The Evster: So We’re Really Goin’ with Riley Cooper as our #2 WR, Huh?

The Evster: So We’re Really Goin’ with Riley Cooper as our #2 WR, Huh?

So what you’re telling me is that the Philadelphia Eagles – the organization who once employed Jerome Brown – is starting Riley Cooper at wide receiver. Riley Cooper. The 5th round draft pick and extremely mediocre wide receiver who also happens to have a really shafty haircut (and tends to be somewhat of a racist). That Riley Cooper. I just want us to all understand what’s going on here, because the season starts Monday. This Monday. And yet, as of now, Riley Cooper, yep, Riley Cooper, the same Riley Cooper I was just referring to -- a guy who has 46 catches in 3 NFL seasons and heckles concert security guards by calling them the N word -- is one of our starting wide receivers. Just so we’re all on the same page here. This is actually happening.

But for now, let’s forget about the fact that Riley Cooper used racial slurs at a Kenny Chesney concert and simply focus on the fact that he WENT to a Kenny Chesney concert. Because in order to do so, a few things must have taken place, it’s not like you’re just walking down the street one day and suddenly stumble into a Kenny Chesney concert. This was a premeditated event, something Riley actually wanted to do. Riley must’ve heard that Kenny Chesney was coming to town, taken interest in getting tickets to the show, found a way to get tickets (either through purchasing them himself or receiving freebies like athletes often do), then, on the night of the show, he still had to say to himself, “Yeah, this is a good idea. I’m gonna go check this Chesney guy out. I like Kenny Chesney,” then put on clothes for the concert, find a way to get himself to Lincoln Financial Field, enjoy the concert so much that he wanted to go BACKSTAGE to possibly meet Mr. Chesney and join in on the Chesney festivities, and then finally call that black dude the N word and end up as the Eagles most (publicly) racist wide receiver ever. I don’t know about you, but that’s not really the type of starting wide receiver I want on my football team. Granted, our other starting wideout (WHO I LOVE) is a bit of clown who made a rap video this offseason with Snoop Lion (WHICH IS AWESOME), but I’ll take that over a racist, country music fan with Goldilocks hair any day.

Then there’s the whole part about Riley Cooper sucking at football. In Riley’s 3-year NFL career, his most famous play has been when he LAID DOWN ON HIS BELLY on a kickoff return. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t really remember AJ Green or Roddy White ever practicing tummy time during any point of their NFL careers. Even if Riley showed great promise, was a late bloomer and had potential to break out like many unknown wide receivers tend to do, wouldn’t he have shown SOME of those signs throughout the last few years? Or preseason games? Or ever? And would an Eagles starting cornerback take a swing at a guy in practice just days before the season opener if he thought his teammate was worth anything to the squad? That might not be a good question, because Cary Williams seems like a total lunatic, but still, why would anyone want to go through life with such a stupid haircut?!?!

But he’s a starter! A starter for our favorite professional football team. So this year, the Eagles will have a dog-killing quarterback (WHO I ALSO LOVE) throwing touchdowns to a redneck idiot. Seems like a double standard, I know, that we can love Vick but still hate Riley, but Michael Vick is GOOD and Riley Cooper is BAD. (Err, I guess you could argue that Michael Vick sucks too, but at least he’s fun to watch, while Cooper is embarrassing to look at, especially when he takes off his helmet and shakes his long locks like my 13-year-old cousin, Leah.) Vick can throw a football through a linebacker’s face or leap over a whole guy at any moment, so we support him. And yes, that’s probably unfair to Riley, but this is THE GRIDIRON, and at every level from Pop Warner to high school to the THA ARENA BOWL, the best players have always received special treatment. This is nothing new. The bottom line is that Michael Vick has a rocket arm and jackrabbit legs and that Riley Cooper has a dumb name and a dumb face.

