Sunday, September 30, 2007


National Leage East champions.

Yep, Ya Gotta Believe!

In fact, Unbelievable.

The Phillies are going to the playoffs, and not as any stinking wild-card team either.

They are swaggering in as the National League East champions, having stepped over the dead carcasses of the New York Mets, victims of a collapse that historians may say will eclipse the Phils' own dreaded misery in 1964.

Yes, sir, we are winners.

Bring on the Giants and Sunday Night Football!

A one-game season

It is one of the most endearing things about baseball.

They play 162 games. Not once a week like the NFL. Not every couple of days like the NBA and NHL.

Baseball is a marathon, a daily ritual that starts in the late winter sunshine in Florida.

Today it will end in briliant sunshine in South Philly. Maybe.

Not content with their newfound perch atop the National Lague East, the Phils promptly tossed away their spot as leaders of the pack.

So now it comes down to a one-day season. The Mets spent Saturday hammering the Marlins , while Adam Eaton set the tone for a surprisingly meek effort from the Phils in falling to the Nationals.

Jamie Moyer takes the mound today. You could say it's a must-win situation, but technically that's not true.

Certainly it wold help if the Phils won. That wold guarantee at least a tie for the N.L. East and a possible one-game playoff tomorrow if the Mets win. The same thing would happen if both teams lose.

If the Phils win and the Mets lose, we win the East. And the reverse? Let's not even go there.

This is all about winning the division now. At least that's the simple route. The Padres continue to lead the wild-card chase by a game. Beyond that the possibilities are almost endless.

After 161 games, it comes down to one game this afternoon. The Mets will be playing at the same time.

By late afternoon, we'll know.

It is the beauty of baseball.

And then we can get ready for the Eagles game tonight against the Giants.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A defining moment

There was a single moment in Friday night's huge Phillies win that seemed to define this team -- and make it distinctly different from all those pretenders who have worn the red pinstripes in recent years.

It did not involve Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, or Ryan Howard.

It was delivered by Shane Victorino. It came on a high, lazy pop foul that the wind, which was whipping all night, was pushing toward the stands in right field.

Victorino, who has been struggling in recent weeks with a balky groin pull, zeroed in on the ball like a laser.

Still going full speed, Victorino crossed the foul line, took a few steps onto the dirt, then went into a slide in his zeal to catch the ball.

He did not come up with it. but he did deliver a message.

At that instant, I could think of only one thing: Bobby Abreu.

Yes, this team is different from all those who disappointed in recent years. And guys like Shane Victorino are a key part of it.

We're No 1!

It seems like a long time ago.

In the midst of another glum, late-winter, early spring day, Jimmy Rollins decided to provide a little heat.

"We're the team to beat in the National League East," Rollins said of his Phillies' mates.

Let's just say that got noticed in the Big Apple, where the haughty New York Mets, the defending N.L. East champs, snorted with contempt. The fans let Rollins know what they thought of his boast with every at-bat this year at Shea.

Fast-forward seven months, and 160 baseball games later. It took a while, but Rollin was right. This morning the Phillies are the team to beat. They stand alone atop the National League East.

The Phillies got a dominating performance from Cole Hamels in squelching the Nationals, 6-0. But the message was delivered about 100 miles north on I-95, where the Mets continued their freefall, dropping their eighth straight at home.

This is beyond an implosion. It's almost hard to watch. The Mets are fast becoming the Greg Norman of baseball, doing something most thought was unthinkable, throwing away a 7-game lead with 17 to play.

Much has been made in recent weeks about Hamels' makeup, whether this cool Californian had the, uh... intestinal fortitude for the brutal hand-to-hand combat of a late September pennant race.

Turns out our lump of Cole was the perfect Christmas gift. This was a signature performance. Cole Hamels is now the ace of this staff. The horse. The stud. That's how good he was.

As for Rollins, Utley, Howard et al?

They are indeed the team to beat. And any combinatin of wins and Mets losses adding up to two will make them something else.

National League East Champions.

Hard to believe, Harry.

The Dreaded Eagles Pick

Something almost unheard of is happening in Philadelphia sports.

The Eagles are playing a very important game Sunday night. In the Meadowlands. Against the hated Giants. On national TV.

And almost no one has noticed.

Such is the magic the Phillies have spread over the land.

That does not mean the NFL will interrupt their season for post-season baseball.

Which means it must be Saturday, and time for the dreaded Eagles pick.

Right now I have a perfect record. The Birds have played three games, and I've been wrong three consecutive weeks.

Picked them to win the first two weeks, and glumly watched them go down in flames. Thought they would get smoked by the Lions, and watched Donovan McNabb put on a clinic, dismantling an overmatched Lions' defense.

Count me among those who did not foresee the pasting they laid on the hapless Lions, as big a fraud of a 2-0 team as you will ever see.

This week's foe is a more familiar sight. The Giants and Eagles go way back, and this Sunday night tilt will be no different.

Did the Eagles find themselves last week, right the ship, and start the long haul back to the top of the NFC East? Or was the win just a figment of a very mediocre Detroit team?

This game will be no different than most Eagles-Giants games. Very close, the key being turnovers.

Make it Eagles 24-23, on the strength of a late David Akers field goal. Unless, of course, Sav Rocca bobbles the snap.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 28

The Daily Numbers: 3 games left in the baseball season, and the Phillies are in first place. OK, they’re tied with the Mets. What’s better? Watching the Phils win, or watching the Mets fold up like a cheap suit

10 wins for Kyle Kendrick. Tell me the kid is not the rookie of the year. Visions of Bob "Whirlybird" Walk.

250,000 dollar cash bail for the 19-year-old Drexel Hill woman charged with killing her newborn infant. She was held for trial on all charges after a hearing Thursday.

15 cents more it is going to cost SEPTA riders for a token or transfer, starting Monday. Tokens go from $1.30 to $1.45, transfers from 60 cents to 75.

400 hybrid buses being bought by SEPTA. They’ll be better for the environment and more fuel efficient. They won’t make you feel any better about the fare hikes.

1 suspect shot and killed by a Philadelphia police officer investigating a robbery at a South Philly convenience store.

40 people sickened at a Harrisburg-area hotel. Police believe the flu-like illness is centered on a Holiday Inn in Swatara Township.

100,000 prize that goes along with the Liberty Medal to Irish rocker Bono. He’ll donate it to the organization he heads that is pushing awareness of AIDS in Africa. Class act.

67 buildings in Philadelphia that could face a strike by union janitors who clean the facilities.

3 billion dollars, what GM believes it might be able to save with the new deal they have hammered out with the UAW.

40,589 towel-waving maniacs in Citizens Bank Park last night. Look for much the same over the next three days.

21 saves for Brett Myers. Hey, we’ll even forgive him for that homer to open the ninth.

75 greatest Philadelphians? Of course the list includes Delco’s own Jimmy Murray.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Who’s happiest about the Phillies? Maybe Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb, who have been able to prepare for the Giants completely out of the spotlight that usually accompanies their every move during the season.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Police in Seaside Heights, N.J., say a store video captures a mother using a toddler to steal a handbag. Mother of the year possibility there.

Today’s Upper: What else? Let’s go Phils.

Quote Box: "I heard a whoosh sound, then I could feel the pressure of something falling."
-- Sharon Hill Fire Co. Chief Bill Benecke, on wall collapse that briefly trapped several of his volunteers.

A salute to volunteers

It’s been a tough month for volunteer firefighters.

First there was the nasty collapse of a second-story of a burning townhouse in Parkside. Two young volunteers were trapped inside.

Both Dan Brees and Chase Frost suffered serious burns.

Brees has been released from the hospital; Frost, who suffered burns on 50 percent of his body, remains hospitalized.

Now, a little more than a month later, it has happened again.

Wednesday night volunteers in Sharon Hill were attacking what appeared to be a routine garage fire.

Then, without warning, it became anything but routine.
A wall collapsed, trapping several young volunteers.

Three volunteer firefighters and two Collingdale police officers were trapped. The firemen were briefly trapped in the rubble.

Most received minor injuries.

Mike Reagan, 19, wasn’t as lucky. He is in critical condition at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

Much is being made these days of the lack of volunteers, that people simply are not stepping forward the way previous generations did.
That is certainly true when it comes to volunteer firefighters. Several local companies actually are engaged in merger talks, in part because they simply no longer have the numbers to staff their own fire house.

That’s why it is interesting to note the ages of the volunteers who were injured in Sharon Hill. They share something in common with their "brothers" in Parkside.

They are young. Very young.
Reagan is 19. Chris Miller is 21; Joe Tesauro just 23.

We owe them a debt of gratitude.

They are doing something more and more of us are not willing to do.
They put their life on the line for our comfort and security.

We should all take the time to remember just how valuable these volunteers are.

Those Amazin' Phils

Simply Amazin’.

On Sept. 13, the Phillies were 7 games behind the Mets in the National League East.

They had just been crushed by the Rockies, 12-0. They were dead in the water. The front-running Mets were a mirage off in the distance. Even the wild card looked improbable, with the Phils 2 and a half games behind the Padres, tied with both the Rockies and Dodgers.

Fast-forward exactly 15 days. This morning the Phils are tied with the free-falling Mets for first place in the National League East.

That great sucking sound you hear coming from the Big Apple is the Mets and their fans trying to keep their lunch down.

They are in the midst of an epic collapse, reminiscent of the Phils’ memorable implosion in 1964.

Consider this. The Mets had been alone in first place since May 16. They were 7 games up with 17 to play. But they promptly lost 10 of 14 and seven straight at home.

Now both teams have three games left. The Phils are home for three with the Nationals. The Mets will be ensconced at Shea for three with the Marlins.

The two teams may face each other again in a playoff on Monday.

Just for good measure, the Phils remain a game back in the wild-card race, along with the spiraling Mets and red-hot Rockies. All three are now a game off the pace of the Padres.

Just how electric is the region this morning?

Consider this. The Eagles play the hated Giants in a nationally televised game Sunday night. Anyone care? Anyone remember when the Eagles operated completely in the Phillies’ shadow?

Didn’t think so.

Phillies Fever. Catch it.

Post-season, here we come.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 27

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
One game behind the Mets in the N.L. East. One game behind the Padres in the wild car. Four games to go. Forget 10,000 losses. How about four wins?

The Daily Numbers: 3 volunteer firefighters injured while battling a garage fire late Wednesday in Sharon Hill.

6 weeks since two Parkside volunteers were seriously burned fighting a blaze in that town.

200,000 dollar cash bail for the 16-year-old charged as an adult with attempted murder in the shooting outside Chester High School. Tommy Gilbert turned himself in Wednesday.

2 dead pit bulls found on Enterprise Avenue near the Philadelphia International Airport. Anyone with any information on the dead dogs is urged to contact the SPCA at 215-426-6304.

6 students from Jackson Memorial High School in Ocean County, N.J., who have died this year. The latest was a female student found dead in her bedroom. The death has been ruled suspicious.

25 dollar fine. That’s what an Allentown police officer will pay, along with court costs, in the fatal accident in which he struck and killed a 4-year-old boy. He won’t be charged in the boy’s death. The youth’s family is outraged.

57 bed long-term acute care hospital opened in Havertown by Kindred Healthcare Inc.

200,00 more toys being recalled because they contain dangerous levels of lead. The toys include some of the "Knights of the Sword" series, along with some Thomas the Tank items that were made in China.

21 people who may have been sickened by eating contaminated hamburgers. Some of those sickened were in Pennsylvania.

38, age of suspect charged in the brutal beating and sexual assault of a 75-year-old woman in Hatboro, Montgomery County.

5 days, what a 73-year-old man says he spent trapped in his car in York, Pa., after it crashed into an abandoned house.

9 wins for Kyle Lohse this year. Last night he went 7 strong innings to outduel the Braves Tim Hudson.

86 wins for the Phils, with four crucial games left on the schedule. Can you say 90?

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Our representatives in Harrisburg today will debate a ban on metal and aluminum bats in youth baseball. Yep, that’s right up there on the list of crucial issues facing the state.

Today’s Upper: U2 and rock superstar Bono will be in town tonight to accept the Liberty Medal for his work pushing for AIDS awareness in Africa. Bravo.

Quote Box: "Safety is my No. 1 concern. My No. 2 concern is education."
-- New Chester Upland Superintendent, in the fallout of a shooting outside the high school

Another chapter in Penn-Delco

The fallout, sort of like the smoldering soot from a fire, continues to rain down on the Penn-Delco School District.

Last night the Penn-Delco School Board voted to terminate their relationship with their solicitor, Mark Sereni.

Sereni had been asking for an independent counsel to review all the allegations of wrongdoing that have been bandied about in the district for more then a year.

That didn’t sit too well with either the taxpayers or board members, already awaiting word of the results of a county grand jury investigation into the district’s business dealings that seems to focus on former board President Keith Crego.

Let’s make no mistake here. Mark Sereni is not really the problem in Penn-Delco. But he became the lightning rod for outraged residents. Wednesday night he paid the price, being told in a 4-3 vote that his services were no longer needed.

Before the vote, Sereni offered some good advice to those who remain on what has become something of a merry-go-round of a school board. Eight members have left the board in the last 14 months.

Sereni told them to continue to cooperate with any law enforcement investigations, and again urged them to bring in an independent, objective legal counsel to investigate "anyone and everyone who has taken part in improper or unethical conduct."

Give the guy this much. He sticks to his guns.

Will the board change its mind and take him up on his suggestion? Not likely.

But there is something this district needs much more than that.
It direly needs to hear from the District Attorney’s Office with the results of the investigation and any charges that might be forthcoming.

Penn-Delco has been bathed in this negative spotlight long enough.
Let’s lay all the cards on the table. Then, as Sereni has suggested, the district can attempt to move on honestly.

It very likely is not going to be easy, or pretty. But it’s time for a final, thorough public airing of what has been going on in this district for far too long.

Go the distance, Phils fans

"Go the distance."

That’s what the voice told Kevin Costner’s character in the great baseball movie, "Field of Dreams."

And that’s what the Phillies and their fans will be doing for the next four days.

The Field of Dreams will be Citizens Bank Park.

Here’s the deal this morning. The Phils, behind Kyle Lohse, beat Tim Hudson and the Braves last night, 5-2.

At the same time, the Mets were imploding against the Nationals, blowing a 5-0 lead and losing, 9-6.

That means the Phils now trail the Mets by just one game in the National League East. In the wild-card race, they remain tied with the Rockies, a game behind the Padres. Both the Padres and Rockies won again last night.

An aside here. I’ve never been a big fan of the constant "crawls" and scores that are loaded into seemingly every baseball telecast. Maybe that’s why I prefer to listen to the game on radio.

But I have to admit there is something delicious about watching the slow, agonizing way the Mets are shrinking. Last night they had a 5-0 lead. Wasn’t enough.

