The Phanatic, Mike Trout and a Philly Dilemma For the Ages

The Phanatic, Mike Trout and a Philly Dilemma For the Ages

Last Thursday morning, the WIP Morning Show featured one of those deep, philosophical discussions that's long been synonymous with that show. Angelo asked the question that has dominated the sports discussion in Philadelphia, at the ballpark and at Memorial Day barbecues:

Would you trade the Phillie Phanatic for Mike Trout?

These are the questions that try men's souls. Obviously, we all want Trout. He's a 22-year-old outfielder who can do it all, on offense and defense. And even better, he's a hometown guy, who grew up in South Jersey, a mere 40 miles away from Citizen's Bank Park. Unfortunately, he's signed with the Angels until 2020, so we can't have him until then.

Unless, that is…. we surrender the big green guy.

Would you do it? Tempting as it is… I wouldn't. The Phanatic has two World Series rings, two more than Trout (and indeed, more than any Phillies player ever.) His contract is much more favorable. In all, the Phanatic is more indispensable than any player. Who's going to be the mascot in his place? Swoop? Phil E. Moose?

And worst of all, would you like to be the guy who has to tell the Phanatic he's going to Anaheim? I know I wouldn't.

In a trade for Trout, I'm willing to give up Ben Revere, John Mayberry, and possibly even Cody Asche. But not the Phanatic. No way.


I know it's not entirely on him, but I can't help but vent my disappointment at Sam Hinkie, as the Sixers were only able to come up with the #3 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery. Clearly, they should have tanked more, or at least tanked smarter. Even worse, Hinkie once again refused to answer questions from the media after the lottery. Why can't Hinkie tell us, right now, who he's planning to draft? I think we're entitled as fans to that information.

You know why we got #3? Because the Sixers sent Dr. J, and not Allen Iverson, to represent them. The last time the Sixers got the #1 pick? It was Iverson. Plus, the after-party would have been way more fun.

I'm not sure who the Sixers will draft, but I think it's up to us fans to help them make their choice. So some of us- 30 or so- should get a bus up to New York, go to the draft, and sort of nudge the Sixers in the right direction. I see no downside to doing this.

Anyway, Charles Barkley said this week that he plans to retire from TV in two years and wants to be a GM. Do the right thing, Sixers- fire Hinkie, hire Barkley. Because at least you know he'll talk to the media.


You know, now that I've thought about it, maybe we should try the Halladay/Lee thing: Trade the Phanatic for Trout and then, a year from now, re-sign the Phanatic as a free agent for six years and $126 million, and hope his elbow holds up. All right, sounds like a plan.


Jon Stewart last week became the latest member of the national media to commit an anti-Philadelphia hate crime, making fun of our fans, cheesesteaks and (yes) even the Phanatic on his show.

I'd like to hear Stewart make those jokes while standing at the 50-yard line of the Linc during an Eagles game. Not so tough now, huh Jon?

Speaking of late night TV, The Tonight Show recently aired a segment in which Yankee fans were told to boo a life-sized cutout of ex-Yankee Robinson Cano, until the real Cano came out, and they all immediately back-tracked and hugged him. Please. Try that bit in Philly, with, oh, Bryzgalov or Andrew Bynum, and we'll keep right on booing the guy to his face.


Okay, hypothetically, if we do this Trout/Phanatic deal- will the Angels take Papelbon's contract too?


Also on the subject of vicious national media attacks on Philadelphia and its teams- can you believe the Sporting News named Ruben Amaro the worst general manager in baseball? Shame on them- calling him out as the worst general manager in baseball is OUR job.


Okay, fine. Trade the Phanatic for Trout. I'll bite the bullet. Now, if we can just convince the Angels to trade the best player in the game for another team's mascot…

Other Philly sports takes:

- I was excited to hear the Phillies are planning to move Cody Asche to the outfield in 2015. Nobody likes to switch around players' positions, but if you're dealing with a once-in-a-lifetime talent like Asche, you've just got to find a way to keep his bat in the lineup.

- The Phillies are missing on-field intensity and killer instinct. That's what they get, for failing to invite Mitch Williams as a spring training instructor.

- I can't believe the Mets, in 2014, signed Bobby Abreu. How stupid can a team be?

- Connor Barwin of the Eagles said on the morning show a few weeks ago that he'll soon host an indie rock concert, to be attended by several of his teammates. If I were them I'd tell Riley Cooper the wrong night.

- It's hard to believe the Phils got no-hit, with Cesar Hernandez and Ben Revere in the lineup. Besides the no-hitter, the mysterious Cliff Lee injury, and the general, ever-present air of doom and gloom present every day at the ballpark, I'm actually feeling not so bad about this Phillies season.

Follow @FakeWIPCaller on Twitter.

