Players on the Philadelphia Phillies once weren’t too fond of the Phanatic.
Don’t believe me? On August 22, 1978, the Phillies beat the Cubs, 5-3, at Veterans Stadium, but a dual performance from the Phanatic and the San Diego Chicken was what enthralled the crowd. And the Phillies were not happy about it, according to the UPI recap.
“All the activity was sort of upsetting,” said Larry Christenson. “I think maybe it detracts from the game,” said Danny Ozark, the manager. Both qualified their statements saying it was good for the fans, but hometown players today should keep their anti-Phanatic sentiments to themselves.
The Phanatic is the best. “From the moment the Phanatic came out people accepted it,” Dave Raymond told the AP in 1993 while also giving us the proper third-person pronoun for the Phanatic. But, back then, the mascot fad was relatively new. Players back then would knock the mascot because it was a novelty. The San Diego Chicken was still a little kid. In 2011, nearly every team has a mascot, if only so it can hawk stuffed toys and children’s books. (Other mascots are authors, too, right?) But now that mascots are firmly entrenched as a sports sideshow, they can gain detractors instantaneously.
This was the case when the Sixers unveiled three potential mascots Monday evening. Several people wondered if the mascot vote was a joke, thinking that I had made up these characters. Hip-Hop is gone, and the replacements are Ben Franklin, a sassy dog and a moose? The whole thing reminds me of the Poochie episode of The Simpsons, the new Itchy & Scratchy character that got “biz-zay.”
Still, the fans care. Sixers CEO Adam Aron says the 76ers received 12,000 votes in the first 12 hours. With that in mind, I’m going to look at the three mascot candidates and tell you which one deserves your vote.
Weight: Um, clearly, a lot
Does he get biz-zay: Rumors of Ben Franklin’s sexual prowess were spread by Franklin himself, that braggart. So, no.
Comparison with Hip-Hop: Were you freaked out by that muscular rabbit? Well, here’s a big tub of lard you can look up to.
According to the 76ers, “Big Ben was thrilled to be asked to join Philadelphia sports fans in cheering the 76ers on to greatness.” I guess he’s not doing much anymore, so, sure, why not? What’s confusing is that, in the 221 years since his death, Franklin has grown over a foot! Yes, the Sixers say Big Ben is 7-feet tall. Why not go all out and bill him at 316 feet, the height of London’s Big Ben?
B. Franklin Dogg
Height: I dunno. Let’s go with a 6-foot guard from Georgetown
Weight: He’s a hound of some sort, I think. A little under 100 pounds.
Age: Around 2100, in dog years
Does he get biz-zay: Obviously! Look at that face. He might as well be Poochie.
Comparison with Hip-Hop: B. Franklin Dogg is, essentially, Hip-Hop–but a dog. Right? He even has a rap-inspired name! Also, instead of their awkward “dresses like a criminal” line, people will instead say he “dresses like Uncle Sam.” (My friend Joe notes it’s like the Sixers found Apollo Creed’s Uncle Sam suit while demolishing the Spectrum and went from there.)
B. Franklin Dogg (don’t forget that extra ‘g’!) is, according to the 76ers, Ben Franklin’s dog. His origin story could be made into a superhero comic: “B. Franklin Dogg was occasionally seen playing with a basketball around the historic landmarks of Philadelphia, before finally making his way down Broad St. to the Wells Fargo Center.” But not before stealing the Liberty Bell to wear as a hat.
Phil E. Moose
Weight: According to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, an average moose weighs between 850 and 1580 pounds.
Age: Under 20
Does he get biz-zay: Maybe. It’s hard to tell because they didn’t redraw the face for each rendering. How creepy is that? Look at the image above. It’s like you just hit a slot machine in hell.
Comparison with Hip-Hop: They’re both pretty muscular–though Phil E. Moose, being a moose, is not as cut as Hip-Hop–and they both have terrifying expressions and giant protrusions from their heads.
Phil E. Moose has my favorite origin story. “Throughout his high school, collegiate and professional games, Phil E. Moose was a scoring star, and was excited to learn he had been “traded” to the 76ers in order to entertain fans during games at the Wells Fargo Center.” So … this moose has played before? Is this an Air Bud situation? Wait, how come I’ve never heard of him? I watch a lot of basketball (and I’ve seen every Air Bud film. I would definitely have heard of the basketball-playing moose.) Somebody check this guy’s resume! (And what happens if he loses this contest? Does he get optioned back to his previous team? This must be in the new NBA collective bargaining agreement.)
My guess is Phil E. Moose is going to win this thing running away. People are legitimately enthralled that the Sixers mascot would be a moose, an animal whose habitat only reaches as far south as upstate New York. I’d urge you, though, to vote for B. Franklin Dogg. C’mon! He stole the Liberty Bell to wear as a hat. What more do you need?