Can you say 1964? The ghost of Chico Ruiz seems to have set up shop at Shea Stadium.

Forget the wild card. The Phillies just might overtake the Mets.
It all comes down to four games.

"Go the distance." "Ease his pain."

Hey, Phils, how about easing your fans’ pain? How about chasing away the ghosts of 1964 by siccing them on the Mets. How about winning the National League East outright.

Now that would be a field of dreams.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 26

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: A look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Déjà vu all over again.

The Daily Numbers: 1 teen shot and another being sought after a fight inside Chester High spilled outside, where gunfire rang out Tuesday.

5 hours, how long it took to get traffic back to normal on northbound I-95 Tuesday after a trash truck overturned and caught fire yesterday, turning the interstate into a parking lot.

2 million dollars seized by authorities in Montgomery County in raids targeting local taverns that use video poker machines. One of the taverns hit was in Havertown.

307 people now killed so far this year on the streets of Philadelphia. The latest homicide apparently was the result of two men fighting over a woman in West Philadelphia.

2 times police say a woman in New Jersey struck her husband with her car. She is accused of running him down outside their Monroe Township trailer, then backing up and running over him again. She’s now charged with attempted murder.

60,000 ecstasy pills seized, along with 100 pounds of pot, in drug raids done by federal agents on houses in Philadelphia and Berks County.

48 year-old man charged in a fatal stabbing in Philadelphia. The victim? His 48-year-old brother. Police believe they were arguing about money.

1 million dollars raised so far by state Supreme Court candidates Seamus McCaffery and Mike Krancer.

2 students have been arrested out in Bradford County for threats against the local school that have caused authorities to shut the school for the week.

5.28 percent tax hike enacted in the Harrisburg School District, even though the new state law was supposed to cap the hike to 5.1 percent. School officials were raked over the coals by the Legislature yesterday.

6 runs, all earned, given up by Phils starter Jamie Moyer in his 5 and a third innings last night.

4 home runs smacked the Phils in the losing effort.

5 games left in the baseball countdown. It may be now or never for the Phils.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): In Pottstown, a longtime church is investigating who and why someone painted graffiti and satanic images all over their church.

Today’s Upper: Mayor John Street isn’t talking about why he failed to pay taxes on several properties he owns. Can’t say that I blame him.

Quote Box: "They are envious of the way things are going and they are trying to discredit me and the detachment."
-- James Alleva of Upper Darby, a Vietnam veteran who has been charged by federal authorities with wearing medals he never earned

The Hunt for a Red October

The Phillies Hunt for a Red October might be turning into Mission Impossible.


We should have seen this one coming.

Once again the Phils – through no credit of their own since they did not even play Monday – entered action Tuesday night in a flat-out tie for the National League Wild Card.

And just as they do seemingly every time they approach a crucial junction, they promptly throw it in reverse.

This is the modus operandi they have used the past few years. In fact, you can look it up.

In the last four years, the Phils have entered the final week of the season in the hunt for a berth in the post-season. You know what has happened.
What you might not know is that the Phils are now 0-7 on Monday and Tuesday of that crucial last week in the last four years.

That’s not how you go about securing a spot in the playoffs.
That’s not even how you bow out gracefully.

Same thing last night.

It didn’t take long. Jamie Moyer, getting seriously squeezed by the home plate umpire, issues a walk to the opening batter. Moyer clearly thought he had struck out Atlanta slugger Mark Texeira. Instead Texeira hammers a 3-run homer.

The Phils slowly but surely dig out of this early hole to take a 5-4 lead. Only to have Moyer and the bullpen hand it right back.
The final, 10-6 Braves.

The Phils blew an opportunity to gain ground on the Mets, who lost to the Nationals. They also slipped a game behind the Padres, who rallied to win in the ninth inning. And they’re now tied with the Rockies in the wild-card chase.

There’s now five games to go. You could feel the electricity in the region.
This morning it feels like someone pulled the plug. Again.

You be the editor

This is something I deal with all the time. Now it’s time for "you be the editor." See if you think we made the right call.

It’s late Tuesday morning here at the Daily Times. What has already been a busy morning, with a shooting outside Chester High School, is about to get even busier.

A tractor-trailer hauling a full load of trash has overturned on I-95 in Ridley Park. Slowly but surely, northbound traffic starts to slow down. The region’s busiest thoroughfare is about to become a parking lot.


Then the fun really started. The rig catches fire, and some of the trash is falling over the guardail down onto the railroad tracks below. Soon Amtrak and SEPTA rail lines are disrupted.

Northbound traffic on I-95 is stopped at the Blue Route. Cars are lining up all the way to the Delaware state line.

This is a big story. At least it was yesterday afternoon.

We immediately post an item on our Web site. It’s one of the things I like best about this technology. We can provide information immediately to our readers that not all that long ago would have had to wait for the next morning’s print edition. Our readers need that information as fast, and as often as we can deliver it. We update the Web story with I-95 North being closed, and then later on in the afternoon when a couple of lanes start to squeeze by. Finally, we post another update when the interstate is reopened altogether.

Here’s the dilemma: This was a big story. Yesterday afternoon. But now, maybe 18 hours later in the midst of another morning rush hour, does anyone care?

I like the immediacy our Web site affords us in terms of publishing. We can now "publish" 24 hours a day on our Web site. But the fact is we continue to "publish" in print just once a day.

We teased the story on the I-95 crash on our front page. But it wasn’t our lead story. Basically, it was yesterday’s news. We bring that to you, too.
Just don’t expect us to necessarily lead the newspaper with a story that was news 18 hours ago.

Agree or disagree? You be the editor. Drop me a response and we’ll see how many frustrated newspaper editors there are out there.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 24

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Someone want to explain to me what makes Wes Helms a better choice as a pinch-hitter than Chris Coste? The Phils lost a crusher in the last game ever played by the Nationals in RFK Stadium. They also lost a game to the Mets in the N.L. East, but they remain just a half-game back in the Wild-Card race.

The Daily Numbers: 9 sacks by the Eagles defense, maybe overlooked in the offensive spectacle put on by the Birds against the Lions yesterday.

11 catches for 211 yards for wide receiver Kevin Curtis. Welcome to Philly, Kevin.

110 yards rushing for Brian Westbrook, to go along with his 111 yards receiving. And all that before exiting in the third quarter with bruised ribs.

2 dead in another violent weekend in Philadelphia.

302 where the homicide total for the city now stands.

400,000 Philadelphia residents being urged to appeal their new tax assessments by a citizens group that believes they are a back-door tax hike.

43 stories under construction at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. A 3-alarm fire broke out at the site Sunday.

140,000 fans who jammed Dover Downs for a NASCAR race. Wonder how many of them were watching the Eagles or Phillies on a TV

1.3 billion, that’s how much of an economic bump the arts are believed to mean to the greater Philadelphia area. That includes 40,000 jobs.

1 person killed in a fire in Philadelphia that authorities now say was a case of arson. A man has been charged.

2.5 games behind the Mets, where the Phils stand with a week left in the season.

6 games left for the Phils, three against the Braves and three against the Nationals, all at Citizens Bank Park.

.5 games back, where Phils stand in the Wild-Card chase.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): A pit bull is believed to have attacked a 14-year-old boy riding his bike in Reading. The dog’s name? Vicious.

Today’s Upper: It’s now officially autumn. So long as it’s not time for the Phils to "fall" out of the race.

Quote Box: "It is sad to see how many more gardens have been added."
-- Rep. Steve Barrar, at Sunday night’s ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance to honor murder victims.

A throwback day for Donovan

So maybe Donovan McNabb should make some controversial statements about race every week.

Or maybe we simply should resign ourselves to the idea of the team wearing those garish blue and yellow throwback jerseys. Hell, they didn’t even look good on the cheerleaders.

Or maybe the Lions just flat-out stink.

Whatever it was, we should bottle it.

After stinking up the place for two consecutive weeks to open the season a bumbling 0-2, the Eagles showed up at Lincoln Financial Field yesterday with all the "urgency" they lacked the first two weeks and simply dismantled a 2-0 Detroit Lions team.

McNabb spent much of the week talking about his comments on an HBO show that black quarterbacks have "to do a little more" and are still unfairly criticized. It sparked still another week of hand-wringing about the role of the person who plays quarterback for the Eagles and all that comes with it.

No one is criticizing McNabb’s performance this morning.
Very simply, McNabb was at the peak of his game yesterday, very likely his best performance as the Eagles signal-caller.

All McNabb did was lead the Eagles to three consecutive touchdowns to start the game, torching the Lions with a variety of throws to new star wide receiver Kevin Curtis and all-everything running back Brian Westbrook.

McNabb ended the day 21-of-26 for 381 yards and 4 TDs.

Along the way he may have shed the persistent snickers that he was on the downside of his career, that the injuries that have cost him big chunks of the last two seasons had finally caught up with him. That the future had arrived along with top draft choice Kevin Kolb and that McNabb soon would be shown the door.

It was not just all those images McNabb shed yesterday. He shed something else, which may have been the key to his eye-popping performance.

He shed the knee brace he has been wearing during his recovery from the shattered tendon that ended his year last season.

Yesterday, for one brief shining moment, McNabb was everything any Eagles fan could have hoped for. He was accurate, scuttling the long lament that he does not possess the accuracy to run this offense. He was mobile, using his legs to get out of trouble. And he was the leader of an offensive juggernaut that torched a befuddled Lions defense.

Maybe this week Donovan should talk about his feelings about the Jena 6.

Or maybe he should petition the league to allow the team to keep wearing those blue and yellow jerseys.

Yesterday, McNabb was a throwback, a throwback to everything we thought we were getting back when Andy Reid first drafted him. You might remember that day was when a group intent on pressuring the Eagles to draft running back Ricky Williams booed the McNabb selection at draft HQ in New York.

McNabb has had a chip on his shoulder about it ever since.
Maybe yesterday he finally shed that chip, along with that knee brace. And he did it while dressed up electric blue and yellow duds.

Maybe the Phillies should break out some throwback jerseys for this week.

Good, bad and news

Here's a look at this week's print column, which takes a look at a recurring topic, the perception that we focus on the negative news, especially when it comes to our schools. Offer a comment if you disagree.

The timing probably could have been better.

In the newspaper business, that’s almost always the case.

I’m sure Linda Cook probably finds the situation more than just a little ironic.Her name recently appeared in the newspaper.

It was affixed to a letter to the editor with a very familiar lament.Cook took up the notion that the good things occurring in our schools often go unreported in the newspaper.

She makes a very good point. It is one I do battle with every day.By now you might be wondering who Linda Cook is. That’s simple. She’s the president of an education association. In other words, a teachers’ union. That tells part of the story, but not all of it.

I get calls almost every day from teachers and administrators urging that we show schools in a positive light, that kids are getting a quality education despite what some of the headlines might lead you to believe, and that those who work in the district, teachers, staff and administrators, spend their lives dedicated to our children.

They are all valid points, and ones I believe are in fact well represented in the newspaper, if not necessarily on the front page.Cook made all of those points. And, of course, she is right.

Very often, the good things happening in local schools don’t make headlines. There is a valid reason for that. That is by definition not “news.” That is the routine. That is what is supposed to happen.Yes, it sounds harsh. But it is true. That does not mean that the newspaper ignores positive stories emanating from our schools. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Day in and day out, we profile kids and their teachers who are accomplishing great things.

There is, of course, something else at play here.You might also be wondering just which school district it is where Cook leads the teachers’ union.That would be the Penn-Delco School District.In case you haven’t noticed, Penn-Delco has been in the newspaper recently. Just a few weeks ago we had a front-page story on kids taking part in high school bands that expounded at length about this huge student activity at Sun Valley High School. But I doubt that’s what Cook was talking about.No, much of the ruling body at Penn-Delco lies in smoldering ruins today.In the last 14 months, no less than eight school board members have resigned their seats.Former school board president Keith Crego also bailed when the whispers that surrounded him for months finally exploded. Another board member with whom he was having a relationship filed a protection from abuse order against him. He did likewise against her. Eventually he was convinced to give up his seat.But he — and the school district — was nowhere close to being out of the headlines. Soon word filtered down that Crego was at the center of an investigation by the county District Attorney’s office looking into the district’s business dealings with Quickstart Preschools, the firm that Crego brought in to handle preschooling and day care in the district.Then the reeling district was rocked by a true blockbuster.

Respected Superintendent Leslye Abrutyn was stepping down. No reason was given, although there was no shortage of whispers.The district’s solicitor has now drawn the wrath of taxpayers, who are asking the school board to add him to the list of former district officials.The hope was that the county would be able to wrap up its investigation and announce the results — and possible charges — of the probe before school started up again for the fall. That’s obviously not going to happen. Instead, the conflagration no doubt will be re-lit just as students and staff are settling into their routine.In the meantime, as Cook pointed out, the district will continue to strive to overcome the negative stories.
But not the negative headlines.

In the same edition as her letter appeared, a new story broke concerning the troubled Penn-Delco Education and Cultural Foundation. Much like the school board, the foundation also is seeing an exodus of board members, as questions are posed concerning a $100,000 state grant. Foundation board members Jeff Pilla, an Aston commissioner, Joe Possenti Jr., Aston Republican Party chairman, and state Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160, all left their posts.The next day they were joined by still another board member, Elaine Frieberg.

Ironically, I had a phone conversation with Cook about the education foundation just about a week earlier. We had an incorrect reference in the paper. Yes, we do that from time to time. In a story about the foundation, we actually referred to the education association. Cook asked that we correct the information. We did. We also ran her letter. We know there are positive stories in Penn-Delco. We will continue to seek them out.But we will not ignore the negative stories either. There are more to come.

Eventually, the D.A. is going to weigh in on what has been going on in Penn-Delco. It’s likely not going to be pretty.

Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at (610) 622-8818. E-mail him at To visit his daily blog, the Heron’s Nest, go to

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Dreaded Eagles Pick

If' it's Saturday, it's time for the fearless Eagles prediction.

So far, despite my belief that this is not a very good team, I have gone with the Birds both weeks. And been wrong both times as the Eagles got off to an ignominious 0-2 start.

Those two losses have come against thoroughly mediocre foes, teams that have played into the Eagles' strengths, temas they should have handled.

Not so this week.

The rejuvenated Detroit Lions come to town sporting an unblemished 2-0 record. Unlike their two previous opponents, this week's opponent will push the Eagles defense. This team has a lot of bullets in the holster, a high-powered offense with a dynamite group of wide receivers.

Bottom line is this: The Eagles will need to score points to win this game. I don't think they're up to it.

Donovan McNabb is playing hurt. Whether he should be on the field is an argument for another time. Right now he's all the Eagles have got. And it's not enough. Unless they can cobble together another huge day out of Brian Westbrook, who basically constitutes their offense these days, , the Birds are going to be in trouble. Not helping matters is the fact that Westbrook will be playing on a sore knee.

