Monday, December 31, 2012

So long, Andy

As expected the Eagles have fired Andy Reid after an awful  4-12 season, marred by high priced free agents failing to live up to expectations , the firing of overmatched assistant coaches, and, most damaging of all, the team quitting on the coach. Yes, it was time for Reid to go, yet he was, and by a large margin, the best coach the Eagles have ever had. Their run of success, 9 playoff appearances in his first eleven years was unprecedented in the teams mostly sorry history. He had his weaknesses, certainly, most of them stemming from his strengths. He was a meticulous planner, he famously claimed the Eagles job as a dark horse candidate by displaying a thick binder detailing every facet of his plans for a team as head coach, and he firmly believed his plan was the correct, and only way. While this generally resulted in his teams being well prepared and ready to play, it became his downfall when things went awry. He couldn’t adjust midgame (as evidences by wasted timeouts, inability to switch to the run when teams took away his passing options, options he firmly believed were the best way to run an offense).  When his plan worked, the Eagles often appeared unstoppable( the 2000 season opening game against the Cowboys (the pickle juice game ) where the Eagles started with an onside kick and won going away 41-14, and the Monday night game against the Redskins where Michael Vick led the Eagles to  a 28-0 lead in the first quarter before winning 59-28 come to mind.  When it didn’t, well the last two seasons are full of examples of what could result. It always perplexed me that such a meticulous planer couldn’t see his own weakness, and hire a coach to help him make these adjustments in the heat of battle. Late defensive coordinator Jim Johnson excelled at in game adjustments on the defensive side, and this often helped the Eagles while he was here. The Eagles haven’t been the same since his passing.

I believe Reid will get his due as we look back on his tenure and the memory of his two most recent seasons fade, and I firmly believe some other team will quickly snap him up and benefit from his strengths.  Hopefully, the Eagles will strike gold again with their next coach, someone who can come in and build on the expectation of excellence that Reid engendered in a formerly forlorn franchise.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Phillies Offseason Part 3: Pitching

Now that the Phillies have addressed some of their needs, a fine run and catch centerfielder in Ben Revere (his throwing arm, unfortunately is reminiscent of former Phillie Juan Pierre), and a stopgap third baseman, Michael Young, who should do fine filling in until young prospect Cody Asche is ready, especially if he is motivated to prove his final year in Texas an aberration, it is time to address the pitching staff. In reality, unless GM Ruben Amaro has a magic trick up his sleeve, the staff is virtually finalized. The biggest needs were a reliable eight inning setup man, and the Phillies signed the man who has been the best in the majors at that role for the past 6 years in Mike Adams. with Adams controlling the eighth inning and closer Jonathan Papelbon holding down the ninth, the remainder of the relief corps can be manned by young arms in the organization (of which there are plenty) and gain experience in less stressful situations. Antonio Bastardo and Jeremy Horst are the front runners for the lefty specialist roles, with Jake Diekman (he of the outstanding stuff and questionable control) in the mix. From the right side, rocket armed B.J. Rosenberg, Phillippe Aumont, Michael Schwimmer, and 2011 sensation Michael Stutes should all compete for the remaining spots in the seven member relief corps.  September call up, soft-tossing Tyler Cloyd will compete for a spot in the rotation,  and failing to earn that, may be slotted into the long-man sixth starter slot ably manned by Kyle Kendrick in past years.

The rotation should be filled by returning aces Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay , who will comeback as an equally effective, if modified style pitcher (no one will work harder, and he has remade himself before), along with the aforementioned Kyle Kendrick, and recently signed former Washington Nationals lefthander John Lannan who will be highly motivated to prove the Nationals made a mistake in dropping him from their rotation last year.  Should any of these falter, the Phillies have Cloyd, Jonathan Petitbone, and Ethan Martin (acquired last year in the Shane Victorino trade) being groomed at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Pitching should once again be the strength of the 2013 Phillies.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Phillies Offseason Part 2: The Outfield

We are a few weeks into the free agency period, and the Phillies have yet to make a move despite glaring needs in the outfield and at third base.  Are they laying in the weeds looking to make a big splash, or are they waiting until players seeking outrageous contracts are more desperate when they are still unemployed just before spring training?  Not a peep has come from the front office.

