Monday, June 07, 2004

Milwood Struggles Continue

After jumping out to a 4-0 lead, Kevin Milwood let his four run cushion get away, and lost again to his former team, 6-4. Jim Salisbury and Marcus Hayes have the game stories. In Salisbury's notes, it's mentioned that Placido Polanco will return to the Phillies' lineup as interleague play begins tomorrow. Dennis Deitch had Milwood's take after the game, in response to whether any of his former Braves' teammates ever needle him about his struggles against him when they hang out in the offseason. His reply? "No, I have a gun when I'm hunting."

John Smallwood puts in writing what goes through my mind every June: how the 2-3-2 format in the NBA Finals significantly stacks things against the team without homecourt advantage (repeating the often-quoted stat that "no home team has ever won all middle three games"). The format also doesn't lend itself to many Game 7 situations, at least in the NBA. Since the league adopted the format in 1985, there have been only two Game 7s: 1988 and 1994. In contrast, the Stanley Cup Finals, which employ the standard 2-2-1-1-1 format, have featured twice as many Game 7s (including tonight's game) in that time span. Interestingly, MLB, which uses the same 2-3-2 format in the World Series, has featured many more Game 7s (seven since 1985, though they've been using the format for longer than the NBA). I forget what my point was in all this. Except that it's very difficult to pull off an upset in the NBA Finals. In yesterday's column, the Boston Globe's Peter May notes that this is the first time in 10 years that neither #1 seed has made it to the Finals. Even worse, it's the first time since 1978 that one of the Finalists wasn't even tied for the best record in its conference. For all you conspiracy theorists out there who believe David Stern's marketing folks would have had a nightmare over Minnesota-Indiana, I'm sure Detroit-LA will surprisingly do better in the ratings than last year, which is a shame.

Speaking of upsets, Al Morganti penned this insightful piece following the Smarty Jones disappointing loss in his bid for the Triple Crown. He also seems to tell people to chill out with this "Philadelphia is cursed" nonsense, since "many times, the favorte is knocked off, and it is not a curse that is only heaped on the shoulders and psyches of those people who root for things Philadelphia." Did I mention Al is a Red Sox fan? Morganti also reminds us that the term "upset" was used in sports when a horse named Upset defeated Man O'War. You learn something new every day.

Berry Federovitch of the Trenton Times blames the "Curse of the Bambino" on Smarty's loss. Apparently there was a Red Sox fan in the house, and the New York and Philadelphia "fans" in attendance began chanting 1918. Can we take the Boston Globe's Dan Shaugnessy in the back and shoot him and put him out of his misery for foisting talk of this curse upon sports fans everywhere? (and before getting accused of making "terroristic threats," that's a tongue-in-cheek reference). On our "sister site," David Scott is "overjoyed...that we were spared a Philadelphia riot (aka parade)." Apparently riots are reserved only for Boston college campuses following Patriots' Super Bowl victories.

Over the weekend, Caryl Kauffman reported on Lester Conner's hiring by the Sixers. Conner said, following his hiring, "I guess there's somewhat of a rivalry between the Sixers and Celtics, so I guess we'll continue that." Looking forward to it. Phil Jasner had O'Brien explaining what Conner's addition was for: "What this really means is that if I get kicked out of a game Lester will be our coach."

Bob Grotz made note of some comments Ray Lewis made on Sporting News Radio last week. Speaking of Terrell Owens (who spurned the Ravens so that he could join the Eagles), Lewis said, "Sooner or later, he's going to have to run into me one way or the other. It's hard to respect guys that pose and do things like that." Pose? I guess that must have been someone else preening and posing for the cameras when I watched the Ravens lose to the Titans in this year's playoffs. Perhaps it was Lewis' evil twin brother or something. The Boston Herald's Michael Felger noted in his column yesterday that Richard Seymour of the Patriots is keeping tabs on the Corey Simon situation here in Philadelphia. Seymour fired his agent last year, and hired Eugene Parker last year, who also represents Simon, and who is apparently giving him the advice to sit out the Eagles' "voluntary" mini-camps.

Finally, ESPN published a "city standings during the ESPN era" on its website in which Philadelphia came in 4th (just behind Boston). Obviously, championships weren't the deciding factor (bonus points were awarded for championships and finals appearances however). However, overall team winning percentages figured prominently, and for all of the times they come up short winning the big one, Philly teams generally make a good showing nonetheless.

The locals are off tonight. If you absolutely must find something to watch, you can join the other 7 people (six of which are Canadian residents) who will be watching the Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 on ABC (Channel 6) at 8.

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