Thursday, April 29, 2004

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Todd Zolecki has the game story of the Phils' 6-3 win over the Cardinals yesterday. His notebook lists the punishments handed down by the league in the aftermath of last week's bench-clearing brawl against the Marlins. Paul Hagen cites statistics that the Phillies need to score runs, and lots of them, to win: they are 9-2 when they score more than 3 runs, and 0-8 when they score 3 or fewer.

Tim Panaccio has the disappointing details of last night's Flyers' loss to the Maple Leafs. Phil Sheridan saw Toronto bully its way back into the series. Ed Moran says Toronto's punch landed in Philadelphia's gut. Ray Parrillo says you can throw out history, we now have a series. For the first time in the playoffs, Sam Donnellon senses doubt. Rich Hofmann talks of the Flyers' unique brand of justice following a first period crushing hit landed by Toronto's Alex Mogilny. The Toronto Star's Mark Zwolinski has Jeremy Roenick lamenting that the hit "nearly killed" his teammate since "it was from behind."

CSN has Phillies/Cardinals at 1:10. TNT has Bucks/Pistons at 8, followed by Mavs/Kings at 10:30. ESPN has Tampa Bay/Montreal at 7, while ESPN2 has Detroit/Calgary at 10.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Back to the Games

Tim Panaccio says that if the Flyers can withstand the storm of the first 10 minutes of tonight's Game 3 in an emotionally charged Air Canada Centre, they should be in good shape. Sam Donnellon talks about Ken Hitchcock the salesman. Ed Moran looks at a new and improved Mark Recchi. Phil Sheridan says now is as good a time as any to hop on the Flyers bandwagon. The Toronto Star speaks of the Flyers' advantage in scoring the first goal in every playoff game so far.

Todd Zolecki has the game story of the Phils' 7-3 win over the Cardinals, including Pat Burrell robbing Scott Rolen of a home run with an amazing catch. Paul Hagen writes of the resurgence of Pat the Bat and Pat the Glove. Hagen notes that Citizens Bank Park is not the only place where customers throw the ball back (besides, of course, Wrigley Field, where the tradition started). Zolecki's notebook has Larry Bowa scanning the MLB rankings in search of his team. He's still looking.

Stephen A. Smith believes Jameer Nelson is Team USA material.

CSN has Maple Leafs/Flyers at 7 (ESPN2 nationally). Phillies/Cardinals is over on CN8 at 8:10. For later viewers, you can choose between hockey, ESPN has San Jose/Colorado at 10, and basketball, TNT has Rockets/Lakers at 10.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

An Off Day

Tim Panaccio knows its hard for Jeremy Roenick to keep quiet for these playoffs. Ed Moran doesn't think Coach Hitchcock has much to say to the media yesterday either. is exchanging some articles with the Toronto Star, including this article by Dave Perkins (link to original article on The Star's website). Mark Zwolinski has Pat Quinn, the George Karl of the NHL, continuing to gripe over the officiating.

Todd Zolecki looks at Jim Thome's .344 average in April. Marcus Hayes has Ricky Ledee chastising Bobby Abreu somewhat, "it shouldn't take anybody... to tell him those things." On Sunday's Sports Final, Howard Eskin reported that closer Billy Wagner chewed Abreu out for not hustling to catch a playable pop-up earlier in the season. Keep an eye on the clubhouse chemistry. Paul Hagen says that Scott Rolen has been a Cardinal for 2 years, but had a tough time putting Philadelphia behind him.

According to Jackie MacMullan, Boston Globe columnist, Mark Blount will be a Sixer next year (you have to hunt to find it, but look under the "Sunday Night Shows" subheading). At least that's what she said when making an appearance on a New England sports show this weekend. Stephen A. Smith appears to let personal feelings toward Isiah Thomas cloud his vision, as he recommends that the Sixers "take their cue" from the Knicks' moves this year. Sure. Thomas is certainly one to emulate. He ran the CBA into the ground, coached the Pacers to three successive years of underachieving first round losses (it is no accident they achieved their franchise best 61 wins the year after Bird fired him), and now he's hitched his wagon to an aging Penny Hardaway, a gunner's gun in Stephon Marbury, recovering alcoholic in Vin Baker, and "fugazy" Tim Thomas! Billy King, sign up for the lessons now!

