The Sign? Swing away . . . far far away

The Sign? Swing away . . . far far away

The following post is guest blogger Brad Maule, who is the editor of PhillySkyline.com and holds Plan C tickets in the front row of the Pat Burrell section of the Arcade Level.

Citizens Bank Park is a nice ballpark, there's no doubt about it. The playing field's dimensions are an asset (although Pat Burrell probably isn't a fan of the reconfigured leftfield wall after he missed a game-tying homerun by less than a foot last night), the field's upkeep is excellent (more so if you were raised on The Vet), the causeways are roomy, the sightlines are unobstructed, the beer and food selections are great and even somewhat local, and the Schmitter will take ten years off of my life because I can never say no.

CBP could have been better, though; there's no doubt about that either. Having come on the late side of the Camden Yards Ballpark Revival, it could have provided a bold architectural statement but instead went with conservative (boring) brick paneling. It could have been located perfectly at 30th and Walnut, an easy walk for residents of Center City, West Philly and two major universities, directly above the Schuylkill Expressway, and two blocks from 30th Street Station, which serves every Septa regional rail line, the El, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak, but instead it was built as a 'neighborhood ballpark' in a massive parking lot.

And then there is that goddamn Phillies sign.

The Phillies sign in the centerfield parking lot . . . now that is an obstruction. Google "Phillies sign skyline" and try to find a single favorable opinion. They don't exist; everyone hates that sign. It would seem that even the Phillies organization doesn't think too highly of it. The architectural renderings of CBP -- you remember them, "Homerun Pat Burrell, Phils Win!!!" -- showed no sign of The Sign, but instead a clear and straight view to the skyline. (It also has 10th Street dead ending into trees, and 76 is absent.)

The Phillies recognize the view as part of the experience; the city skyline was on all the marketing literature leading up to the opening of the ballpark. The Sign? Not so much. The 2005 Opening Day ticket painted -- or should I say photoshopped -- the Phillies' embarrassment of The Sign. The ticket design featured a photo of the skyline, for which some poor intern was probably assigned to remove The Sign from the view. Except, well, they didn't finish the job. As you can see below, the photoshop job was left only half done, and 45,000 tickets were printed with half of The Sign.

We've all heard the rumors: "oh yeah, the Phillies are eventually going to tear that thing down." Reality check: CBP is now in its fourth year of use, and well, this is Philadelphia. Penn's Landing was supposed to be a historic waterfront attraction, but we built an interstate highway between it and Independence Park. Love Park was a destination to skateboarders across the world, but after we landed ESPN's X-Games two years in a row, our mayor spent taxpayer money to make it skater unfriendly. It's only appropriate that we have a ballpark with a fantastic view that is blocked by an unnecessary sign.

The Sign is a relic of The Vet Era. Believe it or not, it was built by the City, but it was taken over by the Phillies in the 80s and retrofitted with a more Vet-like appearance.

Well, The Vet is gone, so are they going to finally tear it down? On the contrary. The Phillies are in the process of putting their Theme Tower (that's right -- it's called Theme Tower) up for bids for renovation. It is going to be modernized, it will feature more info ("Suzie will you marry me . . . Dave Matthews tickets on sale Saturday"), and it will be neither moved nor shortened.

So, Phils fans and skyline aficionados, get used to The Sign -- err, the Theme Tower -- cos it ain't goin' anywhere.

Doug Pederson indicates Lane Johnson will start at RT when he returns

Doug Pederson indicates Lane Johnson will start at RT when he returns

Talk about too, little too late.
 
Lane Johnson is due back in two weeks, and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson on Wednesday for the first time seemed to indicate that he’s leaning toward getting Johnson back at right tackle as soon as he returns.
 
Johnson, the Eagles’ best offensive lineman the first month of the season, was suspended by the NFL for 10 games for a second positive test for a banned substance. By the time his appeal was heard and rejected, it was after the Eagles’ loss to the Lions.
 
Johnson hasn’t played since.

The Eagles face the Redskins at the Linc and Ravens in Baltimore the next two Sundays. Johnson is eligible to return to the NovaCare Complex the day after the Ravens' game, which would be Monday, Dec. 19.
 
The Eagles then face the Giants three days later on a Thursday night at the Linc and finish the season on Jan. 1 at home against the Cowboys in a game that will likely have no meaning for either team.
 
Previously, when asked about Johnson, Pederson was non-commital about playing him. But on Wednesday, he seemed to indicate he would move him back to right tackle for the Giants' game.
 