          As I advocated in my previous post regarding the infield, I think patience will be a virtue. The biggest name on the free-agency market is Josh Hamilton, a player whose power would certainly aid the Phillies, fits manager Charlie Manual’s offensive style preference, and fills a hole in centerfield.  His price tag would be astronomical, however, and while a modern day murderer’s row of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Josh Hamilton would certainly be imposing, all three bat lefthanded and the lineup would certainly prove susceptible to the top lefty pitchers  in the league. Michael Bourn has also been bandied about, and the former Phillie would certainly provide top level defense, but no power, and for a speedy leadoff type, he has an even lower on-base percentage than current leadoff man Jimmy Rollins, and he too, bats lefthanded.  B.J. Upton has the potential to provide righthanded power, and stellar defense, but that word potential always seems to be associated with Upton, meaning he has yet to come close to living up to it. He will also be expensive, but, if he were to unlock that potential  here he could be exactly what the Phillies need.  Some cheaper alternatives have already signed elsewhere (some not so cheaply, such as Torii Hunter and Melky Cabrera with Detroit and Toronto, respectively.)  That leaves us with old friend, Shane Victorino who pickd the worst year possible to have an off season, his free agency year.  Shane, traded to the Dodgers at the deadline last year, will almost certainly not be resigned by them as they have Carl Crawford slated to fill his leftfield slot.  Shane could be signed relatively cheaply, for less years than a Hamilton or Bourn, and give time for some of the Phillis minor league prospects (Michael Bourn, Leandro Castro) to develop. He provides solid defense, some pop from the right side (he is a switch hitter), and a strong clubhouse presence who connects with the Philly fan base. Plus, he will likely be motivated to prove last year was an aberration.

In right and left, I think the Phillies should allow minor league prospects Dominic Brown and Darren Ruf to win the job outright, with veterans Nate Schierholtz and Laynce Nix available to fill in. If the outfield remains a weakness, the Phillies should have the financial flexibility to make a trade deadline acquisition.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Phillies Offseason Part 1: The Infield

Now that he World Series has ended and Phillies fans were treated to the sight of Hunter Pence celebrating a World championship (I sight we surely would have rather witnessed last year), the question turns to what should the Phillies due to insure they are not on the outside looking in during next year’s playoffs?  This is a difficult question to answer. Today we will look at the infield, future posts will address the outfield and the pitching staff.
 Essentially, they are locked in on 4/5 of their infield (if you include  catcher), and none of their outfield. Utley and Howard, due their  injury history and the size of their contacts are untradeable, Ruiz was their MVP this year, both offensively and through his value to the pitching staff.  Rollins, despite a decline from his MVP years , is still one of the top shortstops in the majors. Realistically, who could the Phillies acquire that would be better?  (I’d love to  get Troy Tulowittzki from the Rockies, but I just don’t see it happening.) Third base is the obvious area for improvement where  Placido Polanco’s option will not be picked up and he will not be back. However, the best available free agent, Kevin Youkilis of the Chicago White Sox, is aging, injury prone, and has had declining production over the last several years.   Trade possibilities include Chase Headley of the Padres, a good to very good player, but one who will be expensive to acquire in a seller’s market and  Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals, an intriguing offensive talent who would provide questionable defense.  The team could make due with Kevin Frandsen, who performed well over the last two months, or Freddy Galvis who has displayed a superior glove (if little offense) at two different positions.  They have a solid prospect in the minors Cody Asche, who played well at Single A Clearwater and Double A Reading, but he is not quite ready for Prime Time.
It won’t make the splash that the Phillies typically have in the offseason while Ruben Amaro has been GM, but that course of action is exactly what I would recommend. Give Frandsen and Galvis the chance to prove their worth while developing Asche in the minors and don’t overspend on marginal upgrades in talent when potentially sound, and inexpensive alternatives exist within the organization. Keep the money in reserve so a big move can be made at the trade deadline when the teams needs are more sharply in focus. Third base may not be their biggest area of need.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Andy Unable or Unwilling to adjust

I haven't been this angry about a game in years..Watching the Eagles-Cardinals game yesterday.. Vick's getting killed and apparently likes to fumble, the line is having trouble pass blocking, with two inexperienced players, and theyhave one of the best backs in the game. the ball!