They will celebrate the Eagles 75th anniversary Sunday at the Linc. The Eagles will play in throwback blue and yellow uniforms.

Most fans will simply throw up, as the Lions smoke the Birds, 31-16.


Let's go, Phillies.

Two Magic Numbers

1.5 and 8.

Those are really the only numbers you need to know today.

The Phillies are now 1.5 games behind the Mets in the National League East race. But that's not all. Courtesy of a Padres loss (finally) Friday night, the Phils also are now an equal 1.5 games back in the Wild-Card race.

The Phils have two more games this weekend in Washington, then come home next week for two final stands, three games apiece against the Braves and Marlins.

Something tells me we are going to be sitting on the edge of our seats next Sunday, juggling the remote between the Phils, Eagles and Mets games on TV.

Surely the baseball gods could not take us to the edge of the post-season, only to push us off a cliff again. It's one thing to lose out on a Wild-Card spot, as the Phils have done the past several years, in the last week of the season. To lose out on two different post-season possibilities might be too much for this aging heart.

But I've been thinking that karma might actually be working for us this time.

Listen closely to what is going on about 100 miles north of us on I-95. Look closely. Strain your ears. What you hear is the ghost of 1964, long the albatross of Phillies fans, finding a new home.

Even with their win last night, the Mets could be on the verge of a historic collapse. All we need now is for someone to cost them a game by stealing home. Chico Ruiz's daring steal started the Phils freefall from being 6 up with 12 to play. The Mets seem intent on doing the same thing. After coasting along comfortably in first place all summer, the New Yorkers and now in danger of a collapse to rival anything the Phils did in '64.

This could be the year when we finaly break free of the yoke of that terrible fall from so long ago, a memory that continues to scar us today.

We know all too well what Mets fans are dealing with. And enjoying every precious moment of it.

1.5 out and eight games to play.

Post-season here we come.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 21

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Forget the Wild Card. The Padres may not lose again. Instead, fix your eyes on the fumbling Mets, who blew another game against the Marlins last night. They Phils are now just a game and a half back, with 9 games left. Down to the wire.

The Daily Numbers: 2 students shot on the campus of Delaware State University in Dover overnight.

300, where the homicide count in Philadelphia stands.

57 fugitives in Delco rounded up by the feds in a sting called Operation Falcon. One woman was founding hiding in her bedroom.

90 years old, age of woman who was beaten up by a thug during a purse-snatching in Port Richmond.

4 years since a man believed to be the Fairmount Park rapist struck in Philadelphia. Police now say DNA is linking him to a rape that occurred this past Aug. 11.

24 hours a day, the hours at the Franklin Institute for the final weekend of the King Tut exhibit. The doors close 11 p.m. Sunday.

8,915 visitors who went through the door of the exhibit last Saturday, the most since it opened in February.

15 cents, what SEPTA wants to hike the price of tokens and transfers. The buck stops here. Again and again.

5 percent dip in homicides recorded by state police in 2006, state police say.

1.4 percent jump overall in crime in Pennsylvania, however.

6 wins in his last 17 starts for Donovan McNabb. Yep, 6-11. Not good.

0 wins for the Eagles so far this year. They’ll try to change that Sunday vs. the Lions. And they’ll do it wearing those silly powder blue and yellow throwback jerseys.

1.5 games back, where Phils are in chasing the Mets.

9 games left in the regular season.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): The case of the Lehigh provost caught in an Internet sex sting again reminds me that I don’t understand what these people don’t get. One more time, folks: You really don’t know who that is on the other end of the computer chat. Some people apparently are willing to take that chance.

Today’s Upper: In the aftermath of the Amish shooting tragedy a year ago, it now appears that the first state trooper on the scene may have helped save some lives by ripping out part of a window frame with his bare hands. Bravo.

Quote Box: "I’m like everybody else. I’ve got a mortgage and bills to pay. But I’m exploring the offer."
-- Upper Darby police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, on possibly making a Republican challenge to first-term Congressman Joe Sestak, D-7.

A race for the ages

And we thought last fall was wild.

You might remember that was when newcomer Joe Sestak fired a thunderbolt into Delco politics when the three-star admiral challenged longtime incumbent Republican Congressman Curt Weldon.

Weldon, who had represented the 7th District for 20 years, hadn’t gotten much of a challenge from Democrats in years.

That was about to change. Fueled by a national push targeting several key congressional districts believed vulnerable, Sestak and Weldon went at it hammer and tong.

Delaware County really hadn’t seen anything like it since Weldon tried unsuccessfully to evict then Democratic Rep. Bob Edgar from his seat two decades before.

Then, just weeks before the November election, the volatile campaign exploded.

It was revealed that Weldon was under investigation for possibly using his office to help a company run by his daughter and a campaign adviser. The feds say the probe is ongoing. No charges have resulted.
But the result here in Delco was like an earthquake.

Sestak won. Weldon pointed to the announcement of the probe as the key to the race.

Everyone exhaled.

Brace yourself. The next time around could be even wilder.

The Republicans clearly have been itching to take another run at Sestak. Now they think they may have found their man.

One of those being considered to take up the Republican armor is a familiar name. At least to readers of the Daily Times.

That would be none other than Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood.
Yep, "Media Mike" is on the list of those being considered by the local GOP.

The mind simply staggers at the possibilities. Mike Chitwood in a national political campaign.

This is not entirely new turf for the longtime cop. Before he left Portland, Maine, he was approached to consider a run for governor. Instead, he came to Upper Darby.

He hasn’t been out of the spotlight since. Chitwood believes in using the media to get the word out to criminals: There’s a new sheriff in town. He also gets criticism for being a media hog.

Chitwood vs. Sestak.

Here’s my first question. How long before Chitwood refers to someone as a "scumbag?"

Buckle your seatbelts, political junkies. This one could make Weldon-Sestak look like "Romper Room."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The only color that counts: Green

Donovan McNabb thinks he’s unfairly criticized.

He’s right.

So has every other person who’s ever played the position. He’s the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. The jersey shouldn’t have a number on it. It should have a bull’s eye. That’s the way it’s always been.

What is new, sort of, is McNabb’s reasoning. He thinks it’s because of the color of his skin.

He’s in the right church, wrong pew.

It’s about his skin all right. It’s entirely too thin. Always has been. That this is even coming up again is proof of that.

Look, are there people who will never accept Donovan McNabb as the quarterback of the Eagles because he’s black? Sure.

Are they anywhere near a majority? No. Not even close.

McNabb happens to be in the highest profile sports job in the city of Philadelphia.

Every thing he does is under the microscope.

Off the field Donovan McNabb has been an exemplary role model. On the field, he’s been a superstar, leading the Eagles to four appearances in the NFC title game and a Super Bowl.

But the Eagles did not win that Super Bowl.

I believe the fans do not care what color the quarterback is, so long as he wins.

McNabb has done that. That does not mean his performance every Sunday will not be checked and re-checked by fans desperate for someone to lead them to the promised land.

For all he has done and accomplished in this city, McNabb seems to dwell on the instances that have not gone well. He still seems bothered that he was booed by a group of fans on Draft Day when he was selected by the Eagles. They wanted the team to draft a running back, Ricky Williams. He’s also black, by the way.

Maybe Donovan should talk to Ron Jaworski. He also got the team to a Super Bowl that it lost. Threw three interceptions to Oakland Raider linebacker Rod Martin. Fans still remind him of it.

Donovan didn’t bring up the race angle in this latest brouhaha. But he certainly didn’t veer away from it either. Then at his Wednesday press conference he threw a little gas on the fire.

He needs to get over it.

Donovan McNabb will be judged by what he does on the field. Not the color of his skin.

Even if he doesn’t see it that way.

And his timing couldn’t be worse. He gave the interview at the end of August. But it aired this week, with the Eagles – and McNabb – struggling mightily. The team is now 0-2.

McNabb, still recovering from major knee surgery that ended his season last year, is part of the problem.

That doesn’t have anything to do with the color of his skin either.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 19

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Yes, it’s tough these days to be a fan of the Iggles. Which makes what the Phils are doing all the more delectable. What could be better? Well, watching the Mets disintegrate before our eyes doesn’t hurt.

The Daily Numbers: 1.5 games back. Wild card or N.L. East? Take your pick. It’s the same for both.

6 straight wins for the Phillies. Somebody get a hose and put this team out.

14 innings, what it took the Phils to subdue the Cards last night.

5:04 that’s as in hours and minutes, the time it took to play last night’s game. Or should I say this morning’s game.

2 pygmy whales that beached themselves yesterday at Woodland Beach, Del. Despite valiant efforts to try to get them back out to sea, they had to be euthanized.

24 hours and counting, time that busy Route 70 in Medford, N.J., has been closed after a tanker truck overturned and spilled its load, causing a traffic nightmare.

38 hours every year. Speaking of traffic nightmares, that’s how long we actually wind up sitting in traffic during our commute to work, according to a new study. Almost the equivalent of one work week. There’s no truth to it that most of it is spent on the Blue Route.

128 million dollars left to The George School in Newtown, Bucks County, by an alumna who just happens to be the daughter of Warren Buffett. How many books does that buy?

210 thousand dollars, what the Great Valley School District in Chester County will pay their superintendent, who got a four-year extension on her contract over the protests of some parents.

2 and a half years old, age of toddler caught on a security tape looking up at the gun-wielding man robbing a bank in Allentown. The man snatched the child and walked him up to the teller’s window as he announced the heist.

11 criminal charges filed against O.J. Simpson in connection with that bizarre hotel break-in out in Vegas. One of them is first-degree kidnapping, which could leave him looking at life in jail. What’s that about justice delayed?

54.4 percent of his passes, what Donovan McNabb has been completing so far this season.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Federal officials have announced they will investigate claims that one or more security officers at the Peach Bottom nuclear plant were caught being "inattentive to duties." That’s how bureaucrats describe sleeping on the job. Not a comforting feeling.

Today’s Upper: We’re not in favor of robbing convenience stores. But you almost have to admire the tactic of a man out in Carbondale, Pa. He tried to rob a store out there with a fairly distinctive attire. He was wearing nothing but a hat. The man left without getting any cash. Hat in hand, you might say.

Quote Box: "I say enough is enough."
-- Parkside Borough Council President Tom Deitman, in calling for the resignations of the troubled Penn-Delco School Board.

Just Phabulous

A game and a half.

I’m not referring to the National League Wild-Card race. Yes, the Phils still trail the Padres by that same margin.

No, I’m talking about the whole damn shootin’ match, the N.L. East.

The Mets continue to be in freefall. And the Phils just keep winning.
In fact, they have now won six straight.

Unfortunately, last night it took them more than five hours to do it. That means the game ended at about 1:10 this morning.

Our deadline at night is 11:40 p.m.. We can stretch that a bit, but not long enough to handle an 8:05 start that takes 14 innings.

That means we printed some papers last night without the result of the Phillies game. We stopped the press and replated as soon as the game ended.

We also immediately posted the result and game story to our Web site.

I’d like to know if your paper contained the result of the game. You can respond to this blog or drop me an e-mail at

In the meantime, if you’re a baseball nut like I am, you simply have to love the Phils.

Just don’t tell me they are going to break our hearts again.

And why do I still have this nagging feeling that blowing that 8-2 lead in Atlanta is going to come back to haunt us.

Hey, maybe the Mets will continue to implode and take that weight off our shoulders.

With the Eagles in the tank, the Phils are the toast of the town.

A week ago they were seven full games back of the Mets. This morning they trail only by a game and a half.

Meaningful late September baseball.

Ain’t life grand?

The sporting life

I learned first-hand yesterday that not everyone is an Eagles fan.

At least among our readers.

Hell, among them, not everyone is even a sports fan.

Let me explain. Readers of the Daily Times are familiar with our print format. We’re a tab. We don’t use a lot of text on our front page. What we do is pick what we feel is our best story each day and splash that all over our front page. We add in a few teasers to other key elements inside the newspaper.

It’s the most important decision I make here each day. And yes, part of the decision is based on what I believe will sell. That’s part of my job, to sell as many papers as I can each day.

Does that mean we randomly sensationalize something that really doesn’t deserve to be on Page One? I don’t think so.

But you must remember that for the most part, we are a local newspaper. We focus on what is happening here in Delaware County.

I don’t especially care about the latest antics involving O.J. Simpson. We’ve been running him on the People page, amid the other celebrity news. He has not appeared on Page One. At least not yet. Will that continue? It depends on what he does.

If the Eagles said they were signing him as Brian Westbrook’s backup, I might consider it.

Which brings me back to sports. I got several phone calls Tuesday from readers who wanted to vent about our front pages from Monday and Tuesday. Of course, both of those involved the Eagles. Yes, I know I said we are a local paper. That includes the Eagles. In the fall, there is all the other sports, and then there are the Eagles. They rule. Add in an appearance on Monday Night Football and you have a fairly big story.

We led the paper Monday with the advance on the game, probing whether the Eagles, coming off a bumbling, mistake-filled opening day loss in Green Bay, were ready for prime time.

We followed that Tuesday with another front page leading with the Eagles dismal showing against the Redskins, an incredibly disappointing 0-2 start to the season.

One caller had seen enough. He called to vent that he wanted news on his front page, and suggested in no uncertain terms that we keep the Eagles on the Back Page. He wasn’t alone. Several other callers issued similar pleas.

All of them said they realized the Eagles were important, but they were not the reason they bought the paper.

And, of course, all of them indicated their belief that our choice was based on the idea of "selling papers." They weren’t completely off the mark.

But my favorite call came from a gentleman who wanted to argue not that we led the paper with a sports story, but that we chose the wrong sports story.

"You’ve got the loser all over the front," he said, referring to the Eagles. "And the Phillies you stuck up in the corner. It makes no sense. They won."

He’s right. Those Phabulous Phils continue to defy the odds. But they were not going to trump the Eagles playing on a Monday night.

The caller went on to add that he didn’t especially appreciate the fact that the story on the Phils’ big win focused on the fact that they almost blew an 11-0 lead.

Some days you just can’t win.

At least I get 365 attempts. There will be another one tomorrow. And another one next Monday. Guess what? I wouldn’t bet against the Eagles being the lead Monday, either.

Can you say "woe-and-3?"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 18

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.

So the hell with the Eagles. How about those Phillies? Yeah, there’s the little matter of almost doing the unthinkable, blowing an 11-0 lead. Bottom line is they didn’t. They went out on the road to St. Louis and mashed the Cardinals, 13-11. And while the Padres also won, meaning they didn’t gain any ground in the wild-card race, the Mets lost again. The Phils now trail New York by 2 and a half for the N.L. East.

The Daily Numbers: 20 bucks, what it now costs to park for a game at the Linc. That’s up from $11. That’s a hefty hike, and more than a buck for every point the Birds scored.

