Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 30

The Daily Numbers: 1 death reported in the U.S. from swine flu, a child in Texas who was brought into the country from Mexico.
36,000 deaths, the number routinely attributed to our annual winter bouts with influenza, according to the CDC.
170 deaths in Mexico believe to be attributed to the outbreak of swine flu there.
100 confirmed cases in 11 states across the U.S.
1 case of swine flu believed to have occurred in Philadelphia. The 2-year-old already has recovered.
10 cases of suspected swine flu among students at the University of Delaware.
22 students at Slippery Rock University in western Pa. who are being closely watched after returning from a student-teaching experience in Mexico.
3 cases of rabid animals attacking pets in Delaware County, with the latest being an incident in which a man says his two dogs were attacked by a raccoon in Tinicum.
5 years of court supervision after doing 23 months in jail for a plumber from Clifton who admitted to a series of thefts involving bathroom pipe thefts at fast-food restaurants.
10 cases of pertussis now reported in Upper Darby schools, 8 in Hillcrest Elementary, 1 in the high school and 1 at Highland Park Elementary.
20 to 40 years in jail for Andrea Kelly, the mother in Philly convicted in the starvation death of her disabled daughter.
500,000 dollar budget gap that threatened Philly’s International Cycling Championship. The popular bike race has been saved by 3 new and as yet unnamed sponsors.
2,500 GM dealers the auto giant is looking to close. Dealers will be notified over the next few weeks.
4 life terms, and 1 33-year sentence handed down in the terror plot against soldiers at Fort Dix.
53 percent of those polled who back slots parlors in Philadelphia.
135,000 dollars snagged by robbers who hit the Beneficial Bank on Frankford Avenue in Philly yesterday.
50.3 percent of shareholders who voted to oust Kenneth Lewis as head of Bank of America.
16 percent dip in profit for SAP AG, which has its North America headquarters in Newtown Square.
550 jobs being filled for a new Wal-Mart store in Deptford, N.J., that will open this summer.
7.1 percent jobless rate in Delco in March, that’s up from 6.9 percent in February.
77 million dollar Powerball jackpot up for grabs Saturday night. The lottery is looking better all the time.
2 Philly municipal workers charged with fleecing more than $200,000 from a couple of city non-profits.
65 and 70, age of 2 sisters in Stroudsburg charged with dealing heroin.
1 run, all the Phils could scratch out off the Nationals last night as they fell, 4-1.
33 runs, what the Phils scored in their previous three games.
5 game win streak that goes out the window with the loss.
6 hits and 6 strikeouts for Nats’ starter Scott Olsen.
2 swinging elbows by Magic center Dwight Howard. One connected with Sixers Sam Dalembert. The other hit his teammate Courtney Lee, breaking his sinus. Howard has been suspended for tonight’s key Game 6.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Why do I keep thinking of Magic Johnson in 1990, stepping in for an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and leading the Lakers to an NBA title when I ponder the Magic tonight playing without Dwight Howard.
I Don’t Get It: Colleges across the nation are now likely going to be dealing with the prickly notion of kids who may have been exposed to swine flu and how that might affect commencements, which start this weekend.
Today’s Upper: We have one word: Tamiflu. It’s readily available and is very good at treating this variety of swine flu.
Quote Box: “Violence has kept us apart, but we’re never separated, we’re in each other’s heart.”
-- Johana Meng Ebling, talking about the loss of her sister and cousin to violence, at Wednesday night’s vigil for Parents of Murdered Chidlren.

Caution is key

It’s getting closer. It’s not here yet, but it probably will be.

It’s swine flu. And you can’t pick up the newspaper or turn on the TV without being hit with the latest update.

There have been no cases yet reported in Delaware County. So far we’ve been lucky. My guess is that eventually will change.

In Philadelphia, officials there say a 2-year-old boy who has already recovered was likely the first case of swine flu in the region. He is not alone.

At the University of Delaware, 10 students are being treated for symptoms of what officials there believe will be confirmed as swine flu.
One of the students had traveled to Mexico. The school has canceled two public events, a concert and public talk, but classes are continuing.

At Slippery Rock University in western Pennsylvania, officials are closely monitoring 22 students who recently returned from Mexico. They weren’t spring breakers partying in Cancun. They were there for a five-week student-teacher experience. They’re now worried about how to handle the students’ participation in this weekend’s commencements.

Out at Penn State, the folks at Happy Valley are urging students, faculty and staff to delay travel to Mexico.

The only death so far reported in the U.S. was a child who died in Texas after arriving from Mexico. It’s believed about 150 have died as a result of swine flu in Mexico.

Doctors are telling us this is not a time for panic, but instead to be informed and stay calm.

It’s good advice. In the meantime, some simple personal hygiene practices can go a long way, just as we would during routine winter flu outbreaks.

What is sometimes forgotten is that our winter battles with flu routinely kill as many as 36,000 people each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Hopefully the toll from swine flu won’t come anywhere close to those levels.

For now, caution is the key word.

Why Bruce gets it

Ever wonder how some artists just seem to make a connection with their audiences, that they “get” it.

Something that happened at last night’s second Bruce Springsteen farewell show at the Spectrum shows the Boss knows Philly, what we like and what we don’t like, and how he is clued into our lives, not just our musical tastes.

At one point in the show Springsteen took the time to mention the passing of legendary Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas.

In fact, they played a bit that first popped up on Sportsradio 610-WIP in which they had Harry – and that signature voice – calling play-by-play on an imaginary home run by Springsteen. Bruce apparently actually trotted around the bases on stage as the audio was played.

Yep, he gets it.

Just like Magic

The Sixers have gotten their wish. They might live to regret it. Or, maybe more correctly, die while regretting it.

The Magic will be without star forward Dwight Howard for tonight’s Game Six of their first-round tilt with the Sixers at the Wachovia Center.

Actually the Magic will be without two stars, both courtesy of Howard’s active elbow.

Howard has been suspended for nailing Sixers center Sam Dalembert with a flying elbow in the first quarter of Tuesday night’s game in Orlando. A little while later he nailed a teammate, Courtney Lee, with another elbow, in the process fracturing a sinus cavity.

Howard was assessed a technical foul for the hit on Dalembert, but was not tossed from the game. Afterward Sixers coach Tony DiLeo complained about some of Howard’s tactics. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was not amused, and went on a rant of his own.

NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Wednesday that Howard would be suspended for tonight’s Game Six.

All of which brings to mind a game from another era, which also involved the Sixers, and also the “Magic.”

Only this was Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Back in 1980 the Lakers and Sixers met in the NBA Finals. The Lakers were led by center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Jabbar was hobbling with an ankle injury and his status for the crucial Game 6 in Philly was in question.

Right up until game time, most believed Abdul-Jabbar would limp out of the Lakers locker room and take his spot in the tip-off circle.

Didn’t happen. Instead Johnson, a rookie, stepped into the spotlight, trying to fill the void at center. A legend was about to be born. Just like “Magic.”

Johnson scored 42 points to lead the Lakers to a title.

Which brings us to another Game 6, also in Philly, also involving the Magic, a team playing without its star.

Lightning can’t strike twice, can it? The Sixers must win to extend the series to a Game 7, just as they did 29 years ago.

And if they lose? Poof, they disappear, just like Magic.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Attention Springsteen fans

I am using this space to ask my faithful readers (yes, both of them, not including family) for their help.

Actually this is a plea for people who were at the Springsteen show last night. I was not. Yes, I am jealous.

Feel free to post comments about the show or even e-mail me
( your review and photos. I’ll post them on our Web site.

But that’s not really the info I’m looking for this morning. There are pcitures from last night’s show of a young girl who from the crowd who apparently joined The Boss on stage. I am guessing this was done during his usual “Dancing in the Dark” routine. At one point Springsteen is actually holding her in his arms.

Here’s what I want to know? Who is that girl? The editor in me is betting she’s from Delaware County, and I want to tell the story of her night with The Boss.

Anyone with any information – or even the girl herself – can reach me at 610-622-8818. Not only am I jealous (hell, I’d probably jump in Bruce’s arms too if he asked me), I think our readers would love to hear her story.

The Daily Numbers - April 29

The Daily Numbers: 29 years in the U.S. Senate for longterm moderate Republican Sen. Arlen Specter. He yesterday announced he was switching parties, leaving the GOP and joining ranks with Democrats.
50 feet, height of latest billboard proposal from Bartkowski Investment Group, this time along Baltimore Pike in Morton.
1, number of passengers under 18 that would be allowed in car with teen drivers, under proposal passed yesterday by the Pa. House.
500,000 dollars believed ripped off from a United Savings Bank in South Philly by a woman employee from Lansdowne.
300,000 dollars in labor and donations at issue in a standoff between the Penn-Delco School Board and the Aston Valley Baseball League in a flap over a lease to Buggy Field the school board is looking to break.
8 confirmed cases of whooping cough in an outbreak at Hillcrest Elementary School in Upper Darby.
4 students at the University of Delaware believed to be the latest victims of swine flu, though the cases have not yet been confirmed.
45 confirmed cases of swine flu in New York; 11 in California; 6 in Texas; 2 in Kansas; 1 in Indiana and Ohio.
2 people killed during a robbery attempt in Southwest Philly last night.
Police believe one of the suspects shot his partner and another man.
31 shows for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the old Spectrum, after last night’s show. He’ll play 1 more tonight.
20 to 40 years in jail, what a Philadelphia woman is facing after entering a plea to third-degree murder in the starvation death of her disabled daughter.
3 immigrant brothers sentenced to life in jail yesterday for their roles in a plot to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J.
11 percent increase in the take at state slots parlors at facilities that also host racetracks, such as Harrah’s Chester, on racing days, according to new stats from the state Gaming Control Board.
1 dead, 2 injured in crash early this morning in the Juniata Park section of Philly.
220 million dollars up for grabs in the Mega Millions jackpot after no one hit Tuesday night.
2.11, what we’re paying for gas in the Philly region after prices ticked up another penny.
100 days for President Obama, who starts the day by welcoming Sen. Arlen Specter to the party he heads.
2 home runs for Chase Utley to lead Phils to an easy 7-1 win over the Nationals. That gives 7 for Utley for the season.
5 straight wins for the Phils, who are now rolling.
4 innings and change of shutout ball for Cole Hamels, who left last night’s game after rolling an ankle trying to field a bunt.
3-2 hole, where the Sixers find themselves, looking to stave off elimination Thursday night vs. Orlando.
24 points and 24 rebounds for Magic star Dwight Howard.
0 goalies the Flyers currently have under contract. Both Marty Biron and Antero Niitymaki are free agents.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Maybe the curse of Billy Penn has been replaced by the curse of Cole Hamels. The latest malady suffered by the Phils’ ace happened last night when he was forced out of the game vs. the Nationals after turning an ankle trying to field a bunt.
I Don’t Get It: The easy reaction in light of the swine flu outbreak is to panic. That’s exactly the wrong thing to do. This is controllable, and treatable.
Today’s Upper: Good news from Philly, where a young woman who complained of flu-like symptoms on a flight from Cancun, Mexico, has tested negative for swine flu.
Quote Box: “It’s a shocker. I didn’t have any indication he was going to switch.”
-- Delco GOP Party leader Tom Judge Sr. on news that longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter was bolting for the Democratic Party.

