Friday, May 28, 2004

Not So Fast

Perhaps talk of the Braves' demise has been a bit premature. At least from the Phillies perspective. Kevin Millwood was shelled yesterday, sending fans home muttering under their breath. Jim Salisbury says Millwood can't seem to locate his fastball. Marcus Hayes chronicles the first grand slam in Citizens Bank Park history. I would imagine the fan did not take home that souvenir, in the tradition of the new park. Salisbury says "it will take several years to accurately determine if Citizens Bank Park is the Coors Field of the East," as many visiting managers have complained. The power lineup the Phillies have assembled, coupled with the unseasonably warm weather, have no doubt contributed to the high home run totals. Salisbury's notebook says Billy Wagner and Jeff Cooper have "kissed and made up" (not that there's anything wrong with that): "I went in, we sat down, and we're on the same page. Now me and Coop love each other and we're expecting our first child." Hayes quotes Wagner (since Cooper does not speak to the media): "I thought the forum of communication needed to be opened. He's not a big talker."

Frank Fitzpatrick submits his weekly Morning Bytes and includes this tidbit:
From ESPN the Magazine comes this quote from an anonymous Red Sox teammate about camera-craving Curt Schilling. "If I had one big game to pitch, I'd take Schill over anyone I've ever played with," he said. "But every other day I want to kill him."
Ray Parrillo gets Phil Martelli's predictable reaction to Jim O'Brien's comments earlier this week.
The beauty of this whole thing is some people like vanilla ice cream and some people like chocolate, and to each his own. I don't know what was gained by it. I'm not sure who benefited by that. Every other indication I get is that Jameer is going to be a top-10 pick.
ESPN.com's Bill Simmons rates Philly as the fourth most tortured sports city, behind Buffalo, Cleveland, and Minnesota. He says not winning a championship since 1983 "warrants mentioning." Warrants mentioning? The fact that Philly is the only major city with 4 professional sporting teams without a title in over two decades should give it the #1 spot (as John Smallwood mentioned earlier this week, that's 84 combined seasons without a title, and counting, thank you very much Flyers). At least let us win first place in something. Sheesh. And to answer David Scott of Boston Sports Media Watch, who asked this question earlier this week:
Does SmartyMania actually cure Flyeritis– that annual affliction that cripples the little Philly puckheads for three to six months, depending on when the Phillies or Eagles are available to provide another Phabulous Philly Phlop[?]
The answer is no, as I mentioned earlier this week.

CSN has Braves-Phillies tonight at 7:05. ESPN has Game 4 of Pacers-Pistons at 8.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Escape from New York (wth a victory)

The Phillies split their series with the Mets, exploding for 6 runs (5 unearned) in the 7th inning, which enabled them to win, 7-4. Todd Zolecki and Marcus Hayes have the game stories. Both Zolecki's notebook and Hayes' notebook both talk about the rift between closer Billy Wagner and Phillies trainer Jeff Cooper with regards to his rehab. Apparently, Wagner was used to taking muscle relaxants when dealing with a similar injury while with the Astros, and Cooper seems as tight-fisted as an HMO, so Wagner had to acquire them on his own. Asked what he thought of the rift, Wagner replied, "that's not my problem.... He has all the medical degrees. I've got a degree in pitching.... I'm not doubting his ability." Hopefully this doesn't get more ugly that this, and doesn't jeopardize Wagner's long-term future with the team. Jim Salisbury looks at the Braves, who are coming to town, in fourth place, for the first time (after 44 games) since May 1990. Ohhhhhh...oh...oh-uh-oh...Ohhhhhhh...oh-oh. Could their reign as division champs be over? Finally!

The Sixers had just as much luck in the NBA draft lottery as they had battling injuries all season long. Marc Narducci says Billy King "would have liked to have moved up, but the odds weren't in our favor." Stephen A. Smith is pretty much indifferent about the whole thing. John Smallwood submits his annual "the NBA needs a real minor league" article. I remember the first time I read this. Wasn't it five years ago? Phil Jasner has Billy King wondering about the "brown stains" left behind from Smarty Jones' not-so-lucky horseshoe (well, at least they didn't drop to the 10th spot...) in his fashion-conscious suit jacket. Jasner also speaks with an elated Pat Williams, who has now landed an amazing total of four #1 picks (once with the Sixers, and now three times with Orlando). Williams, referring to the Magic's horrible season, seemed proud of having "the most pingpong balls. And we earned them." David Stern also added some humor, saying he has Russ Granik preside over the proceedings now because he "was tired of congratulating Pat."

