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You may be surprised to learn that Marcus Hayes, known for injecting race into discussions that shouldn’t involve race, wrote a column today ripping the very white Sam Hinkie, whose efforts thus far have been almost universally applauded by pundits, for being a nerdy wizard, while calling Thaddeus Young, who made $8.6 million to play basketball this season, a hero.

To the excerpt machine!

Oddly, inexcusably, one voice will be missing: the voice of the producer of this lovable mess:

Sam Hinkie, the invisible general manager.

So far, he has generally managed to remain silent.

He destroyed every semblance of the Sixers’ core, implemented an evaluation process at least partly based on analytics, the use of which apparently requires an advanced degree in mathematics, a pocket protector and a Merlin hat.

Then – poof! – Hinkie disappeared.

At midday yesterday, Hinkie had yet to complete his meetings with the players, so his absence from the season-ending handshake party was excusable.

That he is not at Harris’ side today?

Inexcusable.

Certainly, Harris will endorse the job done so far by Hinkie, his handpicked Wonderboy, despite these facts:

* The Sixers began the season with four viable NBA starters but finished with just two, one of whom could ask for his walking papers in the next few weeks.

* They tied the NBA record for consecutive losses.

* And they got zero minutes of playing time from their No. 1 post player for the second year in a row.

Uh, Sam?

Never mind.

Um, what? What exactly does Marcus expect Hinkie to say– “Yes, everything is going exactly according to plan and we were successful in our quest to field the worst basketball team we possible could without getting fined by the league for throwing games”?

It’s fairly obvious to anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention that the Sixers having only two viable starters and tying the NBA record for consecutive losses was very much by design in an effort to get multiple high draft picks in a draft stocked with talent. Marcus knows this. He has to know this. But he wrote the column anyway, criticizing the guy who, in an admittedly small sample size, has done all the things people wanted and expected him to do. 

If Marcus would’ve just stopped there, this wouldn’t be worth discussing. But nope. He continued. Let’s rip Sam Hinkie for a job well-done, wax poetic about Thaddeus Young, and then throw in what borders on a dangerous landowner-slave reference just for fun:

Wisdom was sought, then, from those less-equipped to dispense it.

Young completed a heroic season uninjured but not undaunted. Selfless, hungry and nearing his peak, Young yesterday dropped the facade he has worn since the Sixers traded away three starters. He said he would insist on knowing the particulars of the Sixers’ plan going forward, and, if he didn’t like it, or if he was not told, he would ask to be traded.

Young, as good a soldier who ever served in this town, has earned this sort of impudence. Hinkie sold off the farm but kept Young to pull the plow, to keep the rows straight, to lead the herd. Young did all of that.

Does Young deserve a preemptive extension?

Only Hinkie can say, and Hinkie’s not saying anything about anything.

WHAT AM I READING?

To Marcus’ credit, he went on to write very nice things about Brett Brown. But he then returned to bashing Hinkie and compared him to Joe Banner:

Hinkie certainly is smart, organized, and prepared; but then, so was Joe Banner.

Over a 20-year span in Philadelphia, Banner revolutionized the football business market; established a template for an era of NFL transactions; and led the Eagles franchise to its most glorious era.

Nevertheless, Banner’s lack of appeal and his inability to suffer fools made him a pariah. At the first chance, Banner was run out of town on a rail.

Perhaps the Sixers are simply protecting their Wonderboy. Hinkie cannot put his foot in his mouth if he keeps his mouth shut.

The team is diminished for that.

So is Hinkie; at least, he is this week, when only one significant voice will be missing.

The only one that matters.

This is a really bad column.

H/T to (@mikejlenz)

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Photo: Eagles

Certain younger Eagles might be the most likable group of athletes in the city right now. Combined with the team’s newfound social media efforts to actually embrace other local teams – a long way from its apparent attitude during the Banner and Reid years – guys like Jason Kelce, Connor Barwin, Brent Celek and even Riley Cooper are making it even easier to root for the Birds. Just normal dudes, doing dude things.

Last night, Cooper and Kelce were at Xfinity Live! watching the Flyers game like everymen:

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This after the Eagles tweeted the picture of the group wearing Flyers jerseys and a video of them chanting “let’s go Flyers.”

And then there’s Barwin and Kelce playing poolside beer pong in cutoff customized Phillies Jerseys:

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pic via Barwin’s Instagram

And Kelce in an OD shirt. And Cooper, Celek and Kelce at McFadden’s.

