The Sixers' New Ownership Has Gone Overboard on Fan Involvement

The Sixers' New Ownership Has Gone Overboard on Fan Involvement

@SixersCEOAdam
Adam Aron YOUR OUR TWITTER GM: Name 1 or more current Sixers you believe MUST be on roster next year, 1 or 2 you'd trade and why... "KEEP: TRADE:"
Apr 18 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

You can say I'm overreacting, but I think this is a mistake.

It's one thing to poll fans on whether they'd like a Moose for a mascot or if they want back an epic warm-up song that the franchise will only barely use, because those are mostly meaningless decisions.

Fandom is by its nature a knee-jerk, emotional and rarely rational experience. If it involved being level-headed or measured, it would cease to be fandom, but rather, to an extent, objective analysis. See if you can tell the difference between these three sentiments:

-- Lou Williams sucks. He can't play defense. He takes too many shots. He sucks.
-- Lou Williams is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Play him 48 minutes a night.
-- Lou Williams is a change-of-pace reserve who is one of the best-undersized scorers in the league, but has very real limitations to his game at both ends of the floor.

The third sentence is a reasonably accurate depiction of Lou Williams of which Lou's teammates, coaches and basketball operations executives are all well-aware. So why do the Sixers need need to wade through reactions from fans of one extreme or the other to learn what they should already know?

Before I get too far into this, I'll state right here that I am fully on-board with Adam Aron and the new ownership's embrace of both the fans and social media. I like that they want us involved. I like that they care what we think. I like that they make us finally feel valued. And I really like that Aron himself took the time to comment on this website a few months back in response to our reaction to the team's new commercial campaign.

It's just that there's a difference between making the fans feel necessary and merely pandering.

And it's because I believe, or at least hope, Aron won't be taking these tweets seriously that this move feels like pandering.

To borrow from Asante Samuel, this isn't a fantasy league. The National Basketball Association exists under the most complex collective bargaining agreement in North American sports. Franchises are made or ruined for years by just a single move. Under the old ownership, this organization already wasted millions and much of the last decade trying to appease its fans  with poor financial and basketball decisions that were never leading to a championship.

I like to think of myself as a largely in-touch fan and yet I have no idea what kind trade exceptions the Sixers may or may not be holding onto. I don't know which teams are and aren't interested in Andre Iguodala nor, more importantly, what they would offer in return. And I don't have the first clue what free agents will or won't be available in the summer of 2014. These are all questions that are essential in discussing player movement, rather simply declaring "amnesty Brand now" without any consideration of how, why or when the team should do it just because a casua
l fan or season ticket holder is feeling frustrated.

Those who know do know the answers to the preceding questions are the basketball operations executives the Sixers are paying to chart to the long-term course of the franchise in order to win a championship. That's the goal -- win a championship. When those individuals put their brains and resources together to win a title, they won't have to worry about what the masses think, because the masses will be on board. Sixers fans want success, or as Doug Collins has been calling it to a lesser degree: "relevance." The twitter promotion was a nice change of a pace at the start and can still be a great wrinkle for this organization going forward, but it has reached its limits when it comes to roster dissection.

As counter-intuitive as it sounds, as much as the Sixers should care about making the fans happy, they shouldn't care about what those fans want on a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of a devastating losing streak. When they ask what the fans think about their roster, it isn't hip, catchy, or new-media savvy. It's insulting. There are people in the organization who spend everyday with the players, who live and breathe basketball, and who get to watch the college and pro game up-close every night either is in session. They're the talent evaluators. Not the fans. Unless the Sixers come across someone who was shouting from the South Philadelphia rooftops in 2010 that J.J. Barea would be a vital cog in a title team, they shouldn't listen.

So, sure, continue to ask us what we think of a new lighting scheme, insist on our thoughts about a moose for a mascot, and call our home phones to ask how to make better use of "1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Sixers." Those are the some of the best elements of a new fan-owner partnership.

But don't ask for your fans for advice on how to shape your basketball roster. Because it feels like pandering, and fans deserve better.

Best of MLB: Beltre's 2 home runs lift Rangers over A's

Best of MLB: Beltre's 2 home runs lift Rangers over A's

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Adrian Beltre hit his second home run of the game with two outs in the ninth inning, a two-run shot that rallied the Texas Rangers past the Oakland Athletics 7-6 on Monday night for their third straight win.

