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

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).