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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Oh, To Be Young...Again...

Michael Young at bat for the Texas Rangers,
already looking good in red and white

Ok,so the Phils have made another move this week and have FINALLY acquired Michael Young from Texas. 

Young is a player who has been talked about in trade winds for the past three off seasons.  The Rangers have always seemed to have one or two too many quality infielders, but something always happened in spring training and Young has gotten regular playing time each year.

He's now 36 years old and had a "down season" but it wasn't a disaster.  Young still hit .277 which would put him among the leaders of the Phillies regulars last year.

In Young, you get a professional hitter.  You get a guy who knows how to play the game. Ok, so he's not going to remind you of Brooks Robinson at third, but he's also not Ty Wigginton either.

What did you give up to get Young?  Well, that could be the problem in a couple of years. 

Lisalverto Bonilla is a guy with a huge arm who will likely start the season in AA after ending last year there.  But look for the Rangers to fast track him to possibly be their closer in a year or two.

Josh Lindblom was acquired last year in the Shane Victorino deal and apparently didn't overwhelm the Phillies' brass with his performance the second half of last season.  Still, Lindblom projects to be a very solid reliever....which is something that Phils have seemed to need a great deal.

With the pickings at third base slim, and the thought of another injury plagued year with Polanco (and Frandson filling in) making me ill, I'll take the chance with Young and see what happens.

There ya approved by me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Phils' Trades Got You Down? There's Reason for Hope!

The smoke has cleared a day later and the Phillies look at themselves and see a ball club that really isn’t a whole lot different than before the trade deadline.

The experts will tell you that the team has traded two “front line players” and now the lineup is going to be significantly different; but I’m not so sure.

The trades were very good trades for multiple reasons.

Many times, teams deal players just to relieve themselves of salary.  The Phillies accomplished this by saving a probable $15 million on Hunter Pence next year.  They also have dealt Shane Victorino, who will probably get a 3 year deal worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million from somebody.

But here’s the best part…they got some very good players, too!  They have filled a couple of needs at the same time.  In addition to all of those positives, they have opened the door for Dominic Brown to prove whether he is the wonder child that he was touted as being as early as three years ago.

Josh Lindblom was the main ingredient the Dodgers sent back to Philly for Victorino.  The guy is exactly the type of middle reliever the Phillies have been aching for all year.  He’s young, cheap, contract tied up for about 3 years, and he actually gets batters out!  What a concept!

While (on the surface) Nate Schierholtz appears to be the main part of the Pence deal, the real key piece is the young catcher Tommy Joseph.  He’s a AA prospect who was a 2nd round pick in 2009, who shows solid power, and could wind up being the Phils' catcher of the future.

The two other pitchers the Phils acquired in these two deals are no losers either.  Both guys are big strong right handers who are pretty highly touted.  Ethan Martin acquired in the LA deal was a first round pick in the 2008 draft while Seth Rosin (from the Giants) was a 4th round pick in 2010.

While Martin has been used as a starter lately, you may be seeing these two guys become key components from the bullpen of 2014 in these two deals.  Rosin has the make up of a closer.

Lastly, sometimes you just need a change of pace….a change of faces…to get things moving again.

While Shane and Hunter both made up a great deal of the team’s personality and were both fan favorites, they just seemed to be stuck in a rut and were having somewhat average years for what they are capable of doing.

Maybe the change of scenery will help them and also enable the Phils to inject new players to see what they can do. 

Maybe Dom Brown is a future star?  Maybe Juan Pierre does have another year in him?  Maybe Kevin Frandson needs a shot at third base?

There will be many more changes, but the Phillies will still be considered a top contender next year, especially if they can find a few things out about certain players in August and September.

And who knows?  The inner Phillies fan inside me wants to hold on to the “if they could just go on a nice winning streak, we can get back into this thing” philosophy! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Meet the 21st Century CFL...Not Just a Back Up for NFL Fans

(We'd like to introduce our new intern, Michael Jennings.  Mike brings his considerable skills and talents to the team as demonstrated here with his coverage of the CFL.  Stay tuned for more as Mike covers the CFL, NFL, and other professional football leagues...and whatever else we throw at him.  Please show him some love!)

This weekend was a reminder of what being a CFL fan into the young decade means. Seeing Anthony Calvillo continue to put up video game-esque numbers, and a reminder that the defending Grey Cup champs BC are still in the building were on the menu last weekend. Also the Rough Riders beat a West team and, with defense like that of a gang green sort to boot. But most of all week 2 of the 2012 season will be remembered as one of salutations and honors for Geroy Simon, the CFL's newly crowned receiving yards king.