Beltre, who finished with four hits, had two singles in his first three at-bats before hitting a solo homer in the seventh. His game-winning drive came on the first pitch from Ryan Madson (3-4).

Until then, Texas had trailed since Danny Valencia hit a two-run homer for Oakland with two outs in the first. All 13 runs in the game were scored with two outs.

Texas turned three double plays behind starter Martin Perez, who has induced a major league-best 25 in 21 games.

Valencia also had the first of three run-scoring doubles in a three-run third that gave the A's a 5-1 lead (see full recap).

Blue Jays' Sanchez wins 10th straight decision
TORONTO  -- Aaron Sanchez pitched seven shutout innings to win his 10th consecutive decision, Kevin Pillar had three hits and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the San Diego Padres 4-2 on Monday night.

Sanchez (11-1) became the first Blue Jays pitcher to win 10 straight since Roy Halladay won 15 decisions in a row in 2003. Halladay and Roger Clemens (1998) hold the club record.

Making their first appearance in Toronto, the Padres were held scoreless until Alex Dickerson hit a two-run homer off Bo Schultz in the ninth.

Dickeerson's drive into the fifth deck extended San Diego's team-record streak of games with at least one home run to 23. The 2006 Atlanta Braves were the last National League team to homer in 23 straight games.

Roberto Osuna replaced Schultz and got two outs for his 21st save (see full recap).

Orioles top Rockies for 5th straight win
BALTIMORE -- Adam Jones scored the winning run in the 10th inning on a low throw to the plate by pitcher Jordan Lyles, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Colorado Rockies 3-2 on Monday night for their fifth straight victory.

Jones reached on a one-out single off the third-base bag and took third on a single by Jonathan Schoop. Manny Machado followed with a comebacker to Lyles, who fumbled the ball before throwing home. Catcher Nick Hundley caught the ball near the ground and lost the handle while attempting to tag the sliding Jones.

Lyles (2-3) was charged with an error on the play.

Getting two RBIs from Jones, the Orioles climbed a season-high 18 games over .500 (58-40) and improved to 37-14 at home.

Chaz Roe (1-0) worked the 10th for the win (see full recap).

Trade candidates — especially Jeremy Hellickson — lead Phils to shutout of Marlins

Trade candidates — especially Jeremy Hellickson — lead Phils to shutout of Marlins

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — Jeremy Hellickson was standing in front of his locker speaking with reporters after his second strong outing in a week against the Miami Marlins when Cameron Rupp walked by an offered his take on all the trade talk surrounding the veteran pitcher.

“He’s not going anywhere,” Rupp said loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.

Hellickson laughed at his catcher’s commentary.

“I hope not,” he said.

If Hellickson really wants to stay with the Phillies and finish out this rebuilding season instead of moving to a contender for the final two months — and possibly beyond — he did himself a disservice Monday night.

He enhanced his attractiveness to potential buyers by pitching six shutout innings in the Phillies’ 4-0 win over the Miami Marlins (see Instant Replay).

Hellickson, who sports a 3.65 ERA in 21 starts, needed just 70 pitches to get through the six innings. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter with runners on second and third and two outs in a scoreless game in the top of the seventh. Ryan Howard struck out, following Cody Asche and Peter Bourjos, as the Phillies whiffed on a golden scoring chance.

“I hated taking Hellickson out of the game there, but we had an opportunity to score and I had to go for it,” manager Pete Mackanin said.

“After we didn’t score, I didn’t think we had a chance to win this game. I just thought that with their bullpen we were in trouble.”

The Phillies ended up winning with a rally against Miami’s bullpen. Tommy Joseph delivered a clutch, two-out double against Fernando Rodney in the eighth to score Maikel Franco from first. That was the only run the Phillies needed. They tacked on three against the sloppy Marlins in the ninth to finish it off.

Hellickson, David Hernandez, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez then combined to allow just one base runner in three innings to finish off the Phillies’ 11th shutout of the season. That’s the most in the majors.

“Our bullpen did a great job,” Mackanin said.

Three of the four pitchers that the Phillies used in the game — Hellickson, Hernandez and Gomez — are very much available for trades. They all pitched well with a gaggle of scouts sitting behind the backstop. A number of contending clubs — the Cubs, Orioles, Giants, Rangers and Blue Jays — had scouts at the game. Pitching, starting and relief, is high on the needs list for most of those teams.