The Hamels curse

Here’s a question for Phillies fans: Has anything good happened to Cole Hamels since that magical post-season run in which he went 4-0 and was named World Series MVP? I mean aside from buying that multi-million condo in a Center City high-rise.

To the victor goes the spoils. And very often the hangover.

Hamels found himself in demand this winter and took full advantage of it. He was everywhere, on national TV talk shows and magazine covers. In the process he now admits he got behind in his normal off-season routine and training.

Then when he arrived in Clearwater, he had to be shut down because of inflammation in his left (read throwing) elbow. He returned to Philly to have it checked out and got a shot.

Then he was scrapped as the opening day starter, the usual perk for the team’s “ace.”

Hamels got rocked in his first few starts. He entered last night’s game with a 0-2 record and a bloated 9.69 ERA.

In his last start he looked as if he was rounding into form. Of course he then promptly got dinged by a wicked line drive off his left shoulder and was forced out of the game.

Last night he again was looking more like his normal self, but managed to roll an ankle as he tried to field a bunt. Once again a clearly ticked Hamels was forced to take an early shower. Hamels actually got up and tried to throw from the mound, but after one toss the distressed hurler headed for the dugout.

Hamels apparently is saying he won’t miss his next start. But ankles are touchy things. The next day what seemed like nothing the night before can provide a very “ouchy” different story.

Regardless, Hamels has to start wondering what else could happen to him this year.

I wouldn’t be walking under any ladders if I was him.

The Sixers Lament

The Sixers found out something last night that everybody else who follow sports already knows.

The rules apparently are different for superstars. The Sixers lost to the Orlando Magic to fall behind 3-2, one game away from elimination.

That’s enough to bum out the Sixers and their fans, but that’s not what’s sticking in their craw this morning as they try to figure out a way to win Thursday at home and push this series to a deciding Game 7.

Sixers coach Tony DiLeo clearly thinks Magic star Dwight Howard is getting the “star treatment” from the refs. He moaned after the game about how Howard camps out in the lane, and manages to avoid being called for a 3-second violation. He’s not the first to make such a claim; he won’t be the last.

But there’s another situation that might actually warrant another look by the league.

In the first quarter, Howard tangled with Sixers center Sam Dalembert in going for a rebound. In the process it appeared the Magic man threw an elbow. He was called for a technical foul on the play.

The NBA rules seem pretty clear that such a foul is supposed to be accompanied by the ejection of the offending player. Howard was not. Now DiLeo is literally crying foul.

You think there’s a chance Howard could be suspended for Game Six? Sure, about the same chance he had of being tossed out of that game on the Magic’s floor last night.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Daily Numbers

The Daily Numbers: 1 person taken from a plane in Philly last night from Mexico complaining of flu-like symptoms.
5 probable swine flu cases confirmed in New Jersey.
3 statues at Holy Cross Church damaged by vandals.
90 degrees, today’s expected high, which is also the record high for the date.
4 straight days in the 90s if we hit that mark this afternoon.
8, age of child injured when he was struck by a school bus yesterday in Camden, N.J.
9 people sickened by a sulfuric acid spill in New Castle, Del.
3 townhouses consumed by flames in 2-alarm blaze in Feasterville, Bucks County, yesterday.
17, age of kid charged in slaying of another 17-year-old in Wilmington.
2 shows starting tonight for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the old Spectrum, part of the special series of events commemorating the end of the line for the concert hall/athletic venue.
30 performances for the Boss at the Spectrum since he first got booed off the stage there in 1973 opening a show for Chicago.
21,000 jobs being eliminated in another round of cost-cutting by GM.
They’re also killing off the Pontiac brand.
168-24 margin by which Pa. House passed a bill to put more stringent rules on teen drivers.
4 Penn State students charged with being part of a multi-million dollar drug ring that supplied marijuana to frat members and others on campus.
24 hour reprieve for the pro bike race in Philly. A decision on whether to hold this year’s event was supposed to be announced yesterday. It was put off for a day while organizers try to find new funding sources.
2 grand slams for the Phillies as they rallied once again to beat the Nationals, 13-11.
5 home runs blasted into the far reaches of Citizens Bank Park by the Nats in a losing cause.
0 hits surrendered by J.A. Happ, as he picked up the win for the Phils.
1 save for Ryan Madson, who was filling in for closer Brad Lidge, who is nursing a sore knee.
5, as in Game 5 tonight for the Sixers in Orlando.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.We’re going to have to christen this Phils’ team the Comeback Kids.
They’re not comfortable until they fall behind in the late innings.
I Don’t Get It: Not a real good idea yesterday to fly that jumbo jet around the New York City skyline. It was a PR stunt turned nightmare. No one bothered to tell the city. A lot of people who survived 9/11 thought it was happening again.
Today’s Upper: Enjoy one more day of summer a tad early this afternoon.
We’re heading back to April showers tomorrow.
Quote Box: “It was one of the most beautiful images I’ve seen of Our Lady of Lourdes, especially in an outdoor station. I was really heartsick.”
-- Monsignor Joseph P. Duncan, on a statue at Holy Cross Church in Springfield damaged by vandals.

Glory Days

For some reason, it doesn’t seem like 36 years ago.

I had a ticket to see Chicago at the Spectrum. I was a senior in high school. There were a group of us who were Spectrum regulars. Yes, it was a long drive from Oxford, all the way out at the end of Baltimore Pike in Chester County. But it was usually worth it.

The names are familiar. Jethro Tull. Led Zeppelin. The Allman Brothers.
Aerosmith. And yes, it seemed like Foghat opened every show.

The truth is, at least musically, I’ve never grown up. I still listen to classic rock. I just don’t go to many concerts any more.

I was particularly looking forward to the Chicago show. I was a fan from the days when they first hit the scene as Chicago Transit Authority, introducing the idea of a horn section in rock, along with Blood, Sweat & Tears.

I didn’t pay much attention to who was billed as the opening act.

As it turns out, something came up and I couldn’t make the concert. I think I gave the ticket to a friend.

The next day in school, I asked my buddies about the show. They said Chicago was good, but that the opening act stole the show.

Even more, they said the guy and his band actually got booed off the stage because they were playing too long and the crowd was restless to see Chicago.

More than three decades later, that working class hero and his pals will return to that very same stage to say goodbye to the legendary concert hall in South Philly.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will play two shows, starting tonight, at the Spectrum.

After hearing my friends talk about the show those many years ago, I became a devoted Bruce fan, and have remained one to this day. I would love to be there for tonight’s show.

I’m afraid my concert days are in the rear-view mirror.

I’ve seen The E Street Band several times, but one stands out.

It’s a long story, but I finished college and got my degree from the University of Colorado.

In the summer of 1978, Bruce had just released “Darkness on the Edge of Town.”

Nationally, he still wasn’t quite as well-known as he was on the East Coast.

I had been bragging for months to anyone who would listen to me that they had to see a Springsteen show to really appreciate the man and his music.

A couple of guys who I had met out there from the East Coast would nod knowingly when I talked about “The Boss.” Everyone else thought I was making it up. Yeah, sure, four-hour shows.

Just outside Denver, there is a very likely the most magical place I have ever seen a concert. It’s called Red Rocks Park. It’s a natural amphitheatre carved from a rock formation in the foothills outside Denver.

When I first arrived in Denver, my older brother and I saw a show there.
Appropriately enough, it was John Denver. Don’t laugh, the guy was very good.

I returned there for several shows, including the Eagles/Dan Fogelberg show that ironically I had seen earlier in the summer when I was home at the Spectrum.

I managed to talk a group of kids into going to the Springsteen concert at Red Rocks.

Bruce came out, looked around, and mentioned something about “big rocks you got out here.”

Then he and the E Street Band simply tore the place down. Colorado in that era had this mellow, laid-back attitude. You know, the whole Rocky Mountain High thing. Not that night. For one night, Colorado was transformed into a Jersey shore bar.

I’ll be thinking about all that tonight.

Give ‘em hell, Bruce. As if he’d do anything else.

Still can’t believe it’s been 36 years. Guess you could call them “Glory Days.”

