Shap’s Raps

Shap’s Raps

By Mark Shapiro

Hello everyone and welcome to what I hope is a long-standing monthly column/article/dose of sports (mostly local) that I hope you will find interesting.

I grew up in NE Philly and have lived in four different townships in Bucks County over the last 30 years. I used to follow the High School sports up here, back when my kids were still in school, and the Courier Times actively covered them, but neither is the case anymore. So, this will be mostly about the Pro teams with a side of City Six college basketball. (Most of you may know this as the Big Five but since I am a Drexel graduate I had to use that terminology!) And if Temple football becomes relevant again under new coach Drayton maybe we’ll even sneak them in. Anyway…hope you enjoy.

P.S. Quick side bar. As a kid growing up in the Somerton section of NE Philly, I used to deliver the Carrier Pigeon. (Thought some of you might relate.) I can remember a friend’s dad, who used to drive us around, would say “if you roll them up and bend both ends you can throw them further.……… It worked! So here I find myself some 50 years later, back with a reiteration of the same publication……. Who would have thought?
Here’s a quick recap of the local teams:

Had a much better season then a lot of people thought they would and finished 9-8, qualifying for the playoffs. Jalen Hurts was a pleasant surprise, and their running game was exceptional.

Playing very well after a slow start. Joel Embiid has been carrying them. Tyreese Maxey has also had a very good start to his second season in the league. They have been playing shorthanded a lot of nights due to Covid. Ben Simmons has been on the trading block all season after refusing to play for the team. Recently Tobias Harris has also been mentioned as being available via trade so we could have some new players in here in the foreseeable future.

The Covid bug has really hit them as well in what has been a bit of a disappointing up and down season. On a positive note, Claude Giroux passed Bill Barber and is now second on the all-time scoring list. Quite a feat considering Barber is a Hall of Famer.

MLB is currently in a work stoppage as the players and owners (and their lawyers) try to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. If and when they return, the Phillies are/should be in the market for a few outfielders to compliment MVP Bryce Harper, a few starters to compliment Zach Wheeler and as many relievers as they can get their hands on. I wish I could include Aaron Nola on this list, but unfortunately he has been inconsistent over the last 3 seasons following his 3rd place Cy Young finish in 2018.

Villanova Basketball
Newly enshrined Hall of Famer Jay Wright has gotten his team back on track after some early season losses. Most of those losses were to highly ranked teams so they were not unexpected. 5th year player Collin Gillespie, who took advantage of the extra year that was allowed because of the pandemic, is leading the team again this year with some outstanding play, and Justin Moore is also having a terrific season. Eric Dixon, the sophomore from Abington H.S. has really stepped up his game this year and has given Nova the inside presence that they sorely needed.

Will get into more detail about these teams in the subsequent months.

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