The new-look Phillie Phanatic drew mostly shrugs following its debut on Sunday during Phillies spring training. But the real story is the possibility (as remote as it might be) that fans might not see the hairy green mascot thrusting his pelvis at games in the near future.
Basically, there is a copyright dispute between the team and the designers of the Phanatic that could put the character’s future in doubt if a 1984 agreement isn’t renegotiated for “millions of dollars.” Experts say it would be difficult for another team to use the Phanatic due to trademarks held by the Phillies, but a ruling by the judge in favor of Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison could effectively mothball the beloved mascot.
If you think it would be easy for the Phillies to simply come up with a new mascot, think again, because the history of Philadelphia sports is littered with bad ideas mocked by fans and tossed to the scrap heap of history.
Remember Hip Hop, the unsettlingly muscular rabbit that enjoyed a brief run as the Sixers’ mascot before being dumped in favor of a blue dog named Franklin? Even the reception for Franklin was pretty tepid, especially when it was revealed the actor was a Knicks fans who trashed the Sixers on social media.
Gritty’s success is certainly not the norm. More than 40 years before the orange weirdo was accused of assaulting children, the Flyers debuted a short-lived mascot named Slapshot in 1976, who lasted just once season.
Even the Phillies have a history of bad mascots. Before the Phanatic, the team had big-eyed, doll-faced twins named Philadelphia Phil and Phillis so dull and lifeless they became decorations at Storybookland in Southern New Jersey.
So my advice would be for the Phillies to pay the creators and move on. If they could afford to pay Gabe Kapler millions of dollars, they can certainly shell out a few bucks for the most beloved member of their team.
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