The Evster: the Sixers are cool but the Wells Fargo Center still kinda sucks

The Evster: the Sixers are cool but the Wells Fargo Center still kinda sucks

Don't let the Sixers fool you. Despite their bonkers start, this organization is still completely and totally incompetent. I love Evan Turner, and I would jam my tongue into Michael Carter Williams's mouth, and I am almost, almost, almost ready to cheer when Spencer Hawes makes a three-pointer, but this team still has a lot of work to do before I spend my hard earned money on a trip down to the Wells Fargo Center.

Luckily, as a rising internet celebrity, I now get free tickets to games thanks to some guy on Twitter (who I've never met before). Seriously, some random dude gave me free tickets to the season opener vs. the Heat and also to the following week's game vs. the Wizards. It's incredible. He didn't even ask me to send him any barefoot pics or anything (yet). He just gave me the tix, and I went to the games, and snapped a bunch of photos for you sad, pathetic common-folk who still have to pay to attend sporting events because you don't have OVER EIGHT HUNDRED LOYAL TWITTER FOLLOWERS.

So here you go you sorry sack of inbreds: some sweet pics of life down at the Wells Fargo Center as well as some photographic evidence that the Sixers brass still spend most of their time sucking their own butts.

For the season opener vs. the Heat, the Sixers pulled out all the stops, hiring a group of mummers to perform outside the arena. The Mummers got the party started with some timeless ragtime hits while thousands of parents hurried their children through the turnstiles, imploring them to not make eye contact with the sad, weird troll people.

The following Wednesday? Not quite the same fanfare outside the arena, but still a pretty awesome way to greet the fans ...

... with a dumpster parked out front.

Just your standard, black, dirty, disgusting dumpster.

Come on down to the Wells Fargo everyone! Watch your step around the dumpster though. Couldn't move that before the game tonight. Just parked it right out front. Right in front of our multi-million dollar facility. Open the lid and see what you can find in there! Could be a dead mummer!

Aw man, I'm sorry I don't have a better picture of these bozos. These were the DJs hired to PUMP UP THE JAMZ when you first entered the arena. I wish I could remember their names, it was something like DJ Dazzle and his buddy DJ Razzle. Obviously those weren't their names, those are ridiculous names, but it was something like that. DJ Razzle had to be 55 years old. He kept putting his hand down on the DJ table to steady his balance. And yes, that's a Toyota Corolla in the background. They were playing Bruno Mars when I first got there.

This is a "Chicken American" sandwich from Chickie's and Pete's. I figured it'd be a smart move to go with a known Philly entity instead of some Aramark dogisht that'd been sitting under a heat lamp since last seez. Turns out the Chicken American is just three chicken fingers on a seeded roll with no cheese, no tomato and no taste. Very simple. Very basic. VERY American. Oh sorry, it did have a small dipping container of honey mustard sauce along with it though. So there's that. It cost $10.50. I ended up just eating the chicken fingers on their own after developing a severe case of lockjaw from trying to pry my mouth open wide enough to jam it all in there. It was seriously the driest sandwich I've ever eaten. But that's all right, at Sixers games you can always wash anything down with a nice cold brewski from the ...

BUD LIGHT BLUE ZONE.

CHIEW, CHIEW, ZIEWZZ (those are the slashing sounds of the Bud Light Blue Zone)

A little chilly in the Blue Zone last Wednesday. Too chilly in fact for them to open up shop. Same for this gem of a hot dog stand ...

PREMIUM PHILLY FLAVOR.

What does that even mean?!?!?!?

CHIEW, CHIEW, ZIEWZZ

My friend who I was with had a hankering for some "Assorted Candy" which I thought was going to be a bunch of different hard candies thrown into a bag. I realize now that that would've been ridiculous, but at the time it seemed like something the Wells Fargo Center would possibly offer. When my friend asked the dude behind the counter what kind of assorted candy they had, he told her they only had Twizzlers.

Now I personally think Twizzlers suck, but that's neither here nor there, the fascinating part is that this was OPENING NIGHT. The Sixers had an entire offseason to stock up on candy, and yet, apparently they decided to go with JUST THE TWIZZLERS. On top of that, this all took place the week of Halloween, so they easily could've gone to a local supermarket and loaded up on candy. But nope, just the Twizzlers was enough. JUST THE TWIZZLERS.