0 touchdowns for the Eagles last night. They got four field goals from David Akers.

1 touchdown in two games so far this year for McNabb’s Machine. Yeah, Andy, I’d say things are off ‘just a hair.’

10,000 dollars worth of high-end clothing believed to have been bought by a South Philly woman charged with identity theft.

189 seagulls killed by a man who plowed into them in his car in a parking lot at a Philly marine terminal. Yesterday he was fined $75 per bird, that comes to a tidy $14,175.

14 months on probation for the Main Line socialite accused of attacking a nanny for the second time.

2 people badly burned when flames roared through their Southwest Philadelphia home late Monday night.

12 year limit on lifespan for school buses that would be imposed under new legislation being unveiled in Harrisburg. It’s part of a series of bills to make getting kids to and from school safer.

4 years old, age of Abington youth beaten to death. His mother’s boyfriend now is charged with homicide in the beating.

6 months old, age of zebra colt that died at Lehigh Valley Zoo. The death is now under investigation.

40,000 dollars in Social Security benefits believed ripped off by a Berks County man. He now faces fraud charges.

806 vehicles stopped in Delaware last weekend during a DUI checkpoint. Only 4 motorists were busted for actually driving under the influence.

81.24 what a barrel of oil was selling for yesterday. That’s an all-time high.

2 more home runs for Ryan Howard last night, including a grand slam that seemed like icing, but which the Phils wound up needing in a wild, 12-11 win over the Cards. That’s 40 on the year for Howard.

2 dingers as well for Aaron Rowand, as well as a game-saving catch.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Shots were fired at a an elementary school in Willingboro, N.J., yesterday. There were no injuries.

Today’s Upper: Only a few more hours before another day-after Andy Reid press conference. Maybe he could have Charles Barkley on with him.

Quote Box: "I think tonight we just didn’t come out with that sense of urgency."
-- Eagles running back Brian Westbrook after last night’s less than dazzling loss in the Birds home opener.

Not Ready for Prime Time

The front page of the print edition of yesterday’s Daily Times asked a simple question.

It asked if the Eagles, who were booked for an appearance on Monday Night Football, and coming off a lousy showing in their opening-day loss to the Packers, were ‘Ready for Prime Time?’

Last night the Birds, in front of a packed Lincoln Financial Field, offered the faithful a resounding answer:

Ironically, that front page pictured both Eagles head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb.

Neither of them looked especially ready to strut their stuff on national TV either.
That’s oh-and-2, fans. The Birds lost, 20-12. They failed to get in the end zone.

All of their points came courtesy of the left foot of field goal kicker David Akers.
That’s woe-and-2 for all those who trekked to the Linc for the home opener. But there is some good news for them. At least they did not have insult added to injury in the form of one Charles Barkley. The former Sixers great spent much of the third quarter in the booth with the Monday night TV crew bashing Philly fans.

Yes, hard to believe, but they again relived the fact that Donovan McNabb actually was booed on Draft Day when he was selected by the Eagles.

He was booed last night, too. On merit.

Give Donovan credit for getting back on the field in time for the opener after last season’s devastating knee injury. Whether he should be on the field, and if at this point he can be an effective quarterback, is now open to debate. And expect it to be talked about all week.

Last night Donovan was throwing the ball all over the yard. That is not especially new. McNabb never was, and likely never will be, a tremendously accurate quarterback. But he always made up for it with his mobility, able to buy time and still make big plays. That potential no longer seems to be there. Or at least it isn’t at this point in McNabb’s recovery.

His receivers aren’t exactly giving McNabb much in the way of targets. They don’t appear to be ready for prime time, either.

Of course, Reid and the Eagles brass threw away their security blanket in the offseason. They decided they simply weren’t going to pay the guy who saved their bacon last year, Jeff Garcia, big money to be for most of the season a backup to McNabb. Whether their fortunes would be different at this point with Garcia running this offense while McNabb continues to mend we’ll never know.

That is not the same thing as never talking about it. We’ll talk about it endlessly this week.

For his part, Reid said after the game that, on both sides of the ball, the team is “off a hair.” Yeah, if you’re talking about Lady Madonna. This team is playing more like Britney Spears with a shaved mug.

Reid also said he needs to do a better job of putting guys in position to make plays. Sound familiar?

How bad were the Eagles? They got outscored by the Phillies, 13-12. And our fightin’ Phils? Up 11-0 at one point in that game? Don’t get me started.

That’s two losses, both to NFC opponents. The Eagles are now looking up at both the ‘Skins and Cowboys, both of whom are 2-0.

On Sunday the Lions come to town. They also happen to be 2-0.

The Eagles will wear their throwback jerseys to honor the team’s 75th anniversary. Hopefully they won’t throw up all over the field as they have in their first two games.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Juice

They say justice delayed is justice denied.

Not necessarily.

O.J. Simpson is behind bars this morning, charged as part of an armed group that stormed a Las Vegas hotel room in search of sports memorabilia.

Simpson says no guns were involved and that he was merely running a sting operation to retrieve some of his own stuff.

Of course, there is no shortage of people who believe 'The Juice' should be in prison for the murders of his wife, Nicole Brown, and Ron Goldman.

A jury acquitted him of the murder charges; he was held liable in a civil proceeding.

The court of public opinion is another mattter.

Justice delayed indeed.

The Daily Numbers - Sept 17

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan. You just have to love the Phillies. Nothing stops this team. Every time you’re sure it’s time to stick a fork in the locals, they do something to completely confound the experts, like going to New York and sweeping the Mets. If this team does not make the postseason, it will not be for lack of effort.

The Daily Numbers: 4 people killed in car crashes over the weekend, including a woman who was killed on the Blue Route in Nether Providence.

1 person killed on the streets of Philadelphia. That now represents progress, in light of the bloody recent weekends.

300 people killed on city streets so far this year. Then again, I suppose the idea of progress is all relative.

30 of October. Mark the date on your calendar. That’s when the eight Democratic presidential candidates will be in Philly for a televised debate.

50 percent of the workforce at wireless Internet provider Earthlink that is being laid off. It has prompted concerns about the project they are handling to wire the city of Philadelphia. City Council is planning hearings on the issue.

19, age of man gunned down in Bristol over the weekend. The shooting happened near I-95 and Route 413.

10, age of some girls who apparently were approached at the York Fair by a woman trying to solicit recruits to work at a strip bar.

3 Kutztown University students to die in a month. The latest is a student from Downingtown who was struck and killed by a train.

2,800 workers idled for a week as Harley-Davidson temporarily closes its plant in York, Pa.

3 people stabbed in a Philadelphia restaurant at 11th Street and Washington Avenue early Sunday morning.

3 school buses stolen from a bus yard on East Butler Street in Philadelphia. Maybe they were being used to haul fans to the Linc to start tailgating for tonight’s game.

3.5 games back of the Mets for the Phils after sweeping the New Yorkers. They remain 1.5 games back in the wild-card hunt.

0 victories so far this year for the Eagles. Of course, they’ve only played one game. They’ll be looking to turn that around tonight.

10 home runs for Greg ‘Roy Hobbbs’ Dobbs, including yesterday’s pinch-hit grand slam that was the difference in the win over the Mets.

20 bucks, what it will cost you to park at the Eagles game tonight.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): O.J. Simpson. Talk about a Hall of Fame I don’t get it. What’s he thinking of?

Today’s Upper: The city gets a chance to sparkle on national television tonight. Let’s keep that in mind, Iggles fans. Best behavior, please.

Quote Box: “If I had to go back and do it again, I’d go back and do it again.”
-- Parkside firefighter Dan Brees, on the incident that left him and a fellow firefighter seriously burned

The comeback 'Rambles' on

So, are you ready for some football? A prime-time, Monday night matchup?

Well, you’re going to have to wait about 12 hours. Yes, the Eagles appear tonight on Monday Night Football, with a crucial matchup with the Redskins..

Of course, if you want, you can head to the stadium now and start the party. The rest of us have some work to do.

Not the least of which is that other sports story in town. How ‘bout dem Phillies? How sweep it is! Going to the Big Apple and shutting up all those Mets fans, all the Phils did this weekend is take three straight from the Mets. That makes eight straight wins against the Metropolitans.

The Phils are now just 3 and a half games behind the Mets in the National League East race. Ironically, while they are clawing back at the front-running New Yorkers, they’ve been unable to cut into the wild-card lead of the Padres, who continue to match the Phils win for win. The Phillies continue to be one and a half games back of the Padres.

But as I said, there is some news that should be dealt with this morning.

One of the things that is always debated when it comes to all this talk of a renaissance in the city of Chester, is how will we know when it is really taking root?

For this I defer to Mayor Wendell Butler, who gave what I consider to be the best answer to that a couple of years ago, back when the idea of putting a horsetrack in Chester was still in its infant stages.

At the time Butler indicated the city still needs to prove to people that it can in fact be a safe destination. That people can come into the city, do their business, and return home without the nagging thought that it was anything but a routine day.

It’s a good point. Despite the impressive turnaround in the city, the overall image of Chester in other areas of the county remains a questionable one. Until they can change that image, the city will continue to be a work – or for that matter a comeback – in progress.

This weekend should go a long way toward that goal.

They once again held the Riverfront Ramble along the waterfront from Tinicum and down to the Chester riverfront.

Mother Nature cooperated, with a glorious late summer day, and there, literally in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge, hundreds of people found a new destination for a good time. That would be the city of Chester.

Official estimates indicated as many as 20,000 would crowd the different venues on the riverfront.

It’s another sign that Chester has arrived. That the renaissance is real. That the city is indeed on the comeback.

And in this county, it’s a welcome sight.

The print column

Here's a copy of this week's print column. It deals with how we develop some of our editorial policies here at the newspaper, and we sometimes end up breaking them.

It is one of those questions I get asked just about every day. No, not whether or not I think Andy Reid will ever lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. Oh, I get asked that, too, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
No, I field phone calls from readers every day asking me why we decided to cover a certain story. Or the manner in which we covered it. Sometimes I get a different variation. Readers want to know why we did not cover a certain event.
The conversations are not always pleasant. Sometimes people who call are livid over something the newspaper has done, or has declined to do.
It has to do with what we call our editorial policies here at the newspaper. There are some things we routinely do. And some things we routinely do not do.
The key here is to remember that these kinds of policies are not set in concrete. They’re flexible, and we deal with them often on a story-by-story basis.
This newspaper does not routinely cover funerals. We have adopted that policy for a reason. Very often in these instances, families are dealing with some of the worst circumstances imaginable. A loved one is being buried and the emotions are raw. Sometimes these events stem from a crime, sometimes from a horrendous crash or accident, always with a powerful emotional wallop.
Most of the time the circumstances involving the incident have already appeared in the newspaper, especially when it involves a crime or accident.
Our belief is that the funeral should be a private family matter, and we respect the privacy of those involved.
But that is not to say that there aren’t times when the news value is such that we ask the family how they would feel about coverage of the funeral. Very often they simply say no, and we try to respect those wishes. And sometimes they welcome the opportunity to have their loved one properly honored.
Last week, much of Chester was still reeling from the tragic death of Floyd “Pete” Nelson. Just about everyone in the city knew him as the beloved father of Jameer Nelson.
Jameer is a Chester icon. After starring at Chester High and leading the Clippers to a state basketball title, he went on to a sterling career at Saint Joseph’s University, where he led the Hawks to a stint as the No. 1 college team in the country. He was drafted by the NBA’s Orlando Magic and is a starting guard in the NBA.
Jameer was on the Chester waterfront soon after word came that his father was missing and feared drowned in the river. So were we. The vigil lasted a couple of days before the tragic news arrived from Delaware. A body believed to be that of Floyd Nelson had been recovered from the water. A positive identification soon followed.
In the days after the body was discovered, I started to wonder about coverage of the funeral. I asked a reporter to inquire of the family and funeral home how they would feel about media coverage.
We learned that coverage would be allowed. I sent a reporter and photographer to cover the funeral of Floyd Nelson not out of some sensational desire to make hay out of the story, but instead to properly honor one of the city’s treasures, and also to honor his son, one of the best things the city has ever produced.
In all honesty, I believed we likely would have received more criticism is we had simply ignored the funeral.
Our Saturday front page contained an image of the long line of mourners waiting to enter St. Luke’s Community Christian Church to pay their respects to the Nelson family. We also cut in two other shots, one of Jameer Nelson, another of Floyd Nelson himself.
Our headline was simple. It stated, Farewell, “Pete.”
Photographers were not allowed inside the church. We abided by that request. We did have a reporter inside, however.
Solomon Leach managed to convey what Floyd “Pete” Nelson had meant to the many people his life touched. One of those was Saint Joe’s basketball coach Phil Martelli. He called Nelson a role model, not just for fathers, but for parents in general.
If proof was ever needed of Nelson’s parenting skills, all you need to do is look at Jameer Nelson. A better role model for kids in Chester and every other part of this county eludes me.
“Pete” Nelson was described at his funeral as a loving and caring man who always made time for his family.
I’m glad that image was able to be displayed in this newspaper. Even if I had to violate one of my own policies to do it.

Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at (610) 622-8818. E-mail him at To visit his daily blog, the Heron’s Nest, go to

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Penn-Delco blues

Interesting letter in the paper today from Linda Cook.

You can read it here

Who's she?

She's the president of the Penn-Delco Education Association.

She makes a very good point, one that I think about here most every day. It's about newspapers, and what we do. And, I suppose, what we don't do.

While much of the district's officialdom (school board, former superintendent, education foundation) is in a full meltdown, the process of education in the district goes on.

Teachers (who Cook represents) teach. Kids go to class. The football team plays its games.

The education children get in Penn-Delco is a good one. That process is continuing. But no one seems to talk about that. And it certainly doesn't make headlines.

Cook is right. And there's a reason for that. It's not news. That is what is supposed to happen. It may sound harsh, but it's the truth.

That does not mean the newspaper does not cover other, more positive aspects of the school. We do. That was one of the things I expounded on in last week's print column. I mentioned we did a long piece on high school bands. Much of that story focused on kids at Sun Valley. That was not an accident.

It got headlines. It even got on the front page.

But we will continue to focus on what is going on in Penn-Delco, as everyone waits with baited breath for the results of the county district attorney's investigation of the district's business dealings, especially those linked to former board President Keith Crego.

One of my bigggest regrets about this entire story is the fact that we had been told repeatedly that the county had hoped to wrap up their probe and announce results before the end of the summer.

I had hoped that would be the case so the school year could get off to a fresh start.

That's obviously not going to be the case. Whatever and whenver the D.A. announces, it is going to put Penn-Delco all over the fron tpage of the newspaper once again.

Linda Cook probably won't like that.

In the meantime, kids will continue to go to school. Teachers will continue to teach. And at some point, maybe, just maybe, things will return to normal in this troubled district.

