Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More pain, and anger

It is the same, sad picture that has become all too familiar.

A long line of blue heading into the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

Once again, the thin blue line is gathering today to bury one of their own.

But behind the sadness over the death of Highway Patrolman Patrick McDonald, there is a real, palpabale anger.

McDonald was the fifth city officer slain in the line of duty in just the past three years. A total of nine Philly police officers were shot in the last year.

That police are burying one of their own so soon after performing the same sad task is incredibly sad.

But there is anger as well, and it’s focused squarely on why the man who shot McDonald before being gunned down by other officers was on the street in the first place.

Daniel Giddings was a free man courtesy of the state Board of Probation and Parole. Giddings was 27. He had his first brush with the law at age 10. While behind bars, he racked up a dizzying series of violations.

Yet he was still approved for parole after serving 10 years of a 12-year sentence in connection with a violent carjacking.

His release prompted a protest yesterday by Philadelphia police, led by a clearly irate Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Mayor Michael Nutter. They demanded an end to such early releases.

Their howls of anger have been heard. And they’ve gotten action.

Yesterday former mayor and now Gov. Ed Rendell temporarily halted paroles for violent offenders and named a Temple University professor to lead a review of parole procedures.

It’s a good first step.

Daniel Giddings never should have been out on the street. He was doing time for a 1998 robbery and aggravated assault. On Aug. 18 he was released to a halfway house as part of his parole. It didn’t take him long to revert to his violent behavior. He fled the halfway house after a week and within a month had been involved in a confrontation with police. He was wanted on those charges when he was stopped by Officer McDonald.

Giddings had vowed he would not go to prison. After a chase and shootout, he stood over a wounded McDonald and executed the fallen officer, firing several more shots into him.

Daniel Giddings will never be eligible for parole again. He died in a subsequent shootout with police after killing Officer McDonald.

It won’t bring back the fallen officer. It will not ease the pain felt through the region today.

But the move to take another look at the way parole is granted in this state is the right call.

So that we never have to go through this horror again.

Bucks stop here

If you’re still having trouble getting a feel for just how much $700 billion is, I have some even more frightening numbers for you.

That $700 billion is the cost of the economic bailout plan concocted by President Bush and his financial gurus to get the U.S. banking industry out of a sea of red ink tied to bad mortgages and other lousy decisions.

After urging quick passage on the measure, Bush had to sit and watch as House Republicans revolted, shooting down the measure 228-205.

As it became clear the rescue effort was going to be rejected, Wall Street began to nosedive. When the smoke cleared the Dow was off 777 points. That’s the largest one-day decline in market history, although not when you consider it as a percentage of the market’s worth. It was a 7 percent decline.

Now comes the really scary part. In those heart-rending couple of hours, more than $1 trillion in securities value disappeared.

It’s just paper, right? It’s not real. It doesn’t affect me and you.

Uh, think again. Do you have a 401K? Is your nest egg invested in funds that are heavily tied to stocks. Brace yourself. You just got hit.

At this point, you might not want to look at those 401K numbers.

The mantra in these situations, with the market in a freefall, is that the best option is to do nothing. To hang in there and wait for the market to rebound. They always say the worst thing to do is sell in a downturn. That, of course, assumes there is going to be a rebound.

Want to hear something really scary? This morning, for the first time, I’m actually hearing some experts talking about how it might be time to get out. That’s especially true, they say, if you’re not comfortable with the idea of waiting for that turnaround.

Remember that old saw about stashing the money under the mattress? Suddenly it’s not so funny.

Running for cover

For the past couple years, Eagles fans have begged, cajoled and in some instances demanded that Andy Reid run the ball more.

Sunday night they got their wish. How did that work out?

With the game in the balance, the Eagles stood on the precipice of a dramatic come-from-behind win that would propel them to a 3-1 start and cement their position among the NFL’s elite.

The Birds had the ball inside the Bears’ 5-yard line. A running play moved the ball to the 1.

That’s when the normally pass-happy Reid decided to change course.

So you’re thinking he would utilize what most people view as a slam dunk, his 245-pound quarterback, and have Donovan McNabb sneak the ball that final, agonizing yard.

Uh, not exactly.

Maybe Andy would fool everyone, have Donovan play-fake, sucker everyone with a running play, then have Donovan waltz around that now-undefended end on a bootleg? Or maybe pull up after the play fake and hit his tight end all alone in the end zone?

One thing we know: He wasn’t going to be able to hand the ball to rocket-man Brian Westbrook and watch him launch himself up and over the mosh pit on the line into the end zone. Westbrook was standing on the sidelines in civvies.

No, instead McNabb handed the ball off three more times, first to Tony Hutn and then to backup Correll Buckhalter. Twice. Hunt missed a hole inside, bounced outside and was quickly swarmed under. On third down Buckhalter tried a Westbrook-like vault, only to come up short. On fourth down the Eagles tried to go the smash-mouth route, handing the ball to Buckhalter on a straight dive play. One missed block later, Buckhalter was wrapped up pretty much where the ball was snapped.

Four straight running plays. Zero touchdowns. Another bitter loss and a 2-2 record.

Now Reid and the Eagles are “running” for cover.

There’s another issue not being addressed here. In the two losses the Eagles have suffered this year, Reid and McNabb had control of the situation in the final agonizing moments.

And both times they have failed to get the job done. When the Eagles win, they usually do so comfortably. Occasionally they will get blown out.

But in a close game, with the money on the table, do you still want Reid and McNabb calling the shots? The doubts are growing bigger each time the Eagles fail to seal the deal.

And that’s not something the team can run away from by questioning a missed blocking assignment, a missed field goal, or someone who is not holding that giant laminated card on the sidelines each Sunday.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Daily Numbers - September 29

The Daily Numbers: 10,000 people who registered for playoff tickets in the Phillies lottery for their first two possible playoff series.

45,000 tickets already sold for the Phils’ playoff games.

3,455,583 ticket holders who went through the gates into Citizens Bank Park this year, a team record.

700 billion dollars, how much is at stake in the economic bailout plan that’s been agreed to in principle in Washington.

45 age of Bucks County woman who will be in court today to face charges that she had sex with several teen boys at what started as a sleepover.

1.375 million dollars, the price tag the state received for selling a 1981 Beech King Air 200 airplane.

41 age of funeral director in Lancaster County who will face trial on charges that he beat and drowned his wife.

4 rooms in City Hall in Philadelphia that were damaged in a weekend fire that broke out in a judge’s office.

5 suspects that go on trial today on charges they plotted to attack soldiers at Ford Dix.

17 age of senior football player at Martin Luther King High who died of a MRSA staph infection.

2 men shot on a South Philly street early Sunday morning. Police believe they may have been shot by a person they were trying to rob.

300 million dollars in mortgage bonds being sold by Peco Energy Co.

255 million dollar tower being planned for Atlantic City by Donald Trump. It will have 782 rooms.

4 people killed in a helicopter crash outside Washington, D.C. over the weekend.

27 percent decline in Wachovia bank stock on Friday. It is now getting bids from other banks in takeover plans. It appears as if CitiBank will take over Wachovia.

2 straight National League East division titles for the Phils.

2 days until the Phils and Brewers kick off their NLDS at Citizens Bank Park.

2 missed field goals for Eagles kicker David Akers.

3 straight tries from the 1-yard-line that the Eagles failed to punch in for the winning touchdown last night.

2 wins and 2 losses for the Eagles, good enough to put them in last place in the NFC East.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
It’s one of those moments that we will remember forever as Phillies fans. So where were you and what were you doing when Jimmy Rollins saved the season with that miraculous stop behind the bag that started the double-play that ended the game?


I Don’t Get It: Another star has been popped for driving under the influence. Heather Locklear was arrested over the weekend for suspicion of driving under the influence. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: Here’s another reason to look forward to the Super Bowl. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will provide the entertainment in Tampa this year. Now if only the Eagles also were there.


Quote Box: “The economy is horrendous, the worst since 1929.”

-- Donald Trump, on these challenging times, which will not stop him from building a $255 million, 782-room tower in Atlantic City.

One game short of perfection

We approached sports perfection this weekend. Then Andy Reid and the Eagles got involved.

First the Phillies clinched their second straight National League East crown with one of those plays that simply will forever be etched in the minds of Phillies’ fans.

Jimmy Rollins’ gem diving into the hole behind second base to smother what looked like a base hit with the bases loaded that could have put the Nationals ahead, will be one of those moments Phillies’ faithful will remember with unbridled joy for years.

It wiped out that knot in your stomach, that déjà vu that after successfully closing the door on 40 straight save opportunities, Brad Lidge was having the wheels come off at the worst possible time.

Rollins to Utley to Howard.

And on to October.

It was perfection. Or at least part of it. A few minutes later, the Florida Marlins were driving a stake into the heart of the New York Mets. “Shea Goodbye,” Mets fans. On the last game ever played at their decrepit stadium, the Mets completed their second straight epic collapse. Just like last year, they coughed up their shot at the playoffs on the last day of the season.

A click of the remote then revealed the delightful images of the hated Dallas Cowboys falling from the ranks of the unbeaten in front of their home fans.

Then Andy Reid and the Eagles got involved. So much for perfection.

The Bears did everything they could to hand this game to the Eagles last night. And Reid and the Eagles kept spitting it right back at them.

After a pretty good first half the Bears decided to hibernate after halftime. They turned the ball over four times. And still the Eagles could not win a game that was theirs for the taking.

All eyes will focus on the Eagles’ last series, when they failed to punch the fall in on three straight plays from the 1-yard line. Andy Reid, who never met a pass he didn’t like, and who insists on putting the game in Donovan McNabb’s hands, instead decided to feature Tony Hunt and Correll Buckhalter. How’d that work out? A quarterback sneak with McNabb simply falling forward might have done the trick, but Reid apparently believed his QB was so banged up from last week that he didn’t want to put him in that position. I guess it didn’t bother him nearly as much to have McNabb drop back and throw the ball 41 times.

This is the spot where Brian Westbrook often launches himself over the line and into the end zone. Only problem with that is that Westbrook was in civilian clothes on the sideline, resting an achy ankle.

Buckhalter tried the same act, and came up woefully short. The next play, he tried again to stuff it into the end zone, running behind the spot where Shawn Andrews is usually clearing space. The only problem with that was that Andrews was not even in Chicago. He was back in Philly nursing a sore back.

That was the key moment of the game, but it wasn’t the only downer. David Akers did not exactly help, missing two lengthy field goals that would have meant a win instead of a kick-in-the-gut loss.

It also was not the best of nights for rookie DeSean Jackson, who muffed a punt in the first half that led to an easy touchdown for the Bears, then later did not seem to be on the same page with McNabb on a route that ended with McNabb throwing the ball directly to a Bears’ safety.

The loss drops the Eagles to 2-2. Oh, it also dumps them into the cellar into the suddenly “cream of the NFL” NFC East.

Perfection? Not exactly. The Eagles could have won this game with mediocre, but they didn’t get it done.

Now they host the Redskins next weekend at the Linc in what is looking like an early must win for the Eagles to keep pace in the NFC East.

Forget perfection. We’ll settle for any kind of win. And the same goes for the Phils, who also could be playing Game 4 of their series in Milwaukee.

We had our shot at perfection yesterday. The stars seemed to be aligned.

Then Andy Reid and the Eagles strode out onto Soldier Field in Chicago and threw mud all over our Mona Lisa of a sports weekend.

A Thursday night to remember

Here’s something for all you combination political junkies and die-hard Philly sportsfans to start pondering.

Better clear your calendar for Thursday night.

The Phillies will kick things off with Game Two of their National League Divisional Series against the Brewers. Game time at Citizens Bank Park is 6 p.m.

That’s the key here.

If the game runs to form, it will be coming down to crunch time about three hours later.

I can see it now, Brad Lidge is walking to the mound … just as Gov. Sarah Palin is walking onto the stage for her much-anticipated vice presidential debate against Sen. Joe Biden.

That’s right. The VP candidates are set to square at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. It’s slated to begin at 9 p.m.

Palin warmed up for her big moment in the spotlight by hanging around Philly this weekend.

So what do you do, stay with the Phillies or flip over to the debate. Use the remote to click over to Palin vs. Biden in between pitches? Use picture in picture?

I guess that why they invented the VRC, or DVR.

Let’s be optimists. Maybe the Phils don’t even need Lidge. They’re pounding the Brew Crew. That will clear the decks for the Veep debate.

For Sarah Palin, this just might be her own version of the playoffs.

One meltdown averted; you might not be so lucky

The nation has been saved. Or at least the economic part of it. Or so we’re told.

Our fearless leaders in Washington, D.C., have peered over the edge into the abyss and decided to bail.

That is they have come to an agreement on a $700 billion economic bailout plan.

I am still staggering under this number. For the life of me, I have no idea what exactly $700 billion looks like. And I think that’s part of the problem.

Somehow, when you start tossing around these kinds of numbers, you lose grip with reality.

When you’re standing beside your car at the gas station watching the numbers click past $40 to fill your tank, that’s real.

When you’re in the supermarket and have your hands on a box of cereal that’s approaching $5, that’s real.

When you decide against going out to dinner because you just don’t have the spare cash you used to be able to scrounge together each week after paying the bills, that’s a reality check.

But there’s nothing real about $700 billion. It’s all play money. Wall Street will be saved. The financial gurus whose decisions put us in this precarious position will walk away with their pockets lined with cash, seemingly oblivious to what they are leaving behind.

This morning President Bush will address the nation on the deal hammered out in Washington, D.C. He no doubt will hail the bipartisan effort to head off an “economic meltdown.”

That’s as opposed to what happens to your family budget every week.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

How about those Philies!

That's my way of skirting the issue just a tad when it comes to my Birds.

OK, I'm officially impressed. I'm also officially 1-2 in the prognostication business. This Eagles team is clearly better than I thought. A lot better.

In fact, the Eagles are part of a shift in power in the NFL. The three best teams in the NFL just might play in the NFC East, with the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants. And the Redskins might not be that far behind.

The old order of AFL superiority fell under what could only be called a blitz-krieg.

Jim Johnson ordered up a hornet's nest of blitzes that left Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers battered and bruised.

I think the Steelers played right into the Eagles' hands, for some reason abandoning the run and allowing Johnson to turn loose the dogs.

Now it's on to Chicago, and a Sunday night game with the Bears.

If you haven't noticed, the Steelers weren't the only team to limp out of Lincoln Financial Field last week. The Eagles also have their share of injuries. Donovan McNabb did not practice most of the week. Neither did Brian Westbrook. While McNabb will be behind center Sunday night, I would not expect to see Westbroook. L.J. Smith and Shawn Andrews look like they both could miss the Bears game.

This game likely will rest on the right arm of Donovan McNabb, and the ability of the Eagles defense to repeat last week's mauling.

It says here the Birds scratch and claw their way to a win. It likely won't be easy, or flashy, but it will put them at 3-1, a very good start.

Eagles prevail, 16-10. They are one botched handoff away from being 4-0.

Yep, they're better than I thought they were. A lot better.

Now excuse me as I head back to the land of Phillies Phever!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Daily Numbers - September 26

The Daily Numbers: 90 age of legendary Delco sports figure Mickey Vernon, who died this week after suffering a stroke.

2 American League batting titles and 7 All-Star appearances for Vernon, the native of Marcus Hook.

1 park that bears Vernon’s name in his hometown, along with a statue of the famous ballplayer.

8,000 dollars, how much ‘Team Danny,’ a group of Cardinal O’Hara students, raise each year at the annual Parkway Run for Children’s Cancer Research. They do it in the name of classmate Dan Hammond, who is battling the disease.

3.7 million dollars that has been raised already in the campaigns for the three state row offices up for grabs in November.

100 billion dollars being sought by Gov. Ed Rendell from the feds to rebuild state roads and bridges. Rendell figures if they have $700 billion for an economic bailout, they can help us rebuild our infrastructure.

3 gunmen being sought for holding up a Dunkin Donuts in Philadelphia. It’s the same store where a Philadelphia police officer was gunned down when he walked in on another robbery last October.

11 million dollar cash offer for the Boscov’s department store chain. The deal is now in limbo after a hearing in Delaware bankruptcy court was delayed.

4 pit bulls that were found in deplorable condition inside a Philadelphia home.

16 Bucks County Coffee franchises that are being bought out by Saxbys Coffee Worldwide.

7 year high for the nation’s jobless rate announced yesterday. Another 32,000 people filed for jobless benefits in the week ending Sept. 20.

5 million dollar donation for the Please Touch Museum and their new home made by Campbell soup heir Dorrance Hamilton.

1 in every 100 drivers likely to have a collision with a deer, according to a study done by Eric Insurance Co. They claim the rate is actually down from years past.

700 billion dollars economic rescue plan that is still being debated today in Washington, D.C.

9 p.m., when tonight’s scheduled first presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama is scheduled to begin. Whether McCain will show is still debatable.

52 to 37 percent lead for John McCain over Barack Obama among men in the latest Franklin & Marshall national poll of voters.

3.59 a gallon, average price of gas in the Philly region, that’s down another penny overnight.

3 days and 3 games left in the regular season for the Phillies, who have 3 with the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.

1 game lead for the Phils over the Mets, who won in dramatic fashion last night in the ninth inning. The Mets final three games are at Shea against the Marlins.

3 the Phillies Magic Number for both the NL East crown and the Wild Card, with 3 games left in season.

8 and 12, record for Joe Blanton, who will be the starter tonight if the Phils can get in their game amid the raindrops.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Let’s make this one as simple as possible. The Phils win their last three games, they win the NL East and it doesn’t matter what anyone else does. Lose one or two along the way, and things start to get real interesting.


I Don’t Get It: Gee, imagine that. The gun that was used to kill Philadelphia Police Officer Patrick McDonald is believe to have been acquired through a straw purchase in South Carolina. Then it made its way to Philadelphia and into the hands of Daniel Giddings, who used it to gun down the officer in the middle of the afternoon. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: The math is gorgeous in its simplicity for Phillies fans. They lead the Mets by 1 with 3 to go. Any combination of Phillies wins and Mets losses that add up to 3 means the Phils successfully defend their NL East crown.


Quote Box: “I believe that it’s very possible that we can get an agreement in time for me to fly to Mississippi.”

-- Sen. John McCain, speaking yesterday on tonight’s planned first presidential debate.

It's all debatable

Bailout? Or no bailout?

Debate? Or no debate?

At this point your guess is as good as any.

It’s kind of hard to describe everything that happened yesterday in Washington, D.C.

Around 1:30 p.m., it appeared that an agreement had been reached on that massive $700 billion bailout plan everyone says we need to prevent an economic meltdown.

Then Democrats and Republicans huddled at the White House with President Bush.

What happened in that meeting is debatable, which is kind of funny since tonight’s first presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama continues to be in limbo.

It sounds as if Republicans suddenly wanted new terms, specifically moving to seek a bigger share of private funds, instead of taxpayer money, for the bailout.

There is actually talk of one rather unbelievable scene. And that is of Treasury boss Henry Paulson, the man who crafted this proposal and who stands to literally be the new Master of the Universe if it’s approved, getting down on one knee and begging the two sides not to blow up the deal.

Maybe we all ought to join him today. At this point we likely could do worse than prayer.

Because if something is not done on this package today, there’s a belief that we might not have one, prayer that is, at least economically.

Of course, all of this is being done in the backdrop of the presidential race.

And how the matter is being “spun” depends on who is talking. McCain backers are hailing him for his decision to suspend his campaign and head to D.C. to work on the bailout plan. It’s being called leadership and putting country first. McCain is still not committed to attending tonight’s debate unless there’s a deal in place.

Obama supporters instead say McCain injected partisan politics into the process and the whole thing blew up in his face. They vow to be at the debate tonight regardless of whether McCain shows up or not.

Democratic senator Chris Dodd, who heads the Senate Finance Committee, went so far as to call the proceedings “a rescue plan for John McCain.”

The two sides will go back at it today.

Here’s my best guess. Some kind of deal will be hammered out this afternoon. All sides will smile and shake hands and claim they all came together for the good of the country.

With at least the framework for the deal in place, McCain will show up for the debate, which is supposed to focus on foreign policy but which I guess will quickly morph into a discussion of what transpired the past few days.

Buckle your seat belt, it’s going to be a bumpy day.

Questions linger in Philly cop-killing

Turns out we’re not the only one who was wondering exactly what cop-killer Daniel Giddings was doing out on the street.

