Swap Kings: Sixers ride Sac pick to No. 3, what is Hinkie may never die

Swap Kings: Sixers ride Sac pick to No. 3, what is Hinkie may never die

Generally, I consider myself to be pretty in tune with the Process and its many practitioners. That's not to say I always agree with the prevailing Process viewpoint, but usually I can at least guess with reasonable accuracy what said perspective is going to be -- how a trade or signing will be perceived, whether a former player will get booed or cheered upon return visit, if we'll pretend to have opinions about a second-round selection, and so on. After four years of Trusting this thing, you'd hope you develop a pretty good instinct for it. 

Tonight, though, I was definitely off. After the Philadelphia 76ers jumped up from 4 to 3 via Sacramento Kings pick swap, I looked around the Rights to Ricky Sanchez Lottery Party expecting the moment's disappointment at not getting 1 or 2 to give way to overwhelming gratitude, if not outright ecstasy, as the many implications of the moment had a chance to settle in for the TTPers in the crowd. But it never came. Instead, as fans filed out of Xfinity Live, everyone still seemed to be mid-negotiation -- weighing jumping up to 3 against not getting 1 or 2, and landing the Kings pick swap vs. not having the Lakers pick convey. (LAL slid up to no. 2, a climb sure to jump-start a generation of conspiracy theories.)

It's understandable for Sixers fans to feel mixed emotions about what transpired on Tuesday. But then again... c'mon. 

As much bargaining as I did with myself going into the night, there's two words you could have told me before the draft that would have made all other worldly concerns irrelevant: Pick Swap. That's it. After that, I'm good. You mean we're going to use our 10% chance of the Kings jumping into the top three -- roughly the chances of the Celtics and Spurs meeting in the finals this year -- and thanks to a comically one-sided trade we made with Vlade and Vivek two years ago at the height of Hinkiemania, we're going to jump into the top three for the fourth straight year? We're really gonna look at that and say "OK, what else?" 

It feels pretty bizarre to say, but I had no idea Process Trusters had gotten this spoiled. Perhaps this is the greatest accomplishment of the lottery party -- after three years of making it past the commercial break, capped by our One Shining Moment of landing at No. 1 in 2016, we've actually become entitled as a fanbase when it comes to lottery night. Now, simply not sliding down even further (as I'd convinced myself we were finally due for) is far from good enough. We want the pick swap, and we want it to get us all the way to No. 1, with a top-five Lakers pick to complement -- and anything less is a "Yeah, but..." Tsk, tsk. 

Personally, I think the night was a damn miracle. Yes, we only moved up one spot -- though really, when you consider the Sixers were most likely by far to finish at no. 5 (and in fact did land there with our own pick), we really moved up two. And yes, we have to wait another year for the Lakers pick, and they'll have another top-two pick to improve around in the meantime -- though if you think Lonzo Ball in his rookie season is gonna be the difference between L.A. winning 26 games and L.A. winning 41 games, I have some $500 sneakers to sell you. And yes, we probably aren't going to get Markelle Fultz -- though he probably would have chafed behind guaranteed starter T.J. McConnell in the rotation before long anyway.

But guys. GUYS. Guyyyyyyyyyyyyyys. We got the friggin' pick swap. Pick Swap! If you had to sum up the final two years of the Process in just two words, it would undoubtedly have been "pick swap." When it came time for the Lottery Party faithful to articulate their evening's greatest desire, it wasn't "LA-KERS PICK!' or "NUM-BER ONE!" that we chanted -- even though both were actually more likely outcomes. No, it was "PICK! SWAP! PICK! SWAP! PICK! SWAP!" And it should have been. And we got it. And it was beautiful. 

So, what for the Sixers at No. 3, then? Well, Josh Jackson seems like a strong bet -- a two-way wing with major potential on both sides of the ball, assuming he can get his jump shot sorted. UK guards Malik Monk and De'Aaron Fox will certainly get extended looks, as will Duke wing scorer Jayson Tatum. And even though it's considered preordained to the point of him already being penciled into the draft's Wikipedia page, don't rule out Lonzo Ball as a possibility either. Remember, we Knew the Lakers were gonna pick Jahlil Okafor two years ago, too -- sometimes, reality just ends up outweighing the narrative to an unignorable degree. 

