his aggressive playing style and has received critical acclaim for his innovative songwriting techniques. Another member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as the recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. One of the first great riff writers of our day.
An American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor and filmmaker. His resume speaks for itself. Regarded as one of the greatest musicians in the history of music. What gets lost sometimes though is how great of a guitarist he was. In fact, it was on the axe where he made his most magic. He has won awards galore for his achievements both on and off the stage. His album Purple Rain remains his greatest effort of all-time as it stayed atop the Billboard 200 for 24 consecutive weeks. A true legend in music and a Guitar God for sure.
17) Dimebag Darrell
Darrell Abbott, best known as "Dimebag Darrell" was a co-founder for the band Pantera. His work on the guitar was absolutely breathtaking. No doubt one of the most influential guitarists of the past 25 years, this legend was tragically taken away gone too soon. Dimebag fused a blues style with traditional metal to forge the groove metal style that would eventually become its own musical genre of metal. He is also known for his heavy use of the major third in his riffs and leads. Another disciple of Eddie Van Halen.
16) Steve Vai
A three- time Grammy Award winner and fifteen- time nominee that has stood the test of time and produced at an epic level. A Frank Zappa and Joe Satriani pupil that has went on to forge his own legacy of guitar excellence. He is known for his attention to detail and has maintained a rigorous practice schedule that sometimes would transcend fifteen hours. He blends many styles together and has set the bar high. This guy can absolutely shred and will knock your socks off.
15) Tony Iommi
Tony has overcome many obstacles during his career beginning with a right hand injury before he even started playing. Most people would have folded but not Tony. Known mostly for his work with Black Sabbath, Tony can be attributed for much of the metal we hear today. He perfected the power chord while combining blues style solos with dark and minor melodic riffs. He was also one of the early pioneers of treble boosting effects pedals and his sound is well pronounced. No list will ever be complete without Tony...a wrap.
14) Randy Rhoads
Another guitar great gone way too soon. Randy was a devout student of classical guitar which he combined with metal to form his own distinct style. Rhoads was extremely technical and maintained rigid precision throughout all of his solos. He began his career with the band Quiet Riot but made most of his fame as the lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne during his prime solo act. His use of classical guitar became his signature style and his riffs can be recognized a mile away because of this. There is no telling how great he would have been had he not died so young but his talent was definitely limitless. Definitely one of my favs of all-time.
13) Brian May
Brian is the lead guitarist and co-founder of the rock band Queen. He is responsible for writing most of the bands hits and was instrumental in the groups rise to the top in music. Referred to by many as a virtuoso of guitar, his style included many elements of classical as well as pop driven leads. Although he sometimes does not get the credit, Brian deserves so much more. He had a unique sound that was unable to be replicated and that puts him on another level. He is responsible for some of the most iconic solos including "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Brighton Rock" both of which belong on the Top 50 all-time.
12) Ritchie Blackmore
Blackmore dove onto the scene with Deep Purple and continued his excellence with Rainbow. He was one of the earliest guitarists to use the classical guitar style and he used that style to mold his own distinct sound and tone. A prolific riff writer, Ritchie focused on composing tight and on point solos for every song that he wrote. Blackmore was also big on Vibrato which he took to another level. Very underrated artist and sometimes forgotten as one of the greats...but not by me.
11) Chuck Berry
Known as the "Father of Rock and Roll", Berry is quite responsible for the world of music that we know today. A pioneer of Rock and Roll that set the tone for all of the great guitarists that we have grown to admire. He was one of the first guitarists to use a "solo" as a way of expression. He has appeared anywhere from fifth to twenty-fifth on most all-time lists. Definitely an inspiration and one of the early groundwork layers of rock music culture. Also responsible for the redefinition of Rhythm and Blues, an important element of rock music in general.
10) Keith Richards
Richards is the lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones, one of the most iconic bands of all-time. Richards has show the propensity to stand the test of time and he has refined his skills throughout the past decades. One of the true stalwarts of both rhythm and lead guitar, he thrives no matter what position he finds himself in. Although he shared most of the band's songwriting credits, Keith was the driving force in most of the band's successes. Most guitar players today cite Richards as being a major influence on their craft.
9) Jeff Beck
Many guitar experts put Beck on the same level as Clapton, Paige and Hendrix when it comes to innovation and sound. That's some serious company which is well deserved and rightfully stated. In fact, Beck came from the same tree as two of those stalwarts when he played with the Yardbirds. Jeff recorded two hit albums during his solo career, but most of his greats have come playing for other artists. He was one of the pioneers of the "lead" guitarist and put his stamp on every project he ever worked on. Beck may not have the name pedigree but definitely has the talent and that's exactly why he makes the top ten.
8) Stevie Ray Vaughn
Vaughn was an American singer and songwriter and was responsible for the revival of blues guitar during the eighties. His main influences were Jimi Hendrix, Albert King and Buddy Guy among others. Vaughn was big into tremolo and vibrato as well as sweep picking. Stevie Ray was what you would classify as a "feels style" player as it all came from the heart. His playing transcended many genres as far as style and attitude. When you listened to this guy play, you were in for a treat at any given moment. He was a guitar hero of the present if we ever did have one and yet another gone way to soon.
7) B.B. King
The grandfather of the string bend, King developed an intricate style of soloing that would go on to influence future generations of blues guitar. King was another player that was maybe not as technically sound, but he totally made up for that by use of improvisation. He further cemented his legacy by combining rhythm and blues with jazz to form his own unique sound. He was a master of live performances during his career sometimes averaging over 300 appearances per year. Definitely ahead of his time and a true master of axe dominance.
6) David Gilmour
Gilmour made his legacy playing for the band Pink Floyd. David is an excellent guitarist that combines precision skill and technique with a balance of raw emotion and feel. The result is an all out masterpiece of sound and energy. Gilmour is responsible for many iconic solos and his lead play is of elite status. Whether its long sustaining melodic tones or dark eloquent riffs; his sound always seems to break the barriers. Definitely one of the true legends of the craft and well deserving of all-time great prowess.
Few guitarists have made as much of an impact on music than Slash. Known mostly for his work as the lead guitarist for Guns N Roses, Slash has carved out quite a solo career as well. He has also appeared as a guest for many of music's greatest performers including Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne. An absolute beast of his craft, Slash is known for his epic solos and arpeggio laden leads. His style is often brash and too the point and not many can maintain the attitude or feel of his playing. Quite honestly he could belong in the top three but number five is not too shabby.
