Daily News staff gives its wishes for 2015
Daily Newsers offers their suggestions on what they'd like to see different in sports for the coming year.
The Daily News sports staffers were asked what they would like to see happen in the sports world in 2015. Their responses:
Ed Barkowitz, sports writer
Now that there is somewhat of a thaw in our governments' relationships, the Phillies oughta send a bunch of carpenters and electricians down to Havana and literally start building an undeniable presence in Cuba. Hopefully, the nebulous days of the 20-year-old pitcher who is actually 32 are in the past and the Phils can take advantage of the fertile ground of talent.
I also wouldn't mind seeing Geno Auriemma coach a men's team.
Chuck Bausman, executive sports editor
A refreshing change in Philly sports in 2015 would be winning - something, anything. Another refreshing, and much needed, change would be for the Flyers to move out of the organization for their next coach, as they did with Mike Keenan in 1984. The Flyers, famous/infamous for looking within, would serve themselves well with a fresh approach.
Les Bowen, Eagles beat writer
This isn't the Miss Universe contest?
Oh. Well, I guess I have a few other thoughts.
I cover football, and I think about concussions a lot. I'm not sure there is much more to be done right now in terms of diagnosis and treatment. What I would like to see is a miracle - a helmet that reduces brain trauma significantly better than the current models. And for players to truly understand the importance of keeping your head up, that in the long run, it might be a lot more important than getting/stopping the first down.
In a more general sense, I'd like to see evidence in 2015 that at least one of Philadelphia's pro teams is on the right track toward a championship. Just some encouraging hints. All I ask. From somebody. Four freaking teams. That's all, really.
Aaron Carter, sports writer
I'd like to see the NBA meaningfully change its draft lottery process to dissuade "tankers." A league in which Boston, New York and Philadelphia are simultaneously irrelevant - and at worst punch lines - is unbearable. Also, while we're wishing for things, let's see at least one professional team in the town in the playoffs.
Bob Cooney, Sixers beat writer
I would like to see the fans of Philadelphia be rewarded for their unquestioned passion, which is among the best in this country. That means for them I would like to see the Eagles truly become Super Bowl contenders under Chip Kelly; the Flyers to find a fresh vision moving forward; the Phillies to build a successful farm system that can yield glory years like the ones that just came to an end; and for the incomparable restructuring plan of the 76ers to come to fruition.
Doug Darroch, deputy sports editor
I'd like to see the Phillies overhaul their organization from top to bottom, and I'd like to see them develop so-called prospects into legit big-leaguers. It would be nice to see the Flyers become good enough to contend for the Cup. And for the Sixers to bring back Pat Croce to at least make losing fun. I'd like to see the Eagles find their franchise quarterback, if they don't already have him, and develop a Super Bowl-worthy defense.
What I'd like to see disappear are 4-hour baseball games, three-point shots and the bottomless pit of timeouts in basketball, hockey shootouts, and bad calls on pass interference that somehow aren't subject to replay review. Above all, I'd like to see domestic-violence headlines disappear.
Paul Domowitch, sports writer
I'm all for the whole viva la difference stuff. With one exception.
It's time for the National League to get in line with the American League and finally adopt the designated hitter.
It's stupid for major league baseball to continue to have two different rules about something so important.
It would be like the AFC allowing blitzing and the NFC forbidding it. With so much interleague play, there needs to be a uniform rule regarding the designated hitter. And don't give me that whole "strategy" argument. Nothing is more overrated in baseball than the double switch. And nothing is so awful as watching a pitcher try to hit.
Sam Donnellon, columnist
I would like to see a full recovery by Flyers defensive prospect Shayne Gostisbehere and the accelerated maturation of 6-7 prospect Samuel Morin, also a defenseman. I would like to see some sign that the Sixers know what they're doing. Along those lines, I would like to see signs that Chip Kelly's system will lead toward an NFL championship. Finally, I would love to see the interim tag taken off Pat Gillick, and watch him take one more stab at building yet another contender.
Bill Fleischman, sports writer
I would like to see Jeff Gordon win at least one more NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. The last of four titles won by Gordon was in 200l. Also, NASCAR needs more diversity: Its diversity program has been in place for several years, yet Kyle Larson (Japanese-American mother) is the only driver in the Sprint Cup series.
On the college football front, I'd like to see university presidents wake up and realize it is absurd to pay head football coaches $3 million to $4 million a year.
Marcus Hayes, columnist
It might be nice if, in 2015, athletes, coaches and front-office personnel would stop referring to their crimes and misdeeds as "mistakes," and for the press to stop referring to them as such.
Ray Rice's knockout shot wasn't a mistake; it was a violent case of domestic abuse.
Jim Irsay's relapses weren't mistakes; they were dangerous indulgences of a diseased man.
Alex Rodriguez's and Ryan Braun's use of performance enhancers weren't mistakes; they were willful acts of lying cheats.
Donald Sterling's racism wasn't a mistake; it was the measure of the man.
Mistakes are actions taken based on decisions whose intent differs from the result. Ignorance can be a valid defense.
None of the aforementioned didn't know what they did was wrong.
Their "mistake" was thinking they would not get caught.
Stan Hochman, columnist
I would love to see those hedge-fund carpetbaggers sell the Sixers to a local group, because I don't have an ounce of confidence that they can transform this mediocre roster into a contender anytime soon. I would like to see the Phillies start their painful rebuilding process without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. And I would be thrilled to see Villanova in the Final Four.