Geroy and the Lions have been like bread and butter, a player and his team so entwined together in both individual and collective success that the thought of one begets the other.  The 36 year old receiver has passed up legend Allen Pitts in his quest to be called Canada's G.O.A.T., that's Greatest Of All Time, and he has done it fabulously. Congrats G-Man on your success as well as your son's recent commitment to play football for the Army Black Knights.

Now back to Anthony Calvillo, NKA (now known as) Mr. Ridiculous. The 3-time Grey Cup Champion threw for over 400 yards adding to an already spectacular resume that has him named PRO football's all-time leading passer, the all-time CFL TD pass champ and CFL completions leader. Eat your heart out Brett Favre.  Calvillo threw for over 400 yards, with 2 touchdowns through the air to add to his first place status, along with a completion percentage of almost 80%!! Sick.  All that's to be said about that performance is WTF,OMG, SMH and all the rest of our three letter acronyms for WOW used in the future; the future which is now.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the league is potentially on the precipice of something huge. The sudden influx of "non-traditional" QBs into the American football scene is a potential windfall for the CFL. Quarterbacks that in the past were frequently turned into DBs and receivers as soon as their feet hit college soil, are now being taken more seriously as true QBs and given a shot at running the offense-even guys less than 6 feet tall. In short, this means more quarterbacks=less places to put them=more talent in the CFL.

The league has for years utilized smaller signal callers, and successfully so. The Fluties and Calvillos of the world will only multiply in number as the spread offense and America's need for a mobile quarterback to run it continues to grow.  Not that those guys were spread quarterbacks, because they weren’t, but they were and are non-prototypical passers.  So take heed Northerners and get back to the future.  

Last but not least, congratulations to Saskatchewan and that defensive front in all green for their dominating win Sunday evening.  Signing off, TPG CFL style.  Blam!

Copyright (c) 2012 Michael Anthony Jennings ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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Friday, June 29, 2012

In the Dirt With...Gale Sayers

When Gale Sayers was picked by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the NFL Draft in 1965, he was already a college football star.  His career at University of Kansas resulted in 2,675 yards rushing and 3,917 all-purpose yards gained, and a two-time selection as All-American.   Sayers possessed powerful athletic skill given his stature and his speed had earned him the nickname “The Kansas Comet.”  He was poised for greatness and that is exactly what George Halas expected.

Sayers didn’t disappoint.  In his rookie year with the Bears, he scored 22 touchdowns; six of them in the mud on December 12, 1965 against the San Francisco 49ers in a decisive 61-20 victory at Wrigley Field.  Halas was known for hating to play rookies and kept Sayers off the bench for the first two games, but once he put Sayers in on October 3, 1965, there was no mistaking that, in Sayers, Halas had a powerhouse.  In his regular season debut against the Green Bay Packers on October 3, 1965, Sayers made the only two Chicago touchdowns and had more yards rushing, receiving and returning than any other player on either team.  Two games later, on October 17th, Sayers would score an unbelievable four touchdowns, one on a 96 yard kickoff return.  In his rookie year, Sayers would score in all but one of the 12 games in which he played, earning Rookie of the Year honors.

In his next six seasons, Sayers would continue to shine in the NFL, winning four Pro Bowl invites, five All-Pro honors, and three Pro Bowl MVP honors.  He’s been named to both the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team.  He has long been considered one of college football’s greatest open field runners and is most definitely an NFL legend.  Sayers was named to both the College Football and Professional Football Halls of Fame, and is the youngest player ever inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Sayers will tell you he was just doing what he was supposed to do:  dedicating himself to his craft and giving his team his all.  Dedication, hard work, loyalty; these are just some of the many outstanding characteristics of Gale Sayers.  Love of God and family are two others.  If you asked him what made him so special, Sayers would tell you he is not at all special but that he was just doing his best and making the most with all of God’s blessings.

His strong ethic of hard work and dedication carried him beyond the football field.  While he is famous for his steadfast friendship with his former Bears’ teammate, the late Brian Piccolo, he also went on to coach, became a stockbroker, and eventually founded a successful technology services firm.

“To whom much is given, much is expected.”  In my conversations with Sayers and his wife of nearly 40 years, Ardie, I’ve learned that above all else, Sayers is grateful for all he has accomplished and achieved in his life, and both he and Ardie have a strong sense of social responsibility, believing giving back is not only important, but required of them.

Meeting Gale Sayers was, for me, a milestone moment.  The first book I ever purchased was the Scholastic version of Brian’s Song and I was impressed at the tender age of nine with the bond of friendship between Sayers and Piccolo.  I never forgot that lesson of loyalty and compassion and, as a 49-year old adult, was in awe of the man when I first met him.  Sayers is a quiet man, not prone to a whole lot of words, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have something to say.  On the contrary, Sayers is educated and well-versed in many areas, not the least of which is philanthropy and the importance of leading by example.