4) Eric Clapton
Often referred to as one of the most influential guitarists of all-time and revered by pundits everywhere as a guitar legend. Beginning with the Yardbirds, Clapton set sail on one of the greatest journeys a guitarist could ever travel. He made his fame with the band Cream, where he produced most of his hit songs. Clapton is another "feel" inspired musician; however; his skill and technique were also elite level. He is also known as one of the hardest working guitarists as far as practice goes and that practice made for perfect sound. He is a three time member of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. A Rock God on earth.
3) Jimmy Page
Lead guitarist and founder of Led Zeppelin, Page is another one of the most influential musicians of all-time. Probably the best pure riff writer of the generation as well as musical genius. Just about every guitarist today will credit Page for some of their influence. He has transcended every genre of metal and would easily blend in with any of the bands today. Page was a master of the lead element and has fathered countless guitar greats today as far as style and technique. Page is in a league of his own and not many can match up.
2) Eddie Van Halen
Although he is not credited for inventing the "tapping technique" he surely did perfect the style. He never fully learned how to read music but the audience could never tell. Van Halen is a Rock God that leaves listeners in awe. His style is epic and his energy is relentless. Definitely a prodigy and one of the great innovators of the guitar world we know today. To put it simply...There would be no Synester Gates without Eddie. There would be no Kirk Hammett without Van Halen. He is playing varsity while everyone is trying to learn jayvee. The crème de la crème. Only one guitarist can ever come close to this level and that's a fact.
1) Jimi Hendrix
Hands down the greatest of all-time. He is the grandfather of metal guitar as we know it today. He was one of the pioneers of using high gain and volume while infusing widespread distortion through amplifiers. Most of the guitar sounds we hear can be attributed back to this musical inventor. Master of innovation and a true guitar hero. Jimi is the king of Guitar and we are all his pawns. Jimi could literally speak through the guitar. The strings had their own vocabulary and the sounds would resonate as he played. Guitar hero number one folks.
Written by Jason Voorhees
The story of the 2019 Philadelphia Eagles has yet to be completely written.
How will this story transpire? When will this story end? Will this team raise the Lombardi once again?
This Sunday, we may get a piece of those answers as the Eagles face the Seattle Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
On Friday morning during an airing of Good Morning Football, Kyle Brandt produced another epic episode of the show when he compared the Eagles to the "Wolf of Wall Street." Brandt of course became famous in Philadelphia in 2017 during the Eagles Super Bowl run as he adopted them as his team of choice.
The Eagles are no stranger to being the underdog. In fact, over the past three seasons the team has continually battled the odds despite achieving consistent success, ultimately winning the Lombardi Trophy in 2017. There is something that can be said about this team that when the chips are down and everything is on the line, that they play their best football.
Since 2017, the Eagles have a 20-9 record (including playoffs) from the month of November on. After the Super Bowl win in 2017, the team won a road playoff game in 2018 before ultimately losing to the Saints in the Divisional Round.
This season, after a terrible loss to Miami the first week of December, the team went 4-0 down the stretch to secure its first Divisional title since 2017. This team is battle tested. This team is hungry. Hungry dogs run faster.
And now the team is being compared to wolves. What do wolves do best? They smell blood. I think Mr. Brandt is on to something here. Everyone else is counting this team out and that's exactly why the Eagles are dangerous. The 2017 version used the underdog mentality to its advantage. They rode that narrative all the way to Minnesota.
The 2018 version used the same mentality taking the much favored Saints down to the wire in NOLA before the untimely loss.
And now we have the 2019 group. Injuries have once again ravaged this team. In fact, no one would have been surprised if the Eagles did not make the playoffs. Yet here we are, two days from hosting a home playoff game on Sunday.
Some people would label this group "The Replacements." That would be a highly accurate nick name as the team is playing with many players that have come from the practice squad heap. Wide Receivers Greg Ward, Deontay Burnett, and Rob Davis. Tight End Richard Rodgers and Josh Perkins.
As mentioned, many pundits and analysts are counting this team out and mostly because of the current state of this roster. And really, on paper the Eagles should really not have any business being in this position. But don't tell anyone on this team that.
This is a team that believes in its leader. Carson Wentz proved a lot of his haters and doubters wrong down the stretch and that in itself is a true testament to why this team has a legitimate shot to go far here. The sky is the limit folks. The chips are down once again and the wolves are on the prowl.
Doug Pederson is the leader of the pack. He will have this team ready no doubt. Doug smells blood.
Carson is the teams general. Wentz will provide the energy and the wherewithal to drive this machine forward. Carson can see the promised land.
The remainder of the pack is primed to follow. They are loyal and will die for their leaders. The players are programmed to do whatever it takes. The prey has been spotted in the distance. The Seahawks have been circled.
Wolves are territorial by nature and this Eagles team is no different. While the team has had some success on the road, they definitely play their best football at home.
No unit has been more effected by this notion than the defense.
In fact, since 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles defense has allowed the fewest points per game at home in the NFL and this includes the playoffs. The last time these two teams met, the Eagles held the Seahawks to 17 points. Defense wins Championships and the defense will once again have to bring its "A" game.
This brings me to my keys of the game:
Prediction: Eagles- 24 Seahawks-17
The story is not finished yet. Pieces of the puzzle are starting to get put together. Sunday's outcome will tell us a lot of what we do not yet know about this team...but there is one thing that I already do know...
The wolves of Broad Street are ready to pounce. Everyone is counting them out. We have been here before. The scenario is familiar. The stage is set. I am definitely feeling good about this teams chances. The sky is the limit folks. If the Eagles win Sunday they will get a healthy Desean Jackson back for Round 2 and anything can happen from there.
Hungry dogs run like the wind; while intelligent wolves definitely run faster and are trained for the kill. This team has that killer instinct when they smell blood. NFL beware...The EAGLES have finally landed! #FlyEaglesFly
Written By Jason Voorhees
The early 2000's saw a birth of the metal core genre as bands like Bullet for My Valentine, Trivium, Killswitch Engage and Avenged Sevenfold burst onto the scene. While the metal core style would continue to thrive during the (2010-2019) decade, long time metal acts including thrash and hard core bands once again became prominent in the metal community. There were many great metal albums released during this decade and this is my version of the Top 20 Metal albums of the 2010's. Without further a due lets jump right in...