Rich Hofmann says the Eagles didn't need John Welbourn anymore, which is why they got rid of him, not necessarily because he ranted and raved against the organization.

Kevin Mulligan doesn't ever want to hear Philly fans trashed again, after hearing Yankee fans boo Derek Jeter and actually chanting, "Let's Go Red Sox."

CSN has Phillies/Cardinals at 8:10. TNT has Heat/Hornets at 8 followed by T-Wolves/Nuggetsr at 10:30. Last night, the domination of the higher seeds continued with the Pistons and Kings taking 3-1 series leads on the road. Higher seeds have now gone a combined 25-5 through yesterday's games. Hockey enthusiasts waiting for tomorrow's Flyers game can watch ESPN2, which has Montreal/Tampa Bay at 7, and ESPN has Detroit/Calgary at 9.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Half way there

With their 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, the Flyers took a 2-0 lead in their eastern conference semi-finals matchup. The series resumes at the Air Canada Centre this Wednesday and Friday. Tim Panaccio says the Flyer's power play is in full effect. Bill Fleischman says the same can't be said of Toronto's execution with the man advantage. Phil Sheridan is glad Robert Esche came up huge again last night, because in the second period, the Flyers were "scared shotless." Nice. Speaking of their second period doldrums, Sam Donnellon says coach Hitchkock is "going to chat about it in the next day or so." Ray Parillo notes that, dating back to last year, Toronto had been held to a single goal in their last 5 playoff trips to the Wachovia Center. Ed Moran is glad that, for the first time in years, the Flyers are the ones with the hot goalie. Rich Hofmann says that, despite playing well in the first two games here, the Maple Leafs have nothing to show for it.

Bob Brookover documents the messy divorce proceedings between Andy Reid and ex-Eagle John Welbourn, who was shipped to the KC Chiefs yesterday. Of the split, Bob Ford quotes the coach as saying "John said some things that he shouldn't have said." Perhaps his tirade on WIP Friday morning punched his ticket out of town. Les Bowen says the Eagles will take a "weight and see" (Daily News headline writer's words, not mine) approach with their first round draft pick Shawn Andrews, who first ran into Donovan McNabb at The Cheesecake Factory. You can't make this stuff up. John Smallwood can't get very excited about drafting somebody for the O-Line. Marc Marducci presents his report card in this year's draft, giving the Eagles a "less than strong" grade. Perhaps Marc should stick to the Sixers. Oh, that's right...

Todd Zolecki laments the lack of support the Phillies have been giving Vicente Padilla, who dropped to 0-3 after yesterday's game in Montreal. Marcus Hayes believes Padilla is just downright unlucky. Of course, his team batting .206 with runners in scoring position (3rd worst in MLB) probably doesn't help.

Tonight, TNT has Pistons/Bucks at 7 followed by Kings/Mavs at 9:30. There's already been 3 sweeps this year in the opening round, the first time that's happened since 1997. Of course, having a best-of-7 first round only exaggerates these lopsided affairs. So far, the higher seeds have dominated, going a combined 23-5 through yesterday's games. For those interested in the NHL's western conference proceedings, ESPN has San Jose/Colorodo at 8.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

"Allen will be here next year"

