Long before Greg Luzinski ever smoked his first turkey leg at Citizens Bank Park, he patrolled the outfield for the Philadelphia Phillies inside of a beautiful edifice known as Veterans Stadium.
The Phillies were terrible for the overwhelming majority of my childhood, so my most vivid Vet Stadium memories came courtesy of the fine folks at Hatfield Quality Meats. Back in the old days, when you bought a package of Phillies Franks at the local grocery store, it came with a voucher for a free ticket to a select game. And by "select game", I mean "a giveaway-free game against a non-descript, non-divisional opponent, typically on Tuesdays or Saturdays."
Inevitably, one of the choices listed on the voucher each year was a meaningless, Saturday afternoon, late-August tilt against a mediocre San Diego Padres team. And every year, my friends and I would brave the 90-degree heat, amble up to those hard plastic yellow seats of the 700 level, and watch Tony Gwynn and Benito Santiago take live batting practice against Kevin Gross.
Tonight's affair between the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers is one of those Phillies/Padres games in August. If you squint hard enough, Gerald Henderson kind of resembles a young Phil Bradley.
The Bulls actually have something to play for as they're currently engaged in a three-way battle for the final two playoff spots in the East. Conversely, the most motivated Sixer in tonight's matchup might just be Alex Poythress, who made his NBA debut a scant three hours ago.
The Sixers actually beat the Bulls the last time these two teams met: A 117-107 victory for the good guys. Dario Saric (who should be at home resting his plantar fasciitis, but... Sixers) racked up 32 points and 10 boards that night as the Sixers shot a scorching 55.4 percent from the field.
Despite the allure of "Go Green Night" (presented by PECO), Markelle Fultz will not be attending this game. According to sources, he loves himself too much to expose his eyes to terrible basketball twice in one week.
Then again, who knows what will happen a few short hours from now. Perhaps the same team who gave up ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-ONE POINTS IN REGULATION to the Brooklyn Nets will be able to knock off the playoff-hungry Bulls. After all, the Los Angeles Lakers shocked the world win their 102-95 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday (shoutout to Coach Pop - you a real one).
Speaking of playoff-hungry... a Phillies frank sounds good right about now.
(Editor's note: As you can see, we didn't use the phrase "Phillies hot dog sandwich", because that just doesn't make any sense.)
(Editor's note, Part II: For you TankWatchers out there, the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets figure to set basketball back 20 years at the exact same time Sixers/Bulls tips off. Help us, Jeremy Lin - you're our only hope.)