Friday, August 29, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 29

The Daily Numbers: 85,000 people jammed into Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver last night to see Barack Obama become the first person of color to be nominated for president by one of the major political parties.

12 noon, when GOP presidential nominee in waiting John McCain is expected to announce his choice of a running mate.

30,000 dollar fine slapped on Harrah’s Casino for an underage gambler at one of its slots machines as well as some security problems on the casino floor.

75 people who met last night in Middletown to hear the recommendation for the former home of the Franklin Mint, the final part of the “charrette” process.

448 to 17, ,vote by which teachers in Souderton voted in favor of a strike if talks do not reach a new contract.

3 DUI charges in 8 days for a professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

1,300 welfare recipients in Pennsylvania who are learning that their Social Security numbers and other key info were mistakenly mailed to other addresses.

7 gunshots pumped into a man at 21st and Diamond streets in Philadelphia. He died at the hospital.

89 age of man in East Goshen, Chester County, who police believe shot his 54-year-old daughter to death and then turned the gun on himself in a domestic disturbance. He’s in guarded condition.

18 houses spray-painted with anti-Bush and anti-war graffiti in Ocean County, N.J.

3 female employees who allegedly were being taped by a hidden camera in the bathroom of a Philadelphia jewelry store. The owner now faces charges.

2 dead in an apparent murder-suicide in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia; 5 children were found unharmed.

61 age of man who was scheduled to be sentenced for the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl in Montgomery County. His body was found in the Delaware River. He had jumped in. It’s being considered a suicide.

46 age of teacher at Saint Monica’s in Berwyn charged with having child porn on his home computer. He’s from Havertown and formerly taught at St. Bernadette’s in Drexel Hill.

621 state stores in Pennsylvania that will be getting a facelift by the LCB in an attempt to offer a more pleasant alcohol shopping experience.

1,500 National Guard troops dispatched to New Orleans today as the region braces for the possible arrival of Hurricane Gustav.

111 mph winds, what the storm could be packing when it arrives.

7 strong innings for Cole Hamels last night, but it wasn’t enough as the Phils’ bullpen coughed up another lead and lost to the Cubs.

0 outs recorded by Ryan Madson.

1 out recorded by Chad Durbin. When those two were done, a 4-1 lead had turned into a 6-4 loss.

1 full game behind the Mets, where Phils stand in NL East.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
The Phillies announced this week they’ve set a single-season record for the number of sellouts. Wednesday’s packed house at Citizens Bank Park marked the 45th sellout of the season. Not bad for a bunch of “front-runners.”

I Don’t Get It: Can you imagine an uglier image than needles and syringes on the beach. Kind of makes the bottom of your feet tingle just thinking about it.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to GOP standard-bearer John McCain. He aired a TV commercial last night with a message marking the historic nomination of his opponent, Democrat Barack Obama. “Job well done,” McCain said in the ad. Class move.


Quote Box: “I realize I am not the likeliest candidate for this office.”

-- Barack Obama last night in Denver, accepting the Democratic nomination, and becoming the first person of color to do so.

The dream come true

I find myself with something in common with Michelle Obama this morning. I’m incredibly proud of my country.

You might remember the wife of the newly minted Democratic nominee took some heat a while back for twisting a few words, or having them twisted for her. What she said sounded suspiciously like, “for the first time in her adult life,” she was proud of her country in the wake of her husband’s presidential candidacy.

I’m guessing that’s not literally what she meant. I think she was trying to reference how proud she was of her husband and his race for the White House.

I couldn’t agree with her more.

Forty-five years to the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to a massive throng on the mall in Washington, D.C., the dream took on the look of reality when Barack Obama strode onto that outdoor stage.

The dream was coming true for Barack Obama. And it came true for America, too.

It is, in fact, the American dream, where we believe that a child can grow up to be anything he or she wants to be.

And that includes president of the United States.

Last night Obama became the first person of color to be nominated for president by a major political party.

That does not mean we are done with race in this race. It will remain lurking in places we don’t like to think about. It remains to be seen whether people in a lot of states – and that includes Pennsylvania – vote as good as they talk.

But for one sparkling night, American was everything it is supposed to be, a place where we do not judge a person by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

And by their stance on the issues.

I will admit there is a bit of me that was leery about the way last night’s finale at the Democratic Convention in Denver was being set up. Republicans already are framing Obama as the “rock star” politician, more show than substance.

It seemed moving the proceedings from inside the Pepsi Center to the sprawling Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium, where 85,000 people were waiting to embrace him, appeared to play right into their hands.

It didn’t. Instead, it was electric.

And historic.

To his credit, Obama did not spend much time on race and the historical aspects of the evening. But it was the backbone of everything that happened.

Obama instead turned the tables on his GOP counterpart, moving again and again to link John McCain to the policies of George W. Bush and calling for change.

We now have three months to compare and contrast the two. McCain and the Republicans will gather in St. Paul starting Monday for their convention.

They will be hard-pressed to match the historical implications we witnessed last night in Denver.

It’s referred to as the Mile High City. And it was a Mile High Moment. A black man accepting the nomination of his party to seek the presidency of the United States.

Forty-five years ago, Rev. King talked about the dream. Last night it came true.

Another moment in history

Today we also mark another historic moment. And we again look warily at some menacing skies.

In New Orleans, they continue to put their lives back together three years after Katrina rumbled ashore and changed the Crescent City – and the nation – forever.

Now almost to the day, another storm is rumbling in the Gulf. The fear is that Gustav will mimic Katrina and lash New Orleans.

Many of the ceremonies to mark the third anniversary are being brushed aside today as the region braces for Gustav.

The National Guard was beginning to arrive in New Orleans, and some nursing homes and hospitals were beginning to move patients inland.

Just where Gustav will come ashore is not really known yet. Forecasters say it could hit anywhere from the Florida Panhandle to the east coast of Texas. But when it does, it likely will be packing a punch, possibly as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 111 mph or greater.

Say a prayer for the good people of New Orleans, and the entire region, that they are spared a repeat of the nightmare from three years ago.

Another nightmare on Jersey shore

Speaking of nightmares, it continues for some Jersey shore towns.

What started as a problem last weekend in Avalon, with medical waste washing up on the beach, leading to beach closings, has now turned up in neighboring Ocean City.

It’s hard to imagine a worse sight when it comes to the beach than used syringes, needles and medical waste.

The two instances aren’t believed to be related; that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.

The timing is about as bad as Gustav’s.

Already a peak vacation week, even more people will jam the Jersey Shore for the traditional last hurrah of the summer season, otherwise known as the Labor Day weekend.

But right now a string of beaches are closed in Ocean City. The news did not improve this morning. A woman has reported finding still another syringe on the beach.

Whether the beaches will be reopened is unclear. Just as in Avalon, only a small percentage of beach is closed.

But the image is unmistakable. And ugly.

Hurricanes don’t usually show up in New Jersey. Unfortunately, medical waste does.

And right now it is threatening to ruin the Labor Day weekend for a lot of people.

Phils not ‘ace’-ing this exam

Unless I’m mistaken, I consistently hear Cole Hamels described as the “ace” of the Phillies pitching staff.

So since when is the ace only capable of going seven innings?

Coming off two nights against the Mets that consisted of the ecstasy of a miracle comeback and the agony of a bullpen meltdown, the Phils went to Wrigley Field and promptly offered an instant replay of their ugly loss the night before.

Two nights ago, the Phils got the better of Mets’ ace Johan Santana, only to see their bullpen cough it up.

Last night they staked themselves to a lead against outstanding Cubs’ starter Ryan Dempster.

They went into the seventh inning with a 4-1 lead and Hamels on the mound.

But Hamels did not come out for the eighth. Having thrown 108 pitches, he was lifted in favor of Ryan Madson.

No, you didn’t read that wrong. The Phillies brain trust decided they had a better shot with Ryan Madson pitching than Cole Hamels.

I don’t know exactly what transpired in that decision. I don’t know if Hamels told them he didn’t have anything left. I hope that’s not the case. I hope he screamed like hell – doing his best Brett Myers imitation – that he wanted to go back out in the eighth.

Madson promptly imploded. Mike Fontenot greeted him with a home run. He then gave up two more hits before giving way to Chad Durbin. Durbin walked Derek Lee to load the bases. They didn’t stay that way long. Aramis Ramirez crushed a ball into the seats in left-center.

That’s two nights in a row the Phils – and their suddenly suspect bullpen – have grasped defeat from the jaws of victory.

It leaves them a full game behind the Mets, who did not play last night.

And it should leave a lot of people wondering exactly what the definition of “ace” is.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 28

The Daily Numbers: 1 person of color who has been nominated for president by a major political party. That would be Barack Obama.

52,000 acres in Delaware and Montgomery counties targeted for aerial spraying last night in an attempt to eradicate mosquitoes.

17 years, how long Sen. Joe Biden has taught a class at Widener Law School. Last night a group gathered at the Widener campus to watch him accept the Democratic vice presidential nomination.

107 mph, what Delaware state police clocked a driver at on I-495. He faces a host of charges, including driving under the influence.

1.5 miles, the perimeter inside which secondary students in the Penn-Delco School District must walk to school.

90 million dollar movie studio planned for Chester Township, which is one step closer to reality after a public hearing on Tuesday.

7 bucks a month, how much natural gas bills for PECO customers are expected to go down in September after the utility cuts its rates.

20 Philadelphia schools that made a state list of those considered ‘persistently dangerous.’

14 age of girl who was victimized by a former special education teacher from South Philadelphia who was sentenced to jail time for having sex with the girl.

10,000 reward being offered by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office for information on who was responsible for dumping medical waste that wound up on the beach in Avalon.

2 people found dead in an apparent murder-suicide in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia.

1 penny dip in cost of gasoline, now going for an average of $3.61 in the suburban area.

1,000 fine levied against a New Jersey man for his role in the death of a sea gull.

0 what it costs to rent a bicycle in downtown Pottstown. You show the folks at Tri-State Bicycles a valid ID and you’re off and pedaling.

3 runs scored by the Phils last night as they took the lead from Mets’ ace Johan Santana. Wasn’t enough as the Phils fell, 6-3.

.5 games back one more time for the Phils after the loss.

4 games against the Cubs in Wrigley, starting tonight.

0 plays likely for Donovan McNabb and the Eagles starters tonight in the exhibition finale against the Jets.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
So high and so low. Yep, if it’s late August, it must be the Phillies. But Rudy Seanez? So it ain’t so, Charlie.

I Don’t Get It: Seems odd that the state could not offer a little more in the way of notice to Radnor residents who are rightfully upset at the aerial spraying program against mosquitoes in their neighborhood.


Today’s Upper: Regardless of your political affiliation, there’s no denying the historical significance of the nomination of Barack Obama to be president of the United States. It’s a milestone for the nation.


Quote Box: “This is to prove … we have very powerful people in powerful places. Widener, though small, is all over.”

-- Widener sophomore Rob Colon at party Wednesday night to watch law school prof Sen. Joe Biden accept Democratic nomination as vice president.

History in Denver

There’s really only one word to describe what happened Wednesday in Denver, Colo.

And the same word will apply tonight when more than 70,000 will squeeze into a football stadium in the Mile High City.

They will not be there for a sporting event. Neither were the folks who gathered at the Pepsi Center (Denver’s version of the Wachovia Center) nearby on Wednesday.

They were there to witness history.

Sen. Barack Obama officially became the nominee of the Democratic Party to be president of the United States.

Despite no small amount of drama and angst about exactly how the Democrats would arrive at that end, how they would salve the bruised feelings of those who supported the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, it was a foregone conclusion that Obama would be the nominee.

It did not make the moment any less historic.

Barack Obama becomes the first person of color to be nominated for the highest office in the land by a major political party.

Tonight he will stride to the podium exactly 45 years to the day after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King did likewise in a sweltering Washington, D.C., and delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

On Wednesday, Barack Obama fulfilled King’s words.

It says much about how far the nation has come.

But the notoriety surrounding Obama’s candidacy, and the lingering doubts about the nation’s willingness to support a black candidate, tell us how far we still have to go.

For now, we all should enjoy the moment. We should revel in the democratic process. Note that is with a small d. The same process will be repeated next week when Republicans gather in Minneapolis/St. Paul to officially anoint John McCain as their candidate.

Yesterday Democrats strived mightily once again to unite behind Obama. They started with a roll call vote, then allowed Hillary Clinton, who was denied the opportunity to become the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party, to lead the New York delegation in asking that the move to back Obama be made by unanimous acclimation.

Then her husband, the last Democrat to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, also made it clear he was backing Obama, in the process sweeping aside comments from earlier in the campaign in which he openly questioned whether the Illinois senator was ready to be president. Bill Clinton used all of his oratorical skills to praise the man who had vanquished his wife in a brutally contested race.

Del. Sen. Joe Biden then took the stage, poked fun at himself and his knack for being long-winded, and used one word to answer the appeal to be the party’s vice-presidential candidate: Yes.

Then there was one final twist. Obama himself joined Biden on the stage. He will return to the spotlight to formally acccept the nomination tonight.

King spoke of a country that has yet to fully live up to its creed, that all men are created equal.

That has been especially true of the two major presidential parties and their nominees for president. Until yesterday they all had one thing in common.

Barack Obama changed all that.

Forty-five years ago, King spoke of a dream.

Yesterday and later today in Denver, Colo., Barack Obama will embody it.

They’re bugged out in Radnor

The good denizens out on the Main Line are bugged these days.

They’re furiously swatting away an unusually heavy infestation of mosquitoes.

And they’re equally bugged by the state’s attempt to eradicate the problem.

Citing the need to thin the skeeter population, the state announced plans Monday night to do some aerial spraying, a new twist in their war on the critters that are tied to West Nile Virus. For the most part the state Department of Environmental Protection has dispatched teams on the ground to attack the problem.

That didn’t seem to be working. Record numbers of mosquitoes have been detected in the region this summer. So they announced plans to take to the air to attack the problem. Word came Monday night.

The spraying was scheduled for Tuesday night, just about 24 hours later.

Radnor residents were not especially happy, either with the idea of spraying by air, or at what they say was the lack of proper notice they received.

Township officials, besieged by complaints from the public, actually went to court in an attempt to block the aerial plan. They lost, with a Commonwealth Court judge issuing a one-line ruling rejecting their claim late Wednesday afternoon.

The aerial spraying to attack the burgeoning mosquito population detected in the region was expected to go on as planned last night.

Some outdoor activities were canceled, despite state assurances that the spraying posed no danger to residents. It probably didn’t help that the initial advisory urged pregnant women and children to avoid exposure.

It is believed that 52,000 acres in Delaware and Montgomery counties were treated with a fine mist of the chemical resmerthrin.

Let’s hope it KO’d those pesky mosquitoes.

Easing residents concerns about the program, and the way it was implemented, might be a little harder to do.

For Phils, it’s one step forward, one step back

It’s been the story of the Phillies season. They are consistently inconsistent.

So one night after thrilling fans with a miracle comeback to beat the Mets in 13 innings and vault into first place, they promptly threw it all back Wednesday night.

Charlie Manuel was pushing all the right buttons during the Phils’ improbable win Tueday night. Not so last night.

Rudy Seanez?

Yep, that’s who was on the hill at crunch time for the Phils.

The fans had visions of a sweep as Kyle Kendrick walked a tightrope, consistently pitching out of danger. The Phils were clinging to a 3-2 lead over the Mets and their ace, Johan Santana.

Then they went to the bullpen. Scott Eyre was fine, pitching two scoreless innings, striking out three in the process.

Then Manuel handed the ball to Seanez. Not so good.

He gave up a home run to Carlos Delgado, his second of the game. Closer Brad Lidge, called on to put out the fire, didn’t fare much better.

The Phillies’ bullpen has been their strength all year. Last night it was their downfall.