(Plus, for all intents and purposes, Vick has been a pretty good guy since he got to town. His teammates love him, he has done charity work in the community (The Vick Foundation recently donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a new football field in Fairmount Park) and as far as I know, he has not killed one single dog since he’s been here.)

All right, I could go on and on about Riley sucking and being a racist and doing commercials for Vidal Sassoon, but at some point you have to stop complaining and start asking, “What can the Eagles do about it?”

Well I feel like they could still do a few things:

1. They could cut Riley and start Jason Avant at WR2, Demaris Johnson at WR3, Vince Papale at WR4 and my Aunt Maxine at WR5. I guess that’s probably not the best plan, but with the number of tight ends on this roster, it just might work, and my Aunt Maxine is a WARRIOR who smokes A LOT of cigarettes.

2. Find someone else. I know, I know, I know, how could a new receiver possibly learn Chip Kelly’s before Monday Night? (And to make things even more difficult, the game has an early start time.) But after the latest round of NFL cuts, there are some decent dudes out there: Robert Meachem, Mohamed Massequoi, CHAD HALL, some dude I saw walking down the street the other day in a Michael Crabtree jersey … now, I understand that these guys got cut for a reason, they probably suck too, but I’d rather have them on the squad than a racist, no-talent butthead who wanted to go backstage to meet Kenny Chezzy Chezz.

3. They could just get rid of him and figure it out.

#SecretSnapper

But who cares what I think? I’m just a fan, just like you, and we have no say regarding what the Eagles do with their roster. So what can we really do? I guess we could boo Riley every time he runs out on the field, gets targeted, drops a pass, scores a touchdown, takes off his helmet and whips his hair in the breeze, anything to tell the organization that we don’t approve of their personnel decisions or Riley’s lousy play. Unfortunately, many Eagles fans tend to be degenerate racists, so I can’t imagine anyone actually going for that.

Personally, I hope the guy breaks his leg week 1. That’s not true, I don’t really wish that, but I hope something happens to prevent him from playing for our team. But I doubt anything will. Riley’s here, he’s in the starting lineup and we’re just gonna have to suck it up.

So when Vick (or Foles or Barkley or David Duke) throws up a fade to Riley in the end zone and he comes down with it and that stupid fight song starts playing and the guy next to you holds up both palms for a double high five, I guess we’ll just have to take a deep breath and go along with it. Maybe deep down we can celebrate Vick and the state of Virginia’s rehabilitation program. Or maybe we'll be reminded that football is the ultimate team game and it’s not necessarily Riley’s touchdown, but one shared by everyone on the roster. Or maybe we can just log onto Twitter to see that stripper who takes off her clothes every time the Eagles score.

Seriously, @AnnaPHCPhilly. Check her out. She’s a dancer at Cheerleaders and takes an article of clothing off every time the Birds score. It’s called “Pics for Points” and it’s honestly amazing / really, really, really weird and I CANNOT WAIT for our first score.

Seriously, I will compromise everything I’m about for one picture of a woman’s bare butt.

Follow the Evster @TVMWW.

Mackanin benches Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders as Howie Kendrick ramps up rehab

Mackanin benches Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders as Howie Kendrick ramps up rehab

Having seen his team's offense produce just six hits and one run in the previous two games, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin benched Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders on Tuesday night.

The benchings could last more than one game.

"I'm not going to tip my hand because I don't know what my hand is yet," Mackanin said. "I feel like I have to do something to get some offense in the lineup and there comes a point in time where I'm trying different things.

"At this level you've got to produce. You want to play, you've got to hit and they have to understand that. Nobody is here on scholarship."

Franco and Saunders opened the season hitting fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Phillies' batting order.

Entering play Tuesday, Franco was hitting just .221 with a .281 on-base percentage and a .377 slugging percentage.

Saunders was hitting .227 with a .273 on-base percentage and a .383 slugging percentage.