Let's talk about the Sixers Flight Squad, shall we? (Who I am totally fine with by the way, I am totally fine with them.) I am all for people running around like idiots and launching themselves off of trampolines and ramming their faces headfirst into a basket. I'm honestly shocked that Slam Ball wasn't a huge success. But these dudes need to RE-LAX. 95% of the time they're on the court, they're just trying to pump up the crowd by yelling things like, "C'MON!" and "LET'S GO!" and "DJ RAZZLE ON THE SCRIBBLE SCRABBLES!" There's just so much clapping and so much head-nodding. None of them know how to properly throw a t-shirt.

The picture above was taken around 20 minutes before tip off (still plenty of great seats available!) when the Flight Squad came out for a little impromptu break dance sesh. It was so embarrassing. Whenever someone did a flip, all the other members of the squad would go, "Ohhhhh!!!" and then another guy would do a Jackknife or something and they'd all go, "OHHHHHHH!" and then another guy would do some sort of Swizzle Shift and I don't even know what that means, but that's seriously the only way to describe what this young man was doing with his body. At the moment this photograph was taken, two of the dudes were doing the Kid and Play dance. They had one kind of candy in the arena, folks. Twizzlers. Just the Twizz.

The Flight Squad's gametime performance was a whole 'nother story. End to end explosiveness (with even more clapping and head-nodding and pump-up-the-crowd action). The dude in front of me (pictured above) was so into it that he actually filmed their dunks. He was probably 24 years old.

Later, when the Sixers cracked the century mark, he asked me how to redeem his free Big Mac coupon. I told him he had to go to section 101 to exchange his ticket for the coupon and when I finished explaining this to him, he repeated everything I said just to make sure he knew what to do. I found this very endearing. He was very excited to get his Big Mac. I was excited for him too.

See that cotton candy dude? Probably a very nice person. Well, he had the audacity to ask a little kid if he wanted strawberry cotton candy or blueberry. I wanted to be like, "Dude, it's blue and pink. There's no difference in flavor. Cotton Candy is the flavor," but instead I actually kept my mouth shut for the first time in my life. I didn't catch the little kid's response, but I'm guessing it was something like, "You're an idiot, right?"

Also, if you had to call them different flavors, the blue would obviously be blue raspberry!

This is who greets you when you enter the bathroom. The poster boy for Horizon Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning. I don't know about you, but no plumber, heating guy or air conditioning dude has ever entered my house looking that presentable.

Before allowing any blue-collar worker into our home, my wife will lay down a giant tarp at the front door just so they don't track in any dirt, mud, or some sort of dead animal that might be attached to the bottom of their boots. Also, that guy and that lady are TOTALLY gonna pork. The sexual tension is PALPABLE. Look how he's making eye contact with her HARD. I feel sad for that lady's husband. If I was a stay at home mom, I would have sex with every person who came to my front door. FACT.

The team store didn't have any Michael Carter Williams jerseys (they were being delivered the following Wednesday, because WHY HAVE THEM READY FOR OPENING NIGHT?), but they did have TWO different key chains: a $7 version with the Sixers logo on it and an $8 SPENCER HAWES JAWN with an imitation human torso.

I've never understood why people need key chains in the first place. They're so bulky and annoying to carry and now that jeans have gotten considerably skinnier, they dig into your thighs and omg am I really talking about key chains let's just end this post immediately.

The Evster writes the blog TV My Wife Watches where he writes about TV his wife watches. You can follow him on Twitter @TVMWW or you can follow his wife @DianeSawyer.

Vince Velasquez is subject of serious trade talks between Phillies, Rangers

Vince Velasquez is subject of serious trade talks between Phillies, Rangers

ATLANTA — Seven months after he was acquired from the Houston Astros and anointed a key piece in the Phillies’ rebuild, pitcher Vince Velasquez could be on the move again.

The Phillies and Texas Rangers are “pretty deep” in trade discussions involving Velasquez, a major league source told CSNPhilly.com on Friday night (see story).

