With all the ups and downs among our local sports teams, 2016 was a long year for Philadelphia sports fans. It was even longer for those who cover the games.
In a year filled with odd moments and bizarre turns, here are 11 of the oddest.
#11. Phillies beat reporters forced to deal with clogged toilets
Being a beat reporter for a baseball team can be a grueling gig even when the toilets are flowing.
Inquirer reporter Matt Gelb and several other Phillies reporters were forced to endure the foul stench of clogged and overflowing toilets on an American Airlines flight in July. Comcast SportsNet reporter Jim Salisbury was stuck in the back of the plane, where the odor was really pungent.
Sadly, once the re-routed flight finally landed in Philadelphia, the plane and its overflowing toilets sat for nearly 20 minutes at the gate waiting for an agent to drive the jetway bridge.
#10. ESPN airs outdated skyline during Temple game
Coming back from a commercial break at halftime during Temple's 37-10 blowout win over East Carolina in November, ESPN dutifully aired footage of the Philadelphia skyline.
Unfortunately, the shot of One Liberty Place, Two Liberty Place and the PECO Building was at least 8 years old, as Philadelphia Magazine scribe Dan McQuade pointed out on Twitter:
The Worldwide Leader never did respond for comment on this, but it did shoot new B-roll footage of Philadelphia that aired during its Monday Night Football coverage of the Packers' 27-13 win over the Eagles on Nov. 28.
#9. Mike Missanelli hangs up on a critical Sal Paolantonio
After the Eagles announced the hiring of Doug Pederson in late January, 97.5 The Fanatic host Mike Missanelli interviewed the new coach about a wide range of topics.
The interview didn't impress ESPN's Sal Paolantonio. The former Inquirer beat writer called into Missanelli's show and hounded him for nearly 7 minutes for not asking Pederson if he'd personally spoken to quarterback Sam Bradford.
"I did the interview. I'm sorry I missed the one question!" Missanelli exclaimed, and when Paolantonio still wouldn't let the subject go, the Fanatic host had enough.
"You know, nice talking to you. Have fun at the Super Bowl," Missanelli said as he hung up on Paolantonio and turned the show back to callers. "If I did that to him, he'd be the first guy to squawk."
#8. Curt Schilling fired by ESPN for offensive social media posts
Coming into 2016, former Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling was a highly respected baseball analyst for ESPN and a fairly strong candidate for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
But his addiction to making offensive social media posts and comments caught up with the World Series champ, and in April, ESPN fired Schilling after he shared a Facebook post that appeared to support North Carolina's ban on letting transgender people use bathrooms and locker rooms that don't correspond with their birth genders.
Since then, Schilling has secured an online radio gig with Breitbart News Network and has not pulled back from offering his opinions online. Back in November, he shared (then deleted) an image from Donald Trump of a man wearing a shirt suggesting journalists deserved to be hung, adding, "OK, so much awesome here …"
Some Hall of Fame voters, including MLB Network insider Jon Heyman and the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy, have cited the image as the sole reason they won't vote for Schilling. The former pitcher's response: "That's how it works when you give weak people power. They want to 'hold it over me' or something like that? Please."
#7. Brian Baldinger says Eagles should "put a little bounty" on Ezekiel Elliott
The NFL cracked down on players and coaches for offering bounties for hurting opposing players, and this year, it punished one of its media analysts.
In October, NFL Network analyst and former Eagles offensive lineman Brian Baldinger appeared on The Fanatic and told host Anthony Gargano that if he were defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, he'd put a bounty on Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott.
"This is the guy that that we've got to hurt," Baldinger said on The Fanatic. "This is the guy that we've got to take out of the game. There's got to be 10 guys that want to hurt him every single play. In fact, we may even put a little bounty on Ezekiel Elliott. Let's get to [backup] Alfred Morris."
After the appearance, Baldinger tweeted that the comments were "mostly tongue in cheek," but the NFL wasn't amused and suspended him for 6 months without pay.
#6. Lenny Dykstra says he moonlights as a male gigolo
"I thought God put me on Earth to entertain people on the baseball field … but He actually put me on earth to [pleasure women]," Dykstra told Stern. "I'm like Picasso."
Dykstra told Stern how several elderly clients pay him for "companionship" and romantic dinner dates. Dykstra noted that for most of the older women, it's more about intimacy than sex. "Their bones are brittle," he said.