With those words at yesterday's press conference announcing the hiring of Jim O'Brien as the 20th Sixers head coach, Billy King nixed the persistent rumors that Iverson would be shopped around the league this summer. I was not able to catch the press conference live as I was tied up in interviews, however, I did listen to it in its entirety this morning. Joe Juliano has coverage of the press conference, where O'Brien told King, prior to accepting the job, "If I'm going to take this job, I want to have the chance to coach Allen Iverson." Bob Ford has mixed feelings about whether this latest "marriage" will work. Phil Jasner asked a couple of questions regarding Derrick Coleman's status with the team questioning Billy King's statements on WIP about a week ago that Coleman would not return (O'Brien later told Jasner Coleman's return was "unlikely"). John Smallwood might not have taken the same risks King is taking, but he's on board with his decision. He says O'Brien was not going to dwell on this past season that saw the Sixers miss the playoffs for the first time in 6 years, and that "clearly, what happened last year did not scare me off from wanting to lead this team into next season." Dana Pennett O'Neil says Speedy Morris is saying a few prayers for the Sixers new head coach. In some out of town coverage, the Boston Globe's Shira Springer actually says O'Brien and Iverson "met briefly yesterday." The Boston Herald's Mark Murphy quotes O'Brien: "It was amazing, after doing so many interviews, of just how much Allen was a huge focus."

When you consider the fact this was the Philadelphia media, this should not come as a surprise. For instance, what of Howard Eskin's alleged "inside sources" (the ones that, even if they existed, in retrospect, had no idea what they were talking about). Wouldn't these supposed sources have known something about the March 25 meeting between King and O'Brien in Boston? In typical fashion, rather than admit he didn't know what he was talking about when he emphatically stated on Sunday's Sports Final that Jim O'Brien had "no interest" in coaching a Sixers team with Iverson on the roster, he completely changed gears on yesterday's show by lamenting King's decision to keep Iverson on the roster. Apparently Eskin thinks Billy would have been better off trading Iverson for a stick of gum, though Howard doubts whether Iverson could have even yielded that in return. His anti-Iverson personal bias and obvious agenda to chase Allen out of town had a lot of success this year, especially with the team's lack of success due to injuries. However, it's quite ironic that Eskin continues to remain very chummy (and often has as a call-in guest on his show) with the always controversial Charles Barkley. I guess Howard fails to see the hypocrisy in his stance. Not that it should surprise anyone of course.

The Daily News writers make their second round picks. Sam Donnellon submits a confusing article that appears as if a baseball and a hockey article of his got caught in a blender. Don't say you weren't warned. Marc Narducci already has fighting words coming from the Toronto camp. Tim Panaccio's notebook reveals the somewhat surprising news that, because of the Penn Relays this weekend, there are no hotels available in the Philadelphia area (including South Jersey), and thus, Toronto will be "commuting," at least for the first two games of the series. Toronto reporters managed to find a few scattered rooms in Valley Forge and Bucks County.

The Phillies continued their series against the Marlins last night, and in what will surely surprise many, lost again. Todd Zolecki has all the gory details. Todd's notebook says that Jimmy Rollins is getting frustrated over his batting slump. Marcus Hayes can't believe the number of different ways the Phillies are finding to lose. He also mentions Larry Bowa going ballistic over what should have been a Phillies victory in the bottom of the 9th. Upon seeing this replay, it appears the Phils definitely got hosed on this one, and the game was played under protest at that point (which, if history is any indication, means little to nothing). Paul Hagen talks about one of the new rituals of Citizens Bank Park, that of the fans throwing back homers by the visiting team. Not to hammer on the irrelevance (and often illogical positions) of the issues he covers on his show, but Eskin made a big deal about this on WIP earlier this week, complaining that the Phillies were "letting the inmates run the asylum" in allowing this "dangerous" behavior. Give it a rest Howard. Go back to plugging those furs you like to wear at Eagles games, or LA Weight Loss.

Note: Due to a publishing error with this afternoon's posting, yesterday's links were lost. Sorry if you were looking for those. Also, at the late time of this writing, due to interviews again today, the Phillies had aready played their afternoon matinee, and lost, to the Marlins, for the ninth straight time).

