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..

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman rejoins Yankees on 5-year, $86 million deal

OXON HILL, Md. -- Aroldis Chapman found a spot in a most familiar bullpen -- a very rich spot, too.

The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night with the highest-priced contract ever for a relief pitcher, an $86 million deal for five years.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the contract was pending a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet complete.

Once it's done, the 28-year-old lefty whose fastballs routinely top 100 mph would shatter the previous richest contract for a reliever -- that was the $62 million, four-year deal Mark Melancon signed with San Francisco just a couple days ago during the winter meetings.

Chapman was acquired by New York from the Cincinnati Reds last offseason, then missed the first 29 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension from Major League Baseball. The Cuban was traded to the Chicago Cubs in late July and helped them win the World Series, becoming a free agent when it was over.

Chapman went 4-1 with 36 saves and a 1.55 ERA in a combined 59 games for the Yankees and Cubs. He struggled some in the postseason as the Cubs beat Cleveland for their first championship since 1908.

With the Yankees this season, Chapman teamed with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in one of the most dominant bullpens in baseball history. Miller was later traded to Cleveland, but Betances is still with New York.

Earlier this week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team was interested in both Chapman and fellow free agent closer Kenley Jansen. The Yankees had already made one deal at these meetings, signing slugger Matt Holliday, before paying a lot more to bring Chapman back to the Bronx.

Fox Sports first reported the agreement.

Rangers: Gomez reaches deal to stay with team
OXON HILL, Md. -- Carlos Gomez is staying with the Texas Rangers.

The outfielder agreed to an $11.5 million, one-year contract, a deal subject to a successful physical.

"Many of the objectives of the Rangers for Carlos go beyond one year," his agent, Scott Boras, said Wednesday. "Certainly Carlos really enjoyed the team and the environment and feels he's got a great chance to win. So I think both parties' objectives were met by that deal."

Gomez, who turned 31 last weekend, figures to play center as general manager Jon Daniels structured an outfield that includes Shin-Soo Choo in right and Nomar Mazara in left. Ian Desmond left Wednesday for a $70 million, five-year deal with Colorado.

Gomez batted just .210 with five homers in 85 games this year for Houston and was released by the Astros in August. He signed with Texas and hit .284 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games. An All-Star in 2013 and '14 with Milwaukee, Gomez has a .257 average and 116 home runs in 10 big league seasons.

"J.D. was very clear from the onset about them wanting Carlos back, and we've had communication since the season's end to pursue that," Boras said. "So it was something in our minds and in their minds. It was just a constant dialogue."

AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.

Red Sox: Sale not worried about being ace
BOSTON -- New Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale says he isn't worried that he might not be the ace of the pitching staff after being traded from the White Sox to Boston.

The 27-year-old lefty told reporters on Wednesday, "We play for a trophy, not a tag."

Sale was traded to the Red Sox on Tuesday at the baseball winter meetings. He was the top starting pitcher on the market, and the Red Sox gave up touted prospect Yoan Moncada as part of a package to land him.

Sale has been an All-Star for five straight seasons and finished in the top six of the Cy Young Award voting each time. He joins a staff that already includes 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and '12 winner David Price (see full story).

Best of NBA: Cavs ride Big 3 to huge win over Knicks at MSG

Best of NBA: Cavs ride Big 3 to huge win over Knicks at MSG

NEW YORK -- LeBron James scored 25 points, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love also surpassed 20, and the Cleveland Cavaliers crushed the New York Knicks 126-94 on Wednesday night.

James had nothing to say Wednesday morning about Knicks President Phil Jackson and not much more about his decision to not stay with the team in a Donald Trump-branded hotel, but he and the Cavs made a loud statement at Madison Square Garden.

It was their second straight win after a three-game skid, and they did it easily in handing the Knicks their worst loss of the season. Irving led Cleveland with 28 points and Love scored 21, 16 in the first quarter.

Brandon Jennings scored 16 points for the Knicks, who had their four-game winning streak snapped and lost for the just the third time in 10 games. He started for Derrick Rose, who missed his first game of the season with lower back pain.

Tristan Thompson grabbed 20 rebounds for the Cavs. They played without guard J.R. Smith, who returned to Cleveland for additional testing after hyperextending his left knee Monday in Toronto (see full recap).

Antetokounmpo drops triple-double in Bucks’ win
MILWAUKEE -- Giannis Antetokounmpo got his second triple-double of the season to lead the Milwaukee Bucks over the Portland Trail Blazers 115-107 on Wednesday night.

Antetokounmpo had 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his seventh career triple-double -- second-most in franchise history -- and is the only NBA player averaging at least 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals this season.

Jabari Parker added 27 points for Milwaukee, which rebounded from a one-point home loss to San Antonio on Monday to win for the fifth time in six games.

The Bucks entered holding opponents to a NBA-best .311 shooting percentage from 3-point range, but Portland drill a season-high 17 of them.

Damian Lillard made five of them and scored a team-high 30 points to go with seven rebounds and six assists.

C.J. McCollum added 23 points, including four 3-pointers, as the Blazers continued a nine-game stretch of playing eight times on the road (see full recap).

Streaking Rockets roll over Lakers
HOUSTON -- Eric Gordon made a career-high eight 3-points and scored 26 points to help the Houston Rockets cruise to a 134-95 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.

James Harden added 25 points in three quarters for the Rockets. They scored a season high and extended their winning streak to a season-best four games.

The Rockets were up by 12 in the third quarter, then had a 22-6 run to make it 96-68 and put the game out of reach with about 3 minutes left in the quarter. Houston made four 3-pointers and got a nifty one-handed dunk from Clint Capela in that run to pad the lead.

Gordon already had four 3-pointers seven minutes into the first quarter after making each of his first four attempts. It was his seventh straight game with at least four 3-pointers, which is a franchise record.

Houston's winning streak is its longest since taking five straight in January.

Lou Williams led the Lakers with 24 points. They have lost four in a row, their longest skid of the season (see full recap).