Is Scott Hartnell Converting the Heathens in Pittsburgh?

Is Scott Hartnell Converting the Heathens in Pittsburgh?

During his tenure in Philadelphia, Scott Hartnell has quickly become a fan favorite. Hard hits, unnerving play, a unique look, and a whole lot of goals are a great combination in this town.

I can see why somebody who has a "pest" or "agitator" label around the league would be unpopular and hated in rival cities, but to be honest, I've never really understood why Hartnell was thought of that way. He's a great teammate, an unselfish player, and he's never done anything dramatically dangerous to opposing players that I recall. I've always just thought of him as a tough power forward, and laughed at the lengths to which opposing fans go to hate on a guy who's nothing like Matthew Barnaby, Darius Kasparitis, or Sean Avery. I mean, nothing.

How could you hate this guy?

But the tide of Hartnell Hate hasn't waned in Pittsburgh. Or has it?

We all know that the readers and commenters of our old friends over at thepensblog like to get a little "creative" with their villainizing, spending countless hours photoshopping/MS Painting homoerotic images of the men they hate, and dedicating some hands-on arts & crafts time to making interesting signs and props for the games. More power to 'em, and I mean it. They love their team, and they've built a pretty strong community over there. Rivalries are great for hockey, and these guys eat it up.

That's not the only place where Hartnell Hate converges like three dirty rivers though. It can also be seen in and below the posts at Empty Nettters, which we believe is the Post-Gazette's haven for fans-wearing-jerseys fetishists. EN also features some nice video finds, which I am totally going to steal, as well as a great post from yesterday about a fan who put a lot of time and money into jobbing Scott Hartnell, going so far as to purchase and wear a custom-made Flyers jersey with the number 19 on it, and FARTSMELL across the nameplate. A grown, married man with a kid. 

So, wearing this jersey and an orange wig to the game with his daughter, Father of the Year here thought he'd probably get a rough time from the Flyers as he antagonized them before the game. The fan, Steve Mazefsky, says Hartnell wasn't too thrilled about it last season, but this year was a different story. From an email he sent EN:

This year, for whatever reason, this player decided that the jersey was
funny. The ushers would tell me how he laughed when he saw it, and he
would actually wave in the tunnel between periods of the home game, and
the banter back and forth was... well, I hate to
admit... FRIENDLY... Mike
Richards even threw my daughter a puck as they came off the ice,
despite the fact that she was with me before the last game. I decided
that the banter with the jersey alone had gotten boring, so I went out
to get an orange wig to match Hartnell's rather odd haircut/color and
made a sign to up the ante. I was greeted today with friendly banter,
laughter and again Mike Richards tossed a puck to my daughter as they
came off the ice. A few minutes later, one of the Flyers trainers told
me that Scott would love to autograph the jersey if I would like that.
I told him that this would be great, but I did not really believe it,
as players NEVER sign autographs there. Never.

With a couple minutes left in the game, they asked for my jersey to be
sent down into the locker room, and despite my cynical nature, I took
it off, and it disappeared into the tunnel. As the game ended, and he
went through the tunnel, Scott Hartnell handed me the stick he used in
the game, and a minute later the trainer brought out the jersey that he
signed as the jersey read, 'To my biggest fan, your
bud... Scott Fartsmell.'



Yes, he actually signed it, 'Fartsmell!'

I have to tell you that the fact that he took the ribbing in stride,
joked back, and then took the time to sign this jersey in the manner
that he did, left a very lasting impression. I will not say it too
loudly here, but WHAT A CLASS ACT AND GOOD SPORT! The Flyers, more than
other visiting team go out of their way to take care of their fans in
our arena, but to go out of their way to interact with me, given my
attire and loyalties was well above the call of duty to say the least.
All three trainers and equipment managers for that team were just as
fun to joke around with! Best wishes, and good luck Flyers, except when
you play us. And THANKS for a fun time
."

See that? He's not so bad. And why should he be? Harts is livin' the life, on and off the ice. We'll be in attendance tomorrow night for the real Hartnell wigs, as I'm sure many of you will be.

EN also has a funny fan-shot video of Hartnell getting on the team bus. When a Pens fan shouts jokingly/threateningly at him he stops dead, and so does the fan, who gets a little sheepish. Worth the trip over there, as are some of the blog's other posts pertaining to the game.

Thanks to Kira and Laura for sending this our way. It was also linked at PuckDaddy yesterday.

Phillies want 2 bats for Velasquez, deal unlikely at this point; Tigers check on Hellickson

Phillies want 2 bats for Velasquez, deal unlikely at this point; Tigers check on Hellickson

ATLANTA – Two days before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Phillies have several pitchers who could be on the move.

The market for Jeremy Hellickson, Saturday night’s starter against the Braves, remains alive. The Phillies have received several offers, but nothing yet to their liking. A strong start against Atlanta on Saturday would certainly help the right-hander's value.

The Phillies had talks with Miami about Hellickson, but the Marlins filled their need for starting pitching by acquiring Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from San Diego earlier in the week.

Pittsburgh, Texas, Toronto, Baltimore, the Dodgers and others remain in the market for starting pitching. The Detroit Tigers could be a team to watch on Hellickson. They had a scout come in to watch Hellickson pitch in Atlanta on Saturday night.

The headline-grabbing name on the Phillies’ trade front remains Vince Velasquez. Major league sources continue to tell CSNPhilly.com that the Phillies have had meaningful trade discussions with the Texas Rangers involving the power-armed right-hander.