Good luck finding any Phillies just chilling at the bar.

Uh Oh

Kyle Scott —  April 18, 2014 — 43 Comments
Photo credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start off with a positive– the only one from Game 1.

The Flyers’ first goal was a thing of beauty and it was exactly how Craig Berube drew it up. Here’s what Frank Seravalli wrote in the Dailly News yesterday, describing Chief’s intended ritual. I’ve accompanied the quote with screenshots:

In one word, Berube described the style he wants Claude Giroux, Voracek and Scott Hartnell to play against McDonagh as “unfulfilling.” Unless they have a clear break to carry it in the offensive zone, Berube has instructed his players to dump the puck in New York’s end…

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particularly in McDonagh’s direction…

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to see whether they can pin the should-be Norris Trophy candidate behind his net…

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and create scoring opportunities that way.

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Beautiful, Craig. Now, about the rest of the game.

I know we all want to Akes Jason a question. Why, rookie, did you two-hand Carl Hagelin in the face and take a four-minute double-minor that effectively cost your team the game? But as much as we’d like to blame Jason Akeson for that play, we can’t. I’ve watched it 20 times now and there’s just no way you can really find fault with what he did. He was actually back-checking really well on the play. He caught up to Hagelin in the neutral zone and tried to remove him from the puck. It didn’t work. Too much intensity, too little size. But Akeson played a good game. Though I don’t think he played as well as everyone – on the broadcast, post-game show and Twitter – was giving him credit for. He stood out because we were paying attention and because he looked like he belonged. Good for him, but you should look like you belong in a playoff game. It’s maddening that the Flyers went out and acquired Steve Downie during the season to add some firepower and then scratched him in a playoff game in favor of a guy who had never been to New York. That’s right, this was Akeson’s first time in New York City. “Skyscraper after skyscraper,” he told reporters. Golly gee. He automatically flunks one of my character tests: never trust an adult who’s never been to New York. It’s… weird. Especially for a professional athlete. Sometimes you just have to go to New York by accident. Sometimes you have a connecting flight in Newark and take the train over for a few hours. Sometimes you’re Kevin McAllister and your family is in Florida and you’re in New York. Shit happens. But it’s weird that you’ve never been to Manhattan, Jason.

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Now he’s playing in a playoff game at Madison Square Garden. What could go wrong? Well, he could let emotions get the best of him and lose control. It’s… exactly the sort of thing you worry about when a guy is playing in his first meaningful game ever. And that’s what happened. It’s not Akeson’s fault– he played fine. But why, if you think you might use a guy on the power play in the playoffs, wouldn’t you give him more burn during the season? Why didn’t you take him to New York and show him Times Square? It doesn’t make much sense.

As for the rest of the game: The Flyers were fine up until the penalty. They were getting outplayed by the Rangers, but, like Berube wanted, they were being patient. The Rangers’ shots were coming mostly from the outside. The Flyers had chances, too. It was a winnable game. They could’ve stolen Game 1. But it was over once the Rangers took the lead. The Flyers completely fell apart. Not a great effort overall, but a horrible third period. They have to win on Sunday.

File photo

File photo

From the department of you can’t make this shit up, here’s audio obtained by CB of Jonathan Papelbon farting on-at-around-in the general vicinity of reporters today. Our tipster tells us that Papelbon, who was irked by questions about his velocity, lifted his leg and fired in the general direction of Derrick Gunn.

Multiple sources have confirmed the flatulence. You can hear it at the 23-second mark:

It even registered a small, yet visible spike in GarageBand:

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Our tipster also passes along this nugget– that Cliff Lee belched at reporters last night as he walked toward the media scrum. He told them he had just eaten some fish.

Reporters weren’t too happy with either event.

Fun times in the Phillies’ clubhouse.

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The Phillies won today, 1-0. Jonathan Papelbon, who has pitched five scoreless innings since blowing a save against the Rangers during the opening series, picked up his third fourth save of the year. After the game, however, he was predictably confrontational about the (very real) concerns over his velocity, or “velo,” as he called it, which, as we’ve discussed, has been down about 2-3 mph the last two years.

The quoticals, via Matt Lombardo of NJ.com:

“Why do you guys care about velo[city] so much, man?” Papelbon said. “Does that matter? Does that really matter? Do you really think that matters? I don’t understand that. If a ball has life on it at the plate and you’re throwing 88 miles per hour versus 98 miles per hour, it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference whether you threw 93 or 94 or 84.