Gov. Ed Rendell also has some questions.

Specifically, the governor is wondering pretty much the same thing that I’ve been puzzling over. How exactly did the state Board of Probation and Parole reach the decision that Giddings, a career criminal whose first brush with the law occurred at age 10 and who had a laundry list of violations behind bars while doing time for an assault, should be turned back out onto the streets?

Bottom line? Giddings had done 10 years of a 12-year stint. The general belief is that there is a push to get people out of jail and back into society.

But some people don’t seem like especially good candidates for an early release. And Giddings would appear to be the poster candidate for just the kind of person we want to keep locked away.

In the meantime, Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham, the “Tough Cookie” herself, is pointing fingers in another direction.

Abraham was joined by state Attorney General Tom Corbett yesterday in criticizing the sentence handed down by the trial judge in Giddings’ conviction in a 2000 armed carjacking case.

The crime-fighting duo had harsh words for Common Pleas Court Judge Lynn Bennett Hamlin. Instead of the six-to-12-year sentence Hamlin handed down, Abraham believes a 22-to-40-year stint would have been more appropriate, especially in light of the prosecutor’s argument of Giddings’ long and violent criminal history.

None of which is going to change the funeral plans for Officer Patrick McDonald, scheduled to take place on Monday and Tuesday.

It’s become a sad and too familiar routine. The long line of men and women in blue saluting another flag-drapped casket. They have already performed this solemn duty three times in the past year.

And this one final item also guaranteed to turn your stomach. Charges are now pending in connection with the gun Giddings used to kill Officer McDonald and wound another highway patrolman.

A 29-year-old man from South Carolina will be charged in what appears to be a classic “straw purchase” of a firearm. Jason Mack is believed to have lied on the federal form needed to purchase the gun.

Mack claimed the gun was stolen.

Somehow, Giddings wound up back on the street. And somehow that gun also wound up in Philadelphia, in Giddings’ cold, murderous hands.

And now the city is preparing to say a sad farewell to another officer as a result.

Forecasting the easy way

Let me try to save you a lot of time and aggravation today when it comes to the weather.

It’s going to be lousy out today. We’re going to get showers off and on all day. Some of them might be heavy. There also will be some gusty winds.

Take the umbrella with you this morning. It’s supposed to clear tomorrow morning.

There, that pretty much covers it. No talk of Nor’easters. I don’t need to stand on the beach and be blown around while waiting to see if some sand is going to be washed away. It very likely will.

It’s going to rain.

And now for the most important aspect of today’s weather. Will the Phillies be able to get in their game tonight at Citizens Bank Park against the Nationals? Good question. It’s kind of like the economic bailout proposal and the presidential debate – still up in the air.

The Mets did get their game in last night, which was a bit surprising.

A rainout tonight will wreak havoc on what is already going to be a fairly harrowing weekend for Phillies’ fans.

And don’t even get me started on what it means in terms of high school football. Let me just offer this. It creates a scheduling nightmare.

All together now, “raindrops keep fallin …. “

The Numbers Game

There is a simple elegance in the symbiotic relationship between sports and numbers.

For the Phillies and their long-suffering fans, the math could not be more direct.

There are three days – and three games - left in the regular season.

The Phils continue to lead the Mets in the race to defend their National League East crown, although it’s been sliced by a half-game after the Mets’ dramatic win in the ninth inning last night. The Phils remain a game up. Meanwhile, the Mets and Brewers are tied for the Wild Card.

Throw in some dicey weather, and you have all the makings of a wet & wild weekend.

The Phils have three at home with the Nationals; the Mets are at Shea for three with the Marlins; the Brewers wind up with three against the Cubs.

For the Phils, the Magic Number remains three, any combination of Phils wins and Mets losses adding up to three and they win the NL East. Ditto for the Wild Card. Any combination of Phils wins and Brewers losses adding up to three gets the Phils a possible Wild Card.

Of course, the Phils could simplify this process by going out and winning their final three games. Do that and they’re in regardless of what anyone else does.

Let the weekend begin. Three days, three games, and about three million fans with their hearts in their throats.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Daily Numbers - September 25

The Daily Numbers: 12 minutes, how long President Bush spoke last night urging Congress to OK a $700 billion economic bailout plan to avert what he referred to as “financial panic” that could put the entire economy in danger.

240,000 dollars, what the Chester Upland School District is receiving in leasing out the old Wetherill Middle School building.

2 Chester High students who face charges connected to a small fire at the school that was determined to be intentionally set.

85 age of Yeadon woman brutally killed in her home back in March. Her nephew and his girlfriend were charged in the killing. Now they are pointing the finger at each other and are seeking separate trials.

10 age when suspected cop-killer Daniel Giddings had his first brush with the law. It was not his last. He had been out on parole for about a month when he was involved in an altercation with Philly cops. A week later, he shot and killed Officer Patrick McDonald after a traffic stop and foot chase.

10 years of a 12-year maximum term, how long Giddings was in jail.

4 Philadelphia police officers shot and killed in the line of duty in the last two years.

200 arrests made to date by Philadelphia’s gun violence task force.

1 person dead and 1 injured after they jumped from the second floor of a burning apartment in Philadelphia.

3,003 dollars in Girl Scout Cookie sales believed pocketed by a woman who was a troop leader in Newark, Del.

6 foot tall statue of the ‘Angel of the Roses’ stolen from the National Center for Padre Pio religious shrine in Barto, Pa.

15 age of student who is believed to have raped a school employee inside the women’s locker room at Dickinson High School in Delaware Tuesday night.

30 percent decline in numbers of houses sold in the Philadelphia area in August.

237,000 dollars, the median price for a home sale, that’s down just 1.3 percent.

10 age of child accused of trying to stab a nanny in Randolph, N.J. Police say the two were involved in some kind of argument.

45 to 43 percent lead for John McCain over Barack Obama in the latest Franklin & Marshall Keystone Poll of voters nationally.

200 million dollars up for grabs in Saturday night’s Powerball drawing.

2 cent dip in price we’re paying at the pump. Average price of gas in the Philly region is now $3.61.

10 hits and 6 runs surrendered by Brett Myers last night as the Phils lost to the Braves.

1.5 game lead, what the Phils still enjoy over the Mets after New York coughed up another big lead and the game to the Cubs last night. The Mets are now tied with the Brewers in the Wild Card chase.

3 the Phillies Magic Number for both the NL East crown and the Wild Card, with 3 games left against the Nationals.

3 suspicious packages found outside Citizens Bank Park yesterday afternoon that caused some mild concern. They turned out to be hot dogs.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Those “suspicious devices” that caused a lockdown at Citizens Bank Park yesterday afternoon turned out to be hot dogs. A dud, as it were. So were the Phils, who seem intent on keeping us in suspense through the weekend. Then again, the Mets also lost.


I Don’t Get It: It seems pretty clear that cop-killer Daniel Giddings should not have been out of jail, walking the streets of Philly. Yet that’s where he was when he encountered Officer Patrick McDonald. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to those responsible for the new program at Cheyney University that will help students with scholarship in return for a promise to teach inner city youths.


Quote Box: “Delaware County has lost a a great man.”

-- Former Delco League President Jim Vankoski, on the passing of Mickey Vernon.

Mickey Vernon: A true gentleman

At the end of each summer, this newspaper holds what we fondly refer to as the Champs ‘n’ Charity Classic. Our annual softball tournament raises money in the fight against cancer.

I usually make the jaunt down to “the Hook” for the final night of the tourney. This year, with about a million things going on in the office, I almost didn’t make it.

I’m glad I did.

As I walked past the statue of the town’s famous native son and into the park named for him, the first person I met in the pavilion was one James “Mickey” Vernon.

He was sitting at a bench, talking with a few acquaintances. I walked over and shook his hand. At 90 years old, Mickey Vernon immediately recognized me and offered a hello, this despite the fact we had only met on two other occasions. Mickey Vernon was in his element. He was among friends. He was home.

I walked away from that encounter with exactly the same impression I got from our other two meetings. It was hard to believe that this unassuming, quiet gentleman was once a professional athlete.

Times change, I guess. Vernon, it seems to me, has little in common with today’s athletes, aside from their abilities on the field.

Maybe that’s what makes Vernon unique. Mickey never forgot where he came from. Maybe that’s why they erected a statue for him in the town where he grew up. And why the park that sits in the center of town is now named Mickey Vernon Park.

Mickey Vernon died Wednesday at age 90. But there is still one more story in his exemplary life that needs to be written.

Vernon starred for 20 seasons in the major leagues, mostly with the Washington Senators. He hit .286 and collected 2,495 hits. Along the way he collected two American League batting titles and appeared in seven All-Star games. He hit .353 in 1946 and .337 in 1953 to lead the AL.

It’s hard to put a number on what those kinds of stats would be worth today. But then that would not be Vernon’s way. He did not play the game for money, as so many of today’s stars do.

Vernon played because he loved the game. At age 90, he still did. That’s why he would show up in his home town in the dead of summer to watch a softball game. Vernon knew how important those games – and the charity effort behind it – were to Marcus Hook, and the rest of Delaware County.

Now it’s time for the game that Vernon loved so deeply to return the sentiment. Vernon is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. At least not yet.

That could change in December, when Vernon’s name will be among 10 named by the Baseball Veterans Committee for consideration to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Vernon needs the votes of nine of the 12 people on the ballot to get in. If he does, he will be inducted posthumously in July 2009.

Longtime Delco sports historian and Springfield resident Rich Westcott, a former Daily Times sports writer, wrote a book about Vernon. It was titled, “The Gentleman First Baseman.”

You would be hard-pressed to find a better description. So would the folks at the Hall of Fame.

Delaware County has lost more than one of its true athletic heroes. In the words of another friend, Jim Vankoski, the former head of the Delco Baseball League, we’ve “lost a great man.”

A gentle-man, in every meaning of the word.

Let’s hope those people voting for the Hall of Fame are listening.

An outrage in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Police Capt. James Clark did not mince words Wednesday when he spoke of Daniel Giddings.

Giddings is the 27-year-old lifelong criminal who shot and killed Highway Patrol Officer Patrick McDonald.

“He was just evil,” Clark said.

Hard to argue with him.

Clark offered a chilling review of the final moments of Officer McDonald’s life.

Now the city is once again reeling in the loss of still another police officer, the fourth killed in the line of duty in less than a year.

But there’s something else simmering in the city, and in fact the entire region.

There is outrage at how a person with Giddings’ background could be out on the street, let alone in a position to “execute” a police officer.

For some as yet unexplained reason, Giddings, whose life of crime started when he was 10, and who had amassed a long list of transgressions even while he was imprisoned, was deemed eligible for parole.

Once back on the street, it did not take long for him to revert to his old ways. Giddings promptly returned to his life of crime. Ironically, he was involved in a confrontation with police just a week before his fatal encounter with McDonald.

It was during that earlier tussle that Giddings made a prophetic, ugly promise. He vowed he would not go back to prison and that he’d take down any police officer who got in his way.

About a week later, it was McDonald who found himself in just that position.

Clark offered a chilling version of how Giddings opened fire on McDonald during a foot chase after the initial car stop. But it was what happened after McDonald was initially wounded that stops your heart.

Instead of fleeing, Giddings instead “stood over him and executed him, shooting him several times,” according to Clark.

Mayor Michael Nutter yesterday spoke for a lot of people when he said he was “outraged” that Giddings was back on the street.

He’s not alone.

The debate about the debate

Very interesting development along the way to cobbling together a $700 billion bailout to avert what President Bush last night referred to as the possibility of a “long, painful recession.”

Yesterday afternoon Republican candidate Sen. John McCain stunned everyone by saying he was suspending his campaign so he could return to Washington to focus on the economic crisis.

Not only that, but he also called on his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Barack Obama, to join him.

Oh, and one other thing. That much ballyhooed first presidential debate set for Friday night? Let’s put it on hold, McCain said.

Obama responded by saying he agreed – on the seriousness of the situation. But he made it pretty clear that he had no intention of putting off the debate.

In fact, he said it would be the wrong thing to do.

“It is my belief that this is exactly the time the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be dealing with this mess,” Obama said.

You might call it the debate before the debate. Or the debate about the debate.

You can make a cogent argument on both sides.

McCain is being hailed for his actions, which are being described as “country-first.”

Obama supporters see politics at work, and suggest the move is tied to the GOP candidate’s sliding numbers in several national polls, where it is believed he is being hurt by the economic mess.

It was once said about the presidency that “the bucks stop here.” What we’ll find out sometime today or tomorrow is whether all these problems with bucks also can stop debates.

Phils bomb on dud of night at Citizens Bank Park

You got a premonition of how the night was going to go for the Phils around 4:30, three hours before game time.

The stadium went into lockdown when three “suspicious” packages were found outside Citizens Bank Park.

It turned out to be a dud. So did the Phils.

The devices turned out to be hot dogs, wrapped up so they could be fired from the Phillie Phanatic’s special wiener launcher.

The rest of the night was nothing to relish either. Brett Myers just did not cut the mustard.

There was no need to adjust your television. That was not a re-run of Brett Myers’ last outing when he was shelled by the Marlins. It just looked that way.

Myers was miserable again. The first battter he faced hit a laser to the gap in right-center. He surrendered hits to the first three Braves, immediately digging the Phils a 2-0 hole.

Every time the Phils would scratch their way back, via homers from Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, Myers would walk out to the mound and promptly give it right back.

Myers lasted just four and a third innings, surrendering six runs on 10 hits.

It didn’t get much better after he left, with the Braves coasting to a 10-4 win. Along the way, there was the almost-to-be-expected Ryan Howard defensive lapse, with the first baseman fielding a ground ball and promptly hitting the runner square in the back on hit throw to second. Jayson Werth also misplayed a ball in right that led to another Braves rally.

Consider this: The Phils lost two of three to the Braves, and they had their top two pitchers on the mound, Myers and Cole Hamels.

The good news in all this is that the Mets continue their “Groundhog Day” re-living of last year. They blew still another game to the Cubs last night, coughing up a 5-0 lead and eventually losing in the 10th. They’re now tied with the Milwaukee Brewers in the Wild Card race.

That means that the Phils continue to lead the NL East by a game and a half, and they actually reduced their “Magic Number” to clinch a playoff spot to three. It’s now three for both the NL East and Wild Card.

But the Phils certainly would like to reverse the way they played the last two nights. The idea is to go into the playoffs on a roll.

And not a hot dog roll. The way the Phils pitched and played last night left most with visions of another kind of dog.

Now it comes down to three games with the Nationals. And that does not include possible weather problems that appear to loom over Friday night’s game.

It could make for a Dog Day Afternoon on Sunday, with another one of those day-night double-headers.

As usual, this team will manage to keep everyone’s “buns” on the edge of their seats.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- September 24

The Daily Numbers: 3 Philadelphia police officers who have died in the line of duty so far this year. Officer Patrick McDonald became the latest Tuesday when he was gunned down after a traffic stop and chase in the middle of the afternoon.

5 Philadelphia officers who have died in the line of duty in just the last two years.

1 Philadelphia officer who also was wounded in the shootout with the suspect yesterday. Officer Richard Bowes is expected to recover.

14 shots believed fired during the shootout by suspect Daniel Giddings, 27. He was shot and killed by police. He also had another fully loaded clip on him.

700 billion dollar bailout still being debated in Congress amid dire warnings for the economy if action is not taken.

14,000 dollars in controlled substances seized by police when they arrested an Upper Darby woman described as “a major dealer” in connection with undercover buys of oxycodone.

1 debate set in the 7th District Congressional race between Republican challenger Craig Williams and first-term Rep. Joe Sestak. The Williams camp wanted more. The debate will be held Oct. 29, just a week before the election.

7 families left homeless then they were evacuated from 8 apartments when fire broke out in Yeadon.

100 residents who toured the progress being made at the site of the old Haverford State Hospital site.

20 million dollars being sought by a lawyer who claims an Atlantic City casino did nothing to stop her gambling addiction. The lawsuit was tossed by a judge.

5 more charges lodged against a Montgomery County landlord who police say used an elaborate videotaping scheme to spy on his tenants.

75 more voting machines being bought by Montgomery County to handle what is expected to be a huge voter turnout in the presidential election.

15 months in jail for Delco native, O’Hara grad and disgraced former NBA ref Tim Donaghy for his role in a betting scandal that shook the league. He reported to jail yesterday.

3 security workers at the upscale Nordstrom’s store in the King of Prussia Mall who have been charged with ripping off the store.

3.63 a gallon, what we’re paying for gas in the Philly region today.

3 still the Phillies Magic Number to lock up a playoff spot after they lost to the Braves last night. That’s for the Wild Card; it’s 4 to actually win the NL East.

1 crucial error by Cole Hamels and one base-running gaffe by Pat Burrell that led to the Phils’ loss.

1.5 game lead for the Phils over the Mets, who won last night.

4 games left for both the Phils and Mets. Don’t look now, but rainy weather due here Friday just might wreak havoc with the schedule.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
How fast did Pat Burrell go from hero to goat last night? He was a hero when he drove in Ryan Howard to tie the score, but then committed a costly base-running gaffe, breaking for third on a sharp grounder to short, that short-circuited the rally.


I Don’t Get It: A mother in Montgomery County admitted in court she was trying to help her son, who was being bullied in school. How? She helped him amass a cache of weapons. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: Members of a state House Transportation Committee are beginning to look at whether they should make text and cell phone conversations by bus and train drivers part of a move to attack distracted driving.


Quote Box: “He stood over the top of him and killed him. It was an execution.”

-- Philadelphia Police Capt James Clark, on the shooting that took the life of Officer Patrick McDonald.

Tell me this is not becoming routine

Last weekend more than 1,200 people wanted in the city of Philadelphia turned themselves in.

Daniel Giddings, 27, was not among them.

Operation “Fugitive Safe Surrender” was for non-violent offenders. That does not describe Giddings.

Instead, the man with a long criminal record of violent offenses was still on the street yesterday when he encountered Philadelphia Police Officer Patrick McDonald.

The 30-year-old, eight-year veteran of the force stopped the car Giddings was riding in around 1:45 p.m. at 17th and Diamond.

Giddings, who had recently been released from prison for aggravated assault with a gun, apparently decided he did not want any part of McDonald. He bolted. A chase ensued.

Ironically, Giddings was wanted for an assault on police officers after a traffic stop. He soon would revert to his violent ways.

Officer McDonald chased Giddings into the 2200 block of Colorado Street. Gunshots ensued. Police believe McDonald was shot repeatedly in the chest at point-blank range.

Philadelphia Police Homicide Capt. James Clark did not mince words. He called it “an execution.”

Giddings was shot and killed by other officers who joined the pursuit, who likely did not even know that their colleague had been mortally wounded. Another officer, Richard Bowes, was wounded in the subsequent shootout. He is expected to recover.

That makes three Philadelphia officers killed in the line of duty just this year, and five in the last two years.

Once again the city steels itself for a period of mourning, for the funeral of another officer.

And you wonder just what has happened to our society when what once was unthinkable now becomes part of our routine.

Tick, tick, tick

Hear that ticking sound? That’s the sound of the timer counting down to a cataclysmic meltdown of our economy.

Yet, as is usually the case, there does not seem to be any sense of urgency in Washington to get something done.

That’s in part because it is hard to imagine just how much 700 billion dollars is. It doesn’t seem real. As they say, after awhile it adds up to real money.

But make no mistake. This crisis is all too real. The warnings being sounded by Fed Chief Ben Bernanke and Treasury boss Henry Paulson urging Congress to take action are backed up by a belief that we could be on the verge of an economic collapse not seen since the days of the Depression.

Ironically, it’s some Republicans in Congress who are screaming the loudest about this rescue plan. They say it does not provide a solution to the problem, that it does not do enough to help average Americans who are struggling to pay bills, including their mortgages, and that it will reward titans of finance who put this mess into play in the first place.

They are all good points. But they don’t change the urgent need to take action.

There is plenty of time to argue what happened in this debacle, who was at fault, who was asleep at the switch and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.

Right now we need to take action to stop the rest of the economy from sliding over the edge into the abyss.

Not a magic night for Phils

Might want to hold off on that talk of the Phillies and their magic number.

The Phils showed little magic last night, instead ham-handedly handing a game to the Atlanta Braves.

The Phils lost, 3-2, while the Mets were winning. That slices the Phils lead in the National League East to a game and a half. Both teams have four games left in the regular season.