But it won't be today.

That's because we're reporting on more troubles for the Penn-Delco Educational Foundation, including the exits of several board members.

There is the matter of a $100,000 state grant, and what it was used for, and what the district's liability in the matter might be.

Just another day in Penn-Delco.

Another week, another pick

If it's Saturday, it must be time for the dreaded Eagles pick.

I will try to use this space on my so-called off-day (full confession here, in the newspaper business there really is no such thing as a day off) to show off my prognosticating prowess on the Eagles.

Just don't plop yourself in front of the TV tomorrow with your face painted green and a big spread of wings, chips and munchies.

The Eagles don't play until Monday night. As if we need another day to wallow in last week's disaster.

I'll admit I saw some of this coming. But I still didn't think they'd lose to the lowly Packers. Make no mistake about it, the Packers are one of the worst teams in the league. So what does that say about the Birds?

Of course it was the way the Birds lost that had fans making like their favorite quarterback and regurgitating their lunch.

I'm still fairly dumbstruck that a coach as accomplished as Andy Reid could so arrogantly toss off questions about the return game and enter a season without a punt returner.

He paid for it dearly, as first Greg Lewis and then J.R. Reed muffed punts, leading directly to 13 Packers points, including the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Pity Poor J.R. Reed. He went from feel-good story of the year, returning to the team two years after a devastating leg injury that caused nerve damage, only to be tossed on the scrap heap because he was thrown to the wolves by Eagles coaches who clearly think very little of special teams.

This week we will have the much-surer hands of Reno Mahe back under punts. He'll make the right decision and catch the ball when he has to, but little else. For my money, I wold have brought back Jeremy Bloom. He would have done the same thing as Mahe, but still had the potential of breaking one. But of course that would have left the other Reid with a little egg on his face. No can do.

Unsaid in all the hoopla over the special teams was the pedestrian nature of the Eagles offense last week. Donovan McNabb this week admitted he has a lot of work to do, that he simply does not have the explosiveness he possessed before the knee injury.

Here's one to mull over. Take a gander at McNabb's record in his last 20 or so starts. It ain't great.

That had better reverse itself Monday night. The Redskins aren't great, but they're better than the Packers.

So what happens? A low-scoring affafir, with a reverse ending from last week. David Akers kicks the game winner (but only after an attempt earlier in the game goes awry because of a mishandled snap by new holder Sav Rocca) and the Birds prevail, 19-16.

And everyone in Eagleville can exhale. If the opposite should happen, and the Birds should fall to 0h-and-2, stay away from bridges on the ride home.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 14

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Can anybody figure this team out? They go down 3-0 in the first inning, and it looks like it’s time to stick a fork in them. They roar right back in the bottom of the frame, put 4 on the board, and go on to smoke the Rockies, 12-4. In the process they’re right back to a game and a half back in the Wild Card. Amazin’. Speaking of Amazin,’ the Phils go to Shea for three with the Mets. This Wild-Card thing looks like it might go down to the last weekend.

The Daily Numbers: 5,700 U.S. troops that could be home from Iraq by Christmas under the plan announced last night by President Bush.

21,500 soldiers who will exit Iraq by next summer.

9 billion dollars a month, what the war in Iraq is costing the United States.

450 billion dollars, what Congress has appropriated to the war in Iraq.

19 members of the Lehigh University swim team charged with underage drinking after police raided an off-campus booze bash.

9 people indicted in a huge cocaine ring in Montgomery County, the leader of which has been charged with paying for the murder of a woman who was planning to testify against him.

10 blocks, how far a man was dragged after a fatal hit-run overnight in Oxford Circle. The driver of the minivan fled the scene.

2 Philadelphia police sergeants who have been charged with insurance violations in a side business they operate.

4 New Jersey men who have been charged in the vicious beating of a man in a parking lot outside Citizens Bank Park.

8 employees of the House Democratic Office of Legislative Research who are believed to have spent months away from their state jobs to campaign full time, while still getting big bonuses. The state attorney general is on the case.

3 bucks, what the Bank of America is now planning to charge non-customers to use their ATM machines.

20 percent more, what we could be paying for pasta soon because of worldwide shortage in the wheat crop.

1 inning for J.D. Durbin last night for the Phillies. The Durbinator had trouble finding the plate and when he did the Rockies were hitting his offerings hard.

5 hits, 3 walks and 3 runs given up by Durbin, who did not get anyone out in the second inning before making his exit.

12 runs, what the Phils promptly put on the board to cool off the Rockies.

1.5 back in the wild-card chase for the Phils, tied with the Dodgers and chasing the Padres.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): How about that tough Guy NFL boss Roger Goodell? He brings the hammer down on players like Pac-Man Jones and Michael Vick. But Bill Belichick? No suspension. Maybe a draft pick. A fine. He was cheating. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: No football Sunday. The Eagles don’t take the field again ‘til Monday night. Enjoy the Phillies as they tantalize us once again.

Quote Box: "Success is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time."
-- Vietnam veteran James Alleva, as he watched President Bush’s speech last night.

A Philly fan's lament

We wuz robbed. Or wuz we?

Only an ill-fated, long-suffering Philadelphia sports fan could offer this lament. So sue me. Hey, everyone else seems to threaten to most days.
What’s stuck in my craw?

I’ll tell you what. Super Bowl XXXIV. That’s 39 if, like me, you don’t get Roman Numerals.

You might remember that one. It was played in Jacksonville and featured a team you might recognize in green and silver.

Ring a bell?

That’s right. Eagles and Patriots.

The Eagles dominated the first half, thoroughly confusing superstar Pats’ QB Tom Brady. But the offense failed to really cash in their opportunities.

The Patriots came out in the second half and promptly marched right down the field. Later they went on another long drive to put the game away. Their adjustments were amazing, heralded by most as the key to the game, and the difference between Bill Belichick and Andy Reid. The all-important halftime adjustment.

Of course they were helped in no small way by Reid, and his no-hurry offense in the fourth quarter. So glaring was the Eagles’ use of the clock that Belichick actually wondered if the scoreboard was wrong and his team was trailing the Eagles.

Fast-forward three years. Last weekend. Opening day of a new NFL season.

And lo and behold the Patriots are caught videotaping the defensive signals of the New York Jets.

The incident explodes into Tape-Gate. Everyone has a theory as to how long the Patriots have been doing this, and what effect it all has.

I have only one. Do I think the Patriots cheated the Eagles out of a Super Bowl. Not really.

Do I think it fits perfectly into the never-ending agony of being a Philly sports fan? Oh, you bet.

Hey, how ‘bout those Phils. Only a game and a half out of the Wild Card again.

And one step closer to stabbing us in the heart for the millionth time.

Air Raid

Sound the air raid siren!

We don’t like to say we told you so, but we told you so.

Delaware County officials this afternoon will announce they are filing a federal lawsuit against the hated airspace redesign plan.

You know the one. It’s the brainchild of the Federal Aviation Administration to ease congestion and chronic delays that plague Philadelphia International Airport, and in fact airports all over the northeast. What it means to Delco is lots of planes at low altitudes over the heart of the county.

And that means noise. Interminable, house-shaking, conversation-interrupting noise.

Or, as they say down in Tinicum Township, welcome to our world. With an international airport as their next-door neighbor, Tinicum residents have dealt with this kind of noise for years.

If the feds get their way, a whole host of county residents, in a swath that covers Ridley Park, Upper Darby and Haverford would get a similar taste of the roar of low-flying airplanes.

That’s because instead of the current path in which most flights hug the Delaware River, the FAA would now allow pilots to veer out over Delaware County at low altitudes.

Make no mistake. The airport is broken and it needs to be fixed.
The key here is whether this plan will actually fix it. Local officials insist the FAA’s own records say their solution won’t solve the problem, while making life miserable for a lot of people in Delaware County.

The suit basically will claim that the airspace redesign violates environmental laws. It’s part of a multi-pronged attack. Rep. Joe Sestak, D-7, also has been able to convince the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of the process the FAA used in implementing the redesign plan.

At best, both of these measures are likely to delay what appears to be an unavoidable end result. Almost all of these kinds of legal challenges to FAA rulings across the nation have failed.

In the meantime, officials will gather today in Tinicum. It’s appropriate. Planes likely will be going overhead.

Soon a lot more of Delaware County could be subject to similar conditions.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 13

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Forget the boxscore. Yes, the Phils lost 12-0. But psychologically this game was lost in the first inning. Try this on for size. You start the game by retiring the opposition with a bizarre triple-play, then come right back in the bottom of the frame and load the bases with nobody out. And you lose, 12-0. No, you didn’t score in that first frame. Only the Phillies. Incredibly, they’re still not dead. They remain only two and a half games back in the Wild-Card race. Anybody think the Phils will win it? Didn’t think so.

The Daily Numbers: 2 million dollars the city of Chester is kicking in to build a new rec center at Seventh and Madison streets.

3 Delaware County fire companies that are merging their services. Those would be in Morton, Rutledge and Swarthmore. Get used to it. This is something that a lot of towns likely will be looking at in the future.

82, age of Brookhaven man who will now face trial on charges he fatally beat his 80-year-old wife, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

5 local officials, Republicans and Democrats, who have now united to fight the airport redesign plan being pushed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

3 teens killed in a car crash in Jackson Township, N.J. One girl was a high school student, the other two were recent graduates. The car went out of control on a curve.

20, age of Marine from Atco, N.J., killed in fighting in Iraq. We salute Infantryman Jon T. Hicks.

16, age of teen police say brutally beat a homeless man in Hamilton Township, N.J. They say 6 local teens were harassing the man, before one attacked him with a stick.

20 gunshots fired in a wild incident overnight in Olney involving a SEPTA bus. The driver was injured. The shooting was going on outside the bus. The wounded driver drove five blocks to get his passengers to safety.

19 million dollars, what the state student loan agency PHEAA is looking to save. That includes freezing controversial bonuses for execs.

2 contractors in Bucks County being charged with cheating customers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Joseph and John Salvatico are believed to have taken money for jobs and never doing the work.

200,000 dollar winning Powerball ticket in Wednesday night’s drawing that was sold in Pennsylvania. Better start checking those numbers.

36 million jackpot up for grabs in the next Mega Millions Jackpot. Next drawing is Friday. You can buy tickets – and a dream – in Jersey.

5 hours in Philadelphia yesterday and here’s the carnage: 4 shootings and 6 people injured. It’s the Wild, Wild West.

350 pilots being hired by US Airways, most of which will be located in their hub in Philadelphia.

80 mph winds of Hurricane Humberto that are raking the Texas coast.

2 innings, what the Rockies got from their starter last night. And they still shut the Phils out.

3 innings for Phils starter Kyle Kendrick, before he took a rocket off his knee and exited the game. Can this team’s luck get any worse?

Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): The naysayers continue to snicker when the city of Chester comes up, simply choosing to ignore the incredible recovery taking place in the city. Open your eyes, people.

Today’s Upper: Don’t look now but we’ve got ourselves a certified, real race for three seats on County Council. The Republicans and Dems are actually engaging on the issues just about every day. That’s good news for the county, and for voters.

Quote Box: "If he was truly sorry he would have gotten out of his car and stayed there after my baby was hit."
-- Tanisha Palmer, mother of hit-run victim, yesterday after the man who struck and killed her son pleaded guilty.

The Comeback Kid

The grumbling has been a bit muted, but it has not gone away.

Chester is undergoing a renaissance, screamed the headlines. Many of them in this newspaper.

But there were always the whispers, the skeptics, those who questioned if indeed all of Chester was making a comeback.

Yes, they admitted, the development on the riverfront is spectacular. This all started with the Wharf at Rivertown, and its majestic centerpiece, the refurbished old PECO Power Station. It truly is a gem, and it’s located in Chester.

There were lots who never believed a horsetrack would be built inside the city limits, let alone a glittering casino and slots parlor.

A federal prison? Sure, that was more along the line of what Chester would host.

Of course, Harrah’s proved them wrong. Just a stone’s throw from the Wharf, also hard on the Delaware River, now sits Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack. It is doing booming business. We’re talking millions of dollars every week.

But the whispers did not go away.

The latest proposal for the city could see Chester become a major league destination, if the casino has not already delivered that mantle.

A group of big-money investors is looking to build a stadium at a site near the Commodore Barry Bridge. They want to use it to lure a professional soccer team. Listen to those involved, and you get the feeling this is anything but pie-in-the-sky. This thing could happen. In fact, the bettors flocking to Harrah’s probably would lay odds that it will happen.

All of which would make the Chester waterfront an economic blockbuster. And therein lies part of the skepticism that abounds in other parts of the city.

Their theme? What about us? What is all this development doing for the rest of the city? Where is the trickle-down business that was hoped for in the downtown area? Where are all the jobs that were hoped for?

What will be done with the persistently substandard education offered to all too many students in the troubled Chester Upland School District?
In short, what’s in it for the rest of the city, especially the people who live there?

Among those raising questions was state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, who said the money being used to lure the pro soccer franchise would be better used in the community.

On Thursday, Chester City Council tried to answer some of those critics. They announced they would kick in $2 million to build a new Boys and Girls Club facility.

No, it will not be built on the waterfront. It will be at Seventh and Madison streets.

The money is coming from the city’s capital improvement fund. That includes $500,000 that was kicked in from the former owner of the Wharf at Rivertown.

Does Chester still have problems? Sure. But is has something else it has not had in a long time.


This weekend thousands will venture to sites all along the Delaware River, for the annual Riverfront Ramble. They will visit Tinicum, Ridley and Marcus Hook.

And and someplace else. That's right they will visit the city of Chester.

Welcome back.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This just in from Bill Bellichick

As I was saying, apparently everyone is cheating.

Now Patriots' coach Bill Belichick is apologizing for the conflagration that has grown out of Sunday's videotaping debacle.
Here's what he had to say:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Patriots coach Bill Belichick apologized Wednesday for the commotion surrounding his team following accusations that his club spied on the Jets during New England’s season-opening victory in New York.

Belichick said he spoke with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell this week about a "videotaping procedure" during last Sunday’s game and "my interpretation of the rules."

"At this point, we have not been notified of the league’s ruling," Belichick said in a statement. "Although it remains a league matter, I want to apologize to everyone who has been affected, most of all ownership, staff and players. Following the league’s decision, I will have further comment."

The statement follows a report that the NFL is considering punishing the Patriots for spying. Belichick refused to elaborate on the statement several times during a news conference. After about 15 minutes discussing Sunday’s game, he was pressed harder on his "interpretation of the rules," and the coach walked out of the room.

The Daily Numbers - Sept 12

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
OK, someone explain Adam Eaton to me. The guy has not won a game at Citizens Bank Park in three months, but he gets the ball for a crucial game against the Rockies. Phils lose. They trail the Padres by 2 and a half. Hey, can Eaton catch punts?

