For weeks now, we've heard over and over that slow starts (10-14 April records in each of the last two seasons) have doomed the Phillies. That's a myth. While slow starts did not help the Phillies in 2005 and 2006, they ultimately were not fatal to the team's playoff chances. The Phils led the National League wild-card race in early September 2005 and late September 2006 and both times relinquished the lead with poor play. . . .

In February, general manager Pat Gillick said he liked the confidence Jimmy Rollins showed in proclaiming the Phillies the team to beat in the NL East, but he didn't like the potential that statement had for putting a bull's-eye on the team's back. Apparently, that bull's-eye is there. After the Braves completed their three-game sweep of the Phillies on Thursday, Atlanta second baseman Kelly Johnson was asked if the Braves had heard Rollins' boast. "Absolutely we did," he said. "You say something like that, you get people's attention." After the Braves' sweep, the headline in Friday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution read: Team To Beat? Must Be Philly. . . .

"Wait till next year" has long been the rallying cry of Chicago Cubs fans, but now it's different. The team will be put up for sale after the season, and potential buyers are already lining up. Forbes magazine listed the Cubs' value at $448 million last year, but the franchise could fetch more than $700 million if Wrigley Field is included. The highest price ever paid for a team was $660 million for the Red Sox in 2002. The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. "There ain't no next year," manager Lou Piniella told reporters after learning that the club would be sold. "We're going to focus on this year." . . .

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, whose club did not make the playoffs last season after winning the World Series the year before, opened the season by telling reporters: "We have high expectations this season. If we fall short, I deserve to be fired." . . .

Two fashionable MVP picks opened the season with a bang. Cleveland's Grady Sizemore went 6 for 14 with seven runs scored and three homers in his first three games. Florida's Miguel Cabrera went 7 for 10 with five runs scored and two homers in his first three. . . .

Former Phillie Robinson Tejeda, traded to Texas for David Dellucci a year ago, started the Rangers' home opener Friday and overpowered the Red Sox with seven shutout innings. Boy, would that arm look good in the Phillies' rotation or bullpen. . . .

Interesting pitching matchup between former Phillies tonight in Texas, where Boston's Curt Schilling opposes the Rangers' Vicente Padilla. Once upon a time, they were traded for each other, with Schilling going to Arizona and Padilla to Philadelphia.