While working hard to build his very successful corporation, Sayers and his wife founded the Gale Sayers Center which endeavors to inspire, motivate, and educate the inner city youth of Chicago.  To fulfill that commitment, the center offers a strong educational after-school learning program serving adolescent children that includes computer classrooms, a public speaking program personally developed by Sayers, and a mentoring and motivational program utilizing the skills of some of the best business, civic and sports leaders to reach, motivate and inspire the children to achieve greatness.

In addition to his own foundation, Sayers also works closely with The Cradle Adoption Agency, and the Better Boys Foundation, among others.  He is also the author of three books.  His first book, an autobiography titled I Am Third was the catalyst to the book and movie Brian’s Song.  He also co-authored Papa Bear:  The Life and Legacy of George Halas with Jeff Davis, and Sayers:  My Life and Times with Fred Mitchell.  It is my great fortune to be writing his next book with him on football then and now.

AllStarInc is very fortunate to have Sayers as a client and we love working with him and his wife, Ardie.  He is currently appearing Wednesdays through Sundays at the Art of Music Store in the Mandalay Bay Mall in Las Vegas for the next few months.  This weekend, Sayers will be appearing at the Chicago Sun-Times Sports Collectibles Convention in Chicago, Illinois.  If you are in the area, please stop in to say hello and meet this legendary human being.
Copyright © 2012 Korinne M Jackman ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Gale Sayers appears Saturday, June 30th at the Chicago Sun-Times Sports Collectibles Convention, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 North River Road, Rosemont, Illinois 60018 from Noon until 1:30 p.m.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cole Hamels and the NBA Draft...What to do? What to do?

Tough times call for tough decisions.  That's why the Phillies and Sixers need to consult with the good people at AllStarInc before doing ANYTHING!

While the euphoria surrounding the return of Chase Utley to the Phillies lineup was met with the reality of another tough loss Wednesday night, the future still looks bright for the boys in pinstripes.

How you may ask?

In addition to getting Utley back, you have Ryan Howard also looming on the horizon...whenever that may be.

Adding quality players to the mix also subtracts players of lesser quality.  It's a double win.

Meanwhile, the events of the past three months should prove to the Phillies brass the EXACT reason why they CANNOT trade Cole Hamels.

Two thirds of the "big three" have had injury and game struggles this year.  Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have shown a human side of their career that we haven't seen before.  Whether it's injury or age or whatever other reason, it does magnify the incredible season Cole Hamels is having.

Cole just keeps getting better and better. 

If the team was not prepared to compete again anytime soon, I'd THINK about possibly dealing him for a mega prospect and star studded package.  But that's certainly not the case here.

Even if the Phillies don't get back to the playoffs this season, they will still be considered one of the favorites next year with the current cast (even all one year older).

I would anticipate Phils GM Ruben Amaro making a move very soon to bolster a bullpen that is as solid as the Titanic.  As the team gets more and more healthy, the club will take care of itself.

My best guess is that when you see the team start to play their NL East foes head to head in the coming weeks, you will see some serious gains in the standings.

Across the street from Citizens Bank Park, the Sixers management is huddling at the Wells Fargo Center trying to decide what to do at tonight's NBA draft.

Please...please...please...DO NOT trade for the Raptors' Bargnani or the Lakers' Gasol.  Stay the course...stay the course....keep adding young talented players to the mix and keep getting better and better.

Believe it or not, the Sixers are in a really great spot when it comes to tonight's NBA draft, but they could REALLY improve their spot by making a move.

I'm not looking for them to trade up at all though.  I'm hoping for them to acquire a second pick in the first round in about the same area that their own pick lies.

At this time, Doug Collins and his boys select with the 15th pick.  The thought process is that they desperately need to add a big man who can score, rebound, AND play defense.  What a concept, huh?

For what they need, having a pick at 15 can accomplish their objectives.

The problem is that many of the big men available at 15 are question marks, but COULD be big winners.

Why not double your chances of being successful and find a way to take a shot on TWO different players and hope that at least one winds up working out to be what you want?

How do we make this happen?  Well, (at the time this blog was written) Houston currently has the 12th, 16th, and 18th pick in the first round.  I seriously doubt Houston uses all three picks in this year's draft. The 16th and 18th picks would be great targets for capturing what I'm talking about.

If Chase Budinger (traded from Houston to Minnesota) can land you the 18th pick in a trade, then Andre Iguodala can certainly get you more than that.  Yes, I know the money owed Andre is more than what Budinger is due, but the talent level is different too.

I'm not sure Golden State (a team with 3 picks in the top 35) will deal the 7th pick overall, and I'm really not interested in pick #30 as an alternative.

I doubt the Sixers can package their two 2nd round picks to move up high enough to get a guy worth trading for, but I suppose they could also throw in a future 1st pick to make something happen if a team isn't interested in Iggy.