Franco was leading the team with 28 RBIs and tied for second with six homers, but his inconsistency and inability to harness his free-swinging approach was wearing on Mackanin. Franco swung wildly at breaking balls on Monday night and struck out twice. The 24-year-old third baseman has worked hard on developing a more disciplined approach with hitting coach Matt Stairs, but has been unable to consistently incorporate those adjustments into his game.

Mackanin said he was surprised by Franco's consistent struggles. He hoped the benching would take some pressure off the player.

"Befuddled is a good word," Mackanin said. "As much as he works in the cage and on the field in batting practice and does it right, when he gets in the game his head is still flying and his bat is coming out of the zone.

"You've heard me say this many times: Hitting is like riding a bike. I can't teach you to keep your head in there. I can tell you to do it, but you have to do it on your own and he's got to figure it out. Guys have to figure it out. They have to figure out how to get the job done. Whether it's cut down on your swing, choke up, use a different bat, use a different stance, do something different. If you make outs the same way over and over, it's not going to change."

Andres Blanco started at third base in place of Franco and Ty Kelly was in the lineup in left field with Aaron Altherr moving into Saunders' spot in right.

Quite notable was that on the same day that Franco and Saunders went to the bench, Howie Kendrick ramped up his rehab from an abdominal strain. He took batting practice outdoors for the first time since the April 15 injury. He could be ready for a minor-league rehab assignment later this week and be ready to play in the majors next week. Kendrick can play both corner outfield spots and both corner infield spots, so he could push Franco and Saunders for work if he hits and they continue to struggle.

Lifeless Phillies should call up red-hot Roman Quinn ... why not?

Lifeless Phillies should call up red-hot Roman Quinn ... why not?

The Phillies are a lifeless team right now.

For a while the starting pitching was the biggest issue, then it was the bullpen, now it's the offense. The Phils have hit .224 since May 12, which was when their 2-7 road trip began. 

Their .268 on-base percentage over that span is worst in the majors and their .613 OPS is better than only the Mariners.

Players up and down the lineup are slumping. Odubel Herrera has hit .207 with a .246 OBP since the ninth game of the season. Michael Saunders hasn't given them much at any point. Maikel Franco had an eight-game hit streak snapped Monday, but even still is hitting .221 with a .281 on-base percentage. 

At this point, why not bring up Roman Quinn and play him every day? It makes too much sense right now.

Daniel Nava went on the 10-day DL Monday with a hamstring strain suffered Friday in Pittsburgh. It doesn't seem to be a serious injury, but why not use the open space as an excuse to bring Quinn up for at least a few days and see what he's got?

Quinn could infuse some energy and life to the top of a sputtering lineup. Bat him second, play him in the corner outfield and see what happens. At the very least, he'd be a defensive upgrade over Saunders. At the most, Quinn's hunger to stick in the majors could result in a hot streak that sparks the top of the order the way Herrera does when he's hot.

Quinn is hitting lately at Triple A, batting .333 with a .424 OBP over his last 15 games. He showed last September that he can be an offensive catalyst with his ability to beat out infield singles, bunt for hits and spray the ball. Yes, he strikes out too much for a leadoff-type hitter, but it's just hard to see the downside of a call-up right now.

The argument against bringing Quinn up now is that it's too early to sour on Saunders, a player the Phillies signed in hopes of trading at some point. But think about how much Saunders would have to do to have worthwhile trade value. Yeah, you could flip him somewhere for a negligible return or some salary relief, but he'd have to be extremely productive for at least a month to get a team interested in trading a minor-leaguer of any value for him.

Pete Mackanin has tried many things to spark the Phils' lineup, moving Herrera and Franco down, sitting guys, challenging guys. The best solution, perhaps the only solution right now, might be a move made over his head to promote the Phils' speedy, switch-hitting outfielder who has a future with them so long as he stays on the field, which he has this season.

As for Rhys Hoskins and Jorge Alfaro, who have also hit very well at Triple A, they just happen to play the same positions as Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp, who have been the Phillies' most reliable bats the last few weeks.