Is Reid so tied to his game plan that he can't see what is so obvious to everyone else, even us armchair quarterbacks?  Are no other coaches on the staff able to save him from himself?  Once gain, his inability to make in-game adjustments bites Reid in his considerable posterior and the Eagles lose a game they should have won.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Major League Baseball trade Deadline Day

Trade deadline day is one of my favorite days of the year. I love the team building, the planning for the future, the balancing of current needs against the need to be competitive down the road.  Today, the Phillies, quite unlike the previous five years, have become sellers, not buyers. The real goal is to position themselves to rebound in 2013, to make 2012 a one year aberration, not the start of a downward slide. The Phillies have enough core talent to be contenders next year, but they have myriad holes.  One of their biggest issues, at least to my eyes, is complacency.  The core is used to winning, are they too comfortable and perhaps not putting forth the effort displayed in previous years? The constants, the players whose dedication is never questioned, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay, have been injured. Others, are not displaying the same drive seen in years past, Rollins, Victorino. Despite being fond links to the Phillies glorious recent past, a shakeup may be in order. (As of this writing, Victorino is almost certainly gone, traded to the Dodgers for a middle reliever). It will be fascinating to see how general manger Ruben Amaro responds, who he decides to build around, will he incorporate some of the remaining Phillies prospects,  looking to see if their youthful enthusiasm and real opportunity to win a job provide a spark, and a springboard into next year?  Further tuning will be required in the offseason, but the rest of this year will help determine whether it is a refurbishment or an extreme makeover.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flyers are still the Broad Street Bullies

Once again, the Flyers are the Broad Street Bullies in the NHL, if not on the ice, then certainly in the offseason.  More appropriately, they are acting like the New York Yankees, buying the best available players by structuring offers in such a manner that smaller market teams cannot match them. Unlike the Yankees, this strategy has yet to pay dividends in the form of a Stanley Cup championship (the drought is 37 years and counting). The offer in question is to arguably the best all-around defenseman in the NHL, Shea Weber, the small market team that will be hard-pressed to match is the Nashville Predators, who have already lost premier defenseman Ryan Suter(on whom the Flyers also bid) to the Minnesota Wild.  As a Flyers fan, I’m always impressed by the Flyers constantly swinging for the fences, going all-out to win the ultimate hockey prize, the Stanley Cup.  But, I can’t help but feel that pilfering the small market teams , teams in regions where hockey is trying to get established, build a fan base, is not good business for the NHL as a whole.  On the other hand, baseball’s small market teams have proven that a well run organization in a small market (the Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins,  and this year even the Pittsburgh Pirates),  can still be relevant. So my feelings are mixed, I’d love to have Weber in orange and black, love the fact that the Flyers are always trying to win it all, but, as a fan of the sport as a whole, I’d like to see the smaller market teams throughout the league have a chance, give their fans a thrill rather than the constant feeling of hopelessness (a thrill the league-owned Phoenix Coyotes gave their fans this year in making the Western conference Finals before losing to the eventual champion L.A. Kings) that must result when your star players are always pilfered by the leagues “Bullies”.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Could Lee’s first win be the sign the Phillies season is turning?

I know, it’s just one game, but yesterday’s 9-2 win over the Mets, a victory credited to Cliff Lee, his first in 13 starts this season, had plenty of hopeful signs.  The first was Chase Utley , displaying his vaunted drive to win by putting the team on his shoulders and hitting the tying home run.  Carlos Ruiz continued his season long brilliance by putting the Phillies in the lead, hitting his second back to back home run combo with Utley , who has been back in the lineup less than a week.  Cliff Lee, who had pitched competently in this game through six innings, then took it to another level, as Mets catcher Mike Nickeas said "Once they took the lead, we saw a different side of him," .  The Phillies kept pouring it on, scoring three runs in each of the last three innings, a killer instinct that had been missing much of the season. My favorite example was slow-footed Ty Wigginton hustling home from second on Hunter Pence's single off shortstop Ruben Tejada's glove in the eighth, the kind of aggressive baserunning that can force the other team into errors.   Hopefully, this is the start of a return to the type of baseball we’ve been privileged to see in Philadelphia over the last few seasons, and the impending return of Howard and Halladay from the disabled list can only help if this season is to be resurrected. The Phillies must start now, to paraphrase the great Yogi Berra, “it’s gotten late early around here”.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Should the Phillies be buyers or sellers?

