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Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On August 3

The Phillies wrested the spotlight away from the Eagles this week, but would rather have remained in the shadows.

That’s because the reason the Phillies were in the spotlight was the controversy surrounding Pete Rose, the centerpiece of the Phillies’ Alumni weekend on Aug. 10-13. As part of Rose’s lawsuit against lawyer John Dowd, the investigator who led Major League Baseball’s investigation into Rose’s gambling, the defense filed in federal court a sworn statement from a woman who says she had a sexual relationship with Rose during the 1970s when she was 14 or 15 years old.

The court filing Monday put the Phillies in an awkward position. What had been viewed as an overdue honoring of a player who played a huge role in the franchise’s first World Series title in 1980 had been transformed into a potentially embarrassing honoring of a man who committed statutory rape.

Nobody was under any illusion that Rose was a saint. Rose’s gambling issues and admitted use of amphetamines are well-documented. But having sex with girls younger than the age of consent (16 in Ohio at that time) makes Rose toxic. Even his defense that he thought she was 16 doesn’t do much to make Rose, who was married and had children, more palatable.

Although the Phillies tried to spin the news as Rose withdrawing from the event because of his concern that “other matters will overshadow the goodwill associated with Alumni Weekend,” as it said in Rose’s statement, it’s clear that the Phillies pulled the plug on honoring Rose.

The last thing the team with the worst record in baseball needed was to have people protesting outside while the Phillies honored a man accused of having under-age girls brought to him to have sex.

The charge isn’t new. During a 2015 interview on West Chester radio station WCHE, Dowd said a friend of Rose who made his gambling bets for him also brought girls to Rose during spring training, with Dowd describing them as “12 to 14.” But a comment during a radio interview, which was the impetus for Rose’s lawsuit against Dowd, doesn’t carry the same weight as the filing of sworn testimony from a woman who says she had sex with Rose when she was 14 or 15.

The court filing was a case of extraordinarily bad timing for the Phillies, who have also canceled a Pete Rose bobblehead giveaway for Fri., Aug. 11. The Rose controversy shortly before Alumni weekend is yet another example of “whatever can go wrong does go wrong” during this miserable season.

The controversy also hurts Rose. In recent years, Major League Baseball has started to relax the restrictions on Rose, allowing him to be honored by the Reds and take part in some baseball-related activities. The all-time hits leader’s banishment from the Hall of Fame remains a hot topic of conversation.

But any sympathy for Rose is likely gone. Nobody is arguing that the Phillies should have gone through with the ceremony inducting Rose into the team’s Wall of Fame. His on-field performance merits a place in the Wall of Fame – and the Baseball Hall of Fame – and Phillies fans voted for him to be inducted in the Wall of Fame. But sometimes events off the field overshadow contributions on the field.

Although he couldn’t have anticipated the timing, Rose created his own problem. Without his lawsuit against Dowd, Monday’s court filing about underage sex would not have occurred. Rose, 76, may have ruined his only opportunity to be honored for his contributions to the Phillies.

But there shouldn’t be any sympathy for Rose. He created his own problem. And he almost dragged the Phillies down with him.

*****

IVERSON SUSPENDED: Pete Rose isn’t the only former local sports superstar who had a rough week. Allen Iverson has been suspended one game by the BIG3, the 3-on-3 basketball league for retired players, for failing to show up for a BIG3 event in Dallas on Sunday.

The good news is that Iverson is physically all right. That was a concern, as I expressed in my column, when he didn’t show up in Dallas. But, as I wrote, there is still plenty of reason to be concerned about Iverson.

TMZ Sports reported that Iverson was in a casino in the Chicago area until 3 a.m. the night before he was supposed to be in Dallas. He also reportedly was having dinner in Chicago while he was supposed to be in Dallas. Iverson, of course, didn’t play during the BIG3 event in Philadelphia, citing “doctor’s advice” on an Instagram post a half-hour before the event started.

In the recent Sports Illustrated article I refer to frequently in my column, one quote I did not use sums up Iverson’s irresponsibility. “I used to tell the media, ‘When I’m 40, I won’t make the same mistakes.’ Damn lie. I still get cursed out for the same things I was doing 15 year years ago.”

Iverson, 42, was referring to his relationship with his wife (they are divorced), but it could easily be applied to everything in Iverson’s life. He hasn’t changed. And that’s a major problem.

*****

PHILLY FLAVOR: The Sports Illustrated “Where are they now?” edition, with Allen Iverson on the cover, contained a lot of Philly-related articles. In addition to the story on Iverson, there were interesting stories on Eric Lindros and former Eagles quarterback Vince Young.

*****

VETERAN ABSENCES: Receiver Alshon Jeffery, who has had injury problems throughout his career, has missed three straight days of practice with a shoulder injury that head coach Doug Pederson described as minor. Running back LeGarrette Blount has missed three straight days of practice for personal reasons.

How many days do they need to miss before the alarms begin to sound?

*****

OVERKILL: Do we really need instant analysis and updates from Eagles training camp? Well, if people are reading it, we’re going to keep receiving it.

When people complain about media coverage, it’s important to remember that the media is trying to meet public demand. If fans read the tweets and updates about every errant throw, interception and dropped ball, then the media would be foolish not to provide it.

*****

CROWD COMPARISONS: The Eagles’ open practice at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, which was moved from its original Saturday date due to weather concerns, drew an estimated 23,000 fans. That’s a little more than 2,000 more fans than attended the Phillies game on Sunday afternoon.

Eagles practice was free, so the comparison isn’t completely fair. On the other hand, Eagles players were simply running drills. The Phillies were participating in a real game.

*****

PLAYOFF PREVIEW? It will be interesting to see if the Soul (12-1) and second-place Tampa Bay hold something back, sticking with a vanilla playbook, when they meet Saturday (7 p.m.) at Wells Fargo Center in their regular-season finale. The Soul and Storm will be heavy favorites to win their first round playoff games on Aug. 12 and meet again in the ArenaBowl on Aug. 26. The Soul have clinched homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, so, if the rematch with the Storm takes place, it will be at Wells Fargo Center.

*****

FREEDOMS FINISHED: Wednesday’s 25-13 loss to Orange County (Calif.) marked the end of the season for the Freedoms, who finished with a 6-8 record. Orange County and San Diego, which beat the Freedoms on Tuesday, will meet for the World Team Tennis championship on Saturday.

Like the Arena Football League, World Team Tennis has reduced the number of teams this season. You wonder how long both leagues can survive.

*****

DESPERATE UNION: The Union emerge from the MLS All-Star break in a precarious position. With 26 points, the Union are six points behind Columbus, which occupies the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. The Union are foru points behind Orlando City SC and are tied with New England, which shut out the Union in their final game before the break and have played one less game. Montreal, which trails the Union by two points, has played two fewer games.

The bad news for the Union (7-10-5) is their first opponent after the break is FC Dallas (9-4-7), which is in second place in the Western Conference. The good news is that Saturday’s game (7 p.m.) will be at Talen Energy Stadium, where the Union are 6-3-2. The Union have been woeful on the road, going 1-7-3.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for nearly 29 years, still believes that, despite his off-the-field issues, Pete Rose should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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