The Phils magic number did not budge. It remains 3 to clinch a playoff spot via the Wild Card; 4 to win the National League East.

The Phils were their own worst enemy last night – both in the field and on the bases. This team’s occasional butchering of some of the basics came back to haunt them.

After the team rallied to tie the game at 1 in the second, starter Cole Hamels, who did not have his best stuff, handed the lead right back to the Braves. Hamels’ worst throw on the night was not to the plate. Instead it was botched pickoff that allowed the Braves to take a 2-1 lead.

The base-running gaffes sunk the Phils’ hopes in the sixth. Pat Burrell was looking like a hero again after he doubled home Ryan Howard with a shot to the base of the wall. The glow didn’t last long, and Burrell was soon being fitted for goat horns.

Shane Victorino hit a hard ground ball to short. For some reason, Burrell broke for third. He was dead and was tagged out after a rundown. Victorino didn’t escape unscathed either. It first appeared as if he was bunting to move to Burrell to third, but he didn’t connect. Then he swung away, and failed to hit behind the runner. That still doesn’t explain why Burrell broke for third on a play that was in front of him, not behind, which is the usual base-running rule. Victorino then finished off the inning by getting thrown out trying to steal second.

Not a great display of the basics.

Still, the Phils remain in the driver’s seat. They’d probably love to wrap this thing up before the weekend, and possibly be able to rest Brett Myers and Hamels for playoff starts.

To do that they’ll have to play a lot better than they did last night.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We're headlining this show

It was our moment in the sun. Rest assured it won’t be the last.

The presidential campaign came to Delaware County Monday. The GOP ticket, led by Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, were the headliners before a crowd estimated at anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 in the courtyard of the Media Courthouse.

You can read all about it, as well as see a video and slideshow of the day here.

It only reinforces something I’ve been saying now for weeks. This is Ground Zero for Campaign ’08. Pennsylvania could be the key to the election. And the key to winning Pennsylvania very likely will be the Philadelphia suburbs.

Buckle your seat belts. We have 42 days to go.

What do you think the over-under is on how long it takes Sen. Barack Obama to follow the trail set by the GOP and marching into Delco?

For the next seven weeks, we are all going to be VIPs. That’s very important people – and voters.

Our vote is going to be coveted by both the McCain and Obama camps.

Enjoy it. But don’t waste it. Know the issues. Get involved. We have a chance to make a difference. Don’t throw it away with a shrug of the shoulders.

Democracy is a terrible thing to waste.

Dollars and sense?

“In my judgment, it would be foolish to waste massive sums of taxpayer funds testing an idea that has been hastily crafted and may actually cause the government to revert to an inadequate strategy of ad hoc bailouts.”

Another Democrat railing against the economic bailout plan put together by President Bush, along with Fed boss Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson?

Uh, not exactly. Those are the words of Sen. Richard Shelby. He’s a Republican from Alabama. He also happens to be the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Clearly there are going to be a few heated arguments this week as Congress takes up probably the most important piece of economic legislation in our lifetime.

This isn’t a case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns. Make no mistake, our economy is in flames. Some are referring to it as a meltdown.

President Bush and his economic czars have urged Congress to pass the bailout plan ASAP.

Doesn’t look like that is going to happen. For one thing, Democrats and others want more assurances that homeowners face foreclosures will get some help from the measure, and they want to make sure a lot of financial firm barons whose decisions put us in this pickle don’t walk away with a sweet payout.

Stay tuned. All that’s at stake is our future.

Phillies Phever

Can you say playoffs? No, the Phils have not clinched anything yet.

But they are moving solidly toward a defense of their National League East crown. Even as the hated Mets are doing a windpipe-clogging imitation of their epic collapse from last year.

The Phils won last night to go two and a half games up on the Mets, who fell to the Cubs. The Mets might just have their hands full now holding off the Brewers for the Wild Card.

There are five games left in the season. The Phillies magic number to clinch a playoff spot is three. That’s for the Wild Card. To win the NL East it’s four.

The Phils have won 10 of their last 11 games. I like their chances.

Scary words for Eagles fans

Here are the three scariest words in Eagles land today: Day to Day.

That’s how Eagles brass are describing the ankle injury suffered by all-everything running back Brian Westbrook. It didn’t stop him from doing his radio show last night, where he entered a South Jersey nightspot sans crutches and did not appear to be limping, as he clearly was the last time we saw him as he exited Lincoln Financial Field early in the Eagles big win over the Steelers.

Andy Reid said the Eagles are hoping to have Westbrook in the lineup Sunday night when they face another prime time matchup with the Bears in the Windy City.

Don’t buy it. And don’t expect to see Westbrook Sunday night. Ankles are funny things. As are sprains, which some experts say can sometimes be more problematic than outright breaks.

It’s not out of the question that Westbrook could still be in the lineup, but the Eagles will face a very tough question about whether they want to expose their star on an ankle that may not be 100 percent.

On the other hand, as was in evidence Sunday afternoon, the Eagles offense clearly is not the same machine it is when Westbrook is lined up in all those myriad positions. Without that threat, the rest of the Eagles suddenly look a lot less menacing.

Day to day. Scary words.

Very often they turn into week to week. Don’t be surprised if that happens later this week.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 22

The Daily Numbers: 15,000 expected to jam into the courtyard of the Delaware County Courthouse this afternoon for a rally with the GOP presidential ticket, John McCain and Sarah Palin.

5 hours, how long Springfield Mall was shut down Saturday because of a leak in a sewage pipe that left a stench that sent 3 people to the hospital with minor injuries.

6 different locations where people “rambled” up and down the Delaware River Saturday for the 5th annual Riverfront Ramble.

4 cents a gallon decline in what we’re paying at the pump for gasoline, according to AAA. Average price in the region now is $3.63.

4 straight days the price of gasoline has fallen, as fears over the damage incurred from Hurricane Ike have eased.

1,205 fugitives who turned themselves in at a Philly church over 4 days as part of “Fugitive Safe Surrender.”

6 people, including a casino dealer, being charged with trying to scam the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut.

3 kids killed in a fire that roared through a row home late Saturday in Coatesville.

118 million dollars, how far the revenue collections in the state fallen short.

6 people, including a casino dealer, being charged with trying to scam the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut.

700 billion dollars, the cost of the bailout of the trouble economic markets being proposed by the Bush Administration.

9 sacks for the Eagles defense as they ravaged the Steelers in yesterday’s 15-6 win.

2 field goals, all the offense the Steelers could muster as they never put the ball in the end zone.

1.5 game lead for the Phils, who won yesterday and extended their lead over the Mets in the NL East.

4 the Magic Number for the Phillies. Any number of Phils wins and Mets losses adding up to 4 puts them in the playoffs.

6 games left for the Phils, 3 with the Braves and 3 with the Nationals. All the games will be at Citizens Bank Park.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
It’s a good morning to be a Philly sports fan. The Eagles defense completely throttled the Steelers. So much for that theory of the superior AFC. And the Phils are now a game and a half up in the NL East. Can you say playoffs?


I Don’t Get It: What ever happened to the idea that less government is better, that they should stay out of our lives. I suppose that’s only for us mortals, not the barons of Wall Street


Today’s Upper: Kudos to our own Tina Fey, the Upper Darby High grad who sparkled at last night’s Emmy Awards, taking a statue for best actress.


Quote Box: “They took it to us tonight. They got after us. That’s the story of this football game.”

-- Steelers coach Mike Tomlin after his team was complete bottled up by the Eagles defense.

About that bailout

There’s something that’s been gnawing at me in terms of this massive financial bailout.

Actually, several things.

How much exactly is $700 billion? If you stacked them in a pile of $1 bills, how high would they go? If you placed them side by side, how far would they stretch?

One thing’s certain, you talk about it long enough, it starts adding up to real money.

That’s the point. It’s so big, it’s so unfathomable, it doesn’t seem real. It’s not the same as you not being able to pay your bills, or missing a mortgage payment. That is all too real. And it has real consequences.

In this case, maybe the whole thing can best be described as “heads I win, tails you lose.”

A lot of bankers and financiers who rode high for years while making questionable decisions and shaky loans, now stand to continue to benefit by this massive bailout that the American public will be paying off for years.

And one other thing. What ever happened to the mantra of the free market and small government. Have we not been told for years that government is too big, has become too involved in business, and that the key to a vigorous economy is deregulation, and a hands-off marketplace that allows the system to govern itself?

How has that worked out?

It's GOP-arty time!

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

The temperature on Campaign ’08 will get cranked up several degrees today.

Last week it was Joe Biden at Linvilla Orchards.

Today it’s the Republicans’ turn, and they’re bringing out the heavy artillery.

The GOP ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin will hold a rally at the Media Courthouse this afternoon.

About 15,000 people are expected to attend. That would make it the largest political event in the county since Ronald Reagan graced the same courtyard back in 1984.

Not to be completely outdone, Michelle Obama has a campaign stop in Philadelphia. Now all we need is a stop by her husband, Democratic standard-bearer Barack Obama, to hit for the political cycle here in Delco.

I’ve said it any number of times and will say it again here. Pennsylvania very well could be the key swing state in this election. And in order to win Pennsylvania, McCain needs a huge showing in the Philadelphia suburbs to keep pace with what should be a big turnout for Obama in the city.

Get used to seeing a lot of these folks. They’re going to be here for the next eight weeks.

Monday Morning Quarterback

If it’s Monday morning, it must be time for the Monday Morning Quarterback, or as Mike Schmidt used to refer to it, the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it the next day.

When exactly did the Steelers become a finesse team? They seemed to play right into the Eagles’ hands.

When I think of the Steelers, I always think of smash-mouth, in-your-face running the football.

I expected the Steelers to come out Sunday and try to run Tony Parker right down the Eagles’ throats. Never happened. Instead, for some reason the Steelers pretended they were Joe Montana and those legendary 49ers teams. They decided to put the game on the right arm of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

If the Steelers had an advantage in the game, it would appear to be their huge offensive line teeing off on the smaller, quicker Eagles defensive line. Instead they looked to establish their passing game. All they established is that they could not handle the bewildering array of blitzes unfurled on them by Eagles defensive wizard Jim Johnson. It was Johnson who took a lot of heat for not putting much heat on Tony Romo last week. He didn’t make the same mistake two weeks in a row.

By the time it was over, a battered and bruised Roethlisberger had been sacked nine times and given way to backup Byron Leftwich.

The impressive win for the Birds did not come without a cost. Brian Westbrook left in the second quarter and did not return. An X-ray was negative, but he will have an MRI on it today.

It was easy to see the difference Westbrook makes in the Eagles offense. Without him in the lineup, everything begins to get clogged up.

But on this day, their defense bailed them out.

In fact, their offensive MVP just might have been punter Sav Rocca. The veteran of Australian football unfurled a dazzling display of punts in the second half that completely changed Steelers’ advantage in field position and then kept them pinned deep in their territory.

Now it’s on to a Sunday night contest in Chicago.

Oh, and did you hear that the Phillies won, while the Mets were losing? The Phils now lead in the NL East by a game and a half.

As far as Monday mornings go, it could be a lot worse.

The greatest invention ever

Anyone else’s thumb sore this morning?

Yep, I was among those furiously using the remote to flick back and forth between the Phillies and Eagles games yesterday.

Nice of Major League Baseball to schedule the Phillies game at 4:10. Most Sundays that would have been a 1:30 game in Florida, meaning it would have blended seamlessly into a sports marathon since the Eagles game at the Linc was scheduled for a 4:15 start.

Actually, it wasn’t all that bad. Instead of spending the entire day on a flat-out gorgeous Sunday cooped up in the family room, I was able to get outside for much of the day and soak up some sun on the last full day of summer.

Once I parked myself in front of the TV, it dawned on me that without question the remote control is very likely the greatest invention ever.

What exactly did we do before the remote? Actually, I’m thinking we probably did a lot less flipping around. We picked a channel and stayed there. It’s still amazing to me that not that long ago you actually had to get up out of your chair to change the channel on the TV.

Of course, it also contributes to our sedentary culture, and, I suppose, is one of the reasons obesity runs rampant in our society.

Just how crucial has the remote become in our culture? Yesterday I found myself once cursing my technological inadequacies. The button that allows me to jump back to the previous station on my remote is broken. So at least my digits were getting a workout.

Yes, I know that’s one of the reasons they invented picture-in-picture.

I don’t have that either.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Nobody likes a know-it-all. So I will not gloat about correctly picking the Birds to fall on Monday night. That makes me 1-1 on the season; the Eagles now sport the same record.

Believe me, I was rooting for them to win, but I was not stunned that they did not. What fascinates me is the conundrum of Donovan McNabb. The guy played about as well as I've seen him play for the second week in a row.

The only problem was that Donovan seemed to turn off the switch after three quarters. With the money on the table and the game on the line, Donovan didn't deliver the goods.

In fact, he delivered them to the Cowboys, with a botched handoff to Brian Westbrook that remains stuck in the craw of Eagles' fans. Bottom line is the Birds had the ball in the hands of their two best players - and they coughed it up.

The Eagles will need Donovan to be every bit as good this week. The Eagles simply do not play the AFC teams well, and Andy Reid teams always struggle against 3-4 defenses - and the Steelers have a good one.

For those who take up the constant cry that Reid does not run the ball enough, this is not your week. If the Eagles are going to win this game, they'll do it via McNabb's right arm. Brian Westbrook likely will have more yards receiving then rushing.

I don't see it.

That's why I like the Steelers in a much less flashy encounter than what we witnessed Monday night.

Make it 19-16 Steelers.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- September 19

The Daily Numbers: 15 guilty verdicts delivered yesterday against Dorothy Prawdzik, of Drexel Hill, who was a codefendant with John Jackey Worman in a horrific child porn case.

10 suspects on the list of 12 Most Wanted in Chester still on the loose. Police collared a second suspect this week.

11 arrests made by Upper Darby police in what they are referring to as Operation Trojan Horse, a drug crackdown in the Bywood section of the township.

2.76 million dollar settlement in case against Liberty Travel in which employees claimed they had been denied overtime pay.

25 age of suspect in the latest brutal beating of a person in a Center City Philadelphia subway concourse.

2 teens among three people shot late Thursday during an altercation in West Philadelphia.

3,000 dollars in Cowboys merchandise a fan says was stolen after the Monday night game in Dallas. The fan, who lives in Philly but went to the game in Dallas, had been hoping to get the items signed by Cowboys. After the game he discovered one of his bags was missing.

11 million dollar cash offer by Versa Capital, part of a $225 million deal to buy the Boscov’s department store chain.

50 million dollars being invested in neuroscience research by the University of Penn.

80 jobs being eliminated by the folks who run Zippo lighters in Bradford, Pa. You might say they’re going up in smoke.

1 cent drop in price of gasoline in the Philly region. Average price now sits at $3.67 a gallon.

1 as in Day One of the school year in Souderton, where teachers ended their strike and went back to the classroom today with an offer to put their dispute to nonbinding arbitration.

4,000 people who have turned themselves in as part of the “Fugitive Safe Surrender” program in Philadelphia. And there’s still two days to go in the program.

38 age of man in Montgomery County charged with trying to proposition a 12-year-odl girl on the Internet.

410 point jump on Wall Street after the feds announced a plan to rescue banks from the bad loans that hang like an anchor around their necks.

50 percent of the week’s losses made up in one day on Wall Street yesterday.

9 wins in 9 games this year for the Phils in Atlanta. They capped off a season sweep last night.

6 innings for Cole Hamels, who gave up 2 runs on 6 hits to get his 14th win of the year.

9 games left for the Phils, who still have a half-game lead over the Mets in the NL East.

2 more days before the Eagles try to get the bad taste of their loss to Dallas out of their mouth when they tangle with the Steelers Sunday at the Linc.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Anybody remember the Eagles? Suddenly the Birds are toiling in anonymity again as the Phils make still another unbelievable run to put themselves back in the NL East lead. I’m guessing that might change just a tad around 4 o’clock Sunday.


I Don’t Get It: The 26-year-old suspect in the brutal hammer attack on a rider on a SEPTA subway car has been ruled incompetent to stand trial after a mental evaluation. Ya think?


Today’s Upper: You can get a free ride this weekend on the regional rails as SEPTA tries to lure riders to try out their increased late-night service. The rails are free after 6:30 Friday and Saturday nights.


Quote Box: “My eyes couldn’t take it anymore.”

-- Juror in the child porn trial of John Jackey Worman, on the task of viewing horrific images of children being abused.

Here comes the cavalry: McCain, Palin to do Delco

My guess is that with the Phils in a heated pennant race, not all that many people tore themselves away from the game last night to flip the channel over to the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

If by any chance you did, you could have seen my clearly “not ready for prime time” mug on your TV screen, talking politics.

I made another appearance on “Journalists Roundtable,” with a couple of colleagues from the Pottstown Mercury and host Bill Bova.

I suggested that Pennsylvania just might be the key to the presidential race, and that the suburban Philadelphia area could be the key to taking the Keystone State.

The timing could not have been better. Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden had just held a rally at Linvilla Orchards.

Picking up the paper this morning, I see the cavalry is on the way.

It looks like we’re going to get a close-up look at the GOP team, Sen. John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Monday afternoon. A rally is being planned for the Media Courthouse.

It just proves my theory of Southeast Pennsylvania being Ground Zero in the presidential race.

My only question is can Barack Obama be far behind?

By the way, if you missed last night’s airing of “Journalists Roundtable,” it will air again Sunday at 5 and 8 p.m. on PCN.

Or you can Click Here to view it online.

One last story from the Worman trial

Maybe now we can begin to put the depravity of the John Jackey Worman child porn trial behind us.

But before we did, I knew there was one more story to tell. It’s on the front page of today’s newspaper.

I had been wondering what it must have been like to sit on that jury, to have to view the thousands of horrific images of children, some really just babies, being sexually abused.

I wanted to be able to tell the jurors’ story. Today, reporter Marlene DiGiacomo tells their saga.

Like much of what was reported in this trial, it’s not easy to read.

“It was like looking at Satan sitting at the table,” is the way one juror explained it.

Another juror offered a similarly chilling view, and told of how arduous a task they were given in looking at the graphic evidence.

“It was excruciatingly difficult – something a sane, normal human being should never have to look at,” said Simon Yachooh. At one point Yachooh asked the judge for a break. “My eyes couldn’t take it any more.”

After Worman was convicted of all 55 of the federal charges against him, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella, herself a mother who was clearly shaken by the trial, referred to him as a “monster.”

Maybe it was an understatement.

Hot-lanta? Hot Phillies!

Maybe the Phillies can petition the National League to play the remaining nine games on their schedule in Atlanta.

Yes, we know that they are scheduled to play six of those contests in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park, after they hook up with the Marlins for three this weekend in South Florida.

But you can’t argue with what the Phillies have done in Georgia this year? Hot-lanta? How about hot Phillies.

All the Phils have done is win all nine games with the Braves in Atlanta this season.

That matches the number of games they have left on the schedule.

Last night they got a huge lift from a clearly struggling Pat Burrell, who launched a two-run homer in the sixth inning to propel the Phils to a 4-3 win and a season sweep in Atlanta.

The win also allows them to stay a half-game ahead of the Mets in the NL East. The Mets hammered Washington, 7-2.

Cole Hamels was not great, but he was good enough to get the win. He went six innings and gave up a couple of homers.

You know things are going your way when Burrell steps up to be the hero. He was hitting .178 for September and .181 in August, including a game this week in which he struck out five times.

Here’s the deal: Three in Florida, then home for three more against the Braves, a day off and then capping the season with three more with the Nationals.

I like their chances. I’d like them even more if all the games were in Atlanta.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- Sept. 18


The Daily Numbers: 56 times that John Jackey Worman of Colwyn heard the word “guilty” yesterday in federal court as he was convicted of all charges against him in one of the most horrific child porn cases prosecutors have ever encountered.

30 days, how long companies have to submit a bid to run the Delaware County Prison. The current operator, Geo, is getting out of their contract a year early.

3 woman, including 2 from Delaware County, killed in a devastating car crash in North Carolina.

10,000 dollar reward still being offered for information in the murder of Veno Leigertwood outside his Yeadon home. His family and friends will gather for his funeral today.

90 million dollar movie production facility that was given the final OK by the Chester Township supervisors. It will be built on the site of the Tri-State Sports complex.

