Union finally working on a new addition this offseason: A mascot (yes, seriously)

Union finally working on a new addition this offseason: A mascot (yes, seriously)

The only soccer mascot we could think of is Manchester United's "Fred The Red" (he's on the right).

Philadelphia Union fans are getting punchy this offseason waiting for the team to do SOMETHING to improve for 2014.

Well, apparently there is a pulse at PPL Park, and some research being done about a new acquisition. Problem is, it's not a left back, an attacking midfielder, or anything else the team really needs.

It's a mascot.

According to The Brotherly Game -- an SBNation blog focusing on the Union -- a researcher from St. Joseph's University sent out an invitation Thursday to some season ticket holders.

Hello Season Ticket Holders,

Philadelphia Union would like to invite you to a focus group on January 9th, 2013 at 6PM. The Philadelphia Union has partnered with the Survey Research Center at Saint Joseph's University to conduct preliminary fact finding on concepts for a team mascot. We would like to include your opinions, if you are available to participate.

There are not strong enough words for me to describe how much I hate this idea.

Up to this point, the Union have stayed away from the superfluous crap that takes away from the action on the field.

Matchday at PPL Park is a blast, not because of cheerleaders, or a marching band, or "MAKE SOME NOISE" pleas on the video board, or the world's largest T-shirt cannon. The team has gone out of its way to make the live experience all about what happens between the lines. Heck, even the halftime entertainment is usually quick soccer games between youth teams, which is awesome. It's something many people LOVE about Union games at PPL.

I'm not saying a mascot would cause fans to ditch their season tickets, but it's the first step down a road that most wouldn't like. Build a winning team and you don't need a mascot.

[Editor's note: Enrico disagrees! Check out his counterpoint post: The Union mascot is a great idea (as long as it's a moose!)]

While mascots are commonplace in American sports (and apparently common in Europe, even in the English Premier League), they are not ubiquitous in the soccer world. And as much as I hate the fans who insist MLS should be more like the rest of the soccer world and less like basketball, football, etc., this is one case where I wish the league would stop feeling a need to appeal to the "average" sports fan.

Fortunately, this just seems to be a survey to see what fan reaction would be like, and no decisions have been made just yet. Let's hope that the right season ticket holders respond, and the team shifts its focus to players who actually wear uniforms.

More than some of the Union- and MLS-centric websites (which will likely despise this idea), the Level here is geared more toward Joe Philly Fan who sort of follows the Union on the fringes, or watches a game or two each season. I'm genuinely curious, would a mascot make you more interested in attending a game? Would it make you more excited to take your kids to PPL Park?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Finally, if there is a mascot in our future, I demand that team CEO Nick Sakiewicz is the one inside the suit.

Shocker: Phillies interested in getting one of baseball's best players

Shocker: Phillies interested in getting one of baseball's best players

We're all looking forward to the free-agent class of 2018.

If Maikel Franco doesn't shape up, the Phillies could make a hard push for Manny Machado. Franco after a two-game benching is back in the lineup for this afternoon's game against the Rockies (see story).

Then, of course, there's Bryce Harper, who earlier this month agreed to a one-year, $21,625,000 deal for next season. 

And guess what? If Harper becomes a free agent after next season, the Phillies would be interested in signing him.

Really?

According to a FanRagSportsNetwork, citing a Phillies source, the Phils would be interested luring Harper to Philly.

Shocker. 

It'd be big news if a Phillies source said the team wasn't interested in signing Harper. 

Anyway, the story also quotes a National League scout.

“Could you imagine what he could do in that ballpark playing 81 games a year in that bandbox?” the scout said.

Chances are every Phillies fan has already imagined it. Harper this season alone is hitting .351/.400/.784 with five homers and 12 RBIs in nine games against the Phils. In three games at the Bank, he's hitting just .250 with a homer and two RBIs.

But in 38 career games at CBP, he's hitting .296/.361/.627 with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs.

In 89 career games against the Phillies, he's hitting .282 with 20 homers and 54 RBIs.

At the risk of stating the obvious, here's one thing to remember: If the Phils sign Harper, then he'd no longer benefit from facing them.

Today's Lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phillies try to snap skid

Today's Lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phillies 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.

The Phillies on Thursday also activated right-handed pitcher Jeanmar Gomez from the disabled list. Gomez takes Adam Morgan's spot on the roster. Morgan was reassigned to Triple A Lehigh Valley after throwing three scoreless innings during the Phillies' 7-2 loss to the Rockies.

Gomez hasn't pitched since May 4 because of an elbow injury. He began the season as the Phillies' closer but was demoted after blowing two saves and allowing seven runs in his first five innings. In 11 1/3 innings this season, Gomez has a 7.94 ERA.

Here's the full lineup: 

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, 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