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Many, though not all hockey games, have a tipping point or pivotal moment that factors into the outcome.
Sometimes it’s obvious what it was and when the moment occurred. Other times, it’s overshadowed by something else on the ice.
Ask the Flyers which moment would define their come-from-behind 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo on Tuesday and the response will be virtually unanimous: when Dmitry Kulikov leveled Jakub Voracek with a high hit that made contact to the head in the third period.
Voracek was forced off the ice under the NHL’s concussion protocol.
That hit incensed the Flyers, who went on to score two power-play goals and tie the game, 3-3. The comeback was on.
Yet there was a less obvious but significant point that happened late in the second period, and it concerned goalie Steve Mason.
Matt Moulson had given Buffalo a 3-0 lead on Michal Neuvirth at 15:43, when Flyers coach Dave Hakstol elected to make a goalie switch.
Rather than call a simple timeout to buy Mason some warm-up time and allow his team to collect itself on the bench, Hakstol challenged the goal, claiming “goalie interference.”
Replays won’t show any direct interference on the shot itself. Neuvirth was speared several seconds before the play developed.
Hakstol knew the goal would likely not be overturned, but his strategy was to buy time for Mason and his team. By using a challenge, he knew the review process would take a lot longer than the 60-second timeout.
Either way, he was going to use his only timeout.
“You know what, I think we needed a timeout at that time, anyway,” Hakstol said coyly. “Pretty low probability of it being successful. Everything worked out well in the end.”
Mason appreciated what his coach did, too. Buying extra time for you?
“Yeah, probably,” Mason replied. “Regardless of the situation, you’re sitting on the bench, you know? You’re not really gauged as much as when you’re playing, obviously. So, you just try and ramp things up as quickly as possible.”
Mason had two saves in that shortened period, five in the third period and one in the overtime to register his second victory.
“There’s a never-quit attitude in this room,” he said. “We showed in Chicago — we were just talking about that. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to close that one out.
“But guys have a belief that you get one [moment] and it comes. [Travis Konecny] got us going with his first NHL goal, which is great. The guys really pushed to capitalize on their chances.” ​