7,000 fewer vehicles using the four bridges, including the Commodore Barry in Chester, run by DRPA Monday after a $1 toll hike went into effect.

100,000 bucks, along with the Liberty Medal being picked up in Philly tonight by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

187,000 dollars worth of nickels scattered across I-95 in south Florida after a truck crashed.

121 million dollars in federal heating aid being released for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs. Pa. is expected to get more than $6.5 million.

23 students arrested after a brawl in Sayre High School in West Philadelphia.

150 fugitives who turned themselves in yesterday in Philadelphia on the first day of a program where they can surrender at a local church if they have outstanding warrants against them.

19.67 the nostalgic price for some tickets to concerts for shows in the final year of the Wachovia Spectrum.

0 what it will cost to ride the regional rails after 6:30 this weekend (Friday-Saturday) as SEPTA tries to lure riders to its increased late-night service.

21 percent decline for Wachovia stock as the largest bank in the region becomes the latest to be hammered in the economic meltdown. Wall Street is worried about bad loans the bank is grappling with.

154 million dollars up for grabs in the Powerball Saturday night. Maybe the Wall Streeters should start buying tickets.

2 teen girls charged in a strong-arm robbery against University of Delaware students.

6 strong innings for J.A. Happ as he got his first major league win for the Phils last night.

6 straight wins for the streaking Phils.

10 games left in the regular season, with the Phils clinging to a half-game lead over the Mets in the NL East.

43 years, the last time the Steelers posted a regular season win in Philadelphia. That was two stadiums ago. They play Sunday in Lincoln Financial Field.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Anybody else think maybe the Phils waited a little too long to pull the plug on Kyle Kendrick and get J.A. Happ into the starting lineup?


I Don’t Get It: At Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, they are looking into another incident of worker harassment involving a noose. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: City Council in Philadelphia is looking into a ban on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Yeah, we know all about personal rights and the intrusion of government into our lives. This is still a good idea.


Quote Box: “I can’t fix what he did to these kids. But I can make sure that he never gets out to hurt another child.”

-- Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella, after guilty verdicts were returned against John Jackey Worman of Colwyn in a child porn case.

The face of evil

Even for someone who makes his living with words, it is difficult to describe the evil that is one John Jackey Worman.

The Colwyn man was convicted Wednesday on all 56 counts in a child porn case that prosecutors described as one of the most horrific they have ever encountered.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rotella referred to Worman as a “monster.” It was an understatement.

Even his own defense attorney described his client’s actions as “despicable.”

I won’t spend any more time here reviewing what Worman was convicted of doing. Suffice it to say it involved literally a million images and thousands of video clips of children being sexually abused.

Worman concocted his child-porn operation with the help of a couple of women, including one who ran a day care operation out of her home. A ready-made pipeline for his debased actions.

But something else about this trial struck me as telling you all you needed to know about Worman and what he clearly was capable of doing.

Jurors in the case were warned by both the prosecution and defense of the graphic nature of what they would be forced to view in the case against Worman.

They were told it would “change their lives.”

Jurors clearly were repulsed by the images involving the children. Many looked away from the video screens in front of them. Longtime prosecutors and law enforcement officials all said they were very difficult to view. Luckily, the press and public were shielded from seeing the images. The jury was not that lucky. One man actually asked for a break during one particular tough session.

In the meantime, at the defense table, Worman was consistently described as steadily staring intently at the images on his screen.

John Jackey Worman now will face child porn charges here in Delaware County. For the federal offenses he faces 30 years in prison for each of the 56 counts lodged against him.

He very likely will spent the rest of his life in jail. It’s not long enough.

See you on the television

Just can’t get enough of my rantings here at The Heron’s Nest or in the print edition of the Daily Times?

You’re in luck. Or maybe out of it, as the case may be.

I’ll be appearing on the Pennsylvania Cable Network’s “Journalists Roundtable” tonight at 8. It will be on the PCN channel or you can Click Here to view it online. I can’t believe they actually asked me back after my ghostly appearance the last time I went on the show.

I’ll be joined on the panel by two journalists from our sister paper, the Pottstown Mercury. Tony Phyrillas and Evan Brandt will join me in talking about the election season and you can hear me explain why I think the suburban Philadelphia region just might be the key to winning Pennsylvania – and the election. The show is also repeated Sunday. Great tonight I’m up against the Phillies, and Sunday I vie against the Eagles. I’m not even sure I’ll be watching. I guess it was either me or the test pattern.

You’ve been warned. This is a face that was made for the newspaper. I really do feel OK. I’m not having a heart attack. It just looks that way on the tube.

Driving home a point

Here’s a shocking finding.

They raised the bridge tolls on the four spans run by the Delaware River Port Authority that connnect Pennsylvania on New Jersey on Sunday.

It now costs $4, up from $3. Next September it is going to go up another buck to $5. If my meager math skills are correct, if you work in one state and live in the other, your weekly commute at that point will set you back a cool $25 a week.

But something interesting happened Monday morning, the first business day after the toll hike went into effect.

A lot fewer people used the bridges. And a lot more migrated to the two bridges up in Burlington County where the toll is just two bucks.

That probably is not going to help the people who use the Commodore Barry to go from Chester to South Jersey and vice versa, but it is something to think about.

Someone once said every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

That lesson might just be “driven” home to the folks at the DRPA.

About Brian Dawkins

A confession here: I’ve never been the biggest Brian Dawkins fan.

I think he’s been a very good safety. But I’ve never quite gotten to the point of adulation some seem intent on showering on him. Instead it has always been my belief that his play has not always been at the level of his talk.

Maybe what really bothers me is all the antics we get from him, the whole production number in the pre-game introductions, and every time he makes a play. It’s the exaggerated gyrations and flexing of his muscles that wears on me. Maybe I’m just a tad bit more conservative, but I notice none of these guys ever take up such antics after they get burned.

And there’s something else. It’s this whole idea of celebrations – which I believe can be directly tied to players’ knowing it’s a sure way to show up on Sports Center each night – that leads to situations like what happened to DeSean Jackson Sunday. The outstanding Eagles rookie hauled in a bomb from Donovan McNabb and appeared headed for a highlight reel touchdown. That wasn’t enough. Jackson clearly had his post-touchdown celebration on his mind.

Unfortunately, he started it on the one-yard line. Luckily, the Eagles retained possession and quickly bailed him out by punching it in. If they don’t get the ball back, Jackson is being fitted for one of the all-time pair of goat horns.

Now Dawkins finds himself in the crosshairs after a particularly tough day on Sunday. I don’t know what the coverages were, and what Dawkins’ role in them was. What I know is that every time I saw a big play by the Cowboys, I usually saw Dawkins trailing behind.

I think his best days are behind him, and it now presents a tough decision for the team.

But yesterday, Dawkins did something that I actually admire more than his play, and much more than his antics.

He sat and went under the microscope, talking about his game Sunday, his career and where he goes from here.

He never lost his cool. He didn’t chide the media. He didn’t rip the fans. He simply said this is Philly, that when you lose and don’t play well, you’re going to hear it. There is no such thing as “getting a pass” for a long, solid career and being a good guy both on and off the field.

That may be, but Dawkins’ actions Monday scored more points with me than what he sometimes does on the field.

Happ-y Days here again for Phils

Happ-y days are indeed here again – for both the Phillies and their fans.

And also for their new starter. That would be one J.A. Happ. All he did last night was take struggling Kyle Kendrick’s spot in the rotation, take the hill against the Atlanta Braves and unfurl six scoreless innings. Happ gave up just three hits and walked one in recording his first major league win.

It didn’t hurt that the red-hot Phils lineup staked him to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first before he even took the mound. Along the way Ryan Howard knocked in another run, that’s 137 for the year if you’re counting.

It was Happ’s fourth major league start. But his last start was with the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Let’s get all the positives out of the way first. The win keeps the Phils in first place, a half game ahead of the Mets. Both the Mets and Brewers won last night.

Now, since this Philly after all, a couple of questions. Where the hell has Happ been? Does anyone else think maybe Kendrick started two more games as he seemed to lose confidence every time he took the mound, especially the game where he managed to record only four outs before being lifted in the second?

Wouldn’t Happ, who did nothing but offer solid pitching in his short stint and two starts with the Phils, have been a viable alternative? We’ll never know. What we do know is that the Phils likely are going to need a fifth reliever one more time this season, on Monday against the Braves back at Citizens Bank Park. Anyone think that starter should not be Happ? One thing we know. He’s well-rested. Maybe too well-rested.

Cut the music for the ballpark.

“Monday, Tuesday, Happ-y Days” ….

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The cavalry arrives

The cavalry arrived yesterday. And they brought the presidential campaign with them.

Joe Biden wins the contest for first to hit the ground in Delco, with a campaign stop at Linvilla Orchards. Read Alex Rose’s account of the day here.

He won’t be the last. My guess is we’ll see both presidential candidates stumping here in Delco. I would hope we’ll also get an up-close-and-personal look at Gov. Sarah Palin as well. That remains to be seen.

That’s because we are sitting in Ground Zero for the presidential campaign.

Pennsylvania is being considered one of the key swing states, along with places such as Ohio and Michigan.

Since John McCain tapped the newcomer Palin to join him on the GOP ticket, the race has been energized. Obama’s lead in the polls is shrinking. That’s true for the race here in Pennsylvania as well.

Biden was first to arrive. The only thing I’m sure of is that he will not be the last.

The election is 48 days away. It’s an eight-week dash to the polls.

Get used to seeing a lot of the candidates. It’s not a coincidence.

It’s because we matter. Our votes could swing the election. We are important. And we should treat it as such.

Get involved. Know the issues, and the candidates.

You can’t say we didn’t warn you. We have new neighbors.

Their names are McCain, Obama, Palin and Biden.

A geography lesson

Yesterday’s appearance by Sen. Joe Biden at Linvilla Orchards gave me another lesson in one of the vagaries of Delaware County geography.

I heard any number of media outlets trumpeting the campaign stop by the Democratic vice presidential candidate. Most of them indicated he would be appearing at Linvilla Orchards.

In Media.

Oh, really? I beg to disagree. Biden wasn’t in Media. Didn’t even come close, really.

Unless they moved Linvilla Orchards, Biden was in Middletown Township.

It’s one of those things about the county that cause me no small amount of aggravation. We have a tendency at the newspaper to refer to things by their mailing address. I don’t even know but I am guessing that the postal address for Linvilla Orchards is in fact Media, Pa.

That gives it something in common with this newspaper, which is published every day in a place called Primos, Pa. Which is nice except for one thing. There’s no such place. We are located geographically in Upper Darby Township. Primos doesn’t exist, other than in the eyes of the United State Postal Service. If you can find me the Primos Borough Council I’ll have a pretty good story for tomorrow.

Nope, Primos has something in common with places like Secane, Havertown, Drexel Hill, Broomall, Linwood, Boothwyn and Glen Mills. None of them actually exist.

Our policy at the newspaper is, whenever possible, to be geographically correct in terms of referring to where people live. Sometimes that’s easier to do than others.

Media is especially troublesome. Do you have any idea how many towns, or parts of them, get their mail delivered from the Media Post Office, giving them a Media mailing address?

For instance, we have this news flash just in. They have not moved the Granite Run Mall. At least not that I’m aware of. Yet it is constantly referred to as being in Media.

And, of course, there’s my favorite. My good friends at the “Media” barracks of the state police. Go ahead, accuse of “copping” an attitude, but the “Media” barracks is not in Media, it’s also in Middletown.

Most of the times this is fairly innocent. But a lot of people get fairly provincial when it comes to their towns. They get fairly indignant when someone does something pretty despicable and they believe their lovely little burg is being unfairly slimed in the process.

It happens a couple of times every week. We’ll list someone as being from a certain town, because that’s the way they are listed in the police information. Most likely that is because that is their mailing address. Which, of course, may or may not be where they reside geographically.

Which drives one editor in Primos fairly close to the edge … of Secane, of course.

Shine on

If you’re not a early-morning creature as I am, you missed a wonder of nature this morning.

After I stumbled down the steps and plodded toward the coffee maker this morning, I was struck by something as I glanced out the front door. I didn’t really think about it until I hit the kitchen and looked out onto the porch. I saw the same thing.

I had to check the clock. I thought maybe I had overslept. It was almost like dusk. You could clearly see things that you don’t normally experience in the dark at that time in the morning.

Then I thought maybe one of the neighbors had left one of their outdoor spotlights on.

Not the case.

I quickly discovered what was offering this surreal experience. A full, pie-in-the-sky moon.

If you missed it, I would highly recommend maybe checking it out tomorrow morning.

Feel free to ignore me if you think it’s just a bit insane to be getting up at that hour.

But if you’re into nature and the wonder of all that is around us. You’ll get a new reverence for a “harvest moon.”

Call him Mr. September

Here’s a few words I didn’t think I’d be using again this summer: First-place Phillies.

And here’s a big reason why: Ryan Howard.

Call him Mr. September.

Howard came up big again last night as the Phils rallied to beat the Braves, 8-7.

Howard is on fire. Know how you can tell? He’s driving the ball to left field again. Last night he strode to the plate in the seventh inning and promptly blasted one to the wall in left. It probably should have been caught by Braves’ outfielder Omar Infante. Instead it fell for a triple and helped the Phils erase a 7-4 deficit.

An inning later Howard didn’t need any help, rocketing a blast into the left-field seats to push the Phils ahead, 8-7.

Brad Lidge added some drama in the ninth, loading the bases before striking out Gregor Blanco to seal the deal. That makes him a perfect 37 for 37 in save opportunities this year. A lot of years that would engender MVP talk.

But Lidge is quickly being eclipsed by Howard’s September to remember.

It was home run No. 45 for Howard. His 3 RBI gives him 136 for the season.

How’s this for a sizzling September? Howard is hitting .413, going 26-for-63 in his last 16 games. Along the way he has scorched opposing pitchers for nine home runs and 24 RBIs.

No one is complaining about that $10 million deal awarded to Howard in arbitration back in Clearwater last spring.

Two years ago Howard won both the rookie of the year and MVP Awards. Last year it went to teammate Jimmy Rollins. A lot of people thought it could be a three-peat, with Chase Utley keeping the MVP hardware in the Phillies locker room.

They got it half right. It just might remain the property of the Phils, but if so it will be Howard accepting the prize.

Speaking of eyes on the prize, the win catapulted the Phils back into first place. The slumping Mets, who no doubt are tired of hearing of another September swoon, lost again to fall a half-game behind. Both the Astros and Brewers also lost.

Put the football season back on hold.

Baseball is on the front burner again. And that’s largely because of a red-hot Ryan Howard.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 16

The Daily Numbers: 37 points for the Eagles against the Cowboys last night. Not enough. They lost, 41-37.

25 of 37 for Donovan McNabb in last night’s Monday night matchup, including 1 TD and a 2nd that rookie DeSean Jackson foolishly tossed away before he actually got into the end zone.

1 botched handoff between McNabb and Brian Westbrook that might have been more important than any of those completions.

10,000 dollar reward being posted by the family of Veno Leigertwood for information leading to the arrest of the suspects who gunned him down outside his Yeadon home early Saturday.

11 cent spike in price for gas at the pump in the Philadelphia area over the weekend.

4 bucks a gallon, where we might be headed again in the fallout from Hurricane Ike.

1 explosive device found in a parking garage in West Chester yesterday. It was destroyed by federal agents, who said it could have caused significant damage if detonated. The hunt is on for who put it, and several other suspicious devices, in the garage. A full block was evacuated for most of the day in the county seat.

2 people hurt in an early morning fire at an apartment complex in Morrisville, Bucks County.

1 gold medal for Delco Olympic swim champ that was misplaced on a flight from Philly to Texas. It turned up in Tennessee. Hansen now has it back.

50 passengers on two trains on the Ben Franklin Bridge who had to be moved yesterday afternoon because of a couple of small fires along the tracks. Car traffic on the bridge also was snarled during rush hour.

49 classic Martin guitars up for bid next month at Christie’s auction house in New York City. They’re expected to go for $330,000. Some were used by notables such as Eric Clapton and Graham Nash.

45 year-old woman from Bucks County who pleaded guilty yesterday to hosting a party where her female adult friend allegedly had sexual relations with several teenage boys.

.5 games behind the Mets, who lost last night. That’s where the Phils stand. They were off last night.

3 games in Atlanta starting tonight for the Phils.

4 straight losses against the Phillies over the weekend that contributed to the Brewers firing manager Ned Yost yesterday.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Don’t look now, but the Eagles now have a short week before hosting the Steelers next Sunday at the Linc. For some reason the Eagles always struggle against AFC teams, especially those that play the 3-4 defense the Steelers love. Can you say 1-3?


I Don’t Get It: Officials in California are investigating reports that the conductor on that Metro train that was on the wrong track and blasted into a freight train was text-messaging someone just before the crash. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: Pennsylvania has moved to ban smoking at all 14 state-owned universities. Good.


Quote Box: “He was dedicated to education, for himself and others. He loved his family very much and worked very hard to make sure they had everything they needed.”

-- Raven Leigertwood, talking about her husband, Veno, who was gunned down outside their Yeadon home Saturday morning.

A Monday night classic ... loss

It was a classic clash of two very good teams that no doubt thoroughly entertained a national audience on Monday Night Football.

And of course, for anyone who bleeds green, it ended in classic Eagles fashion. They lost. They weren’t satisfied with leaving a sleep-deprived Delaware Valley in a bad mood this morning. They had to twist the knife, once again seizing defeat from the jaws of victory.

Spare me the talk of silver linings, of how well they played against a team many believe is the best in the NFL, of moral victories.

The stage was set for a huge Eagles’ win, one that could possibly propel them to a “special” season. They may still do that, but they will first have to overcome the thought that they lost a game they could have – and maybe should have – won.

They had the lead and the ball. And they had the ball in the hands of their two best players. With a first and 10 from the Dallas 33 with about 7 minutes left in the game, the Eagles appeared to be ready to drive the final nail into the Cowboys’ coffin. But Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook, both of whom had very good nights, combined for one very bad play. It was supposed to be fake reverse and handoff to Westbrook. But McNabb double-clutched on it and never really got the ball to Westbrook, the next thing you know the ball was on the ground, and Eagles’ fans hearts were in their throats. The Cowboys recover, drive for the key score. The Eagles fail to rally one last time. We’re left talking about moral victories, while the beaming face of Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones fills the screen.

At some point I might be able to think about all the things the Eagles did well last night, and there were lots of them. But operating on a few hours sleep, right now I prefer to look at what they did wrong.

Actually, I have a habit as I watch games. I jot down mistakes or other key parts of the game that I think made the difference. There were no shortage of them Monday night. Such as:

* You settle for field goals early in a game, it always comes back to haunt you. The Eagles got two David Akers field goals and 6 points early in the game when they needed touchdowns. Think that made a difference?

* Sean Considine. How exactly do you get suckered, biting on a play fake on third and 10 when you have deep coverage responsibility on Terrell Owens, who promptly runs right past you on the way to a 72-yard, momentum-changing touchdown on Dallas’ first possession. T.O. had two TD catches, but wasn’t much of a factor late in the game.

* The Eagles have gotten a lot of credit for improving their kick and punt return teams. It might be time to do the same for their coverage squads. Have they managed to tackle Felix Jones yet? He turned still more Eagles momentum around with a touchdown return early in the game and gashed the Birds on kickoff returns all night.

* Brian Dawkins. The guy is an Eagles legend, but his play is starting to belie some of his antics on the field. He got beat most of the night before coming up with a big break-up late in the game.

* Time Management. At the end of the first half, in which they managed to leave enough time on the clock for the Cowboys to get an important field goal, and then again at the end of the game, Andy Reid still has problems mastering the clock.

* At the end of the game, this resembled more an NFC East old-style smash-mouth style of game, and the Cowboys looked more like the muscle team, while the Eagles were trying to finesse their way to a win. Marion Barber just kept bashing the Eagles’ defenders.to

* The Eagles failed for the most part to accomplish their No. 1 goal defensively, put pressure on Dallas QB Tony Romo.

Final score? 41-37 Dallas. The rest of the country is talking about it being a Monday night classic.

Spare me. I’ve seen it before. The Eagles played well. They just didn’t win.

Déjà vu all over again. It wasn’t Tommy Hutton dropping the snap on a sure, chip-shot field goal. But it was close. After all this was Dallas, in maybe the last game the Eagles will play at Texas Stadium.