The Rangers’ interest in Velasquez was reported by Jon Morosi of MLB Network earlier in the week and essentially confirmed when three Rangers scouts, including Scott Littlefield, one of that club’s top talent evaluators, showed up at Turner Field for Velasquez’s start against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Velasquez delivered a solid but unspectacular performance in a 2-1 loss to the Braves, but he still has the qualities that attracted the Phillies to him last winter. He’s just 24 years old and has a power arm that has produced a 3.32 ERA in 18 starts. He has the upside to pitch at or near the top of a rotation if his development goes in the right direction and he stays healthy. That is a legitimate concern because he had Tommy John surgery as a young minor leaguer and spent time on the disabled list earlier this season with a biceps strain.

The question now is: where will Velasquez continue his development? Philadelphia? Texas? Somewhere else?

Clearly, the Phillies’ big wintertime acquisition is in play as Monday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline approaches.

Manager Pete Mackanin said he knows nothing of the front office’s trade plans, but he offered his opinion on trading a young pitcher like Velasquez.

“Our whole goal was to get young pitchers because they’re the most expensive commodity and if you can develop young pitchers like him and have four or five of those guys, then you’re ahead of the game,” Mackanin said. “But at the same time, at least as far as I’m concerned, I’ll listen to any offers. If you get three guys that are really good looking prospects because pitching is such a commodity, I’m sure you have to consider it.”

With the Rangers' scouts looking on, Velasquez pitched six innings and gave up seven hits and two runs. He walked two and struck out five. His fastball reached 96 mph, proving that his stuff is good. Mackanin, however, said he thought Velasquez relied too much on his off-speed stuff instead of his power fastball.

“It was unusual to me the way he pitched,” Mackanin said. “It was almost like a finesse pitcher instead of a power pitcher. I’m not arguing with it because he did a good job, but he made me a little nervous here and there. I like the 16 strikeouts.”

That, of course, was a reference to Velasquez’s 16-strikeout complete game win over the Padres on April 14. Could anyone have imagined that he'd be the subject of trade talks 3½ months later?

Velasquez said he was aware of the trade buzz surrounding him and unbothered by it. He’s been down this road before. He said he would not be disappointed if he were traded because he understands baseball is a business.

“At first when I got traded from the Astros it was kind of tough for me, but you have to move on and make the best of what you've got,” Velasquez said. “If things happen, just let it happen. If I go to another team, then I've got to make the best of what I've got there. There's a lot of things that are in the future. I don't know what to expect is what I'm saying. Again, all I can do is live in the present and live another day tomorrow. If something happens, something happens. I've got to make the best of what you've got today.

“It's just one of those things I can't control. I had to fight, had to battle for a spot here in Philadelphia and I'm very thankful for the opportunity and everything. Again, I've still got to keep working hard and make the best of what I've got.”

Any team looking to acquire Velasquez would have to pay a steep price. In addition to having talent and upside, he won’t be eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2018 season and free agency until after the 2021 season.

The Phillies have a good knowledge of Texas’ deep farm system having scouted it extensively — and plucked from it — in making the deal for Cole Hamels a year ago. Are the Phillies about to fuel their rebuild with more talent from the Texas system? Stay tuned.

Velasquez isn’t the only Phillies starter who could move. Several teams remain interested in Jeremy Hellickson (see story), who is scheduled to pitch against Atlanta on Saturday night. The Rangers, in fact, have some interest in Hellickson as a fallback option if they don’t get a pitcher elsewhere. Velasquez is not the only pitcher the Rangers have on their radar, but from a Phillies’ perspective, he is certainly the most interesting.

Best of MLB: Rougned Odor homers twice for Rangers in 8-3 win over Royals

Best of MLB: Rougned Odor homers twice for Rangers in 8-3 win over Royals

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rougned Odor homered twice, A.J. Griffin pitched into the sixth inning and the Texas Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals 8-3 on Friday night.

Jurickson Profar also went deep for the Rangers, and scored three runs.

Odor hit a solo homer in the first that put AL West-leading Texas up 3-0 against Edinson Volquez (8-9). That 443-foot drive into the second deck of seats in right field came a night after Odor's 465-footer that is the longest in his career. He had another solo shot in the seventh, his 21st of the season barely clearing the 8-foot wall in right.