“I just … I don’t get it, man. You all killed Roy [Halladay] about velo[city]. It’s not a big deal. You do your job and your ball’s coming out of your hand, it doesn’t really matter how hard you’re throwing. I mean, their pitcher over there today, how hard was he throwing? Low ’90′s? High ’80′s? Look how he pitched. He ran through our lineup the first eight innings basically, but he had life at the plate. That’s all that really matters, man. End of story.”

That’s a really dumb comment.

1) Roy Halladay retired.

2) It is a big deal, especially for a guy who relies on his overpowering fastball to be effective.

3) Late life (and location) is great, but late life on a 94 mph fastball is a lot better than late life on an 88 mph fastball. This… seems rather obvious to intellectual beings. Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley:

4) ROY HALLADAY RETIRED.

Impressively, this was put together by a Rangers fan.

Playoffs, baby.

Photo credit: Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: Jim O’Connor-USA TODAY Sports

And that’s the favorite headline I’ve ever written.

In a new book chronicling his years as Mr. Met, AJ Mass recounts the events of April 15, 1997, the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, the day President Bill Clinton was in attendance at the Mets-Dodgers game, the day the Secret Service threatened to do what many of us may have wanted to do to Mr. Met for a long time– deliver the kill shot.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

His back turned to us, the man in the dark suit extends his arm in our path, and we pause while he finishes up his conversation. He then wheels around and speaks to us in a very businesslike fashion. “Mr. Met,” he says, “here’s the deal. You do whatever it is you normally do and go about your business as usual. We won’t bother you anymore. I’ve made it clear that you no longer need to be searched at the checkpoints. Okay?”

I slowly nod my head, though not because of any mascot code of silence–no mascot worth his salt is going to be heard talking while in costume–but rather because this man exudes such an aura of authority when he speaks that I simply can’t muster up the courage to make even the slightest sound.

“Now listen to me very carefully,” he goes on, and as he continues to speak, he does something that nobody else has ever done in all my years as Mr. Met. He isn’t looking up, as everyone automatically does when talking to me. Most people, out of habit, make eye contact with the person they are talking to, even if the person appears to be a giant living baseball. I’ve gotten used to seeing people’s necks when they address me, as they crane to meet what appears to be my gaze.

But the man in the dark suit is staring directly into the recess of Mr. Met’s mouth, knowing full well that even though he isn’t able to see inside, it’s exactly where I am looking out from. It’s hard to explain how utterly creeped out I am by this. The closest thing I can compare it to is the opening scene of the movie Scream, in which Drew Barrymore’s character answers what she thinks is a harmless crank call and the strange voice on the other end innocently asks her what her name is. When she playfully asks why he wants to know, the voice says menacingly, “Because I want to know who I’m looking at!” In an instant, Drew knows she’s in a whole lot of trouble. That’s exactly the vibe I’m starting to get from the man in the dark suit. Needless to say, he has my full attention.

“We have snipers all around the stadium, just in case something were to happen,” he says. “Like I said, do whatever it is you normally do. Nobody will bother you. But approach the president, and we go for the kill shot. Are we clear?”

He pauses for a moment to let the words sink in, and it feels like he isn’t only looking into my eyes, but also into my very soul with his blank, unblinking stare. Then he says the same thing again, only a little bit slower this time, making sure I know his warning is not in any way to be misconstrued as some sort of gag. He’s dead serious, and if I don’t believe him, then I’ll be dead–seriously.

“Approach the president, and we go for the kill shot,” he repeats. “ARE–WE–CLEAR?”

Unfortunately, Mr. Met never approached the President.*

*Joking aside, I like Mr. Met. His head is a baseball! Heh! Gets me every time.

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The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona has released Donovan McNabb’s mugshot– without an explanation. Yet.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE 1: He was issued a criminal traffic citation in January in that county. May be related to that.

UPDATE 2: TMZ reports it was a DUI arrest:

Law enforcement tells us the mug shot stems from a DUI arrest in January.

We’re told McNabb hashed out a plea deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to 1 day in an Arizona jail.

One law enforcement source tell us McNabb has already served his time … though it’s unclear when that happened.

We’ve made multiple calls to McNabb’s people — so far, no word back.

Weird that it’s released now.

UPDATE 3:

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