Les Bowen says Eagles' draft pick Shawn Andrews can now stop and smell the flowers. Literally. But he seems to prefer smelling pizza, cheeseburgers, grilled chicken, and steaks.

CSN has Braves-Phillies tonight at 7:05. TNT has Game 4 of Wolves-Lakers at 9:00.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Are Ya Feelin' Lucky? Well, Are Ya?

Hopefully the Sixers are. Phil Jasner breaks down the Sixers odds in tonight's NBA draft lottery: 3.6% chance to land #1, 4.2% chance to land #2, 4.9% chance to land #3, 72% chance to remain at #9, and 14.6% chance to drop to #10. Sixers coach Jim O'Brien made some headlines this morning after comments yesterday that he "would not necessarily have Jameer in the top 10 in the lottery," according to Jim Juliano. Jasner called in to WIP late last night while Dick Jerardi was on to discuss the comments. In one of his articles today, Jasner quotes O'Brien, "If I had to make the call--I'm not making the call--I don't think that scenario is going to happen." Keep an eye on the situation. Let's hope O'Brien and Billy King have a great relationship, since it was the souring of the GM-coach relationship that led to his resignation from the Celtics. Also, I find it interesting that a St. Joe's guy would flat out say the Sixers weren't looking at Nelson. Plus, the comments do seem a bit premature, as the Sixers don't even know where they will be selecting in the draft yet (they will after tonight). Shouldn't they at least blow a little smoke and feign interest, if only to throw off the other teams? Unless they are using reverse psychology and that is what they are doing...

Todd Zolecki says the Phillies' offense finally stalled last night, as they got blanked 5-0 at Shea Stadium last night. Marcus Hayes talks about Jim Thome's return to the lineup. Larry Bowa knows that the Phillies can't keep expecting to win like they did last week when "Big Jim" is out of the lineup.

Ed Moran talks a bit about some comments Bob Clarke made on Monday getting back to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Clarke said the Flyers should be considered a "high revenue" team, not a "high payroll" team, and they shouldn't be "penalized for doing a good job selling out our building, having a good television contract, and marketing and stuff like that." When told of Clarke's comments, Bettman responded, "I may need to have a direct conversation, which may have some economic consequences." Is that a threat to fine? Tim Panaccio also covers this topic, and relates that as far as negotiating a new CBA, neither the owners or the players "can get past the 'threshold' issue of a salary cap." That doesn't bode well for either side. Sam Donnellon wonders if Robert Esche has proved anything yet, as he makes some comparisons to a very simliar run that Brian Boucher made 4 years ago when the Flyers lost in a Game 7 in the conference finals as well. He recalls one of those games, one in which Boucher made an amazing 57 saves in the infamous five-overtime thriller against the Penguins (I still have the black circles under my eyes from that one). Bob Ford wonders what "truth" is, in following up comments from Ed Snider on Monday that the Flyers lost money this year. Flyers' president Ron Ryan is quoted as saying, "where it becomes confusing is that it sounds like there are two sets of books. The difference is that the report we make to the league, as directed by the players association, is different from our own internal audited statement, which we view as the more accurate statement." Two sets of books? Gee, can I operate my personal finances this way? Sounds like it would be a great way to deal with taxes come April 15.

Mike Kern lets us know what Pat Croce has been up to these days. He's parntered with the Inquirer's Bill Lyon to write another book, which can be found on amazon.com. He also has a new reality show coming next fall called Moving In.

CSN has Phillies-Mets tonight at 7:10. ESPN has Game 3 of Pacers-Pistons at 8:30.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Boys of Summer

Well, with the Flyers ousted, the Sixers hoping for a lucky ping pong ball bounce, and Eagles' training camp still over a month away, there's not much by way of links today...

Ed Snider was on Comcast's Daily News Live yesterday. Tim Panaccio cites Snider's claim that the Flyers lost money this season, despite making it to the conference finals, due to their high payroll. Panaccio also infers from Bob Clarke's comments that John LeClair and Tony Amonte won't be back next year, likely casualties of the as-yet-unnegotiated new labor agreement. John Smallwood reminds us that we've now had 84 seasons (combining the city's 4 major sports franchises) without a title, certainly a record in that category. Smallwood says it was bad enough when we were losing to cities like Boston, Chicago, LA, and New York. But losing to Tampa Bay (which isn't even a city, but a body of water), is just plain demoralizing (and Smallwood says he's "really starting to hate the place.") John also says even if he wins the Triple Crown, Smarty Jones doesn't count. I agree. Which is why you haven't seen any coverage on here.