Comcast SportsNet has Game 1 of Toronto/Philadelphia at 7:30 (HD available). TNT has what is sure to be a combustible Nets/Knicks game at 7 followed by Spurs/Grizzlies at 9:30. Sixers fans were probably a bit pleased to see that Larry Brown's Pistons are the only team that has lost so far at home in the playoffs. Through 16 games, the home team is now 15-1, meaning only Bucks/Pistons is tied at 1-1, and all the other series are 2-0. I'd be curious to see when the last time the road team was this unsuccessful.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Breaking News: O'Brien Sixers Next Head Coach?

Phil Martelli and Jameer Nelson sat in on the Phillies broadcast in the 2nd inning today. As always, they both came off as very classy individuals. During the conversation, Martelli made the off-cuff, surprising remark that, from what he heard, a former Hawk could be named the new Sixers Head Coach as early as tomorrow: Jim O'Brien. This would be very surprising news, given that, according to certain media members, in particular Howard Eskin, O'Brien would want nothing to do with the Sixers' job as long as Allen Iverson was still in town. Stay tuned.

The AP is now confirming this story, according to
The Next Series

Bill Lyon waxes poetic about Billy (the Kid) Wagner. Todd Zolecki says now would be a nice time for the Phillies to start beating the Marlins. John Smallwood agrees. Paul Hagen looks at the standings and observes that the Marlins have lost some games this year, and that yes, they can be beaten.

Tim Panaccio says Kim Johnsson could miss the next series due to a "hairline fracture of the fourth metacarpal bone" in his right hand. Ouch. Rich Hofmann believes Sami Kapanen might see more time on defense as a result.

Bob Brookover discusses draft day possibilities for the Eagles. Les Bowen says the Eagles could still move up or down in the draft. Stephen A. Smith is outraged by the Maurice Clarett ruling.

Comcast Sportsnet has Phils/Marlins at 7:05 (HD available). You can check out the Flyers next opponent, the winner of Ottawa/Toronto series, on ESPN at 7. TNT has Knicks/Nets at 8 followed by Mavs/Kings at 10:30. Speaking of the NBA, so far, through today, the home teams are 10-0 in the playoffs (and only 2 of those 10 games have been decided by 10 points or less). For all you trivia buffs, the last time the home team prevailed in every Game 1 of the first round? 1990.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Exorcising the Devils, and a Clean Sweep

Tim Panaccio has Ken Hitchcock summing up his team's 4-1 series victory over the Devils by saying, "we beat a hall of a hockey club." Bob Ford thinks the Flyers will be in good shape going into Round 2, because, whoever their opponent is will be a tired team which had to survive a Game 7. If you recall, the grueling 7-game series against Toronto last year left the Flyers' tank empty when they faced Ottawa in the second round. Rich Hofmann asks Hitchcock which seriers victory was more satifying, beating Toronto last year, or knocking off the Devils. "Knocking off the champions" was the answer. Ed Moran says that with the way Keith Primeau is playing, this could be the best chance in the past few seasons for the Flyers to compete for the Stanley Cup.

Todd Zolecki has the game story of yesterday's walk-off homer by Doug Glanville, leading off in the bottom of the 9th, producing a clean sweep, and a 4-game winning streak for the Phils. Phil Sheridan says maybe its a good thing the Phillies didn't get to build their park in Center City, because the way homers are flying out of Citizens Bank Park, the windows in Liberty Place may have been in the line of fire. Zolecki hears from visiting pitchers, who are complaining about the additional home field advantage of the visitors' bullpen, and its very close proximity to the fans. Speaking of the fans, Ted Silary says Glanville heard the Philly faithful get on him earlier in the game, but was glad he could send them home happy. Paul Hagen was a bit concerned about the timing of Larry Bowa's taking starter Randy Wolf out of the game, but things managed to work out in the end. Kirk Willison laments Comcast's stubborn refusal to allow satellite carriers to add Phillies games to MLB's Extra Innings subscription. Comcast might be able to get away with this with the broadcasts for the teams they own (Flyers and Sixers), but their doing this with a team they do not own, and for which they are simply a "broadcast partner," smacks of arrogance.