This was the 15th studio album by the thrash band. The album sparked high marks and reviews by metal critics abound and it was the band's first album to chart on the Billboard 200 in 17 years. In fact, Blabbermouth stated that Ironbound "is one of, if not the most ripping collection of tunes this legendary act has ever laid to tape." Front man Bobby "Blitz" Elsworth continued his reckless vocal assault on the troops with his ferocious range. Tracks like "The Green and Black" as well as the title track marked another benchmark for the New Jersey band. Definitely one of the best thrash albums of the decade and a metal classic.
Just like the title track, this was the thirteenth studio album for Megadeth and marked the return of one of its founding members, bassist David Ellefson. Megadeth had went through many lineup changes during the prior decade and this was the first to feature Ellefson since 2001. The album received great critical acclaim and many positive reviews. Thirteen debuted at #11 on the Billboard 200 while selling 42,000 copies the first week. Three singles were released including the smash hit "Public Enemy #1." An extremely underrated album, this ultimately helped Megadeth climb back to the top of thrash and pop metal alike.
FOR ALL KINGS (2016)
The Eleventh studio album for the thrash metal giants quickly became one of its best all-time. Of course, it was hard to follow up Worship Music but this was an awesome attempt. In fact, it was the first album to crack the Billboard 200 Top ten as it hit #9. The album once again featured front man Joey Belladonna and added a new guitarist in Jon Donais. The album tends to use the ever powerful formula of old school thrash while mixing in some mainstream riffs and styles of sound. For All Kings is an all out sonic assault on what Anthrax has stood for since its inception. In your face metal, endless hooks and riffs, with over the top solos and Joey's signature vocals definitely put this one on the top list.
IV: STURM und DRANG (2015)
Lamb of God
This marked the eight studio album release for the American groove metal band. It was also the first album to be produced after its lead singers manslaughter case. Randy Blythe had done time in a foreign prison and many of the albums tracks were a first hand account of his experiences. The album also marked the return of the band to its stylistic roots as far as sound and vocals. The album was awarded Metal Storms best thrash album of 2015. Lamb of God can bring it and this one definitely brings the house down musically and literally. Instant Classic.
GOD DAMN EVIL (2018)
This is by far the heaviest Stryper album of all-time. God Damn Evil also marked the debut of bassist Perry Richardson, formerly of Firehouse. Stryper seems to get better with age as this was not only their heaviest album, but quite possibly the best overall album of their career as well. Michael Sweet has one of the greatest voices in metal and he matches that energy on guitar where he can absolutely shred. Oz Fox and Sweet are both brilliant on this album and its a must listen for any and all hair metal fanatics.
GOD-GIVEN RIGHT (2015)
The fifteenth studio album by the German power metal band drew instant praise. While the album returned to its stylistic roots, the band was able to infuse modern elements to captivate the audience. The result was a metal masterpiece. If your a fan of speed metal then this is your album. Punch in the mouth guitar riffs, escalator vocals and crunchy hooks makes this one of Helloween's best. The album reached #27 on the Billboard Top 200 Rock albums while cracking the top ten on the hard rock category.
OUTLAW GENTLEMEN & SHADY LADIES (2013)
Vollbeat has been a band on the rise for the past decade and a half. Their fifth studio album was an instant classic. The track "Room 24" featured special guest vocalist King Diamond which was later nominated for a Grammy in late 2013 for best metal performance. The album charted at #9 on the Billboard Top 200. Volbeat is a Danish metal band that provides a unique blend of style and sound. In my opinion this was their best overall metal album to date and definitely belongs on the list for top albums of the decade.
WORLD ON FIRE (2014)
Slash w/ Myles Kennedy
This was the second studio album by Slash with Myles Kennedy on vocals. Myles is an amazing performer in his own right and pairing him with one of the greatest guitarists is perfection at its peak. This album has a GNR feel to it but also stands alone. The record has a ton of star power producing hits galore. My favorite personal track is "30 Years to Life" which features another signature epic solo by Slash. I used to say that everything Slash touches turns to gold and this album is no stranger to that. World on Fire reached #10 on the Billboard Top 200 during the first week and was one of 2014's best.
SOL INVICTUS (2015)
Faith No More
Sol Invictus marked Faith No More's first studio album since 1997. This was one of the most highly anticipated albums of the decade and it did not disappoint. Musically the band continued to dabble in all genres of metal on the album as it maintained most of the band's traditional sound. The album sold over 200,000 copies during its first two months of release and ranked in the top 5 on most metal media's top album lists for 2015. The album also won a Metal Hammer Golden God Award for best metal release that same year. Most fans said it was well worth the wait.
KING ANIMAL (2012)
Another highly anticipated drop was released by Soundgarden in 2012 when they put out King Animal. It was the sixth studio album by the band and first since 1996. The album received great reviews and sparked a huge comeback in the band's following. The first track, "Been Away Too Long" was an instant classic and gave the listeners chills as it literally incensed the emotion that was felt from their thirteen year hiatus. This would sadly be the bands last album before Chris Cornell's untimely death. The album was a cross between Down on The Upside and SuperUnknown.
Dystopia marked the fifteenth studio album release by the colossal thrash metal giants. Keeping true to form, this album was an absolute smash hit. The band won a Grammy Award in 2017 for best metal performance on the title track "Dystopia." The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200 during its first week and sold 48,000 copies. It marked the band's second highest domestic release all-time behind Countdown to Extinction which reached #2. Not bad for the metal band that is nearing it's fifth decade of existence.
WORSHIP MUSIC (2011)
This was the tenth studio album for the New York thrashers. It also marked the return of original front man Joey Belladonna. This album was an absolute masterpiece and had the classic Anthrax thrash metal persona. It debuted at #12 on the Billboard Top 200 while some media critics rated it their best album since Persistence of Time which was released way back in 1990. It featured the original lineup and also included Rob Caggiano on guitars. Top tracks from the album include "Fight em Till You Can't", "In the End", and "Im Alive."
HAIL TO THE KING (2013)
This marked the sixth studio album for one of the top metal bands of the past two decades. AX7 burst onto the scene in the late nineties and became a group with major star power moving forward. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 while selling 159,000 copies its first week. The album was more of a traditional metal style drawing comparisons to Metallica, Iron Maiden and Pantera. The song writing was definitely more advanced. Definitely a must listen for any die hard metal fan and a no brainer for the best of the decade.
FEAR INOCULUM (2019)
The long awaited arrival of Tool's next album finally came in 2019. This was 13 years in the making and the results were astounding. The third album produced by the band in a row to debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200. Selling 270,000 copies in its first week which shattered their previous record. Oh and finally receiving not one but TWO Grammy nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance. Stone cold mortal lock.