Along the way they promptly fell out of first place. Instead of being up by a game and a half, they now trail by a half game. And they face a tough four-game series in Wrigley Field against the Cubs starting tonight.

One of these teams, the Phillies or Mets, is going to win the NL East. It just might come down to which bullpen throws away more games in the last month of the season.

Tuesday night the Phillies enjoyed the thrill of victory after being down 7-0. Last night they endured the agony of defeat after scratching out a lead against Santana.

So why would I feel a lot better about if it were just about anybody other than Rudy Seanez who threw the gas on the fire?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 27

The Daily Numbers: 17 age of teen driver who was the victim of a road-rage incident in which an older man confronted her with a gun. She was not seriously injured. Be careful out there.

2 Wawa holdups in Ridley and Claymont, Del., in a span of about 4 hours. Police believe the same man hit both convenience stores.

11 age of suspect in burglary at the Suburban Armory in Collingdale in which a cache of guns was stolen. He’s now been released on home monitoring.

3.6 billion dollar contract awarded to Boeing’s Ridley plant to build 181 CH-47F Chinook helicopters for the Army.

19 Delco towns that have been targeted for intense spraying in a battle against mosquitoes and West Nile Virus. Residents in Radnor are balking at the aerial spraying.

3 times sections of the beach in Avalon, N.J., have been closed this week because of medical waste washing up on the sand.

3 flights from Philadelphia International being cut by Southwest Airlines this winter. They are to Chicago and Tampa.

1 as in No. 1, where we rank when it comes to tipping, according to a new Zagat survey.

50 percent of the King of Prussia Mall that is being put up for sale by its owner.

8 age of boy found hanged to death in his home in Trenton, N.J..

53 million dollars paid for 39 Wachovia Bank branches in the region by American Realty Corp.

3 percent hike in home prices in the region, bucking the national trend. The president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors says it now takes an average of 72 days for a home to sell in this region.

7 point lead for Barack Obama over John McCain in a new poll of Pennsylvania voters done by Quinnipiac University.

0 change in the average price of gasoline overnight, according to AAA. Average price stands at $3.62.

450,000 residents in the region who say they will travel 50 miles or more on the Labor Day weekend. That’s down 1 percent from last year.

13 innings and 5 hours, and worth every second, as the Phils came from behind to beat the Mets last night.

4 hits for Chris Coste, including the game-winner, even though he did not enter the game until the eighth inning.

5 hits for Jimmy Rollins, as he continues to turn his season around.

2 Phillies pitchers who were used as pinch-hitters by Charlie Manuel.

.5 game lead for the Phils, as they leap-frogged the Mets to take over the top spot in the NL East.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Call it karma, but this is the game we likely will remember if the Phils hold on to win the National League East. Unbelievable.

I Don’t Get It: What would possess someone to throw a brick at a car amid busy traffic on I-95? Or for that matter chase and confront a teen driver with a knife? Police are investigating both instances. Hey, be careful out there.


Today’s Upper: We’re No. 1, and not just the Phillies. The folks at the Zagat survey that keeps tabs on the restaurant biz say the Philadelphia region is home to the best tippers.


Quote Box: “The only people I hear talking about a divide are reorters asking for a comment on a divide.”

-- Delco native Gerald Lawrence, a delegate at the Democratic National Convention.

Hillary delivers the goods

That swooshing sound you hear everywhere this morning is the sound of Democrats exhaling.

They have survived Hillary. The senator from New York had her moment in the spotlight at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last night. And she delivered the goods with a call to unite behind Sen. Barack Obama and send him to the White House in November.

It’s been a long, strange trip that found Clinton at the podium in Denver. She no doubt had been expecting to be there Thursday night, to accept the mantle as the first woman nominated by a major party for president, coinciding with the 88th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.

Didn’t work out that way. A lot of other people also exercised their suffrage. In the process, the scales tipped to Obama.

But Clinton would not go away. Neither would the rumors.

Ever since it became apparent that Clinton would not be able to dig her way out of an early hole and overtake Obama’s commanding lead, despite big wins for her in Pennsylvania and most of the key big states Democrats traditionally need to win, there have been rumblings of anger in the Clinton camp.

Hillary was not happy. Neither was her husband, former President Bill. Even more furious were here legions of supporters, many of them women, who felt they had been cheated out of something that was rightfully theirs, or so they thought -- the Democratic nomination.

They insisted she was the better candidate, that she was in a better position to beat the apparent GOP standard-bearer John McCain, that the numbers eventually would tilt her way.

But the numbers did not lie. The nomination – something the Clinton camp seemed to believe they were almost entitled to – were not going to change. She would not be able to overcome Obama’s lead. He was going to be the nominee.

The Clinton camp accepted all of this through gritted teeth. Then everyone held their breath for months in expectations of just how involved Clinton would be in backing Obama.

Last night Hillary Clinton dispelled all of that with a speech that hit all the right notes for those looking for a unified party moving out of Denver and on to the general election in November.

Of course, as there always is with the Clintons, there are a few more landmines to avoid. There is today’s roll call vote that apparently is still the focus of intense lobbying this morning. Just how far the vote actually goes remains to be seen, and whether those who may not get the opportunity to cast their voices for Hillary will cry foul could still soil the Dems’ week.

Then there is Mr. Bill. The former president also speaks tonight, before the vice presidential nominee, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden.

Whether Bill Clinton will be as magnanimous as his wife remains to be seen.

Maybe it’s time for Democrats to start holding their breath again.

Nightmare in Avalon

The recent weather has been the stuff chamber of commerce officials at the shore dream of.

Unless of course you happen to be an official in Avalon, N.J.

The popular Jersey shore spot has had to close its beaches three different times since the weekend because of medical waste washing up on the beach. It’s ugly stuff, cotton swabs, pill casings, and even worse, exposed syringes and needles.

Just the thought of all those happy feet on the sand in close proximity to those needles is enough to turn your stomach – and turn a tourism official’s hair prematurely gray.

Luckily there have been no instances of anyone being injured by any of the medical debris. But it still could not come at a worse time. This is one of the busiest weeks of the year at the shore – the lead-up to the unofficial end of the season with the Labor Day weekend.

Yesterday the beaches were closed again. A decision on whether they can be reopened today will be mater later this morning.

In the meantime, officials are opening a criminal probe into how the material wound up on the beach. It appears fairly clear that this did not come from a barge at sea because it has been limited to a fairly small area.

Now they’re apparently considering another possibility. That would be sabotage. It’s one of the things being considered by town officials, along with the state Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Environmental Protection.

We hope they catch those responsible, and throw the book at them. Or at least a few needles.

Be careful out there on the roads

Here’s something I am constantly reminding myself when I’m out on the road. It might not be a bad idea for others to do the same.

Take a deep breath before you do something, say something, or offer a gesture you might live to regreat.

I had to swallow my tongue last night on the ride home when the woman behind me decided she didn’t like the way I was driving and leaned on her horn. The truth is she was probably right. I was in my normal “ride home” coma-like state and should have gotten out of the left-hand lane to let her go by. Still, I didn’t appreciate the rude sound from directly behind me.

I decided to let it go. The truth is you really don’t know what kind of people are out there on the road and what they’re capable of doing.

Take the Chadds Ford teen who apparently did something a man took offense at while driving along Route 1 out in just over the county line in Chester County. He started following her – closely – for miles. Police say he chased her across the state line into Delaware. When she came to a stop sign he pulled his pickup truck in front of her car. Then he got out and confronted her. He pushed his way into the car. She eventually was punched in the face and the man waved a knife in her face.

Scary stuff. And we’re seeing more and more of it all the time. Something is making us go haywire when we get behind the wheel.

And I include myself in that group. I will admit that my temper usually gets the best of me when I’m driving. I am too quick to offer some fairly colorful descriptions of someone else’s driving ability, or a fairly popular hand gesture.

I’m going to remind myself to refrain from doing such things. The truth is you just don’t know who is out there, and what they’re capable of.

The idea is to get to your destination – preferably in one piece.

Call them front-running Phils

This one had disaster written all over it.

No, not Hillary speaking at the Democratic National Convention. I refer to last night’s Phillies-Mets extravaganza at Citizens Bank Park.

This is the kind of outing you worry about when Jamie Moyer takes the mound. Saying he just didn’t have it last night would be kind.

Moyer lasted just three innings. In the process he dug the Phils a 6-0 hole. It would get worse. Soon the Phils found themselves trailing 7-0.

Things were so bad manager Charlie Manuel decided to let reliever Clay Condrey hit for himself, I guess in the hopes of getting a few more innings out of him and saving the rest of the Phils’ overworked bullpen.

Then something magical happened. Condrey promptly spanked a double. The spark had been lit.

It took 13 innings and more than five hours, but eventually the Phils climbed out of that 7-0 hole for an improbable – some might say miraculous – 8-7 win.

How weird was it? Chris Coste entered the game in the eighth inning and still had four hits, including the game-winner in the 13th.

The Phillies used two pitchers, Cole Hamels and Brett Myers, as pinch-hitters.

Mr. Front-Runner himself, Jimmy Rollins, continued his turnaround. He pounded out five hits, including a key home run. That was followed a few batters later by Ryan Howard.

The Phils desperately needed to win last night. That’s in no small part because they face the Mets’ ace, Johan Santana, tonight.

But they awoke this morning in first place, leap-frogging the Mets with the improbable win.

And they put a smile on a lot of faces who went to bed sure that they would be a game and a half out today with Santana looming over tonight’s affair.

It’s hard to say who had a better night, the Phils or Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 26

The Daily Numbers: 5 attempts on the life of Alfonso ‘Fonnie’ Caldwell, who was busted yesterday for his role in a huge cocaine operation that ran drugs in the city of Chester.

20 years in prison, what Caldwell faces if convicted on all counts.

24 pounds of cocaine, how much of the drug police believe Caldwell sold on the streets of Chester.

500,000 dollars that police believe went through Caldwell’s drug operation in the years 2003-06.

5,770 students go back to school today – a week before Labor Day – in the Ridley School District.

12 items that remain on the bargaining table as Springfield School District and its teachers try to reach a new contract agreement.

20 to 40 years in prison for an Allentown man who pleaded guilty for his role in the beating death of a Kutztown University student last fall.

2 beach closures in Avalon, N.J., after medical waste washed up on the shore. Authorities are now conducting a criminal probe to determine who is responsible for dumping the waste in the ocean.

100 acres burned in a forest fire in the Wharton State Forest in Camden County, N.J.

1 Philadelphia police officer and 3 others injured when a a patrol car collided with a car near Broad and Spring Garden streets about 1 a.m. this morning.

1 killed and 1 injured in a shooting that took place Monday at a communications center in Buena Vista, N.J.

1,000 dollars, 2 credit cards and a Pa. driver’s license found in a plastic bag in the surf in Ocean City, Md. The 11-year-old Delaware girl who found it turned it in to the very thankful owners.

28,000 children for whom damages are being sought in another lawsuit that has targeted the troubled Department of Human Services in Philadelphia.

25 years in jail for a former white skinhead for conspiring to commit a racial killing more than 20 years ago. The man was actually acquitted of the actual killing.

2 cent dip in the cost of gasoline over the weekend in the region, according to AAA. Average price now is $3.62.

3 hits last night for Jimmy Rollins, as the Phils swept the Dodgers.

1.66 ERA for Brett Myers since he has been recalled from the minors.

9 hits, 0 runs given up Myers in 7 innings against the Dodgers last night.

2 key games for the Phils and Mets starting tonight at Citizens Bank Park with the Phils still a half-game behind the Mets in NL East.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Is that a sign of a turnaround last night from Jimmy Rollins? His three hits sparked the Phils, who also got another good effort from starter Brett Myers.

I Don’t Get It: Why did the Democrats wait until 10:30 last night to roll out the star of the night, Michelle Obama? Prime time is one thing, but that’s just too late to get to the featured speaker.


Today’s Upper: Who says there are no good kids around anymore? Take the case of an 11-year-old girl from Brandywine Hundred in Delaware. She’s being rightly lauded for returning the plastic bag she found in the surf in Ocean City containing two credit cards and a driver’s license. Oh, and something else. There was a cool $1,000 in cash as well. She did the right thing. Good for her.


Quote Box: “Caldwell was not some small-time drug operator. Tens of thousands of dollars were changing hands during drug transactions.”

-- U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid, in announcing charges against ‘Fonnie’ Caldwell.

Rocky Mountain Low

Here’s a tip for the Democratic Party. You are holding your nominating convention in Denver. You know, the Mile High City. Need proof? Look to the west. That big wall there? Those are the Rocky Mountains. They also come in handy when you’re driving around town. You can’t get lost because you always know which way is west. Those mountains have a way of reminding you of that.

And that’s my point. Denver is in the Mountain Time Zone. I know some of this “inside” Denver stuff because I lived there for a few years back in the ’70s. Got my degree from the University of Colorado.

I was thinking about the Mountain Time Zone – and the fact that nobody lives there – last night as I struggled unsuccessfully to stay awake to hear Michelle Obama officially open the convention at which her husband will be nominated for president.

The people in Denver and other locales in the Mountain Time Zone are used to events taking place at odd times. Especially televised events, and in particular nationally televised events.

Like, oh for instance, dinosaurs such as these shindigs the two major political parties hold every four years to nominate their candidates for the highest office in the land.

The Mountain Time Zone is two hours behind us here on the East Coast. TV does not look especially kindly on the Mountain Time Zone. That’s because they know no one lives there, at least when it comes to ratings. So the denizens of the Mountain Time Zone basically hold events whenever TV tells them to. For instance, Monday Night Football kicks off at 7 p.m. in Denver.

So can someone explain to me why Michelle Obama did not step to the microphone last night before 10:30 p.m. That’s actually my guess. I was long gone at that point. I was flipping furiously between the Democrats and the Phillies when I succumbed to Mr. Sand Man.

I didn’t see the end of the Phillies game. Nor did I see the emotional appearance of Sen. Ted Kennedy, battling cancer, at the podium in Denver. So Michelle Obama had no shot with me.

Why not have her speak at 8 p.m., or even 9? It’s not like there is any great drama involved here. Obama will be nominated for president; joined by his choice for vice president, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden.

By the way, if you’re interested in a local angle on what’s happening at the convention in Denver, You can check out Gerald Lawrence’s blog here.

If there’s any drama in this Democratic fun fest, it might come tonight, when it’s Hillary Clinton’s turn to address the faithful. Hopefully she’ll speak a little earlier than Michelle Obama did.

Every word, every facial tic and expression will be examined with a microscope to see if she’s just putting on a good front, or if she in fact is on board with Obama taking the mantle she surely believed was hers to claim.

But unless they bump up her speech by a couple of hours, or she suddenly joins the New York Mets’ bullpen, I doubt I will be seeing her.

A tale of two hit-and-runs

In Philadelphia, Haitian-born cabdriver Yves Aristilde sits behind bars, with bail set at $6 million.

He is charged in the fatal hit-and-run crash that snuffed out the life of 5-year-old Tyrell Elliott as he crossed a street in the Logan section of the city with his mother just before 2 a.m. Sunday.

Police believe Aristilde, 62, was behind the wheel of a Yellow Cab that allegedly blew through a red light and slammed into the mother and child.

Aristilde left the scene and abandoned his heavily damaged cab a few blocks away, according to police. He turned himself in to authorities the next day.

Just a few miles away, Kimberly Ferrell sits and waits. She lost her 16-year-old daughter, Faith Sinclair, to a hit-and-run driver more than three weeks ago.

Police have impounded the vehicle they believe struck and killed the popular teen as she tried to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill. They know who the owner is. They’re referring to him as “a person of interest.” But they do not know who was driving that night. No one has been charged in the case.

The owner of the Mercedes has declined to talk to police.