Todd Zolecki submits his article for the Phillies off-day. He says Pat Burrell's confidence has been the biggest difference so far this year. He also notes that the Phillies rank second in the league in average attendance (39,624), which certainly seems like a huge jump from the last year at the Vet. Marcus Hayes writes about pitching coach Joe Kerrigan's "hands off" approach to managing his staff.

CSN has Phillies-Mets tonight at 7:10. TNT has Game 3 of Wolves-Lakers at 9. And exactly 5 people will be watching the Stanley Cup Finals Game 1 between Calgary and Tampa Bay on ESPN at 8.

Monday, May 24, 2004

So, when does Eagles training camp begin?

The Flyers gave it all they had, but came up one goal short in Game 7 of a grueling series that went the distance. Tim Panaccio has Jeremy Roenick calling the loss "devastating." Phil Sheridan quotes JR as saying "there was no better shot than this year" to win the Cup. Tough loss indeed. When the final horn sounded, many of the Flyers were bent over, in sheer exhaustion and disbelief. Sam Donnellon says these guys have nothing to hang their heads over. He references a favorite Cheers quote of mine, spoken by "the great philosopher" Norm Peterson: "It's a dog-eat-dog world and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear," and suggests this could be the new Philadelphia slogan, since our sports teams seem to always take us to the brink of a parade, only to have the carpet pulled from under them. Rich Hofmann gives kudos to coach Hithcock, calling his hiring "the best move this franchise has made in a generation," which bodes well for the Flyers next season. If there's a next season. If there's an NHL. Ed Moran says Robert Esche was happy to prove "a lot of people wrong." Moran also captures two unique (and very different) perspectives of the future from Esche and Roenick. Which side is closer to reality? Moran leans toward the dark and foreboding it seems. Chuck Bausman says its pretty amazing that the Flyers got this far, seeing as some of them were playing with serious injuries, such as Kim Johnsson playing with a broken hand. In yesterday's Inquirer, Panaccio had an "update" on the Ken Hitchcock/Italian community uprising story. There didn't seem to be anything new here than what he'd already reported earlier except for the revelation that WIP's Al Morganti's full name is Alfonso Morganti.

On the brighter side of things, the Phillies continued their winning ways yesterday. Todd Zolecki has Jim Thome complimenting his teammates, because "our bench guys have really stepped up." Bernard Fernandez has Larry Bowa calling them a "special bench." Zolecki's notebook has a few injury updates, including Thome, who will be "ready to play Tuesday" against the Mets, and closer Billy Wagner who is "pretty much not pitching for two-and-a-half weeks." In yesterday's Boston Herald, Tony Massarotti had Dodger's manager Jim Tracy complaining about the "hitter (homerun) friendly" confines of Citizens Bank Park. According to Massarotti, the Phils are on pace to knock in "a preposterous 157 home runs" out of their new park this season.

Phil Jasner writes that Billy King will be bringing a lucky charm with him to Wednesday's NBA lottery. He also mentions St. Joe's Jameer Nelson and Delonte West's workout schedule, including a visit to the Nets tomorrow. Shira Springer of the Boston Globe mentions that he's scheduled to visit with the Celtics in June. And in further evidence that he can never truly close doors of his past, Steve Bulpett tells how Larry Brown recently noted that NBA official Joey Crawford missed games of the playoffs with plantar fasciitis, while his player, Rasheed Wallace, was still toughing it out. Then Brown admitted he was "joking" and that "Billy King told me to say that. He and Joey are both Philly guys."

Finally, in yesterday's New York Post, Peter Vecsey was a bit puzzled at the "not-so-subtle smack" that Phil Jackson allegedly laid down after the Lakers victory in Game 1. I heard Jackson's postgame press conference, and while certainly no Jackson apologist, I am puzzled at Vecsey's reaction to a non-story. If you take Jackson's comments in context, he was happy to have taken Game 1, and home court advantage of the Western Conference Finals, since they would now be able to win the series "with games on their home court." In other words, in winning Game 1, the Lakers stole home court advantage, and, by winning their 3 home games during the course of the series, the Lakers would move onto the Finals. Vecsey, along with Ernie Johnson in TNT's postgame show Inside the NBA, seem to have taken Jackson's words in ways they were not said.

