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Monday, April 2, 2007

Opening Day Cometh

With the arrival of Opening Day, we can officially close the book on our sports winter of discontent. As bigger and better things await — we hope — a few random thoughts:

· Despite some Spring Training panic, I think optimism abounds for the Phils (unless I end up posting after a loss, in which case people will be lining up on the Walt Whitman Bridge). I’m anxious to see if Ryan Howard handles being pitched around for an entire season. Like it or not, Pat Burrell may be the key to the season. Maybe we shouldn’t boo him if he doesn’t homer his first at bat, eh?
· The Greg Oden / Roy Hibbert match-up Saturday night was one of the biggest busts in recent memory due to constant — and immediate — foul trouble for both. The refs should have found a way to let these guys play more.
· The more I saw Oden and Kevin Durant play in March the less I salivated over the Sixers’ prospects of winning the NBA Draft Lottery to grab one of them. Durant’s going to end up as a small forward in the NBA, I’d bet, and Durant couldn’t stay on the court even when he wasn’t in foul trouble. I’d still take either one, but I make take Michael Conley first. And, oh by the way to those trying to stick it to Sixers fans by saying Oden may not come out, Conley’s father is reportedly becoming a certified agent. Connect the dots — he knows his son’s going pro because his son knows Oden, his teammate, is going pro.
· Despite a terrible start, the Eagles are quietly putting together a good, football-related off-season. The signing of Kevin Curtis and Montae Reagor, and the trade for Takeo Spikes are huge. Show me a big running back in the draft, and I’d say they had one of their best off-seasons in the last three (post T.O. / Jevon Kearse).
· Wasn’t the Soul supposed to be on TV more now that ESPN airs the Arena Football League? It seems like they’re never on. Of course, after a fan was allowed to interfere with a play by jumping on to the field, celebrate, and return to his seat in one Arena game, I’m not sure it deserves more attention than the WWF.
· In a rare good move, ESPN — a station trying to tell us baseball has “opening night” before "opening day" and that Dancing with the Stars highlights belong on Sportscenter as if we don’t get the Disney owns both — replaced Joe Theismann with Ron Jaworski in the Monday Night Football booth. Theismann refused to get that he needed to mesh with Tony Kornheiser, though I’m surprised he’s been all but dumped. He would have elevated what’s become the worst pre-game show, NFL Countdown. I think Jaws will be solid in the spot. Let’s hope the games are more watch-able this year, too.
· Not much can improve March Madness, but dumping the analysts would help. Clarke Kellog’s too in love with his stupid alliterations, Bill Raftery’s asinine “man-to-man” call seems to arouse him but sounds like a pathetic old guy thinking he has a signature in broadcasting when he doesn’t, and Billy Packer’s ego is out of control.

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