The700Level

What other Philly athletes would make the best tamperers?

What other Philly athletes would make the best tamperers?

My life has been consumed with the idea of Bryce Harper recruiting Eagles superfan (and two-time AL MVP) Mike Trout to come join the Phillies in 2021. With tampering ever-present in my mind, I look at why the Phils should continue their pursuit of Trout and a handful of other athletes that Philadelphia teams should begin tampering with right now. I’ve also taken it upon myself to anoint a current Philly player as the one to lead the tampering charge. Here we go:

Mike Trout

The Holy Grail of Philly Tampering. The Prince Who Was Promised. I wrote yesterday that Harper’s courting of Trout and the Angels’ subsequent hissy fit is not only hilarious, but a completely fruitless endeavor. As a man who was once convinced that Nick Foles would be disastrous in the playoffs last winter and that Markelle Fultz would a perennial All-NBA guard, I’ve never been more sure of anything than the fact that Trout will be in red pinstripes at Citizens Bank Park on Opening Day 2021.

Keep putting the squeeze on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the West Coast, Bryce. The Angels’ complaints about tampering are only delaying the inevitable.

Top Tamperer: Harper obviously.

 

Le’Veon Bell

“Legal” tampering begins on Monday for NFL free agency, but that shouldn’t stop the Eagles from getting in on Le’Veon Bell’s good side before then. I have no real sense of what Bell’s market will be this month. Will his refusal to suit up last season hamper how much he can cash in? 

Maybe the market sours on Bell and he is only able to take a one-year deal, much like Alshon Jeffery did two years ago. During the 2016 season, the Eagles kicked the tires on trying to acquire Jeffery from the Bears mid-year only to sign him once free agency came. The Eagles were rumored to be interested in trading for Bell last fall. With Howie Roseman’s wizardry at the Birds’ disposal, I wouldn’t count out history repeating itself.

Top Tamperer: Cre’Von LeBlanc. I would trust Cre’Von to do my taxes, dogsit my pit-terrier mix Bruce and with my life overall. If he wants to head the committee to have Bell make the move towards Eastern Pennsylvania, as he’s already made known on Twitter, there may be no man more more capable of the job.


 

Earl Thomas

Yet another installment in a guy who seemed destined to play in Philadelphia. Earl Thomas is Former Next Dawkins. Roseman and the Eagles may have overplayed their hand by extending Rodney McLeod’s contract ahead of what will be a crowded safety market this offseason, but what if the franchise pursues another vet at the position in free agency?

I’m obviously diving into wild hypotheticals, but what if the Birds let Jordan Hicks walk as a free agent and essentially play Big Dime with three safeties as their base formation? Jim Schwartz loved utilizing that package during the franchise’s Super Bowl-winning campaign two years ago with a healthy McLeod and a not-yet-washed-up Corey Graham opposite Malcolm Jenkins. It also serves as a proactive depth move with McLeod coming off a season-ending knee injury in case he doesn’t quite return to his 2017 form.

Top Tamperer: Brandon Graham. A sizeable portion of the Eagles fan base still held ill will towards Graham before 2017 on account of him being Not Earl Thomas, as the safety was a presumed and popular choice for the Eagles in the 2010 NFL Draft. Graham was selected one pick ahead of Thomas. Time is a flat circle. BG should help bring Thomas along for the Eagles’ next ride to the postseason with both players looking for their second Super Bowl ring.

 

D’Angelo Russell

Imagine a world where the Lakers selected Jahlil Okafor instead of D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, allowing Russell to fall to the Sixers with third-overall selection. His silky smooth offensive game would’ve been a perfect match to develop alongside both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Elton Brand and the Sixers have a chance to right the wrongs of the Okafor era and pursue D’Angelo Russell in restricted free agency this summer.

If the Nets were to decide in favor of keeping cap flexibility for superstar-level talent this summer, the Sixers should absolutely make a move on Russell. I’m sort of over the Jimmy Butler Experience and the negative energy that’s persisted around the team in 2019. Let’s say the Sixers let him walk, clear some cap space and hit “Voodoo” Russell with an offer sheet. They’d have Russell, Embiid, Simmons, JJ Redick and Tobias Harris as they fight for a Finals berth in 2020. Sign me up for that.

Top Tamperer: Duh, Embiid. The social media king may have learned from his mistake of recruiting LeBron James over the years and he should turn his attention to a more attainable target. Russell was briefly high school teammates with Embiid (and later Simmons) at Montverde Academy in Florida. The school’s mascot is an Eagle, so the stars have clearly aligned and there’s 100 percent chance of this happening. Go Birds.