Kimberly Ferrell buried her daughter, but she can’t bury what happened. And she can’t bury her feelings, either.

She visits the site where her daughter was killed and reads passages of the book they were sharing at the time she was so violently taken from her.

And she waits. For closure, and for justice.

Phils on a J-Roll

Another 40,873 “front-runners” packed into Citizens Bank Park last night to see Jimmy Rollins break out of his slump.

Rollins, the reigning National League MVP, has been in the fans’ crosshairs since referring to them as “front-runners” on a national TV show while the team was on the West Coast.

Rollins has not exactly been lighting it up this year – on the field or off. He’s been benched two different times, once for failing to run out a pop fly, and once for arriving at the stadium late for an early game in New York.

Rollins’ play has not exactly been at MVP standards this year either. First, he suffered an ankle injury that put him on the shelf at the start of the year. He has struggled offensively most of the year.

He was in a 4-for-48 funk heading into last night’s finale against the Dodgers.

So all J-Roll did was splash three hits – a single, double and triple – all over the park in leading the Phils to a sweep of the Dodgers.

He was helped in no small part by another Phil who has had his troubles this year. That would be starter Brett Myers, who continues to sparkle in his comeback after a stint in the minors to work the kinks out of his pitching.

Myers got the win, allowing the Dodgers nine hits over seven innings, but not allowing a single runner to cross home plate. Two relievers sealed the shutout.

The Phils remain a half-game out since the Mets shelled the Astros.

And who should appear at Citizens Bank Park tonight? That would be those hated New Yorkers. At stake is a quick two-game series that marks the Gothams final visit to Philly this year. The Phils still have to bid adieu to Shea Stadium, which will be torn down after the season, later in September.

Oh, someone else also will show up at the Park the next two nights. Somewhere in excess of 45,000 “front-runners” will pack the place, going to jowl-to-jowl with any New York fans that make the trip south and hoping the locals can recapture first place in the NL East.

They will be screaming their lungs out for the Phillies. That includes Rollins.

J-Roll might be turning things around just in time. He usually tortures the Mets. Tonight would be a good time to let his bat and glove continue to do the talking.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 25

The Daily Numbers: 30 dollar per ton fee that could be slapped on trash haulers by the Delaware County Solid Waste Authority.

8 million dollars, how much the proposal could genarate.

43 bucks a month more, what it could wind up costing residents more to have their trash collected if the plan is approved.

3 weeks and 1 day since 16-year-old Faith Sinclair was struck and killed as she tried to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill.

5 age of boy struck and killed by a taxi cab in the Logal section of Philadelphia early Sunday. The driver fled, but turned himself in the following day.

3 a.m., when the text message announcing Joe Biden as Barack Obama’s VP choice went out early Saturday. The campaign was scooped on its own announcement by several news outlets.

3.63 a gallon, what we’re paying for gasoline in the Philly region, according to AAA. That’s down 10 percent from the high of $4.16.

1 dead and 4 hurt in car crash on Route 38 in Morrestown, N.J., last night.

8 age of youth believed assaulted by an assistant coach of a pee wee football team in Winslow Township, N.J. The child was playing on the opposing team.

400 dollars in copper piping stolen from a home in Wilmington.

7.6 percent boost in average residential monthly natural gas bill set by Peco as part of a settlement in gas rates.

500 times, how often former anchor Larry Mendte is believed to have tapped into co-anchor Alycia Lane’s e-mail. He entered guilty plea on Friday.

2 key hits last night for Pedro Feliz. He singled to tie the game in the 9th, then won it in the 11th with a 3-run homer.

.5 games behind the Mets, where the Phils now sit.

1 more game against the Dodgers tonight, then 2 with the Mets at Citizens Bank Park for the Phils. If the Phils win tonight, they’ll be tied going into the showdown with the Mets.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
If there is a key difference between the Phils and Mets, it can be found in the bullpen. If the Mets blow it again, their bullpen will likely be their downfall.

I Don’t Get It: It’s now been three weeks and still no word on progress in the hit-run case involving 16-year-old Faith Sinclair. I find it hard to believe no one has come forward with any new info in the case.


Today’s Upper: The big three networks are cutting back on their coverage of the national political conventions. Good. These affairs are not what they used to be. There’s no suspense. The tickets are for the most part set before the convention. They’re glorified infomercials.


Quote Box: “Given a choice, I think every elected representative would rather not have to go before their taxpayers for this and I think for some people it’s going to be a 100 percent increase for what they have to pay.”

-- Swarthmore Borough Manager Jane Billings, on a proposed hike in trash collection fees.

Pa. the key to Biden pick

For much of the weekend, the eyes of the political world were focused on the Greenville section of Wilmington.

That happens to be the affluent enclave where Sen. Joe Biden resides.

Early Saturday morning he became the choice of Democratic nominee-in-waiting Sen. Barack Obama to join him on the ticket as vice president.

Later on Saturday, the scene shifted to Springfield, Ill., where Biden joined Obama for their first appearance together.

Now the nation is riveted on Denver, where the “Joe-Bama” ticket will get the official blessing of the party faithful at the Democratic National Convention this week.

Excuse me, but my eyes are not focused on any of the above. In fact, my eyes continue to zero in on Pennsylvania. More specifically, the suburban Philadelphia area.

You see, I think that was one of the keys to Obama’s selection of Biden to ride shotgun on the ticket.

Just as it has the last few elections, Pennsylvania is, as they say, “in play.”

More than that, I believe the suburban Philadelphia counties, including Delaware County, will be the key, possibly tipping the state.

Democrats have been making gains in what was once turf dominated by the GOP. Here in Delaware County, we’ve seen Dems take the county in the last four presidential races. And we’ve seen upstart Rep. Joe Sestak show longtime incumbent Rep. Curt Weldon the door.

I think that’s the key to the Biden selection. Obama has not fared too well here. He got his clock cleaned by Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Pennsylvania Primary. His comments about Pennsylvanians clinging to guns and religion did not play well here. He is seen as somewhat of a snob, an elitist, someone who does not understand the middle-class that makes up so many of our neighbhorhoods.

Enter Biden.

We like him here, sometimes referring to him as “Pennsylvania’s third senator.”

Get used to seeing a lot of him. Pennsylvania is in play. Obama has made his own play, with the selection of local guy Biden to shore up his flagging support in the Keystone State.

Now our eyes will shift one more time. We now will wait for Sen. John McCain’s choice for VP.

Anyone else think McCain just might try to trump the Biden pick by putting former Gov. Tom Ridge on his ticket?

One thing is certain.

Pennsylvania is going to be a battleground state. And Delaware County will be right in the middle of it.

2 hit-runs, 2 deaths, 2 different endings

One was 16; the other was 5.

Both had their entire lives in front of them. Both were snuffed out in an instant.

Both were victims of hit-run drivers. They met death at the hands of a car, and a driver who did not stop after so brutally extinguishing their lives.

But there is a key difference in the circumstances surrounding the cases of little Tyrell Elliott, who was struck and killed in the Logan section of Philadelphia early Sunday, and Faith Sinclair, who was hit three weeks ago as she tried to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill.

After initially fleeing the scene, a suspect in the hit-run death of 5-year-old Elliott has come forward to turn himself in. There’s been no such development in the Sinclair tragedy.

Police have impounded a car they believe is the Mercedes that slammed into her. They know who the owner of the car is, but no charges have been filed in the case.

We still do not know who was driving.

It’s now been three weeks and one day.

We have not forgotten.

The Mendte Saga

There’s always been a part of me that felt badly for Larry Mendte. Right up until the time he strode to the microphone at his lawyer’s office late Friday afternoon.

Earlier in the day the longtime local TV news anchor had entered a guilty plea to charges that he tapped into the private e-mails of his co-anchor, Alycia Lane, and then leaked info to the media to portray her in a bad light.

Mendte could have simply said he was sorry, that there was no excuse for what he did, and thrown himself on the mercy of the court – and public. For the most part he did just that.

But apparently he simply could not leave it at that. So he strode to the microphones a few hours later at his lawyer’s office and promptly made like the Mets’ bullpen, throwing some gasoline on the fire.

Mendte made it clear his problems started with the arrival of Lane at the station, where he was the king of local news.

Mendte admitted that he and Lane had a “flirtatious, unprofessional and improper relationship.” He didn’t say they had an affair. Just what they had is unclear.

Just what he was trying to accomplish with this is equally unclear, at least to me. Lane’s attorney immediately fired back, threatening to sue Mendte if he characterized the relationship as an “affair,” which he vehemently denied ever happened.

I don’t know what exactly drove Mendte to make the statement he delivered. I don’t know if he was trying to make himself appear more of a victim, or if he was just trying to lob more dirt in Lane’s direction.

Here’s the entire text of what he said. Read it. Maybe you can understand what he was getting at. It strikes me as one final desperate play to justify his actions, which can’t really be justified and for which he rightly pleaded guilty.

Text of statement by former TV news anchor Larry Mendte at news conference:

For thirty years, I have reported stories here in Philadelphia and across the country, and, now, I have become one through no one’s fault but my own.
My actions have hurt and disappointed my family, colleagues, friends, and viewers who trusted me, and for that, I am truly sorry.
My family has been incredibly strong and supportive. You will notice, however, that Dawn is not here with me today at this podium. She wanted to be, but I asked her not to. Although the image of my loving wife standing by my side may have helped me, I think it would hurt her. She still has to anchor the news, which she has done with remarkable personal strength and grace right through this process.
Having her here with me now would have pulled her directly into this intense media spotlight, and I will not do that to her. I have already done enough to her.
Let me explain. This whole episode started five years ago when Alycia Lane came to Philadelphia. Almost immediately, Dawn heard rumors that Alycia and I were a little too close and she should watch out.
The rumors were true. Alycia and I had a flirtatious, unprofessional, and improper relationship.
Dawn found proof of that relationship when she waited in my office on New Years Day 2005 and read e-mails that I had left out on my desk, e-mails between Alycia and me that confirmed her suspicions.
Dawn confronted me with the e-mails. I told her the truth. I told her I loved her, and I apologized. I then immediately stopped having long dinners with Alycia, staying out late with Alycia, and I stopped allowing her to come into my office to do her makeup every day.
The relationship that was once close quickly turned into a personal feud.
Alycia Lane then became friends with others in the building, including the new General Manager. Suddenly, I had shows and responsibilities pulled away from me without explanation. The GM angrily confronted me one day and said that I was bad-mouthing him. I was not. But, clearly, I was not on the list you want to be on with the new GM.
I found proof that it was Alycia who was undermining me when I saw an e-mail she sent to management that she left up on the computer she uses on the set.
I then started looking at other e-mails with passwords I learned when Alycia asked me to help set up her work retirement account, a private stock account, and when she showed me personal e-mails.
I did this without her permission, and it was wrong.
I saw more e-mails bad-mouthing me. I confronted Alycia and asked her to stop. She said that she would not. I complained to management about the problem, and I felt they ignored me.
My role at the station was still being diminished when Alycia told me during an argument on the set, that she (was) the rising star and that I was “50 and on my way out.” Regrettably this made it into the newspapers.
During a meeting the next day, the General Manager acknowledged that he had checked my contract and he really couldn’t move me.
We were the fastest growing newscast in the country. We were winning local and national awards. And, my GM was checking my contract to see where he could move me.
I felt I was in trouble. My career, my future, my family’s future was in trouble. And, this is where I got into more trouble — federal trouble.
I then started checking Alycia Lane’s e-mails by illegally gaining access to all of her accounts. I used a device called a keykatcher that is much too easily available on the Internet. I started seeing things that might be of interest to the press, and I passed some of them on.
I was not the source of every story about Alycia Lane or the sole source on many, but I was a source, and I was getting some of the information from her e-mails.
It was wrong. I admit it was wrong. I told you the motivation, but I make no excuses for my behavior.
And, that is why today I pled guilty to a federal charge brought by the U.S. attorney’s office. I have cooperated fully with the FBI and the U.S. attorney from the very beginning.
I have offered to give speeches to colleges, corporations, and community groups about Internet security. I make that offer publicly now.
My father used to say that everyone serves a purpose in life, if only as a bad example. I am now an example who can help others. Many employees and students are cavalier about misuse of the internet and e-mails. They don’t know that it is a federal crime and you will be prosecuted. I am living proof of that.
I know that pleading guilty and cooperating defies the new world order that teaches to deny, deny, deny at all costs.
Many people told me, maybe they’ll never find out the whole truth, with a good lawyer you might get away with it. I have a good lawyer. That’s not the point.
I just can’t do that to my family. I can’t allow this to drag on. And, I don’t think one more penny of the taxpayer’s money should be spent on this case.
Most importantly, I did it. I tell my children all of the time that if you don’t take responsibility, nothing will change. I am taking responsibility and am seeking help to change.
I apologize to Alycia Lane for what I did. And, I ask that this long mutually self-destructive feud now end. We have both paid a high cost. And, others have been hurt as well. I am sorry to all.
My wife also is owed apologies.
I will forever be in Dawn’s debt for her forgiveness and her loyalty. I will work every day to deserve her love, and I love her more everyday. The rest of my family also has been strong and loyal for me during this time. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
I want to apologize one more time to the viewers, the people who kept us on the air with their loyalty and their trust. I let you down. I hope the day will come when I will once again be worthy of your trust.
I do want to stay here in Philadelphia. I realize that I may never anchor here again, but I love this city far too much to move. This is where I grew up; this is where I want to raise my children. I don’t want to take this city from them because of my mistakes.
There is one last thing I would like to say. Many of you know I attended Catholic schools in the area. Confession is a big part of my faith. So is forgiveness. It is something we have all asked for at one time or another in our lives. I do so now, and, as always, I put my life in God’s hands.
On the advice of counsel, I regret to say, I will not be taking any questions.

Vote for Pedro, as key to Phils' turnaround

Anyone else notice that the doldrums the Phillies’ bats seem to have been mired in for a couple of weeks coincided with the time that Pedro Feliz was on the DL? I did.

With Feliz adding at least a little pop to the bottom of their lineup, the Phils seem to be playing with more confidence, at least at the plate.

Feliz was the hero last night, first tying the Sunday night special with the Dodgers with a base hit in the bottom of the ninth. Then he grabbed the spotlight in the 11th by depositing a pitch in the bleachers in center-field, lifting the Phils to a 5-2 win.

It means the Phils can now return the favor of a sweep, which L.A. tattooed on them on the West Coast, with a win tonight. The Phils have won three straight against the Dodgers. They go for four tonight.

Making it even sweeter is that the Mets’ bullpen imploded once again yesterday, costing them another game. The Phils are now just a half-game back, and could pull even with a win tonight.

And guess who shows up at Citizens Bank Park tomorrow night? That’s right, those hated New Yorkers.

Credit Pedro Feliz for helping turn around the Phils’ fortunes one more time.

Yep, football season does not start for at least two more weeks.

The print column: Alone together

Here's this week's print column:

It was a long, quiet ride back down the Northeast Extension Friday. It’s a ride my wife and I have become quite familiar with. But we’ve never quite dealt with the realization we were struggling with on Friday.

You could cut the tension with a knife. She dabbed at her eyes. I tried not to look over at her as I bit my lip and stared out at the highway.
So we drove home in silence. We pulled into the driveway of the only house we’ve ever lived in, put the key in the door and walked into a new world.
We were officially empty nesters.

Just two days after depositing our daughter back at school, we did the same for our son. We both knew this day was coming. Somehow, in planning his high school graduation, the party and then the usual summer flings, we had tried to put it out of our minds.

Now, there’s no denying it. That doesn’t make it any easier to believe.
Where does the time go? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was walking him to the bus stop. Back then, he was the one biting his quivering lip as he headed off to his own strange new world. Most people call it kindergarten.
I don’t know what has taken me more by surprise, the fact that my son is now heading off to college, or that my daughter is now entering her senior year.

