LEGO-like Phillies Toys Exist and They're Both Awful and Amazing

LEGO-like Phillies Toys Exist and They're Both Awful and Amazing

I don’t know about you, but I loved Legos as a kid. I had the castle, I had the pirate ship, I even had a little ice cream truck so the knights & pirates could stop by for creamy treats on the way to more swashbuckling adventures.  Sadly, my love for baseball never had a place in Legoland.  Maybe it should have stayed that way.  This week I discovered that Oyo, who describe themselves as “compatible with brand name building toys” has filled that gap.  Like their off-brand nature, they present the Phillies as represented in Lego Oyo form, to varying degrees of accuracy.

The Outfield

Due to the constraints of the figurine form, Dom Brown and Ben Revere are the same height.  Due to the constraints of not wanting to get too specific about skin color, Dom Brown and Ben Revere are the same complexion.  The “Jr.” is dropped from Mayberry’s name—though his dad never played for the Phillies, the figurine has just the right amount of “generic black guy”ness to make the Fox broadcasting crew disregard that historic tidbit. Righty pull-hitters have it made vs. the Phillies’ defense, as all three outfielders seem only capable of running to Right Field.  There is no figurine for Delmon Young, leaving me to keep searching for the perfect Chanukah present for my nephews.

The Infield


Ryan Howard looks exactly like Dom Brown, right down to the facial hair. Nevermind that there’s like 50 lbs separating them.  Michael Young is just happy to be here, you guys. If he looked any more generic, he’d literally just be a manila envelope wearing a plastic baseball cap.  Jimmy Rollins is probably the coolest of all the not-Lego figurines.  He’s got a sweet goatee, and a smile that says he knows it.

They’ve actually improved on the real Chase Utley, in that his torso can’t twist and strain an oblique.  And based on all that lunging he’s doing, his knees are stronger than ever!  Freddy Galvis is there to fill in for Utley, and introduces a new color of plastic skin—vaguely brown: used for Latin American players not from the Dominican, as well as Shane Victorino.

Catchers

Now that they’ve expanded the line to mascots, it’s only a matter of time til Erik Kratz gets a little plastic turkeypig to talk him through breakfast, right?

I fear I may have buried the lede here, because if you compare 2013 Carlos Ruiz to his 2011 version, it’s clear that he’s taken up tanning and gotten Botox.  Forget ADHD medication, this is the real story!

Pitchers

I can see the resemblance with Roy Halladay’s beard, but I really can’t get what they’re going for with Cliff Lee. That’s not even his hair color, and he looks downright dastardly. What’s even more confusing is that his earlier iteration had lighter (and more accurate) facial hair. They’ve gone all Brian Wilson on him, and I don’t know why. Meanwhile, Cole Hamels has impeccable eyebrows, and that’s about as far as the resemblance goes.  There is no Kyle Kendrick because I guess the Oyo’s aren’t buying the hype. And there’s no fifth starter because the less said about that, the better.

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In 1st game post-Ersan Ilyasova, Dario Saric shines as Sixers' starting PF

In 1st game post-Ersan Ilyasova, Dario Saric shines as Sixers' starting PF

When Ersan Ilyasova was traded to the Hawks on Wednesday, it became Dario Saric's time to shine.

And shine he did in the Sixers' 120-112 win over the Wizards Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center. In the first game coming off the All-Star break, Saric got the starting nod at power forward. He certainly looked the part, posting 20 points (10 of 19 from the field), 11 rebounds and four assists.

Saric, now the only true four on the roster, was proud of his team's performance against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

"We have a lot of veterans who can share the ball and that's how you're supposed to play," Saric said. "For me I'm not surprised if we [beat the third-best team] in the East, but I believe these guys can play very good basketball."

Saric was excellent in the starting role, but his exceptional play dates back before the All-Star break. Including Friday, he's averaged 20.5 points, eight rebounds and 2.5 assists over his last six games. The Sixers are 4-2 in that span.

Head coach Brett Brown is seeing what he expected to see from the Croatian rookie.

"He's a professional basketball player," Brown said. "He has been that for a while. His love of the game, his passion for the game is contagious. It's a thing that we loved maybe more than anything about him when we did the deal with Orlando, knowing however many years ago with the trade with Elfrid Payton and Saric. That was a calculated move."

Saric played almost 33 minutes Friday night. So what did Brown do to give Saric a breather? He sent out Robert Covington.

Covington has played the position most of his life but has spent his entire Sixers career on the wing. In a time of need, he stepped up for a team still adjusting to roster changes.