Who's after LeBron? CSN's top 25 NBA players poll

Who's after LeBron? CSN's top 25 NBA players poll

No matter how much you rely on analytics and logarithms in determining who are the best players, ultimately it becomes about judgment.
Should win shares have a greater value than a player’s winning percentage in the playoffs? Is defensive rating a better barometer about a defender’s ability than say, defensive field goal percentage differential?
And how much do you weigh how they fare versus playoff teams and non-playoff teams?
A legitimate case can be made for all those numbers and many, many more, being used to rank the top 25 players.
When I started looking at the data and breaking down what’s worthwhile and what’s shall we say, is worthless, it became pretty clear that this should not be a one-person job.
So I enlisted the help of my fellow CSN Insiders who each bring a different but valuable perspective to the ranking of players.
And so the only thing that made sense was to take all of our rankings, compile them together and voila! We made a beautiful, bouncing list of more than two dozen players.
The scoring for this is pretty simple.
Each Insider picked 25 players, ranking them from Nos. 1-25. Their No. 1 pick received 25 points, No. 2 got 24, No. 3 got 23 and so on.
Here is the first CSN Top 25 NBA Players list, in addition to our "others receiving votes" group.
25. Al Horford, Boston (19 points)
“You can find others with better stats not on this list, but Horford’s track record of success in Atlanta (playoff trips every year he was there, five trips out of the first round in eight postseasons he played in) makes him worthy of being a top-25 player in the NBA.” – A. Sherrod Blakely
24. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers (22)
“He can’t shoot free throws, but he can rebound and play defense with the best of them. Jordan didn’t deserve his All-NBA first team selection, but he’s still a high quality long as Chris Paul is tossing up lobs.” – James Ham
23. Andre Drummond, Detroit (23)
“An emerging center who’s the league’s second-best finisher and rebounder, and without that free-throw problem, he would be higher. But … how close to his ceiling is he already?” – Vincent Goodwill
22. Marc Gasol, Memphis (24)
“One of the best passing big men in the game and also one of its best defenders. Has a soft shooting touch and off-the-charts basketball IQ.” – Jason Quick
t-20. Kyle Lowry, Toronto (32)
“Lowry came into the 2015-16 in the best shape of his career. The result was a career year and a two seed in the Eastern Conference. At 30, Lowry may have peaked, but if he can hold this level for another year or two, the Raptors will continue to post 50-plus wins.” – James Ham
t-20. Carmelo Anthony, New York (32)
“One of the more complete scorers but hard to evaluate as he hits the back end of his career; Probably the last season as a primary player on a good team, if the Knicks are to be one.” – Vincent Goodwill
19. John Wall, Washington (42)
“After being All-Defense two years ago, Wall fell off because of bad knees that required surgery on May 5 and yet he still averaged 20 points and 10 assists last season. At 6-4, a big, physical point guard with top-notch speed. Improved mid-range shooter off the bounce but still not a threat in catch-and-shoot situations or from the three-point arc.” – J. Michael
18. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers (56)
“Coming off an injury-plagued season that limited him to 35 games, Griffin still has a ways to go in diversifying his game. Fixing his footwork would help as would moving the ball quicker to create for teammates, but now he's trying to extend his range to the three-point arc. That can be a very good thing or a very bad thing.” – J. Michael
17. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota (63)
“The potential is frightening. Towns burst into the league last season and performed well-beyond his rookie year. He enters his second season with a dominating skill set and a year of wisdom from Kevin Garnett.” – Jessica Camerato 
16. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio (65)
“Owns deadly combination of inside moves and silky mid-range shot, which includes an unblock able turnaround jumper.  Also an above-average defender who can block a shot then beat his man down the court.” – Jason Quick
15. Jimmy Butler, Chicago (75)
“One of the best two-way players in basketball, perhaps the most unlikely player this high on this list. Is there another leap in performance for a guy who’s made three already in his career?” – Vincent Goodwill
14. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland (82)
“His playoff run and more importantly, Finals performance, showed he’s the perfect complement to LeBron James. Not a pure point, but perhaps the best scorer ever at the point guard position.” – Vincent Goodwill
13. Klay Thompson, Golden State (89)
Comment: “Cold-blooded shooter from deep has the temerity to play fabulous defense on the opponent’s more dangerous backcourt player. A two-way All-Star.” – Monte Poole
12. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento (96)
“Cousins will take note of his ranking and treat each of us accordingly. He too has a list. And we are all now on it. He’s the best big in the game and he’s primed for the biggest season of his career.” – James Ham
11. James Harden, Houston (101)
“He could get just about any shot he wanted to in the past, and now that he’s going to be the starting point guard, there’s no reason why this guy shouldn’t lead the league in scoring, handily.” – A. Sherrod Blakely
10. Damian Lillard, Portland (102)
“A superb leader who makes everyone in his locker room better, Lillard is also a fearless shooter who craves the big shot. Needs to improve his defense and his shooting percentages, but is emerging as one of the game’s best playmakers.” – Jason Quick
9. Anthony Davis, New Orleans (103)
“Davis, a double-double machine, is returning from injury. Will he play more than 70 games for the first time in his career? It remains to be seen how much Davis will help the Pelicans improve from their 30-win season.” – Jessica Camerato 
8. Draymond Green, Golden State (115)
“At 6-7, can defend an All-NBA center such as DeAndre Jordan or switch onto an elite point guard such as Chris Paul and win those battles. Green isn't a system player. He is the system for Golden State, which allows the other All-Stars on the team to prosper while he does a lot of the dirty work.” – J. Michael  
7. Paul George, Indiana (129)
“Can score, rebound, defend and now with a clean bill of health, George and his retooled Pacers teammates will be a force in the East this season.” – A. Sherrod Blakely
6. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (134)
“An elite defender and floor general, the nine-time All-Star is also probably one of the NBA’s best competitors, which rubs off on his team. At age 31, the question is how much longer can he continue to check the young point guards?” – Jason Quick
5. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio (149)
“Leonard's impact on the Spurs will be magnified this season following the retirement of Tim Duncan. Look for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year to try to get his team back atop the West.  – Jessica Camerato
t-3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (155)
“Tied for 3rd with his new arch nemesis? Westbrook will statistically flourish in his new role as King of the Dust Bowl. It may not lead him to a Western Conference showdown against Durant and his Warriors, but it’s hard to count him out.” – James Ham 
t-3. Kevin Durant, Golden State (155)
“Famous for scoring from deep, he is deadly on the block, a default rim protector, the best rebounding small forward alive and has a full grasp of the team game.” – Monte Poole
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State (162)
“Back-to-back MVP, including first unanimous winner, his incredible shooting range stretches defenses like no one we’ve ever seen. A legitimate game-changer. – Monte Poole
1. LeBron James, Cleveland  (175)
“DJ Khaled’s “All I do is win” hit from 2010 really should be the soundtrack to LeBron James’ career which now includes title bling in two cities – Miami (2 titles) and Cleveland – that could not be any more different. Hands down, he’s the best in the game right now.” – A. Sherrod Blakely 

Others receiving votes: DeMar DeRozan, Toronto (15 points); Mike Conley, Memphis (15); Paul Millsap, Atlanta (14); Hassan Whiteside, Miami (13); Isaiah Thomas, Boston (8); Gordon Hayward, Utah (7); Chris Bosh, Miami (3).