Highs and Lows

Sports in the summer is usually defined by the ebbs and flows of the long baseball season — who gets hot (or cold) for a couple of weeks, who looks like they'll make a run in September, which managers are on the hot-seat.  Of course, this time of year also brings the first tantalizing tastes of NFL camps starting their annual rituals.  So today was an unusually notable day for Philly sports fans…

The Phillies today made a trade of four minor league prospects to the beleaguered Cleveland Indians for last year's Cy Young winner, Cliff Lee and RH OF Ben Francisco.  The Phils had been talking for weeks with the Toronto Blue Jays for Roy Halladay — but Toronto was asking for 2 current roster players plus two prime prospects.  So, in a bit of surprise the Phils went for Lee.  With Cole Hamels looking back in last years' form, Happ and Blanton pitching well and a wild-card in Pedro Martinez as a possible, the Phils could be as tough on the mound as they are at the plate as they look to defend their World Series title.

Sadly, this very good news was tempered by the death of Eagles' Defensive Coordinator (and Assistant Head Coach) Jim Johnson to cancer.  Johnson was called out of retirement by then-rookie head coach Andy Reid when he became head coach in 1999.  It might have been Reid's first and best move.  Johnson was responsible for the Eagles' relentless blitzing defense that has been so formidable over the last decade — a defense that kept Reid's erratic offense in an awful lot of games.  It's rare that an assistant coach should seem like the heart and soul of a team — but Reid's stoic demeanor has left him the outsider and Johnson was the feisty center.  RIP, Jim.

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