The Comeback Kids

I had one thought last night as, one after another, the murderers’ row also known as the Washington Nationals took a Phillies pitcher out of the park.

No, not how the hell are the Phillies ever going to win anything with this starting pitching staff, which has now surrendered a home run in every game this year.

Instead I kind of smiled. The Phillies had the Nats right where they wanted them.

When the Nationals blasted two pitches from reliver Scott Eyre out of Citizens Bank Park in the eighth, the Phils trailed 11-7. This despite a grand slam from Ryan Howard that tied the score.

No problem. Time for another night of late-inning heroics. Enter Raul Ibanez, the man who has made Phillies fans forget Pat Burrell faster than you can say low and outside.

After the Phils loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, Ibanez cleared them with the second grand slam of the night.

At some point the Phils are going to need to get better starting pitching. Look out once they do. Right now they’re just a game back of the suddenly not-so-hot Marlins, who lost again last night.

Maybe in August or September. Right now, these games are just too much fun to turn away from.

A draft that's not for the Birds

Don’t look now, but it looks like the Eagles might just have done something right.

Yes, the team that drew the wrath of its fans a decade ago when it drafted Donovan McNabb over Ricky Williams is now getting rave reviews for its work in last weekend’s annual NFL talent hunt.

In the first round, the Birds traded up two spots to get wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who no one thought was still going to be available.

Then in the second round they grabbed Pitt back LeSean McCoy, also believed to be a value pick.

On Day Two they sent a message to disgruntled cornerback Sheldon Brown by trading a couple of draft picks to the New England Patriots for cornerback Ellis Hobbs.

I’m impressed.

I know that may not necessarily impress you. So don’t take my word for it.

How about Pete Prisco, from, who rated the Birds’ work an A-Plus. He said it was hard to find a questionable move.

Then there’s Larry Weisman, the NFL writer for USA Today. He summed up the Eagles’ draft this way: Wow!

All of which got me to thinking something. This is what Donovan McNabb has been talking about for years. Now he has it.

So, no more excuses. Win something. The Donovan McNabb Era is coming to an end one way or the other. Why not go out with a Super Bowl title?

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 27

The Daily Numbers: 103 people who have died in Mexico in a swine flu scare.
20 confirmed illnesses – but so far no deaths – in the U.S.
5 rabid animals that have been discovered so far this year in Delaware County.
3 alarm fire that swept through Park Lane East Apartments in Upper Darby early Saturday. No serious injuries were reported.
35 local Girl Scouts honored Sunday with Gold Awards, the highest honor in girls scouting.
20,000 dollars short, where the Darby Library stands in its fundraising efforts to stay open. They raised $1,000 in a recent weekend fundraiser.
600,000 commercial and residential properties in Philadelphia that are getting new, updated tax assessments this week.
1 man shot in front of his daughter during an incident Sunday at a Southwest Philly gas station.
44 crimes in Delaware that have been charged to two men in connection with a series of break-ins.
17, age of student in Glassboro, N.J., a 27-year-old teacher is believed to have had consensual sex with at his home. He faces charges.
20, age of camp counselor in Bucks County who is charged with sexually assaulting young boys at the facility.
82 people arrested and 14,245 dollars seized in the second weekend of Operation Pressure Point, a crime crackdown in Philly.
2 teens arrested in the murders of 2 Philly teens last week in what police now say was a case of mistaken identity.
1 man fatally shot in Camden over the weekend.
93 degrees, our record high temperature yesterday as we got a slice of July in April.
89, the expected high today, followed by 87 tomorrow before we finally return to normal temperatures Wednesday.
1.50 cents less, what we’re paying for gasoline this year, as opposed to the same time last spring.
2.11, average price per gallon at the pumps in the Philly region.
5 people killed in a 10-vehicle crash on the New Jersey Turnpike Saturday.
1 man shot in a confrontation with police in the parking lot of the Oxford Valley Mall in Bucks County.
2 5th round picks sent to the Patriots by the Eagles to acquire veteran cornerback Ellis Hobbs. Attention Sheldon Brown.
2 more weapons for Donovan McNabb, after the Birds used their first 2 picks for wide receiver Jeremy Maclin of Missouri and running back LeSean McCoy of Pitt.
1.1 seconds left when Hedo Turkoglu stuck the dagger in the Sixers’
heart yesterday with a three-pointer to give the win to the Magic.
2-2, where the Sixers-Magic series now stands, all tied as they head back to Orlando for Game 5 Tuesday night.
4 runs driven in by Shane Victorino as the Phils smoked the Marlins, 13-2, yesterday to sweep the series.
11 walks surrendered by the Marlins pitchers. It got so bad they used a position player to throw the ninth.
3-0, the Flyers lead over the Pens halfway through the second period on Saturday.
5 straight goals scored by Pittsburgh to send the Flyers off to the golf course for the summer.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.A good NHL team simply does not cough up a 3-0 lead at home in a game they must win to stave off elimination, yet that’s what the Flyers offered us on Saturday. Have a nice summer, guys.
I Don’t Get It: People are complaining already about the heat. Not me. The hotter the better. Bring it on.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the men and women of Chester Township Fire Co., who sent one of their own who is being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in style with a soiree Saturday night.
Quote Box: “The military was something I wanted to do for a long time.
It gives you discipline and focus and it’s definitely made me a much better person.”
-- Chester Township Firefighter Kyle Marley, who will be deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Scary words: Swine flu

While we were busy greeting an early start to summer this weekend, a new phrase was introduced into our vocabulary.

Get used to it; everyone is going to be talking about it as we head back to work:

Swine flu.

It starts the way most other flu symptoms do, with headache, coughing, fever, a cough, sometimes nausea. But this one winds up killing you.

The death toll from the current outbreak of swine flu stands at 103, all of them in Mexico. Officials have confirmed 22 of those cases to be caused by swine flu. There are another 81 suspected cases in Mexico.

The Mexico cases are now being looked at for spreading the virus to the U.S. A handful of kids at a New York high school who spent spring break in Mexico have been sickened.

There are now believed to be 20 cases of swine flu in the U.S. Most of those battling symptoms in the U.S. have recovered. No one is quite sure why the outbreak has been so deadly in Mexico.

The U.S. government has now declared a public health emergency in response to the outbreak, which has now spread to cases being reported in Kansas, California, Texas and Ohio.

There seems to be a common theme. Many of them recently visited Mexico.

The U.S. is now stockpiling 12 million doses of Tamiflu, which is used to treat symptoms. Travelers at the Mexican border are being asked about travel to flu-stricken areas. Some airports worldwide are screening travelers from Mexico and the U.S. for flu symptoms.

Get used to hearing more than you ever wanted to know about swine flu.
That’s what happens when people start dying.

A couple of cautions: You don’t get this from eating pork. Instead this is a virus passed by contact with contaminated people or livestock.

It’s scary. And there are scary words being bandied about, words like pandemic. Supposedly it’s very treatable, but it’s still scary.

Updating the Sixers and Flyers

The Sixers now have played four games against their first-round opponent in the NBA Playoffs. The Sixers and Magic stand at 2-2, having split a series in Orlando, as well as one on the Wachovia Center hardwood.

The thing is, the Sixers probably could have won all four of these games.

Last night the Sixers were down by about 10 with seven minutes left in the game. This one’s over, right?

Not exactly.

The Sixers rallied to knot the game with seconds left, only to have a dagger stuck in their chest by Hedo Turkoglu, who drained a three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left to break the tie and put the Magic up by three.

The Sixers probably deserve better than to be tied in this series. They now head back to Orlando for Game 5 Tuesday night.

You have to wonder how long the Sixers can bottle this magic. They weren’t supposed to be in this series, or any other one, for that matter.

Then you have the Flyers.

What can you say about what happened at the Wachovia Center Saturday afternoon?

The Flyers were down 3-1 and looking at being eliminated when they dominated the Penguins in Pittsburgh to send the series back to Philly.

They could not have scripted a better start on Saturday. The Flyers, in front of a rabid crowd decked out in orange T-shirts, jumped on the Pens and built a 3-0 lead. It looked like the series was headed for a winner-take-all Game 7.

Maybe that’s what the Flyers thought, too. Because at about the halfway point of the second period, they pulled the plug. Then they watched the series – and their season – go down the drain.

The Penguins scored four straight goals to cast a pall over the building, before depositing an empty-netter to put the final nail in the coffin.

The Flyers are now saying they only need to “tweak” their lineup and that coach John Stevens will be back.

One problem with that. What exactly are they going to do about the Penguins? With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in place, the Flyers are looking at a serious roadblock to their playoff hopes every year for the foreseeable future.

Hope the fans stuck around long enough to watch the Flyers, heads hanging, go through the traditional post-series handshake Saturday afternoon.

It’s very likely going to be a familiar scene.

A message for Sheldon

Everybody who believes the Eagles’ line that their move to acquire a veteran cornerback has nothing to do with their war of words with Sheldon Brown raise your hands? Thought so.

No one has ever accused the Birds of being subtle. Brown, who went public with the fact that he did not especially care for the way the Eagles were treating him and that he would like a trade, is the latest to get a cold slap on the face from the team.

Browns wants a new contract or to be traded. Instead he got some competition.

On Sunday the Eagles spent the day swapping draft picks with several teams, and finally shipped a couple of fifth-round picks to the Patriots for Ellis Hobbs, a four-year veteran.

Brown chose to put a positive spin on the situation, saying “I look at it as great news in terms of me being traded.”

Maybe Brown heard something we didn’t. Eagles boss Andy Reid made it pretty clear that the deal had nothing to do with his disgruntled corner.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with Sheldon,” Reid said. “Sheldon is on this team. Hobbs gives us depth at cornerback. You can never have enough quality cornerbacks.”