The 6-foot-8 Covington held his own against the likes of Philly native Markieff Morris. It didn't seem to faze his offensive game, either. Covington scored 25 points on 9 of 14 from the field (5 of 9 from three). He also added 11 rebounds and three assists.

Covington has also been a catalyst for the Sixers during their recent success. He's averaging 17.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 steals in his last six. He's also shot a ridiculous 46 percent from three (19 of 41) in that span.

"We can only control what we're able to control on the court," Covington said. "Everything outside of what they do in management doesn't include us. We can only focus on what we can control on the court, and that's what our main focus was on these last few days."

Saric continues to show that he was worth wait while Covington continues to prove that he's a keeper.

They've certainly had different paths. Saric was a lottery pick and regarded as one the top young players in Europe. Covington went undrafted out of Tennessee State and spent the 2013-14 primarily with the Rockets' D-League affiliate.

Bryan Colangelo has identified Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as the team's "transformational players." That's likely true, but every NBA team needs guys like Saric and Covington to complement their stars.

Covington is impressed with the progress of Saric in his rookie season.

"Dario's a very special player," Covington said. "He's able to do so much on the court. Tonight, you saw every aspect of his game. He'll guard, defending, rebounding and making plays on the offensive game. That's what Dario does. Now that he's going to play more in the starting lineup, it's really going to help him."

Saric may be the frontrunner to take home the Rookie of the Month for February. He's second only to Joel Embiid in double-doubles (seven) and 20-point games (six) among rookies. Whether it's Saric or Embiid, it appears the Rookie of the Year will be a Sixer.

His promotion to the starting lineup and wins against teams like the Wizards should only help Saric's cause.

"Maybe you see [me start consistently], maybe not," Saric said. "The game first time here I try to find myself. I got a couple rebounds, but still I try to find myself with the new role. I've tried to move around, catch the rhythm of the game, that's the most important thing in basketball."

He appeared to find himself just fine Friday night.

For Shayne Gostisbehere, Dave Hakstol, Stadium Series brings back cherished memories

For Shayne Gostisbehere, Dave Hakstol, Stadium Series brings back cherished memories

PITTSBURGH -- For Flyers coach Dave Hakstol and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, tonight’s Stadium Series game between the Flyers and Penguins brings back memories.
 
Hakstol coached North Dakota in an outdoor hockey in college, while Gostisbehere participated in one as a freshman at Union College.
 
For Hakstol, however, this whole idea of outdoor hockey began when he was growing up in central Alberta in the small town of Drayton Valley.
 
“I think everybody’s got great memories of growing up outdoors,” Hakstol said. “We had a back creek that we could shovel off. I’m sure everybody could sit back and tell you stories of playing on the outdoor rinks.
 
“For me, most recently, I’ve got two kids growing up playing on outdoor rinks, backyard rinks. It’s pretty cool. It takes you right back to the heart of the game.”
 
Hakstol’s outdoor coaching experience came during a game between Nebraska-Omaha and his North Dakota squad in 2013 at the “Mutual of Omaha Battles on Ice.”
 
“I don’t know how to describe it,” Hakstol said of the event. “It’s just a different feel. It’s an ideal scenario.”
 
He said while tonight's game is special, it’s still about the points, first and foremost.
 
“You are cognizant of everything that surrounds the event and the game,” Hakstol said. “Yet for us, it’s two points. We’re fighting for every point here. That is going to paramount.”

Gostisbehere played at Fenway Park in 2012 for Union in a game against Harvard. That night, Union won, 2-0, to become the first ECAC club to ever win outdoors.
 
“I played at Fenway Park against Harvard and it was fun,” Gostisbehere said. “That was my freshman year and the only one I ever played in.
 
“Good crowd. It wasn’t packed obviously, but it was a night game. The ice was really good. It was really cold, too. It was pretty cool.”
 
As warm as it was Friday here -- a historic 78 degrees -- temperatures will begin in the 40s tonight at Heinz Field and then drop. It rained this morning but has since ceased.
 
“The biggest thing for me was to take a second, look around,” Gostisbehere said, admitting he failed to do that in college and won’t make that mistake again.
 
“Just cherish it a little bit. You are so focused on the game, it’s tough. That was biggest thing for me. It was such a blur. Just being in college and having the opportunity to play at Fenway Park was pretty awesome.”

This will the Flyers first-ever outdoor affair in Pittsburgh.
 
“It’s pretty exciting and I’m glad to be part of it,” Gostisbehere said.