Philadelphia Union to Hold Star Wars Theme Night on May 4th

Philadelphia Union to Hold Star Wars Theme Night on May 4th

It’s no great secret that the Union – a team
which sold out nearly every game at PPL Park during its first few seasons
– has a few more empty seats so far this spring.

The direction of this team is still a slight unknown,
and its consistency is somewhere north of maddening. It’s also been
relatively cold for the first three home games, kids are still in school,
etc. And while there were a few pockets of empty seats, 17,000 in a
stadium that holds just north of 18,000 is not embarrassing by any measure.
When the sun comes out – and, most importantly, if the team scores
more goals – people will come back to PPL. There really is no finer
place around to spend a warm summer Saturday.

With the next home game coming on May 4 (that becomes
important in a second), season ticket holders received an email on Wednesday
with the hilarious Photoshop job seen above (I sure hope it’s Photoshop,
and Jeff Parke, Jack McInerney and Sheanon Williams didn’t actually
have to dress like that). The subject line read, “May the Fourth be
with DOOP.”


Now, I am tired of the whole “DOOP” thing,
to be honest. It was Peter Nowak’s idea, and he’s long gone. The
team has driven it into the ground.

But a Star Wars
Theme Night
? With t-shirts, a costume contest, and
Harrison Ford (*not guaranteed to appear). Who wouldn’t like that?

Turns out, more than a few people who either take
life too seriously, take their soccer fandom too seriously, or just
don’t like Star Wars (who are you?).

A small Twitter revolt came out over the last 24 hours
claiming Star Wars Night makes the team look amateur-ish and minor league.

Look, do I wish the team was in first place with big-name
stars and people were falling all over themselves for tickets? Of course
I do. But just because a few people in the marketing department use
a play on words and some Photoshop to sell a few tickets, that doesn’t
mean the front office isn’t focused on winning (whether they actually
are or not is another issue for another day).

I understand some people love soccer. I love soccer.
But so do lots of families with little kids, who either come to games
regularly or attend a few games a year. You know what else those kids
love? Star Wars.

I’m not saying you have to dress up like Princess Leia on May 4 (most of you, please don’t do that), but what is the
harm in a few gimmicks. The Phillies have 70s night, 80s night, Jewish
Heritage Night and a birthday celebration for a monster born in the
Galapagos Islands. And they’re never accused of being amateur-ish
(except at the plate).

Enjoy the game, but for the safety of others, leave
your lightsabers at home.

For more on the "May the 4th be with You" promo, check out the Union's website here.

*****

Enrico note: As both a casual Union and Star Wars fan, I kind of love it. I just hope they invite Patton Oswalt to get involved somehow. Dude has great ideas on at least one of the subject matters. Video from "Parks and Rec Let Patton Oswalt Ramble On for Eight Minutes Straight About Whatever and the Result is Pure Magic."

One thing about the costume contest which is kind of a bummer:

No weapons or fake weapons are allowed at PPL Park (including
lightsabers). All masks must be removed for inspection at entry gates.

What is a Jedi without his/her lightsaber?!?

Harrison Ford cussing out Chewbacca last night on Kimmel is worth your time as well..

Today's lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phils try to snap skid

Today's lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phils try to snap skid

Well, this hasn't gone well. 

Coming into Thursday afternoon's game against the Rockies, the Phillies have lost five straight. They've lost nine of their last 10. They've lost 20 of their last 24. 

At 15-29, they're not just the worst team in the NL East. They're not just the worst team in the National League. 

Through 44 games, the Phillies are the worst team in baseball. 

Just to make it to a .500 record this season, they would need to go 66-52 (.559) the rest of the way. 

Their four-game series against the Rockies will mercifully come to a close on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. In the first three games of the series -- all losses -- the Phils have been outscored 23-5. 

Maikel Franco returns to the four-hole as the Phillies try to snap out of their funk. 

Here's the full lineup: 

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Howie Kendrick, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Michael Saunders, RF
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P

With new mindset, Nelson Agholor embraces competition to prove himself to Eagles

With new mindset, Nelson Agholor embraces competition to prove himself to Eagles

Nelson Agholor’s rookie season was a disappointment, but his second year in the NFL was a disaster, the pressure of which was clearly getting to him. Now Agholor finds himself on the roster bubble as his third year with the Eagles commences, and it’s fair to wonder what the wide receiver’s mindset is like in 2017.

“Confident and comfortable,” Agholor said Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex, where phase three of OTAs had just begun.