This is a page right out of the Lito Sheppard playbook for the Eagles.
You might remember the All-Pro corner basically grumbled all last year and had trouble getting on the field after he publicly blasted the Eagles in seeking a new contract. He was eventually shipped to the Jets in the off-season. Now Brown likely will get the same treatment.

Let us translate for you, Sheldon.

Eagles to Sheldon: Shut up and play.

And, oh, by the way. That guy we just traded for? He’ll be competing for your job.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 24

The Daily Numbers: 4 children who claim they were indecently touched by a clinical psychologist they were seeing through the Delaware County Juvenile Court.
3 people charged with drug-dealing in Clifton Heights.
2 kids, ages 9 and 10, police say were left home alone in Chester. Their mother now faces endangerment charges.
3 hours, how long I-95 South from Chester to the Delaware state line was closed overnight to remove wreckage from a tractor-trailer crash that created traffic nightmares yesterday morning.
5 residents who spoke last night in opposition to huge billboards being proposed in Springfield. Developer Thaddeus Bartkowski made the case for the huge signs.
18 teachers and 21 outstanding students honored last night at the annual Partners in Learning banquet at the Drexelbrook. Quite a night.
14,000 bars, restaurants and clubs that could host legal video poker machines under new legislation proposed in Harrisburg.
1.1 billion, how much the state would supposedly take in from video poker, with half of it going to ease tuition bills for kids attending state-owned colleges.
5 Philadelphia officers suspended with the intent to dismiss. Three of the cases involve cops using racial slurs.
50 percent of those surveyed in Philadelphia who oppose Mayor Michael Nutter’s plan to raise taxes. They’d rather see reductions in services.
12 point decline in Nutter’s popularity, according to the same poll.
17 people losing their jobs at public radio station WHYY-FM in Philly.
None of them work on the air.
30 to 50 teens who are believed to have attended a huge keg party in Abington back in February. Now a man and woman face charges for hosting the bash and supplying alcohol to minors.
6 to 23 months on work release for the Devon teen convicted in the brutal attack on a Geno’s Steaks employee.
4 week shutdown this summer for workers at the GM plant in Wilmington, Del.
22 percent jump in profits posted in the first quarter by PNC Bank.
12 developments in the Philly suburbs still up in the air after builder TH Properties announced it was temporarily closing its doors. The firm’s owner yesterday said he’s negotiating with banks to get more credit.
2.9 percent tuition hike for students at Temple next year.
0 goals surrendered last night by Martin Biron as the Flyers beat the Penguins to get back into their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
The Flyers now trail, 3-2.
0 hits through seven innings for the Phils, who lost to the Brewers, 6-1.
2 hits surrendered by Conestoga High grad Dave Bush, who got the win in front of a lot of family and friends.
6 strikeouts in 3 innings for Cole Hamels, who was forced out of the game in the 4th after taking a line drive in the shoulder. He should be fine.
21, where the Eagles pick in the first round of Saturday’s NFL Draft.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You can put your hearts back in your chest now, fans. The Flyers are alive for at least one more day. And Cole Hamels says he’s fine and expects to make his next start after taking a nasty liner off his left shoulder yesterday.
I Don’t Get It: There just seems to be something a little unseemly about the idea of using money from video gambling to fund kids’ college educations. Maybe parents should just keep buying lottery tickets.
Today’s Upper: How about that Mother Nature. 90 degrees on Sunday? Bring it on!
Quote Box: “The average person … is just Joe Six-Pack going into the tavern, having a couple beers and putting $20 in a machine and I don’t think there’s any harm in that.”
-- State Sen. Dante Santoni Jr., D-Berks, on move to legalize video poker in Pennsylvania bars.

Stick it in your ear

The state House has the following message for all those who believe that having people talking on hand-held cell phones while driving is not a great idea.

Stick it in your ear!

A move to ban chatting, texting or otherwise yakking on a hand-held device while driving was shot down in the House. The proposal by state Rep. Josh Shapiro would have allowed police to pull over anyone they observed using a hand-held phone while driving. Instead House members fell back on the tried and true method of enforcement in Pa., if you’re stopped for something else – like maybe driving like a bat out of hell – and the kind officer notices you also seem a tad distracted because your’re talking on the phone, he can issue you another citation.

I’m not exactly sure I see what the problem is here. Does anyone want to make the argument that dialing, texting or talking on a hand-held device is NOT an unsafe practice.

AAA is willing to go even further. They believe it’s the act of conversation that is the danger, and would just as soon see all phone conversation derailed. I’m not sure what that says about drivers informing the unruly backseat passengers that, no, they are not stopping at Rita’s on the way home.

Six Delco state reps – evenly split with three Republicans and three Democrats – backed the ban. Two Republicans and a Democrat voted against it.

Philadelphia recently passed a law banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. That puts them in the company of Lower Chichester here in Delaware County, which has had a similar law on the books for a few years now.

No one seems to know how tightly the Lower Chi law is enforced.

And that’s the key legal question. For the most part, driving is something that has fallen under the domain of the state Legislature.
There is some question whether laws adopted at the local level would withstand a legal challenge.

Now there’s another potential roadblock to the Philly measure. A state rep is reminding the city that a law already on the books would strip them of millions in federal highway funding if they insist on skirting the state motor vehicle code.

None of which changes the basic fact that driving and cell phones don’t mix.

I’m not a cell phone guy. I only turn mine on when I need to make a call.

Then again maybe I’m just uncoordinated. But I’ll admit that on the few occasions I’ve tried to use the damn thing while driving, safety goes right out the window.

Which reminds me of something I find myself yearning for more and more these harried days. Just once I’d like to get my hands around the neck of the person who keeps telling me, “This technology is going to make your life so much easier.”

Hey, pal, stick it in your ear.

Roll of the dice for education

Remember that proposal to legalize video poker in taverns, with the money going to help students and their families with the rising cost of college?

It got introduced to the school of hard knocks yesterday. A little Harrisburg hardball.

Gov. Ed Rendell rolled out the plan, which would make what is fairly commonplace right now - video poker in bars and private social establishments - legal and under the jurisdiction of the state. Rendell wants to take the money raised – which he estimates could be as much as
$1.1 billion a year – and give it to college kids. At least some of it.

Rendell envisions putting as many as five video poker machines in 14,000 bars, restaurants and clubs.

Half the money would go to the state, with the other half helping as many as 170,000 students attend a state-owned university or community college. The aid would be doled out on a sliding scale. Families earning less than $32,000 would pay no more than $1,000.

Sounds good, right? Not everyone is all that impressed.

They have a point. Tying gambling to higher education does not exactly paint a pretty picture.

Or, as state Rep. Curt Schroder, R-Chester County, pointed out: “Do you really want your education funded on the backs of families broken by addiction?”

Schroder also pointed it out it might be just a tad premature to be talking about expanding gambling when the state seems to have its hands full trying to regulate its new slots parlors.

Speaking of those new gaming meccas, they have yet to weigh in on this issue, but almost surely will. My guess is they are less than thrilled at the idea of those fine folks usually sitting in front of their slot machines instead sauntering into their neighborhood tap room and indulging their habit there.

That would seem to be especially so for Harrah’s Chester, the only one of the of the state’s seven casinos in operation where revenues are going down. Add in two more casinos that finally appear to be making headway in Philadelphia, and Harrah’s likely is not going to be especially happy over the move to legalize video poker.

Schroder says he’s been told by several casinos that they would file suit to get back some of the $50 million in fees they forked over to the state.

In other words, moving to legalize video poker is looking more like a roll of the dice every day.

Sports of all sorts

Don’t start throwing dirt on the Flyers just yet.

That goes for Cole Hamels, too.

Tony Gonzalez? Go ahead, you can bury him.

Let’s review: The Flyers clawed back into their first-round Stanley Cup playoff battle last night by totally dominating Pittsburgh on the Pens’
home ice.

And who the hell is Claude Giroux, and where did he come from? He’s exactly the kind of skill player that makes a difference in the playoffs. And exactly the kind of skill player that Flyers have too often lacked.

The Flyers are alive, but they’re not exactly off death row. They are still one loss away from summer. The series now switches back to the Wachovia Center Saturday afternoon.

Phillies fans – not to mention Charlie Manuel – had heart palpitations as they watched a line drive off the bat of Prince Fielder slam into the very valuable left shoulder of ace Cole Hamels. The lefty who snagged MVPs in both the National League Championship Series and the World Series left the game – against his own will – yesterday. Hamels says he will be fine and expects to make his next start in D.C. next week.

The Phils won’t be fine until they get some more consistent offensive output. Yesterday they were almost no-hit by Conestoga High product Dave Bush. A pinch-hit homer by Matt Stairs broke up both the no-hitter and the shutout. But the Phils got just one other hit in falling, 1-0.

A road trip might be just what this team needs. Between the hoopla over celebrating their World Series title, rainouts and the death of legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas, they’ve yet to settle into any kind of a normal groove. Maybe they can do it this weekend in Florida.

Scratch Tony Gonzalez off the wish list, Birds fans. The perennial All-Pro tight end of the Kansas City Chiefs will have a new uniform next year, but it won’t be the Birds’ midnight green. Instead he be catching passes from Exton native Matt Ryan for the Atlanta Falcons.

The Eagles are still holding the 21st pick in the NFL Draft on Saturday.