The Phillies are off today. ESPN has Game 2 of Pistons-Pacers at 8.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Lucky 7?

Sorry the links have not been forthcoming lately. As Bruce mentioned earlier, I started a new jobs 2 weeks ago and am trying to work through some logisitics issues of putting together a daily post. I'm having several issues with that, so for now, the plan will generally be to publish an "early evening edition" that will have the daily links. I hope that in the future I will be able to post something earlier in the day, but at this point, that's the best I can do. Today, I'm posting a "special edition" earlier in the day to somewhat make up for my tardiness these past few weeks. So enough of that, onto the links and the coverage of last night's amazing game that will go down as one of the most nail-biting, must-win, come-from-behind victories in Flyer's post-season history...

Tim Panaccio has the game story, and notes that, of the 234 players to have played 100 or more games, captain Keith Primeau is the first player in league history to match his career playoff goal total in a single postseason run (as the team's best player). Quite a mouthful. Panaccio also notes that the Flyers have only won a single Game 7 on the road in franchise history, and that was a division final against the Penguins in 1989. In a column from yesterday (can't quite remember the writer at the moment), it was mentioned that Ken Hitchcock knows what it takes to come back from a 3-2 deficit and win a Game 7 on the road, because that is exactly what his Dallas Stars did in 1999 en route to a Stanley Cup (so I'm glad he's on our bench). Phil Sheridan lauds the "character of this team." Bob Ford marvels at how Captain Primeau has led by example, including an amazing goal which tied the game (and saved the season) with under two minutes left in regulation. Panaccio's notebook has Hitchcock in a bit of hot water with South Philly's Italian-American community with his comments earlier this week, in obvious jest, that Tampa Bay coach John Tortella had 3 strikes against him: "He's Italian, he's from Boston, and he's probably a Red Sox fan." Panaccio says this was not said with malice or prejudice, and reveals that this was actually a continuation of some teasing that was going on between Hitchcock and WIP's morning team personality Al Morganti, who, Hitchcock noted when calling into the station this week, "is emotional because he is from Boston, he is extra emotional because he is Italian, and he is extra, extra emotional because he is a Red Sox fan." It's interesting that Coach Ken think's Al's "emotional," because in contrast to his Post-Game Live appearances, when he usually has much to say, you'd sometimes hardly know he is awake on the WIP morning show (this is not meant to be a knock on Al, I actually think he's pretty funny--when he's saying something--but I just found it amusing that Hitchcock thinks he is "emotional.")

Ray Parillo says the Lightning have nobody to blame but themselves, since they only played 20 solid minutes of a game that went nearly 80. In his weekly Morning Bytes, Frank Fitzpatrick laments the "Orange Crush" effect of the Flyers handing out bright orange t-shirts to all the fans at attendance at this week's games. Frank also complains about the hitter-friendly dimensions of Citizens Bank Park. While we're complaining, can I get a refund on the time I spent reading his column? Sam Donnellon seems surprised at last night's win, as "'these are the games the Flyers seem to lose." I have to admit, I felt the same way watching the third perid, something of an air of inevitability, of preparing for yet another disappointing end to a Flyers season. I was pleasantly surprised at the remarkable turn of events. Les Bowen says it "is just ridiculous" that Tampa has scored on 4 of its last 5 power plays. Les references an interesting post-goal celebration between Markov and Primeau (not that there's anything wrong with that...)

Ed Moran recounts Hitchcock's concerns going into Game 7 that the Flyers "don't get happy feet." Rich Hofmann says it's been "decades" since "the Flyers had a player dominate a playoff run in the way Primeau is dominating this one." John Smallwood gets the reaction from a "stunned and bummed out" Lightning locker room. John Romano, of the St. Petersburg Times, has the players calling it a "pretty devastating loss," and worries that for the second half of Games 5 and most of Game 6, the tempo was to the Flyers' liking, which does not bode well for the LIghtning, in his opinion.

The Phillies actually did play a game yesterday (and while my posts have been on a brief hiatus, they've managed to jump to the top of their division). Todd Zolecki has the game story, which featured a Brett Myers complete-game, 5-hit shutout. Zolecki's notebook cites statistics supporting the notion that the Phillies have the bullpen in the NL, if not the MLB. Bernard Fernandez has Larry Bowa calling last night's performance "our best-pitched game this year, by anybody." Pretty good for a guy who nearly got yanked from the starting rotation because of a shaky start. Fernandez also quotes Bowa as targeting next Tuesday as a possible return date from the disabled list for closer Billy Wagner.

