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

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

ap-temple.jpg
The Associated Press

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

After winning its first American Athletic Conference championship Saturday, Temple learned its postseason fate Sunday and it does not involve a New Year's Six bowl game.

The Owls will play Wake Forest in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Maryland. Temple also finished No. 24 in the final College Football Playoff rankings and No. 23 in the AP poll.

At 10-3, Temple has its first back-to-back 10-win season in program history. It's also the first time the Owls have been ranked in consecutive seasons. Head coach Matt Rhule now has 28 wins as Temple's head coach, tying him with Bruce Arians' for the sixth-most in school history.

Wake Forest finished the season 6-6 and on a three-game losing streak, but two of those three loses came to No. 2 Clemson and No. 13 Louisville. The Deamon Deacons have lost five of their last six games.

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers (13-10-3) at Predators (11-8-4)
6 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

The Flyers have won a season-high four games in a row. They'll try to make it five Sunday night when they visit the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena for the second game of a back-to-back set.

Let's take a look at five things you need to know.

1. Streaking like 2014?
Not only do the Flyers have a chance to extend their season-best winning streak, but they're also looking to win their most consecutive games since March 15-22, 2014, when they also won five straight.

The Flyers have put up strong showings in the back ends of back-to-backs, going 4-1-1 thus far.

“You just have to have the work ethic night in and night out," Steve Mason said Saturday after the Flyers' 3-1 win over the Blackhawks. "And, I think we were struggling to find that. There are games when we were swarming and giving teams no other option, and other nights we were chasing the puck.

"We have another tough test going to Nashville to play. So, we’re going to have to follow up with another great effort.” 

2. A Provorov encore?
Ivan Provorov's confidence has to be at his highest of the season.

In Saturday's win, the 19-year-old blueliner scored two goals in a 31-second span to double his goal total through the first 25 games.

Provorov said he thinks defense first, but the offensive production is a good sign.

“Score one goal in a game, it’s a good feeling. Score two in one shift, it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said.

“Every time you score, it’s like a confidence booster."

3. Predators finding stride
After losing eight of their first 11 games, Peter Laviolette's Predators have gotten on track, going 8-3-1 since.

Nashville ranks in the top half of the league in goals per game (3.00 — tied for fifth), goals against per game (2.61 — 15th), power-play percentage (22.6 — sixth) and penalty-kill percentage (84.5 — 10th).

Last time out, the Predators blew a 4-1 lead in the third period for a 5-4 overtime loss to the Devils on Saturday, so they should be extra focused.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: On Saturday, Brayden Schenn scored just his second goal in his past 18 games. Schenn can be streaky so maybe he feeds off that goal. He's also a career plus-4 against the Predators, with two goals and three assists in eight games.

Predators: Let's go P.K. Subban, who isn't exactly a favorite among Flyers fans. He's off to a nice start in his first season in Nashville with six goals and 10 assists, and eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last eight games.

5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Steve Mason is 7-7-5 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 20 career games against the Predators.

• Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is 3-2-2 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in seven career games against the Flyers.

• Claude Giroux is four assists away from passing Rick MacLeish (369) and Eric Lindros (369) for fifth on the Flyers’ all-time list.