Throw in the Penn Relays and you have quite a sports weekend. If you’re going to the Relays, pack the sunscreen. You’re looking at bright sun and a high of 75 this afternoon, and 85 Saturday.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 23

The Daily Numbers: 6 Delco state reps who voted for total ban on use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Three voted against. The measure failed.
50 dollar fine, what would have been slapped on yakking drivers under the proposal.
15, age of boy who testified he had sex with a Linwood woman. He’s one of 4 boys who have accused her. She was held for trial.
245,620 Oxycontin and Percocet pills, what an Upper Darby man pleaded guilty to distributing illegally.
1 million dollar grant being sought by the city of Chester to hire new police officers.
5,000 down payment, how much a couple forked over to TH Properties by a Montgomery Couple for their new home. It’s now half-built and the company has shut down operations.
45, age of man facing charges in the fatal crash that took the life of a police officer in Middletown, Bucks County, back in January.
2 Philadelphia police officers injured when their cruiser crashed during a chase in West Philly.
29, age of man being held in a crime spree in Cape May County, N.J., that ended in the discovery of the body of a 32-year-old woman in his room.
3 people shot in Reading Wednesday night.
12,000 dollars raised for a woman believed to be suffering from cancer in Reading. Police have charged her with making up the illness.
2 airliners that were struck by lightning as they approached Philadelphia International Airport last night. Both landed safely.
5 million in taxes, what the feds claim a lawyer who was obsessed with the tax code still owes. The Norristown man was convicted Wednesday.
5.6 million in federal stimulus funds that will be used to plug leaks in the roof of Independence Hall in Philly.
3 students at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster who say they have been subjected to racial slurs.
267 million dollar contract recently awarded to Siemens Medical Solutions USA. The feds raided their Malvern offices yesterday. No word as to why.
3 different bosses now for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the folks who run those new slots parlors. There’s been another change at the top.
22, floor where a small fire broke out in a dorm on the Penn campus. A student now has been charged with setting the fire.
26 of June, that’s the date for Beyonce to bring her show to the Wachovia Center in Philly.
30 points for Andre Miller, but it was not enough to keep the Sixers from falling to the Magic, even though Dwight Howard fouled out and only played about 30 minutes.
1-1, where the series between the Sixers and Magic stands as they head back to Philly.
0 runs the Phils managed off veteran Brewers hurler Braden Looper last night. They lost, 3-1.
1 more loss and the Flyers will be done for the season. They face off against the Pens in Pittsburgh at 7.
21, the pick the Eagles have in the first round of Saturday’s NFL Draft.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I don’t want to sound greedy, but when Dwight Howard only plays 30 minutes and fouls out, that’s a golden opportunity the Sixers let slip away last night. They were only down by 5 when Howard took a seat on the bench. Instead of rallying and being up a commanding 2-0, they come home all even at 1-1.
I Don’t Get It: I’m still not exactly sure what the legislators don’t understand when it comes to using a hand-held cell phone while driving.
Don’t know about them, but I seem to be constantly trying to avoid drivers clearly distracted as they yak on their ever-present phones.
Still, the House rejected a ban yesterday.
Today’s Upper: Did you know it’s TV turnoff week. Try it. Even better, after you turn it off, pick up a newspaper.
Quote Box: “Since legislators are among the worst offenders of driving and talking, this is a little like Al Capone voting on tax policy.”
-- Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-161, on ban on use of hand-held cell phone while driving. He voted in favor of the ban.

'Taps,' the update

All this one needs is an appearance from Timothy Hutton.

They will be updating “Taps” today at Valley Forge Military Academy.

You might remember the movie where Hutton led a group of young cadets who were less than enchanted with the direction of their school. The decided to play soldier and took over the school. It was filmed at Valley Forge Military Academy in Radnor.

Some alumni of the esteemed Main Line institution will be updating the script today for real.

It’s the latest salvo in a bitter feud, but the central issue is very similar. The small group of alums don’t like the direction their school is taking. And today they will make their complaints public at the gates of the institution. I don’t think any muskets will be involved.

The Valley Forge Old Guard is critical of school spending, including the salaries of top execs, and what they believe is a move away from the military school’s core values. They plan to ask the state attorney general to investigate the non-profit that runs the school.

School leaders are not amused, and vowing to take legal action against the group for what they call “slander” against the school and its leaders.

In particular the Old Guard seems to have its guns trained on school President Charles McGeorge. He’s the first civilian president in the school’s history.

Roll cameras. Bring in Tim Hutton.

They are remaking “Taps” on the Main Line today.

Pizza? No news ain't good news in Chester

They have the beginnings of a stadium (or at least some pilings in the ground), but they don’t have a name.

They have rabid fans called the Sons of Ben, but they do not have official colors or a logo.

Relax, pro soccer fans. You now have an official pizza.

Keystone Sports & Entertainment, the people who will be bringing Major League Soccer to Chester, have entered into a deal with Seasons Pizza of Wilmington, Del., to be the official pizza at the stadium under construction in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge.

The pizza folks will get concession stands, along with signage in the stadium.

Don’t know how familiar these folks are with the Sons of Ben. The soccer zealots are getting increasingly antsy about the lack of news coming about the franchise that is supposed to start play less than a year from now.

You’d think the least they could do is announce the stadium’s official beer to wash down that pizza.

For the Birds

The Flyers have their backs to the wall, the Sixers lost a game in which Magic star Dwight Howard fouled out after playing just 30 minutes, and the Phils spent the night hitting line drives right at Brewers in a 3-1 loss.

But of course here in Philadelphia we again turn to our favorite topic, the “Iggles.”

Cool you jets, Mel Kiper breath. This isn’t about Saturday’s NFL Draft.
Nor the growing rumblings that the Birds have an interest in Kansas City all-pro tight end Tony Gonzalez.

No, it’s time once again for another lesson from the Joe Banner-Jeff Lurie PR School.

You might remember the team and the city continue to be at odds over $8 million in revenue the city says the team owes it from skyboxes at Veterans Stadium. The team responded they would not be paying them anything, saying that’s just about how much they lost when they had to cancel an exhibition game because of the condition of the Vet’s notorious turf field.

Then the team threw a new wrinkle into the mix, filing court affidavits in which they indicated they had a secret deal with then-Mayor John Street to settle the matter for a lot less. Street denied any such deal existed.

Now Mayor Michael Nutter has weighed in, saying there is no evidence of any deal and telling the team the city, which is currently staring down the barrel of a massive budget deficit that threatened libraries and fire stations, wants its money.

And the response from our resident charmers, Messrs. Banner and Lurie?
See you in court.

But that’s not all. The Eagles released a statement saying that any business considering locating in Philadelphia should take into account the way the city handles such matters.

I’m not making this up.

“We think this should concern every person doing business in the city of Philadelphia or is contemplating doing business in the city,” the team said.

That sounds suspiciously like a threat.

We agree with the team on one thing. It should concern every resident, every taxpayer and every fan of this team.

But not at the way the city is handling the matter. Rather at the arrogant, smug owners of a franchise valued at more than $1 billion.

It’s almost enough to make us side with Sheldon Brown.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 22

The Daily Numbers: 62 feet, height of billboards being proposed for Baltimore Pike in Springfield, Sproul Road in Marple, and West Chester Pike in Haverford.
3 to 4 weeks, how long commuters in the Radnor area will have to deal with detours on King of Prussia Road. Emergency bridge work has shut the span down.
13,900 dollars, how much the former treasurer is believed to have stolen from a girls crew club at Radnor High School. The man apparently used it to pay the prep school tuition for his kids and hoped to repay it.
41, age of woman in Lower Chichester who will face trial for having sex with 4 teen boys as many as 40 times.
44, age of former teacher at Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School in Montgomery County who is charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a student.
2 people dead after a man walked up to a car and opened fire on a woman in Philly yesterday, then turned the gun on himself.
6, age of girl who was struck by a hit-and-run driver in the Olney section of Philly last night. The girl is hospitalized.
58 percent of people in a recent AAA survey who admitted to some aggressive driving habits.
1 percent sales tax hike being pushed by some municipal officials in Pennsylvania. Delco is not among them.
8 million bucks, what the city still says the Eagles owe the city in their dispute over revenue from skyboxes at Veterans Stadium. Mayor Michael Nutter yesterday rejected the team’s argument that there was any secret deal to settle the issue for a lot less money.
10,000 dollars taken by robbers who hit a check-cashing business on Northeast Philly.
500,000 dollar budget gap that may force organizers to pull the plug on Philly’s annual pro bike race through city streets. The Philadelphia Cycling Championship would celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.
3 teens injured in a crash in Greenville, Del. Police say the young driver was “trying to go airborne.”
57 percent dip in profits in the first-quarter for Merck & Co.
600 to 700 jobs being dumped by Yahoo.
27,500 jobs eliminated in the last year by the nation’s major air carriers.
100 jobs being cut by Independence Blue Cross.
2.10 and holding, average price of gas in the Philly region.
1 goal scored by the Flyers as they fell to the Pens last night, 3-1. They now are behind in the series by the identical margin, 3-1.
1 more loss and the Flyers can start making their tee times for the summer.
45 shots fired by the Flyers at Pens’ goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Ah, yes, the dreaded hot goaltender stymies the orange and black.
11 runs for the Phils last night as they pounded the Brewers, 11-4.
1 hour, 18 minute rain delay for the game in the top of the 7th.
2 as in Game Two of the Sixers-Magic series on tap tonight in Orlando.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Villanova star Scottie Reynolds is at least going to toy with the idea of turning pro and entering the NBA Draft. Don’t panic, Wildcat fans.
Expect Reynolds back in the lineup next year. He does not project as a first-round NBA pick.
I Don’t Get It: A woman in Philadelphia apparently was talking on a cell phone when she struck a 6-year-old last night in the Olney section.
Witnesses actually say she came back to inspect the scene, then fled again. Last week City Council passed a bill to outlaw talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving. Anyone still questioning if it’s dangerous?
Today’s Upper: It’s Earth Day. Take a walk. Get out of your car.
Quote Box: “I’m not condoning a boycott. I do feel sorry for the tenants, but they can always express their displeasure with their landlords.
-- Marple Commissioner John Butler, on simmering dispute over billboards in the township.