The Daily Numbers: 20 residents who gathered in Darby Tuesday night to mark the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

13 acres of a Newtown tract along West Chester Pike that could be devoted to a big box store if a town center plan does not get approval.

90 percent, the number of residents Newtown supervisors believe are in favor of the town center plan, as opposed to the big box store.

50-50, an even split, what foes of the town center say is the overriding opinion in the township.

9 people left homeless after fire roared through an Upper Darby apartment complex.

70 percent, the on-time rate for airlines in the first seven months of this year, down from 74 percent a year ago. The outgoing FAA boss is warning airlines need to shrink their schedules to improve performance or face government action.

2 days spent on the lam by a convicted killer in New Jersey who walked away from a mental health facility. Actually he was captured on the grounds, in a wooded area at the facility in Winslow Township.

30,000 troops believed set to be pulled out of Iraq by President Bush. He will address the nation Thursday night.

1 person killed when a car and school bus collided Tuesday afternoon in Prices Corner, Del. A passenger in the car was killed. Seven students on the bus were injured.

1.5 million residents in Pennsylvania who could be dropped from the state’s Do-Not-Call list if they don’t bother to sign up again by the end of the week.

10,000 black men being sought by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson to help fight crime in some of the city’s worst neighborhoods.

1,000 deer in the state that may have been killed by an insect-borne virus.

369 Megan’s Law offenders who have failed to register with the state as required under the statute.

3 home runs surrendered by Adam Eaton in the Phils 8-2 loss to the Padres.

2.5 games back, where the Phils now sit in the wild-card chase because the Padres beat the Dodgers last night.

750,000 dollars, the NFL minimum, what Reno Mahe will likely get to return punts for the Eagles this year. Priceless, the cost to the Birds for not having him, or someone who could catch the ball, back there in the season-opening debacle against the Packers.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): The Wachova Center is planning to sell seats for Flyers and Sixers games that include "all-you-can-eat" menus. How appropos for the home of Wing Bowl.

Today’s Upper: Whoever thought we’d be cheering the return of Reno Mahe as Eagles return man?

Quote Box: "As Darbarians, I pray we can serve those who put themselves in harm’s way for us. We need to join together once again."

-- Rev. William Holmes, at Darby Borough’s 9/11 commemoration.

Our cheating hearts

Is everybody cheating?
In school?
At home?
At work?
In the boardroom?
In sports?

Does the end always justify the means? We want our kids to do well in school. But is it OK if that A comes courtesy of a few cursory glances at the kid’s paper next to us? Or even something more elaborate, like texting?

We’re no longer surprised to hear of infidelities. We revel in the bust-ups of our celebrities, who often gain such acclaim for doing little more than appearing in public sans underwear.

The workplace? Well, there’s Enron and any number of examples where deceit and fraud rule the roost.

And then we have sports. Oh, do we ever have sports.

It is supposed to be a refuge. Something pristine. A place where the rules of the game are sacrosanct.

Not anymore. Now each day brings with it news of still another flouting of the laws.

Major League baseball has for years been toiling under the cloud of steroids. Not it’s human growth hormone.

The most revered record in sports, that of the person of home run king, now sits besmirched by its present holder, Barry Bonds, and whether he did or didn’t get a little help along the way to exiling Hank Aaron, who eclipsed Babe Ruth.

Local guy Tim Donaghy has splattered mud all over the National Basketball Association. Donaghy was one of the guys in striped shirts entrusted with making sure the game was on the up-and-up, that the players abided by the rules.

Too bad he didn’t think that applied to him as well. Donaghy recently entered a plea in connection with a sports betting ring. He was betting on games he was reffing, even though that is not technically what he pleaded guilty to, and giving information on games to bettors.

Now every time a questionable call is made, there will be that shadow of doubt lingering in fans’ minds.

Of course, there was always the behemoth of sports. No, not Nascar, where several drivers and racing teams have recently run afoul of the law.

I speak of the National Football League. In particular, the so-called "Gold Standard." That would be the New England Patriots, perennial contender for the Vince Lombardi Trophy signifying the Super Bowl champion.

The NFL is now investigating, and is believed by some to have concluded, that the Patriots cheat.

The belief is that the Patriots violated league rules in their game against the Jets Sunday because they were videotaping Jets’ defensive coaches as they went through their signals.

The Patriots hammered the Jets, 38-14. Just before halftime, a Patriots employee was stopped as he tried to enter the Pats’ locker room. A video camera was seized.

There apparently also are questions concerning the Patriots’ use of radio frequencies during the game. The NFL now allows offensive plays to be radioed into the helmet of quarterbacks.

The question now is, how long has this been going on, and what will the NFL do about it?

New Commissioner Roger Goodell has been a hard-line ruler when it comes to players and substance abuse violations, along with the normal parade of criminal incidents and the now-infamous dogfighting case of Michael Vick.

But what will he do with the growing belief that perhaps the best franchise in his kingdom got some help along the way. That, basically, they cheated.

Around here, thoughts likely will turn to a certain Super Bowl when the Patriots beat the Eagles. Of course, all the cheating in the world still doesn’t explain the Eagles sluggish style of offense in the fourth quarter, eating up the clock even as they trailed. It made Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wonder if the scoreboard was wrong, that his team was actually behind.

Belichick likely will find himself in the crosshairs this week. It’s hard to imagine that this could have gone on without his knowledge.

Now Goodell and the NFL must send a message. They can be tough on the players, but can they be equally tough on coaches and teams. Will the Patriots be fined big bucks, have draft picks stripped, and will Bellichick be suspended.

And when will the next incident of cheating pop up. At this point, it’s pretty much when, not if.

After all, everybody cheats. Don’t they?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 11

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses:
An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Forget the Eagles. And their special teams woes. How ‘bout dem Phils! How ‘bout that Pat Burrell! It ain’t over. The Phils are now just a game and a half out in the wild-card chase. Ya gotta keep believing.

The Daily Numbers: 11, as in Sept. 11. Do I really have to say anything else?.

6 years have gone by since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Never forget.

2,974, number of people believed killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. The name of an attorney who died of lung disease five months after the attack has now been added to the official list.

5 stab wounds suffered by a 20-year-old Philadelphia man who was attacked with a ceremonial sword that had been hanging on the wall of his apartment. Police say it is one of the goriest murder scenes they’ve ever encountered. Two men are being sought.

6 young girls that a Philadelphia lawyer is now admitting to attacking sexually. Larry Charles was arrested after being found naked in a court conference room with a 14-year-old girl.

3 counties traversed by a suspect and police, including Delaware County, during a chase that started in Philadelphia and ended in Chester County last night. The suspect also is charged with attacking a police officer when he was finally corralled.

4 million bucks, what former New Castle, Del., official wants the county to reimburse her for legal fees. She was sentenced to time served to an admission of one felony count of making a false statement to a bank.

0 time Sherry Freebery actually spent in jail for her violation. Her time served actually was a few hours in custody during her booking. She’ll also serve a year of probation.

60 days in jail for a former priest who served in Wilmington, after he admitted molesting a teen for about four years.

27 percent of companies who say they plan to hire more employees in the final three months of the year.

1 penny less we’re paying for gasoline. Average in the area now stands at $2.72 a gallon.

10 that’s the Philly ranking when it comes to tailgating, according to a new national study of 31 NFL cities and Los Angeles.

1.5 games out for the Phils after they beat the Rockies last night. It ain’t over just yet, and we have the first-place Mets for another series this weekend.

28 home runs for Pat Burrell, who has been an absolute force since the All-Star break.

38 home runs for Ryan Howard, who went yard early in the game, then hit the game-winning double in the 10th.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): How could anyone who was alive on Sept. 11, 2001, not still be devastated by the impact of that day.

Today’s Upper: Andy Reid says it was all his fault. He takes responsibility for the special teams meltdown. Now don’t you feel better?

Quote Box: "The hearing did not lend itself to addressing the real issue as to how long can America stay there before it truly impacts irreparably at some levels."
-- Rep. Joe Sestak, on yesterday’s briefing from Gen. David Petraeus on the Iraq troop surge

Not just another day

It was the first thing I heard when I got out of bed this morning.

My habit is to flip on KYW 1060, followed almost immediately by making coffee.

Not this morning.

I stopped when I heard the following words.
"Good Morning, it’s Tuesday … September 11th."

Suddenly all the images came flooding back. It was six years ago. Sometimes it seems like six minutes.

The thing I always remember first about Sept. 11, 2001, is that it was just about as perfect a September day as you can imagine. Gorgeous sunshine. A cloudless sky bluer than even the fondest dreams of Penn State fans. Just a hint of a morning chill in the air.

I took a moment to soak it in during my morning ritual, a walk to the Wawa a block away.

I returned to the newsroom, sat down at the main news desk and braced myself for another day. I flipped on the TV that sits above the news desk. That’s when I first saw it. Smoke streaming from one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

That doesn’t look quite right, I remember saying to myself. I turned up the volume. They were talking about a plane striking the imposing edifice. Surely it was a small prop plan. An accident, I thought.

A few minutes later I watched in horror as the second jet slammed into the other tower. The horror had begun.

They are the images that are now seared into our consciousness. Or are they?

One of the things I am most dismayed at is how, just six years later, the impact of the day, and its repercussions, already seem to be fading.
More people are talking about who should be returning punts for the Eagles than are concerned about 9/11, its aftermath, and the possibility of another attack on the nation.

That’s why I was so interested in hearing what one particular gentleman had to say about the legacy of 9/11. Our staff writer Tim Logue drew the assignment of trying to determine why we some are saying it’s time to move on, that it’s time for the mourning to stop.

One of the people he talked to was Ed Turzanski. He’s the assistant vice president for government and community relations at La Salle Unviversity. He’s also a noted national security expert who is often called on to offer his opinion.

I was somewhat taken aback to hear him say something I have been saying since that day six years ago.

I happen to be of the belief that we cannot see the video of those jets slamming into the World Trade Center enough. Same goes for the plane that hit the Pentagon. And the struggle that took place on American Flight 93 before it slammed into a field in Shanksville, Pa.

I would like to see the network news end every night with that video, and the image of those two towers collapsing in a massive plume of smoke.

Tursanski seems to agree.

I don’t want to see those hurtful images out of some sense of sick voyeurism. I don’t want to exploit the pain of those lost in the attacks.

I want to be sure we never forget what happened that day. And what we need to do to be sure it never happens again.

Striking up the band for fair coverage

Here's a copy of my column from Monday's print edition.

It focuses on the belief by many that we have it in for some schools and that our coverage often carries an anti-Catholic bias.

Post a comment if you agree or disagree. In fact, I want you to post comments every day. This should be a dialog, not just me preaching to the readers. I don't claim to be right, just opinionated. Add yours.

There they were, young people once again splashed all over the front page of this newspaper.

And that’s not all. Inside, there were three full pages devoted to what these high school kids were doing.They weren’t under arrest. They weren’t involved in a car crash in which drugs or alcohol was involved. They weren’t being hauled out of school because of still another Columbine-style plot or other threat.

They were members of their school bands. That was not an accident.

There are several reasons why we decided to focus on these kids as they prepare for the start of school and the annual high school band competitions.The first one we’ve already touched on.

Some people are convinced the only way for young people to get their names in the paper is to do something wrong.

Not so.

Second, there are also devoted readers of the paper who notice how much time and effort we spend detailing the efforts of high school kids and their prowess on athletic fields. You know, those stories that appear on the back page of the paper.

They often call me and ask: “Where is the coverage of kids who are just as involved in other school activities, but are not athletes?” Sometimes they ask me across the dinner table. My wife is among them.There is also the sheer numbers involved in these bands. Aside from sports, it may be the largest activity kids take part in during their high school years. They are every bit as devoted to their craft as the kids preparing for football, soccer and other fall sports. They even take part in summer camp, just as their athletic counterparts do.

That’s where we caught up with many of them.There is something else I hope readers noticed about that story.

We focused on kids from two particular schools — Sun Valley and Cardinal O’Hara. That also was not by accident.

Sun Valley is the high school in the Penn-Delco School District.

Gee, Penn-Delco and O’Hara. What do they have in common? One’s public; one’s parochial. And both have been gracing the front page of this newspaper with some regularity in recent months.

That also has not gone unnoticed by some readers. There are those who believe we have it in for the Penn-Delco School District; that the conflagration involving the school board has overshadowed the good things happening in the district. They say we ignore those stories.

Then there are all our fans involved with Cardinal O’Hara. Their problem with us is simple. They believe we are anti-Catholic. They believe we delight in any opportunity to publicize the school in a negative way.

Exhibit A in their argument is the controversy surrounding one of their graduates. Tim Donaghy has not walked the halls of O’Hara in years. A couple of weeks ago, he walked into a federal courtroom in New York and pleaded guilty to charges that as an NBA ref, he gave information on games he was working, as well as other “inside” information, to gamblers.

The scandal shook the National Basketball Association to its core.We are the local newspaper. Donaghy was a local guy. He grew up in Havertown. Graduated from O’Hara, then Villanova. Some of his buddies involved in the betting operation also were O’Hara grads. For us, that’s an integral part of the story. It would be the same if Donaghy had attended Penncrest, Sun Valley or Monsignor Bonner. That’s part of what makes it a local story.Those who disagree don’t see it that way.

They insist we do not flaunt a person’s school affiliation when it does not suit our “Catholic-bashing” agenda. Their opinions have been liberally sprinkled in Sound Off and our letters to the editor pages.I do not believe in censorship. If someone wants to make that point, that they believe we are anti-Catholic, they are free to do so.But that does not mean I agree with them. I don’t.

They might want to check with the people at Penncrest or Sun Valley in terms of whether or not we play favorites.Those who insist we splash the church all over the front page when it comes to priests involved in sexual abuse, but stick it inside the paper when it involves another denomination, might want to talk to some people at First Presbyterian Church in Springfield. One of their former pastors has graced our front page several times recently on charges of assaulting several female members of the congregation years ago.

It was not on the front page because it involved any specific church or denomination. It was on the front page because it was news.Just as those band kids were.By the way, we again are looking to keep track of band competitions with a roundup each week this fall.

I look forward to getting the results from Cardinal O’Hara.

Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at (610) 622-8818. E-mail him at To visit his daily blog, the Heron’s Nest, go to

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Numbers Game, Sept. 10

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Hey, there’s always those Fightin’ Phils. Don’t look now, but they’re only 2 games back in the wild-card race after beating the Marlins again yesterday. That’s just one game more than the margin by which the Eagles trail the rest of the NFC East.

The Daily Numbers: 3 teens under arrest in Upper Darby in a series of car break-ins and other crimes that have terrorized Drexel Hill.

1,630 families in the St. Mary Magdalen parish in Upper Prov who are getting a new church.

58, age of man charged with selling heroin to police in Upper Darby.

