MATCHDAY: It's a Beautiful Day to Play Hooky - Your Phillies/Union Twinbill Itinerary

MATCHDAY: It's a Beautiful Day to Play Hooky - Your Phillies/Union Twinbill Itinerary

So the weather today is just about the most perfect thing ever, amirite?

If you're already at work, start coughing now. Or just "grab a coffee" and get the hell out of there. If you're not at work yet, DON'T DO IT!

For the first time in a while, you can walk up to Citizens Bank Park and get a cheap ticket for a Phillies game (1:05 p.m. -- Comcast SportsNet). It's Businessperson's Special day, and Domonic Brown is likely to hit 14 home runs. John Mayberry promised to hit a grand slam.

Plus, Bob Davidson will be there, and everyone wants to see him.

A little farther south, the Union host Columbus tonight (7:30 -- CSN) for their last league game before an 18-day break. And judging by the email I just got this morning, there are still tickets available.

I used to argue that there is no better place on a nice day than Citizens Bank Park. Then came PPL Park, which, on a night like this, might be as picturesque as any sports venue in America.

So, head down to CBP, preferably via public transit (for the beer, clearly). Take in the game, watch Cole Hamels dominate with incredible run support, have a few brews and maybe some Bull's BBQ for lunch.

Once the Phillies win, hop the Broad Street Line back to City Hall, wander to Market East, and catch a Wilmington-bound Regional Rail (express train at 5:04 p.m.). Get off at Chester (trust me, it's safe), and find the free Union shuttle at the station (a big coach bus).

If you drove to CBP, it's an easy ride down 95 South.

Find me in Lot A and I'll happily give you a beer. Look for a 18-month-old in a Union jersey.

Plus, once there you can say inappropriate things on the stadium scoreboard:

Just do it, you know you want to. Seriously, look our your office window. Why are you still sitting there?

* * *

TONIGHT'S GAME

Philadelphia Union (5-5-4, 19 points) vs. Columbus Crew (4-4-5, 17 points)

I couldn't watch Saturday's 1-1 draw with Toronto live, but caught most of the re-air. I'd like 89 minutes of my life back, please.

The Union looked completely lifeless against a terrible team especially considering they were up a man for most of the day. Only Jack McInerney (yawn) was able to save a point, once again.

There's some who argue the team was gassed after a game in Montreal, a mid-week date with Ocean City in the U.S. Open Cup with a nearly full-strength starting 11, and a trip back to Toronto. I don't disagree. But as someone who appreciates full dedication to the Open Cup (as opposed to the Galaxy, whose coach didn't even travel to a road game) for a team that won't be winning the league title this year, I refuse to get on John Hackworth for that decision.

Other than McInerney, I'm done trying to predict the effort/mindset of this team on a game-to-game basis. But while tonight's game might not have the glamour of the Galaxy or Red Bulls, it could not be more important for the Union. Columbus is a team you MUST beat at home. Settle for a draw, or somehow lose tonight, and watch the Crew vault ahead of you in the Eastern Conference, and watch full-fledged panic set in.

Prediction Sure to Be Way Off:

For some reason, I envision a  solid Union effort tonight. McInerney scores again, and Sebastien Le Toux finds the net, as well. Zac MacMath still gives up one that he should save, though.

Union 3, Crew 1

P.J. Carlesimo turns down Sixers' associate head coach job for 'family reasons'

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P.J. Carlesimo turns down Sixers' associate head coach job for 'family reasons'

Thirty-five years is more than enough time to get a sense of who a person is and how they do their job. That is how long Brett Brown has known P.J. Carlesimo, which made it easy for the Sixers' head coach to have interest in adding him to the staff. 

With Mike D’Antoni leaving to coach the Rockets, the Sixers had a vacancy at the associate head coach position. On Sunday, though, Carlesimo decided not to join the Sixers’ staff and remain a television analyst.

“He was a natural fit for me,” Brown said Monday following a pre-draft workout. “For family reasons, he just couldn’t do it. We talked a lot and it was an emotional thing from P.J.’s perspective. 