BOOK OF SOULS (2015)
No list would be complete without Iron Maiden one of the pioneers of heavy metal. The album debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 receiving ultra positive reviews. It was also their first double studio album and became the bands longest full feature album ever. The song "Tears of a Clown" is based on actor Robin Williams battle with depression and subsequent suicide. A powerful album with classic Maiden gallops as well as some new wrinkles that contained some drop d tuning. Overall an excellent album and smash of the 2010's.
Ghost has been one of the best metal bands of the decade and their third studio album was the crème de le crème. It charted at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 and cemented the band at the top of the spectrum that year. Not only did the album score well, but it also received rave reviews for its power and energy. Definitely the heaviest album for the band up until that point and louder than ever. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album of 2015. No more needs to be said.
WE ARE NOT YOUR KIND
Can you say WOW!!! An album that truly puts Slipknot on the map with the big boys. Was never a huge fan of the band but their last few albums have progressively improved and this was an absolute beast. Corey Taylor is one of the top front men in metal today and his song writing has become elite. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 selling 102,000 copies (third most ever by the band) for a debut. Definitely the most experimental album of the bands history and finally one that belongs at the top.
This was the fifth studio album by the band and first to not include "The Rev" who had recently passed away. It featured Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) on drums and was the only one of his short stint with the band. Nightmare quickly debuted at #1 and has since been certified gold. It was an incredible album and a toast to one of the true giants on drums that had tragically went away far too soon. Excellent sound and must have addition for the 2010's collection. In my opinion this is the best overall album by Avenged even though City of Evil gets more credit.
HARDWIRED...TO SELF DESTRUCT (2016)
Tremendous album from a tremendous band. No major synopsis needed...take one listen to the album and you will ultimately agree.
Outstanding release from top to bottom! The Metal Gods hit a home run on this album. 14 tracks of in your face metal and Rob sounds better than ever. Hands down the best metal album of 2018 and this also gets my vote for greatest metal album for the decade. Richie Faulkner is an absolute shredder and has done more than an admirable job taking over for KK Downing. This album packs a punch and its all speed all the time.
Check out this cut from the firepower album...you will not be disappointed!
Written By Jason Voorhees
The NFL is an ever evolving sport and today's athletes are no different.
Athletes of past and present share two things in common: A desire to win and a commitment to staying in shape in order to be the best at their respective positions.
The Quarterback position has long been considered the most difficult to succeed in within the NFL. Not only is it the most difficult, but it also remains the most important one on the football field.
With the emergence of better athletes in pro sports today in general (due to technology and better training), many styles of play have been adopted in order to adapt to the changes in strategy. With that being said, no position in sports has evolved more than the Quarterback Position.
Since the NFL's inception in August of 1920, countless star players have left their mark in the league and entertained fans over the world. The NFL Hall of Fame enshrines the NFL's best of the best. The HOF is composed of players, coaches, owners and key contributors that have left that mark.
As of 2019, there are 326 members in the NFL Hall of Fame, with 34 having played quarterback. When we think Quarterback, we think of passing yards, touchdown passes, interceptions, wins, playoff wins, and Super Bowls. However; as the NFL game has evolved, so has the Quarterback Position.
The classic "drop back" Quarterback which was once the norm has now become a thing of the past. Slowly but surely, NFL QB's have become a "dual threat" on the battle field. When taking a closer look at this dual threat (which can be described by the word mobile-meaning able to escape and extend plays), there are a few different styles that have evolved.
The "mobile" quarterback has went through numerous style changes as well as philosophical differences. When looking back at the history of these dual threat signal callers, we think of Tobin Rote, Bobby Douglass, Fran Tarkenton and Steve Grogan as being the best of the early ones.
Tobin Rote was a quarterback for the Green Bay Packers during the 1950's. Rote led the NFL in rushing yards by a quarterback six times (1951, 1954-1958) and his 37 Rushing Touchdowns ranks sixth all-time by an NFL signal caller. What was even more incredible about Rote is that he actually led his TEAM in rushing 3 times, during an era where running the ball was a grind it out 3.0 yards per carry, cloud of dust down your throat approach style.
He also led his team in rushing td's five times. The two time pro bowler is still the only Quarterback to lead an AFL and NFL team to a championship. Rote was definitely one of the earliest examples of dual threat prowess.
While Rote was the earliest example, Fran Tarkenton was the architect of the "true running" quarterback. Nicknamed the "Mad Scrambler," Tarkenton was truly a player ahead of his time. Fran produced 3,674 career rushing yards along with 32 rushing TD's during what was known as the "STATUE" era of quarterbacks. Statue refers to the drop back in the pocket and wait until someone came open or throw the ball away style.
Tarkenton remains sixth all-time in Quarterback rushing yards. Tarkenton was also lethal through the air while taking the dual threat motto to new heights. He lead the Minnesota Vikings to three Super Bowls during his time there. His passing stats were among the best when he retired from the NFL in 1981, and stood as records at the time.
Other Quarterbacks were mobile and fleet on their feet as the game evolved. The Patriots Steve Grogan was also considered a great escape artist of his time. During his career, he compiled 2,176 Rushing yards and 36 Rushing TD's. Grogan once held the NFL record for rushing td's by a Quarterback for a season with (12) which was finally broke by Cam Newton in 2011 with 14.
1978 was his best all around season when he had 539 rushing yards while posting 5 TD's.
The Dual Threat evolution would not be complete without mentioning Bobby Douglass. The former Chicago Bears standout took rushing to new extremes. In 1972, Douglass rushed for a then single season record of 968 Rushing Yards for a QB while scoring 8 TD's on only 141 carries. Michael Vick would eventually break this record; however Bobby set his record while only playing 14 games which was two less than Vick. He also averaged 69.1 yards per game.
Other notable quarterbacks that encompassed the dual threat narrative during this age were Greg Landry, Roger Staubach, Jim Plunkett and Vince Evans. As the years passed, the evolution was once again changing.
In 1985, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Randall Cunningham in the second round of the NFL draft. Cunningham would change the Quarterback position forever while taking "mobile" to the next level. During Randall's career, he amassed 4,982 yards rushing on 775 carries, a 6.4 Yards Per Carry Average and 35 Rushing Touchdowns. Cunningham's star power as a dual threat in both rushing and passing earned him the nickname "The Ultimate Weapon."
During his career, Cunningham came close to winning the league's MVP award twice. He also was responsible for single handedly carrying the Eagles during most of his time there due to lack of supporting cast and a weak offensive line.
