Mike Missanelli’s Best (and Worst) of Philly Sports

Hey, why should the magazine's editors have all the fun?

Best coach. Charlie Manuel is the greatest manager in Phillies history. Don’t be fooled by Charlie’s cornpone demeanor; there’s something about this guy that makes his players want to play for him. They know he’s got their backs, but they also know that if they’re not playing right, he’ll put a foot up their backside.

Best recent transaction.
The trade of Flyers stars Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. I always thought they liked the spoils of being pro athletes more than actually achieving as pro athletes. Carter won’t have any trouble ruling the nightlife in Columbus, Ohio. But Richards might be a little overmatched; L.A.’s not as sports-crazed as Philly. (Woman in a bar to Richards: “Uh, you play what for who?”)

Best front office. The Phillies and Ruben Amaro Jr. are on the roll of rolls. It takes a lot of balls to convince Dave Montgomery and his group of four fiscally responsible owners to spill their cash bucket to someone like Cliff Lee and give him the sort of long-term contract they never give a pitcher.

Worst nickname. Sergei Bobrovsky of the Flyers. What the hell is “Bob”? Every other player in the NHL has a chummy “-y” or “-ie” at the end of his name. For some reason, with Bobrovsky, they stopped at “Bob.” Why not “Bobby”? I don’t understand hockey.

Best athlete.
Bernard Hopkins. He put a crown on his career by beating much-younger Jean Pascal to become light heavyweight champion—and the oldest boxer to ever win a world title.

Worst attitude. Again, Hopkins. The vicious contempt he holds for Donovan McNabb—an African-American who grew up in a two-parent household with many more advantages than Hopkins—is now a little tired. Drop it, B-Hop.

Worst Transformation. As Phillies, John Kruk and Mitch Williams were two of the most ill-mannered, tempestuous athletes I’ve ever seen deal with the media. But now that they’re on TV, they’re both Mr. Personality? There’s something very bothersome about that.

Best meltdown.
It’s no great shock that Lenny Dykstra is facing jail time for a variety of alleged financial misdeeds. I once interviewed him in his home. He was coming off a rough season and telling me how he needed to get in better shape. Just then, a housekeeper delivered his breakfast: five sausage links and five strips of bacon. Dykstra flicked the ashes of his lit cigarette into a glass of orange juice and said to me, “Protein, dude.”

This article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue of Philadelphia magazine.