The MLB trading deadline is less than one month away. Should the Phillies be looking to add talent (and payroll) to keep their 5 year playoff streak going, or should they write this year off as a lost cause and trade talent with an eye toward building for the future?  It’s not an easy question, and as usual, is predicated on your ability to predict future performance, an inexact science at best. The Phillies have been lucky in recent years as deadline acquisitions Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Hunter pence have contributed mightily to their success.  The Phillies have been buyers, dealing prospects for help at the major league level.   If they reverse the trend, selling major league talent to rebuild their depleted minor leagues, they will essentially be giving up on this year in the hopes of starting a new run in the years to come. They could trade impending free agents Shane Victorino,  Juan Pierre, even Cole Hamels for prospects, (although as rental players they won’t bring in the haul they normally would), or perhaps Hunter pence, who will not be a free agent, in the hopes of bringing a larger return. 
Many people think this is precisely what they will do.  However,  a trade deadline selloff is not what Roy Halladay and Cliff lee signed here for, nor will it hlp entice future free agents. Additionally, prospects are iffy at best.  Of all the minor league players the Phillies traded to acquire the players identified above, only one,  Cleveland backup catcher Lou Marson, is currently in the majors.  To be sure, others are still considered good prospects (Travis D’Arnaud, Anthony Gose, Jonathan Singleton), but others stock has fallen considerably (Jason Donald, Michael Taylor), so you never know.  Finally, the Phillies are expected to make three additions before the deadline that will be better than anyone any other team will be able to acquire, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Roy Halladay all should return, and if healthy, these stars should push them into playoff contention.  It’s not yet time to sell, the Phillies window remains open, and perhaps with some acquisitions to help the bullpen, they can return to the top of the division they have owned for the last 5 years.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Time is right, for Price

Twin Valley baseball player Jared Price must be sitting on pins and needles.  Tonight is the first round of the amateur baseball draft, and Price, a right-handed pitcher, is projected to go anywhere between the late first round and the 10th round.  Already having accepted a full scholarship to the University of Maryland, Price is in the catbird seat. If he is not drafted in a round he likes, or by a team he favors, or if he is not offered a large enough signing bonus, he can merely head of to Maryland, receive high level college coaching, compete in the ultra-competitive ACC, and get drafted again, hopefully at a higher level than this year. Alternately, if he is drafted and offered a big enough bonus (something in excess of $1 million) he can accept the money, forgo college, and begin pursuing his lifelong dream of playing in the major leagues.  Jared has achieved this enviable position through hard work and dogged determination to achieve his goal. However it turns out, Jared has earned his opportunity, and we in raider nation wish him the best of luck.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mayberry R.F.P. (Request for Playing Time)

The Phillies offense has struggled mightily so far this year, despite the veritable explosion of runs (20 in the last three games of the season long 10 game road trip). When the Phillies do hit, singles are the norm, with very few extra base hits.  Of the current starters, Hunter Pence I really the only true power threat (Rollins and Victorino have occasional pop, and Laynce Nix can hit right-handers).  John Mayberry has certainly struggled with the rest of them, looking absolutely lost at the plate, while his replacement in left, Juan Pierre has consistently gotten on base, leaving Mayberry glued to the bench.  While Pierre has been on base (.339 BA, .361 On-base %), no one has driven him in with any consistency. (he’s only crossed the plate 6 times), and his arm in left is so week I think I could take second on him.  Mayberry has huge power potential, last year he slugged 15 home runs in only 267 at bats, less than half a full season’s worth, he is a plus defender at all three outfield positions (and first base as well), and can run. He was not the only player on the Phillies who struggled at the plate,  Placido Polanco had a similar terrible start, but was allowed to play through it and has started to come around. Mayberry deserves a similar chance, and more importantly, the Phillies themselves need to give him a similar chance. They need at least one more player in the lineup with 30+ homer potential, someone to drive in all the singles hitters that pepper their lineup, and someone who can provide defensive support to their stellar pitching staff.  Mayberry need a real chance to pull it together, the Phillies season may just ride on his ability to do so.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Time to Panic? Not Yet