Happy Earth Day

It’s Earth Day. Try holding your breath.

The Environmental Protection Agency now is ranking carbon dioxide, which we exhale with each breath, as a pollutant.

I will admit there’s a lot I don’t know about this whole environment-global warming thing.

There’s a part of me that thinks the whole thing is a scam to get us out of our cars. That’s not entirely a bad thing.

That’s because I happen to live in a development that features a walking path that goes through the entire development, and then winds through a local park. Very nice. My wife and I try to use it as often as possible.

But that’s where we stop being environmentally friendly. There is not a single other thing we do that does not require us to get in our car.

We don’t really live in a town. We live outside town, as is the case with so many suburban developments. It was a nice place to raise our kids, but I curse my situation every day right now.

I yearn for the days before I was married and in my first year of wedded bliss. My first apartment was in West Chester. I lived in the third floor of an old house right across the street from the library.

Once I drove home from work, I parked the car (itself something of a challenge in West Chester), and I didn’t need to use it again until the next morning. There were some weekends I did not use the car at all.

West Chester is one of the most walkable towns I have ever lived in.
There was almost nothing I enjoyed more than getting up in the morning and walking downtown to grab a paper and a cup of coffee.

That’s only a memory now. A trip to my Wawa today means getting in the car. The same for church. Ditto for groceries and every other errand we run, usually three of four times a day.

Somewhere along the line, our planning process went haywire. I live in a pretty modest development. We are now surrounded by the bane of today’s home market, the McMansion. These mini-Shangra Las all have one thing in common. They almost inevitably make their residents dependent on their cars.

I look forward to the day (alas still far in the future) when I can get out of my house, and move back into a town where I can walk to do just about anything I need to do.

I don’t want to wind up in a development for seniors unless it is part of a town. I don’t want to be cut off from the rest of the world.

I want to get up in the morning, throw on a pair of shorts, and walk to my local Wawa. Hopefully I will meet a lot of people along the way, all doing the same thing I am, staying out of their cars.

In the meantime, Happy Earth Day. Don’t forget to breathe while you’re out there walking.

The Sestak Watch

A very interesting development on the political front as Delaware County tries to suppress a collective yawn as we lurch toward another primary election day.

There’s been a very subtle – but very telling – shift in the tone of Congressman Joe Sestak, D-7.

It has long been believed that the ambitious Sestak might one day cast his eye on the Senate seat held by Republican Sen. Arlen Specter.

Every time we would ask Sestak about such a possibility, he made it very clear. He loved his job in the House of Representatives and had no intention of making a bid for the Senate.

Then a couple of things happened. Specter, who makes a habit of rubbing Republicans the wrong way with some of his votes, backed President Obama and his massive stimulus package. It was Specter’s swing vote that was seen as crucial in getting the measure through the Senate.

Republicans, especially the conservative wing, were not pleased. It was not the first time they believed they had been betrayed by the moderate Specter.

Now Specter is facing a challenge in the Republican Primary. Actually two of them.

Both abortion foe Peg Luksik and conservative former Congressman Pat Toomey have Specter in the crosshairs. It’s the Toomey match that intrigues the pundits.

A few years back, Toomey came close to toppling Specter, who has served Pennsylvania in the Senate for as long as anyone can remember.
Republicans seemingly have been plotting a way to dump him just as long.

The thinking is that Sestak would not challenge an entrenched Specter, whose record would not be all that different than the Democrat’s. But Toomey is another matter. There are those who believe that while Toomey could depose Specter in a Republican primary, he still would have trouble in a statewide race.

Enter the Democrat Sestak.

First, of course, Sestak would have to say he’s in. So far, he is not talking about the future. Which is interesting in itself, not so much for what he is saying as for what he’s not saying. He’s not taking the strident tone he once did, ruling out a run.

Keep an eye on this one. At some point Sestak will have to decide whether he wants to get in the race. It’s a gamble. He would be giving up a Congressional seat. They don’t exactly fall off trees.

But his war chest – which now stands at a little more than $3 million – says he would make a formidable candidate should he decide to challenge the Republican in a Senate race.

That might really be the deciding question, just who that Republican will be.

Stay tuned.

Brown out

Eagles starting cornerback Sheldon Brown seems to have forgotten an old adage when it comes to contract talks.

Any time someone tells you it’s not about the money, you can pretty much bet it’s about the money.

Brown is unhappy with his deal and has indicated he would like a trade.

The Eagles responded - rather bluntly - saying they had no intention of trading a key member of their defense and that Brown’s very public (read
ESPN) statements actually hurt his value on the market.

If Brown is ticked at anyone, it should be his agent and himself. He signed the contract a few years ago that gave him financial security in the form of a healthy up-front signing bonus.

Now, toward the end of the deal, he considers himself underpaid in today’s market.

He did not seem to consider that when he was stuffing that signing bonus in his pocket.

The fact is Brown very likely is underpaid in today’s NFL market. It doesn’t change the fact that no one held a gun to his head and forced him to sign this deal. He did it of his own free will, and I am assuming the advice of his agent.

It’s just amazing how many times athletes seem to forget that small item.

Yes, Brown has legitimate points about how the thing has been handled by the Eagles. Their PR skills are right up there with the Octomom. There’s not a situation that’s beyond them bungling.

None of which changes the fact that Sheldon Brown’s signature appears on that contract.

It’s about the money.

Sheldon Brown thinks he’s going to be able to “buck” the system. He might want to chat with another Eagle who tried that, fellow corner Lito Sheppard. He’s now a member of the New York Jets. He never did get a new deal from the Eagles.

The guess is Brown won’t either.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 21

The Daily Numbers: 12 people busted for drugs in a sting operation in Chester, including Karon Burton, the Daily Times 2008 All-Delco Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
40 homes in Lower Chichester damaged by two juveniles who spray-painted their “tags” on homes, the township hockey court and rec equipment.
3 suspects being sought in connection with a graffiti spree that targeted a bridge and nonprofit horticultural center in Delaware.
6 people busted in what police are calling an international stolen credit card scheme in Upper Darby.
14,000 dollars believed ripped off from the Radnor Girls Crew Club by a Wayne man. He faces charges.
2 rabid raccoons that have now been detected in the county. The first was last week in Radnor, now another has attacked a dog in Ridley.
567,319 dollars in donations that came into U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak’s coffers in the last reporting period. Some believe he is mulling a run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sen. Arlen Specter. Sestak is saying only that he’s happy in the House.
406,187 registered voters in Delaware County, that’s up just a shade from November.
5 million dollars for groundwater cleanup along Naylor’s Run Stream in Haverford.
16,000 cars a day that go over a bridge on King of Prussia Road in Radnor. The bridge over Gulph Creek has been shut down for emergency repairs. The road is closed between Matsonford and Croton roads.
1.2 million voter edge for Democrats in Pennsylvania. That’s actually down 30,000 from the November numbers. Monday was the final day to register to vote in the May primary.
2-1 margin, results of poll showing New Jersey residents would like to be able to wager legally on sporting events.
7, age of boy found in hotel room where his bother was arrested on charges of prostitution in Bensalem, Bucks County.
40 laptops stolen from a Philadelphia high school that have been recovered after the arrest of 2 suspects in the case.
27 citations for speeding issued during a crackdown on speeders by state police in Bucks County.
345,500 square feet of space in the new home of Tasty Baking Co. in the Philadelphia Navy Yard Corporate Center.
23 million dollars believed ripped off from clients by a Chester County-based financial adviser.
45 percent of Philadelphia adults who are not working and not looking for work, according to a new study.
200,000 dollars that will be targeted to the fight against youth gangs in Allentown.
5 people found dead inside a hotel room in Towson, Md., last night.
3 games on tap with the Milwaukee Brewers for the Phils, starting tonight at Citizens Bank Park.
2 million dollars, how much Sheldon Brown is supposed to make with the Eagles this year. He now wants to be traded after efforts to get a new deal went nowhere.
1 goal so far in the Flyers first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series for Jeff Carter.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Don’t look now but there’s another disgruntled Eagle in the nest. Starting corner Sheldon Brown wants to be traded after the team rebuffed his request for a new deal. The team fired back that they have no intention of dealing Brown.
I Don’t Get It: A mother in Bucks County has been charged with engaging in prostitution from the hotel room where she was living. Police say her 7-year-old son was in the room when she was at “work.” I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Nice move by Doubletree Hotel in Philly. They are renovating and donated $50,000 worth of furniture to Habitat for Humanity. That’s a serious thumb’s up.
Quote Box: “Chester has a drug problem, a drug-selling problem.”
-- Chester Narcotics Capt. Alan Davis, on results of sting operation that resulted in 12 arrests.

A tale of 3 hoops stars

This is a tale of three basketball players.

Today is not the first time Karon Burton’s picture has appeared on the front page of the newspaper.

It is the first time he’s been so featured involving his arrest.

Burton, 19, was one of 11 people arrested during a drug sting carried out by Chester police officers on Monday. The pictures of all 12 suspects appear on the front page.

But it’s the shot of Burton that stands out. And he’s the focus of the lead headline. That’s because he’s the only one that was named our 2008 All-Delco Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Burton led the Chester Clippers to a state hoops title, in the process placing his name in the very deep, rich annals of Chester High hoops, alongside such legends as Jameer Nelson.

I remember very well the day Burton’s picture appeared on the front page. We tease our All-Delco selections on Page One for each sport with a photo of the Player of the Year. Burton’s picture was the lead element dominating the Back Page of the newspaper, the gateway into the sports section.

I remember that day in part because of the phone calls I received. Not everyone was happy with our selection of Burton as Player of the Year.

You might recall there was another standout player in that class. His name was Tyreke Evans.