And it ended the same way too many of these games have.

I think both Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook had great games.

I also think they combined on the most important play of the game.

The play that led to another Eagles loss.

I don’t need the Eagles cheerleaders (not the ones in the cute outfits) to tell me what happened last night, how well the Eagles played and what a great game it was.

I know what happened last night. The Eagles lost. I’ve seen it a million times before.

More gas pains

Maybe someone can explain this to me. Even as Hurricane Ike was rumbling across the Gulf of Mexico, we started hearing that it was going to have a negative effect on gas prices.

They weren’t lying.

But then a strange thing happened. The hurricane didn’t take the precise route that was expected. Refining centers in the Galveston, Texas, area did not take the catastrophic hit that was expected. They shut down, but they weren’t destroyed, which some forecasters had been predicting.

So what happened? Gas prices jumped anyhow. And not just in the Gulf region and some areas in the South, where there were reports of price spikes and even some stations running out of gas.

Here in the Philadelphia region, AAA reports prices went up 11 cents over the weekend. The average price yesterday was being reported at $3.68.

And it’s not over. Prices could toy with the $4-a-gallon mark again before this is over. And it all stems from Hurricane Ike.

AAA said the storm is causing tightening supplies and, hence, higher prices at the pump.

Some refineries say it could be three weeks before they get back on line.

In the meantime, the price of crude oil fell below $100 a barrel for the first time in ages.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for that development to show up at the pump.

Funny how it always takes so much longer for the price drops to kick in, as opposed to price hikes.

Maybe that’s why they call it gas pains.

Fall Street

The Eagles didn’t suffer the only meltdown yesterday.

Have you glanced at your 401K? Or maybe how the better question would be how many times do you check it yesterday as your retirement nest egg got fried smaller and smaller as Wall Street took a monumental nosedive.

It’s stunning the scope of what has happened, not just yesterday, but in the past few months. Household names have disappeared. We saw Bear Stearns fold up its tent.

The jolts kept coming yesterday. And again it’s the names, the bedrock of our financial community, that leap out at you.

Lehman Brothers failed to find anyone willing to bail them out and filed for bankruptcy. The financial firm dates back to before the Civil War. They survived the Great Depression. They did not survive 2008, at least not in the form we’ve become accustomed to.

Merrill Lynch, you know, those people who for most of our lives have been “bullish” on America, also had its problems.

Gone. No bull. The giant was acquired by Bank of America.

The last time, when Bear Stearns was teetering on the brink of collapse, the feds rode to the rescue. There was no white knight yesterday.

When the day was over, about $700 million had disappeared from retirement plans, government pension funds and other portfolios. Want to really feel bad for someone. Think about all those people at Lehman Brothers who first learned they were out of a job, then found out their 401K, if it was invested heavily in their own company, had just disappeared.

Wall Street had a day of epic proportions, none of them good.

The market declined 500 points, losing more than 4 percent of its value. It was the biggest drop since Sept. 11.

And it looks like more is on tap today.

American International Group, the world’s largest insurer, is fighting to survive.

Markets overseas are dropping in overnight trading.

Wall Street? They might want to start calling it Fall Street.

And you might just want to start stashing your money under the mattress again.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 15


The Daily Numbers: 84 age of Jane Morgan, found slain in her Upper Darby apartment last week. No arrests have been made in the case.

31 age of Veno Leigertwood, who was found shot to death execution-style outside his Yeadon home early Saturday morning.

32 homicides in Delaware County so far this year.

36 days since 16-year-old Faith Sinclair was struck and killed by a hit-run driver as she tried to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill. No arrests have been made in the case.

27 age of man charged by Philadelphia police in the brutal beating of an 83-year-old man in the restroom of the Gallery shopping center in Center City last week.

130 mph, what one witness believe a car being chased by police was doing before it crashed on Route 422 in Montgomery County Sunday, killing the driver and injuring her two dogs.

4 bucks, what it will cost to use the 4 DRPA bridges from New Jersey into Pennsylvania today. That’s up from $3. Next September it will go to $5.

3 beer distributors in Philadelphia hit by smash-and-grab burglars who slammed a van into the stores and then fled with cigarettes and beer.

54 age of man in Delaware charged with unlawful sexual contact with 5-year-old and possession of child porn.

4.75 a gallon, what gas is selling for in some spots along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

2 huge firms on Wall Street undergoing big-time changes. Lehman Brothers is filing for bankruptcy protection, while Merrill Lynch is being bought out by Bank of America. In the meantime, it could be another ugly day on Wall Street.

2 school districts in the region now dealing with strikes. Teachers in Saucon Valley School District have hit the bricks, joining their brethren in Souderton.

1 week delay in the federal corruption trial of Pa. Sen. Vince Fumo, because the judge is ill.

2,000 rescued from the Galveston region of Hurricane Ike, after gambling on riding out the storm and losing big time.

4 straight wins for the Phillies over the Brewers. That means they’re now tied with Milwaukee in the NL Wild Card chase.

1 game behind the Mets, where the Phils sit in the NL East standings.

1 run on 2 hits in a complete game gem tossed by Brett Myers in last night’s second game of a day-night doubleheader. Maybe all the Phils starters should go on 3 days rest.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Thankfully the Phils don’t play tonight. That means we can concentrate on the Eagles and their prime time Monday night matchup with the Cowboys in Dallas.


I Don’t Get It: Why would someone parade themselves on TV at a Phillies game wearing a T-shirt mocking Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo with a sexual slur? It only reinforces our image as louts. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: It appears as bad as the damage from Hurricane Ike was, Galveston missed the direct hit that would have destroyed one of the nation’s crucial oil refining centers. In the meantime, gas prices are already going up.


Quote Box: “Just the psychological impact of this kind of failure is going to be significant. It will color people’s feelings about their well-being and the integrity of the financial system.”

-- Samuel Hayes, professor emeritus at Harvard, on the bankruptcy filing of Wall Street titan Lehman Brothers.

A person making a difference is taken from us

Veno Leigertwood seemed to be a Delaware County success story.

The 31-year-old Yeadon resident was a counselor with the Philadelphia School District and an entrepreneur.

He was one of the people making a difference. He was known for his mentoring work at Bartram High School in the GEAR UP Program. That stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Rediness for Undergraduate Programs. It targets low-income middle-schoolers and then shadows them through high school.

Leigertwood recently had been promoted and put in charge of a group of counselors.

Now the mentors will need counseling themselves.

That’s because early Saturday morning, as he put some things in his car in front of his Yeadon home as he got ready to head to his last day of grad school at Eastern University, the promise of Veno Leigertwood was snuffed out.

Instead of shaping young lives, Leigertwood joins the list of young lives extinguished by a seemingly never-ending plague of street violence.

Leigertwood became homicide victim No. 32 in Delaware County. Police say he was shot execution style. He died of a single gunshot wound to the neck. The incident occurred around 6:30 Saturday morning.

He leaves behind a wife and 7-month-old daughter.

And a lot of young lives he no doubt would have made a huge difference in. Leigertwood would have been a shining example to a lot of city kids. He was one of them. He came from the some of the same tough neighborhoods they did. And he made it.

Friends say Leigertwood was dabbling in real estate and was renting apartments in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Police believe he was ambushed in his driveway.

No arrests have been made in the case.

And we’re left with the arresting feeling that we have lost a very valuable member of the community, someone who was giving back, was making a difference.

The person who took Veno Leigertwood’s life probably does not know – or care – what they have taken.

That’s for his family, friends, and co-workers to deal with. And the rest of us as well.

The Sinclair case: Six weeks and counting

It’s now been six weeks since Faith Sinclair was struck and killed while attempting to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill.

No arrests have been made in the case. The $10,000 reward for information remains. Anyone who knows anything about what happened that night, and the events that snuffed out the life of the 16-year-old, is urged to call Sharon Hill police.

Police have seized a car they believe was the vehicle that struck Sinclair. The owner of the car has been named a “person of interest.” But he has not come forward to speak to authorities, on the advice of his attorney.

Police do not know who was driving that night. They apparently also have not heard from maybe the one other person who knows that happened that night, the passenger they believe was in the black Mercedes and who got out shortly after Sinclair was fatally struck.

In the meantime, I found this news item interesting.

Some Pennsylvania legislators are looking to close a loophole in state law that some believe actually encourages people who may be under the influence to leave the scene of an accident.

Under the current Pennsylvania law, the penalty for leaving the scene of a fatal accident is a year in jail. But if the same driver stays at the scene to render assistance and is found to be under the influence, the penalty can be much stiffer, as much as five years.

Rep. David Reed, R-Indiana, is looking to change that provision. It’s a good idea.

Does that have anything to do with the Sinclair case? No one knows.

It’s just one more thing about this baffling case that we do not know.

One thing, however, is certain. We have not forgotten. Eventually this case will be resolved.

The family of Faith Sinclair will gain some closure and be able to move on with their shattered lives.

They deserve no less.

Palin's Delco connection

There is at least one person who has to be absolutely delighted that John McCain selected neophyte Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

And it has nothing to do with politics. But it does have a Delaware County connection.

Palin, if you have not realized it as yet, has taken the country by storm and stood the presidential race on its head since accepting the GOP’s nomination to be vice president.

She’s also been a polarizing figure. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of gray area here, either you like her or you don’t. Either you believe she’s a breath of fresh air, for once a true outsider who can effect much-needed change to the insiders club that has run things in D.C. forever, or you believe she is a rube in totally over her head, not nearly ready to sit a heart beat from the presidency.

But proof that Palin has arrived comes not from the pundits, whose tongues have not stopped wagging she was named, nor the polls, where it is apparent she is helping McCain narrow the gap, or even take a lead, over Barack Obama.

Instead we now know Palin has become firmly entrenched in pop culture because she has been lampooned on “Saturday Night Live.”

And here’s the Delco connection. That dead-on impersonation of Palin was put on by none other than home girl Tina Fey. The longtime “SNL” standout and “30 Rock” contributor cast an eerie similarity to the governor in the skit she pulled off Saturday night with Amy Poehler playing Hillary Clinton.

Actually, if you closed your eyes and simply listened to the voice, it was hard to distinguish between the real Palin and Fey’s faux put-on.

Looks like the Upper Darby High grad has struck gold – in Alaska.

A weekend to remember for Phils

How exactly do you explain what happened this weekend to the Philadelphia Phillies?

If you listen carefully you can almost hear the distant voice off PA announcer Dan Baker:

“Now batting for the Phillies, Lazarus.”

Yes, the Phils are back from the dead. Again.

When we left you on Friday, the Phillies were trying to salvage their season after a dispiriting series loss to the Marlins.

Mission accomplished.

All the Phils did this weekend was sweep the Brewers. In the process they managed to pull into a tie with the Brew Crew for the N.L. Wild Card.

As a bonus, the Mets bullpen imploded again yesterday, blowing what appeared to be a win against the Braves. The Phils now trail the Mets by just a game.

After Friday night’s game was rained out, setting up a Sunday day-night doubleheader, the Brewers had a chance to reconfigure their rotation and pitch their ace, CC Sabathia, last night. They decided instead to go with journeyman Jeff Suppan.

Didn’t work out too well. The Phils’ suddenly robust bats put the hammer down on the Brewers all weekend.

And their Big 3 pitchers were clutch as well. Even Joe Blanton got into the act, giving the Phils a very serviceable effort in yesterday’s day-game opener, settling down after giving up a couple of first-inning runs.

Then there is Brett Myers. What he has done since being recalled from his stint in the minors is almost beyond belief. Imitating the staff’s mentor, the ageless Jamie Moyer, Myers also took the hill last night on three days rest.

All he did was throw a complete-game gem. Myers totally baffled Milwaukee, surrendering just two hits, one of them a line-drive dinger to Prince Fielder.

I’ll admit I thought the Phils were done. Cooked. You could stick a fork in them.

They seem intent on a repeat of last year’s finale, in which they caught the free-falling Mets on the last day of the season. At this rate, it might not take that long.

The Phils are off tonight and then play three in Atlanta.

I wouldn’t want to bet against them.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Eagles ready for Prime Time?

Yes, it is once again Saturday and once again time for the dreaded Eagles pick.

Yes, I am coming back despite last week's debacle. No, not the Eagles. They were scintillating on Sunday. I'm referring to my pick, in which I predicted they would lose to kick off a thoroughly mediocre season.

Yes, I was impressed with the Birds Sunday. But I was also left with this thought: Are they that good, or are the Rams that bad.

We will find out Monday night, when the Eagles go into Dallas for a prime-time showdown with their arch-rival the Dallas Cowboys.

This one has early season classic written all over it. All the elements are here. Donovan McNabb vs. Tony Romo. T.O. vs the Universe.

Bottom line is I'm still not convinced the Eagles are the real deal.

This one will be a shootout, with both teams moving the ball.

Make it 29-26 'Boys. If I'm wrong, I'll be the first one celebrating sometime Tuesday morning.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- September 12

The Daily Numbers: 11 people on the list of Most Wanted suspects in Chester. There were 12. One of them was picked up Wednesday night, after the 12 appeared in Wednesday’s Daily Times.

84 age of woman found brutally beaten and suffocated in her Upper Darby home.

5,000 dollar reward for information in the killing of Jane Morgan, which has left many residents in the Long Lane Apartment complex with a sense of unease.

82 age of man attacked and beaten by at least 3 men in a men’s room at the Gallery shopping center in Center City.

10 to 16 months in jail, what a disgruntled former Boeing worker now faces after admitting he intentionally vandalized a Chinook helicopter at the Ridley plant.

110,000 dollars in damages done to the copter, which has a value of $24 million.

19.10 an hour, what Matthew Montgomery made per hour at the plant. He apparently was angry about being transferred to another line.

3 people killed yesterday in a nasty collision between a tractor-trailer and two other vehicles on I-295 in Cherry Hill yesterday. The highway was closed for hours.

6 stores burned when fire hit a strip mall in Falls Township, Bucks County overnight.

75 dams in Pennsylvania at risk of causing problems downstream in heavy rains, according to the state DEP. They include Broomall Lake Dam in Media.

2 killed and 4 injured when gunshots rang out on a basketball court in West Philadelphia last night.

8.2 percent pay hike, what teachers in Souderton want. They’ve been on strike, delaying the start of school in the Montgomery County district. The board is offering 2.5 percent.

4 University of Delaware students robbed at gunpoint inside their off-campus apartment when three gunmen invaded their home.

3 Philadelphia officers who have died in the line of duty in the past 10 months. Police will gather this morning for the funeral of Officer Isabel Nazario, killed when a car slammed into her cruiser last weekend.

450 million dollar deficit the city of Philadelphia is staring at in the next 5 years. Mayor Michael Nutter is asking every city department to review costs.

10 million dollars in state home heating aid that groups want released to help with what are expected to be soaring bills to heat homes in Pa. this winter.

46 percent boost in profits posted by Campbell Soup Co. I won’t make any comments about soup lines booming.

20 foot surge of water that could inundate the Texas coast as Hurricane Ike roars ashore this weekend.

1 cent decline in gas prices, with the average price now sitting at $3.56.

48 to 45 percent lead for Barack Obama over John McCain in the latest poll of Pennsylvania voters done by Quinnipiac University. That’s down from a lead of 7 points.

5 and a third quality innings for the ageless Jamie Moyer in leading the Phils to a crucial win over the Brewers last night.

43 home runs for slugger Ryan Howard, who poked another one last night and came within inches of hitting No. 44.

3 games back of the Mets in NL East and the Brewers in the Wild Card for the Phils.

2 more games with the Brewers, meaning the Phils could pull even with a sweep.

3 more days before the Eagles and Cowboys collide on Monday Night Football.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Every Phillies game is now crucial. But tonight is especially so. A win tonight could get into the Brewers’ heads, have them suddenly seeing the possibility of a sweep, and their Wild Card lead disappear. Cole Hamels needs to come up big tonight. Can you say complete game?


I Don’t Get It: Suddenly it’s open season on the elderly. An 84 year-old woman is brutally beaten and killed in Upper Darby. An 84 year-old man is attacked in the Gallery shopping center in Philadelphia. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: Tonight the friends of Michael Horrocks will gather to honor the memory of the Delco father who was co-pilot of one of the planes that slammed into the World Trade Center. They will raise money to erect a memorial on the West Chester University campus. Horrocks was a star quarterback there. Well done.


Quote Box: “I believe the person who committed this heinous crime is an animal.”

-- Upper Darby top cop Michael Chitwood, describing the brutal beating death of an 84-year-old woman in her Long Lane apartment.

Making a difference in the community

Nothing makes me happier than when I think the newspaper is making a differerence in the community.

So when I was approached by Nicole Cogdell about the possibility of publishing a “Most Wanted” list for the city of Chester, I told her absolutely, that they could count us in.

Cogdell is president of the community anti-violence group Women of Strength. They know better than most the ravages and scars that street violence leaves on Chester and its citizens every day.

We published the list of the city’s 12 Most Wanted on Wednesday. The faces of the 12 men appeared on the front page. I was wondering if I was going to get phone calls about the Page One presentation.

All of the faces are either black or Hispanic. I didn’t receive one complaint.

This wasn’t something that we compiled. It was put together by the people who deal with the problem every day, the Chester Police Department.

If the faces had been all white we would have run them as well. We have done other similar front page displays in which the majority of the faces was white.

I was struck by a couple of things said by members of the Chester police.

Chief Floyd Lewis probably summed up the situation best, and reminded me of why we were publicizing the list in the first place.

“We just want to get them off the streets,” the chief told reporter Cindy Scharr.

Even more telling was a comment from Maj. Darren Alston, who helped put the list together.

“We need help from the community,” Alston said.

It didn’t take long. The list appeared on the front page Wednesday.

Wednesday night, after getting a tip call, police arrested Vincent Franklin. He faces attempted homicide charges in connection with a shooting in the city.

Chester Police Detective Capt. Joseph Massi made it pretty clear that it was just what the department had hoped for, help from the community, that led to the arrest.

“His apprehension was a result of an individual’s call to 911 after seeing his photograph in the Daily Times,” Massi said.

Someone in the community had stepped up, had come forward with information. It was exactly what the police said they needed to round up the Most Wanted suspects in the city.

I consider this newspaper a part of this community. We are often accused of too often portraying the negative aspects of many of our towns. That would include reporting on crime.

It’s nice to turn that around. Newspapers aren’t supposed to get involved in the story. We’re supposed to be impartial, uninvolved, to simply report.

Of course, almost everything we do involves a judgment call one way or the other.

We made the decision to publish the list of Chester’s 12 Most Wanted.

Make that 11. One of them is now off the street.

And I could not be happier with our role in it.

Obama on 'SNL'? Not funny

Sen. Barack Obama has taken plenty of criticism for his public persona.

He is referred to at times almost as much for his celebrity as his political experience.

He’s the “rock star” candidate who came out of nowhere with his message of change and now sits atop the Democratic presidential ticket.

He accepted the nomination in front of 85,000 people in an outdoor stadium in Denver, again sparking some concerns about his image.

So I will admit it raised my eyebrow this morning when I saw the item about what he is planning to do this weekend.

Obama is going to appear on the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live.” The show will be hosted by Olympic superstar Michael Phelps.

Surely Obama will be looking for a gold-medal performance.

But I’m not so sure this is a good idea.

But what do I know, after all, this is a face that was made for newspapers.

But if one of the criticisms I faced was that I was too much of a celebrity, an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” might not be the first thing on my agenda.

And as I always do, I wonder what the reaction would be if Sarah Palin, fresh off her first big interview with Charlie Gibson, were to pop up on the show?

Thought so.

Hey, I like a sense of humor as much as anyone. I just don’t think that right now I want one of the candidates appearing on a comedy show.

I think the rock star candidate just might regret this latest piece of celebrity.

Moyer's Magic: Our very own Wheeze Kid

I’m thinking about the Phillies and what happened last night at Citizens Bank Park, and I keep thinking of a scene with Al Pacino is the last part of “The Godfather.”

The older, ailing don lamented his inability to climb out of his ties to crime.

“Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in,” Pacino wheezes.

Which brings us to the Phils, and their very own Wheeze Kid.

How exactly do you describe what Jamie Moyer is doing this year?

The 45-year-old lefthander took the mound last night on just three days rest. You would think his body at some point would fail him, would show its age, would fail to respond.

Not last night. Moyer, as he has been much of the year, once again was magic.