After 8 games, the Phillies offense has been struggling to score runs, to say the least! Are the injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley too much to overcome? Will the offense continue to scuffle? The replacement in the lineup haven't done much, though slick fielding second baseman Freddy Galvis has started to hit a little after beginning his big league career with an 0-12 collar. Still, his production is nothing like Utley in his prime, nor even th Utley of last year, nor can we expect it to ever approach the Hall of Fame type numbers Chase produced before injuries derailed his election to those hallowed halls. Expecting Chase to return and be Chase is likely a pipe dream as well. Howard, on the other hand, should come back and be a reasonable facsimile of the run producing machine he always has been, if not this year, then certainly by next year. The combination of his temporary replacements, Ty Wigginton, Laynce Nix, Jim Thome, and John Mayberry Junior should be able to approach the 31 homeruns and 109 RBI's Howard produced last year. If Mayberry can begin to harness the talent his physical gifts imply (He began to show signs of this last year), he might be able to give them production similar to what Jayson Werth produced while here in Philly, production that netted him a $126 million free agent contract from the Washington Nationals.

The Phillies pitching continues to be excellent, the offense should improve to a level that will allow the Phillies to generate enough runs to support that pitching, and the team still has the pedigree the win the NL East. The low run totals are likely just a function of slow starts and offensive funks that afflict every baseball team throughout the season. That's why they play 162, giving plenty of team for the cream to rise to the top.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Has the Window Closed?

Opening day is fast approaching and the aging Phillies are springing so many leaks a submarine with a screen door may stay afloat longer.  Has the window of opportunity for this talented team slammed shut? Injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have ripped the heart out of the Phillies offense. Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco have been injury prone in recent seasons and haven't been able to play a full slate of games, chances are being another year older is going to do nothing to reverse this trend. Carlos Ruiz is well past thirty as well, an age when catchers begin to break down due to the physical demands of their position. The outfield is the only component of the Phils offense that remains relatively young and productive. This will have to be the engine that drives the Phils offense.

The pitching staff remains the strength of the team, and hopefully will remain so dominant that the potentially anemic Phils offense will be sufficient to carry the team until, and if, Howard and Utley return, or GM Ruben Amaro is forced to trade for some more offense.  Only time will tell, but that's why we watch. Let the games begin!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Happy P & C Day!

It’s finally here, the day I’ve been waiting for since October, My favorite day of the year, P & C day! P & C day, or the day that Pitchers and Catchers report to spring training is  a holiday in my household.  Even though nothing much actually happens, the players merely report to camp and perhaps have a couple of languid games of catch in the Florida and Arizona sunshine, it’s a sign that spring is in the air and my favorite sport will soon once again enter the daily fabric of my life. I love baseball for many reasons, the balance of strategic gamesmanship and planning, juxtaposed with bursts of athletic grace and energy. It is the athletic equivalent of chess, with moves set up innings, games, even months in advance.  Greg Maddux once declared that he purposely allowed a batter to get a hit in a game he believed he had well in hand, merely to set up a potential thought in a hitter’s mind as to what he would do later in the season when they matched up again, likely in a more important situation. It is this mix of the cerebral and athletic that I so love. There is always something to pick up, I catch something new in every game I play, watch, or coach. Baseball is a game where the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know, and today marks the kickoff of a fascinating 8 month journey culminating in the World Series.   

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Peyton's Place: Indy or Elsewhere?

The Super Bowl week spat between Peyton Manning and Colts owner Robert Irsay has fostered much debate about what the Colts, owners of the first pick in the draft, should do. Should they release Peyton and save themselves $28 million, and draft Andrew Luck, considered the best QB prospect coming out of college since…Peyton Manning?  Should they keep Manning to mentor Luck and tie up much of their salary cap in one position?  I have heard scouts say that while Luck has great talent, he’s no Peyton Manning nor ever will be. They recommend trading the pick and keeping Manning (assuming he passes their physical). The real question is not whether Luck will be better than Manning ever was , now, or in 5 years. It is whether he will be better than Manning at that point in time. The answer is almost certainly yes, even if Luck turns out to be no better than Jim Sorgi (former Manning backup QB who virtually never saw the field in Manning’s heyday). Manning will almost certainly be gone in five years. The real question is whether Luck will be better than the players they would have drafted if they traded the pick.  Secondarily, will the Colts transform back into contenders next year if Manning is back near the top of his game?  Will the other players they may draft help them get there more than a bench riding Luck next year (almost to a certainty). It’s a tough call as to when to cut ties with an icon, and unless Manning  retires gracefully (something he’s given no indication of doing), there is no easy answer for the Colts.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Juan More Year