Several callers were incredulous that we would select Burton over Evans as our Player of the Year. Evans was named to the All-Delco hoops team.

Our selection was made in part because Burton led Chester High to a PIAA AAAA state title, while Evans played for the much smaller American Christian. You could easily make the argument that Evans was a better player, but Burton faced much tougher competition and was the clear leader of a state title team.

So what happened to Evans? Maybe you saw him or heard his name during March Madness. He went on to the University of Memphis, where he starred as a freshman for John Calipari.

It is widely expected that Evans will turn pro and offer his services to the NBA. Evans made it official Monday when he confirmed he would be taking his game to the next level.

In the meantime, Burton was recruited to play hoops at La Salle. He sat out last season for academic reasons. A spokesman for the school said they were distressed at the news, but reserved further comment.

Evans appears poised for stardom and a multi-million dollar payday in the NBA; Burton is awaiting arraignment this morning of charges of drug possession and possession with intent to deliver.

And the third player? Ironically, Burton’s successor as Player of the Year also was in the newspaper this week.

Duane Johnson led Penn Wood High School to their first-ever PIAA AAAA title this year. He received a full scholarship to East Stroudsburg University in the fall.

Johnson was one of 76 high school seniors honored Sunday by Congressman Joe Sestak as 7th Congressional District Scholar Athletes.

I was fascinated by Johnson’s reaction to the honor.

“Basketball really helped me stay focused,” Johnson said, accompanied by a very proud family. “It shows that you can excel at both things.”

Good for him.

The speaker at the banquet was Saint Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli.

If you ever get the chance to see Martelli speak to young people, don’t miss it. He’s mesmerizing, stressing things off the basketball court as much as on it.

“He understands it’s not all about the game, it’s about life,” Sestak said.

To which, this week maybe more than ever, I can only add: You can say that again.

Crossing a troubled bridge

Here’s a traffic update for anyone out in the Radnor area.

There’s a bridge closure that is going to cause problems for drivers in Radnor.

PennDOT has closed a bridge on King of Prussia Road for emergency repairs. It will be out of commission for about a month.

Not good news if you’re in one the 16,000 cars that go over that bridge every work day.

King of Prussia Road will be closed from Matsonford Road to Croton Road in an area just south of Cabrini College.

Inspectors discovered severe damage in the 75-year-old stone bridge that crosses Gulph Creek. They decided to shut down the span immediately. The move comes just a week after a similar decision was made involving a bridge in Chester County.

In other words, if you use King of Prussia Road in Radnor Township, your daily commute just got a lot worse.

As the Birds Turn

The Eagles just can’t get a break.

Just a day after they unveiled their new starting left offensive tackle – the guy whose job it is to protect Donovan McNabb’s blind side – they got blind-sided by a veteran player.

The news that they had traded for Bills All-Pro Jason Peters drew widespread praise from both fans and pundits, many of whom are quick to call the team cheap and unwilling to make a blockbuster deal.

But the very next day the thunder bolt was coming from starting cornerback Sheldon Brown; he’s unhappy with his long-term contract and either wants a new deal or be traded. The blast puts the team right back in the crosshairs again.

It might not seem at first that the two are related. I disagree. Here’s why.

Brown fired the first shot in the Birds’ latest public relations war, making it known yesterday that he would just as soon move on after being unable to reach an agreement on a new deal with the team.

Brown finds himself in a circumstance that many Eagles players have chafed under over the years. He signed a long-term deal and got some signing money. He now has several years left on that contract, but he doesn’t like the terms, insisting he’s now woefully underpaid.

The Eagles – as they almost always do – say they don’t want to hear it.
They informed Brown he has a deal and should stick to it. But they did something else yesterday that also raised a few eyebrows.

The team rarely airs its dirty laundry in public. That’s why it was somewhat surprising that they fired back with a statement of their own after Brown went public. The team said they have no intention of trading Brown and that the corner’s attempts to force a trade actually “devalue him in a trade if we are not willing to consider it, which we are not.”

It would be easy to see the Eagles’ side of this standoff, except for one thing: That press conference they held Sunday to introduce Peters.

Peters was involved in a similar contract dispute with the Bills, and the Eagles were only too willing to step up and take him off their hands.

Just another day in the long-running soap opera, “How the Eagles Turn.”

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 20

The Daily Numbers: 21 Delco students named to the annual All-Delco Hi-Q team.
18 Delco teachers honored with Excellence in Teaching Awards. Both the students and teachers will be honored at a dinner Thursday night.
46 homes sold at auction during a sheriff’s sale for back taxes on Friday at the county Sheriff’s Office.
76 high school seniors from 46 schools in the 7th Congressional District honored at a special dinner Sunday.
95 more arrests in 2nd weekend of Operation Pressure Point crackdown on crime in Philadelphia.
2 teens killed in a shooting in Grays Ferry last Sunday night.
2 also wounded in a bloody weekend in Philadelphia.
14 people injured when a car slammed into a restaurant in Pottstown.
300 acres burned in a forest fire over the weekend in South Jersey. The fire is likely to smolder for several more days.
8 people injured when a car went out of control in Kensington Saturday, slamming into seven different cars.
19, age of student at Furness High School in Philadelhphia who collapsed and died after completing a charity walk in the city Sunday.
300 people in Bensalem who have been without water since Sunday afternoon because of a water main break.
7.8 percent unemployment rate in Pennsylvania.
13 percent of Americans who now believe they will be able to afford to retire comfortably. That’s an all-time low.
1,000 dollar reward for info leading to capture and conviction of the suspect who stole a box containing $5,500 in donations to the Susan B.
Komen Cancer Fund in Philly last week.
22, age of man who police believe ran over his 40-year-old girlfriend in Upper Darby.
10 years since 2 students went on a rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killing 12 classmates and a teacher.
2.09, average price of gas in the Philadelphia region over the weekend.
2.2 seconds left when Andre Iguodala’s jumper gave the Sixers the lead.
They took a stunning 1-0 lead over the Magic in their first-round NBA playoff series.
18 points down, where the Sixers were earlier in the contest.
2-1, where the Flyers-Pens series stands after the orange and black dominated the Pens Sunday at the Wachovia Center.
5 home runs for Raul Ibanez, whose walk-off two-run shot propelled the Phils to a 5-4 win over the Padres Sunday. He’s hitting .386. Pat who?
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Doesn’t get much better for Philly sports fans than Sunday. All three teams won, and the Eagles announced a major signing.
I Don’t Get It: So much for spring. Now we head back to the cold and rain that has been the calling card of his miserable spring.
Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for the teachers and students who snagged honors and will be lauded Thursday night at the Drexelbrook
Quote Box: “It’s something that puts kids on a team together that lets them work as a team.”
-- All-Delco Hi-Q team member Nicole Lock, from Garnet Valley High School, on why she likes the competition.

Special kids, special teachers

They are our best and brightest.

And they got that way for a reason.

Today this newspaper profiles our annual All-Delco Hi-Q Team. Each high school that participates in Hi-Q, the nation’s oldest academic quiz competition, selects one team member to be named to the All-Delco team.
We pattern them off the All-Delco selections we make after every scholastic sports season.

You can read about these very special kids here.

It has always been one of my goals to extend the kind of attention we shower on kids who excel on the high school athletic fields to those who do similar superior work in the classrooms. Of course some kids do both.

Thus when I was approached a few years back by representatives from the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union and the Delaware County Intermediate Unit to put together an All-Delco Hi-Q Team, I jumped at the chance.

Last year they added a very special new dimension, which I also heartily supported.

It’s obvious that these kids are gifted. It almost assuredly started at home. But it’s just as clear that their gifts were further honed by some special, caring teachers.

So when the idea of honoring local educators with the Excellence in Teaching Awards, I again told the organizers to count us in.

Read the results here.

You can also see and hear videos on our Web site in which both the students and teachers talk about their honors, what it means to them, and the way they go about their jobs.

I was especially interested over the weekend when I viewed the video of the teachers talking about what they do, how it is they became teachers, and the results of their labors.

I could not help but smile when I listened to Aidan Brett, a teacher at Springfield High School.

Over the years we have had our differences when it comes to the area of education. Some people insist we never miss an opportunity to show kids at their worst, and routinely turn a blind eye when they do something good.

Likewise, there are those who say we have an anti-education, anti-teacher policy. That has once again come to the fore recently in the long, tough talks involving the Springfield School board and its teachers.

The last two days we have cast a spotlight on both teachers and students who are at the top of their games.

It will be my pleasure to attend a dinner Thursday night in their honor.

By all means, stop by and say hello.

These are Delaware County’s best and brightest, both in the class and standing in front of them.

They deserve every bit of praise we can heap on them.

Columbine, 10 years later

Ten years ago it was a fairly anonymous school in a suburb of Denver.

Today it’s a synonym for school horror, every parent’s worst nightmare.


It was a decade ago today that two troubled students, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, entered their high school armed to the teeth and seared the notion of a school rampage into the nation’s consciousness.

Before then parents for the most part sent their kids off confident they would return safe and sound at the end of the day.

Columbine changed all that. Before they turned their weapons on themselves, Klebold and Harris killed 12 classmates and a teacher, and wounded about two dozen others.

We have spent much of the past decade examining the idea of school security and how we can stop something like what happened at Columbine from ever happening again.

A lot of schools have installed metal detectors. There are now limits on what kind of backpacks students can use and how often they can go to their lockers. Doors that once swung open to invite just about anyone are now locked. Visitors must check in. Student and staff IDs now must be displayed. Disaster drills, one thought to be a relic of the Cold War, are once again in vogue.

None of it has stopped the possibility of a student – or anyone else – intent on violence carrying out their nefarious thoughts with horrific results.