Stephen A. Smith takes some time between his ESPN appearances (and Laker pom-pom waving articles) to write that Sixer fans are none too happy that Larry Brown has reached the Eastern Conference Finals again. Frankly, I'm looking forward to him losing to Rick Carlisle. Again. (I'm still wondering what Joe Dumars was thinking on this one. Did he not pay attention to last year's Sixers-Pistons series, when Brown was thoroughly and completely outcoached by Carlisle?)

I know I'm late with this one (I actually composed this little paragraph about a week ago, but never did get the chance to post it): An interesting note was made on last week's ABC's primetime telecast of Lakers-Spurs that this is the first time in playoff history that all conference semi-finals were knotted at 2-2. Of course, this made for more competitive series, in stark contrast to the blowouts witnessed in round one. Also, a commentary about last week's devastating loss for the Spurs, who fell to the Lakers on a last second shot by Derek Fisher: The Spurs filed a protest, claiming the clock started late. Of course, Commissioner Stern denied the protest, claiming the clock "started appropriately", raising the question, appropriate for who? The TV raings guys? In the playoffs, the home team does not supply the clock operators, they are brought in from a neutral city. In addition, the clock is generally started by one of the three officials with a wireless device. Even this sytem, with its "accuracy" of tenths-of-seconds, appears flawed, because while all the replays focused on whether Fisher got the ball out of his hands by the time the clock read 0.0, and before the red light outlining the backboard was on, none of the focus appeared to be on the timeliness of the clock starting. I noticed it right away on the first replays: the clock appears to start a tenth of a second or two after Fisher catches the ball. Of course, none of the commentators bother to even notice this fact. Why have a rule that says you can only score by a tip-in when there's .3 seconds or less left, but if there's .4 seconds, the officials don't even stop to consider that is not nearly enough time to catch the ball, turn around, and get off a shot? It would seem fairly obvious that the clock was not started the instant Fisher got the ball. How could it? Peter May appeared to agree with me. So does Peter Vecsey. This is a system that still relies on human intervention. To me, it's a "false sense of accuracy" to have tenths of a second on the clock when the officials can't (or won't) use their judgment to deem that the clock did not start fast enough, and to disallow a shot, even if, according to a replay, the ball was seemingly released before time expired. To quote the new Miller commercial, it's a "trav-sham-mockery."

UPN 57 has Padres-Phillies at 7:05. TNT has Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals (Lakers-Wolves) at 9.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Dave got a new job and is still trying to work out his posting schedule. In the meantime, please feel free to send in your suggestions for links to be added to the right hand column and whatever other ideas you might have for the site. The commenting feature is now turned on as well.

If you're interested in contributing content to the site, filling in on links, adding commentary on the Philly media, etc, we'd like to hear from you as well.

Bruce - site admin

Thursday, May 06, 2004

On to the Eastern Conference Finals

Sorry the links have not been forthcoming, there's a new job on the horizon for me, and so I've had a few administrative details to nail down the past couple days. Onto the links...

Tim Panaccio has the game story on the series-clinching 3-2 OT victory that knocked Toronto out of the playoffs. The Flyers are now headed to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2000. Phil Sheridan gets Robert "Silent Bob" Esche to actually talk, saying, "we're only halfway to what we really want to achieve." Sheridan also has Coach Hitchcock still very disappointed at some of Toronto's cheap hits, especially the one on Sami Kapinen in OT (the replay of him struggling, falling, and regaining his feet, 3 times, is still quite compelling), which Hitch says had "an intent to injure." Darcy Tucker will surely be a marked man in future Flyers games. Rich Hofmann tells how Primeau acted as a captain should, especially toward one of his fallen comrades. Sam Donnellon quotes Hitchcock, speaking of the Flyers' aggressive play in OT, "we didn't sit back, we really went for it." This is in contrast to the tentative approach taken by many teams in sudden death overtime in the playoffs, which often lead to multiple overtime affairs.