Over the weekend, Joe Juliano says the Sixers lost yet again. No, not another game, but their drawing to get a better pick than the Raptors, who they tied for 7th worst record in the league. The Sixers will now have 36 ping pong balls out of 1000 to land the #1 pick. I think Howard Eskin has a better chance to become an honorary member of Iverson's posse. Phil Jasner quotes Maurice Cheeks saying "there is no Philadelphia situation" three times in the span of as many sentences. Where there's smoke...

Jim Nolan chronicles the rising popularity of local (and now national) media member, Stephen Anthony Smith. The highly opinionated Smith, currently working under a six-figure, multi-year contract with ESPN, is looking to get paid, and has managed to pick up a few detractors along the way.

Both the active locals are out of action tonight. Those still in need of a sports fix can catch an NBA playoff double-header on TNT, with Grizzlies/Spurs at 8, followed by Rockets/Lakers at 10:30. NHL enthusiasts can enjoy a couple of Game 7's tonight, with ESPN carrying Canadiens/Bruins at 7:30, followed by ESPN2's coverage of Flames/Canucks (what are ESPN ratings like for all Canadian match-ups such as these?)

Friday, April 16, 2004

Closing the Deal

Todd Zolecki describes the Phils' come-from-behind (with 3 runs in the eighth) to win 6-4, notching their first win at Citizens Bank Park. Phil Sheridan talks about the serious heat that was thrown by closer Billy Wagner, who got the biggest cheer from the "Citizens Denizens" (didn't take long to coin a new nickname) when he threw a ball (go figure) that was clocked at 100. Marcus Hayes calls it the "most popular Ball 1 in Phillies history." Hayes also says Lieberthal's 3-run 8th inning homer could be "the rally that saved the season (maybe)."

Tim Panaccio says the Flyers aren't worried about the ghosts of playoffs past. Edward Moran has Ken Hitchcock saying he'd rather be playing Game 5 today, rather than waiting until tomorrow.

Don Steinberg chronicles today's retirement of Philadelphia sports radio icon, Steve Fredericks. Perhaps a little known fact is that Fredericks was at the other side of the dial, broadcasting the game for the Sixers, when late Celtics' announcer Johnny Most called his infamous "Havlicek stole the ball" ending. Bill Fleischman also mentions Fredericks' last day on the job, which will include a 3 to 7 stint with Howard Eskin on WIP today. Fredericks left to work in Boston in 1965, worked there until 1978, and he returned to Philadelphia in 1980. Fleischman also previews Fox's coverage of tonight's Red Sox-Yankees duel at Fenway Park, with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver calling the game. Paul Hagen also previews the renewing of "the" rivalry. He includes a quote I hadn't heard from Yankees president Randy Levine, who allegedly shouted "Take that, you 1918 [expletives]" after the Bronx Bombers prevailed in Game 7 last year.

In his weekly Morning Bytes, Frank Fitzpatrick hypothesizes that "a Philadelphia team's chances of winning a title are in inverse proportion to the level of anticipation."

Comcast SportsNet has Phils-Expos at 7:05 (HD available). FOX29 has Red Sox-Yankees at 8. Look for lots of distracting new graphics that Fox will be "experimenting" with. Apparently they didn't learn their lesson from the failed "glowing puck" experiment during Fox's NHL telecasts.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Are You Ready for some Football?

Yes, the Flyers are up 3-1 on the Devils, thanks to their 3-0 shutout at the Meadowlands last night, and the rain has finally ended in the city after 3 days (and what seemed like 40 days and nights), so the Phils retake the field this afternoon. But the big talk on WIP yesterday was the release of the 2004 Schedule for the Eagles. The talking heads and prognosticators have already begun the annual week-by-week analysis and come up with their win totals. The schedule features 4 nationally televised primetime games, so they'll be getting plenty of exposure.

