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October 13, 2023

The Eagles and Phillies are (insert Michael Jordan meme) taking things personally

It hasn't been hard for local team to find a extra push this season.

Eagles NFL
101323RobertSaleh Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Jets head coach Robert Saleh may have poked the bear with comments about Jalen Hurts this week.

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh evidently gave the Philadelphia Eagles some bulletin board material this week when he said about the Eagles' tush push, "If [Jalen Hurts] carries the ball, we have to give him 11 kisses." Translation: "We're going to try to inflict pain on Jalen Hurts."

Of course, that's not the full quote. Here's what he said, via the New York Post

“If you don’t have any haters, you ain’t poppin’,” he said, repeating the phrase he used in the preseason amid criticism of the Jets. “A lot of people are hating on their play because it works, but nobody else can seem to make it work to their efficiency. So bravo to them. …

“A lot of respect for it, because there’s other teams trying to do it, too. The reality is, they’re really good at it. It feels like the quarterback is wearing a bulletproof vest when you look at him, he’s got all that padding on. We’re gonna try to do our best to try and stop it. You look at him, he’s got all that padding on. We’re gonna try to do our best to try and stop it.”

In other words, he's not a complaining weasel about the Eagles' controversial QB sneaks, like JaQ Del Rio was a few weeks ago. And certainly, it's no secret in the NFL that if you have a chance to inflict pain on an opposing quarterback, especially one as good as Jalen Hurts, defensive players are going to take it. There's nothing really all that inflammatory about what Saleh said.

Doesn't matter. The Eagles are clearly using Saleh's words as motivation, as Fletcher Cox, with only a hint of a smile, repeated the "11 kisses" quote during the Eagles' locker room session on Thursday. Via ESPN's Tim McManus:

It's probably worth noting that there is actually some confrontational history between Saleh and Nick Sirianni. During a preseason game last season, Jets starting LB Quincy Williams laid late, dirty, helmet-to-helmet hit on Hurts during a preseason game.

Sirianni then screamed across the field to Saleh, "That's f****** b***s***!"

I imagine that incident was likely covered in the Eagles' auditorium this week as well.

The Phillies' super frustrating Game 2 loss in Atlanta turned out to be amazing for Philly fans

I should first note here that I am Phillies fan and am actively rooting for them to win the World Series. They are not my beat, and I don't think (?) I've ever written about them, but I'm all fired up and this will be my outlet to express that. 😄

With that disclaimer out of the way, as those of you who watched know, Game 2 of the NLDS had a wild, frustrating ending for the Phils (who blew a 4-0 lead), when CF Michael Harris made a great catch and then doubled off Bryce Harper at first.

In the Braves' clubhouse after the game, SS Orlando Arcia was reportedly cackling loudly and repeatedly screaming "Atta boy Harper!" And, of course, again, as you saw, (insert Michael Jordan meme here) Harper took that personally, smashing two home runs in Game 3 and staring down Arcia after each of them.

In the aftermath of Game 3, a number of Braves players complained that Arcia's words were off the record, and not meant to be public. Here's Travis d'Arnaud saying that the clubhouse is a "sanctuary," lol:

And here's Arcia saying that Harper "wasn't supposed to hear" his derisive celebration.

Many in the Braves media also lost their minds, admonishing the journalists who reported what Arcia was screaming. The best example is below, via Alanna Rizzo:

There's so much to dissect there, but my favorite part is Rizzo's claim that Arcia's words were "taken out of context," lol. I mean, exactly what nuance does Rizzo think Arcia was hoping to achieve there?

Side note: My take? I don't know if baseball media culture is different from football media culture, but in my world if a player is screaming something repeatedly for all to hear in a room full of reporters with live recorders, that shit is most definitely not off the record.

Anyway, in Game 4, Arcia basically cracked.

If the Phillies had held onto their 4-0 lead and beaten the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS — and then gone on the win the series — every Phillies fans on the planet would be thrilled with that outcome. But it was the Game 2 LOSS and the events that followed that will make this Phillies' series win over the Braves an all-timer. Without Game 2, we don't get the double stare-down. We don't get two wins over Spencer Strider. We don't get various Braves players and media meltdowns. And we don't get this photo:

That is a work of art. It is up there with Chuck Bednarik standing over Frank Gifford, Nick Foles looking up at the Lombardi Trophy with confetti falling in the background, Allen Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue, LeSean McCoy hurdling a guy in the snow, or whatever iconic Philly sports image you fancy.

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