John Oliver has made an offer to the Phillie Phanatic that the famed mascot may not be able to refuse, should he become a free agent later this year.
That is: Become the official mascot of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
“That’s right, Phanatic. Your new team is ready and waiting for you right here,” Oliver said in Sunday’s episode of the show. “Frankly, we’ve spent money on things way stupider than this.”
Oliver’s offer came at the end of a nearly 10-minute segment covering the ongoing legal struggle over the Phanatic’s likeness between the mascot’s original creators and the Phillies. As the comedian noted, the situation is a “huge scandal that has engulfed” baseball since the Phils filed suit against Harrison/Erickson Inc. in August.
The team accused original designers Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison of threatening to make the Phanatic a “free agent” after more than 35 years as the Phillies mascot by withdrawing from a 1984 copyright agreement. For $250,000, that agreement granted the Phillies use of the Phanatic “forever,” but federal law stipulates that copyright can be redrawn after 35 years — a deadline that is coming up on June 15 for the Phanatic.
Last week, the case became more complicated, when the Phillies debuted an updated version of the Phanatic’s design, adding elements such as “scales for no reason” and “bull— star shapes around his eyes,” as Oliver said on Sunday’s show. Some fans compared the new suit to a knock-off Barney costume, while others saw it as a move to avoid copyright issues.
But the most egregious new element: The Phanatic’s new “honker.”
“Look at it. It’s a cylinder now, which is ridiculous — the Phanatic’s honker is supposed to be conical,” Oliver said. “He’s supposed to have a conical honker, and now they’ve made him look stupid.”
With all this drama, Oliver said, Last Week Tonight could be the perfect home for the Phanatic, should the Phillies lose their suit against the mascot’s creators. With characters like the Bolivian Traffic Zebra, Creepy Baby with Hulk Hands Wearing A Tutu, and Mr. Nutterbutter already on its roster, the show is “no stranger to the mascot game.”
And, after all, the Phantic deserves “a home that doesn’t want to change you into whatever the f — “ the Phils’ new version of the mascot is.