“P.J. is a very close friend of mine and he made that decision for family reasons and I understand it. The phone call really didn’t surprise me knowing what I know of him and how he views his family, having to travel across the country the whole time.”

Like D’Antoni, Carlesimo has a lengthy résumé on the NBA sidelines. He was a head coach for parts of nine seasons and worked five as an assistant coach. Brown called working with D’Antoni “a real learning experience,” and an ideal candidate would have similar experience to help both the staff and the young roster.

“That role will be filled with maybe that type of flavor,” Brown said. “I know this, we are still in a complete development mode. We still have a bunch of 20 year olds, guys that could be with us for a long time, but they’re not old, that we have to make sure that the city and me, we remember that. We still need people and teachers that can teach and coach and establish relationships. 

“So you tick boxes on relationships, teaching, development, those still rule the day. If you can do that with some veteran wisdom and some type of experiences like Mike’s, say, or P.J. had, well then you’re really knocking it out of the park.”

Coaching vacancies are coveted at this level. With the No. 1 pick in the draft, a revamped front office, and a 125,000-square foot training facility under construction, the Sixers have enhanced the appeal of the role. 

"My phone is very active, as you can imagine," Brown said. "I think it’s a highly attractive position. … Like our draft picks, I too spend a lot of time studying who will be the best fit for me and our program."

Tonight's Lineup: Ryan Howard (surprisingly) starts at 1B

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Tonight's Lineup: Ryan Howard (surprisingly) starts at 1B

So much for trimming Ryan Howard's playing time.

One day after Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he plans on giving 24-year-old Tommy Joseph more starts against right-handed pitchers, Mackanin flipped the switch Monday.

Howard is penciled in as the starting first baseman for the Phils' series-opener against the Nationals on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park against Tanner Roark (3-4, 2.71).

After the Phillies were clobbered by the MLB-best Chicago Cubs on Sunday — and the weekend, really — Mackanin said the Phils have to get a longer look at Joseph.

"We brought up Joseph up here for a reason, to get a look at him," the manager said after the Phillies' 7-2 on Sunday afternoon (see story). "I can't let him stagnate on the bench like (Darin) Ruf ended up doing, so he's going to face some right-handed pitchers to keep his timing."

Joseph will have to wait another day to get in the lineup. To be fair, Joseph did face five righties last week, but three of those came with the designated hitter in play.

For Howard, however, the club icon is in a major rut that has had many outsiders calling for him to retire or for the team to release him. He's hitting .154 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in 136 at-bats and is 6 for 62 (.097) with 25 strikeouts in May.

Here's the silver lining, however. Howard is a career .333 hitter in 12 at-bats against Roark, who he's taken deep once and has six RBIs against.

The Phillies turn to Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 3.97) to snap their three-game skid. He's faced the Nationals twice this season, allowing six — five earned — runs over 10⅓ innings.

Here is the Phillies' full lineup:

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Carlos Ruiz, C
6. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
7. Tyler Goeddel, LF
8. Jeremy Hellickson, P
9. Peter Bourjos, RF

For more on tonight's game, check out Steven Tyding's game notes.

MLB Notes: Mets' manager Terry Collins worried David Wright might be headed for DL

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MLB Notes: Mets' manager Terry Collins worried David Wright might be headed for DL

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York's captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

White Sox: Shuck called up with Jackson injured
NEW YORK -- With Austin Jackson bothered by turf toe, the Chicago White Sox recalled outfielder J.B. Shuck from Charlotte and optioned right-hander Tommy Kahnle to the Triple-A farm team.

Jackson left Sunday's game in the eighth inning because of his left foot.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Monday's series opener against the New York Mets that he doesn't think Jackson's injury at this point merits a move to the disabled list. He adds that the team does not "necessarily want to lose him for two weeks right away."

Shuck was batting fifth and playing center field Monday. He was 0 for 9 with the White Sox before he was sent down April 18 when Chicago needed to add a pitcher. He is hitting .299 at Charlotte with two homers and 17 RBIs.

Kahnle is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four games over three stints with Chicago this season.