Eric Hosmer homered for the defending World Series champion Royals, who dropped to 10 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central.

Griffin (4-1) had his longest outing in seven starts in just over a month since coming off the disabled list because of right shoulder stiffness. The right-hander struck out one and walked two while throwing 66 of 98 pitches for strikes in 5 2-3 innings (see full recap)

Chatwood, Gonzalez lead Rockies over Mets for 4th win in row
NEW YORK -- Tyler Chatwood kept winning on the road, Carlos Gonzalez homered and drove in four runs and the Colorado Rockies defeated the New York Mets 6-1 Friday night for their fourth straight victory.

Mark Reynolds also homered for the surging Rockies, who are 11-4 since the All-Star break and have moved within four games of Miami for the second NL wild-card spot.

Chatwood (10-6) improved to 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA away from Coors Field this season. The 26-year-old is 4-6 with a 5.69 ERA at home.

Gonzalez matched a season-high hitting streak of 11 games with an RBI double in the first. He hit a 448-foot, three-run drive in the ninth for his 21st homer.

Steven Matz (8-7) gave up two runs and 10 hits in six innings (see full recap)

Lester recovers from rut of bad starts, Cubs rout Mariners
CHICAGO -- Jon Lester recovered from a rut of bad starts, pitching six shutout innings that led the Chicago Cubs over the Seattle Mariners 12-1 Friday for their third straight win.

Jason Heyward and David Ross homered as the NL Central leaders improved to 9-5 since the All-Star break following a 1-9 slump. Seattle lost in its first trip to Wrigley Field since 2007.

Lester (11-4) had lasted just 16 innings over his previous four starts, going 1-1 with a 10.13 ERA. That skid came after he had gone 9-3 with a 2.03 ERA in his first 16 starts.

Lester gave up four hits, struck out seven and walked two. He was already done when there was a 74-minute rain delay in the seventh.

Mike Montgomery, traded last week from Seattle to the Cubs, pitched the final two innings. He gave up a single to Shawn O'Malley in the ninth for the Mariners' run.

Hisashi Iwakuma (11-7) had won his last five starts, but gave up five runs and eight hits in three innings (see full recap).

Source: Phillies, Rangers in 'pretty deep' trade talks about Vince Velasquez

Source: Phillies, Rangers in 'pretty deep' trade talks about Vince Velasquez

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — The Phillies lost, 2-1, to the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

The big news from this game, however, was that Vince Velasquez might have made his last start with the Phillies. A major league source told CSNPhilly.com that the Phillies and Texas Rangers are “pretty deep” in trade discussions involving Velasquez. The Rangers, the source said, also have some interest in Jeremy Hellickson, who pitches for the Phillies on Saturday night, but he appears to be a secondary target (see story).

It would take top talent to get Velasquez, a 24-year-old right-hander with a power arm. The Phillies acquired him over the winter from Houston as the centerpiece in the deal that sent Ken Giles to the Astros.

The Rangers had several scouts at the game, including Scott Littlefield, one of their top talent evaluators.

The Rangers’ interest in Velasquez was reported earlier in the week by Jon Morosi of MLB Network.

Apparently there’s more than just interest (see story). Stay tuned as Monday’s trade deadline approaches.

Starting pitching report
Velasquez scattered seven hits and two runs over six innings. He walked two and struck out five. Velasquez battled some command issues and needed 91 pitches to complete the six innings.

He is 8-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 18 starts. He has a 2.75 ERA in six starts since a brief stint on the disabled list with a right biceps strain.

Braves right-hander Tyrell Jenkins gave up just one unearned run over six innings.

Bullpen report
Both bullpens pitched scoreless ball.

At the plate
Phillies leadoff man Cesar Hernandez reached base in his first three at-bats and scored the Phillies’ only run on an error in the third inning. 

The Braves scored two runs in the third inning on three singles, a sacrifice bunt and a walk against Velasquez. Gordon Beckham and Nick Markakis drove in the runs with base hits.

Up next
Hellickson (7-7, 3.65) makes perhaps his final start with the Phillies on Saturday night. He will face Braves right-hander Julio Teheran (3-8, 2.71).