Thirty minutes before first pitch and 71/2 hours before they dropped the first puck, Jim Jackson walked into the media dining room at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday. The reaction he received from some of the food servers was all too common.
"What are you doing here?" the woman behind the glass counter asked Jackson.
Like so many other fans of the local hockey team, she expected Jackson to be in Chicago getting ready to call Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks.
For much of these playoffs, however, Jackson's play-by-play hockey voice has been silenced because the Flyers' games have been televised nationally by either NBC or Versus. Jackson, who also works for the Phillies, said it has been a frustrating experience.
"The networks get more and more games as the years go by, and you feel less and less connected to it come playoff time," he said. "You're certainly still there emotionally . . . but when you're not around the guys on a daily basis and not calling the games . . . you're not there. Brian Boucher when he was injured said, 'I don't feel like I'm part of the team,' because injured guys weren't traveling, either. Not that I'm a player, but it's the same kind of thing. You feel a little bit disconnected."
At times during the Flyers' postseason run, Jackson has been entirely disconnected. During Games 3 and 4 of the series against Boston, the Flyers were playing across the street at the Wachovia Center and he was at the ballpark during the pregame and postgame shows and two innings of radio play-by-play work.
"I was here for Games 3 and 4 against Boston because [the Flyers] didn't have anything for me to do pre- and postgame that night," he said. "I was basically doing baseball while they were playing playoff games on the other side of the parking lot. That was the strangest thing of all. I got involved in the game here, and I didn't really think about it until after this game was over. Really, as the Phillies' game was going on, I was surprised with how little I was paying attention to the Flyers because you have to worry about what you're doing."
It's possible - even probable - that if the Flyers were to win the Stanley Cup in Game 7 at Chicago's United Center, the team's voice could be back in Philadelphia for the pregame and postgame shows.
"I haven't heard of any plans to travel us, but these things can happen rapidly," Jackson said. "I don't anticipate going at this point."
Jackson, who has been with the Flyers since 1993 and the Phillies since 2008, was asked whether he wanted to do more baseball in the future.
"I wouldn't answer that question with a 10-foot pole," he said. "I love doing both. I like my cake and eating it, too. But there are going to be conflicts. I will say this - the fact I do the pre- and postgame shows into the World Series, and the Phillies do everything they can possibly do to get me out there if it's physically possible, that means a lot to me. It makes you feel part of it."