5 dead and 6 injured in another wild weekend of mayhem and violence on Philadelphia streets.

19 age of sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania who died of meningitis, causing a health warning for the Philly campus.

6 years since the 9/11 attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

2 oys injured in a hit-run accident in the Frankford section of Philadelphia.

1, age of girl struck and killed by a man who was backing out of his driveway in Allentown. It was his daughter.

2 people killed more than 30 years ago by a man who escaped from a New Jersey mental health facility.

15 years, time spent at helm of Cabrini College by Antoinette Iadarola.

2 punts the Eagles botched during yesterday’s ugly season-opening loss in Green Bay.

3 wins against 6 losses for Andy Reid on opening day in his nine years at the Eagles’ helm.

13 wins for ageless Jamie Moyer, who gave the Phils 5-plus innings yesterday in their win over the Marlins.

2 games back in the wild-card hunt for the Phils. They ain’t dead yet. As for the Eagles, that may be another story.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): I actually just heard this, a promo for an upcoming Fox TV show. "We’re looking up Tinseltown’s skirt and it’s not always wearing panties." Nice. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Hey, we get to show off our not-so-special teams on Monday Night Football next week, as the Birds have the Redskins at the Linc for the home opener.

Quote Box: "People just don’t seem to care the way they once did."
-- Rev. William Holmes of Maran-Atha Tabernacle Church in Darby, on the approaching sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Reid kicks away another one

When we last left Andy Reid, the Eagles coach was literally kicking away the team’s chance to win a playoff game.

After watching the Saints run the ball down the Eagles’ throats in an NFC Divisional playoff game in the Big Easy last January, Reid rolled the dice and decided to bank on his defense being able to get him the ball back with a couple of minutes left in the game. So he punted the ball – and the game – away to the Saints.

The Birds never saw the ball again.

Fast-forward eight months. Not much has changed. Reid still doesn’t have a feel for the punt game.

The Birds lost their season-opener in agonizing fashion yesterday in Green Bay, muffing two punts, leading directly to 10 Packers points, including the game-winning field goal.

First it was wide receiver Greg Lewis. When he went back to field a punt in the first quarter, it was the first time he had done so in a regular season game. The results were predictable.

Lewis unwisely tried to field a ball in traffic, muffed it, and set off a wild scramble that ended with the Packers recovering it in the end zone for a touchdown. 7-0 Packers. Not exactly the way you want to start your season.

Apparently having seen enough of Lewis, who fields punts about the way Chris Roberson plays right field, Reid dispatched J.R. Reed to handle the duties at a crucial moment late in the fourth quarter with the score tied at 13.

Reed, you may remember, a few years ago was a promising kickoff return man before a bizarre off-season injury left him with nerve damage in his leg, and a career on the rocks. To his credit, Reed battled back, but was released by a series of teams before being re-signed by the Birds two weeks ago.

Reed is a kickoff guy, not a punt returner. There is a difference, as Reed, and long-suffering Eagles fans, would soon learn. Reed signaled for a fair catch, then realizing the kick was going to be short, took off on a kamikaze mission through Packer defenders in an attempt to catch the ball. Didn’t work. He muffed it, the Packers recovered and booted the game-winning field goal with 2 seconds left on the clock.

There is a sneaking suspicion about whether Reed actually knew that he didn’t have to catch the ball, that he simply could have let it drop.
Of course, all of this brings to mind the Eagles’ readiness, as well as Reid’s, especially when it comes to their special teams.

Last year Reno Mahe provided steady hands, but little else, returning kicks and punts. The Eagles were looking for a little more explosiveness in their return game. Yesterday that strategy blew up in their face.

In the offseason Reid decided the job would go to Jeremy Bloom, the champion skier from the University of Colorado who had not played football in a couple of years.

Bloom showed promise, but never really turned it on in the preseason. Reid decided to cut his losses. Without ever seeing Bloom in a regular-season game. Say this about Bloom: He probably did not show the game-breaker tendencies the Eagles were looking for. But he knew what he was doing. He knew when to field a ball and when not to. And most importantly, he showed sure hands in the process.

Reid axed Bloom with two weeks left in the preseason. And then promptly failed to acquire anyone to perform these crucial duties.

Instead, he decided he could get by with guys like Lewis and Reed. They wound up looking more like Lewis and Martin.

And in the process cost the Eagles a very important game.

There’s something eerily familiar about all this. Think about it. All offseason Phillies fans begged management to do something about their bullpen. Didn’t happen. How did that work out?

Likewise, Eagles fans – if not the coaches – knew special teams were a disaster looking for a place to happen. They detonated in Green Bay.

Something else to think about. Just about everyone had this game penciled in as a win. If you had the Eagles at 10-6, that now leaves them with nine wins. If, like me, you had them at 9-7, they are now tracking toward .500.

After viewing yesterday’s thoroughly mediocre effort, I’d say that’s about right.

There’s nothing "special" about this team.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Time for the Pick

Well, it looks like we can stick a fork in the Phils.

Which, of course, means only one thing. It's football season.

Of course, around these parts, we have to get past this little matter out in Happy Valley tonight before we can start the Eagles season tomorrow.

Breathe easy, Nittany fans. This Notre Dame team is not going to be waking up any echoes. Instead, it's more likely they will be putting the Irish faithful to sleep. Tonight they're likely going to get waxed amid the "white-out" mania at Paternoville.

Which does not necessarily mean that JoePa has a great squad this year, but instead simply that his team has yet to be tested. Oh, I almost forgot, they also have Michigan on the schedule this year.

So that brings us to Sunday, and the decidedly unfrozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Eagles vs. Packers. McNabb vs. Favre.

I have had a simple reaction for about the last decade or so when asked for a prediction on the Eagles. I automatically spit out 10-6 and get on with the season.

Not this year. I smell trouble. On the field. Off the field. Everywhere I look.

I also have a simple theory about the preseason. It means nothing. Don't believe it. Try this test. Tell me one thing you remember from last year's preseason games? Thought so.

Except for one thing. At some point in those four games, I want to see both the offense and defense firing on all cylinders, at least for one drive. I'm still waiting.

This defense looks like more of the same we watched last winter as the Saints ran the ball down their throat and refused to get off the field and give the Eagles offense another chance to win that playff game.

The offense is still heavily dependent on Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. That's not necessarily a bad ting. If you can keep them on the field. With McNabb that's not a given. With Westbrook, he insists his injury prloblems are overblown. I'm not convinced.

For Sunday, I see a struggle. They'll win, maybe 29-26, on a late David Akers field goal. That reminds me. Something else will happen Sunday. The Eagles will miss a field goal because of a botched handle on the snap and hold with all the new players they have in place. Sav Rocca, who will be a highlight film punting the ball, could be a train wreck holding for Akers.

Down the road, I see struggles for the Birds. I see more injury problems for McNabb. I see only a rookie, Kevin Kolb, ready to fill the void, since Jeff Garcia was dispatched with such nonchalance in the offseason.

I see 9-7, maybe a Wild Card spot, and an early exit from the playoffs.

The good news: That 9-7 might just win the NFC East. The bottom line is there are no good teams in the NFC. Witness what the Colts did to the Saints Thursday night.

Disagree? Hey, it woldn't be the first time. What do I know? I'm a news guy. If you see it differently, drop a response on here and we can chat about it.

It doesn't make me any less of a fan. I'll still live and die with the Birds each week. Just as I did all summer with the Phils.

I'd just like to do a little more living than dying.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 7

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.

No, I’m not ready to give up on the Phils just yet. Yes, the loss in Atlanta was a killer. But they remain only three games back. Do they have enough pitching? Probably not. But I’m still going to go along for the ride.

The Daily Numbers: 120 million dollars, what it likely would cost to build a stadium in Chester for a Major League Soccer franchise.

30 million more bucks, the franchise fee the league could command to deliver a team to Delco.

288 people slain in Philadelphia so far this year. The latest was 33-year-old Sterling Green of Chester, who was gunned down outside an airport hotel.

11 officials in New Jersey, including some members of the Pleasantville School Board, charged in a huge public corruption probe. Think that raised any eyes in Penn-Delco?

235 million bucks, that’s how much Philadelphia wants to raise by going after tax deadbeats. The total owed to the city? A cool $700 million.

7.5 million dollars, amount Camden County will pay in a lawsuit filed by people who were subjected to strip-searches in county jails .

1 cent higher, that would be the price of gas. Average in the area is now $2,73.

80,000 dollars, amount stolen from the safe of a Bucks County church. It was the second time Bethel Baptist has been hit.

5.58 percent, rate of mortgage delinquencies in Pennsylvania in the second quarter. That’s spiking up from 4.85 percent.

200 bucks, price cut Apple announced on its new iPhone. Wonder how that is going over with the folks who stood in line for a day to be first to get them?

2 days until the Eagles kick off their season in Green Bay against the Packers.

3 where Phils now sit in wild-card race. They have been passed by the Dodgers, who are now in second place behind the Padres. The Phils are a 3 back, the Dodgers 2 and a half.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Is there going to be anyone left sitting on the Penn-Delco School board when all this finally shakes out. Another board member has now resigned.

Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for the Utleys, Chase and his wife, Jen. They came to the aid of a dog at the Philly SPCA that had been badly beaten and set on fire. In the wake of the Michael Vick case, it’s certainly a different view of pro athletes.

Quote Box: "I’m very optimistic."
-- Delaware County Council boss Andy Reilly, after yesterday’s meeting to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Chester.

Pete Nelson's legacy

While yesterday’s news about luring a major league franchise to town was good news for Chester, there is a sense of sadness that hangs over the city.

Today much of the city will gather to say goodbye to Floyd "Pete" Nelson.

He of course is the father of Jameer Nelson, who rose from the city streets to the NBA. Pete Nelson was the subject of a massive search last weekend before his body was discovered in the Delaware River.

It is often said that the media, and this newspaper, focus all too much on the negative in the city. The image of the city to many in the county is the image that is displayed in the pages of this newspaper. To some extent, that is true.

It is also true that this newspaper has gone to great lengths to follow the exploits of Jameer Nelson.

That includes his scintillating career at Chester High, an equally sterling time in the national spotlight as the quintessential point guard for a Saint Joseph’s team that spent some time as the No. 1-ranked team in the country, and his entry into the NBA with the Orlando Magic.

But we probably have never been prouder of Jameer Nelson than we were last weekend, when he quietly held vigil during the search for his father. Jameer said very little. His actions spoke volumes.

People who say that not enough good comes out of Chester obviously have never met Jameer Nelson. He is among the best things ever produced on these streets.

A good bit of that was due to Floyd "Pete" Nelson. Jameer is a living tribute to his father.

Rest well, Pete. Your legacy is in good hands.

Chester, a major league city

Nobody is snickering anymore.

Oh, sure, they’re going to put a stadium in Chester. Then they’re going to lure a Major League Soccer franchise to play there. Yeah, right. Right after they open a horsetrack and casino in the city.

What? They already did that? Oh.

Jay Sugarman is certainly not snickering. Who’s Jay Sugarman? You might not know him now, but you likely will soon.

Sugarman is the CEO of an outfit called iStar Financial. It’s based in New York City. We’re talking some very big money.

Sugarman spent yesterday in Delaware County. He wasn’t here to play the slots at Harrah’s.

Sugarman is the deep pockets behind an effort that looks increasingly like it is going to bring professional sports to Delaware County, specifically to the increasingly glittering Chester waterfront.

They held something of a summit yesterday at the Media Courthouse to go over the effort to lure a Major League Soccer franchise to town.

Also on hand was Don Garber. Who’s he? Oh, just the commissioner of the MLS.

Sugarman is hooking up with James Nevels, the man who until about a month ago headed the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. He’s also the founder of the Swarthmore Group financial firm. Also involved is real estate developer Robert Buccini, owner of the Buccini/Pollin Group.

They met with county officials yesterday and laid out their plan. They have a site. They’ve got the money. They’re working on a package of state aid. Some of the numbers still need to be ironed out, but this is not just pie-in-the-sky.

This looks increasingly like it is going to happen. Major League Soccer currently has 13 franchises. It wants to add two by the end of the year.
How do you think the county – as well as the city of Chester – would like to find this under their tree: Chester, Pa., a major league city.

As the front page of our print edition says today, "Ain’t that a kick."
A lot of people bet against the racetrack ever coming to fruition in Chester. A lot of people were wrong.

Now it looks like a major league franchise is coming to town. Don’t bet against it.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 6

12 million minutes, what the FAA says their plan will shave off delays at several airports in the Northeast.

500 people who jammed into a meeting in Ridley in May to show their opposition to the plan.

7,000 residents in Delaware County who will be exposed to increased noise under the plan.

220 students who reported for class on the first day at the new Drexel Neumann Academy in Chester.

24 hours, instead of a planned 48-hour strike by cabbies in Philadelphia. They’re ticked at a new regulation requiring them to use GPS navigation systems.

900,000 dollars, amount a fomer Penn State player has been ordered to pay a man who was thrown out a window at an off-campus frat house in 2001. Better keep that in mind if you’re headed to Happy Valley for what should be one of the all-time party weekends in school history as Notre Dame comes to town.

15 years in the slammer, what a man served who is now being charged with murder in the death of a Philadelphia police officer. He says he should not be held responsible for the officer’s death 41 years later of an infection that doctors say was related to the shooting.

1 billion dollars, what Gov. Ed Rendell says he can raise by privatizing the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Now he’s again taking bids for proposals to do just that.

349 bucks, what you can now expect to pay for an old-style iPod, now being called iPod classic.

3 days until the Eagles kick off their season in Green Bay against the Packers.

5 innings and change for Phils starter Kyle Kendrick, who was then lifted by Manager Charlie Manuel. We all know what happened then. Can you say implosion?

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Guess what there is now a shortage of among law enforcement types? Bullets. That’s right, ammo is apparently increasing in short supply. Does that make you feel more safe?


Today’s Upper: No shortage in the outpouring of support for injured Parkside firefighters Dan Brees and Chase Frost. Delco police and firemen are planning a huge fund-raiser in October. We salute their efforts.

Quote Box: "It is now clear the FAA did not listen to our concerns."

-- Delawre County Council boss Andy Reilly, on hearing of the FAA’s move to go ahead with airport redesign plan.

A killer loss

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.

Remember the euphoria we experienced last Thursday when the Phils rallied in dramatic fashion to beat the Mets.

Now reverse it.

That's what you had yesterday when the Phils served up a gift to the Braves.

The Phils blew another 5-0 lead (something they've been getting quite adept at in recent weeks), and then almost inexplicably blew an 8-2 lead in the eighth and ninth innings.