Of course, the Marlins are looking for pitching, too. They have interest in Hellickson, though it’s not clear whether he is a top target of theirs. Maybe he will become a top target after what he’s done to the Marlins in the last week. Hellickson has pitched 14 innings over two starts against the Marlins. He has given up just six hits and a run.

“Just executing,” said the pitcher, explaining his success. “In my last two games the ball has been down for the most part. I’ve just gotten a lot of easy outs. The ball's down and not missing too many spots right now.”

Hellickson will be a free agent this winter and does not appear to be in the club’s future plan. Nonetheless, he has steadfastly said he would like to remain with the club for the rest of this season. Phillies management is not opposed to keeping Hellickson. He provides veteran stability and innings to a young rotation. But management would move Hellickson for a player that has the potential to help in the future.

Trade rumors can be distracting for a player. But Hellickson, who has been dealt twice in his career, is locked in.

“It doesn't bother me,” he said. “Once I'm in this locker room — obviously you still see it on TV and stuff — my focus is on helping us win today. Now it's on to the next start. It's been like this for a few years now so it's pretty easy to go out there right now.”

Mackanin said he had no idea what will become of Hellickson’s fate. But if the pitcher stays, he won’t complain.

“At this point, I don’t want to lose him,” Mackanin said. “I wish he could stay here. He’s that solid for us. He’s been like that the whole year.”

The Phillies needed a good pitching effort to pull this one out. Their hitters struck out 13 times, left 11 men on base and went just 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

“We don’t show plate discipline,” Mackanin lamented. “We’re taking fastballs early in the count that are hittable pitches. If you’re going to take fastballs early in the count that are hittable pitches, you cannot swing at breaking balls in the dirt. That’s all I can say about that. We have to have more plate discipline.”

On the positive side of that, Franco and Rupp both walked three times, and Franco’s two-out walk in the eighth became the biggest run of the game on a night when Jeremy Hellickson and his status with the Phillies was the biggest storyline.

Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Marlins 0

Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Marlins 0

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — Jeremy Hellickson continued to enhance his trade value and Tommy Joseph had the big hit in the Phillies’ 4-0 win over the Miami Marlins on Monday night.

Hellickson shut down the Marlins for the second time in a week. The next time he pitches, it could be for them. The Marlins are one of the teams interested in the veteran right-hander. Scouts from several other contending teams were in attendance for Hellickson’s strong outing.

Joseph’s two-out double in the top of the eighth broke a scoreless tie.

Phillies pitching held the Marlins to two hits. The Phils have 11 shutouts this season.

Starting pitching report
Hellickson pitched six scoreless innings and gave up just a hit and a walk while striking out one. He exited for a pinch-hitter after just 70 pitches. The right-hander has pitched 14 innings and allowed just one run in his last two starts, both against the Marlins. He has lowered his season ERA to 3.65.

Miami’s Jarred Cosart came up from Triple A and pitched five scoreless innings. However, he threw 92 pitches. He allowed three hits, a walk and struck out one.

Bullpen report 
Trade candidate David Hernandez pitched a strong seventh inning for the Phils, picking up the win. Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez closed it out.

Miami right-hander Kyle Barraclough came up big in the top of the seventh inning. He struck out Cody Asche, Peter Bourjos and pinch-hitter Ryan Howard with runners on second and third to preserve a 0-0 tie.

Marlins right-hander Fernando Rodney struck out the first two batters in the eighth then gave up a four-pitch walk to Maikel Franco before Joseph’s two-out double delivered the game’s first run.

Rodney took the loss.

A.J. Ramos was charged with three runs in the ninth, two unearned.

At the plate
The Phillies survived 13 strikeouts, a 1-for-9 performance with runners in scoring position and 11 men left on base to score the win.

The Phils had just six hits. Joseph had a pair of them and now has 25 RBIs in 54 games.

Cesar Hernandez gave the Phils some cushion with an RBI single in the top of the ninth. Miami’s defense fell apart after that and the Phils scored two more runs to put the game away.

Asche had a hit to break an 0-for-26 skid. Bourjos is 0 for his last 17.

Trade talk
Andres Blanco is out for six weeks so he’s no longer a trade candidate, but others are (see story).

Up next
Jerad Eickhoff (6-11, 3.98) pitches against Miami right-hander Tom Koehler (7-8, 4.42) on Tuesday night. Koehler pitched eight innings of two-run ball in beating the Phillies last week at Citizens Bank Park.