In 1990, Randall rushed for 924 yards while scoring 5 rushing TD's with an astronomical 8.0 Yards Per Carry clip. However; not only could Cunningham run the rock, he could also air it out with the best of them. In fact, it was reported that during a routine practice, that he flung a ball 80 yards in the air which may still be a record. It even got crazier when he punted a ball for a record 92 yards in one game against the Giants, which further highlighted the athleticism of the "Ultimate Weapon."
1990 was an amazing year for Randall but the most impressive thing about that year was that along with the 924 yards/5Rushing Td's is that he also threw for 30TD's/13INT for 3,466 Yards with a long of 95 yards. That 95 yard pass came in a game against the Buffalo Bills, where he miraculously made Bruce Smith miss a sack and safety, while then scrambling the entire width of the end zone to the other side, before heaving a bomb that WR Fred Barnett caught at the 50 yard line, which he took for a touchdown.
There is no telling how good Randall could have been if he was surrounded with more talent. He also had Buddy Ryan as his head coach who knew as much about offense as I do about algebra, and that is very little. Cunningham was also injured for two entire seasons, as he tore both ACL's during two different years. Later in his career, Cunningham joined the Minnesota Vikings where he enjoyed his best overall season as a pro. During the 1998 season, Randall compiled a 13-1 record, while throwing for 3,704 yards, 34 TD's (career high), while chipping in 132 yards rushing and 2 rushing TD's.
A few Quarterbacks have since surpassed Cunningham's rushing records, and there have been many dual threats to star in this league since him; however he was definitely a player before his time and he definitely ushered in the new age of "Mobile" Quarterbacks that we see today.
After Randall, many other great quarterbacks were able to use both threats on the field.
Steve Young, who still holds the career passer rating for Quarterbacks, also chipped in an amazing 4,239 rushing yards, 43 rushing TD's and 6.0 Yards Per Carry Average. Young became the first of the dual threat QB's to lead his team to a championship. This was always the argument that "mobile" or "running" style QB's cannot win Super Bowls. Well, I think Young proved that theory wrong. Although I will say that Quarterbacks should primarily star through the air; and no one was more proficient at both than Steve Young.
John Elway was also a master of the escape and extending plays with his legs. Actually, this is sometimes a forgotten part of John's game. During his career, Elway amassed 3,417 rushing yards, and 33 TD's on 774 carries, which was second all-time to Cunningham. He is also the postseason leader in rushing yards by a quarterback with 461 yards and six touchdowns. His four rushing touchdowns in the Super Bowl still remains an NFL record.
Ironically, in 1998 the same year that Randall Cunningham was having his resurgence in Minnesota, the Philadelphia Eagles once again drafted a "dual-threat" running QB in Donovan McNabb. He was serenaded to a chorus of boos on draft day but Eagles fans would soon be regretting their anger. McNabb quickly silenced his critics as he became the teams starting quarterback later that season.
During his career as the Eagles starting QB, he amassed 3,459 Rushing Yards and 29 TD's. However; in a cruel twist of fate, he spent the majority of his career carrying the Eagles on his shoulders, much the way that Randall once did during his tenure. McNabb suffered from a lack of talent with his supporting cast, especially at the WR position.
In 2004, the one season that McNabb was given a top wide receiver in Terrell Owens, he took the Eagles to the Super Bowl, coming one field goal short of the Eagles first championship.
Donovan McNabb was a more dynamic player than Randall Cunningham ever was, although Randall was probably the better athlete. During his career, McNabb threw for 217 TD's/117INT, along with 37,276 yards. Donovan never wanted to be known as a "running quarterback," constantly refuting debates and maintaining that he wanted to be considered strictly a drop back passer. However; there is no denying that his skills on the ground gave him a better chance of winning and enhanced his NFL career. In fact, he is the most accomplished quarterback in Eagles history holding almost every passing record for the franchise.
Around the same time McNabb was coming up through the ranks, his counterpart Michael Vick was emerging as a multi dimensional star in Atlanta. Mike Vick could be looked at on the opposite side of the spectrum from McNabb though. Vick now holds almost every career rushing record by a quarterback and he once again set a new bench mark for dual threat mobile passers.
During his career, Vick rushed for 6,109 yards, 36 TD's and a 7.0 Yards Per Carry Average. The yards and average are both NFL records while he is third in touchdowns behind Cam Newton and Steve Young. Vick also threw for 22,464 yards passing and 143 TD's. The thing that we cannot forget about Mike Vick when showing his dominant NFL career as a running QB was that he missed three entire seasons during his prime, during his prison sentence after being convicted for dog fighting.
Vick was the fastest of all the QB's as he ran a 4.30 40 yard dash. This speed combined with his exceptional awareness probably made him the greatest escape artist in NFL history...up until now. Mike Vick could be considered a human highlight reel on any given Sunday. The plays that Vick made took your breath away. Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb were a part of the new age of dual threat weapons to enter the NFL.
Other quarterbacks that showed off both skills included Kordell Stewart (Slash) and Daunte Culpepper. This group spawned a new age of mobile quarterbacks that seemed to use running as more of a second option. This next generation group used the pass to set up the run. QB's like Russel Wilson, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Alex Smith and many others arrived on scene and showed new adaptations of mobile awareness.
The best of the bunch was Cam Newton and Russel Wilson. In Cam Newton's first season, he passed for 4,051 yards and 21 TD's while rushing for 706 yards and an NFL record 14 TD's. In nine seasons, Newton compiled 4,806 rushing yards and 58 Touchdowns on 5.1 Yards Per Carry Average. While Cam showed off his rushing skills, he had even more success through the air which was on point with this new "dual threat" phenomenon. The prototype QB that sets up the run by using the pass.
Another Quarterback that showed off this talent and continues to be the crème de la crème is Russel Wilson. Wilson does not have quite the resume on the ground that Newton does but he has surely made up for it through the air and became the latest of dual threat weapons to win a Super Bowl. Wilson has rushed for 3,962 yards, 19 TD's and a 5.6 yards per carry average. Through the air he has thrown for 29,332 Yards, 224 TD's and only 68 INT. This includes 2 (4,000 yard passing seasons) and 6 of ten years over 3,400 yards.
After a decade that was dominated by QB's named Brady, Brees, Manning and Rothlisberger there has been a major renaissance of the mobile Quarterbacks in the NFL. Brady and Brees were predominantly drop back passers that operated out of the traditional pocket philosophy.
