Tuesday, May 22, 2018
News Roundup

Phinley continues to go long in national mascot competition

CLEARWATER — The Clearwater Threshers are rolling along in third place this season, winning about as many as they lose. That's still better than the parent Philadelphia Phillies, who are dead last in the National League East.

But one Thresher is on a winning streak. Phinley, the team's mascot, has prevailed in four head-to-head matchups to earn a spot in the final four of the first national mascot competition in minor league baseball.

Phinley is up against Ike the Spike of the State College Spikes (Pittsburgh Pirates) in the semifinal round. On the other side of the bracket, Snappy D. Turtle of the Beloit Snappers (Minnesota Twins) and Orbit of the Albuquerque Isotopes (Los Angeles Dodgers) are going head to head.

The winner of the competition, which started with 64 mascots, is determined through online voting.

Dave Deas, the man in the shark suit, always tries to earn a smile from fans — whether it's from his dance moves or buffing the heads of bald men during the games.

One of those bald heads belongs to Tom Dillman, a season ticket holder for three years and a Clearwater Beach resident.

Dillman, who describes himself as Phinley's No. 1 fan, said their relationship started at Dillman's first game three years ago. Dillman, 73, carried a towel on his shoulder to wipe the sweat off his head.

"He grabbed the towel and started wiping my head like a shoe shine man," he said. "I was surprised, but I loved it."

Dillman has been teased at every game since then — including when Phinley pretends to hold a pair of scissors to cut Dillman's nonexistent hair or spraying Silly String on him as a punishment for not paying for his haircut.

Dillman said he has already voted for Phinley during the semifinals.

"He is more entertaining than the team. He really is," Dillman said. "There is no doubt that he should win."

Deas, a city employee when he's not in the mascot suit, also attends events as Phinley beyond Bright House Field, the spring training home of the Phillies.

Last week, he and several ballplayers visited All Children's Hospital.

Deas, who declined to say what the mascot gig pays, remembers walking into a room where a boy was crying.

"Myself and two players walked in and all of a sudden he brightened up and smiled and gave us high-fives," he said. "Those are the kind of moments that I really like."

The public has until midnight tonight to vote online through the minor league baseball website. People can vote up to 25 times.

The final two will be announced Friday, when voting reopens to choose the No. 1 mascot. That voting session will end on Monday and the winner will be announced shortly after.

Matthew Gould, vice president of corporate communications for MLB Advanced Media, which operates the website, said his team is working on creating a "symbol" to be passed on to each year's winner.

"We're still finalizing it," he said. "At a later date, we'll present it to the winner."

Voters can register in a sweepstakes to win a prize package that could include subscriptions to the 2012 season of MiLB.TV and MLB.TV.

"At this point I feel like I have to win now because we've gone through five rounds," Deas said. "I think it would be cool to bring recognition to all the hard work that we do because we are really part of the community."

Diedra Rodriguez can be reached at (727) 445-4154 or [email protected]

Comments
Forecast: Potential tropical system threatens to drench already soggy Tampa Bay area

Forecast: Potential tropical system threatens to drench already soggy Tampa Bay area

Flood warnings have been extended for the Alafia River in Lithia and the Little Manatee River at Wimauma as the National Weather Service continues to monitor a broad area of low pressure that has a building chance of developing into a tropical system...
Updated: 3 minutes ago
Baseball: A look at this week’s region final games

Baseball: A look at this week’s region final games

All games are tonight at 7 unless noted.Class 8AStrawberry Crest (18-8) at Fleming Island (12-13-1): The Golden Eagles started their season by losing six of seven and they also had an eight-inning tie. They ended the regular season with four straight...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it to ‘Summa . Laude.’

Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it to ‘Summa . Laude.’

Saturday was Jacob Kosinski’s big day. His whole family, many from out of town, saw the Charleston, South Carolina, student graduate from his Christian-based homeschool program with a 4.89 grade point average and the coveted honor of summa cum laude....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Watch: Baboon escapes crate at Texas airport; officers corner him

Watch: Baboon escapes crate at Texas airport; officers corner him

SAN ANTONIO — A baboon on his way to a South Texas wildlife sanctuary escaped his crate and kept officers busy for two hours at San Antonio International Airport. Officers shot the baboon named Dawkins with a tranquilizer dart. The ape got loose Mond...
Updated: 1 hour ago
State You’re In: Fiction can become fact, as Woolworth placard in Tampa shows

State You’re In: Fiction can become fact, as Woolworth placard in Tampa shows

TAMPA — History can easily be distorted. If wrong assumptions are made and repeated often enough, falsehoods have a way of becoming "fact.""It happens," said Andy Huse, a librarian with the University of South Florida Special Collections Department. ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: Game 7 for Lightning, Capitals; shoppers begin Publix boycott; pair pitch bipartisan ticket for governor; meet TV's Black Lightning

The Daystarter: Game 7 for Lightning, Capitals; shoppers begin Publix boycott; pair pitch bipartisan ticket for governor; meet TV's Black Lightning

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.   • Today’s forecast? If you guessed more rain, congratulations. The forecast calls for scattered showers in the morning and then numerous showers in the afternoon with is...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Updated: 2 hours ago
A 6-day baseball tourney in this weather? Good luck, AAC

A 6-day baseball tourney in this weather? Good luck, AAC

Weather permitting, the American Athletic Conference baseball tournament begins this morning at Clearwater's Spectrum Field.When it ends — or if it ends — depends on the extent of Mother Nature's mercy.With the bay area forecast...
Updated: 3 hours ago
CentCom’s Votel: U.S. will stay in Syria to fight ISIS and keep an eye on Iran

CentCom’s Votel: U.S. will stay in Syria to fight ISIS and keep an eye on Iran

TAMPA — In March, President Donald Trump said he would be pulling U.S. troops out of Syria "very soon." But they’re still there, and will stay there, to defeat what’s left of the so-called Islamic State, says the man in charge of military efforts in ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Artist Robert Indiana, known for ‘LOVE’ series, dies at 89

Artist Robert Indiana, known for ‘LOVE’ series, dies at 89

PORTLAND, Maine — Pop artist Robert Indiana, best known for his 1960s "LOVE" series, has died at his island home off the coast of Maine. He was 89. Indiana died on Saturday from respiratory failure at his Victorian home in a converted Odd Fellows hal...
Updated: 3 hours ago