It seems like yesterday that we first piled all her belongings into the car and headed off. This year she drove herself.

Come May, she will be graduating and then heading out to make her own way in the world. Or possibly law school.

As we made that familiar trip home Friday, my wife and I both knew all too well what this meant. Neither of us particularly wanted to talk about it.
And I know that’s exactly what was on her mind. The silence.

You see, for a guy who makes his living with words, I have been described as a man of very few of them. At least verbally. My family jokingly refers to me as “The Quiet Man,” mocking not only one of my favorite movies, but my tendency toward long periods of silence. My wife is no longer laughing.
I plead guilty. I’m not a big talker. I’m more likely to be found with my face buried in a newspaper than engaged in some sparkling repartee at the dinner table.

I’m sure that’s what was on my wife’s mind. She likely was thinking of what her life was like 21 years ago, before our daughter was born.
I had been at the Daily Times for a year when I informed her, a month before I was to meet her at the altar, that I was going to start working nights.

You might say it was not especially well received. For some reason, she never kicked my sorry behind to the curb.

The truth is my wife has been married to two people for the past 25 years. She’s been saddled with me, and this newspaper.

We had met at a newspaper in Coatesville, and she’s been sharing me ever since.

She has gotten used to her ink-stained partner. I don’t think she’s ever been wild about it. But she’s dealt with it.

Our first year of marriage was not our best. We were newlyweds. She worked days. I worked nights. And weekends. We didn’t see a lot of each other. She was miserable, alone in an apartment.

We bought a house. And the first thing I bought her was a dog. Sort of a way to make up for the one she married. It was the best purchase I ever made. I have said many times I believe that little Sheltie saved our marriage.

Then came the kids. My wife got used to me missing the back-to-school nights. Even after I became editor and stopped working nights, she knows my allegiance has always been split.

Now, as we trudged back into the house, it dawned on both of us that we’re back where we started. Just the two of us.

I figured I’d try to lighten the mood.

When we entered the house, I did not sit down in a chair and grab a newspaper. I didn’t flip on the TV. I didn’t walk out on the screened-in porch and turn on the radio.

Instead, I decided to introduce myself.
“Hi, I’m Phil,” I said. “Remember me?”

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, August 19, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 19


The Daily Numbers: 4 Delco towns scheduled to be sprayed to battle West Nile virus in the next 2 days.

16 age of teen expected to surrender today on charges of racial intimidation tied to graffiti in Collingdale.

7 to 1, the vote by Haverford commissioners to approve a deer hunt to thin the herd on the former Haverford State Hospital grounds.

100 mph, speeds reached during a chase of suspects in a robbery and shooting in Wilmington that made its way up I-95 and ended in Chester when the car crashed and wound up on its roof.

2 more high-level officials and an administrator at Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services disciplined in the probe of the death of a 14-year-old girl.

2 Philly city councilmen who will propose a ban on use of hand-held devices including cell phones while driving.

300 tombstones toppled during a vandalism rampage at Mount Vernon Cemetery in North Philadelphia.

52 age of woman found dead in the doorway of a palatial home in Chester County where she had been house-sitting. Her boyfriend now faces charges.

3.5 million dollars, what the feds now allege Sen. Vince Fumo defrauded from taxpayers. He faces trial this fall.

92 age of man who was beaten and carjacked as he delivered food to a friend in Wilmington.

9 personal watercraft vendors in South Jersey cited by state troopers with violations related to rentals of the popular water vehicles.

5 gunshot wounds suffered by a man outside a bar on Torresdale Avenue in the Mayfair section of Philly last night.

44 pound cat, dubbed Prince Chunk, who made an appearance at a local Petco store to push for adoption of stray animals.

51 million dollar price tag on the Riverwalk at Millennium project in Conshohocken that was damaged by a massive fire last week. Yesterday the first lawsuit was filed, and names a firm in Aston that was doing work at the site.

1 million dollars pledged to the Salvation Army by the Sunoco Foundation.

3 teens held for trial in the beating death of an illegal immigrant in Pottsville, despite the protests of some locals.

3 games for the Phils against the Nationals, starting tonight at Citizens Bank Park.

9 games on this homestand, with the Dodgers and Mets due in later this week.

45,000 set of eyes that will be zeroing in on every move Jimmy Rollins makes tonight after his comments last week about Philly fans being “front-runners.”


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
It’s Jimmy Rollins Night at Citizens Bank Park tonight. Instead of a bobblehead, maybe they should be giving away earplugs.

I Don’t Get It: The lawyers involved in suing the city in the case of the little girl who died while in the care of DHS are now saying they are misunderstood and want an apology from the mayor and D.A. That’s a tough argument to make.


Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for all those who opened their wallets once again to help us in our war against cancer, the real reason behind our annual Champs ‘n’ Charity Softball Classic.


Quote Box: “This is nothing new. We’ve been calling out for this and crying out for years and years.”

-- State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, in the wake of the latest wave of violence to envelop the city of Chester.

Was that gas for $3.35 a gallon, or a mirage?

I was driving home from Marcus Hook last night when I think I saw a mirage.

No, I had not been drinking. But it was dark, so mirage might not be the right word.

But as I motored up Route 452 through Aston, I could swear I saw a Wawa station selling gas for $3.35 a gallon. At least that’s what I think it said on the sign.

According to the latest release from AAA, the average price for gas in the Philadelphia suburbs is $370, down a nickel over the weekend. But it pales in comparison to what is going on in Aston.

Apparently there may be something of a gas war going on, with the Wawas in Aston and nearby Brookhaven competing to see who can sell gas for less. In between is a car wash that also is getting in on the action, offering a special discount for cash customers.

There’s only one thing I find more astounding than my shock at seeing that price. Of course that is that we are now overjoyed at the prospect of filling up the tank for $3.35 a gallon. There was a time, like this time last year, when we would have been outraged at that possibility, insisting we were being “gouged” at the pump.

Not anymore.

There actually is one more thing that stunned me about that price. Maybe I was in shock. Or maybe I was just in my usual near-coma like condition driving home.

But I was up at Five Points near Neumann College when I glanced at the gauge and saw I was sitting with just a quarter tank. A part of me wanted to turn around and go back, just so I could indulge in the luxury of cheap gasoline. Of course I didn’t. And have been kicking myself ever since.

Maybe I’ll go out of my way to check it out on the way home. Hey, at that price, it might be more economical to waste a little gas to get a cheap thrill.

A beautiful night in the Hook

I spent last night in the lovely confines of Marcus Hook.

The occasion was one I’m always proud of, our annual Daily Times/Exelon Champs ‘n’ Charity softball tournament. You can read all about the action on the field by clicking here.

I’m more interested in what was happening off the field.

First and foremost is the real reason for the tournament. That would be the fight against cancer.

Through our partnership with our good friends at Exelon, we have now been doing this for 25 years.

Over the years any number of teams have proven themselves to be the “best by test.” But there really is only one winner.

Through the efforts of tournament director Boog Laird and his tireless mom, Josephine “Gigi” Laird, who was working the crowd from the time I got there ‘til the last pitch, we continue to raise a staggering amount of money for the American Cancer Society. Gigi by herself sold something in the neighborhood of $3,000 in raffle tickets. She took home the Barbara “Pickle” Prettie Award given to the top seller for the fifth straight year. We’re talking dynasty here. Matt Moore of James Moore Painting won the Tom k”T.C.” Clark Memorial Award, which goes to the player in the men’s division who raises the most money for the American Cancer Society. Moore kicked in a cool $1,350 into the kitty.

And that’s part of the other thing I wanted to talk about. It’s just that kind of response that is endemic to Delaware County. Every time someone is in need, and the call goes out for help, this county opens its arms, hearts – and wallets – and fills the need.

Last night was a glorious summer evening in Marcus Hook. A nice crowd turned out, first for the exhibition game that pitted two teams that dominated the tournament for years, Clank’s and Willowbrook Pub. Then for the main event. And all night people reached into their pockets to answer the bell in the fight against cancer.

It struck me as emblematic of the people who read this newspaper every day. And in truth, of the people who put it together as well. We are proud of our affiliation with Marcus Hook and our annual summer sojourn.

The locals didn’t even boo when a certain newspaper editor was introduced before the game. That puts me one up on Jimmy Rollins.

It struck me as what a community newspaper should be doing. Thanks to all who make this project possible. Hope to see you again next year.

The Rollins Watch

Sometime around 7:20 tonight a familiar face will stride to home plate at Citizens Bank Park.

And a familiar sound likely will fill the ballpark.

The Jimmy Rollins watch is on. Smoke has been curling from many fans’ ears since Rollins went on national TV last week and branded the Philly faithful as “front-runners.”

It didn’t sit too well with the locals. The venom has been dripping from callers on sports talk radio ever since. Newspapers have been filled with opinions, both backing and castigating the reigning National League MVP.

Rollins actually went right back on the syndicated show the next night to clarify his remarks.

It’s not likely to change the reception he gets tonight. Rollins likely is going to get an earful.

It will be interesting to see how Rollins – and the team – reacts. The Phillies got a break yesterday when the Mets’ bullpen imploded one more time, costing them a game they probably should have won in Pittsburgh. That means the Phils go into tonight’s home stand just a game and a half back of the New Yorkers.

Maybe Rollins and the team can use this flap as a rallying point. They would not be the first Philly sports team to put the wagons in a circle and adopt an “us against them” mentality.

But first there is tonight to deal with.

Rollins might best answer the fans by manufacturing a run the way he did the other night in San Diego. That’s something he and the team have not done nearly enough.

Bottom line? The fans will have their say. But Rollins likely will get the last word, by his play on the field.

The Phils need Rollins to be the player he was last year in driving the team to a NL East crown.

And they need him to start doing it tonight. A bunt base-hit (or for that matter a walk or any way he can finagle to get on base), a stolen base and run scored in the first inning would go a long way toward smoothing out this rough patch.

I’m thinking this could go either way. Maybe Rollins suddenly puts the team on his back and carries them the rest of the way. There are those who believe Rollins’ comments were a way of trying to snap his team out of their now months-long doldrums.

Or he simply might recoil at the razzing from the stands. If the Phils fall behind early tonight, it could get ugly.

My hope is that there is only one instance of front-runners tonight. Not from Rollins’ lips, nor from the stands. I want to see front-runners on the scoreboard, with the Phils posting a solid win over a team they should dominate.

The Phils need to start playing well. And Rollins is the key to their lineup. Tonight, the first of nine games in Citizens Bank Park, would be a good time to start.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 18

The Daily Numbers: 6 homicides in a week that have left the city of Chester reeling, as well as looking for answers.

20 years since Carla Carrington was shot and killed, an innocent victim in a gun battle on Chester streets. The city is still trying to find an answer to random street violence.

15 days since Faith Sinclair was struck and killed while trying to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill. There has been no arrest in the case.

22 years serving Marcus Hook for longtime Councilman Bernie Gallo. He announced he’s stepping down.

80 dogs shot and killed at two eastern Pennsylvania kennels, spurring calls by the governor and others for changes in the state dog laws.

50 mph winds sported by Tropical Storm Fay, which is now taking aim at the Florida Keys.

5 straight weeks now that the price of gasoline has actually declined.

3.72 a gallon, the average price we are now paying in the 5-county Philly area.

1.4 million dollars in bonuses doled out to legislative staffers in Harrisburg, resulting in charges against 12 Dem personnel. Now there’s word some GOP staff members are getting subpoenas in the probe.

400 people chased from their homes when flames consumed an apartment complex in Conshohocken last week. On Sunday some people were allowed back in their undamaged units, while others started the sad task of trying to pick up the pieces, in some cases having lost everything they own.

6 sexual assaults now being probed in the Frankford area of Philadelphia. Another assault was reported overnight.

2 alarm fire that consumed a popular South Jersey eatery, Frangelica’s in Chesilhurst.

44 pound cat, dubbed Prince Chunk, who made an appearance at a local Petco store to push for adoption of stray animals.

14 age of soccer player who collapsed and died after a practice in Quakertown, Bucks County.

2 people shot in the parking lot of a South Jersey hotel Saturday night.

2 people stabbed by a man wielding a samurai sword in South Jersey over weekend.

8 strong innings for Phils starter Cole Hamels in leading the Phils to a win in San Diego to put a silver lining on their dismal West Coast trip.

7 starts Hamels had gone without posting a win. His last win came on July 3.

2 run homer for Pat Burrell, which is all the Phils mustered in their 2-1 win in San Diego.

2 games back for the Phils as they chase the Mets and come to kick off a series against the Nationals Tuesday night.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Let’s hope the Phils discover their bats tucked safely away at Citizens Bank Park. They certainly didn’t make the trip to the West Coast.

I Don’t Get It: It was 20 years ago that the Chester community was stunned by the senseless death of Carla Carrington. The event was marked in the city on Sunday, even as still another wave of violence grips the city. Some things don’t change.


Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for Brendan Hansen and Marcus McElhenny, two Delco athletes who captured medals in Beijing.


Quote Box: “I didn’t really do this for Carla. I did this for everyone in the city, and in the neighboring city of Philadelphia.”

-- Yvonne Carrington, mother of murder victim Carla Carrington, at ceremony in Chester Sunday marking the 20th anniversary of her death.

Gold mettle performance

What else can you say about Michael Phelps? The man is simply not of this world. The Golden Boy of the Beijing Olympics made good on his vow to capture eight gold medals in swimming.

But it’s something I learned from one of his teammates that will stay with me.

I wrote about Brendan Hansen in my print column today. You can check it out here.

No one was pulling harder for the men’s relay team Saturday night than I was. Yes, I wanted to see Michael Phelps make history. But I also wanted to see Hansen capture a medal.

Hansen is one of our own. He’s a product of Karakung Swim Club and Haverford High School.

It’s not been the best of times for Hansen in recent weeks. First he failed to qualify for the Olympics in his specialty, the 200-meter breaststroke. The slump continued as he finished fourth in the 100-meter race at Beijing. That left him out of the medals. And he had to watch as his arch-rival, Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima, shattered his world record in capturing the hardware.

Then there was the talk leading up to Saturday night’s 4x100 medley relay.

The commentators made it pretty clear. Phelps had seven gold medals in his pocket to tie Mark Spitz for the most ever in a single Olympics. All that stood between him and history was this medley race.

And that meant, as good as Phelps has been, he was dependent on his teammates upholding their end of the bargain. The whispers were unmistakable. Would Hansen cost Phelps a shot at history?

My wife actually picked up on a key moment. And it goes to show the “mettle” of one Brendan Hansen. It occurred between the Delco swimmer and Phelps’ mother. “Don’t worry, I won’t let you down,” he said to her.

Hansen was good to his word, swimming the second leg of the medley, followed by Phelps, as the U.S. team set a new world record in the event. Along the way, Phelps was launched into immortality.

But I was overjoyed as I watched Hansen join his teammates on the medal stand, flashing that winning smile, displaying both his gold medal and an American flag.

That’s what I call a “gold mettle” performance.

Hansen is not Delco’s only link to the Games.

Lansdowne native Marcus McElhenny, a Lansdowne native and Monsignor Bonner grad, captured a bronze medal as the coxswain on the men’s eight boat in rowing.

Well done, gentlemen.

Brace yourself for a storm of coverage

Get used to hearing about Fay.

No, she’s not being considered for the vice presidential spot by either John McCain or Barack Obama.

And, so far as I know, she has not had an affair with John Edwards.

But she will be the talk of the town this week.

Fay is a tropical storm. Not a hurricane, mind you. A tropical storm. At least right now.

She is about 1,500 miles south of us, having hammered Haiti and the Dominican Republic and blown over Cuba with winds clocked at 50 mph, she now is taking aim at the Florida Keys. Fay is expected to hit Florida tonight. The fear is that once back out over the Gulf of Mexico, she could strengthen and hit hurricane status.