Earlier in the day, Agholor had been involved at practice — cycling in with the first-team offense and getting plenty of looks, too. Later, he would be the last player to leave the field, continuing to run sprints alone after practice ended. Finally, back in the locker room, Agholor explained the epiphany he arrived at during the offseason, and how he knows he’s ready to put 2016 behind him.

“I just had a realization that the only thing that matters is the current situation,” Agholor said. “I’m here, I have an opportunity to get better and make myself a better football player.”

None of this means everything is about to click for Agholor, and he’s suddenly going to perform up to his status as a first-round pick. The Eagles clearly weren’t counting on that, either, when they signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency, then selected two more receivers in the draft.

If Agholor intends to turn his career around, a fresh outlook isn’t a bad place to start.

Failing to meet expectations and under relentless scrutiny, Agholor’s demeanor changed over the course of last season. Frustrations finally boiled over during a postgame rant after an Eagles loss to the Cowboys. Four weeks later, he was a healthy scratch against the Packers. Though Agholor suited up for the final five games, there was no discernable change from a production standpoint.

“That’s in the past,” Agholor said. “I practiced today. I got after it today. Anything that happened back then, it happened for a reason.”

Agholor — who turned 24 Wednesday — attributed the bulk of his struggles to youth and inexperience while denying mental or confidence issues were to blame for his performance. With only 59 receptions for 648 yards and three touchdowns to show after two years, the Eagles couldn’t wait for him to grow up any longer, which led to Jeffery and Smith being brought aboard.

“I took it for what it was,” Agholor said. “I said, ‘This was what happened, this is the new opportunity, so every day, just focus on getting better at some aspect of it.’

“It’s all about getting better consistently each day, even if it’s just a little. At the end of the day, the whole world will be like, ‘Man, this is the product?’ Some of the best players in this league, they didn’t just become really great the first day there. It took a process and continuous progression every day.”

But how exactly does Agholor go about making that jump? Because work ethic has never been a complaint, nor was talent a problem at USC, where he finished with 179 receptions for 2,571 yards and 20 touchdowns in 40 games.

There’s no telling whether Agholor will ever put it all together in the NFL. He has refined his approach, however.

“I focused on the simple grind, whether it’s conditioning, whether it was living weights,” Agholor said of offseason workouts. “I wasn’t trying to have just a miracle happen. I just started focusing on the simplest things.

“I got on the track and worked on my speed and worked on my conditioning. I was in the weight room, worked on my strength and my durability, making sure my muscles were working the right way. That’s all it was, little things like that.”

Coaches and teammates are seeing a difference in Agholor as well. Most of all, they believe competing against veterans like Jeffery and Smith will bring the best out of a young receiver still trying to find his way.

“Nelson's attitude has been great. He's worked extremely hard this offseason,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “As I've said all along, competition sharpens you, and that's what I've seen from Nelson.”

“I feel like competition is what’s going to help breed production,” Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews said. “If you’ve got more guys coming in and working, you don’t have time to worry about this, this and this. You have to worry about going in and keeping your job, you have to worry about going in and making plays every single day, and that goes for everybody, not just Nelson.”

Agholor does not disagree.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for me to compete vs. some really good players,” Agholor said of Jeffery and Smith. “These guys have proven themselves in the league, so if I show that I’m capable of performing the same way they are, then I’m in the conversation.”

That might seem like wishful thinking, but for this brief period in OTAs, Agholor has the upper hand — he knows the offense. And even if the Eagles wanted to move on from Agholor this year, his contract is such that a release would cost more against the salary cap than if he was to remain on the roster.

Financial ramifications aside, Agholor’s spot on the final 53-man roster legitimately appears to be in jeopardy. His hope in the meantime is to make himself indispensable.

“I feel like I want to be one of the best players on this team, and that takes care of it right there,” Agholor said. “I want to be a guy when you watch him on tape, you’re like, ‘Yeah, I need him.’

“The best players play, and I want to be one of the best players.”

For all of the doubts about his confidence, Agholor has seldom had any trouble expressing a general belief that he belongs in the NFL. Any doubts he did have, he obviously did not entertain for very long, based on his goals in 2017.

“I love this game, and I want to play this game for a long time, so I’m not going to allow anybody besides myself determine how long I do this,” Agholor said. “This is only Year 3, and I want to play 10-plus. The only way I do that is making myself available and making myself a good football player.”

Coming off of a season that nearly caused him to lose his swagger and cool, Agholor is doing and saying all the right things again, even as the Eagles bring in potential replacements. Perhaps the notion that it feels like a step in the right direction speaks to how poorly those first two seasons went.