No shortage of villains here. Chris Roberson forgot his sunglasses when he entered rightfield as a "defensive" replacement. He apparently also forgot how to play defense along the way. Roberson misplayed a series of fly balls, including the decisive double that ticked off his glove in the ninth to end the game. Uh, Chris, there's two outs and the bases are loaded. That's the time to go all out, to give up your body, not to reach for a ball, and miss.

There's all the usual suspects here. Charlie Manuel, Brett Myes. The Phils miss a chance to pick up a full game on the Mets.

But they never miss a chance to stick another knife in their long-suffering fans. This one was almost too much to take.

And now we get to relive it for 24 hours before they come home to face the Marlins.

Bring on the Eagles.

Air raid

Bring on the lawyers.

For months Delaware County officials have been warning the feds they would go to court if they moved forward with the controversial airport redesign plan that would allow planes over heavily populated areas of the county at low altitudes.

Yesterday the Federal Aviation Administration called their bluff.
Now it appears the two sides are on a legal collision course.
Down in D.C., the FAA announced it would go forward with their "preferred" plan, a project that would radically alter flight paths over Philadelphia International Airport as well as others in the Northeast region.

The bottom line is this. Up until now most flights taking off from the airport have hugged the Delaware River until they reached a high enough altitude before veering off on their course. Under the FAA plan, pilots will be able to head over areas of the county at altitudes as low as 3,000 feet.

The FAA says the plan will save several minutes and ease the chronic delays that too often bring travel to a standstill at the airport. Not so, say both Delco officials and U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, D-7. They claim the FAA’s own records indicate the time saved is more like seconds per flight.

The two sides have been lobbing hand grenades at each other for months. A series of public hearings at other locations in the Northeast was met with something of a shrug. Not here.

A meeting in Ridley drew hundreds of angry residents, fearful of more planes over their homes, more noise, and a big hit in their property values.

Sestak is still banking on an investigation of the process used by the FAA that will be conducted by the Government Accountability Office.
But the county might not wait for that. They are vowing to sue. If they can’t stop the plan, they at least hope to delay it.

Council boss Andy Reilly, who has led the vocal opposition in the county to the plan, said they could file suit as early as next week.

The FAA is hoping to train air traffic controllers and get the plan into use withing the next 30 to 60 days.

This one is going to get ugly. And expensive.

In most places across the country, these kinds of challenges have failed.
Delco is hoping to reverse that trend.

The noise over this plan is just beginning.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Daily Numbers

A daily look at some of the numbers spinning around our heads:
200,000 dollars raised by the St. Cyril community to keep their school
open in East Lansdowne.

272 new students attending the new Charles Kelly School in what used to be St. Charles Borromeo School in Drexel Hill. The parochial school
closed its doors last spring due to declining enrollment.

7 robberies in Collingdale, Darby Borough, Aldan and Yeadon. Police
believe may be the work of the same person.

48 hour strike called by cabbies in both Philadelphia and New York City.
They're upset with new requirements to outfit cabs with GPS devices.
What? Cabbies don't know where they're going?

12 people charged with fraud based on bogus reports of injuries in a bus
crash that authorities say actually was staged to collect on insurance
money. These people apparently wanted to hit the jackpot even before
their bus got to Atlantic City.

26 years old, age of woman who was struck and killed by an ambulance on Aramingo near Castor in Philadelphia.

8 foot shark that was noticed near the Jersey shoreline in Ventnor and
Atlantic City. The beaches were closed for 45 minutes. The critter
eventually was hauled up on the shore.

252 out of 811 bridges in southeastern Pa. that are locally owned, and
that are being called 'structurally deficient' by PennDOT.

200 jobs being axed by Philly chemical firm Rohm and Haas. Happy Labor Day indeed.

30,000 delegates in Philadelphia for the National Baptist Convention USA.

800,000 more toys being recalled by Mattel in still another problem with
lead paint on toys manufactured in China.

2 juveniles busted in a wave of burglaries and vandalism at two schools
in Wilmington.

4 days until the Eagles kick off their season in Green Bay against the

3 days before the Irish of Notre Dame invade Happy Valley to tangle with Joe Paterno and Penn State.

I Don't Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): How long do you think it will be before someone decides that there might be a problem with some of the regulations involving manufacturing in China. Mattel is now recalling another 800,000 toys made there for problems with excessive amounts of lead paint.

Today's Upper: Good news out of Upper Darby, where a young girl battling with Down syndrome has been reunited with her special dog, which had been missing for several days. Katherine Touhill had been without her special friend for a week.

Quote Box: "I'm glad the police are out here. It helps a whole lot."
-- Margate Road resident Rachel Gray on increased police presence after

One less miracle

This is a tale of two schools.

They threw open the doors to St. Charles Borromeo in Drexel Hill Tuesday morning.

Only it's not called St. Charles Borromeo anymore.

And the students who walked in the doors were not wearing the familiar parochial school uniforms.

St. Charles Borromeo School doesn't exist anymore, except in the minds
and hearts of those who went there and mourn its demise.

St. Charles closed its doors for the last time last spring, a victim of
the declining enrollment and financial difficulties facing many
parochial schools in Delaware County.

The decision was not a popular one with many parishioners and parents of students attending St. Charles.

But the building is still being used to educate students. It is being
leased by the Upper Darby School District and is now home to 272
students who formerly attended Highland Park and Stonehurst Hills
Elementary Schools. They are now being bused to their new digs, the
Charles Kelly School, where they were welcomed yesterday by Principal
Lyn Berenato.

It's not the first time such an arrangement has occurred in Delaware
County. It's not even the first time it's happened in Upper Darby. A few
years back, when St. George School fell victim to much the same
predicament in Glenolden, Upper Darby also utilized that space. They
bused 200 kids from Bywood Elementary to what is now the Walter Senkow Elementary School.

Contrast that with what will happen today at St. Cyril of Alexandria
School in East Lansdowne.

A few years ago, they were given a similar prognosis by the archdiocese.
Attendance was down; red ink was rising. The school likely would be
forced to close its doors.

Then a very special young man named Tommy Geromichalos got involved.

Tommy, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, wrote a letter to the
Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the desires of ailing kids.
Tommy's wish was simple. He wanted St. Cyril's to stay open so he could graduate with his class. It was a daunting task, one even outside the realm of the charitable organization. The school needed to raise $200,000. Then this newspaper, specifically columnist Gil Spencer, got involved. We got wind of Tommy's wish. We ran his letter in the newspaper.

The rest is history. Tommy's desire galvanized the school and community.

Not only did they rally around a battle cry of "I Believe," they raised
more than $400,000 for the school.

Today Tommy Geromichalos will start his final year at St. Cyril's. He
will graduate in June.

But his legacy will live on, hopefully for many years to come, as St.
Cyril's continues the very difficult mission that is eluding so many
parochial schools in the county.

Off and running

I'm still trying to come to grips with all this blogging action.

I actually work every day in two mediums, print and online. A poster
(actually David Diano) of 7th Watch who did such yeoman work keeping
tabs on the Curt Weldon-Joe Sestak battle royal last year, had some
comments about my print column.

That's when I realized that some people who read the blog might not have
seen my print column advancing the fall County Council race. Here it is.

By the way, Diano is now back with a new blog, Pa Delco Watch, in which
he plans to comment on the fall campaign as well.

<a href=""><u>You can check it out by
clicking here.</u></a>

I'm also going to be experimenting with some other items in my daily
blog, such as breaking out the Daily Numbers into a separate item. If
you have suggestions for the blog, please post a response.

A funny thing happened on the way to the traditional post-Labor Day
start of the political season.

It showed up early. Again.

Maybe you've noticed. Today we take time out to honor working men and
women. We say goodbye to summer. We take one last dip in the ocean, then
close up the beach house.

Tomorrow it's back to business. And in Delaware County, that means politics.

Except that nobody bothered to tell the candidates for Delaware County
Council. They've been going at it for weeks now. Holding dueling press
conferences, sometimes even showing up at an opponent's event to offer a
dissenting opinion.

This is something of a new trend. By that I mean Republicans even
bothering to notice that Democrats were running for County Council.
There was a time when the local GOP would nominate their candidates,
then promptly ignore what too often amounted to token opposition from
county Democrats before reveling in their usual lopsided rout in November.
Along the way there would be complaints about the lack of debates, the
annual argument over whether the Chamber of Commerce Meet the Candidates
night should even count, and maybe a League of Women Voters function.

Not this year. Exactly 11 weeks from tomorrow, voters will go to the
Delaware County polls to elect three new members of County Council. Both
the Delco GOP and county Dems have put up three candidates. Ironically,
none of them are incumbents. That's because council boss Andy Reilly
can't seek another term. Instead he'll have to settle for managing the
Republicans' campaign. Council member Mary Alice Brennan is running for
a seat on the county court of common pleas. She was a district justice
before joining council. Councilman Mike Puppio is not seeking re-election.
The Republicans nominated the troika of Haverford Commissioner Andy
Lewis, Springfield Commissioner Tom McGarrigle and Middletown
Commissioner Christine Fizzano-Cannon.

They will run against the Democratic slate of attorneys David Landau and
John Innelli, along with Ann O'Keefe.
In years past, these would be fairly sleepy affairs. After all, a
Democrat has not been elected to County Council since the Home Rule
Charter was adopted in the mid-'70s.

Republicans would do their best to ignore their overmatched foes,
banking on their fat war chests, lopsided voter registration edge and
well-oiled election day machinery to cruise to victory.

Then something strange started happening. At least here in Delaware County.

Democrats started winning elections. This once-unthinkable notion
started from the top down, with a guy you might remember. They called
him the Comeback Kid. He certainly was in Delaware County.

Bill Clinton carried Delco in two straight presidential races. It was
the start of a trend. Al Gore also took the county, even while losing to
George W. Bush. Same holds true for John Kerry, who racked up a win here
as well.

Take a look at the governor's race. Delco was crucial in doing something
most people thought was impossible: Electing a Democratic former mayor
of Philadelphia to statewide office. Ed Rendell rode to Harrisburg
largely on the strength of voters in the traditionally GOP-dominated
Philly suburbs. Delco went for him big-time, then proved it wasn't a
fluke by doing it again last November.
Of course, those were national and statewide races. The Delco GOP kept
its ironclad grip on local offices.

Right up until last November. That's when the thunderbolt struck. Joe
Sestak stunned the Delco GOP by beating 10-term incumbent Congressman
Curt Weldon. Yes, they were helped in no small part by a federal
investigation that blew up in Weldon's face just a few weeks before the

Now the Democrats have their eyes on the one prize that has eluded them,
the Media Courthouse.
Landau was a key member of the Sestak campaign. It's evident he's using
the same game plan. He's been out front for weeks, hammering away at the

The GOP has noticed. And they've returned fire. Specifically, Reilly has
been in the forefront of defending the GOP positions in Media.
Now the Republicans are talking about increasing the openness of county
government. Yes, that would be the same government they have ruled for
the past three decades.

They are talking about how many doors they will knock on, saying they
will go face-to-face with 10,000 Delco residents.
And, of course, they are responding with a passion when they believe
their position is not getting a fair shake in this newspaper.
This very well could be a new day in Delco politics. Who would have
thought that Democrats would be taken seriously, let alone considered a
threat, in a race for County Council.

Buckle your seat belts, voters. It's going to be an interesting couple
of months.
And we'll all likely be better off for it.

/Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at (610)
622-8818. E-mail him at To visit his daily blog,
the Heron's Nest, go to

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A sure sign of fall

It's a sure sign that summer is totally, officially and beyond question

No, it's not the idea of turning the calendar over to September.

Not the fact that Labor Day is now in the rear-view mirror.

Not the fact that it seems to be getting dark earlier and earlier at night.

Not the fact that politicians will now begin turning up everywhere. Hey,
does anybody know who Al Taubenberger is? He's the Republican running
for mayor of Philadelphia against Michael Nutter? No wonder nobody knows
the guy.

It's not the fact that those kids who have not yet returned to school
likely will trudge back this week.

It's not the fact that, true to form, the Phillies took us to the brink
of hysteria with their thrilling sweep of the Mets, only to put it full
throttle into reverse, leaving us cursing our fate one more time.

It's not even the fact that the real sports season starts this week,
with the Eagles opener on Sunday, a 1 p.m. date on the not-yet-frozen
tundra of legendary Lambeau Field against the Packers.

Give up yet?

How was your drive in this morning? That's right, it's traffic. Is it me
or does the number of cars on the road triple on the Tuesday after Labor

Everyone is back from the shore. Everyone is headed back to school. And
of course kids have to drive their own cars. Every school bus manages to
be right in front of me.

At times like this, there's only one thing to do. All together now:

So how many times do you think we're going to hear that between now and

Yeah, that's right, about the same number as the cars backed up on the
Blue Route this morning.

Yep, summer's over. Hello, fall. It's nice to know some things don't change.

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it's so difficult
to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan
Speaking of falling back, the Phils aren't waiting for the end of
daylight saving time for their annual dive. They did it again. Took us
right to the precipice of exhiliration, then promptly backed off. They
swept the Mets, only to lose two of three to the lowly Marlins, and get
hammed yesterday in Atlanta.

The Daily Numbers: 5 days and counting before the Eagles open their
season in Green Bay. Try not to hyperventilate, fans.

21 years old, age of La Salle College student struck and killed by a
taxi early Sunday on Ridge Avenue in East Falls.

41 years ago, when a Philadelphia police officer was shot. He died of an
infection last month. Now the D.A. is going to bring murder charges
against the man who was convicted and did his time in the shooting.

2 stories, where a car flew out of a Philadelphia parking garage and
slammed into the pavement below, killing the driver.

4 people who suffered from carbon monoxide symptoms after inhaling
dangerous levels of the gas at a King of Prussia hotel over the weekend.
A fault pool heater was the cause.

150 graffiti images spray-painted on William Penn High School in
Wilmington over the weekend. It's the second incident of vandalism that
has targeted a Delaware high school.

11 months old, age of toddler who drowned in a bathtub in the Olney
section of Philadelphia.

9 people who lost their lives in a bloody holiday weekend on the streets
of Philadelphia.

287, where the murder toll now stands in the city.

11 losses now for Phils' aging starter Jamie Moyer, against 12 wins.

4 hits the Phils managed yesterday in losing to the Braves.

5 games back of the Mets in the N.L. East, where the Phils now sit. They
are 3 games back in the Wild-Card race, tied with the Dodgers.


I Don't Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Why is it that every
kid on your block (including my own) has to drive his or her own car to
school? Exactly how are we ever going to cut our demand for oil with
thinking like that? I don't get it.


Today's Upper: Yes, summer is over. So when do the leaves start to
change color? At least there's that to look forward to, followed of
course by months of gray, cold weather.


Quote Box: "I think that many people believe that because you to to
church or area a member of a ministry, domestic violence doesn't affect
you, but this shows that domestic violence affects women in all aspects
of life."
-- Linette Graham, at fund-raiser to help the children of murder victim
Christine Coleman.