What does all this have to do with us? Everything. This is weather, after all. Bad weather. Stormy weather. That makes it important, or so the folks on TV will tell us incessantly over the next couple of days.

Me? All I want to know is whether this will mean rain for us later in the week.

But first we’ll have to deal with a week of the “Say Fay” kid.

Brace yourself for a storm of coverage

Get used to hearing about Fay.

No, she’s not being considered for the vice presidential spot by either John McCain or Barack Obama.

And, so far as I know, she has not had an affair with John Edwards.

But she will be the talk of the town this week.

Fay is a tropical storm. Not a hurricane, mind you. A tropical storm. At least right now.

She is about 1,500 miles south of us, having hammered Haiti and the Dominican Republic and blown over Cuba with winds clocked at 50 mph, she now is taking aim at the Florida Keys. Fay is expected to hit Florida tonight. The fear is that once back out over the Gulf of Mexico, she could strengthen and hit hurricane status.

What does all this have to do with us? Everything. This is weather, after all. Bad weather. Stormy weather. That makes it important, or so the folks on TV will tell us incessantly over the next couple of days.

Me? All I want to know is whether this will mean rain for us later in the week.

But first we’ll have to deal with a week of the “Say Fay” kid.

King Cole to the rescue

Cole Hamels must be starting to wonder what his Phillies’ teammates have against him.

Hamels had gone seven starts without posting a win. He last visited the win column on July 3.

It’s not that he was pitching badly. In fact, the left-hander been every bit the ace the Phils expected him to be. It’s just that the Phils this summer have developed the annoying habit of having their bats go to sleep every time Hamels pitches.

His record was a deceptive 9-8, just a game over .500. But Hamels had pitched better than that. Need proof? He sported an ERA of 3.22.

Hamels finally snapped his winless streak last night as the Phils closed out their disastrous West Coast trip.

If ever a team needed its star pitcher to step up, it was the Phils last night. Hamels did not disappoint them. He threw eight innings, giving up just one run on seven hits. But it wasn’t easy. That’s because the Phils continue to shoot blanks at the plate.

They won, 2-1, riding Hamels’ nasty left arm and a two-run homer from Pat Burrell.

The win managed to keep them within shouting distance of the Mets, who continue to be two games up.

The Phils now return to Citizens Bank Park, where they open a series with the Nationals Tuesday night.

Maybe they’ll find their missing bats there. One thing’s certain: They didn’t make the trip to the West Coast.

Friday, August 15, 2008

12 days and counting

Congratulations. It’s Friday. You’ve made it to the end of another week. Summer is on the wane. It looks like it’s going to be a pleasant weekend.

Unless you happen to be the mother, father or family member of Faith Sinclair.

It’s now been 12 days since the hit-run accident that took her life as she attempted to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill.

That’s almost two weeks. And we still don’t know who was driving the car that snuffed out the 16-year-old’s life.

We know the car. In fact, police have a black Mercedes in their possession that is believed to be the vehicle that struck Faith. We know who owns it. Police have labeled him a “person of interest.” But we don’t know who was driving it that Sunday night when Faith was fatally struck, and the driver never bothered to stop.

No charges have been filed in the case.

Sunday night will mark two weeks since the crash. Maybe those involved are hoping that the incident will simply fade from memory.

Police continue to investigate. The owner of the car has indicated through the lawyer he hired that he will not be talking to police.

There is a $10,000 reward for information in the case. You’d think that wouldn’t be needed in a case in which the life of an innocent teen was taken away, her family left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

Maybe it’s not enough. Police believe there was a passenger in that car. That’s two people who likely know exactly what happened that fateful night.

In the meantime, her family and friends wait. But they don’t forget.

Neither do we.

12 days and counting.

Nightmare on I-95

Another trip into the confessional.

Am I the only one who gets a little nervous every time one of those big rigs roars by me on the road?

I always glance at those huge tires, which are right about the level of my face as they blow by, and what might happen should one of them fly off.

That’s the nightmare scenario that unfolded on I-95 in South Philly yesterday.

State police say a wheel and tire flew off a southbound tractor-trailer, careened into the northbound lanes, and slammed into a van.

The driver was killed. His wife, sitting next to him, suffered only minor injuries.

I can’t imagine the horror that unfolded inside that mini-van.

One second Maurizio Bertoli, 64, of Keansburg, N.J., was simply driving home on the interstate. The next he was gone. Just like that.

I wonder if he even saw the wheel coming at him. And if he did if he realized there wasn’t a thing he could do.

The state trooper at the scene said he’s never seen a wheel do that kind of damage to another vehicle.

My guess is we’ll soon forget Bertoli. But not what happened to him.

In fact, I will think about it every time I see a tractor-trailer whizzing down the road.

And I’ll grip the wheel just that much tighter.

Fans don't reign at the Linc

Since when exactly do football games have rain delays?

Since they’re accompanied by thunder and lightning. That’s what happened last night, when the Eagles and Panthers were ushered off the field in the first quarter of the exhibition game at the Linc. They didn’t return for almost an hour.

The players beat a hasty retreat to the locker rooms. It’s not that easy for the fans. They have to fend for themselves for the most part.

A big part of this is because, after all, these are little more than glorified practice games. Ones that come with regular-season prices.

If may just be the biggest scam in sports. And it’s one of the reasons, among many, that I am no longer an Eagles season ticket holder. The Eagles don’t give you a choice. You have to buy the exhibition games. It’s part of the deal.

That doesn’t make it right.

And I repeat my pre-season mantra that I announce each year. Please tell me one thing you remember from last year’s pre-season games? Thought so.

And a month from now, we likely will remember little about the players or the game that was held last night at the Linc.

In fact, the one thing we are likely to remember is the fact that it was delayed for an hour.

Besides, I’m a newspaper editor. And I deal with deadlines. If you have an hour or two, I’ll tell you what an hour rain delay on an exhibition game, which take forever to play in the first place and which did not start until 8 p.m., does to our deadlines.

It’s not pretty. Kind of like last night’s weather.

Hey, how ‘bout that DeSean Jackson!

J-Roll finds himself in a jam

Jimmy Rollins is still talking.

He’s not apologizing for calling Philly fans front-runners. He thinks he was misunderstood.

I’m not so sure.

Rollins was back on “The Best Damn Sports Show” yesterday to clarify the “front-runner” comments he made on Wednesday that ignited a firestorm 3,000 miles away back in Philly.

Fans here are passionate, demanding, and yes, critical. But front-runners? Not in any way I’ve ever known. Fans here are with their teams win or lose. That’s why we remain hopeful even though it’s been a quarter century since our last championship.

Rollins wanted people to know that the way most of us perceived his comments is not what he meant. He didn’t mean we bail on the team. He apparently was referring to booing the team – and players – when they’re not doing well.

To be honest with you, I’ve about come to the end of wondering exactly why it is that our teams do not win championships. There’s a part of me that is at least willing to consider the fact that the suffocating atmosphere that pervades pro sports in this town simply consumes some athletes.

Maybe it’s starting to get to Rollins. Something’s been haywire this year. He’s just not the same player he was last year while waging a valiant MVP campaign.

Now he dogs it on fly balls, fails to show up for games on time, and seems anything but the team leader he proclaims himself to be.

Then again, maybe that’s exactly what’s going on. Maybe Rollins took the opportunity while the team was 3,000 miles away to set up one of those classic “us vs. them” stands, with the players determined to win just so they can turn around and shove it in the fans’ faces.

If that’s the case, it’s not exactly working.

Take a glance at the standings today. Yes, those are your second-place Phillies. They went meekly again last night, getting swept by the Dodgers. The Phils got exactly two baserunners against the mighty Hiroki Kuroda on the way to a 3-1 loss. With a Mets win, the New Yorkers now are in first alone. The Phils are a game back, with the Marlins breathing down their necks.

And Mr. Rollins? He backed up Wednesday night’s 0-for-5 with a ditto last night, going 0-for-4. Now it’s on to sunny San Diego.

Who knows what Rollins will say today. Or when he gets back to town on Tuesday.

Here’s a suggestion, Jimmy. We love you. We want the J-Roll from last year, not the Flay-Roll we’re seeing this year.

Oh, and one other thing. Buy some earplugs.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Good, bad news on the crime front

Good news and bad news this morning on the crime front.

First and foremost. There were no reported homicides overnight. Death actually took a day off in the county, after an especially brutal few days that saw a rash of six homicides in Chester and a slaying in Sharon Hill as well.

More good news from Collingdale, where police have made an arrest in the vandalism that targeted the historic Eden Cemetery, final resting spot of many notable African-Americans.

Police say a teen is expected to turn himself in today to face charges in connection with damage to 201 headstones at the historic cemetery.

He is one of three juveniles believed involved to the vandalism spree.

Unfortunately, since he’s under age, he likely will not be exposed to the public shame he so richly deserves.

The bad news? We’ve now hit 11 days since the hit-run accident that took the life of 16-year-old Faith Sinclair.

She was struck and killed as she tried to cross Chester Pike about 10 p.m. on Sunday night Aug. 3.

Police have impounded the car they believe was involved in the accident. They know who owns the black 2000 S-Type Mercedes. They have called him a “person of interest” in the case. No charges have been filed. The owner so far has declined to discuss the situation with authorities.

Police do not know who was driving. All they know is the silence coming from their investigation.

11 days and counting.

Jimmy hits the fans

Manny being Manny? Forget that. We’re dealing with another case of Jimmy being Jimmy.

I speak of the reigning National League MVP, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

It has not been the follow-up to his sterling season from last year that Rollins, the team or the fans envisioned.

First Rollins tweaked an ankle and had to miss several weeks at the start of the season. Then there was his failure to run out a pop up. That earned him a hook midway in a ballgame and a seat on the pine. He was apologetic afterward.

Then came his late arrival at Shea for an early game against the Mets. Manager Charlie Manuel benched him. But this time Rollins made it clear he did not agree.

All this came while Rollins was having a clearly sub-par year.

Last night for some reason Rollins decided to put a little icing on this lousy cake, and in the process smeared it in the fans’ faces.

Rollins and slugger Ryan Howard made an appearance on the “Best Damn Sports Show Period.” Eventually the talk turned to playing in Philly.

The hosts kind of goaded the players into talking about how tough it is to play in Philly. Rollins took it from there.

He thinks we’re front-runners.

I am not making this up.

The team is shattering attendance marks, on course to see 3 million people walk through the turnstiles. Every night it seems another 45,000 pack Citizens Bank Park.

But we’re front-runners. At least according to our star shortstop.

I’m not sure what’s happened to Jimmy Rollins. Maybe he’s just full of himself and his MVP status.

But his play this year has not been anything approaching an MVP level.

Maybe Rollins, the guy who last year boasted that the Phils were the team to beat, then backed it up with his play on the field, is looking for a ticket out of town. Maybe he wants to return to his home in Oakland.

But he’s picked the wrong target for his wrath.


Shame on you, Jimmy.

Phils going oh! for West Coast

The Phils continue to play consistent ball. Consistently inconsistently.

They continue to be oh-for-the-West Coast after blowing a game they clearly should have won last night.

The Phils got three early home runs to build a 6-1 lead. Then they proceeded to provide those bleary-eyed fans who hung in there with the action from Los Angeles with a slow water torture as they frittered it away.

Nomar Garciaparra’s homer in the bottom of the 9th sealed the deal, and sent the Phils back to their hotel losers, and also no longer in sole possession of first place. The Mets won to pull into a tie with the Phils.

Do you think it dawned on anyone in the front office at the trade deadline when it became apparent that the Dodgers were in the lead to get Manny Ramirez that the Phillies had eight games against L.A. remaining on their schedule?

Once again last night Ramirez was the difference in the game.

Manny being Manny? Or just the Phillies being the Phillies?

This West Coast trip has the makings of a Bataan Death March for the Phils, who may return home next week no longer in the catbird’s seat in the NL East.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The long, agonizing wait in Sharon Hill

Ten days and counting in Sharon Hill.

It was a week ago last Sunday night that 16-year-old Faith Sinclair tried to cross Chester Pike at Laurel Road. She never made it.

The teen was struck and killed by someone driving a black Mercedes. The driver remains unknown.

Tuesday, just a few days after burying her daughter, Faith Sinclair’s mother went public with an emotional plea. She doesn’t want revenge; she simply wants justice.

Kim Ferrell stood at the intersection where her daughter’s life was snuffed out, just a few steps from the house where she grew up, and asked the driver of the Mercedes to come forward. You can read all the details here.

Ferrell says she knows her daughter has forgiven the driver, and she has as well. But she still needs one thing.

She wants to “let my little girl rest in peace.”

Police have impounded a 2000 black S-type Mercedes that they recovered from a garage in Upper Darby. It was covered with a cloth and the windows of the garage had been blacked out. Police say the damage on the vehicle is consistent with what would be expected from the accident.

The owner of the Mercedes, Lemuel Payne, has been identified by police as a “person of interest” in the case. He has hired an attorney and so far is not talking to police. No charges have been filed in the case.

Ten days and counting. Sinclair’s father, Michael, indicated yesterday he did not want to comment until after the police investigation was completed.

“This ain’t over,” is all he said.

Not by a long shot.

Violence grips Chester

Another day, another murder in Chester.

The city is now entrenched in a verifiable bloodbath, with six homicides in seven days. You can read about it here.

That’s 16 homicides for the year. Last year 28 people were slain in the city.

A lot of people believe Chester is turning a corner economically. They point to the development along the river and several other key areas in the city. They talk proudly about the coming $115 million stadium soon to sit in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge that will bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the city.

But the city will never be “major league” until it comes to grips with the violence that runs rampant on too many of its streets.

A lot of people in this county still believe Chester is unsafe, a place to be avoided.

Six homicides in a week is one of the reasons why.

The faces of Beijing

Michael Phelps did it again. And again.

The “King of Beijing” collected two more gold medals today. Those are numbers 10 and 11 for the Golden Boy. That makes him the winningest athlete in Olympics history. Oh, and one other thing. He’s also set five world records in his five events so far. He has three to go. Anyone care to bet against him?

But there is a story tied to the Olympics today -- albeit away from the competition – that is also causing jaws to drop. Not in amazement. Well, maybe. But rather in wonderment how anyone could decide to do such a thing.

It has to do with something that happened during the fabulous opening ceremonies on Friday night.

Apparently the Chinese officials were taking the idea of “fabulous” seriously. Maybe a little too seriously.

Remember the cute little girl in the red dress who was “singing” the “Ode to the Motherland” during the ceremonies? It turns out she wasn’t singing. She was lip-synching.

No big deal, right? Not exactly. It is the reason why she wasn’t singing that is raising eyebrows, and tarnishing all that gold.

It turns out Chinese Olympic officials decided the girl who actually did sing the anthem was “not suitable” to appear at the ceremonies.

In other words, she wasn’t as cute, and officials of the Communist country apparently wanted cute for the broadcast as the entire world tuned in.

They got what they wanted, but maybe not exactly the afterglow. Most people are outraged when they learn of the switch.

Oh, and one other thing. All those fireworks you saw on TV? Many of them were actually created graphically.

Is it real, or is it Memorex? In Beijing, you never know.

The Phils throw one away

The Phils are now oh-for-2 on their West Coast swing. Not good.

Last night they squandered another decent outing from Cole Hamels. Check the details by clicking here. That makes nine straight starts without a win for the best pitcher on the staff.

The Phils also managed to blow a 3-1 lead, after they were staked to an early lead on a home run from Chase Utley.

“So,” let’s get to the key play of the game. You might see where I’m going here. Bottom of ninth inning, game tied at 3. Dodgers have runner on second and get a base hit to short leftfield. Our old pal third base coach Larry Bowa never hesitates, waving the runner home.