So the decision has been made to retain Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator for the Eagles, a decision met with chagrin by most of eagle fandom. Most people wanted the former offensive line coach replaced with an experienced defensive coordinator, with the majority favoring former Eagles assistant and recently fired Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo chose New Orleans and the eagles are keeping Castillo, with most of the public believing he is a lame duck that was only retained because the eagles were slow to pull the trigger. The Eagles will counter that Castillo grew on the job, and grew rapidly at that, showing vast improvement in defensive statistics compiled during their season ending four game winning streak.  Critics counter with “Who did they play?” Four teams that, like the Eagles, are outside  looking in at the playoffs.  Separating improvements in Castillo’s performance benefits derived from a decline in the quality of opponents is virtually impossible. 
The fact remains, the defense did improve. Schemes were revised and adjusted to take better advantage of personnel.  Just as with anyone who get a promotion or switches jobs, there is a learning curve. You don’t come in knowing everything.  You make mistakes. If you’re smart and work hard, you’ll improve your performance, your mistakes will decrease, and you will come up to speed. Castillo should be given the same opportunity, and all indications are he is improving. You can quibble he should never have been given the job in the first place, but once the deed was done, he deserves a chance. Additionally, you can bet the eagles will try hard to give him better tools to work with. Expect them to invest many of their draft picks or free agent dollars in players on the defensive side of the ball, perhaps even that elusive stud linebacker the eagles have long eschewed, and a position that is so necessary to stopping the run with the wide 9 defensive alignment they employ. The wide nine generated a lot of quarterback pressure, but the left the team vulnerable to the run and to tight ends running short patterns in front of the secondary.
            Castillo will have a whole off-season, including mini-camps, training camp, etc. to refine his schemes, incorporate the new personnel, build on his hard won experience, and develop a cohesive unit. He deserves a chance to show he is up to the challenge.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

R.I.P. Joe Paterno 1926-2012

I’ve spent all week trying to come up with adequate words to describe what Joe Paterno meant to me, and the void I feel at his passing. What I’ve come up with isn’t nearly adequate, but, in the belief that something is better than nothing, here goes.  I arrived at Penn State shortly after the infamous Sugar Bowl where number 1 Penn State lost to number 2 Alabama and their legendary coach, Bear Bryant, after trying to score 7 times from with the 1 yard line and failing to do so. The joke then was, “I’m going to get some Joe Paterno golf balls.  Why? Because they’re guaranteed to go straight up the middle every time! “  Well, Joe did go on to win two National Championships after that, following his famous philosophy. Yet, despite his advanced years, adapt he did, the undefeated 1994 team, and one to this day I’m convinced would have easily defeated national champion Nebraska had the two had the opportunity to square off, had one of the most prolific and diverse offenses in college football history, an offense that had three first round picks in the first eight selections, including the top overall pick. The one thing on which he never compromised was in doing it the correct way, sending players to class, benching them for infractions, but believing they were innocent until proven guilty. Young people, he used to say, need guidance. That’s our duty as educators, to guide.  I was so proud to send my daughter off to her freshman year at Penn State this year, so proud that thirty years later, this same man was still there. Nowhere else in the country could this be true. Obviously, this year didn’t turn out as well as we expected, Joe was proven to be human, his career terminated by a horrendous decision on his part,  a decision which I believe lead to his death less than three months later, as much from a broken heart as from the cancer.  I believe that he grieved for the victims, and this grief, not the loss of his job, did him in at the end.  Time will put his career in perspective.. For me, ultimately, I can still say I’m proud to have met him, and proud to send my daughter off to a university that was synonymous with his name. Rest in peace, Joe.