Sources say a deal is unlikely at this time because the Phillies are seeking a high price and the Rangers could use their prospect resources in their quest to add a more established pitcher like Chris Sale or Chris Archer or a catcher like Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy. But it remains noteworthy that the Phillies have made Velasquez available for the right price.

What is that price?

Sources say the Phillies would like to get two hitters from Texas’ bounty. One of those hitters must be ready to play in the majors now and the other must be close. The Rangers have a number of hitters who fit this description. Outfielder Nomar Mazara is almost certainly untouchable. (He was last year in the Cole Hamels talks). Power-hitting outfielder Joey Gallo, infielder Jurickson Profar and outfielder Lewis Brinson would probably fit the Phils’ wish list.

A source described the Phillies as being “pretty deep” in talks with Texas. The Rangers even dispatched a top scout to watch Velasquez pitch in Atlanta on Friday night. The scout was not in attendance for Saturday night’s game.

Relievers David Hernandez and Jeanmar Gomez are also in play in the last couple of days before the deadline. The Giants, who need bullpen help, have had scouts tailing the Phillies for a couple of weeks.

More NFL Notes: Texans star WR DeAndre Hopkins not at training camp

More NFL Notes: Texans star WR DeAndre Hopkins not at training camp

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins did not report to training camp Saturday.

Entering his fourth pro season, Hopkins is holding out for a new contract. He is scheduled to make $1 million in salary in the final season of his rookie contract, though the Texans have picked up his fifth-year option.

Hopkins can be fined up to $40,000 for every day he misses camp.

He comes off a huge season with 111 receptions, 1,521 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns despite inconsistency at quarterback and few other receiving options on the Texans.

Houston general manager Rick Smith said in a statement: "We are disappointed DeAndre has elected not to report to training camp with the rest of his teammates. He has expressed his position regarding his contract status, and we have been clear with both he and his representatives of ours. Our focus is on the 2016 season and all of our collective efforts and attention will be centered on that endeavor."

Hopkins was the 27th overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Clemson. He has started all 48 games in his career, making 239 catches for 3,533 yards and 19 touchdowns. He went to the Pro Bowl last season.

49ers: Offensive lineman Anthony Davis reinstated by NFL
SAN FRANCISCO -- Right tackle Anthony Davis was reinstated by the NFL on Saturday after an 11-month retirement that he planned to come back from all along.

The San Francisco 49ers made the announcement ahead of their first day of training camp Sunday under new coach Chip Kelly.

Davis was the 49ers' first-round draft choice, the 11th overall pick, in the 2010 draft out of Rutgers. He was affected by a concussion late in the 2014 season.

On June 5, 2015, at age 25, Davis announced his retirement in another surprising offseason departure last year for the 49ers. He became the fourth prominent San Francisco player to retire in a three-month span, joining linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland and defensive end Justin Smith. The announcement came four days before the team's mandatory June minicamp.

Also Saturday, San Francisco placed nose tackle Ian Williams on the reserve/non-football injury list (see full story).

Bears: LB Willie Young signs to 2-year extension
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears signed outside linebacker Willie Young to a two-year contract extension on Saturday.

Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

The 30-year-old Young signed with the Bears two years ago after spending his first four seasons with division-rival Detroit. He had a career-high 10 sacks that year before tearing his Achilles tendon in December, but bounced back to play in 15 games with 6 1/2 sacks last season.

MLB Notes: Nationals acquire All-Star closer Mark Melancon from Pirates

MLB Notes: Nationals acquire All-Star closer Mark Melancon from Pirates

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Washington Nationals have acquired All-Star closer Mark Melancon from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Washington sent reliever Felipe Rivero and pitching prospect Taylor Hearn to the Pirates for Melancon, who supplants Jonathan Papelbon as Washington's closer.

Melancon, a 31-year-old right-hander, has 30 saves and a 1.51 ERA this season. He is making $9.65 million and is eligible for free agency after the World Series.

Papelbon is 2-4 with a 4.41 ERA and has allowed eight runs and seven hits in his past three outing. Manager Dusty Baker wouldn't say earlier Saturday whether Papelbon still was his closer. Baker pulled Papelbon from a game Thursday in the ninth inning.

Rivero, a 25-year-old lefty, is 0-3 with a 4.53 ERA this season. Hearn is a 21-year-old lefty who was the Nationals' fifth-round pick in the 2015 amateur draft (see full story).

GIANTS: Pence back after 48-game absence
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants right fielder Hunter Pence was activated Saturday and in the starting lineup against the Nationals after missing 48 games with a strained right hamstring that required surgery.

San Francisco hopes Pence will bring some much-needed life to a club that had lost 11 of 13 since the All-Star break.

Newly acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez made his first start since joining the team in a trade from Minnesota on Thursday and having his first at-bat Friday. Nunez was playing shortstop Saturday because Brandon Crawford, who lined into a bases-loaded triple play during Friday's 4-1 loss, had a sore left hand from a swing early in the game.

Center fielder Denard Span also was out of the lineup because of a tender quadriceps from a collision at home plate Friday.

The Giants designated for assignment infielder Ramiro Pena to clear roster room for Pence's return.  

MARINERS: Karns to DL, Martin recalled
CHICAGO -- The Seattle Mariners have placed right-hander Nathan Karns on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain a day after he was roughed up in a relief appearance.

Right-hander Cody Martin was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma before Saturday's game against the Cubs.

Chicago scored five runs in two innings off Karns in Friday's 12-1 romp. He gave up three hits, walked three and allowed a home run to David Ross.

Karns began the season as a starter, but was moved to the bullpen in June. He has a 5.15 ERA.

Martin has appeared in two games and thrown four innings for Seattle this season, allowing one run and five hits.