You think Pat Burrell will gun this guy out easily. After all, on the replay it appears as if the runner is just rounding third as the left-fielder collects the base hit.

Just one problem. Burrell is not in left. So Taguchi, the so-called defensive replacement, is. Burrell may have his problems covering ground in left, but one thing he has is a powerful, usually accurate arm.

Taguchi’s throw to the plate could have been timed with a sun dial.

Run beats the throw to score. Game over.

Burrell has made it clear he does not like the idea of being lifted for defensive purposes in the late innings of close games.

Last night it might have cost the Phils a chance to send the game into extra innings and possibly win it.

Another frustrating night for the Phils. They’ll try to get their first win in the series tonight.

In the meantime, their margin for error is getting smaller. Both the Mets and Marlins won. The Mets now trail by just a game, the Marlins by a game and a half.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Kanterman case

Edward Kanterman was back in court yesterday.

The facts of his case have not changed. They haven’t gotten any less sad either.

Kanterman is the Lansdowne grandfather who picked up his little grandson from his daughter, then promptly drove to work. He routinely dropped little Nicholas McCorkle off at day care. Not this time. Kanterman apparently forgot. Instead he drove to Lawrence Park Shopping Center, where he taught a course at a tech school. He parked his SUV in the parking lot, closed it up and headed inside, leaving Nicholas behind.

He did not return to his car for five hours, until after lunch.

I can’t begin to imagine the horror he has been living since the instant when it dawned on him that the child was still in his vehicle. June 10 was one of the hottest days of the summer, with temperatures in the high 90s. The temperature inside the vehicle is believed to have hit 110 degrees.

Nicholas was rushed to the hospital, but did not survive.

Kanterman was charged with a single count of involuntary manslaughter.

Yesterday he was held for trial after a preliminary hearing in Marple District Court.

Kanterman’s explanation has been simply that “he forgot” the toddler was still strapped into his car seat in the back of the vehicle.

Yesterday his attorney and family members again made the case that there was no criminal intent on Kanterman’s part and that they did not want the case pursued.

And again the D.A.’s office argued otherwise. Kanterman was held for trial.

I like to think I could not possibly do what Edward Kanterman is charged with doing. But my fear, in places that I’d prefer not to dwell on, is that maybe I could.

Since this story first broke, I have been asking everyone I know for an explanation, if they could somehow explain what happened.

As you might guess, people have pretty strong beliefs.

Most simply can’t fathom how such a thing could occur. Maybe that’s the point.

Gunning for trouble in Chester

Every time I think Chester has turned a corner, it makes me eat my words.

Don’t look now, but the city is in the midst of another rash of violence that would make the denizens of the Wild, Wild West blush.

Chester has seen no less than five homicides in the past week. It started last week when gunfire rang out just a few feet away from where an anti-violence charity basketball tournament was taking place. The irony was only the beginning.

Over the weekend two people were found shot execution style in an alleyway at Sixth and Lincoln streets.

The weekend was not over. A man was shot early Monday morning at Seventh and Lloyd. He had been shot in the legs. While they were there a call came in for a car crash. The driver of that vehicle had struck several parked cars before coming to a stop. It was later determined he had suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the chest.

Last night the spate of violence continued. Police believe one person was shot and killed, another injured on West Fifth Street.

With a population of 37,000, Chester has already rung up 15 homicides this year. One-third of those have been recorded in the last week. This morning’s shooting could push the bar to 16 homicides.

Violence in the city had been down, until the last deadly week shattered the calm. Last year by mid-August 17 people had been slain on city streets.

The city will never truly reverse its fortunes and fully embrace the economic turnaround evident in many areas until its streets stop resembling those of Dodge City, where disagreements are too often decided with a gun.

A.C.'s luck running out?

Want a sure sign that the economy has gone to hell in a handbasket?

Casinos are hurting. At least the ones in Atlantic City. And guess what? They have us to blame, at least in part.

By us I mean Pennsylvania, and our new foray into legalized gaming and our glittering slots palaces such as Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack.

Down at the Jersey shore, they’re singing a different tune, battling a triple whammy of high gas prices, a lousy economy and increased competition in reporting another round of sagging revenue.

Overall the 11 casinos in Atlantic City are reporting their gambling revenue is off 6.6 percent.

Don’t shed too many tears for the gambling tycoons. They’re still making buckets of money. Just not as much as they usually do.

Atlantic City casinos reported their casino wins at $438.7 million in July. That’s down from $469.6 million in the same month last summer.

That’s not good news for A.C. because July is usually one of their banner months, when the town is jammed with summer vacationers looking to plunk down a few quarters.

Only the two gambling meccas not on the Boardwalk, Harrah’s Marina Resort and the Borgata, posted increases.

And yes, casino owners are pointing the finger at least in part to their new competition here in the Keystone State, where the seven operating slots parlors raked in $151.2 million in the month. That, coupled with high gas prices keeping bus and drivers at home, and a big turndown in the economy, have them singing the blues.

I know it’s not right to take pleasure from someone else’s misery. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for anyone to feel bad for the casino owners who are reporting their take well down from a year ago.

What’s that they say about Lady Luck?

Dodgers blues for Kendrick, Phils

Go ahead, admit it. This is what you fear every time Kyle Kendrick walks out to the mound.

The Phillies have been incredibly successful when the right-hander takes the hill, even though when you seem him pitch you have to resist the urge to grab a bat and take a few hacks.

“I could hit that stuff,” you say to yourself.

Probably what the Dodgers were telling themselves as Kendrick warmed up last night. They proceeded to bludgeon the Phils’ starter, who had a rare night when he got hit hard and could not wriggle out of jams, as fans have become accustomed to seeing him do this year.

Kendrick got torched for seven runs on nine hits, while also walking three and hitting a batter. He lasted just 3 1/3 innings. When he made his ignominious exit, the Phils were staring at a 7-0 hole. By the way, there was no repeat performance of Brett Myers’ antics from Saturday night when manager Charlie Manuel went to get Kendrick.

This was out of form for the starter. He was 4-2 with a 3.28 ERA the last eight times Manuel penciled him in as starter.

But he didn’t have it last night. Give the Phils credit. They tried valiantly to climb out of the hole Kendrick dug for them. They closed to 8-2 and had the tying run at the plate in the ninth in the form of Ryan Howard, after Chase Utley drove in two runs with a base hit.

But Howard bounced out to end the game. Not the way the Phils wanted to start a tough trip to the West Coast, in Los Angeles and then San Diego.

And now they have to deal with those gnawing worries about Kendrick.

Of course, there’s always the bright side. Both the Mets, who blew another game in the ninth with their nitro bullpen, and the Marlins lost. The Phils remain up by two games in the NL East.

Monday, August 11, 2008

One week and counting for Faith Sinclair

It has now been a full week since a car slammed into 16-year-old Faith Sinclair as she tried to cross Chester Pike at Laurel Road in Sharon Hill.

We know the teen was struck by a black S-Class Mercedes. We know police recovered one last week. It has damage consistent with what authorities would expect of the vehicle involved in the accident. Its side-view mirror, which was recovered at the scene, was missing. As was its front grill. The front windshield was shattered on the passenger side. They have not said that it is definitely the car, but there seems to be little doubt.

Police know the identity of the owner of the car. That would be Lemuel Payne, 26, of Upper Darby.

They do now know who was driving the car last Sunday night. They do not know why the person did not stop after striking Faith Sinclair.

One week and counting. We have not forgotten. Neither have police.

As yet Payne has made no comment on the accident or the investigation. He has hired an attorney. Mark Much says he expects to talk to this client and then make a decision as to whether they will talk to the D.A.’s office or police.

In the meantime, the family and friends of Faith Sinclair, who spent a gut-wrenching day on Friday saying goodbye, waits.

One week and counting.

The struggle in Chester

Not a good week in the city of Chester.

And it didn’t stop last night. Police were called to Seventh and Tilghman for a reported shooting.

That came about 24 hours after two people were found shot to death in the city. Their bodies were found in an alley near Sixth and Woodrow streets. Police indicated the two had been shot execution-style.

These three incidents capped a week when police were already investigating two other fatal shootings.

Chester has come a long way in its struggle to turn itself around. Clearly it still has a ways to go.

The weather reigns -- on TV news

My family knows me too well.

They sort of knew what was coming when I commandeered the remote at the dinner table last night. The clock was approaching 6 p.m.

I figure there are about 22 minutes of actual news in the 6 o’clock news. That meant were were going to get about 20 minutes of weather.

I snidely announced my prediction for the big story on Action News tonight. I wasn’t wrong.

“So why do you watch?” they inquired. It’s a good question, since I’m the only one who would vote to watch the news. This is after I spent several hours online yesterday morning working on our Sunday Web site. I guess it’s a habit.

Look, it was pretty miserable yesterday. We had storms. It rained pretty much off and on all day. It rained very hard at times. There was some pretty impressive thunder and lightning displays. We even had a wild little stretch of hail, some of which accumulated on roofs and sidewalks.

To me, it was a thoroughly miserable, wet, cold Sunday. Anything but what you would expect for early August. We’re usually sweating out a heat wave. Yesterday I actually found myself searching out a sweater. I even abandoned my post on the screened-in porch.

But the truth is that it rained. It wasn’t earth-shattering. Unless you happened to be watching the TV news.

True Brett

Here’s the good news, Phillies fans. The Phils are headed to the West Coast boosted by a two-run dinger off the bat of Chase Utley that lifted them to a win over the Bucs and a series win as well. They’re off to La La land and a set with Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers with a two-game lead over the Mets in the NL East.

Hopefully, the home run can “Chase” away the blues that have haunted Utley. The tround-tripper was his first hit of the series. Of course, it could have not have come at a better time.

The bad news? The Phillies are taking Brett Myers with them. I’m not really sure what to make of Myers.

This is the guy the Phillies, apparently thinking they owed him something because he stepped into the breech for them last year and filled the closer’s role, anointed as their opening day starter over Cole Hamels. Myers responded by pitching miserably. The team finally sent him down for a stint in the minors.

Now Myers is back – and so is his attitude.

The right-hander got into a verbal confrontation with manager Charlie Manuel when he went to the mound to lift him in the eighth inning Saturday night. The nastiness continued into the dugout, where the hurler and skipper went jaw to jaw all the way up the tunnel to the locker room.

Someone needs to remind Myers he is not exactly having a Cy Young season. He got the win Saturday night. That makes him 5-9 with an ERA of 5.09.

Maybe Myers needs to display this cocky arrogance to be effective on the hill. At least that’s what we hope. There’s a lot of people who believe Myers was right to bristle at the idea of being pulled from a game. They’re right, but only to a point.

Myers clearly didn’t know when to let it go. Either that, or maybe he is the petulant, arrogant guy he appeared to be as he confronted his manager.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 8

The Daily Numbers: 1 black Mercedes now ID’d as the car that likely struck and killed 16-year-old Faith Sinclair Sunday night in Sharon Hill.

0 people connected to the car that have come forward to talk to authorities.

0 evidence that indicates the baffling death of a man whose body was found behind a Ridley Township bar was a homicide, according to police. A “smiley face” piece of graffiti had investigators wondering if the case was tied to a series of killings where the image had been found. They have now ruled that out.

2 fatal shootings in 2 days in Chester. City police are seeking the public’s help to solve the shootings.

11,050 dollars believed pocketed from the Franklin Mint Credit Union by a Chester man after a mistaken transaction. He’s now under arrest.

5 spent shells found in the aftermath of a shootout in a Stonehurst Hills alleyway in Upper Darby Monday night.

8 8-08. That’s today’s date, Aug. 8. You might say it’s going to be a grrrrr-eight day.

5 feet, 4 inches tall, that would be Marcus McElhenny, the Lansdowne native who will be the coxswain for the U.S. Men’s Eight rowing team at the Beijing Olympics.

5 people indicted for breaking into cars parked at Valley Forge national Historical Park, stealing wallets, then going on shopping sprees at nearby King of Prussia Mall with the credit cards.

32 dead animals, 31 rabbits and a horse, found starved to death on a South Jersey farm. The woman who owns the farm was found hiding in nearby woods. She faces animal cruelty charges.

16,000 dollars, the value of two diamond rings swiped from the Boscov’s store in Plymouth Meeting Mall. The struggling retailer just can’t get a break.

22 age of camp counselor at Friends Central School in Montco accused of having child porn on his computer.

19 age of man who was fleeing from police after a chase in South Philadelphia, only to become impaled on a fence. He’s hospitalized.

2 DHS workers who were charged in the death of a 14-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who have now been fired by the agency.

50 people arrested in a crackdown on prostitution in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.

45 to 39 percent, the lead for Barack Obama in the latest CBS poll.

2 cents shaved off the price of gas in the region. We’re now paying an average of $3.88.

0 runs for the Phils yesterday as they again struggled offensively in losing the series to the Marlins.

3 runs surrendered by Cole Hamels on 7 hits while striking out 7.

6 starts without a decision for the hard-luck Hamels.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Forget the result of tonight’s exhibition opener for the Eagles with the Steelers. The big news on the Birds today is that the team apparently is very close to cutting a new deal with star running back Brian Westbrook.

I Don’t Get It: The silence is deafening concerning the car that has been connected to the fatal hit-run in Sharon Hill.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to all our Olympic athletes looking to bring gold back to Delco from Beijing. Regardless, we believe Brendan Hansen, the Teti family, Marcus McElhenny and all the others will remain winners in our eyes.


Quote Box: “We would encourage him to come forward. Come in and talk to us.”

-- Sharon Hill Police Chief Robert Tinsley, on the owner of the black Mercedes believed to be the vehicle involved in fatal hit-run.

A tough day in Sharon Hill

It is likely going to be a long, agonizing day in Sharon Hill.

Friends and family will gather to say goodbye to Faith Sinclair.

She’s the ebullient 16-year-old honor student whose bright future was snuffed out by a hit-run driver Sunday as she tried to cross Chester Pike at Laurel Road in the borough.

In the meantime, the search for her killer goes on. Police now believe they have the car that struck and killed Sinclair. They also know who owns the black 2000 Mercedes S-Class. The damage to the car is what they would expect from the accident. It is missing a side-view mirror. The front grill is gone. The windshield is shattered.

But police don’t know who was driving it Sunday night. And if anyone else was in the car.

The owner of the car, Lemuel Payne, of Upper Darby, has been identified as a “person of interest” by police. They would like to talk to him. Apparently Payne is not terribly interested in talking to them. At least not yet.

Instead he has been talking to a lawyer. Payne has hired Media attorney Mark Much. The lawyer has been in contact with both the Sharon Hill police and district attorney’s office. He wants to confer with his client before he makes any decision about talking to authorities.

None of which is likely to provide much in the way of comfort to those who will gather today to say goodbye to the teen whose mother referred to her as “Miss Wiggly,” a reference to her constant movement in the womb while her mom was pregnant.

There will be many voices raised today in remembrance of Faith Sinclair.

But there is likely one voice that could do more to lay this case to rest than any of the others.

That voice belongs to Lemuel Payne. A lot of people are waiting to hear what he has to say.

Of Olympics and gold standards

The eyes of the Philadelphia sports world will be on two places today. I’m guessing neither of them is in China.

The Phillies open a three-game series against the Pirates that they should sweep. But if their anemic bats don’t come to life, they might struggle, not just to win, but also to hold on to first place in the National League East.

But those not at Citizens Bank Park likely will be staring at flat-screen TVs. Yes, football season starts tonight, with the Eagles in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.

There’s almost nothing as boring as exhibition football, but that won’t stop Iggles faithful from examining every throw by Donovan McNabb in what likely will be little more than a cameo performance.

Of course, the rest of the world will be dazzled by what is going on in Beijing, and the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games.

