On the night of Wednesday, April 6, everyone made their way to the couch or the bar stool of their choosing and started to come down from surviving another sunrise in Philadelphia, where you never know when something as benign as an escalator will become a death trap.
They could hardly expect - though few were surprised - by the astonishing cataclysms the evening had in store.
8:02 PM: People were watching the Phillies sit on a 2-1 lead over the Reds as Aaron Nola gently picked his way through the Cincinnati lineup in the sort of rapid, encouraging start that conjures unreachable expectations for a young pitcher. Things always feel a little ominous with the Phillies' 2016 bullpen looming, but this felt like it could be their first win of a season comprised largely of the opposite.
And then, ESPN NBA reporter Marc Stein pulled the pin out of a grenade, rolled it onto Twitter, and slammed the door shut.
Question marks and exclamation points flew furiously. Was Hinkie fed up, or were the Sixers? Or was the league? Why would he take off in mid-Process? Will there still be a Process?
8:11 PM: Answers leaked in like toxic sludge. Jerry Colangelo seemed to have successfully gotten his son, Bryan, the gig Hinkie was leaving behind. The team apparently thought Hinkie would have been cool about sharing his job with the president's son.
What the hell happened? Just days ago, the Villanova Wildcats were national champs and Allen Iverson was headed to the hall of fame. Fans turned on their neighbors, demanding to know what sins could have been committed that so decidedly reversed the all-too brief basketball fortunes blessed upon us by the sports' cackling gods.
But Hinkie wasn't talking - weird! - and none of his underlings, which is to say the conference room full of knee-high hobgoblins who generate trade ideas and draft picks in a language only they and Hinkie have been known to speak, were aware of the decision. Maybe this is just a bad dream. None of it had really been (continued)
9:07 PM: Pete Mackanin goes to the bullpen.
9:31 PM: (cont.) confirmed.
Statement from Sixers managing partner Josh Harris on Sam Hinkie's resignation: pic.twitter.com/AO7B7WQ6Tt— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) April 7, 2016
9:35 PM: The Phillies blow a ninth-inning lead against the Reds to lose for the second straight game in a walk-off after a strong showing from a starter. David Hernandez, responsible for the majority of the damage on Opening Day, actually pitched a clean inning in the eighth, but the Phillies have no shortage of wobbly, inaccurate arms in their bullpen, and Dalier Hinojosa had no problem coming in and letting Aaron Nola's well-earned victory melt into crap.
We've received every indication that this will summarily be the entire Phillies season: Young players like Nola or Maikel Franco, who punched a home run through the roaring winds above Great American Ballpark, impressing early, and journeyman/fringe/AAAA relief pitchers unceremoniously barfing all over their efforts somewhere between the last three to six outs.
10:07 PM: Jonathan Papelbon nails down the save for the 2-0 Nationals.
10:12 PM: The Flyers enter the third period of their incredibly important match-up with the Red Wings, down 2-0 with both teams sitting at 91 points in the chaos of a Wild Card hunt. The Flyers' 5-22-5 record when losing at the start of the third period is not the uplifting stat people needed entering the final 20 minutes.
10:44 PM: The Red Wings get the advantage when Wayne Simmonds is sent to his room for elbowing someone without using his elbow. Dave Hakstol is ready to claw someone's eyes into jelly.
10:51 PM: Detroit's Kyle Quincey hits the long-range, empty net dagger to make it 3-0 and all but official.
10:54 PM: In the biggest bummer since a night ago when the Wells Fargo Center escalators tried to kill everybody, the Red Wings used their final home game and second shut-out of the season to knock the streaking Flyers back a step. Shots bounced off red-clad defensemen all night, the puck constantly smothered by Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard like he was trying to put it out of its misery.
11:15 PM: With a single misfired typo, Marc Stein, while relaying the bad breaking news to Sixers fans, misspelled the name of the town the general manager was leaving forever. But in doing so, he invented the only adjective appropriate for a night of truly "Philadelphial" proportions.
It's going to be tempting to read the entire 13-page letter Sam Hinkie wrote the Sixers to explain his reasons for leaving. But try to get some sleep, everybody.
Phillies pre-game starts at noon tomorrow.
If these bullpen implosions are the price to pay for Vince Velasquez, then keep them coming.— Corinne (@crashlandrey) April 7, 2016