He went five and two-thirds innings, allowing just three runs on four hits. In the process he improved his record to 14-7.

It was the first time he had pitched on three days rest since 2004. Like a fine wine, the aging one does not overpower hitters. He beats them with guile, and precision.

His explanation of all this? “I’m here. I’m healthy. Sometimes you have to step up,” Moyer said.

Speaking of stepping up, a guy about 20 years younger also made a few headlines last night.

Ryan Howard continues to heat up, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Howard bashed home run No. 43 and then came within inches of depositing another ball over the center-field fence.

With the 6-3 win the Phils sliced a game off the Brewers lead in the NL Wild Card race. They now trail by three with three games left in the series. They also gained a half-game on the idle Mets. They now trail in the NL East by three games as well.

Tonight becomes crucial. A win tonight and the Phils just might get into the Brewers’ heads, while cutting their Wild-Card lead to just two games.

They need another person to step up, to follow in the footsteps of their “seasoned” citizen Moyer.

That job will fall to Cole Hamels. Pitching with his more normal rest, the Phils direly need Hamels to come up big tonight.

Hamels is widely believed to be the “ace” of the staff. Tonight would be a good time to prove it.

Another big win, and a stellar effort by Hamels, would be one for the “aged,” Hamels’ mentor Moyer.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 11

The Daily Numbers: 7 years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

9 and 11. Will we ever think of those two numbers the same way again?

1 of Chester’s 12 Most Wanted featured in yesterday’s paper taken into custody last night in Darby Borough.

1 student detained and several others cited after a fight at Chester High School Tuesday.

16 age of moped rider injured when he was struck by a car last night on Providence Road in Media.

30,000 pound anchor, once the pride of Baldt Anchor in Chester, that is now up for sale on Craigslist. The asking price is $20,000.

35,000 dollars believed stolen from a federal credit union of the United Food and Commercial Workers union local in Plymouth Meeting by an Exton woman. She now faces theft charges.

32 states aside from Pennsylvania that forbid smoking in most public places. The new Pa. law goes into effect today.

5.5 million dollar award from a federal jury to the family of a Philadelphia teen who was gunned down outside Hahnemann University Hospital.

14 large pot plants discovered in a field in Delaware that led to the arrest of a New Castle man. Police then found 5 loaded handguns, 1 loaded shotgun, 3 loaded rifles, a collection of knives, a stun gun and marijuana-growing material inside his home.

2 syringes found on the beach at Atlantic City, N.J., in front of Boardwalk Hall Monday.

58,253 dollars in gas believed stolen in Elkton, Md., using a credit card stolen from the General Services Administration. A man has been charged with using the stolen card to buy gas at a series of local gas stations.

74 age of woman struck and killed by a SEPTA bus Monday at Broad and Oregon in Philadelphia.

120 million dollar loss being reported by PNC bank, stemming from charges regarding its BlackRock holdings.

120 new Silverliner rail cars on tap for SEPTA’s regional rail lines. The transit agency unveiled the first one yesterday.

4 million dollars, the asking price for former Sixers star Allen Iverson’s mansion on the Main Line. That’s down from the $5 million he paid for the 6-bedroom Villanova estate in 2003.

3.5 games back of the Mets, where the Phils stand after losing two of three to the Marlins.

4 games behind the Brewers for the Wild Card. Milwaukee just happens to be in town for a 4-game set starting tonight.

7 and a third innings for Brett Myers, who struck out 9, and gave up 4 runs on 8 hits.

4 days and counting before the Eagles and Cowboys tangle in Dallas on Monday night.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Stick a fork in the Phillies. You don’t lose two of three to the Marlins in a crucial series and still pretend to have playoff aspirations. They now will need to sweep the Brewers just to pull even in the Wild Card. They’ll start that giant task tonight by sending 45-year-old Jamie Moyer to the hill on three days rest.


I Don’t Get It: Police now say a man pocketed the cell phone of the victim of that brutal hammer attack on a SEPTA subway station. It’s not known if the suspect, also captured on video, knew the phone belonged to the guy who had just been hammered.


Today’s Upper: A smoking ban on most enclosed public places goes into effect in Pennsylvania today. That’s what you would call a breath of fresh air.


Quote Box: “For the people who did know Mike, it’ll be a place for us to go to remember him, something tangible at the university.”

-- John Mininno, a friend and classmate of Michael Horrocks, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks, on plans for a memorial for him on the West Chester University campus.

Never forget

September 11.

Does anything else need to be said?

Gazing up at that blue sky this morning I’m immediately seized by another blue sky exactly seven years ago today.

It’s always what strikes me first about that day.

The danger today is that the memory can fade. Don’t let that happen.

Remember what happened on that day.

What we lost. And we continue to face to this very day.

The world today is a very different place than it was on Sept. 10, 2001.

There are many events listed in today’s paper to mark the solemn occasion. Click here for a full listing of events in Delaware County.

But there is one overriding message that should be taken from all of them.

Never forget.

Smoke at your own (financial) risk

There’s something new on the menu at Pennsylvania restaurants today.

A lack of smoke.

Forget the non-smoking section. Starting today most restaurants will be smoke-free. That’s because the state’s new smoking ban legislation took effect at midnight.

The law forbids smoking in most enclosed workplaces and commercial establishments.

Not all, however. There’s a lengthy list of exceptions, including many bars and taverns, which can demonstrate that food accounts for 20 percent or less of their sales. Hotels also can reserve 25 percent of rooms; private clubs get a waiver; as does up to 25 percent of a casino floor. Relax, Harrah’s puffers. If you enjoy a cigarette while losing your shirt at those one-armed bandits, you’ll be able to continue doing so. At least in part of the casino.

The architect of the bill, state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Bucks, thinks it’s a good start, but is already looking to close some loopholes.

The war on smoking? Seems like it’s heating up in Pennsylvania.

If I had a hammer ....

There’s something that might have gone unnoticed in the furor over the recent hammer attack on a SEPTA subway train.

It’s something that happened after the victim was brutally beaten by a man wielding a hammer.

As if that was not enough, police now believe the man who was the target was victimized once again.

Police say surveillance video shows a man entering the SEPTA train after the hammer suspect and victim tumbled out onto the platform.

On entering the train, another man spots a cell phone on the floor, picks it up, and promptly pockets it. The cell phone belonged to the 20-year-old beaten by the hammer-wielding suspect.


It is not known if the man realized the cell phone belonged to the victim, who was listening to it with ear buds when he was attacked.

Police are now looking for the man seen in the video wearing a backpack who pocketed the phone.

The Phils phading away

Give the Phillies this much. They have a sense of humor.

Or maybe it’s just a lousy sense of timing.

The team picked yesterday to tell non-season ticket holders how they might get their mitts on playoff tickets. At least they’re thinking optimistically.

Unfortunately, a couple of hours later the Phils went belly up again vs. the Marlins, losing 7-3, even though they had their best pitcher in recent weeks, Brett Myers, on the mound. They’re now three and a half back against the Mets in the NL East, and four back of the Brewers in the NL Wild Card race.

The Brewers come to town tonight for a four-game series. In other words, even if the Phils sweep, they’d be no better than tied.

What do you think the chances of a sweep are? Tonight 45-year-old Jamie Moyer takes the mound on three days rest. Moyer has pitched valiantly this year. But tonight he might be entering the realm of miraculous.

Which also would be the word used to describe the Phils making the playoffs this year.


Hey, ya gotta believe, right? Either that or you can start those Eagles chants any time now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- September 10

The Daily Numbers: 12 men who make up the list of most wanted criminal suspects in the city of Chester. Police released the list of suspects and they appear on the front page of today’s print edition.

2 new cases of people infected with the West Nile virus in Delaware County, according to state health officials. There are 3 confirmed and another suspected statewide.

23,813 dollars, low bid in Eddystone for sewer service. Council nixed all the bids and instead will enter an agreement with Delcora, which is cheaper than any of the bids received.

35,600 dollars in DCED funding being used by the county to beef up its right-to-know policy.

100 dollars for three hours or less, that’s the fee adopted by Marple Newtown School Board for use of district fields. The fee can go as high as $200 a day.

300,000 loan being taken out by Colwyn Borough Council to pay off some bills and back taxes.

100,000 dollar reward give to an anonymous tipster in Philadelphia yesterday. The person provided the key information that led to an arrest in the murder of police Officer Stephen Liczbinski last May.

80 of 1,300 SEPTA buses now equipped with video cameras. And 36 of 125 cars on the Broad Street subway line. Video captured was key to solving a brutal hammer attack on a passenger on the subway.

7 arrests in 5 different murder cases in recent days made by Philly police. The latest suspect is 15 years old.

29 age of mother who is believed to have called 911 in Montgomery County after abandoning her baby at a local fire company.

800 books and backpacks donated to local schoolkids by Boeing Helicopters workers in Ridley Park.

51 percent of vote for Delaware state Treasurer Jack Markell in an upset win over Lt. Gov. John Carney for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. The winning margin is believed to be about 200,000 votes. Markell will face Republican Bill Lee, a retired judge.

76 names on a petition in Tredyffrin out on the Main Line opposing a plan to trap and round up the skunks that seem to be overruning local properties.

16 age of kid who was killed for his dirt bike in Philly. Yesterday another teen, 18, was convicted in the case.

55 prostate cancer cases at the Philadelphia VA Hospital that may not have gotten the correct amount of radiation. Nuclear regulators are now investigating.

400 or 500 dollar spike in annual electricity costs that could result in the end of price caps in Pa. They expire at the end of 2010. Gov. Ed Rendell says he may have to extend the caps.

1 and one-third of an inning for Phils starter Kyle Kendrick last night. He got shelled by the Marlins.

7 -1 hole the Phils were looking at after Kendrick departed. He gave up 7 runs on six hits. The Phils battled back from a 9-1 deficit to make it 10-8, but that was the final.

2.5 games back of the Mets, where the Phils now stand in the NL East.

3 games back of the Brewers in the Wild Card. They’re also slumping and lost again to the Reds last night.

1 more extension for Sixers coach Mo Cheeks, who led the team to the playoffs last season.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
The Phillies have owned this town almost all summer. But if they continue to flounder, and the Eagles manage to win Monday night in Dallas, they can kiss their favored standing behind. They will be an after-thought on Tuesday morning.

I Don’t Get It: Police out in Paoli are looking for a guy they say broke into a home. They say a woman in the house awoke and found the man standing in her bedroom He was stark naked. Her pet Rottweiler scared the naked intruder off.


Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for Jessica Simpson. Remember her? She’s the actress/singer. Oh, and she’s also the girlfriend of Cowboys QB Tony Romo. She wants Philly fans to know she doesn’t much care for us and warns the Cowboys will kick our backside on Monday night. Another reason to hate the Cowboys. Thanks, Jessica.


Quote Box: “We need help from the community.”

-- Chester Police Maj. Darren Alston, in announcing a Most Wanted list of 12 suspects they are looking to take off the streets.

Money talks, or does it?

Amazing what dangling some money out there can do in terms of generating information in criminal cases.

Or does it?

In Philadelphia yesterday, they held a ceremony to turn over a check for $100,000 to the person who provided the key information that led to an arrest in the killing of Officer Stephen Liczbinski back in May.

Of course the person collecting the reward was not there. That’s part of the deal. People who call these kinds of tip lines are guaranteed anonymity.

Mayor Michael Nutter held up the ceremonial check.

“Crime does not pay,” Nutter said. “Crime fighting, though, does.”

Not all the time, apparently.

In Delaware County, it has now been more than a month since a hit-run driver struck and killed 16-year-old Faith Sinclair as she attempted to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill.

The Citizens Crime Commission has posted a $10,000 reward for information in the case.

Police have impounded a black Mercedes they believe was the vehicle that snuffed out Sinclair’s life. They have identified the owner of the car and labeled him a “person of interest.” He has declined to talk to authorities on the advice of his attorney.

A key stumbling block for police is that they don’t know who was driving that vehicle that night. That’s where the $10,000 reward comes in. They were hoping that might loosen some lips.

They are slowly building a case in their investigation, but apparently no one has yet to called in and indicate they know who the driver is. At least police aren’t saying if anyone did.

And that includes the one person police would most like to talk to, aside from the driver, of course. That would be the person police believe was a passenger in the car at the time Sinclair was struck. That person is thought to have gotten out of the car shortly after the crash.

It’s been a month. And little if any information has come forward in the baffling case.

I can think of 10,000 reasons why that should change.

If you have information, you can call the Citizens Crime Commission's tip line at (215) 546-8477 or (877) 345-8477 or Sharon Hill Police at (610) 237-6200.

They say money talks. Now would be a good time to prove it.

Smile! You're (increasingly) on candid cameras

Ever wonder how much of our lives is being captured on videotape?

More than you might think. Every time you walk into a Wawa. Or for that matter, most stores and banks.

Part of the time you spend behind the wheel. At some intersections. Every time you pay a toll. Crossing a bridge. Entering parking garages.

If you ride mass transit, guess what? You’re increasingly on candid cameras.

For the past few days, the region has been appalled at an unprovoked attack on a SEPTA subway train in Philadelphia. A man got on a subway train for for no apparent reason took out a hammer and started beating a sleeping passenger nearby.

And, yes, it was captured on videotape. Police released the tape to the media, in hopes that it would spark information about the man who so brutally beat his fellow rider, who appeared to be dozing while listening to an iPod.

It worked, in no small part to the videotape, which has been played again and again on local TV stations, and been plastered all over Web sites, including this one.

In the post 9/11 world, we have learned that there are times when our privacy may be infringed in the name of security. Just where to draw that line is debatable.

What is not is that increased use of video cameras is effective. In this case, it led to the arrest of a man who didn’t blink an eye, even with his young son in tow, when he walked onto a subway car, deposited the boy in a seat, then took out a hammer and started flailing away at an innocent passenger nearby.

That’s a trade-off I think we can live with.

The Kendrick conundrum

The Phillies brass apparently thought it was a good idea to put Kyle Kendrick back in the starting rotation.

The struggling right-hander had been passed for his last scheduled start in New York against the Mets. Maybe the team brass thought he’d fare better in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park vs. the Marlins.

Didn’t quite work out that way.

Kendrick’s woes picked up right where they left off. He had trouble throwing strikes, and when he did they got hit – hard.

Kendrick lasted just an inning and a third. The surprising thing might be that he got four outs.

After retiring the first Marlin he faced, Kendrick promptly walked the second. Eyebrows went up all over the Delaware Valley. But not in the Phillies dugout.

By the time Kendrick exited, the Phils were looking up at a 7-1 hole. This included a visit to the mound from pitching coach Rich Dubee. Unfortunately, Dubee was not accompanied back to the dugout by Kendrick.

Amazingly, the Phils managed to scratch their way back into the game. Ryan Howard hit homer No. 41.

Along the way, there was still one more curious move by Manager Charlie Manuel. In the sixth, pinch-hitter Matt Stairs kept a big rally going by singling in a run to make it 10-8. For some reason, even with all those extra bodies sitting on the bench, Manuel did not run for Stairs, who is not known for his speed. He wound up on third, where third-base coach Steve Smith decided not to send him on a fly ball off the bat of Jayson Werth. That would have been run No. 9. Chase Utley then popped out to end the rally.

The loss puts the Phils two and a half games back of the Mets, who beat the Nationals by an identical 10-8 score.

Looking for good news? The Brewers lost again to the Mets. Their lead in the Wild-Card race over the Phils remains three.

The Phils hook up with the Marlins again this afternoon at 4.

The Phils have owned the city much of the summer. If they continue to flounder, and the Eagles manage to beat the Cowboys Monday night, that will change in a hurry.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- September 9

The Daily Numbers: 1.2 million images federal prosecutors say they found on the computer of John Jackey Worman, of Colwyn, who is on trial in federal court.

2 shootings under investigation in the city of Chester. A 15-year-old was shot Sunday night at Fourth and Highland as he was walking home. Police were investigating a shooting last night at Parker and Kerlin streets.

100,000 bail revoked for a Clifton Heights man suspected of being a prowler. The new charges violate his bail conditions on previous charges of trying to lure a child into his car.

5 minutes, how long an attack went on inside a SEPTA subway train when a man for some reason started beating another passenger with a hammer. The victim suffered serious injuries. Authorities released a video of the incident and are hoping the public comes forward to ID the attacker.

3 a.m., when 911 call came in from a woman indicating a newborn baby had been dropped off outside the Plymouth Fire Co. in Montgomery County.

46 age of man charged with trying to break into the collection box at St. Eugene’s Catholic Church in Primos.

17 or even 18, age being suggested for a hike in when teens can get a driver’s license by an auto safety group.

4 Council Rock High School students in Bucks County taken to the hospital yesterday after ingesting pills known as “snurf,” an herbal ecstasy concoction. All the students are expected to recover from the mood-altering pills.

101 times, how many times police say a Delaware man called his ex-girlfriend in one day. He now faces intimidation and harassment charges.

4 teens charged in the latest holdup of a student at the University of Delaware.

4 candidates, 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans, seeking their party’s nomination for governor in the primary vote in Delaware today.

1 person killed in the wicked surf whipped up in the wake of Troplical Storm Hanna in Spring Lake, N.J.

14 classrooms as well as the roof at Dieruff High School in Allentown damaged when a tornado spun off by Hanna stuck on Saturday. Classes will resume at the school on Wednesday.

250 room, 300-story hotel envisioned for the site of the old Boyd Theater in Philly that will restore the art deco classic. Price tag for the project is $95 million.

3.5 years earlier, when an obese person can expect to suffer their first heart attack, as opposed to normal weight patients, according to a new study.

8,000 troops that will be brought home from Iraq. President Bush is expected to make the announcement today.

1.5 games back, where the Phils are after beating the Marlins last night. The Mets were off.

3 games back in the Wild Card for the Phils, after the Brewers lost again last night.

5 shaky innings for starter Joe Blanton last night, who did his best to keep the Marlins in the game.

5 straight U.S. Open tennis titles for Roger Federer, making 13 in all.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Hey, has Andy Reid ever met former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. Reid believes the fans are involved in a little “irrational exuberance.” He doesn’t want us to get carried away after the opening-day demolition of the Rams. You coach, we’ll cheer, Andy. Of course if you go belly up against the Cowboys Monday night, we might just do something else.

I Don’t Get It: Jurors are actually being warned about the content of the images that will be introduced as evidence in the child porn trial of John Jackey Worman of Colwyn. Nice.


Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for Allie Zito, from St. Anastasia School in Newtown, who along with her classmates raised $5,300 for Catholic Relief Service for victims of the killer tsunami in Indonesia


Quote Box: “I am living proof that you can go to North Penn High School and go somewhere after that.”

-- Pop star John Oates, of Hall & Oates fame, speaking at his alma mater yesterday.

Sometimes you just shake your head

Ever think to yourself you wouldn’t mind being on a jury, safely excused from work for a couple of weeks?

Think about the warning federal prosecutors gave jurors yesterday at the start of the child porn trial of John Jackey Worman, of Colwyn.

Assistant U.S. Prosecutor Michelle Rotella referred to the case as “every parent’s nightmare” and warned jurors that the images they would see in the case against Worman will have a profound effect on them.

Even Worman’s defense attorney had a warning for jurors.

“Your lives will be altered by what you are going to experience as a result of your jury duty,” Mark Cedrone said.

Worman is standing trial in federal court on child-porn charges. At the heart of the case against him are more than a million images of child porn the feds say they found on his computer.

The images can only be described as “depraved.”

The press and public will not see the graphic images that make up part of the feds’ case against Worman. Normally I’m one who does not like such a shield when it comes to public information.

In this case I might make an exception.

Yes, journalists are routinely described as a crusty, cynical, cold-hearted group.

But some days you just shake your head.

In this instance, justice might best be described as akin to what is often said about making sausage. It’s not a process you should ever see.

That doesn’t make it any easier to digest.

Here comes the Palin-ator

Here they come. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

The candidate invasion in southeastern Pennsyvlania kicks off today. OK, so it’s not here in Delaware County. Don’t worry, they’ll be here before long.

The Republican team of John McCain and Sarah Palin hit the Keystone State today with a rally this afternoon at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

The polls are saying McCain got the expected bounce from the convention and his controversial pick of the Alaska governor as his running mate. Most polls have the GOP ticket ahead or at least even with their Democratic counterparts, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

No word yet on when the Dems will be back. Biden was here last weekend.