A confession here. The Olympics lost their thrill for me a long time ago. In particular, I kind of struggle with the summer games. At least in winter, you’re going to be inside anyhow, and you can snuggle up next to the fireplace and check out the winter action.

I’d rather be out on the porch listening to the Phils than watching the Summer Games. OK, the truth is I’ll be glued to the TV watching the meaningless action involving the Eagles.

Why do I say meaningless? Here’s why. It’s a question I ask every year. Tell me one thing you remember from last year’s pre-season games. Thought so.

It’s not that Delco doesn’t have a rooting interest in the Olympics. We’ll pay a lot of attention to Havertown swimmer Brendan Hansen and his efforts to win the gold medal that so far has eluded him. He’ll be taking part in the 100-meter breast stroke this weekend and will be part of the U.S. medley relay team later on. Our own John Lohn will be in Beijing to cover Hansen. You can see John’s coverage in sports, and check his blog from Beijing as well.

And the U.S. Rowing team has a distinctively Delco flavor to it. The coxswain for the men’s eight team, Marcus McElhenny, is from Lansdowne. He’s a Monsignor Bonner alum.

And the legendary Teti rowing family has put their stamp on the U.S. rowing team. Paul Teti, an Upper Darby native, is appearing in his third Olympics with the men’s lightweight four team. His father, Paul is coaching the team. They’re also both Bonner boys.

I wish them all well. I hope they bring back gold.

Maybe then can then tell Eagles owner Jeff Lurie what a real gold standard is.

Today? It'll be grrrrrrr-eight!

Tony the Tiger would have a field day today. He’d probably think it’s just grrrrrr-eat.

It’s going to be a pretty big day for eights.

That’s because it’s Aug. 8, 2008. In other words, 8-8-08.

It’s also the first day of the Olympics in Beijing. I don’t know if they purposely decided to kick off the Game on this day with all the eights.

You can check here for some local folks who are celebrating special birthdays today.

Tony Iacoangelo of Ridley turns 88. At the other end of the spectrum, Vaugh Brown of Chester turns 8.

You might, as our headline in the print edition on a story detailing some people sharing a birthday today indicates, say it’s a gr-eight day.

But only an old, frustrated headline writer would do that.

Cole in their stockings

Cole Hamels was on the mound yesterday afternoon for the Phils as they finished up their key series with the second-place Marlins.

Which of course means the Phillies’ bats took the day off. The Phils have a propensity to do nothing at the plate when Hamels pitches.

It happened again yesterday. Hamels gave the Phils another decent outing, going six and a third innings, giving up three runs on seven hits while striking out 7.

But it’s tough to win when you don’t score. The Phils were dazzled by rookie right-hander Chris Volstad. It was actually Hamels who got the Phils’ first hit of the day with a line drive up the middle in the fifth.

They went feebly, not getting a runner to third base until the ninth. They scratched out only three other hits.

In the process their lead over the Marlins got slimmer, now at a game and a half. The Mets also won, to close to just two games back.

Hey, look on the bright side. For a lot of fans, the baseball season ends tonight. That’s when the Eagles kick off their exhibition season in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.

Think Brian Westbrook can hit a curve ball?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 7

The Daily Numbers: 1 black Mercedes found in an Upper Darby garage Wednesday afternoon. Police believe it is the vehicle that struck and killed 16-year-old Faith Sinclair Sunday night in Sharon Hill.

4 tips that came into police and the Citizens Crime Commission with information on the whereabouts of the car.

10,000 dollar reward that had been posted for information on the car.

2 teens that were struck by 2 cars as they crossed the intersection of Holme and Winchester avenues in Northeast Philadelphia Wednesday night. They’re hospitalized. Both drivers stopped at the scene.

1 person struck by a car on Route 141 in Delaware.

1,000,000 dollar bail for the suspect charged in the street shooting that ended in the death of an innocent 4-year-old boy in Camden.

5,000 dollar reward posted for information for the other person believed involved in the Camden shootout.

0 days that had gone by when a Pottstown man was arrested for the attempted murder of his ex-wife, on the same day their divorce became final.

29 obstruction counts to which a former aide to state Sen. Vince Fumo is expected to plead guilty to next week. Leonard Luchko is believed to have destroyed computer records tied to the federal probe into the senator.

59 age of Philly rocker and Delco native Robert Hazard, the man who penned the Cyndi Lauper hit “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Hazard grew up in Springfield.

3 homes that police in New Castle, Del., believe a man was looking into. They have charged him as a peeping Tom.

84 percent dip in profits for local oil giant Sunoco Inc. in the second quarter. At the same time their revenue was actually up.

2 cent dip in gas prices. Average price in the region is now $3.90. That’s still 6 cents higher than the state average.

225 dollars, what folks forked over after standing in line for days to buy a pair of the limited new line of ?uestlove Nike sneakers.

6 gritty innings for Phils starter Kyle Kendrick, who got the win as they harpooned the Marlins.

0 runs surrendered by Kendrick and 2 Phils relievers. Kendrick did walk five and threw 106 pitches in his 6 innings.

16 wins and 7 losses, the Phils record in the games Kendrick has started this year.

1:05 start with a Businessperson’s Special to close out the series with the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park this afternoon.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Leave it to Jeff Lurie to illuminate us on the values of the heretofore unknown YPA. That stands for Yards Per Attempt, and Lurie used it in his state of the team address to indicate disgruntled cornerback Lito Sheppard could use some work in that area.

I Don’t Get It: They’ve found the car. Now they need to find the driver responsible for slamming into 16-year-old Faith Sinclair and then leaving the scene. It’s time for that person to come forward.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to Janet McWilliams of Havertown, who captured the title of “Delco Idol” last night at the Media Theatre.


Quote Box: “The type of damage we were looking for was consistent with the damage on this car.”

-- Sharon Hill Police Chief Robert Tinsley, on black Mercedes recovered from a garage in Upper Darby.

Found: One black S-type Mercedes

It’s amazing how much information suddenly becomes available when you attach $10,000 to it.

Acting on several tips, police now believe they have recovered the black Mercedes that struck and killed 16-year-old Faith Sinclair in Sharon Hill Sunday night.

Authorities executed a search warrant for a garage behind a home in the 300 block of State Road in Upper Darby Wednesday afternoon. There, covered by a black tarp, was a damaged black S-type 2000 Mercedes Benz. It is believed the windows on the garage recently were tinted black.

Police confirm that the damage visible on the car was consistent with what would be expected on the car involved in the hit-run.

What they don’t know – at least not yet – is who owns the car and who was driving it on Sunday night.

They are expected to execute another search warrant at the home today.

Yesterday police made a plea for the owner of the car to come forward.

Police went to the Upper Darby neighborhood after getting a series of tip calls. One came into Sharon Hill Police. Three others were fielded by the Citizens Crime Commission. They had posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

Amazingly, the mother of the victim, Faith Sinclair, already is sounding a note of forgiveness in the case. She simply wants the driver to come forward.

She will bury her 16-year-old daughter on Friday. By that time, she may well know who was responsible for the hit-run accident the snuffed out such a promising young life.

A tribute to Robert Hazard, Delco guy

It is one of those iconic tunes of rock ‘n’ roll. Once you hear it, you can’t get it out of your head.

It rocketed Cyndi Lauper to fame when she used her eclectic kitsch to let everyone know that “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

What was less well known is that the tune was written by Robert Hazard, one of the leaders of the Philly rock circuit in the ’80s.

What is even less well known is that Hazard is a Delco guy. Grew up in Springfield. Graduated from Springfield High in 1966.

Hazard and his band, The Heroes, were very influential in the burgeoning Philly music scene in the ’80s and had a hit of their own, “Escalator of Life.”

Hazard died unexpectedly this week after a brief illness and undergoing surgery at a Massachusetts hospital, according to his wife. He was only 59.

In November of last year, the Delco native returned to his roots to play a benefit for the Delco SPCA at the Media Theatre. He had just released his latest CB, “Troubadour.”

In recent years, Hazard made his home in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

He moved away from Delaware County 40 years ago, but he still remembered the Springfield of his youth.

“When I lived there as a kid, Springfield seemed really small,” Hazard said in an interview with our correspondent Susan Serbin. “There were the shops on Saxer Avenue, the barbershop and a little jewelry store where I got the friendship rings for my girlfriends. I took the trolley everywhere.

“After you got to Media, there wasn’t anything past there. It was a great place to grow up.”

And obviously a great place to make music.

Robert Hazard is gone, but his music will live forever.

Here’s a secret: It wasn’t just girls who wanted to have fun. Everyone who listened to Hazard’s music couldn’t help breaking into a smile.

He’ll be missed.

King Kyle leads Phils

You can now flip everything we said about the Phillies yesterday.

Phils win. Marlins lose. Mets lose.

Phils now lead NL East by 2 1/2 over Marlins, and 3 over slumping Mets, who lost last night.

The one consistent the Phils did get last night was another win out of Kyle Kendrick. Don’t look now, but that’s usually the case when he’s on the hill. The Phils are something like 27-10 in the games Kendrick has started since he joined the team last year. They are 16-7 in his 23 starts this year.

Amazingly, Kendrick did not pitch all that great. All he did was win. He threw a ton of pitches early in the game, but still battled out of every jam and left after six innings without surrendering a run.

He walked five, but gave up just four hits and kept the Marlins off the scoreboard. He threw 106 pitches in his six gritty innings.

And the Phils received another stellar night out of their bullpen and did not have to use closer Brad Lidge. Instead they got a lights-out effort in two spotless innings from Chad Durbin. Then Ryan Madson put the Marlins down 1-2-3 in the ninth.

This afternoon they send Cole Hamels to the mound in what should be a sun-splashed series finale, and a chance to put some serious distance between themselves and their nearest competitor.

With their bullpen beginning to show some wear and tear, this would be the perfect time for Hamels to come up big. Kind of like Kendrick has been doing quietly this year.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 6

The Daily Numbers: 2 people, a driver and passenger, police are now seeking in connection with the car that struck and killed 16-year-old Faith Sinclair in Sharon Hill Sunday night.

10,000 dollar reward posted for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the fatal hit-run.

18,500 seat stadium that will soon spring up under the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester that will be home to a Major League Soccer team. Yesterday Rossetti Architects and ICON Venue Group were named to head the $115 million project.

2,000 of those seats that will be arranged in a special section for members of the Sons of Ben, the local group of soccer fanatics that were one of the keys to drawing the MLS to the region.

3 people arrested in a brutal home invasion in Upper Darby.

3 percent pay hike being offered to members of the Chester firefighters’ union. The union and city are at odds over several other issues.

16 day shutdown on tap as the final leg of the Market Frankford El Reconstruction Project commences Friday night.

4 age of youth who was caught in the crossfire during a street shooting in Camden. The youth died; 1 man is under arrest.

1 US Airways worker killed in a crash involving one of the small tractors used to pull baggage carts at Philadelphia International Airport yesterday.

1 woman killed and her 2 granddaughters injured in an attack police say was carried out by her son and the girls’ uncle in Galloway Township, N.J.

2 people shot last night in Pottstown. Police say a man shot his girlfriend and then turned the gun on himself. Both are expected to survive.

12 people arrested in a huge drug crackdown in Burlington County, N.J.

1 homeless woman killed and another arrested after a dispute led to violence yesterday in the city’s Love Park.

4 people, including the chief of staff for a Philadelphia City Councilman, indicted on corruption charges.

1 former state lawmaker and an aide who avoided jail time by pleading guilty to forgery charges in Harrisburg.

3 of 4 people in a recent poll who were skeptical of efforts that corruption in Harrisburg can be cleaned up.

23 cents per gallon less that we’re paying for gasoline the last month. Today’s average price in the Philly region is $4.83.

11 people charged in a massive credit card theft ring that may have involved the personal information of 41 million people.

2.2 alcoholic drinks a day, what most middle-aged men were consuming 50 years ago. Now it’s down to 1.5 drinks a day.

10 straight times Jamie Moyer had mastered the Marlins. That ended last night with an 8-2 loss.

5 erratic innings for Moyer, who walked 3, gave up 6 hits and 2 runs. He left with the Phils trailing 2-0.

1.5 games, the Phils’ cushion over the Marlins as they head into Game 2 of their series tonight.

2 days before the Eagles open their exhibition schedule Friday night in Pittsburgh.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
The Phillies are still an amazingly inconsistent lot. And they still have holes. One of them is a left-handed reliever. Don’t know who Les Walrond is, but he didn’t show much last night.

I Don’t Get It: Some people stood in line for days in Philadelphia. And what would make them do such a thing? A chance to shell out $225 for a new pair of sneakers. OK, they were special ?uestlove items. I still don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: Once again Delaware County has shown its heart with the outpouring of support for the family of hit-run victim Faith Sinclair.


Quote Box: “She touched so many people’s lives.”

-- Kim Ferrell, mother of Faith Sinclair.

Two people know what happened to Faith Sinclair

In Sharon Hill, the slow, agonizing wait continues.

The family of Faith Sinclair came forward yesterday, and gave us a hint at what we lost when the 16-year-old was struck and killed by a hit-run driver Sunday night as she was crossing Chester Pike.

The Ridley High honor student seemed to touch a lot of people in those scant years. While they are dealing with unthinkable tragedy, Faith’s parents, Mike and Kim Ferrell, are being comforted by the outpouring of support from the community.

Perhaps emblematic of the effect young Faith had on those she met was evidenced by a woman the Ferrells encountered during a vigil at the accident scene Monday night.

“Did you have any idea that you had the most amazing young woman I’ve ever met?” she informed them while asking if she could kiss the picture of their daughter.

But there’s another aspect to this heart-wrenching story. It’s one that remains unsolved. We still don’t know who killed Faith Sinclair, who slammed their car into her and then drove off without stopping.

We got a few more clues yesterday. We know the vehicle involved is likely a black S-class Mercedes sports sedan. We also know it’s missing a side mirror that was displayed during a press conference by the district attorney.

And we also learned something else. There’s very likely more than one person who knows who was involved in this tragedy. Police believe there was a passenger in the car, along with the person driving the Mercedes.

I wonder what is going through the minds of those two people, if they are being consumed by guilt. I’d like to believe that eventually their conscience will get the better of them, and they will come forward. I’d like to think you can’t be involved in something as horrific as this, and then simply go about your life as if nothing has changed.

Maybe they simply fled in a moment of sheer panic. We really don’t know what was going through their minds at that terrifying instant. What we do know is that they did not stop. And they have yet to come forward. The hunt goes on today, three days after the accident.

Just in case, there’s now an added incentive in this case. The Citizens Crime Commission has posted a $10,000 reward for information in the fatal hit-run. Anyone with information can call them at 215-546-8477, or 877-345-8477. Sharon Hill police can be reached at 610-237-6200.

All those who knew and loved Faith Sinclair have suffered an incalculable loss.

There are two people out there who can ease that pain. And, I’m guessing, ease their own anguish at the same time.

They should come forward. Today. The anguish of those who knew Faith Sinclair grows with each second that goes by. As does the gnawing in the gut of the two people who know what happened on Chester Pike at Laurel Road Sunday night.

A love triangle slaying in Love Park

There was a fatal stabbing in Philadelphia yesterday. While sad, it’s not exactly something that’s complete out of the realm of what sometimes happens in the city, or the suburbs either for that matter.

What makes this incident a bit more unusual is where it happened. A woman attacked another woman in Love Park. And what’s more, police believe the two may have been arguing over another man.

So what you have is a love triangle that led to a fatal stabbing in Love Park.

Not exactly Brotherly Love.

Dog Days for Phils

The Phillies desperately wanted to add another left-handed arm to their bullpen at the trade deadline last week. They didn’t get one.

Last night, after a decidedly un-Jamie Moyer-like start in which the guy who had mastered the Marlins in 10 straight games, the Phils rolled out Clay Condrey, someone named Les Walrond, Ryan Madson and finally J.A. Happ.