The new wave of "mobile dual threats" seem to be operating as a hybrid version of this philosophy. They seem to have put more emphasis on developing skills in both passing the ball and running it with equal energy. Whether it is to escape incoming sack artists, buying more time till a receiver gets open, or extending a play or making a broken play into a big gain, these skills are widespread and on full display throughout the NFL.
Today's mobile quarterbacks are much different. They excel at both sides but seem to have a better idea when to use which. There is less reckless abandon and a more methodical approach. No Quarterback has exemplified this phenomenon more than Lamar Jackson.
Lamar Jackson was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2018 with the 32nd overall pick. Jackson starred at Louisville in College where he won the Heisman Trophy and starred as a dual threat his entire college career. There was talk coming out of college that he did not possess the smarts or skills to transition to being a pro quarterback in the NFL. No one ever questioned his athleticism or that he could make it in the NFL, just that he may not be a good quarterback.
Well, after 2019, Lamar Jackson is making all of those doubters eat crow. After a rookie season in which he only started 7 games, the Ravens traded away long term starter Joe Flacco in the offseason. Everyone knew that Lamar was an elite athlete and that he could star as a running quarterback, but no one could have envisioned Lamar doing what he has done in 2019. He is on pace to be the de facto NFL MVP of the league on only his second season.
Jackson has been nothing short of a human cheat code. If this was Nintendo, you would be doing a lot of up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, B, A Start. With one game to go, Lamar has filled up a stat sheet like icing in an oreo double stuffed cookie. 3,127 Yards Passing, 36TD/6INT, 1,206 Rushing Yards, 6.85YPC, 7 Rushing TD's. These numbers are mind blowing. The only Quarterback to come close was Randall Cunningham, who everyone agrees was ahead of his time.
Nonetheless, what Lamar Jackson is doing has once again raised the bar as the benchmark for mobile QB's continues to evolve. Other QB's that have shown the new dual threat combination in todays game include Josh Allen, Mitchell Trubisky, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson and to a lesser extent Carson Wentz, Pat Mahomes, Dak Prescott and Jimmy Garrapolo. But none of these are on the same level as Lamar.
In conclusion, there has been a major shift over the years in the mobile dual threat philosophy as well as the amount of quarterbacks that employ this type of strategy when playing. From the early pioneers of Fran Tarkenton and Tobin Rote. To the game changer and first "Ultimate Weapon" Randall Cunningham. To the first ever cheat code Michael Vick. And now the unstoppable Lamar Jackson.
The mobile dual threat has evolved and matured into what it has become today. As the seasons go on, it should be interesting to see how this phenomenon continues to change before our eyes. As more college quarterbacks try to mimic their game to Lamar. Only one question remains...will this style ever become the dominant quarterback style in the league and will more dual threat quarterbacks win Super Bowl championships. The story is yet to be written but it should be an exciting ride. What a journey it has been.
Written By Jason Voorhees
The 2018 Philadelphia Phillies season was a tumultuous ride at best.
From the beginning of the offseason, when team owner John Middleton proclaimed that they would be spending "stupid money". To the middle of the season when team President Andy McPhail made the inauspicious comments "If we do we do and if we don't we don't" referring to the teams chances of making the playoffs. To the end of the season when its General Manager Matt Klentak said he was "Kap's biggest fan": in reference to his man crush on then team manager Gabe Kapler.
While 2018 was an extreme disappointment, the prospects of change brought a new hope for the franchise. First of all, the team swiftly fired its manager Gabe Kapler who seemed to be in way over his head. The team hired Joe Girardi to lead the charge who most experts picked as the best managerial candidate available. With a world championship pedigree, he would bring a new culture of leadership and winning to the table.
The team then brought in former manager Bryan Price to be the new pitching coach. The Phillies greatest weakness in 2018 was pitching. Although a lot of the pitching woes could be attributed to talent, there was a strong belief that the coaching was inept and that poor coaching influenced its struggles. Price had tons of success turning around piss poor staffs in both Seattle and Cincinati before becoming the Reds manager.
With a new manager and pitching coach in toe, the Phillies quickly directed their focus to the offense as they hired Joe Dillon to be its new hitting coach. Dillon had a lot of success in Washington and was highly sought after during the offseason. While pitching was the team's greatest weakness in 2018, hitting remained the teams achilles heel all year. Bringing in Dillon signified the team's desire to wash away the past while running into the future.
So to review, the team made significant changes to the coaching staff after last season's debacle.
With a top tier manager and elite coaching staff assembled, Phillies brass could turn its attention to free agency which brings us to where we are today and raises the question...will the Phillies go over the tax??
This is the million dollar question. After 2018's objectively excellent offseason, how would 2019's version stack up and would ownership continue to spend stupid money. Well, this hot stove has started off much different than free agency 2018. For starters, last year the leagues marquee free agents did not sign until February. If you take a look back, it was a long cold winter that finally culminated with Manny Machado signing in early February and then Bryce Harper on the ides of March.
This year has been much different as all of the marquee names have come off the board before Christmas. You would be hard pressed to find a more drastic contrast with teams strategy and ultra aggressiveness after last year's reluctance to spend.
However, even with the record contracts that have been handed out this season, including Gerrit Cole's 9 year/$324 Million Dollar blockbuster, no team has matched the Philadelphia Phillies spending over the past two years. After spending approximately a half billion dollars the past two seasons on free agents (Jake Arrieta, Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson), the Phillies continued to be aggressive in 2019.
Even with all of last year's moves, the Phillies had a few holes to plug beginning with starting pitching. While many pundits and fans wanted Gerrit Cole (this years mega star) the Phillies quickly moved in and signed Zach Wheeler to a 5 year $118 Million Dollar contract. The team next signed free agent shortstop Didi Gregorius to a one year $18 Million Dollar contract.
While fans can cry and complain that the Phillies have not done enough, no one can say they have not made efforts to improve this team. This team is drastically better than the one that started 2018 season. First of all, the team has a championship caliber manager and coaching staff. The addition of Wheeler definitely improves the starting pitching and gives the team a strong one two punch. And adding Gregorius gives them an excellent fielder that brings above average hitting and a powerful clubhouse presence.
However; With all of the spending that they have done, they are knocking on the doorstep of the luxury tax threshold. This culminates with the fact that the team has yet to give an extension to its star catcher J.T. Realmuto, which could come at any time. So what is the organizations options at this point? While fans and pundits alike (including myself) clamor for more moves, we must take into account that the offseason is not over yet and we will probably see some more significant transactions.