All of which is to remind you of my theory that Pennsylvania will be key to the election, and that the suburban Philadelphia counties could tip the state one way or the other.

Lancaster seems like a good spot for McCain to arrive. Palin in particular should play well there and the middle of the state. It will be interesting to see how her strident anti-abortion stance plays with suburban moms in the Philly suburbs, including Delco.

We’ll closely monitor the campaigns and let you know when they plan to hit Delco. It was being bandied about last week that McCain could return to Delco, where he held a rally at Springfield Country Club last spring, as soon as this week. At this point that has not been confirmed.

For her part, Palin also is expected to go one-on-one with ABC’s Charlie Gibson for her first interview this week. We’ll see if she’s as good off the cuff as she is reading from the teleprompter.

Buckle your seat belts, this one is just getting started.

Reid it and weep, coach

It’s now official, coming from no less a source than Andy Reid.

Don’t get excited. It’s only one game. And it was opening day at that. Way too soon to tell.

DeSean Jackson? He’s raw and we’ve seen these kinds of flashes before, according to coach Andy, and his buddy Donovan McNabb.

Am I the only one offended when people who never pay to sit in the seats or cling to the edge of their seat in their living room every Sunday insist on telling us how to behave as fans?

Hey, remember, I was the guy who picked the Eagles to lose their opener against the Rams. And has them tabbed to go 7-9 on the season.

But I was impressed with what I saw on Sunday. Yes, it was the Rams, a poor excuse for an NFL team. Did they hold a training camp, or did they just meet in the locker room before the game Sunday?

But I’ll decide when and how to get excited over the prospects of the season, if you don’t mind, Andy. And Donovan, you can talk all you want about Jackson being just a rookie. So long as you keep throwing him the ball.

In fact, I would tell Reggie Brown not to rush things as he works his way back from that balky hamstring. Somehow I get the feeling that about the start of the second quarter of Sunday’s debut, Brown’s hammy started feeling a lot better.

Kevin Curtis is saying he’s ahead of schedule for his return from a sports hernia operation. Anyone excited? Didn’t think so.

If Reid and McNabb somehow manage to keep Jackson off the field as a receiver Monday night against Dallas, and things don’t go well, they won’t have to worry too much about premature celebrations. Their ears will be ringing with a more familiar Philly refrain.

One final thing. Anyone else think maybe, just maybe, it’s the long-held notion that rookies don’t play for Reid, can’t grasp his complicated offense, that’s really in play here. Jackson looks like a very special weapon. He changes the game by his presence on the field. He electrifies the stands every time he fields a punt.

Excited? Hell, yes, I’m excited. OK, so he’s no Reno Mahe.

Somehow we’ll just have to adjust.

Wild times for Phils

I’ve got two words for you this morning, Philadelphia sports fans.

Wild card.

Yes, I know we all expect the Mets to do an instant replay of last year, when they coughed up that big lead and lost the NL East crown to the Phils on the last day of the season.

And that prospect got a little brighter yesterday with news that our old pal, Mets closer Billy Wagner, is going to undergo elbow surgery that will not only cost him the rest of this season, but all of next year as well.

But, just in case things don’t work out as planned, take a gander at what Milwaukee has been doing. They lost again last night.

That means they now lead the Phils in the NL Wild-Card race by just three games. And the locals have four with the Brewers starting Thursday night.

In the meantime the Phils last night shaved off another half-game in the gap between them and the idle Mets, no thanks to starter Joe Blanton.

The Phils kept tacking on runs against the Marlins, and Blanton would promptly give up the lead. Blanton managed to go only five innings, giving up four runs on five hits. And he walked three.

Luckily, the Phils got two scoreless innings from Chad Durbin to put out the fire, before J.C. Romero got nicked for another two runs.

Here’s another reason to think the Phils could be ticketed for the post-season, one way or the other. Somehow they will play four games against the Brewers this weekend and not face lights-out ace CC Sabathia.

Go ahead. Plan on the Phils repeating as NL East champs. Surely the Mets bullpen has a few more implosions in it.

But keep an eye on the Wild Card just in case, especially with the Brewers in town this weekend.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- September 8


The Daily Numbers: 225,000 dollars needed to construct a memorial for emergency services personnel in the county. A fundraiser held Sunday at Springfield Country Club will take a big bite out of that number.

2 brothers, Tony and Dominic Zappone, who shared a reunion recently after completing deployments to the Middle East with the Marines.

1.72 million dollar 3-year contract OK’d between Interboro School District and its school teachers..

13 negotiating sessions in Springfield that have failed to bring a new deal for teachers in that school district.

2 inches of rain that drenched the area Saturday in the wake of Tropical Storm Hanna.

1 person killed and 7 passengers injured when a hot air balloon burst into flames on landing Sunday in a Chester County field.

3.58 a gallon, average price for gasoline in the 5-county Philly region over the weekend.

95 mph winds in a tornado that hit Allentown as part of Saturday’s nasty weather. Damage in the city, including to a local high school, is set at more than $1 million dollars.

1 hour old, age of baby found on the steps of a fire company in Plymouth Township, Montgomery County, early Sunday.

47 age of man in Wilmington, Del., under arrest for attacking a his brother and his girlfriend with a baseball bat.

18 year veteran of the Philadelphia police force killed in a crash of her cruiser with a suspect’s vehicle.

16 age of teen believed driving the SUV that slammed into the officer’s car. The SUV was stolen.

18,634 number of seats set for the stadium in Chester to be built by T.N. Ward of Ardmore that will house a Major League Soccer franchise.

6 catches for 106 yards for rookie sensation DeSean Jackson as the Eagles beat the Rams yesterday, 38-3.

60 yard punt return Jackson threw in for good measure.

21 of 33 for 361 yards on the day for a restored Donovan McNabb.

2 of 3 the Phils took from the Mets over the weekend.

2 games behind the Mets, where the Phillies still find themselves.

7 days before the Eagles clash with the Cowboys in a Monday night game in Dallas.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
All we needed was one more win from the Phils last night to complete one of the greatest Sunday’s in Philly sports history. Hey, we’ll take it.

I Don’t Get It: The silence contnues to be deafening as little or no word comes from the investigation into the hit-run death of Faith Sinclair in Sharon Hill a month ago.


Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for DeSean Jackson. He was everything we had hoped and more. So why are Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb so intent on playing down his accomplishments?


Quote Box: “Donovan is healthy, that’s the total difference.”

-- Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, in explaining the rejuvenated QB’s effort yesterday.

DeSean of a new era for Birds

After watching the Eagles dismantle the Rams on a sparkling opening day at the Linc, three thoughts come to mind.

Are the Eagles that good? Or the Rams that bad. And maybe, just maybe, this team has discovered a real game-breaker in rookie DeSean Jackson.

Something amazing happened yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles weren’t the team that looked totally lost on opening day, as if they had not spent a month and training camp and played four exhibition games. No, that honor was left for the Rams, about as inept an NFL team as you will see, and somewhat reminiscent of the way the Birds have too often looked on opening day under Reid.

Instead, Eagles fans spent the summer lamenting their lack of a play-maker and game-breaking wide receiver.

Enter one DeSean Jackson. For his part, Jackson did something no Eagles player had done since 1990. That would be start as a rookie wide receiver.

Jackson did a lot more than that. With the Eagles No. 1 wide receiver Kevin Curtis on the shelf with a sports hernia, and so-called No. 2 Reggie Brown out with a bum hamstring, that left an opening for Jackson.

The second-round pick out of Cal went through it like the seams he finds so effortlessly on punt returns. Jackson hauled in a long strike on on a go rout on the Eagles second play of the game and never looked back.

He caught six balls for 106 yards, one of three Eagles receivers to go over the 100-yard mark on the day. So much for not having any wide receivers.

Jackson also broke a punt return for 60 yards before being run out of bounds inside the Rams’ 10 yard line. There’s now a sense of electricity every time Jackson goes back there on punts.

It was a huge day for Donovan McNabb as well. Looking healthy for the first time in several seasons, and getting plenty of time from his offensive line, McNabb unfurled a gem, completing 21 of 33 passes for 361 yards.

So dominant were the Eagles and their flashy new rookie that it turned Brian Westbrook into an afterthought.

So what do we do now? First of all, take a deep breath. This was the Rams, after all. Next week will provide a truer test of what the Birds have this year when they travel to Dallas for a Monday night matchup.

Having said that, does it seem to anyone else that Reid and McNabb seem intent on raining on the parade, specifically downplaying Jackson’s accomplishments?

Maybe it’s because they realize that if it were not for the injuries to Curtis and Brown, we would not have seen the eye-popping performance by Jackson.

We have a new hero in town. His name is “Action Jackson.”

Bring on the Cowboys.

Don't bet the house on it

Those of you who checked the blog on Saturday might want to gloat.

I will once again this season attempt to pick the Eagles game each week. As I said Saturday, I will base my expertise – if you want to call it that – on a lifetime of unfulfilled Philly sports passion, along with more games than I care to remember from the 700 level of the Vet.

I was not kind to the Birds on Saturday. If my foggy memory serves me correctly, I said they would fall 19-16, and post a thoroughly mediocre 7-9 on the year.

Not exactly on the money. But don’t buy those Super Bowl tickets just yet. We’ll get a better read on this team next Monday night against the Cowboys in Dallas.

Then again, if they smoke the Cowboys, I reserve the right to take a mulligan on that 7-9 forecast.

Not exactly taken by storm

If you don’t live in Allentown, you might be wondering exactly when Tropical Storm Hanna is supposed to arrived.

Despite the hyperventilating by the forecasters, we somehow managed to survive Saturday. It rained. There wasn’t much in the way of wind, at least where I was.

They say a tornado did touch down in one Allentown area, including damage to the local high school. Luckily there were no reports of injuries.

I for one was fascinated by the explanation of one local forecaster as to why there was no warning on that tornado that spun off from Hanna. If I heard him correctly, what he was trying to say was that the much-hyped radar system they use does not actually pick up that kind of storm.

Oh, it does offer blotches of red and orange on the screen, but it can’t actually see those kinds of winds forming. Swell.

Never fear. Hurricane Ike is rumbling across Cuba as we speak.

No doubt we’ll be hearing all about it ad nauseum most of the week.

Phils fail to 'ace' New York test

We’ll get to the good sports news from yesterday in a minute.

Right now we want to talk about the Phillies.

It looked like it was going to be the perfect sports weekend for long-suffering Philly fans. The Eagles had undressed the St. Louis Rams on a picture-perfect day at the Linc.

At the same time the Phils had taken the first game of a day-night double-header with the Mets at Shea Stadium. Smoke was pouring out of remote controls all over the Delaware Valley.

Unfortunately, due to Tropical Storm Hanna, the Phils and Mets also hooked up for a national TV game last night on ESPN.

The Phils had their ace on the mound. Not in the night game. I refer to Jamie Moyer, the ageless wonder who confounded the Mets in Game 1. Moyer pitched seven innings, giving up just two hits and no runs to lead the Phils to a 6-2 win.

Some might argue the Phils had their “ace” on the mound in Game 2. Could have fooled me.

Cole Hamels did not bring his “A” game. And the Phils fell, 6-3. Hamels got torched for two home runs by Carlos Delgado, including one that still hasn’t come down.

There’s also the smaller matter of the curious ejection of Charlie Manuel in the bottom of the first. Manuel decided to argue a catcher’s interference call against Chris Coste. It did not appear Coste was putting up much of an argument. But Charlie did, and earned an early shower in the process. The momentum switched to the Mets, who never looked back.

If you want to look on the bright side, the Phils took two of three. But they still trail the Mets by two, when it appeared they had a very good chance to pull even with the New Yorkers.

They needed Hamels to carry them in the nightcap. Didn’t happen.

Now it’s a mad dash to the finish line – two back with 19 to play.

Better buckle your seatbelts for this one.

The print column

Make sure you check out this week's print column.

In it I talk about the still unsolved hit-run death of Faith Sinclair in Sharon Hill.

I want to make sure this one does not fall through the cracks. We have not forgotten.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Yes, folks, if it's a Saturday in September, it must be time for the dreaded Eagles pick.

Once again I will attempt to dazzle readers (yeah, I know, both of them, and my wife doesn't count) with my football acumen. It comes from a lifetime of bleeding green, including more games than I want to remember from the nether reaches of the 700 level at The Vet. I wonder if most of those guys who inhabited that raucous joint (and I use that term in all its meanings) are still alive.

At any rate, it's on to the season opener.

I have two words for you, Iggles fans: Deja vu.

Andy Reid has decided to give us an instant replay. Remember, this is the guy who last year did not think it necessary to have someone on the team who could catch a punt. The result was a deflating loss to Green Bay. It was all downhill from there.

And please, don't tell me they ended the season with three wins.

Fast forward to this year. King Andy has decided to enter into the 10th year of the Donovan McNabb-Andy Reid era without a fullback. Honest. You can't make this stuff up.

Tony Hunt, who starred as a tailback at Penn State, is going to start at fullback Sunday. He has all of two weeks experience in the pre-season, and Reid has deemed him good to go at the fullback spot.

That's the guy who picks up the blitzes and keeps Donovan McNabb from being blind-sided. After all, it's not like McNabb has a history of injury problems, or anything.

Then there is wide receiver. That's the spot the Eagles' brass continues to carp is fine, while the loyals scream for a game-breaker. We have one, but he's a rookie. But with Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown down with injuries, your starting receivers Sunday look like DeSean Jackson and Hank Baskett.

Drafting Jackson just might be turn out to be the best move Reid and Tom Heckert ever make. The dynamic rookie will also be handling the punt return duties. He showed in the exhibtions that he has the ability to turn games around. He's a true game-breaker. But he does not come with what you would call an NFL body. Whether he can take the rigors of every-down play in the NFL remains to be seen.

McNabb is likely to be looking for him early and often Sunday. When he's not looking up at the sky from another missed blocking assignment from Tony Hunt.

Of course, there is always the other option, that the Eagles simply rely on a steady diet of all-everything back Brian Westbrook. They could do a lot worse.

I have a bad feeling about this one, and the season in general.

Don't include me in all those hyping the Eagles to be in the Super Bowl. I don't see them getting there without a ticket.

Make it another depressing season opener as the Rams prevail, 19-16. I see the Eagles 7-9 on the season.

Let's go, Phillies!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- September 5

The Daily Numbers: 2 months until the nation goes to the polls to elect a new president. Put your seat belts on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

2 historic nominations in 2 weeks. Democrats nominate first African-American to be president. Republicans for the first time nominate a woman for one of their top 2 spots. Either way in November the country will make history.

105,000 what the feds allege Boeing union boss Anthony Forte Jr and 7 others netted in a loan scheme they allegedly carried out at the Boeing Employees Credit Union.

72 counts of theft lodged against Robert Hance, who the D.A.’s office alleges was partners in crime with the former treasurer of Thornbury Township, spending public money to fund their lifestyle. He dropped a dime on her, breaking the case wide open. He was on the lam until Wednesday night when he was picked up in Darby.

24.6 inches of rain, what we have recorded so far this year. No, we aren’t going to match that when Hanna arrives Saturday, but we are going to get drenched.

2.4 inches of rain in August. We just might equal that on Saturday.

100 dollars a head, what some state legislators want to slap on towns, like Middletown, that rely on state police as opposed to their own police force.

3 year-old girl killed when she was accidentally left in a mini-van for more than 3 hours Thursday afternoon in Atlantic City.

7 staples in his cheek for a 20-year-old man recovering from a brutal beating he received on a SEPTA subway car in Philadelphia.

2 arrests made by police in breaking up a dog-fighting ring in Dover, Del.

2 hours spent stuck in mud up to his neck by a man fishing when his boat got caught when the tide went out in Maurice River, N.J. He got out of his boat and tried to make it to shore when he sank in the muck.

250 million dollars approved for ailing department store Boscov’s by U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

29 million dollar loss being reported by home builder Toll Brothers in the third quarter.

340 point skid for Wall Street yesterday as investors dashed hopes for a late-year recovery.

76 jobs being slashed by Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown. Not exactly healthy economic news.

34 ton truck that toppled at a Chester County construction site, killing a 44-year-old worker.

38 million dollar contract extension signed a year ago by Geo Group to run the Delaware County Prison. They’re now exiting the deal to run the 1,900-bed facility.

3 crucial games vs. the Mets for the Phillies, starting tonight at Shea.

1 as in No. 1, where Eagles fans were ranked in a survey done by Fox Sports.

0 times a rookie wide receiver has started in the Andy Reid era for the Eagles. That might change Sunday when DeSean Jackson could crack the starting lineup.

1 day before the Eagles open the season at the Linc against the Rams.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
It just might be now or never for the Phillies. They need to win 2 of 3 this weekend against the Mets. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the Mets to do another swan dive like they did last year.

I Don’t Get It: You’re a successful professional in the health field, and you apparently decide to dump some medical waste from your boat? I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: We’re likely going to get wet Saturday. Relax. We actually need the rain. And it’s likely going to clear Sunday, just in time for that first tailgate party of the year.


Quote Box: “Oh my God. She hit it out of the park. Home run, grand slam, hat trick.”

-- State Rep. Tom Killion, R-168, of Middletown, reacting to the speech by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, accepting nomination of GOP to be vice president.

2 weeks of historic change

We now have our two national political conventions in the books. And I’m struck by a single word.


Before we descend into the hand-to-hand combat that is the grueling two-month presidential race, we should take a moment to reflect on the moment. And what it says about us as a nation.

A week ago Democrats nominated the first African-American ever to become the choice of a major party to be president. Sen. Barack Obama accepted the nomination 45 years to the day after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. offered his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C.

Thursday night, Sen. John McCain, who spent five years as a POW in the Vietnam War, accepted the nomination of the Republican Party. The night before, his choice for vice president, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, became the first woman ever elevated to that honor by the GOP.

Regardless of what happens in November, voters are guaranteed of one thing: They will make history.

Either a black man will become president, or a woman will become vice president. Neither has happened before.l

Ironically, both Obama and McCain stressed another word in their acceptance speeches. Change.

They’ve both already guaranteed that.

We’re in the midst of historic change. It’s good for the process, good for voters, and good for the country.

Soon we will be inundated by both the message and the messengers. Pennsylvania will be a key swing state and we can expect to see plenty of this dynamic foursome.

Obama spent much of yesterday in Lancaster. Today his VP choice, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, will be in Philadelphia and the nearby suburbs.

There are rumblings that McCain could be back in Delaware County next week.

It’s now a sprint to November.

And even more history.

Intrigue in the 162nd race

There’s been an interesting little development in the race to succeed longtime state Rep. Ron Raymond in the 162nd District.

And it doesn’t specifically involve either Republican Nick Miccarelli, or Democrat John DeFrancisco.

Instead it is still another twist in who is supporting whom in this hotly contested race, and labor’s role in endorsing candidates.

You might remember a few weeks back Miccarelli kicked off his campaign by announcing he was being backed by United Aerospace Workers Local 1069. That was significant for a couple of reasons. Local 1069 is a big union at Boeing’s Ridley plant, representing 1,600 workers.

Even more significantly, DeFrancisco was the former union president. The move by the union and its new boss, Tony Forte Jr., seemed like an in-your-face snub to the union’s old leader.

DeFrancisco answered back by gaining the support of the Delco and Philadelphia Council AFL-CIOs. He also won the backing of Anthony Forte Sr. That would be Jr.’s father.

Today Jr. is back in the news. That’s because the new union leader also was the former executive vice president of the Boeing Helicopters Credit Union.

Yesterday the feds indicted him and several others in what they described as a kickback scheme tied to the credit union in which people who were not qualified for loans managed to be approved, so long as they returned the favor with $1,000 payments.

That’s what’s being alleged. Forte Jr.’s lawyer says his client denies any wrongdoing. Seven other people, including Forte’s brother David, also face charges, according to the federal indictment. The feds say the group shared in $105,413 in illegal proceeds from the scam.

Yesterday DeFrancisco was gracious in talking about the man who succeeded him as union leader, and who also is backing his opponent in the 162nd race.

It will be interesting to see how Miccarelli reacts, and how all this saga of politics and union intrigue plays out.

Showdown in the Big Apple

At least for two days, it remains baseball season.

It’s up to the Phillies if that will still be the case on Monday.

The Phils are in the Big Apple to start a three-game series against the Mets starting tonight. They have Brett Myers, who has been lights out since his stint in the minors to get his act together, on the mound. They will need a huge effort out of Myers.