The guy I would like to see in a Sixers jersey is Perry Jones from Baylor.  Jones is a super athletic kid with a very big body.  The knock on Jones is that he sometimes doesn't play his hardest.  I leave that to Doug Collins and his Sixers teammates to fix.

Another big player who could be available is Jared Sullinger from Ohio State.  Sullinger's stock has dropped sharply from a year ago when he was talked about as a "National Player of the Year" kind of guy.

The knock on Jared is that he's not quite as athletic as the rest of the bunch and isn't as explosive as many others being considered in the first round.  He kind of reminds some people of Elton Brand.

In my mind, Sullinger is a future star.  The kid knows how to score and rebound.  He comes from a big conference and is ready to step into a big role.

If Sullinger drops to the middle of the first round, I would love to see the Sixers find a way to get both Jones and Sullinger.  If they can do that, they may have TWO studs on the front line for years to come.  Both are ready right now, unlike last year's pick of Nikola Vucevic who may still workout.

Ruben & phone is on and charged if there are any more questions.  Feel free to call anytime...well.... not after 10 PM and not before 10 AM,ok?

Friday, June 1, 2012

In the Dirt with...John Cappelletti

It still comes as a surprise to some people that John Cappelletti is the ONLY Heisman Trophy winner in Penn State University sports history.

How can that be possible?  All those great teams over all of those many years?  Surely somebody else has won a Heisman in Happy Valley?

Nope; just Cappy.

It's even harder to believe that the 40th anniversary of his winning the trophy in 1973 is quickly approaching. 

I have been very fortunate to have become close friends with John.  He's truly a genuine guy.  While Cappy is very proud of his many accomplishments, he's also a very humble person who is quick to talk about other players long before talking about himself.

He built his life after football on the west coast and he now resides a little over an hour north of San Diego.  This has always surprised me a teeny bit because I know how much "FAMILY" means to him.  And in a way, I guess that's why he's still out there.

While his parents and siblings have always lived outside Philly (his Mom still lives in Upper Darby), John was raising a family of his own during his playing days in Los Angeles and San Diego.  He told me often times that he "just didn't want to take the kids away from where they were growing up."

There were a couple of forks in the road that might have changed all of that and made things very different.

After winning the Heisman in 1973, John was eligible for the 1974 draft.  Before the 1973 season began, the Philadelphia Eagles had traded their 1974 first round pick to the LA Rams in a blockbuster trade for quarterback Roman Gabriel.  The Eagles also included other draft picks and players to get the 32 year old QB in hopes that Gabriel could turn a floundering franchise back into the correct direction.

Ironically, when the 11th selection came up in the '74 draft, the Rams used it to select John Cappelletti.  The Philadelphia suburb native COULD have been an Eagle had the team not traded for Roman Gabriel.

Coulda, shoulda, and woulda, I know...but there's more! 

In 1974, the NFL had some competition for fans and players in the United Football League.  Philadelphia had a franchise called the Philadelphia Bell.  The team made a HUGE pitch to Cappelletti to try and woo him away from the Rams and keep him home in Philly.  Despite offering almost twice what the Rams put on the table, the Bell lost out and Cappy went to the NFL.  That had to be a very difficult decision for a 21-year old fresh off the college gridiron.

It turns out that it was probably a wise move as the UFL folded half way through the 1975 season. 

Many people here in Philly aren't aware that John spent parts of NINE seasons in the NFL between his time with Los Angeles and San Diego.  With the possible exception of his last two years with San Diego, John was an extremely productive player and filled a role for his team nicely.

So while his professional history could have possibly been very different, his college history is something that is clearly etched in stone among the record books in State College, PA.

John Cappelletti (PSU '74) with ASI good friend, Lauren Henderson (PSU '12)
at an appearance at Carl's Cards and Collectibles in Havertown, PA
The greatest college player ever to play at Penn State?  It has to be the ONLY Heisman Trophy winner ever there.  Only one... and just one.  John Cappelletti.  That makes the debate pretty short, right?
Penn State Nittany Lions Heisman Trophy Award Winner and AllStarInc client, John Cappelletti, will be appearing at the TriStar Houston Show at the Reliant Center on Saturday, June 2nd from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.  For autograph tickets and information contact J&T Sports through their email at or call 210-854-3347.

If you're from the Houston area or will be in the area, please stop by the show on Saturday and hello!

If you live in the Philadelphia area, please visit our good friend, Carl Henderson's store, Carl's Cards and Collectibles, for a great selection of sports memorabilia.  They are located at 22 West Eagle Road, Havertown, PA  19083.  For more information on their store, available collectibles and appearances, contact them at 610-789-4996 or visit their website at

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