And one last note on the Lakers: Yeah, I wanted the pick this year, too. It would've been nice to have it, to know that it was ours, and that nothing was gonna come along in the next 12 months to potentially ruin it. But it's not going away. We have it next year, and we have it entirely. Remember how annoying it was to root for the Lakers to lose, lose, lose, and then no you've lost too much now you need to win, win, win, wait maybe lose a couple BUT DAMMIT DON'T LOSE THAT MANY GAHHHH? Well, now it's gonna be easy: We want the Lakers to lose in October, in April, and in all months in between, as frequently and as discouragingly as possible. That, my friends, is gonna be fun -- even if Paul George does decide he wants to jump ship to a 26-win team for some reason. 

So yeah, the Sixers should have some options, and all of them seem like pretty good ones. The Sixers will add a top-three pick this summer to a core of Joel, Ben, Dario and RoCo, they still have all the cap space in the known universe this off-season, and then in the next two drafts, we own totally unprotected picks from two teams that haven't drafted outside the top ten since 2013. And now, forever and always, we have Pick Swap, the final validation for Our Once and Always Dark Lord. And if all that's not enough to make you one smilin' Sixers fan this week, then I have to ask if we were even trusting the same process all these years.

Even on honeymoon, Jon Dorenbos performs wild magic trick with coin

Even on honeymoon, Jon Dorenbos performs wild magic trick with coin

Magic never stops.

Not even on Jon Dorenbos' honeymoon.

The Eagles' long snapper and magic enthusiast is enjoying picturesque Bora Bora with his wife Annalise.

Still, fresh off his wedding and surrounded by water way too blue, Dorenbos wasn't about to stop entertaining us as he posted this crazy coin trick on his Instagram account.

Bora Bora Magic - I love this move. @apollorobbins showed me this 15 years ago. #honeymoon

A post shared by Jon Dorenbos (@jondorenbos) on

Pretty darn cool — and, seriously, how does he do it?

And don't worry, Dorenbos is clearly having a great time on the honeymoon, not just blowing our minds with cool magic.

Amazing. #honeymoon #paradise

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How Jim Thome got his batting stance thanks to Charlie Manuel and 'The Natural'

How Jim Thome got his batting stance thanks to Charlie Manuel and 'The Natural'

If there's anyone in the world I could sit next to for hours and listen to talk about baseball it would be former Phillies manager and World Champion of baseball Charlie Manuel.

Charlie is still very involved in the Phillies organization to this day and we're lucky enough to have 45 minutes of his time talking ball with longtime Phillies scribe Jim Salisbury.

Those two know the Phillies just about as well as anybody, so there's plenty of meat on the bone to chew on. The duo chatted for a recent episode of Sully's "At The Yard" podcast.

The story that caught my ear the most was Charlie's telling of how Jim Thome came to have that somewhat-goofy stance before he hits. It was a timing mechanism that Manuel stumbled upon in the strangest of ways.

This was when both Charlie and Jim were working for a Cleveland Indians' affiliate in the minors. 

"We were playing in Scranton and it was a Phillies triple-A team at the time. I kept thinking of a timing mechanism of some kind, a waggle or something, what Thome could do with his bat where he wouldn't tense up, where it would help him to relax and everything."

"I came into our locker room early," Manuel said. "I didn't let my players turn the TV on after a certain time. I came through the clubhouse that day, they had 'The Natural' on. I told 'em to turn it off. Some of the players said, 'Hey, Charlie, we're watching The Natural can we watch the end of The Natural? I said, 'Not really, what's the rule?'

"I saw Robert Redford standing there pointing the bat with one hand, bringing it back. I looked over at Thome, I said, 'you can finish watching the movie. From now on that's going to be your load.' I took him down in the cage and worked with him. The game started and the Phillies had a left-handed pitcher named [Kyle] Abbott. He was pitching that day. I told Jimmy, 'From now on that's your stance.' He gets up there the first time up, Abbott throws him a breaking ball away and he hit a home run to left center... I mean a longways. He come up the next time he hit another one to right center. I think he had three hits that day."

"That's a true story," Manuel added.

It sounds to good to be true. So we did a little research and Thome has told the same tale on a television special out in Chicago last summer.

"We were in Scranton and I was a guy who held the bat still and would go from a standstill and swing," Thome explained. "(Charlie) was watching The Natural and he saw that (Hobbs) kind of had this little wiggle to his stance, and I remember the day. We went out the next day, we worked early and he said 'Do me a favor and try holding the bat out there (pointing towards the pitcher) and get a little rhythm with your swing.' And from that day I never looked back. The following day we played a doubleheader and I hit two home runs."

You can listen to the whole podcast with Jim Salisbury and Charlie Manuel right here.