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Bryce Harper meets some Philly sports legends at the Sixers game

Bryce Harper meets some Philly sports legends at the Sixers game

The new big man in town, Bryce Harper, went to the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night to take in the Sixers game against the Milwaukee Bucks. He rubbed shoulders with some of the previous biggest (little) men in town.

Harper was in attendance and rang the bell prior to tip-off — something he'll surely do many times during Phillies games across the street this summer.

When Harper made his way to his seat in a suite, he was seated alongside Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Rhys Hoskins was also in the suite as were all of the aforementioned players' significant others. Talk about some serious Philly sports firepower right there.

And then later in the game, the Sixers shared an image of a couple of legendary No. 3s meeting in the bowels of the Center. I'd love to hear the conversation between Allen Iverson and Harper.

Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was also in the building, sitting a bit closer to the court. Rapper Meek Mill was also in the building and took a photo with A.I. Which got me wondering: What's the perfect storm of Philly sports stardom in a Rat Pack sort of way? Obviously you had Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on the court last night. In terms of the Flyers, aside from Gritty, you'd have to go Claude Giroux or maybe a fun-loving guy like Scott Hartnell from years past? Recently retired players that could fit the bill from other teams would have to include Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and maybe Pat Burrell just for fun. Is anyone in recent Eagles memory a bigger name than Brian Dawkins? He'd fill the fedora quotient. Nick Foles could be fun in a clean and wholesome sort of way.

My Philly sports Rat Pack would consist of A.I., Simmons, Embiid, Kendall Jenner, Wentz, Jason Kelce and Gritty. We got a good portion of that in the building last night.

Who is in your Philly sports Rat Pack?

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Nationals fans don’t get to be mad at Bryce Harper

Nationals fans don’t get to be mad at Bryce Harper

They can boo him. They can even hate him. But there’s absolutely no way Washington Nationals fans can fault Bryce Harper.

Sportswriters instructed Nats fans not to show up to the stadium unless they plan to boo Harper. Metro TV personalities smashed a pinata with the six-time All-Star’s photograph. Fans destroyed their No. 34 jerseys and showed up to the ballpark with signs that read “traitor.” The mayor of Washington D.C. took to social media to compare a baseball player to Benedict Arnold.

And yet, on Monday it was revealed in The Washington Post that the Nationals didn't just offer Harper less money and fewer years than the Phillies. The structure of the 10-year, $300 million contract proposed in September would’ve deferred payment on $100 million – 33 percent of the total value – until 2052. Then, in January, the club followed up with an even worse deal: 12 years, $250 million that wouldn’t be fully paid until the year 2072.

Harper would be 79 in 2072, assuming he lived that long.

There’s loyalty and hometown discounts. Then there’s situations that just don’t make sense.

Now seems like a good time to point out the Nationals are owned by Ted Lerner, whose own net worth is estimated to be in the multi billions. The team has done pretty well for itself at the gate, finishing 11th in Major League Baseball in average attendance in 2018 despite some of the highest ticket prices in the game. And while the TV contract is in dispute, the organization will eventually claim hundreds of millions of dollars in right fees dating back to 2012.

The money was there. Even without Harper, the Nationals have the seventh-largest payroll in baseball this season – never mind management’s inability to construct a winning team with that checkbook.

Why is this coming back on the player?

It’s one thing for fans to suggest a professional athlete should consider taking less money. It’s quite another to argue the athlete should sign a contract where a sizable portion of the cash might be paid when he’s living in a nursing home.

On some level, this is all reminiscent of when Jayson Werth pulled a reverse-Harper and left the Phillies to sign with the NL East rival Nationals in in 2011. The Phillies chose to allocate finances in such a way the club decided it would only retain Werth for below-market value, so he left. Fans weren’t happy, and he was booed every time he came to town.

But Werth wasn’t a generational talent. He was a cog, people ultimately understood he got a better deal, plus letting him go meant the Phillies could re-sign Cliff Lee, for example.

The Nationals let the face of baseball leave D.C. without a serious offer, and all they got was the money to sign Patrick Corbin.

Hey, it happens, and Nats fans should boo Harper for all 13 years in red pinstripes, the same as any Philly fan would in their shoes.

Just don’t cry Harper is a traitor. He’s in a Phils uniform because the Nationals screwed up, and the only place fingers need to be pointed is directly at the front office.

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