Bob Brookover breaks down the schedule, and has Andy Reid, in unsurprising fashion, state, "as always, we'll take our one-game-at-a-time approach." Les Bowen says that, with this schedule, the Birds should expect much better than their 0-2 start from last year.

Tim Panaccio has Martin Brodeur admitting "the only reason [the Flyers] won this game is because of Esche," who notched the first playoff shutout of his career. Rich Hofmann believes Esche is the story of this series. Sam Donnellon says this isn't the year 2000 anymore.

Bill Lyon chronicles a day in the park, followed by a (first) night in the park that never happened.

Joe Juliano chronicles the end of the Sixers' pitiful season last night. They finished with the 7th worst record in the league, and a coin flip against the Raptors (who finished at 33-49 with them) will determine who gets a few extra ping pong balls. Phil Jasner has some interesting pre- and post-game quotes, along with an incredulous "so what?" from Tracy McGrady, in response to the Magic having the best chance to land the #1 pick in the lottery, since there are no LeBrons or Carmelos in this year's draft. McGrady has an option to opt out of his contract following next season.

Comcast SportsNet has Phils-Reds at 1:05 (HD available).

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

All Washed Up

That would be the Sixers, as they held their team meetings yesterday. Joe Juliano and Phil Jasner have the post-mortems, with the usual "who will be the next coach" and "will Iverson return" questions. Nothing new there. Jasner also addresses the team's future.

The Flyers resume their series against the Devils tonight at the Meadowlands. Tim Panaccio says its time for John LeClair, Michal Handzus, and Mark Recchi to step up. Edward Moran talks about the physical play of the series, but notes that it hasn't been a nasty series, like the first-round matchup against Torono last year.

The Phils try and right the ship and play under the big lights of Citizens Bank Park for the first time. Todd Zolecki chats with Ed Wade, who reminds us that "all the nice things that people were saying about us before the season began don't get wiped away in a week." Marcus Hayes talks with some of the players who are still getting used to the nuances and wind patterns of their new home.

Comcast SportsNet has Flyers-Devils Game 4 at 7. CN8 has Phils-Reds at 7:05.

Monday, April 12, 2004

New Day, New Park

It's Opening Day at brand spanking new Citizens Bank Park, the Flyers try to take a commanding 3-0 lead against the Devils tonight at the Meadowlands, and the Sixers are headed to the lottery.

John Smallwood says there's nothing like taking a 1-5 record into Opening Day at your new ball park. Todd Zolecki says the Phils desparately need run support. Phil Sheridan complains that the park wasn't built downtown (isn't this article, say, 4 years late?). The always enjoyable Bill Lyon looks forward to new memories at the Park. Don Steinberg is wowed by all the high-tech gadgetry at the new park, and also takes a peak somewhere the paying public will not get to see: the clubhouse. Larry Eichel covers a multitude of topics, including food, premium seating, and the new revenue streams that the Phils' new home will provide.

Tim Panaccio says tonight the Flyers will try and maintain the momentum they have against the Devils. Ed Moran talks about the intensity of the series, including the horse-with-blinders-on mentality of net minder, Robert Esche.

Since the Sixers were eliminated yesterday (merely a technicality, they were eliminated for all intents and purposes months ago), we are no longer contractually obligated to link to the articles that their poor beat writers still have to write...

Comcast SportsNet has the Phillies home opener against the Reds at 1:05, and Flyers-Devils Game 3 (also available in HD) at 7.

Friday, April 09, 2004

One Down, Three to Go

The Flyers opened up strong against the Devils last night in Game 1 of their series, and had to hold on for dear life as their division nemesis made a game of it in the third period. The Sixers season continues winding down (their "magic number" for elimination is still 2, as they got a little help from the Miami Heat in knocking off the Celtics), and the Phillies dropped to 1-2 as they head to Florida to face the defending world champs.