Stern asked if Dykstra would have sex with a woman who was Dykstra's age.
"If they paid me," he responded. "It's my duty."
#5. North Philly urologist mocked on ESPN for flipping off Russell Westbrook
A Philly urologist was mocked on national television after flipping off Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook during a Sixers game in October.
"I always like the bravery of fans," ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said of Richard Harkaway, who was ejected from his seat at the Wells Fargo Center after he left the double bird fly. "You should be able to go up in the stands and whack that guy."
Harkaway, who also moonlights as a comedian, blamed Westbrook for initiating the confrontation by calling him a "fat boy" when Harkaway stood up to boo him.
"I am sometimes sensitive about my plumpness,'' Harkaway wrote on Facebook. "I guess I got a little out of hand."
#4. Josh Innes uses racial epithet to describe Eagles center Jason Kelce
During his brief time in Philadelphia (see #1 on this list), SportsRadio 94.1 host Josh Innes never shied away from controversial statements, especially when it came to race.
But in January, he crossed a line with his new boss, WIP program director Spike Eskin, when he described Eagles center Jason Kelce, who is white, with a pejorative term used to compare an African-American to a house slave.
"That's essentially Jason Kelce's job: 'Yes sir. Yes, boss. Absolutely, boss. Yes sir, boss,'" Innes said. "That is Jason Kelce -- he is, whoever the head coach is gonna be, he's gonna be all over that head coach."
Innes was suspended for three days for the comment and apologized to listeners upon his return.
"I'm the dumbest human being on the planet," Innes said. "I see people are making fun of me across the country, and you should be, because I'm stupid."
#3. Big Daddy Graham hospitalized after hiccuping for 41 hours straight
WIP's Big Daddy Graham has battled through a lot in recent years - major back surgery, throat cancer, a serious staph infection.
But in March, the longtime radio host and comedian was sidelined by the most unlikely of calamities: a case of the hiccups.
After enduring increasingly intense bouts of hiccups while on the air, Graham left Philadelphia on a New York City vacation, but had to cut the trip short when the hiccups returned, at one point for 41 hours straight.
"It got so bad I wasn't able to sleep," Graham said. "But still, who goes to the doctor for hiccups?"
Graham finally relented and ended up at Jefferson University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib), an abnormal heart rhythm. He was released after spending three days in the hospital, and despite still dealing with the occasional flareup, Graham didn't let this latest ailment slow him.
"Even Joe Conklin is yelling at me to cut back," Graham quipped. "The thing is, I haven't really worked for 20 years. I've been very lucky."
#2. The Fanatic caller "Dwayne from Swedesboro" was actually a producer at the station
On any given day, 97.5 The Fanatic host Mike Missanelli could be heard getting into a heated argument with a caller named "Dwayne from Swedesboro."
Turns out the caller was really "Pat from the Office."
Three employees at The Fanatic - program director Matt Nahigian, assistant program director Jason Myrtetus and producer Pat Egan - were suspended after Crossing Broad's Kyle Scott uncovered back in August that Egan had created the "Dwayne from Swedesboro" persona, who exhibited negative racial tropes during his many calls to Missanelli's show.
The ruse was elaborate, with Egan making calls into the station for more than a year, sometimes from inside the studio itself. They even created a Twitter account for "Dwayne from Swedesboro," who at one point asked for nude photographs in exchange for tickets to the station's annual Fanatic Fantasy Fest event.
Everyone, including Missanelli, continue to maintain Missanelli had no clue that the caller was a character created and voiced by Egan, who called it a "big inside joke" that the host missed. Missanelli said on air he was "sensitive to the racial undertones involved" and thought the character's racial stereotypes might have pushed "racial bounds."
#1. Josh Innes fired after mocking The Fanatic with picture of performer in blackface
When Black Lives Matter threatened to protest the The Fanatic over its fake caller incident, many radio insiders and journalists, such as ESPN's Bomani Jones, assumed the station would be forced to fire those responsible.
Instead, it was a member of the competition at WIP who lost his job.
Josh Innes was fired by WIP the day after he let loose with some harsh criticism of Missanelli and The Fanatic for letting a white producer impersonate a black character for more than a year.
Innes, who has a history of racially charged comments (see #4), apparently crossed the line with his boss, Spike Eskin, after sharing a photo of a performer in blackface in response to the controversy.