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.

Matt Klentak: Trade was about doing the right thing for Carlos Ruiz

Matt Klentak: Trade was about doing the right thing for Carlos Ruiz

The Phillies’ decision to trade beloved catcher Carlos Ruiz to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday was ultimately made by Ruiz himself.

“This was about doing the right thing for Carlos because he has meant so much to this organization,” general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday night.

“Once Carlos cleared trade waivers last week, we started thinking about it. The Dodgers expressed some interest. Pete [Mackanin] and I talked to Carlos over the weekend. We discussed whether he wanted to finish the year with us or get the chance to chase another championship ring.

"He took a few days to discuss it with his family and got back to us Wednesday in Chicago and said that he'd be interested in exploring the opportunity and we finalized things with the Dodgers today.”

As a veteran of 10 seasons in the majors and five consecutive with the same team, Ruiz, 37, could have vetoed the deal. He chose to accept the deal because he wanted another chance to play in the postseason. He will serve as a backup to catcher Yasmani Grandal with the Dodgers, but is expected to get playing time. Ruiz's .368 on-base percentage from the right side of the plate could be a nice complement to the lefty-hitting Grandal.

The Phillies acquired the Dodgers’ backup catcher, veteran A.J. Ellis, minor-league pitching prospect Tommy Bergjans and a player to be named later in the deal. The Phils will not decide on the player to be named until after the minor-league season ends in mid-September. The Phils also sent an undisclosed amount of cash to the Dodgers. Ruiz is owed about $2 million in the form of salary and a contract buyout for 2017. Ellis, 35, is finishing up a one-year deal that pays him $4.5 million.

"This deal was not motivated by cash,” Klentak said. “It was about doing the right thing for Carlos, giving him the chance to get another ring.”

Klentak said he was "adamant" about getting Ellis back in the deal. The Phillies have two catching prospects in the upper minors in Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp, but the club would like to see them finish their minor-league seasons.

“Carlos has been such an important leader for so long, we knew we had to fill a role on and off the field,” Klentak said. “There is a reasonably good chance one of our young catching prospects will be in the big leagues before the season is over. Both our Double A and Triple A teams are in pennant races and we believe it's important for them to continue to get meaningful at-bats and play in meaningful games.”

Ellis is expected to join the Phillies in New York this weekend. It’s not easy going from a first-place team with legitimate World Series hopes to a rebuilding club.

“I talked to A.J. this afternoon,” Klentak said. “He is a true professional. It's never easy for a guy who has been in one place his whole career to be told out of the blue that it's time to go. A.J. is determined and excited about contributing to the Phillies.”

Bergjans, a 23-year-old right-hander, pitched at Haverford College. He was an eighth-round draft pick of the Dodgers in 2015 and is 3-13 with a 4.98 ERA for Single A Rancho Cucamonga this season. He has 133 strikeouts and just 29 walks in 130 innings.

"Tommy was an excellent college performer,” Klentak said. “He has controlled the strike zone well in a tough league. We're always looking to add starting pitching and we had a chance to do it. He strikes out better than a batter an inning and limits walks which was appealing.”

Sources: Phillies shake up amateur scouting department

Sources: Phillies shake up amateur scouting department

The Phillies have undergone massive changes on the field and off over the last couple of seasons.
 
Those changes have reached the club’s amateur scouting department.
 
According to major league sources, the club recently fired three longtime members of that department, including Mike Ledna, a high-ranking coordinator and national cross-checker. Ledna was the No. 2 man under former scouting boss Marti Wolever, who was let go two years ago and replaced by Johnny Almaraz.
 
Almaraz has overseen the last two drafts with a staff of mostly holdover scouts. He has clearly begun to put his stamp on the department with his recent shakeup. Ledna’s firing was preceded by the club’s decision to part with Steve Cohen and Paul Scott. They covered the talent-rich state of Texas.
 
It is not clear whether more changes on the scouting staff are coming. Over the last year or so, the Phillies have hired a new club president (Andy MacPhail), general manager (Matt Klentak) and manager (Pete Mackanin). The playing roster has also been churned, most recently with Carlos Ruiz being traded to the Dodgers on Thursday (see story). His parting leaves Ryan Howard as the lone member of the 2008 World Series championship team still with the club.

Soul's ArenaBowl chances hinge on slowing Rattlers' potent offense

Soul's ArenaBowl chances hinge on slowing Rattlers' potent offense

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The postseason accolades and awards are nice, but Soul defensive back Tracy Belton has a much higher goal.

Named as the Arena League Football Defensive Player of the Year during an awards ceremony Friday, Belton, considered the passion and spirit of the Soul defense, is more than comfortable putting aside individual honors and pushing his teammates to greater heights.

Reaching the ArenaBowl against the Arizona Rattlers Friday in the Gila River Arena (7 p.m./ESPN) the prize is out there, and Belton has his blinders firmly affixed. The focus and concentration is not in question, so the task ahead remains paramount.

“I want that ring, I need that jewelry,” Belton said during media day Friday. “Oh yeah, it would definitely be nice to get that ring.”

To obtain that shiny piece of hardware, Belton and his defensive teammates have the task of trying to shut down the most potent offense in the league.

Guided by quarterback Nick Davila, the AFL’s Most Valuable Player, the Rattlers are averaging 80.3 points per game. From an offensive standpoint, Arizona led the AFL in many offensive categories, including scoring, total offense, rushing, third-down conversion and fourth-down conversion.

To complement the offense, the Arizona defense ranked first in the league in defensive scoring defense, rushing defense, interceptions, turnover ratio and sacks allowed.

In a league which glorifies offense, the task ahead for the Soul defense is considered a challenge. After all, these teams each finished with a 13-3 mark and each defeated the other team on their home turf.

“To win this game, we hope they make mistakes,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said. “They are very explosive, but our secondary is playing at a high level. For us, we need to limit our mistakes.”

If Davila, who is the first player in AFL history to win the MVP award three times, is to be challenged, the Soul’s offense need to be proficient. Coming into the ArenaBowl, the Soul averaged 59.0 points per game. That was good enough for fourth in the league, but quarterback Dan Raudabaugh put up better numbers, in certain categories, than Davila.

In head-to-head competition, Raudabaugh tossed more touchdown passes (14 to 13), passed for more yards (541 to 431), completed more passes (48 to 32) and averaged more yards per game (270.5 to 215.5) through the air. Yet, the Rattlers’ offense is swift, quick, efficient and lethal.

“In this league, the quarterback is the most important position,” Davila said. “You have to make decisions quickly, and facing a defense like Philly, that’s the challenge for us. It’s about limiting mistakes. The team which makes fewer mistakes is the team that usually wins.”

Notes
Since the Phoenix Mercury are scheduled for a home game in Talking Stick Arena in downtown Phoenix Friday night, home site for the Rattlers, the title game was switched to home of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes. … Among league leaders this past season for the Soul, Belton was fourth in tackles, Jake Metz led in sacks, Darius Reynolds was sixth in receiving and Jeramie Richardson was second in rushing. … In comparison of QBs, Raudabaugh was second in the league in passing (101 TDs, 63.3 passing percentage) and Davila placed third (110 TD passes, 69.6 passing rating). … This is the third league title meeting between these two teams. The Soul dropped the previous two championship games, 72-54 in 2012 and 48-39 in 2013.