Phil Sheridan says Robert Esche, in his first playoff appearance, "outplayed the great Brodeur." Tim Panaccio chats with Coach Hitchcock and gets this playoff insight: "In the first round, overtime games are there all the time. If you lose those games in overtime, they become huge momentum-busters." That is so true. Every team I have followed, when it gets into one of these multiple period OT games in a playoff series, whenever it lost that game, they seemed to lose the series. And vice versa. It's almost uncanny. Sam Donnellon feels that the Devils will really miss "bully" Scott Stevens in this series. Rich Hofmann is the voice of pessimism today. He really doesn't like the way the Flyers won last night (what, he expected the defending champs to roll over and play dead once they were down 3-0 in Game 1 of a series?)

Joe Juliano reports that the playoffs are not "completely out of the question" yet. However, their season is on life support, and Boston has its hands on the plug. Also mentioned in that article is the fact that Glenn Robinson has missed 40 games so far this season, definitely living up to his reputation as the Big Dog. Kevin Mulligan says Robinson continues to rehab and hopes to return in the postseason. Too bad the Sixers won't be there. Maybe if he hadn't missed half the season and had been the true "second scorer" Billy King throught he acquired last summer, they would have had a chance.

Todd Zolecki says the Phillies didn't give Vicente Padilla enough run rupport last night. His notebook says the Phils head to the field of broken dreams tonight, Pro Player Stadium. In his regular Friday morning column Morning Bytes, Frank Fitzpatrick says the PECO building will be displaying multiple messages for the Phillies next Monday: "AHHH... Grass! Go Phils!" and "Here's to a Great Season in a Great New Ballpark." Marcus Hayes believes the Philies are at it again: failing to score against bad teams.

Comcast SportsNet has the Phillies take on the Marlins at 7:35. UPN57 has the Sixers fighting for their playoff lives against the Wizards at 7.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

A New Day

Welcome to! Today marks the start of this site. Two years ago today, it's "parent site", Boston Sports Media Watch, was launched, so it seemed fitting to begin posting today.

Well, the Sixers season is winding down (their "magic number" for elimination is down to 2), the Flyers open their annual playoff run (some would say April swoon) tonight at the Wachovia Center, and the Phillies season has now officially kicked off.

Tim Panaccio reports top defenseman Eric Desjardins is out for the playoffs with a "snapped forearm" after playing catch with his son. Another article by Panaccio has Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock saying this about playing their archrival the New Jersey Devils: "They've had their day in the sun. It's our time now. If there is a team to knock them off, we're ready for that." Way to go Hitch. Rich Hoffman stirs the controversy pot by asking whether Desjardins tried to come back too soon.

We're contractually obligated to mention the Sixers while they still remain in contention for a playoff spot. Marc Narducci has up-and-coming rookie Willie Green remarking confidently, "We are capable of winning the rest of our games. It's just a matter of going out and executing and doing what we have been doing the last 10 games." It's just too bad they waited for so long. And please, no more of the tired arguments from the camp of Howard Eskin disciples that they are a better team without AI. John Smallwood looks on the bright side of making the lottery: hoping to find the "diamond in the tough." This will be the first time the Sixers have made the trip to Secaucus since they drafted Larry Hughes in 1998. Please don't ruin my day and mention the name "Paul Pierce." About the only bright spot to the Sixers' season has been the surprising play of the young players, Samuel Dalembert, Willie Green, and even Kyle Korver, none of whom were high draft picks. Their draft selection will have to be a very good one in order to turn this mess around anytime soon.

Todd Zolecki has the Phils following their script to notch their first one of the new season. Marcus Hayes says smokin' closer Billy Wagner was clocked at 99 yesterday. Kevin Mulligan has his list of the best and worst features of brand spanking new Citizens Bank Park.

Comcast SportsNet has Game 1 of the Flyers-Devils playoff game at 7:30. CN8 has the Phillies continuing their series against the Pirates at 7:05.