“Listen, he was a big part of our success early in the season,” Pederson said. “So I wouldn’t hesitate to put him back out there.”
 
The Eagles, 5-7 after a 3-0 start, are on the brink of playoff elimination and could well be eliminated by the time Johnson returns.
 
Rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai started the first six games after Johnson’s suspension before getting hurt. Left guard Allen Barbre started the last two, with Stefen Wisniewski moving into left guard.
 
Even though Pederson indicated Johnson would return to right tackle as soon as he gets back, he did qualify the statement.
 
“He comes back on a short week, too, against the Giants, in a couple weeks,” he said. “Got to see where Big V is at coming off an injury and see where that’s at. 
 
“We’re beginning the conversations right now. When he does return, we’ll have to see. We still have some games. Have to get through these two games.”         
 
Johnson, the fourth pick in the 2013 draft, started 44 of a possible 48 games his first three seasons, missing only four in 2014 during his first NFL suspension.
 
After the Lions game, he said he hoped the Eagles had meaningful games remaining when he got back.
 
The Eagles are 3-1 this year with Johnson and 2-6 without him. In his four NFL seasons, the Eagles are 27-22 when he plays.
 
“Stay in shape and hopefully the team is good enough to stay in playoff contention,” he said in the visiting locker room at Ford Field back on Oct. 9. 
 
“Come back and I’ll be fresh and we can make a run for it. That’s the best-case scenario. We’ll see what happens.”

Strippers used to ask Freddie Mitchell why Donovan McNabb hated him

Strippers used to ask Freddie Mitchell why Donovan McNabb hated him

Some rivalries are forever. Eagles-Cowboys. Wilt Chamberlain-Bill Russell. Michigan-Ohio State. Freddie Mitchell-Donovan McNabb.

The last one doesn't have the same juice as the others, but former Eagles wide receiver and legend in his own mind Freddie Mitchell can't seem to let go of his beef with Donovan McNabb. It seems like once or twice a year, Mitchell has to come around and rehash his feud with the greatest quarterback in Eagles franchise history, which is exactly what he did with Anthony Gargano on 97.5 FM The Fanatic on Wednesday.

It's nonsense, of course, but each time, the stories get more ridiculous than the last. This time, Mitchell talked about the lengths he would go to try to get McNabb to like him, including offering to watch the signal-caller's kids!

"The things that I would do for him to try to win him over... I would damn near try to babysit his kids," Mitchell said. "Stay in Friday nights and babysit his children so he could go out and have fun and come back home.

"Just throw me the ball, that's all I want. It was that bad where I didn't know what to do."

As always, it's difficult to tell when Mitchell is telling the truth, and indeed, he almost immediately started to walk back his babysitting statement before claiming the reason he lived in close proximity to McNabb in the first place was solely because he wanted to be tight with the guy.

If only the fans didn't prefer Freddie Mitchell to Donovan McNabb, the relationship between wide receiver and quarterback would've had a chance to blossom.

"It was kind of like, 'I'm serious,' but joke... You all go out and have your fun and let me babysit," Mitchell said. "I lived right down from Donovan at the time in Moorestown, New Jersey, and the reason why I moved so close to him was so I could have that relationship with my quarterback.

"I did all the things that it took to establish a great relationship, but the fact that the fans loved me more than they loved him, it pissed him off."

And how did Mitchell find out McNabb didn't like him?

Well, where do you think? From exotic dancers, of course.

"It's funny. I was sitting up in the strip club at Delilah's. I had strippers coming up to me and ask, 'Why does he hate you?'

"I'm like, damn. I'm trying to have me a nice gentleman's drink, and they say, 'Why does he hate you so much?' I'm like what, 'What are you talking about?' Everybody knew it but me, and that's what the problem was.

"When the strippers know there's a problem, it's time to move on to different things."

Yes, that's why Mitchell moved on from the Eagles after four seasons and was out of the league a year later. Not because he only had 90 catches and couldn't get open. Not because Mitchell was a brash punk who to this day still tried to take credit for everything from the idea behind the play call to the full execution of 4th-and-26. It was simply because McNabb didn't like him.

That's what Mitchell thinks anyway, which is why he'll never pass up an opportunity to take a jab at McNabb, no matter how low he has to go. When Mitchell was serving time in prison for tax fraud, and McNabb got in trouble with the law with his DUIs, all he could think to do was attempt to drag the quarterback down with him.

“Tell him we got a cot in here for him.”