So now the Flyers will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference finals. Ed Moran believes this is a pretty good accomplishment for the second year coach. Tim Panaccio says that of the first 4 games of the series, two will be on consecutive Saturdays, meaning the series will be drawn out. Apparently, the NHL is taking a cue from the NBA on this one, and that's not a good thing, as I think the NBA Finals are scheduled to begin sometime around August. Shannon Ryan talks about the growing fan base of the Lightning, who are learning how to develop a "hockey mentality," which apparently involves "booing more." Shannon also has the Lightning anticipating a physical series with the Flyers. Ed Moran cites the incredible statistic that Tampa Bay's goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has a playoff goals-against average of 1.00, and a save percentage of .964. Moran also notes that Jeremy Roenick and Lightning coach John Tortorella are fellow Bostonians.

Jim Salisbury has the game story for the Phil's 5-4 victory yesterday, moving them to within a game of .500 on the year. In his notebook, he quotes Ed Wade as saying, "we're not actively looking for anything" in terms of personnel changes, in hopes of getting the Phils' bats out of their slump. Marcus Hayes says Larry Bowa is not going to lose any more sleep over the Phils' offense (or lack thereof). On another baseball note, MLB announced yesterday a joint marketing promotion (during the weekend games of June 11-13) of the Spider-Man 2 movie due out this summer. Don Steinberg says that "most of the money would be paid to [the league] directly and distributed evenly to all 30 teams, even those not hosting games," but Paul Hagen contradicts that by citing an AP report that claims the Red Sox and Yankees will receive more than $100,000, the other home teams will pocket $50,000, and the visiting teams that weekend will get zilch. I wonder which of those reports is the truth.

Yesterday, Phil Jasner reported that Jim O'Brien sat down for "an eyeball-to-eyeball" chat with Allen Iverson the day after being named the Sixers' new head coach. In today's article, Jasner notes O'Brien's intentions to lure some of his former staff with him to Philly, Lester Conner, Joe Gallagher (a Philadelphia native), and Frank Vogel (a Wildwood, NJ native). Of course, the biggest name added to O'Brien's staff is defensive guru Dick Harter, whom Joe Juliano notes will "fall in love with the Eagles again," but he will still like the Patriots. Jasner also writes about Jameer Nelson's scheduled workouts with NBA teams, and quotes Phil Martelli as saying the Charlotte expansion team has "real, sincere interest" in the St. Joe's point guard extraordinaire.

Kevin Mulligan is not happy with being forced to watch Boston-area topics on CN8's Sports Connection, where Lou Tillie frequently speaks to members of the Boston media.

CSN has Cardinals-Phiilies at 1:05 (already started, sorry, took awhile to organize today's links). TNT has Game 1 of Heat/Pacers tonight at 9.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Double the Fun

Tim Panaccio has the game story of yesterday's dominating 7-2 performance of the Flyers over the Maple Leafs. Phil Sheridan says the Flyers would do well to finish this thing off tomorrow night when the series moves back to Toronto. Ray Parillio has the Leafs' Bryan McCabe taking full responsibility for the loss. Rich Hofmann writes that Jeremy Roenick wants Nik Antropov suspended for a dangerously vicious blow to the neck area. Sam Donnellon says the cleaning crew at the Wachovia Center had trouble keeping up with the baseball cap removal following Keith Primeau's hat trick. Hoffman also wonders what history books might look like if Ken "We Will Give You the Truth Tomorrow" Hitchcock wrote them. The Toronto Star's Ken Campbell notes that Toronto's 11 shots on goal represented the "fewest the Flyers have given up in 332 post-season games." Impressive. Paul Hunter has chronic complainer Pat Quinn going on a "defensive premptive strike" in hopes that Antropov won't be suspended for Game 6.

Marcus Hayes has the game story for yesterday's wacky, weird 14-inning marathon that saw the Phillies come back twice in what would have been their final at-bat. Todd Zolecki says the Phils are happy to have finally won an extra-innings affair (after dropping 2 last month). Zolecki's notebook writes that the Phils' bullpen has been earning its keep of late.

Bob Brookover notes that the Eagles' first-round pick Shawn Andrews will undergo surgery this Friday to remove polyps from his nasal passages. Les Bowen quotes Brian Westbrook jokingly saying, "they don't want me to touch the ball no more," in response to Andy Reid's plan to move him off punt returns.

In last night's Sunday Sports Final, NBC's John Clark led off the program by announcing that "Howard Eskin has the night off...Enjoy!"

The locals are off tonight. TNT has Game 1 of Nets/Pistons at 8. Speaking of the NBA, the Boston Globe's Peter May says this year's playoffs are being dragged out way to much. I agree with Peter on this one (that might be a first). ESPN has Detroit/Calgatry at 10, with the #1 seeded Red Wings facing elimination.