The most exciting night for Philadelphia sports in the last several months happened last Tuesday, and it was all about ping-pong balls. Yes, ping-pong balls. And not even ping-pong balls people played beer pong with. Instead of partying and celebrating, those ping-pong balls were for mediocrity and irrational hope. So as you might’ve expected, the #LOLSixers were invited. And not only that they came away feeling less than great! On a night they could have earned three picks in the top 14, they instead got just one, the No. 3 overall pick.
Elsewhere in sportsball, the Phillies GM hates you and soccer is back. Welcome to the May guide to Philly sports for people who don’t know anything about sports.
Inside the ping-pong: As mentioned, our beloved #LOL’s had their shot at earning the No. 1 overall pick, the No. 6 pick and the No. 11 pick after months — actually years — of trading and tanking. And they didn’t get anything that great, just the No. 3 pick. The #LOLSixers could have gotten a pick from a trade with the Lakers at No. 6 or lower, but the Lakers won the No. 2 pick in the lottery, meaning it belonged to them. Same with a possible pick from the Miami Heat. They got a pick in the top 10, meaning the #LOLSixers wouldn’t get it from their trade, either.
The NBA Draft lottery comes down to odds. The teams with worse records have better odds than those with better records. GM Sam Hinkie made trades with the Lakers and Heat thinking they’d be improve enough to not have good odds for getting such high picks. That didn’t happen. Hinkie pretty much has this job because the owners trust his math, but his calculations were wrong this time.
It could have been worse. The Knicks, which finished with a worse record than the #LOLSixers, got the fourth overall pick.
What to praise: The #LOLSixers have a ballin’ new secondary logo. Now, it’s not the primary logo — the new primary logo is about the same as one they’ve had for a while — but it’s something cool. This new logo features Ben Franklin palming a basketball and wearing red pants, a blue overcoat and bifocals.
The new logos were released earlier this month. The team says it will release new uniforms in June. If this Ben Franklin design ends up on a jersey, the #LOLSixers are winners regardless of the fact that they will almost certainly lose 60 games next season.
Update: Ruben Amaro, the GM of the Phillies thinks we’re all idiots, even those of us who actually pay attention to sportsball. In an interview with CSN Philly Monday, he said of fans worrying about a couple of top Phillies prospects, “They don’t understand the game. They don’t understand the process. There’s a process. And then they bitch and complain because we don’t have a plan.” Deadspin astutely pointed out that while fans don’t always understand what’s going on behind the scenes, Amaro was the one who signed team albatross Ryan Howard to a five-year, $125 million contract. By Tuesday, he apologized to the bitchers and complainers and even admitted, sort of, that he screwed up with rebuilding the team.
The good: Speaking of Ryan Howard, the team albatross, he is actually acting less like an albatross this year and more like a functioning baseball player. He’s hitting .270 with 10 home runs and has the best OPS+ on the team of .133. Don’t worry about what OPS+ is, just tell people about it and you’ll sound smart.
The bad: Nobody wants to see the Phillies. Wonder if it has to do with Amaro? Either way, the average announced attendance for games at Citizens Bank Park has been 26,052. Only a handful of other Major League Baseball teams are worse and they play at monstrosities of baseball parks like Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay or the Oakland Coliseum.
U.S. Women’s National Team
Update: Remember how we really, really cared about soccer last summer and skipped work and went to bars on Tuesdays at noon? Congratulations, we get to do it all over again! The Women’s World Cup starts in June and unlike the men, the U.S. Women are favorites to win. The only negative is you won’t be able to skip work (unless your job is the graveyard shift at the Days Inn). Because the tournament is happening in good ol’ Canada, the U.S. Women’s National Team will be playing during American primetime. The first game is June 8.
Really, everyone will be paying attention to this. While women’s sports often garner little attention, that’s not the case with soccer. Ratings for U.S. Women’s World Cup games have historically been as high or higher than men’s games.
Learn something cool about a player: Christie Rampone has been playing soccer for a long time. She was on the 1999 World Cup team, is turning 40 this month, has two children and this year’s Cup will be her fifth. How old is Rampone? She got her first invitation to be on the U.S. Women’s National Team via fax.
Drink at officially-licensed U.S. Soccer bars: Fado and Liberty Bar and Grill are considered “official” soccer bars by the United States Soccer Federation. So if you want to watch games amongst people who know entirely too much about soccer, these are your top two spots. Just beware of snobby hipster soccer fans:
Update: A horse named American Pharoah won the first two legs of the Triple Crown series. He now has the opportunity to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978 at the Belmont Stakes next Saturday. Pharaoh probably won’t do it. Two times in the last three years, a horse has won the first two races but not the third. But that’s OK. Horse racing isn’t about Triple Crowns anyway. It’s about making foolish bets and hating on members of the aristocracy from the comforts of your living room.
How to really impress somebody: Invent your own tradition for the Belmont. The Kentucky Derby has cool hats and mint juleps. It makes for a great Saturday! The Belmont has no comparable traditions and that kind of sucks. But this lack of cool stuff associated with the whipping of horses creates an opportunity: Make something up. Invite people over for the race and tell your friends that everyone has to wear costumes and drink whiskey. It’ll be like summer Halloween at an old English poet’s house.
A must-see horse racing video: From the Onion: “As far as I know there are no rules in horse racing. You just procure a horse and get it across the finish line by any means necessary.”