It didn’t work out too well.

Moyer was uncharacteristically wild early. He walked three but still managed to keep the game close. When he left, the Phils trailed only 2-0.

The game went downhill from there.

Happ made a couple of good starts filling in while Brett Myers was dispatched to the minors to find himself.

It was Happ who looked lost last night in a mop-up relief role.

The loss sliced the Phils’ lead in the National League East over the Marlins to a game and a half. The Mets continue to lurk two back.

Now it appears the Phils are once again shaking the bushes in their search for a left-handed reliever. Word is they may look at Scott Eyre, who was designated for assignment by the Cubs.

The Dog Days are upon us. The Phillies’ bullpen has been one of their strengths this season. Now the team is banking on another team’s castoffs to bolster the pen. Dog Days sounds about right.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 5

The Daily Numbers: 200 people who showed up last night for an impromptu memorial service for Faith Sinclair, the 16-year-old struck and killed by a hit-run driver Sunday night.

1 suspect wounded and 1 police officer injured after a chase in Darby and Colwyn boroughs yesterday morning.

11.5 to 23 years in jail for an Upper Darby man convicted in the brutal beating of a Nether Providence man.

1 boat believed involved in a hit-run incident on the water in Brick Township, N.J., that was found by police.

1 dog, a pit bull, that attacked another, a border collie, at the county’s new dog park in Upper Darby last week.

7 more workers at Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services who have been suspended in connection with the death of a 14-year-old girl in their care.

10 stores that will be closed by troubled department store chain Boscov’s.

1 Boscov’s in Delaware County in Granite Run Mall, and 1 in Concord Mall in Wilmington. Both will remain open.

4 age of child shot and killed when caught in crossfire of a gun battle on the streets of Camden, N.J., in the middle of the afternoon.

3 firefighters and 1 resident injured when fire roared through a row home in the Frankford section of Philadelphia.

4 hours, how long the Schuylkill Expressway was closed late last night after an accident between Route 202 and Gulph Mills. The expressway was finally reopened around 3:45 a.m.

20 years ago, when the latest allegations of sexual abuse against a Catholic priest are believed to have occurred. The priest was serving at Salesianum High School in Wilmington at the time.

3 cent dip in price of gasoline in the region over the weekend. We’re now paying an average of $3.93 a gallon.

3.75 a gallon, what AAA believes we could be paying for gas around Labor Day as the price of oil continues to drop.

3 huge games between the first-place Phils and second-place Marlins beginning tonight at Citizens Bank Park.

15,000 dollars a day, what Shawn Andrews is being fined by the Eagles for his absence from training camp. Andrews yesterday said he is battling depression.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Now we know why Shawn Andrews has not reported to Eagles practice. And we know that owner Jeff Lurie says the team is not retooling, that they have high expectations for this year. Somehow I think resolving that first item might have a lot do with how accurate Lurie’s statement turns out to be.

I Don’t Get It: To whoever struck 16-year-old Faith Sinclair, for whatever reason: Turn yourself in.


Today’s Upper: The Chester Upland School District is going to look radically different when the doors open this fall. That’s in large part to some innovative moves being implemented by CEO Dr. Gregory Thornton. Nothing else has worked. We’re hoping nothing but success for the long-struggling schools.


Quote Box: “She had such positive energy. If you weren’t, she’d brighten up your day.”

-- Suzanne Dukes of Aston, talking about hit-run victim Faith Sinclair.

Justice for Faith Sinclair

The family of 16-year-old Faith Sinclair will appear at a press conference at the district attorney’s office this morning.

They no doubt will seek justice. I hope they get it.

What they will not get is their loved one back.

Sinclair was crossing Chester Pike Sunday night when she was struck and killed by a driver who did not stop. Sinclair died at the scene.

All day yesterday, friends of Faith Sinclair came to the site at Chester Pike and Laurel Road. They carried cards and stuffed animals and placed them at the scene. To a person, they all spoke glowingly of the Ridley High student, described as a phenomenal person, someone who always “put others before herself.”

The world could use a lot more people like Faith Sinclair. And a lot fewer of the kind who could strike someone and then simply drive away, leaving so many lives in tatters.

Police this morning continue their search for the dark-colored Mercedes they believe struck and killed Faith. Pieces of the car, including a side mirror and front grill, were recovered at the scene.

It’s hard to imagine the driver was unaware that they had struck someone, or at least something.

In the meantime, Faith Sinclair’s family will simply wait as they prepare to bury their loved one.

They will seek justice. I’m not sure they can get it. I have no doubt someone will be arrested. In these kinds of cases, they almost always are.

But it won’t bring back Faith Sinclair. And that’s the justice all of us would like to see.

Bad business news seems to be all in the family

By now it should not come as any great surprise that another giant retailer in the region is in trouble.

We watched as business icons such as Gimbel’s, Wanamaker’s, and Strawbridge’s disappeared from the business landscape.

Now it’s Boscov’s that’s in trouble.

Notice something about all those stores. They are more than just retail outlets. They are all family names. Boscov’s gets its moniker from Albert Boscov, who started his retailing empire in Reading. They’re still headquartered there.

And in a way, they become part of our families.

Boscov’s Monday announced they were filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and would close 10 stores. None of those to be closed are in our immediate area. Neither the Boscov’s in Granite Run Mall, nor the store in Concord Mall in Wilmington will be affected. The news was not as good for stores in Montgomery and Oxford Valley malls. Both are on the list to be shuttered.

And we lose a little bit of our uniqueness in the process.

Of 4-letter words and chalk boards

I have a saying for words that bother me. When I hear them, I kind of wince. They give me the feeling of “fingernails going across the chalk board.”

Yesterday I heard one of them twice. I read them again this morning in the newspaper.

It is one of those words we all use, just not usually as part of our public discourse. And certainly not at a high-profile press conference.

But there was Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter yesterday, clearly outraged at the allegations detailed in such gut-wrenching fashion in the grand jury indictment connected to the death of a 14-year-old girl in the care of the city Department of Human Services.

Nutter was about as emotional as you will ever see a public official get. More than that, he was angry. Maybe too angry.

I say that because of a word he used to express just how upset he was. It rhymes with hiss.

I’m no prude. As most of the folks in my newsroom can attest, I can cuss with the best of them. I’m just not sure I would do it on a public stage as Nutter did yesterday.

At least Nutter backed up his words with more action, suspending workers who were named in the indictment but not charged, and vowing that anyone who is not willing to do the work necessary to get the job done should seek employment elsewhere.

It’s something that’s overdue. We just wish he would use another words to express his anger.

The mayor was not alone in uttering that handy-dandy four-letter expletive yesterday.

Ironically, just to show how useful it is, it also popped up in the sports pages, with a totally different meaning. That’s one of the glories of language; they have so many creative uses.

Nutter used it to demonstrate his outrage. In the meantime, Eagles AWOL offensive guard Shawn Andres used it in a bit more traditional manner.

In talking about his battle with depression, Andrews sought to assure that this had nothing to do with his financial situation. He said he also dealt with the issue before he gained the riches he earned as a star NFL player.

In fact, he dealt with it when he didn’t have a pot to relieve himself in, if you get my drift.

Yes, if you look in the Daily Times story today on Nutter’s press conference from the Associated Press, you will see the offending word. It’s in the direct quote from Nutter.

It still sounds like fingernails on the chalk board to me. Maybe I’m old-fashioned.

Next thing you know you’ll be telling me that the seemingly ubiquitous four-letter word that starts with “f” is OK for public consumption.

That would certainly “p” me off.

Andrews battles his demons

We now know why Shawn Andrews has not reported to Eagles training camp.

We also know that he likely will arrive at Lehigh University this Friday.

What we don’t know is when we will see the All-Pro offensive guard on the field, in pads, anchoring the right side of the Eagles offensive line beside tackle Jon Runyan.

Andrews Monday indicated he is battling depression.

For two weeks, Andrews was the focus of the rumor mill as to what exactly was keeping him away from Lehigh, while the team simply slapped the “personal issue” explanation on his absence. They also slapped a $15,000 daily fine on their star guard for each day he was AWOL.

All sorts of stories circulated as to why Andrews was not in camp, from the standard “he simply does not like training camp,” to some more serious questions.

Yesterday Andrews decided to go public with his personal issues. He did it on the same day Eagles’ owner Jeff Lurie gave his annual State of the Team Address.

Lurie assured Eagles Nation – many of whom make the trek up the Northeast Extension each day to watch the Birds practice – that the team is not in a rebuilding mode. The Eagles are not “retooling,” according to the man who signs the checks. This is “going for it,” Lurie stressed.

They likely aren’t going anywhere unless they can settle several issues, including getting Andrews back on the field, and resolving the sticky contract issue that clearly has gotten under the skin of star running back Brian Westbrook.

Andrews’ issue transcends the sports pages. We wish him well in his recovery. He is apparently now getting professional help and is on medication.

That gives him something in common with a lot of people. Most of them, however, do not battle their demons on the front page of the sports sections.

Having said that, we’re also a fan. We hope Andrews returns to the lineup soon. This time needs him.

We hope the Westbrook issue is resolved as well.

And we hope someday, Jeff Lurie’s team fulfills that “gold standard” label he has slapped on the organization.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 4

The Daily Numbers: 16 age of girl struck and killed by a hit-run driver in Sharon Hill Sunday night. Police are now hunting for the driver.

1 person killed and 4 injured – including a couple from Delaware County – when two boats collided on the Metedeconk River in Brick Township, N.J., Saturday night.

1 dead and 1 injured in a shooting Sunday night in South Philadelphia. It was the city’s first homicide in 6 days.

1 person struck and killed by a SEPTA train in the Crescentville section of Philadelphia Sunday night.

65,000 union workers with Verizon who remain on the job for now as they bargain for a new contract. Their deal expired at midnight Sunday morning.

6,000 vehicles in the city of Philadelphia fleet that are straining the budget as gas costs continue to rise.

11 years spent on the lam by a man wanted for a murder in Chester. He was arrested last week in Detroit.

3.90 average cost of gas across the nation as prices continue to retreat.

3.75 a gallon, where AAA believes prices could skid to by the Labor Day holiday.

3.94 a gallon, the average price for gas in the 5-county Philadelphia region.

126 dollars a barrel, the price for crude oil this morning, as prices are spiking again.

2.5 game lead for the Phils over the second place Marlins this morning. The Mets are 3 back.

6 strong innings last night for Brett Myers, who gave up just 2 runs on 4 hits.

28 saves for Brad Lidge in 28 opportunities for the Phillies. The guy is making a run for the team’s MVP.

1 Eagle who continues to be a no-show at Lehigh. Where’s Shawn Andrews?


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
The Phillies are continuing to put some space between themselves and their NL East competitors. And they can do some more Tuesday night when the Marlins come to Citizens Bank Park.

I Don’t Get It: How can someone strike a person with their car and then simply drive on as if nothing occurred?


Today’s Upper: Don’t look now but gas prices continue their skid. Prices at some stations are now under $3.90 a gallon.


Quote Box: “They do it because it’s quick money.”

-- Delco Assistant District Attorney Greg Hurchalla, on the recent spike in thefts of metals in the county.

A split-second, and tragedy in Sharon Hill

It is one of those split-seconds that shatter lives. And there’s always a tiny part of me that is grateful that I have never found myself in that kind of situation.

And now it has happened again.

A teen is crossing a street in Sharon Hill. Then a car appears, seemingly out of nowhere.

I don’t know if the girl ever saw the car. Or if the driver ever saw the child crossing the street.

What we do know is that the car struck the 16-year-old at the intersection of Chester Pike and Laurel Road. The girl was killed as her horrified friends, who were just a bit behind her, looked on.

At that point the driver of the car had a decision to make. It’s one luckily most of us will never have to make. And it’s one in which most of us know exactly what we would do. We would stop and give aid. At least that’s what most of us hope we would do.

That’s not what the driver did last night. The driver fled the scene. But he or she left some things behind. A side mirror was found at the site, as was some of the car’s front grill.

Police this morning say they are looking for a black or dark blue Mercedes or BMW.

I suppose it’s possible that the driver maybe didn’t realize what had happened, that a girl had been struck. But given the damage that’s a little hard to believe.

Maybe they just panicked.

We don’t really know. What we do know is that two lives changed in that instant. One life was lost; another was drastically altered.

And friends and families now are left to deal with the aftermath.

For now the hunt is on for the driver who struck the girl and then left the scene.

And the rest of us are left to think about what we’d do in a similar position.

The Weldon Watch

The wheels of justice turn slowly.

Don’t believe me? Just ask Curt Weldon.

It was just about two years ago when Weldon found himself in a heated battle for his 7th District Congressional seat, the one he’d held for 20 years.

Unlike many of his previous races, in which the powerful Weldon and the local GOP swatted away what all too often amounted to token opposition from Delco Democrats, this time he found himself in a heated battle against the retired Navy admiral, Joe Sestak.

Still, Weldon’s numbers had him ahead by as many as 7 points with a couple weeks in the campaign. Of course Sestak’s numbers said something else.

Then the thunderbolt struck. The offices of Weldon’s daughter and one of his close allies, former Springfield GOP boss Charlie Sexton, were raided by the feds.

The belief is that they were looking for evidence in a probe of whether Weldon used his ties in D.C. and around the globe to direct business to his daughter’s business.

The numbers shifted. Weldon lost the seat he had held for two decades.

That was two years ago. Sestak is now running for re-election against Concord attorney Craig Williams.

And Weldon? He’s moved on, now working for a defense firm in Exton, Chester County.

But no charges have been filed in the investigation. None against Weldon; none against his daughter; none against Sexton.

The feds say only that the investigation is ongoing. Two people close to Weldon, his former chief of staff Russ Caso, as well as local lobbyist and real estate agent Cecilia Grimes have entered pleas tied to the probe.

Caso’s plea stems from not reporting some income made by his wife, who worked for a firm with ties to Weldon. Grimes’ plea involved not things directly tied to the probe, but rather the fact that she destroyed some evidence after she was initially interviewed by the FBI. Both are believed to be cooperating with the federal investigation.

In the meantime, those wheels of justice continue to churn.

At some point the government should show its hand. Weldon and those close to him have lived under this cloud for two years now. Many believe it cost him the election.

If the feds have something on him, it’s time to lay it on the table. If not, it’s time to say that as well, and let Weldon and others get on with their life.

It won’t change what happened, but it’s time this case was brought to a conclusion. One way or the other.

Phils are trading spaces -- but still in first

Don’t look now, but after all the dust settled from last week’s free agent shuffle – where the Phils decided to hold ’em an the fans lamented that they actually were folding ’em – a glance at the National League standings might be in order.

There at the top of the heap are your Philadelphia Phillies. Not only that, but their cushion is actually growing.

After treating a national TV audience to the kind of sudden power they can display last night in dispatching the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-4, the Phils are now sitting on a 2 1/2-half game lead in the NL East over the Marlins. The hated Mets are fumbling once again, now sputtering at three back.

Last night it was Shane Victorino’s turn to make a statement to all those lamenting he was not part of a blockbuster trade deadline deal. All Victorino did last night was come off the bench and supply the eighth-inning three-run homer that propelled the Phils to a win.

More good news. Other than a couple of home run balls, the Phils got another strong outing from Brett Myers. He went six innings and gave up just two runs on four hits.

Brad Lidge did his best Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams imitation to make things a little tense in the ninth, loading the bases before fanning the final two Cards’ batters to seal the deal. If you’re counting, that’s 28 saves in 28 opportunities for Lidge.

Don’t look now, but the Phils are in the driver’s seat in the NL East.

They return to the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park with a chance to put some more distance between themselves and the Fish. The Marlins are in town for three starting Tuesday night.