Dick Jerardi, sports writer
I would like to see the traffic jam on I-65 North on Monday, April 6, if Kentucky and Louisville are about to play for the national championship in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. I would also like to see that game.
Fast forward a month, I would really like to see a son of Afleet Alex win the Kentucky Derby, a race that the 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes really deserved to win a decade ago.
Jake Kaplan, sports writer
Not for the remainder of this season, obviously, but I would like to see the Sixers show the first sign of improvement next season with, presumably, four, maybe even five, healthy lottery picks on the floor. At some point, you have to show some semblance of progress in the third season of general manager Sam Hinkie's unprecedented rebuild.
Mike Kern, sports writer
I would like to see the Eagles get a quarterback who can really, finally, make Chip Kelly's system work best. And some defensive backs to make sure the other guys' offense doesn't. I'd like to see the Phils give us a prospect or two who will finally make us feel better about the future. I would like to see the Sixers finally draft somebody who can play and help right away. And I'd like to see the Flyers really move into the Ron Hextall rebuilding era, whatever that ultimately means.
Ryan Lawrence, Phillies beat writer
I'd like to see the Flyers and Phillies bring fresh minds into their respective front offices, and not continue to recycle their own people, people who think like everyone else in the organization for the last quarter century. New, unfamiliar faces. Fresh perspective. How many sports organizations in any American city can even boast one team whose personnel hierarchy is basically the franchise's alumni club, let alone two?
I'd like to see a better way for David Montgomery to eventually return from his medical leave of absence, for someone (anyone?) to formulate a plan. The more than 2 months of rumors are more than unfortunate. Although he's certainly part of the aforementioned organizational loyalty, Montgomery is also a very good man. We wish him good health in 2015.
A few more parting wishes: I'd like to see the Sixers use a lottery pick to select someone who will actually play in 2015, and perhaps a future All-Star type, not an Evan Turner-type; I'd like to see the Eagles organization drop the arrogance - they haven't won in my lifetime, or in the lifetime of my some of my older Daily News colleagues; and I'd like to see one of the local college basketball teams (Temple?) make a surprising run in March Madness, because no time of the year is more fun than when the unexpected happens.
Drew McQuade, assistant sports editor
In 2015, let's have less talk about how great Philly teams will be in the future. That's as useful to me as a Sixers mascot. I would love to see Sam Hinkie drive his tank into the sunset, near 1-800-Got-Armored-Vehicles on Passyunk and use the cash for a long European vacation, while Brett Brown drafts a Sixer who actually plays right away. The Eagles could draft a first-round pick who makes more than zero tackles in his first season and put out APBs for speedy cornerbacks who can cover and a starting quarterback who completes passes to his own players.
The Flyers need to fire pucks, instead of blanks, in shootouts and locate inspired play. For the multiplying statheads out there, the only analytic I care about is GPS on fly balls for Phillies outfielders. More than one pitching ace would be nice, too, but I expect a unicorn to take the mound before that happens.
Mark Perner, copy editor
I want the end of tanking. Sick of it. I would first like to see the Sixers optimize their first-round pick in the 2015 draft by either drafting a franchise player (Jahlil Okafor) or trading the pick for a key veteran and/or two more lottery picks. And then they need to try to win in earnest starting with the 2015-16 season. I also would like to see the Eagles finally address their need for defensive backs. And I'd like to see the Flyers come to the realization that they are nowhere near as good as they think they are.
Frank Seravalli, Flyers beat writer
This year, the Flyers will spend more money on defensemen ($25,025,000) than any team in the Eastern Conference besides Montreal. That figure does not include the salaries of Chris Pronger ($4.91 million) and Kimmo Timonen ($2 million). The Canadiens' mark is at least understandable, considering they have a Norris Trophy winner in P.K. Subban ($9 million) roaming their blue line. Montreal even went as far as acquiring 40-year-old Sergei Gonchar ($4.5 million) just to be a power-play specialist. That's the luxury salary-cap space affords teams who budget correctly.
I'd like to see general manager Ron Hextall trade at least one or two of their high-priced defensemen, who have been more or less interchangeable this season on one of the NHL's worst defensive teams. The Flyers have the NHL's No. 1 and No. 3 scorers in the league, yet they rang in the New Year in 25th place. Prospects Shayne Gostisbehere and Samuel Morin are knocking at the door. Just clearing salary-cap space, without even much in return, would be an improvement and a sigh of relief for Flyers fans. The kids need a clear path to the NHL.
John Smallwood, columnist
I'd like to see a true megastar athlete make the city home. I miss the days of Allen Iverson and Eric Lindros, when we had two transcendent stars who kept the name of Philadelphia on the tips of every tongue. The sports world revolves around superstars, and it is time Philadelphia got another of its own.
Bob Vetrone, scoreboards editor
Too much of a good thing ceases to be a good thing . . . Welcome to the NHL tiebreaking shootout . . . Or rather, let's say goodbye to the shootout. Let's allow as much of the actual game of hockey decide it, as possible.
First thing you want to do is award three points to any team that wins in regulation; if you award three points for overtime/shootout games (two for the winner, one for the loser), then make all the games worth three points. That will force teams to press more at the end of regulation.
Next: Play your 4-on-4 sudden-death overtime period for 5 minutes. Still tied? The visitors then get a 5-on-3 power play, set the clock at zero and have it tick up until the time they score. Then the home team goes on a 5-on-3 power play with the clock starting at that time and ticking down. If the home teams score before time runs out, they get the two points. If not, the visitors get the deuce.