The rest of the weekend could be a question mark. That’s because tomorrow’s game might be sacrificed as tropical storm Hanna drenches the region. If that’s the case, it will be very interesting to see how the game is made up. Saturday’s game is set as the weekly Fox afternoon game on national TV. Sunday the teams are booked as the ESPN Sunday night game, also for a national TV audience.

I suppose they could play an afternoon-night split double-header on Sunday if Saturday gets washed out.

Jamie Moyer is supposed to pitch Saturday, with the team “ace” Cole Hamels on tap Sunday. Would the Phils simply bump back Moyer if Saturday is postponed, in the process giving Hamels the extra day off he likes if the game is not rescheduled for Sunday?

That would mean Hamels would not have faced the Mets this season.

Bottom line is this: Phils need to take no less than two of three in this series. Otherwise, they face the prospect of falling father behind. Of course, they were in even more dire straits last year and we all know how that worked out. I don’t think the Mets, even with their nitroglycerine bullpen, are going to be that accommodating two years in a row.

It starts tonight. The Phils need a win from Myers and then build on it from there.

If they lose tonight, they will be playing for their lives in Game 2, whenever it’s played.

A lot of years the baseball season would officially end at 1 o’clock Sunday, when the Eagles kick off their season at the Linc vs. the Rams.

The Phils have pushed the Eagles off the Back Page for much of the summer. They have packed Citizens Bank Park, setting a team record for sellouts.

Now their backs are against the wall.

Let’s see how they react.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Getting our Phil of bad news

If you’re looking for good news this morning, you might want to skip the sports section.

There’s bad news on two fronts.

The Phillies did the one thing they could not afford to do in the nation’s capital. They lost the series to the Nationals. And of course, it was the bullpen – and the eighth inning -- that proved to be their downfall.

Not that last night’s starter, Joe Blanton, did anything to help. Blanton, Pat Gillick’s big acquisition to shore up the starting pitching for the second half, got shelled by maybe the worst team in the National League. He lasted just four innings, giving up six hits and four runs, all earned.

Only the heroics of Ryan Howard, who blasted two separate two-run homers, kept the catatonic Phils in this one. They actually had a 5-4 lead, but couldn’t hold on to it.

On to the eighth inning and Chad Durbin. Can you say disaster? Durbin lasted only two-thirds of an inning, being torched for four runs on five hits.

It might be time to consider Gillick’s role in all this. Blanton was his big move approaching the trade deadline. When setup man Tom Gordon went down, no one was brought in to replace him. Durbin was deemed able to get the job done. How has that been working out?

The Phils now find themselves three games behind the Mets in the NL East as they head for New York and a weekend series. The Phils will need to sweep just to pull even.

Anything less could be the beginning of the end. And there is word that should the leftovers of Hurricane Hanna rain out Saturday’s game, the Phils might send Jamie Moyer to the mound Sunday instead of their ace, Cole Hamels, who has yet to face the Mets this year. That would give Hamels his coveted extra day of rest. And it just might tell you everything you need to know about the Phils’ chances.

Maybe they’re saving him for next year, which could begin Monday if the Phils don’t handle the Mets this weekend.

Speaking of hurricanes, our old pal Drew Rosenhaus is back in town. In case you missed it, Rosenhaus, the one-time mouthpiece who spoke for Terrell Owens when the superstar wasn’t spouting off on his own or doing push-ups on the front lawn, now represents Lito Sheppard.

The Eagles cornerback is not happy. Which means Rosenhaus is not happy. Which, of course, can mean only one thing. That’s right, a video on YouTube in which Rosenhaus spouts about how badly the Eagles are treating his client.

Unfortunately, in the process Rosenhaus made it clear he believes Sheppard, who lost his starting job when the Birds brought in big-buck free agent Asante Samuel from the Patriots, should be starting on the other corner over Sheldon Brown.

Brown was not amused, and lobbed a few grenades of his own back at Team Rosenhaus.

Oh, and the Eagles play their season opener Sunday at the Linc against the Rams.

This one does not appear to have a chance of ending amicably. The Eagles need to stamp out this wildfire before it turns their season into ashes.

At any rate, it has all the makings of a do-or-die weekend in Philly sports.

Is there another kind?

A news flash for Sarah Palin

Here’s a little “news flash” for newly minted Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin.

The self-professed “hockey mom” made like the Flyers Wednesday night, dropping the gloves and going after those who’ve questioned her credentials – and her family – since she was announced last Friday as Sen. John McCain’s choice as vice president.

The neophyte Alaska governor has been under the media microscope in a series of revelations about both her public and private life, including the embarrassing news that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant. Palin is an unabashed abortion foe and backer of abstinence education. Her daughter Bristol will have the baby and marry her boyfriend.

Palin also made headlines for her seeming lack of experience, and also a couple of skirmishes she was involved in as governor, including the firing of the Alaska security commissioner in a dispute involving the firing of a state trooper who was involved in a bitter divorce battle with Palin’s sister.

Last night, with the eyes of the nation riveted on her, the GOP’s St. Paul-I Girl came out swinging.

The woman who makes no bones about her strong pro-gun stance as a longtime NRA member put the media squarely in her crosshairs.

“I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment,” Palin said. “And I’ve learned quickly, these past few days, that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.

“But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion; I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this great country.”

Well, here’s a little news flash for Palin. That might be her biggest issue.

I could not agree with her more.

I don’t give a damn about her daughter’s pregnancy. It’s a family issue and I agree with those who believe it’s off limits.

But I think it’s fairly hypocritical for some on the right to cry foul when you think back about some of the things that have been said about Chelsea Clinton. Imagine it were Chelsea in this position, and what the reaction might be like.

That doesn’t mean I’m on board with Palin as McCain’s choice. I still don’t know if she’s qualified to be vice president. To sit a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, serving what would be the oldest man ever elected president, who has a history of health issues.

But it was refreshing to see a different face on the Republican Party.

Palin did not shy away from the spotlight last night; she fairly sparkled in it.

Once she got done with the media, she went about the more normal business of a vice presidential pick: Tearing into the opposition.

Palin had strong words for the Obama-Biden ticket, seemingly taking great joy in jabbing at the Illinois senator’s own lack of experience. She even touted her own background as being more equipped to handle the rigors of high public office.

I still have questions about Palin, but none of them involve family issues. I still question her experience. And I question the process McCain used in making the pick. I still wonder if he was fully aware of some of the issues that have fallen out of her closet.

But after watching her last night, it seems pretty clear she’s up for the fight.

In fact, this is one hockey mom who would have made the Broad Street Bullies proud.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The GOP's St. Paul-i Girl

For one night, you might refer to Sarah Palin as the GOP’s St. Paul-i Girl.

All eyes will be on the governor of Alaska as she strides to the podium in St. Paul, Minn., to accept the nomination of the Republican Party to join the ticket headed by Arizona Sen. John McCain.

To say that it’s been quite a ride since McCain introduced Palin as his choice on Friday is kind of like saying Gustav was a rain storm.

Gustav wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast, and thousands of miles away, causing the GOP to revamp its convention schedule.

But Gustav is now in the rear-view mirror, the GOP is back on message, and Palin is in the spotlight.

McCain sent shock waves through the political world on Friday when he unveiled the largely unknown neophyte governor and former small town mayor as his choice. In the process he shunted aside seemingly much more likely candidates, such as former presidential rival Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security boss Tom Ridge.

Instead, the maverick McCain proved true to his reputation. He picked Palin, who spouts a hard line on family values, opposition to abortion and is an ardent NRA backer. In her limited time as governor, she tangled with big oil and proved herself to be a reformer, able to ferret out corruption.

She has executive experience, which Obama does not. But she also seemed to give away the Republican trump card in attacking Obama, a perceived lack of experience that was only galvanized by his selection of longtime Washington presence Del. Sen. Joe Biden to be his VP.

So much for that argument.

Tongues were still wagging about the pick when a few more items became known about Palin.

Apparently concerned by wild Internet rumors, the campaign issued a statement Sunday confirming that Palin’s 17-year-old unmarried daughter Bristol is pregnant. She will have the baby and hopes to marry the father.

There is also the matter of her hiring an attorney in an investigation of her firing of the Alaska security chief in a flap involving her sister and her husband, a state trooper.

Palin has been for the most part out of sight since Sunday. That will change tonight.

She will assume the national stage, with the nation tuning in to see her tell Republicans why she is the right choice for vice president, and the rest of the nation why she’s qualified to be at the side of a man who, at 72, could be the oldest person ever elected to the highest office in the land.

Palin has learned that everything is fair game, regardless of whether it is actually fair or not.

Perhaps most important is not what all this tells us about Palin, but rather what it tells us about McCain.

He has a reputation as an outsider, someone who goes against the grain. No less a figure than President George W. Bush reminded Republicans of just that last night.

McCain yesterday insisted that Palin was full vetted after being carefully considered among a short list of candidates.

In selecting her, McCain rolled the dice. It’s a place he’s gotten used to in Republican politics, out on a limb.

Tonight Palin will join him on that branch. We’ll see if it holds up.

Stormy weather

Do yourself a favor. Don’t turn on your TV the next few days.

Especially when it comes to the weather. Fresh off non-stop coverage of the wrath of Gustav, a series of storms now lurks out in the Atlantic.

Eventually, they’re going to get around to drenching us. Right about Saturday.

Hanna is expected to leave her calling card on our area just as the weekend beings. The only thing that seems still to be determined is just how much rain we’ll get.

And Hanna is not alone. Right behind her out in the Atlantic are Ike and Josephine. Who knows what they’ll do and what effect they’ll have on our weather.

Want some good news? While the rain could affect a slew of college football games set for Saturday, Sunday’s Eagles game should not be a washout.

Things are expected to clear in plenty of time for tailgaters to descend on Lincoln Financial Field.

None of which is likely going to make listening to the endless blather about the storms we will be inundated with over the next few days any easier to take.

The word blowhards comes to mind. No, not the storms, the talking heads trying to describe them.

Hamels is the man & should be again on Sunday

The Phillies really needed Cole Hamels last night. He didn’t disappoint them.

Hamels was every bit the ace of the staff as he dazzled the outmatched Washington Nationals over a seven and a third innings. Hamels surrendered no runs on five hits, while striking out six and walking three. In the process he lowered his ERA to sterling 3.01.

The bullpen, J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin and Brad Lidge did their part, holding down the fort.

Hamels’ effort allowed the Phils to keep pace with the Mets, who also won. The Phils continue to trail by two games in the NL East.

And that brings us back to Hamels. And the Mets. It seems incredible, but the ace of the Phillies staff has not taken the mound against their No. 1 foe yet this season.

That might change this weekend when the Phils make their last appearance at decrepit Shea Stadium.

Kyle Kendrick is still listed as the Phils starter on Sunday. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that he won’t make it.

He shouldn’t. Hamels should.

The Phils have one more game tonight in D.C., then have a day off before spending the weekend in the Big Apple. That means Hamels would be available to take Kendrick’s start on Sunday.

Of course he would have to forego an extra day’s rest. Hamels has not exactly been enthusiastic about doing that in the past. In fact, we’ve criticized him for coming out of a game after seven strong innings, a game the Phils’ bullpen promptly surrendered.

After last night’s game, Hamels was playing it coy.

“I’m not going to give you guys an answer for that, sorry,” Hames told the assembled media.

Hamels has more than a little bit of the laid-back California cool in him. It might be one reason why Philly fans have not warmed to him the way you would expect them to.

He can change that on Sunday. Hamels needs to be on the hill.

After blathering a bit more about how good the extra day’s rest is for him, both physically and mentally, Hamels finally admitted the obvious.

“I know it’s go time,” he commented.

That should start on Sunday, Cole.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- September 2

The Daily Numbers: 3 weeks, what the calendar tells us remains in summer. Don’t be fooled. Summer is over, school starts for many kids today.

2 alarm fire that damaged the longtime Drexel Hill deli owned by state Rep. Mario Civera. The representative is hoping to reopen.

5 people killed when a man opened fire inside a house in Camden, then turned the gun on himself.

4 people killed over the Labor Day holiday on the streets of Philadelphia.

500 teachers in Souderton who are walking a picket line this morning instead of holding the first day of classes in the Montgomery County District.

1 school district in Delco where teachers do not have a contract. That would be Springfield. No work stoppage is planned as negotiations continue.

10,000 marchers who took part in the annual Labor Day Parade in Philly yesterday.

5.1 percent jobless rate in Delaware County during June, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor.

70 check-cashing and pay-day loan stores that will be closed by Dollar Financial Corp.

4 people rescued from the Delaware River in Bucks County when their boat started taking on water after hitting a buoy.

3 people killed and 10 injured when a van veered off the road near Moscow, in northeastern Pa.

1,000,000 dollars being given to Whitesboro, N.J., by Oprah Winfey, who attended the town’s 20th reunion over the weekend. Her partner Stedman Graham grew up there.

26,375 dollars believed scammed from an elderly Delaware woman who he promised he would build a porch and deck on her home.

45 age of volunteer firefighter who was fatally beaten in his driveway in Hazlet, N.J. A 22-year-old is under arrest.

65 million dollars raised by Jerry Lewis in his annual Labor Day telethon for Muscular Dystrophy.

80,000 people still without power in the Gulf Coast region after Hurricane Gustav blew through.

8 deaths in the region being blamed on Gustav.

0 hits the Phils collected in the first five innings against Nationals starter Tim Redding.

8 losses for Phils starter Kyle Kendrick, against 12 wins. He lasted just 4 innings against the Nats.

2 games behind the Mets, where the Phils now find themselves in the NL East standings.

3 crucial games against the Mets that loom this weekend. First the Phils would be wise to take care of business in 2 more games in D.C., where the lowly Nats have now won 10 straight.

5 days before the Eagles open the season at the Linc against the Rams.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
The Phillies would be wise to win these two remaining games against the Nationals, then hold their own against the Mets this weekend. Otherwise they could be resigned to the sports dust bin as Eagles mania grips the region.

I Don’t Get It: Can someone explain to me what we are supposed to learn by seeing these weather folks standing out in hurricane conditions?


Today’s Upper: Today’s the first day of school for much of Delaware County, and unlike the situation in Souderton, there are no teacher strikes in the county.


Quote Box: “The bottom line is the quality of dress among students has improved dramatically.”

-- Louis DeVlieger, assistant superintendent in Upper Darby School District, on the school’s student dress code.

The Palin saga

John McCain has a well-deserved reputation as something of a maverick. It has always been his calling card. And it’s likely some in his party have not always thought it his most endearing trait.

So it probably should have come as no huge surprise last week when the Arizona senator and presumptive GOP presidential nominee dropped a bombshell when it came to his choice for a running mate.

The early line seemed to be focusing on Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Maybe, it was believed the unconventional McCain would look to blunt the choice of Sen. Joe Biden by Democratic standard-bearer Barack Obama by going with former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the nation’s first director of Homeland Security.

Instead, McCain stunned everyone by picking newly minted Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The choice cements McCain’s reputation as someone who does not always follow the party script. The biggest advantage Republicans seemed to have, one we’d heard ever since Obama tapped Biden, was that it simply confirmed everyone’s fears: Obama was not ready to lead, did not have the experience to command the Oval Office, and was bringing the veteran Biden on board for much-needed ballast.

So much for that advantage. Palin’s resume leans more toward experience as a business executive than it does political seasoning.

She was the mayor of a small town in Alaska before successfully capturing the governor’s mansion. She’s in the middle of her first term.

At first glance, the argument could be made that McCain was making a blatant play for Hillary Clinton backers, the so-called PUMAs still licking their wounds that their favored candidate, who many insist was still the best candidate in the field, was denied the throne.

But the reaction to the Palin choice was interesting in that many women and former Clinton backers reacted angrily to the idea that they could be so easily lured to the GOP camp.

The waters surrounding Palin and McCain got decidedly more choppy over the weekend.

First Hurricane Gustav appeared on the scene and wreaked havoc on the schedule for the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Then Hurricane Palin got revved up. First it was announced that the McCain choice for VP had hired a private-practice attorney to defend her in the investigation into the firing of her public safety commissioner while she was Alaska’s chief executive.

Apparently this stems from a flap in which Palin’s sister was involved in a nasty divorce from a state trooper. It’s thought that Palin wanted the trooper canned. Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan balked. It cost him his job.

Then Sunday came another little bit of news involving Palin. The campaign announced her unmarried 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant. She will have the baby and is expected to marry the father. That certainly is in line with Palin’s strong stance opposing abortion. What it says to those in the party who like to talk about abstinence is something else.

But really what it should say to all of us is this: Is this really any of our business? Does it have any effect on Palin’s ability to serve as vice president?

To his credit Obama immediately steered clear of the issue. He has repeatedly said family matters should be off limits during the campaign.

The maverick McCain was looking for buzz and bounce in his choice of running mate.

Her certainly got it. Whether it was what he expected remains to be seen.

Surviving Gustav, and the TV coverage

New Orleans has survived Gustav.

For days we heard the ominous forecasts (is there another kind?) There were fears that the hurricane could roar into the Crescent City as a Category 4 or even 5 storm.

The talk was of utter devastation. And the timing could not have been more eerie.

Almost three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina forever changed New Orleans, and really the entire country, fears of a repeat were rampant. New Orleans was a ghost town, with a mandatory evacuation getting citizens out of harm’s way.

But it didn’t happen. That’s not to say Gustav did not leave his calling card.

Eight people are believed to have been killed in the Gulf region, after the storm claimed 94 lives in the Caribbean.

There are 80,000 people still without power in the region.

And people are thankful.

Gustav only managed a glancing blow at New Orleans. So far it appears the levees have held. There has been no repeat of the massive flooding that ensued when the levees gave way under the wrath of Katrina three years ago.

Gustav has now weakened to a tropical depression.

City officials and residents should be lauded for heeding the warnings, taking the proper precautions, and getting the hell out of dodge.

The same can’t be said for the TV folks, who have given us non-stop of the storm the entire holiday weekend.

They can fix their hair and makeup now. We’ve seen them standing out in the midst of the storm, at some times comically so.

At one point CBS’ Harry Smith actually snagged a cap that had been blown off the head of “The Today Show’s” Al Roker. They apparently were doing stand-ups right next to each other.

Locally, John Bolaris made the trip to Lafayette, La., to report for Fox-29.

“Hurricane” Schwartz stayed right here in the friendly confines of Philly for Channel 10.

Never fear, another storm is usually not too far off.

Two more are already brewing out in the Atlantic. Hanna is expected to threaten the southeast U.S. coast later this week and could give us rain by the weekend.

Better pack your umbrella, John.

For now, New Orleans and the rest of the country can breathe a sigh of relief. Residents will return in a few days to inspect the damage.

And the weather folks can start banging the drum for the next storm.

Football season cometh

If you listen closely, you can hear the last, slow agonizing gasps of summer.

Yes, that is the sound of the Phillies disappearing right in front of our eyes.

The beach homes are being closed up. Yellow school buses are again crowding the streets. Glum kids are heading back to class.

And the Eagles are about to take over our sports world again.

Of course, the Phillies still could have something to say about this. Unfortunately, what they are saying with their play on the field is speaking much louder than their words.

Give the Phillies credit; they’re not going down without a fight. But it still looks like they’re going down.

They managed a split in Wrigley Field against a very good Cubs team. They could have – and very likely should have – fared much better. But their bullpen, which has been the backbone of the team most of the year, failed them at the worse possible time.

Then they packed up and headed for the nation’s capital. Yesterday afternoon the Phils celebrated Labor Day by for the most part taking the day off. The suddenly red-hot Nationals dropped a 7-4 whipping on them. Kyle Kendrick took the loss.

The Phils are now two games behind the Mets. The Phillies have two more games against the Nats, then head to New York for a make-or-break weekend stand with the Mets, their last games ever in decrepit Shea Stadium.

By the end of next weekend we’ll know whether baseball season is over or not.

In the meantime, the drums beat louder and louder that it’s football season, with the Eagles opener at the Linc on Sunday.

If the Phils don’t take these two games against the Nationals, then at least split the first two games with the Mets, don’t look for many people to be flipping channels on Sunday.

Instead, things will have returned to normal in Philadelphia sports. The Phillies will be dead in the water, and the grumbling about the Eagles can then start full-time.

By the way, Andy, about that fullback situation….