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March 30, 2023

Eytan Shander: What's your most confident Philly sports take?

Between the Phillies and Union finally winning their respective championships, Darick Hall breaking out and Jalen Hurts winning MVP, what sports take do you believe strongest?

The Philadelphia Phillies are 15-1 to win the World Series.

The Philadelphia Union are 6-1 to win the MLS Cup.

The Philadelphia 76ers are sitting at 10-1 to win the championship. Those are much longer odds than their star center in winning the MVP.

So, how confident are you? No, I’m not going to demand you put your money where your mouth currently resides, rather push the true definition of “confident sports take” to encompass everything. The good and the bad, possibly the ugly. 

What are you truly most confident about right now in Philadelphia sports? I want answers. Push yourself to come up with something you know is going to happen, not something you think or have some gut feel. This is the real life version of a betting lock. Whatever it is, it has to be more than just a surface answer on the Eagles or Phillies winning it all, or Joel Embiid winning the NBA MVP.

Here's an example.

Tyrese Maxey will be an NBA All-Star next season due to the direct impact of both James Harden and Doc Rivers no longer being with the team. This summer's departure of Harden and the inevitable ending of Rivers’ tenure with the Sixers, will open the eyes of the next coach to work much more of the game through Maxey. Consider it his breaking out party next year where he’s among the NBA elite, even if he’s on the bottom part of that hierarchy.

I’m excited to see that come true and have no doubt that if a pathway were to open for Maxey, he would truly thrive on that level.

How about one with our beloved Birds?

“Jalen Hurts will be the MVP!” Eh. I think we can do better. This one for me centers around health and Hurts. But it’s not so much about the team winning games or the Super Bowl, rather what he can do with this offense. The arrival of Rashaad Penny and most likely a player taken in the draft should signify one major theme this year  when healthy, Hurts will run.

It’s a beautiful sight to see, him carving through defenses rather effortlessly at times, right down to the "tush push" we’ve seen some in the league try to outlaw. It’s more a matter of him staying healthy and still being the main source of offense on the ground. I am truly confident that if Hurts plays 17 games this season, he will rush for 1,000 yards. Some of it will be by design, some will be through breakdown of a play, some will be extending drives, and some just because the running back crew doesn’t scream “top talent."

Either way, this is a confidence play on Hurts rushing for 1,000 if he can stay up for 17 games. There’s no question about anything else with his game, just staying upright.

The Phillies are poised to do some major damage this year. It’s really just about biding time until Bryce Harper returns. He does so much for this team  including inside the clubhouse and with the media. His value is impossible to truly define. But there’s also getting over the Rhys Hoskins injury, and with this being Hoskins' last year with the Phillies (my belief), there’s a major opportunity for someone else. I am fully confident that given the leash and at-bats, we will see a 20+ HR season from Darick Hall.

The thing about this one is it will take a little leap, primarily because Hall struggled to draw walks and chases high fastballs way too much. He still performed with a ridiculous 121 OPS+ in 41 games in 2022. He will be given way more chances to work through anything than any other part-time or fill-in player trying to pick up the void left by Hoskins. Hall should also benefit from being bumped up in the lineup, one that’s still fierce 1-through-3 in the expected order. 

It's a big jump from nine home runs to 20, but circumstances pop up where you have an opening. I think Hall takes advantage this year.

Do you think Nikola Jokić pulls this stupid award out at the end? Are the Phillies doomed from playing too much baseball last year and some this offseason? How much longer is John Tortorella going to be coaching the Flyers?

This is what you are most confident in with our sports scene, not some ridiculous wish list. So hit me up in the comments or @shandershow on Twitter  just please save your “Temple Hoops wins it all” takes for the morning TV shows.

Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

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