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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

In Search Of Head

That crazy Phillie Phanatic. You never know what kind of stunt he'll pull next. He's always rubbing some bald guy's dome, or putting some kid underneath his jersey. But when entertainers like Janet Jackson start flashing millions of people on live television, you've gotta step up your antics. So the other day, some guy got head from the Phanatic.

Oh, my mistake. I read that wrong. Some guy got the head from the Phanatic. I guess the mascot is still wholesome after all.

Usually when we talk about steals in baseball, it involves bases, or at the worst, Ruben Rivera lifting some Derek Jeter memorabilia from the Yankees clubhouse. This time, though, some guy jacked the head of the Phanatic's costume. Austin Powers, start the headless puns.

Here's how the heist went down. The other day, the Phillies had an auction of Vet Stadium memorabilia at the Wachovia Center. During the proceedings, Tom Burgoyne, the guy inside the costume, took a break, changed out of the costume, left it in an unlocked room, and when he returned, he realized he'd lost his head.

Whoever made off with the green monster's top went unnoticed by security cameras, and he's also in possession of an item worth $3,000 dollars. That's how much that thing will cost to replace. But good luck moving it - it's pretty easy to spot a Phanatic head on eBay.

What has appeared on eBay, however, is this interesting item: "not HEAD OF PHILLY PHANATIC." You can check it out here, at least until 90 days after the auction ends or until eBay takes it down. It is extremely unclear what is actually for sale, but it is apparently not the Phanatic's head. So far the mystery item has received a couple of bids.

The description of the item reads, in part, "Just to be completely clear, this auction is in no way shape or form an auction for the MISSING HEAD OF PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES MASCOT: the PHILLIE PHANATIC. Please don't confuse this auction for other auctions that may be selling the GIANT GREEN and FURRY HEAD of the PHILLIE PHANATIC...

"I also realized that I don't have the HEAD OF THE PHILLIE PHANATIC, but I have plenty of things that aren't the HEAD OF THE PHILLIE PHANATIC ... and I could sell them."

This guy is very emphatically trying to sell ... something. But it is most definitely not the Phanatic's head.

The Phillies have no leads, and are still deciding whether they want to offer a reward for the safe return of la cabeza del Phanatic. Fortunately for them, the Phanatic has a backup costume. But don't expect to see any of the old routines with the Phanatic's "family members" any time soon unless the head is returned.

By the way, only a Major League Baseball team could justify paying $3,000 for head. Even if it is the best head out there.

***

The Phillies aren't the only ones having head issues. Flyers goalie Jeff Hackett announced his retirement yesterday after missing the last month of games due to vertigo. He'd made a few minor-league rehab starts, but apparently he wasn't feeling great and decided to hang up his skates...if he could only get the room to stop spinning so he could find the hook to hang them on. Just kidding.

Hackett signed a two-year deal with the Flyers as a free agent this summer, but now the Flyers have to look elsewhere to find a goalie, since Robert Esche is out for a few weeks with a sprained knee. So they went out and traded for Sean Burke, who's been splitting time with red-hot former Flyer Brian Boucher this season in Phoenix.

You might remember Burke - he's been with the Flyers before. He went 7-3 for them in a brief stint in the '97-98 season (he also went 1-4 against Buffalo in the playoffs that year in another typical first-round Flyers exit). He is definitely not the long-term answer. He's 37 years old, and his contract only goes through next season.

Then again, Bobby Clarke and the Flyers have never been about long-term answers. The emphasis is always on winning right now, and there has never been a better time for that kind of attitude than this season, since the collective bargaining agreement expires before next season and the NHL might not exist for a while. So it looks like the Flyers will try to ride Burke to the Cup. Hope he knows the way.

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