Nonetheless, its easy to be driven by impatience and question this team's ultimate goals in regards to the tax. Many of those in the know have stated that John Middleton has mandated that the team remain under the tax and that further moves are not coming. However, after seeing Middleton's track record over the past two years and his massive coup in bringing this city Bryce Harper, I have a hard time believing that he has posted such constraints.
I think the Phillies will get creative and make some trades in order to improve the team. I believe that they will ultimately cross the tax threshold and continue to remain competitive with an ever improving NL East. I could see the team trading prospects for Kris Bryant who appears on his way out of Chicago. The Cubs appear to be moving in the opposite direction as the Phillies. Trading for Bryant makes sense on many levels; his friendship with Bryce Harper not being the least.
Of course, trading for Bryant would almost certainly put them over the tax. Especially considering that they may have to take on another salary such as Jason Heyward to get a deal done. Nonetheless, a move like this would give the Phillies a three headed core with JT and Bryce. I also could see the Phillies making a trade for another starting pitcher like Robbie Ray. Yes that would increase their payroll even more but would put their rotation on a higher level when comparing to the Mets and Nationals.
At any rate, here we are. Will the Phillies go over the tax? Inquiring minds and negative nannies will tell you absolutely not. Twitter keyboard generals will tell you probably not. And prior history will scream maybe not. However, if the Phillies do want to compete in this division and in the league, they undoubtedly will have to jump the tax to have success moving forward. One more thing to consider is that Jake Arrieta's contract will come off the books next season as will David Robertson. So they may in fact only have to cross this one year.
Time will ultimately tell if this team is willing to continue to spend stupid money. However, at some point the team's farm system and player development has to help with making the team better as well. You cant keep spending and expect that the team will keep winning. Eventually they will need a mixture just like 2008 when they won the whole thing. In the meantime, here is to hoping that Team Stupid Money continues to spend at least one more year. And if that happens I will continue to be John Middleton's biggest fan!
Written By Jason Voorhees
The Major League Baseball regular season ended on Sunday.
The longest grind in sports is now complete and the ides of October are now on the clock.
30 teams began the year with visions of playoff baseball in their mirrors. Unfortunately, 20 of those teams are now staring in the rearview and are setting up t-times at the local golf course.
With that being said, the most exciting time of the year has now arrived. Ten teams, ten rosters with one goal. Who will be the next team to win a World Series championship? Only time will tell. The tale is ready to play out for all of the world to see. Here is a preview of the playoff picture as well as some predictions.
WILD CARD ROUND
National League Wild Card Matchup
Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals:
Series Length: One Game
Tuesday, October 1 8:08PM
The first wild card matchup has the Washington Nationals hosting a single elimination game against the NL-Central Milwaukee Brewers.
On paper this game appears to be a mismatch as the Washington Nationals are stacked on both sides of the diamond. Washington features a potent offense that finished 6th in the league in average, 6th in runs scored, 2nd in OBP, 7th in SLG, and 6th in OPS. On the pitching side of things the Nationals will have Max Scherzer on the mound who has been one of the most dominant starting pitchers in all of MLB over the past ten seasons. Max is a fierce competitor and undoubtedly will bring his A game.
Meanwhile, the tough luck Milwaukee Brewers had to scratch and crawl their way into the playoffs. The team lost its best player and potential MVP candidate Christian Yelich to a season ending injury on September 11th. Even without their best player; the Brewers played extremely well down the stretch and were in contention to win the division up until the final game on Sunday. Another interesting nugget to note in this matchup was Milwaukee's 4-2 record in the regular season while outscoring the Nats 42-38.
If this were a five game series the Milwaukee Brewers would definitely have a shot at taking the series. However, facing the odds of beating Max Scherzer in a one game playoff (as the away team) seems extremely unlikely. With that being said the Nationals will win this game and move on to the next round of the playoffs.
American League Wild Card Matchup
Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics:
Series Length: One Game
Wednesday, October 2 8:09PM
The A's were able to secure homefield advantage in this single elimination event by securing a better record than the Rays. The surprising A's scored the 8th most runs in baseball. They were even better at hitting the long ball finishing 5th in the league with 257 Home Runs. The team is paced by its all-star shortstop Marcus Semien who had a career year in almost every major offensive metric. The roster also boasts a trio of mashers in Matt Chapman, Matt Olsen and Kris Davis. The A's will send Sean Manea to the mound for this one game thriller.
While the A's were mostly lead by their offensive firepower, the Rays sported one of the top pitching staffs in the entire MLB. They were 2nd in team ERA, 3rd in Strikeouts, 3rd in team batting average allowed, while walking the fifth least amount of hitters. Meanwhile they finished in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories. The Rays also boast an elite dominant relief corps which combines flamethrowers and finesse. Tampa will have former cast off ace Charlie Morton on the bump.
This is a matchup of two immovable objects. The missile launching offense of the A's versus the hard to hit/difficult to score on pitching of the Rays. The A's won the season series 4-3. The A's have home field advantage and the better offense. However; Morton is no stranger to pitching big games. Offense wins battles but pitching wins championships so the Rays take this one in a close one run contest. Morton helps the Rays live to see another day.
NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISONAL ROUND
Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Dodgers:
Series Length: 5 Games (Best of Five)
Thursday, October 3 @TBD
The Dodgers were the most dominant team in the National League this season and its not even close. They boast a stacked roster all across the board. Their lineup is loaded 1-8 and they have one of the strongest starting rotations in the game. Although he cooled off down the stretch, Cody Bellinger is still one of the favorites to win the MVP this season. He is the leader of the dangerous Dodgers lineup that is capable of putting up a crooked number on any type of pitching staff.
If there is any team in the National League that can match up with the Dodgers balance it would be the Nationals. Their starting rotation could be a difference maker in any short series. Of course, having to use Max Scherzer in the wild card round puts the Nat's at a disadvantage. One positive coming into the playoffs was the play of its all-star third baseman Anthony Rendon. In fact, down the stretch there may not have been a hotter hitter in all of baseball.
This series will come down to bullpens in my opinion. The Dodgers have an extreme advantage if that's the case. Washington had one of the worst bullpens in the game from beginning to end. This scenario is what separates the men from the boys. Kenley Jansen has been one of the best closers in the game and he could be the true difference maker in this series. Dodgers win this series but it does go five games.
Prediction: Dodgers 3-2
Saint Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves:
Series Length: 5 Games (Best of Five)
Thursday, October 3rd @TBD
This should be the most exciting series of the NLDS. The Braves come into the playoffs having dominated the NL East for most of the year. They have a very talented roster composed of a ton of youth. However; don't mistake this teams age for a weakness. The team is lead by Freddie Freeman who is the "old man" of the bunch. The Braves offense was solid and they finished top ten in all important hitting categories. On the pitching side of things they were equally successful, despite their youth.
