The strangest things happen at the most unusual times. I'm down in the fitness center in my building this morning getting all sweaty, listening passively to the local news, when I'm assaulted with word that the cherished Phillie Phanatic has been named in a lawsuit. If this is a tragedy of the first order in the City of Brotherly Love, it amounts to little more than a tradicomedy in the City of Spin. I only care because I spent my tender years in the shadow of Independence Hall and some of my most memorable nights in the yellow seats at Veterans Stadium. And I don't remember keeping my eye on the game.
Just look at that Phanatic over there. Who would be so cold as to introduce it to our Byzantine system of jurisprudence?
Grace Crass, that's who. Who but a woman with a name so harsh could conceive of an act so spiteful? Who is this Grace Crass? And what does she have against large green creatures in clown shoes? Well, I suppose the clown shoes is enough to put anybody over the top.
But word has it that Grace was prompted by something other than footwear. She's from Wernersville, PA, which sounds like one of those Pennsylvania Dutch towns near Reading that breed contempt for Democrats and big cities. Probably sees bright red when the subject of the Nation's capital comes up. After a lifetime of very small living and a long, tortuous drive to the stadium the poor woman was seething with a subconscious hatred for the pathetic Phanatic before a tort (or whatever) was even committed. Plus the beer was warm.
There's a little more to the story, but I'll get to that in a moment.
On a side-note, I've learned that the Phanatic has a dark side of its own. First, a couple of things about the Phanatic by way of context. If the Dallas Cowboys are America's team, the Phanatic is America's mascot. Devoted to the Phillies since I was in high school, the Phanatic is a beloved Philadelphia staple, dancing cheerfully around the stadium and doing amusingly devilish pranks to attract the camera's eye. It always gets way more than its fair share of fan-a-vision and shows up on the field for all the really cool ceremonies. And its clumsy. Perhaps not surprising that accidents happen, which attract a certain class of attorneys. There have been a number of instances over the yeas when the Phanatic was embroiled in litigation, including:
In 1994 the Phanatic's libido got the better of it at a paint store opening, resulting in an unfortunate bear hug, a ruptured disc, and a $2.5 M jury award.
In 1995 the Phanatic again let the love out, this time at a church carnival, knocking some guy down and drawing a $500K award.
In fact, the Phanatic is the most sued mascot in the majors. So perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to judge Grace, but there'd be no fun in that, would there? She was at the game with a church group, arthrically composed and relaxed, when along comes the Phanatic with his goofy, clumsy antics and brushed up against her, triggering a catastrophic relapse of her "asymptotic" arthritis, attracting the eye of nearby attorneys, a consequent trip to the ER, a knee replacement, and untold pain and suffering.
The Phanatic plans to plead insanity. According to Bob Jarvis, professor of sports law at Nova Southeastern University (no shit), "The Phanatic is fanatic, it's in his name - he has to walk around and do crazy things." There aren't many beds in Philadelphia's diminishing mental wards for a a "massive, green, bird-anteater hybrid." Local authorities are preparing a berth at Byberry Mental Hospital, a notoriously haunted joint that was closed to new admissions in 1989. Folks don't expect to be using restraints.
Poor Grace. Surely there are some other pathetic creatures out there to draw some fire. Regrettably there is no shortage:
Gladys Kravitz - That nosy, sour neighbor on Bewitched who was always on the cusp of revealing Samantha's identity. Samantha was kind of cute and quirky - Gladys was all toil and trouble, stirring a kettle of simmering resentment and suspicion. A truly crumby lady who would throw herself in front of a gleeful Phanatic to draw a personal injury lawsuit.
Frank Burns - The most contemptuous hack in Korea during the decade of the '50s, Frank Burns lowered the self-esteem bar every time his visage graced the tube. In a precursor to Viagra syndrome, where leering old farts flirt with women half their age, Frank somehow managed to hook up with Major Houlihan. The Major was probably about Frank's age but, unlike him, she had self-respect, competence, and beauty on her side. Go figure.
Phanatic Perp Walk
A Man In Need Of A Mascot
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