While the Braves are the more balanced team of the two, the Cardinals strength was clearly their pitching. In fact, the Cardinals finished top five in all key categories including 5th in team ERA. The team was lead by its 23 year old ace Jack Flaherty, who posted a second half of the ages. After the all-star break, Flaherty was virtually unhittable. In 99 innings, he posted a 0.91ERA, 124 K's, 23 walks, .142AVG, and .189wOBA. Those numbers are lights out. The Cardinals also have an elite bullpen.
The Braves were 4-2 during the regular season while outscoring the Cardinals 29-27. Braves have the edge in hitting while the Cardinals are better on the mound. Both teams have good managers. The intangible may be the experience of the Cardinals. They have a more veteran group of players and that could help in a short series. Nonetheless, the Braves will take advantage of the home crowd and come out victorious 3-2.
Prediction: Braves 3-2
AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISIONAL ROUND
Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros:
Series Length: 5 Games (Best of Five)
Friday, October 4 @TBD
The Houston Astros are the cream of the crop in MLB. No one can compete with their starting rotation which boasts a pair of 20 game winners in Justin Verlander (21-6) and Gerrit Cole (20-5) along with an 18 game winner in Zack Greinke (18-5). This rotation gives them an edge in any short series and it definitely makes them a favorite to make the World Series. The Astros are no slouch offensively as they finished top 5 in most categories.
As mentioned, the Rays are a very good team and are lead by their pitching. This is the type of team that would love to play the spoiler role while supplying the Cinderella kind of story. The Rays had the second best road record in MLB so that could be one vote of confidence for them in this series. Another key stat was the Rays 4-3 head to head record against the Astros during the regular season.
Everyone loves an underdog. The Rays have found themselves in this exact position many times before. However; in the end talent trumps most feel good stories. With those three horses on the mound, this should be a fairly easy series for Houston. The Astros sweep the ALDS 3-0 and move on to the ALCS.
Prediction: Astros 3-0
Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees:
Series Length: 5 Games (Best of Five)
Friday, October 4 @TBD
The Evil Empire once again finds itself at the epicenter of postseason baseball. The Yankees were ravaged by injuries but were able to overcome the significant losses to the tune of 103 wins. This will be a heavyweight match of epic proportions. The Minnesota Twins set a major league record with 307 home runs. Guess who finished second? That's right, the Yankees had 306.
Obviously this series will be a showcase of offensive firepower. However; both teams have decent pitching as well as elite defense. Rest assured, the bats will be alive and this could potentially be the most exciting series of the entire playoffs.
Expect both teams to battle and there could be some high scoring affairs. The game could come down to pitching where Minnesota has a slight edge. In normal seasons this may be considered a "David vs Goliath" type matchup. However; the teams are extremely close on all parameters and this one could go either way. The Twins had the best road record which could give them a boost. The Yankees are the favorites but its going to be an upset as the Twins win the series 3-2. This series will most definitely go down to the wire though so get your popcorn ready.
Prediction: Twins 3-2
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers:
Series Length: 7 Games (Best of Seven)
Friday, October 11 @TBD
The NLCS will be a rematch of last seasons divisional round. On paper, the Dodgers are the more talented roster. Both teams can flat out bring it offensively. They both have deep lineups set to rake.
The Braves are lead by Ronald Acuna Jr who sets the tone early and often to boot. They also feature a potent middle of lineup with Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. However, the x factor this season was most definitely a rejuvenated Josh Donaldson who had 37 homeruns. Their pitching staff is lead by rookie Mike Soroka who has garnered attention in both rookie of the year and Cy Young conversation.
Meanwhile, Cody Bellinger remains the talk of the town in LA. The Dodgers hit a lot of home runs while scoring runs in bunches. They also have a deep rotation lead by perennial Cy Young contender Clayton Kershaw and Hin-Jin Ruy who may very well win the award this season.
This should be a very competitive series and the Dodgers are the favorites. The upstart Dodgers have been a tough out all season and this playoff matchup will be no different. Expect both teams to battle and it could be a see-saw type series. This series like most could come down to the bullpens and it will most likely be a role player that sets the tone. With that being said, I think this Braves team is no joke and they are ready to take the next step.
Prediction: Braves 4-3
AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Minnesota Twins at Houston Astros:
Series Length: 7 Games (Best of Seven)
Saturday, October 12 @TBD
The upstart Twins are loaded with talent that showed impressive balance. They had five players hit 30 or more home runs while boasting a league record 8 that totaled 20! Jorge Polanco (22), Eddie Rosario (32), Max Kepler (36), CJ Cron (25), Nelson Cruz (41), Johnathan Schoop (23), Miguel Sano (34) and Mitch Garver (31) posted that stat line. Although hitting is the teams backbone, the team also had a very good pitching staff. Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi give the team a solid 1-2 punch.
On the other side is the Astros and the Big 3. Verlander, Cole, and Greinke are the most feared trio in the playoffs. The Astros are the defending champions and this team is even better than last seasons. On offense they are lead by an elite infield combination of Jose Altuve (2B), Alex Bregman (3B) and Carlos Correa (SS). The team also brought up rookie phenom Yordan Alvarez and he did not disappoint. In fact, he should be a lock to win rookie of the year.
Once again, this should be an extremely exciting series. Both of these teams can mash the ball and the Twins actually played better on the road. America would absolutely love a Cinderella matchup in the WS. However; the Astros are primed to repeat. The Twins luck will finally run out.
Prediction: Astros 4-2
Atlanta Braves at Houston Astros:
Series Length: 7 Games (Best of Seven)
Tuesday, October 22 @TBD
Finally the matchup we have been waiting for. This is David and Goliath. How about some Rocky vs Apollo Creed. Youth versus Veterans. The Braves and Astros series provides an excellent back drop of theater. Freddie Freeman versus Justin Verlander. Acuna against Cole. Donaldson and Greinke.
The Braves have brought their A game and they are not just here to represent the NL. They have arrived to conquer and take names while they are at it.
The Braves come out firing and take game one. However, the sleeping giant is awakened and they don't look back.
Prediction: Astros 4-2
NLDS MVP- Josh Donaldson
ALDS MVP- Jose Altuve
WORLD SERIES MVP- Justin Verlander
About Jason Voorhees
Jason resides in Norristown, PA and writes about all things sports and heavy metal music.