We have witnessed even the most unlikely of locales – a one-room Amish schoolhouse – become a vision of unspeakable atrocity.

No one will ever hear the word Columbine again without school violence being refreshed in our memories.

A decade later, we’re still dealing with the aftermath.

A Sunday to remember

Philly sports fans scored an unexpected trifecta Sunday. All three pro teams posted thrilling wins. It could be fairly said that all three of them were a surprise in their own way.

It started early, with the Phils trailing the Padres almost all afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. Are you aware that the Phillies have not had a starting pitcher who has not surrendered a home run yet this year? Not a good sign. Yesterday it was Chan Ho Park’s turn, as the Phils fell behind San Diego, 4-0.

Slowly the Phils chipped away at the lead. Chase Utley homered. Then Jimmy Rollins, getting a rare day off, came off the bench and supplied a pinch-hit dinger.

That set the table for the ninth inning and a walk-off two-run home run from Raul Ibanzez, who is quickly making people forget Pat Burrell.

Ibanez is now hitting .386 with five home runs.

If there’s a cloud on this team, it is the continuing problems of the starting pitchers, who insist on burying the Phils in deep holes every night.

Looks like home ice was just the tonic the Flyers needed. After getting blown out in Game 1 in Pittsburgh, then losing a heartbreaker in OT, the Flyers came home desperately needing a win. This one was never in doubt. The Flyers scored on their first two shots and went on to beat Pittsburgh, 6-3. Rookie Claude Giroux is beginning to look like one of the most exciting players the franchise has had in years. His short-handed setup of Simon Gagne was a thing of beauty.

Then there was the most improbable of all yesterday’s big wins. If you gave up on the Sixers when they fell behind the Magic by 18, you’re in for a surprise this morning.

The Sixers outscored – and outplayed - the Magic in the 4th quarter to post a most improbable win thanks for Andre Iguodala’s 22-foot jumper with 2 seconds left in the game.

It means the lowly Sixers, who most believed would be lucky to avoid being swept in this series, are now up 1-0 and have usurped home-court advantage.

I guess just to cap things off, the Eagles rolled out their prize off-season catch, massive offensive tackle Jason Peters. The Birds got him from the Bills for a first- and fifth-round pick in Saturday’s draft. Peters will fill the void left by Tra Thomas, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It’s not often your teams go 4-for-4, especially when they do it in the fashion we witnessed yesterday. A Sunday to remember.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 17

The Daily Numbers: 38 years in prison, what Sean O’Neill Sr. could be facing after entering a guilty plea to federal weapons, immigration and tax charges.
1 person killed in an overnight fire in Upper Darby. The woman apparently was trapped in the basement. Other victims escaped.
38 years on the Prospect Park police force for Chief John Saddic, who announced he was stepping down.
25 years on the force for Darby Chief Bob Smythe, who was honored by borough council this week.
2.5 percent tax hike now being eyed in Rose Tree Media, where the school board has been paring down proposed increases. They’re still looking to make more cuts.
130 homes that will be on the block this morning at the Media Courthouse for auction at a sheriff’s sale.
30,000 jobs lost in Pennsylvania in March.
150 dollar fine, that’s for first offense under the new ban on using a cell phone while driving about to go into effect in Philly.
3 dogs rescued last night after they wandered into busy rush-hour traffic on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philly.
82 dollars worth of chicken wings and Hot Pockets ripped off when an apparently hungry thief broke into an apartment in Newark, Del.
2 people, a mother and child, dead in what police are calling a murder-suicide in Norristown.
3.2 million dollar fine slapped on Comcast and DirecTV for violations of the federal Do Not Call laws.
26.2 percent drop in home sales reported in Philadelphia region in first quarter. That’s 9,162 houses, as opposed to 12,408 in the same period last year.
65 million dollar price tag for a refinery in Tulsa, Okla., sold by Sunoco.
1 milion dollars in cash, what drug kingpin Alton ‘Ace Capone’ Coles had in his home when he was busted. Yesterday he was sentenced to life in jail for running a drug empire.
3 run homer for Adam Dunn, all the runs the Nats really needed to beat the Phils last night.
1 win now for the Nationals, who broke into the win column vs. the Phils.
2 home runs surrendered by Phils releiver Jack Tashner.
2 as in Game Two of their first-round Stanley Cup series tonight with the Flyers badly needing a win vs. the Pens.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You don’t really need to say a word at this point to know how sad tonight and tomorrow will be for Philly sports fans. That’s the point. We long to hear words – a voice – that is now silent.
I Don’t Get It: How low can you go, to grab a box with donations to be used in the fight against breast cancer and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Today’s Upper: A silver lining to that awful story. The boss of the accounting firm Parente Rudolph, which is located in the same building, is going to replace the stolen money. Huge thumb’s up to Jeff Freeo.
Quote Box: “Mr. O’Neill has accepted responsibility for his actions.”
-- Defense attorney Michael A. Schwartz, at yesterday’s hearing at which Sean O’Neill Sr. entered guilty plea.

Here's to you, Harry

The long goodbye begins tonight.

The Phillies – and Philly fans – will bid farewell to the voice of the franchise, Harry Kalas.

The team has scheduled any number of special events tonight and tomorrow. They are wearing uniforms with a black patch over the heart with the white letters HK emblazoned on it.

Tomorrow morning, the gates of Citizens Bank Park will open at 8 a.m. to allow fans to pay their respects. Harry’s casket will be on the field behind home plate. It is expected that more than 100,000 people could pay homage to the voice that meant baseball in this town.

Tonight the team also is doing something very special. During the seventh inning stretch, they will show Kalas on the jumbotron singing his emblematic anthem, “High Hopes.” They are asking fans to join in.

To that end, here are the lyrics to the song.

This one’s for you, Harry.

Next time your found,
with your chin on the ground
There’s a lot to be learned, so look around

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can’t
Move a rubber tree plant

But he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes
He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time your getting’ low
’stead of lettin’ go
Just remember that ant
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant

When troubles call, and your back’s to the wall
There’s a lot to be learned, that wall could fall

Once there was a silly old ram
Thought he’d punch a hole in a dam
No one could make that ram, scram
He kept buttin’ that dam

cause he had high hopes, he had high hopes
He had high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time your feelin’ bad
’stead of feelin’ sad
Just remember that ram
Oops there goes a billion kilowatt dam

All problems just a toy balloon
They’ll be bursted soon
They’re just bound to go pop
Oops there goes another problem, kerplop

Getting my Irish up

The latest chapter of the O’Neill family saga came to a conclusion in a federal courtroom in Philadelphia yesterday.

Sean O’Neill Sr. entered a guilty plea to a slew of charges including gun violations, tax fraud and immigration raps. He is looking at some serious jail time and as part of his plea has agreed to leave the country when he gets out.

You can read the account here.

One of the factors behind the plea apparently involved O’Neill’s desire to avoid having his wife face similar tax charges.

Of course it is not the first time the O’Neill clan has been in the pages of this newspaper. Sean O’Neill Jr. has now done two different stints in a juvenile detention facility for his role in a fatal shooting of a friend and classmate at Cardinal O’Hara High School after a night of partying.

His sister Roisin faces trial in connection with a fatal DUI crash in which she is charged with going the wrong way on the Blue Route and slamming into another car, killing the woman driver.

These cases – and this newspaper’s coverage of them – have sparked a lot of response in the community. That’s one of the reasons I was a bit taken aback when word came out that O’Neill Sr. was taking a plea deal.

He had adamantly maintained his innocence. His backers went so far as to intimate an anti-Irish bias on the part of federal prosecutors. Some of those fingers also were pointed at this newspaper. I fielded several calls questioning my own Irish heritage for the way we were treating O’Neill.

And of course there was the old standby, that the newspaper was just once again showing its anti-Catholic, anti-O’Hara attitude in covering the story.

I don’t feel any redemption today. Yes, Sean O’Neill Sr.’s picture is on the front page of the newspaper again.

I just feel sad. I don’t wish what has happened to the O’Neill family on anyone, regardless of their ancestry, religious beliefs or otherwise.

One look at my face – and this nose – pretty much gives away my heritage. I just try not to let that show in the newspaper.

A clear and present danger

Looks like the city of Philadelphia is intent on keeping up with the good folks out in Lower Chichester.

Philadelphia City Council yesterday approved a bill that would make it illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving. Violators could face a $150 fine. Mayor Michael Nutter has indicated he will sign the measure. It will go into effect immediately.

They’ve got nothing on Lower Chi. Officials there have had a similar law on the books for a couple of years now.

There doesn’t seem to be much difference of opinion when it comes to drivers yakking on cell phones. They’re a menace.

What is in question is the legality of such measures, whether or not a township or city council has the authority to enforce such measures. For the most part, motor vehicle laws are something dealt with by the state Legislature.

Lawyers already are lining up to challenge the city measure.

No doubt one of the first tickets issued in Philly will bring a legal challenge. Swell, just what we need. More legal wrangling.

Maybe it’s time for the state Legislature to step in and join other states that have addressed this issue.

How about it, Delco reps? Let’s get in the forefront of stopping what most people believe to be a clear and present danger on the roads.

Loss adds to mourning

You knew the Nationals were not going all year without winning a game.

But you kind of hoped they would wait at least one more night. Didn’t happen.

The Nats finally broke into the win column last night at the expense of the Phils.

Joe Blanton had a shaky first inning and it was all the guys from D.C. needed. Adam Dunn deposited an offering from Blanton in the upper deck in right field to give the Nats a 3-0 lead.

The Phils scratched their way back to 3-2, but then were victimized by something that was the team’s strength last year.

Blanton settled down and pitched well through six, then gave way to the bullpen. Jack Taschner gave up four runs – including two home runs – in the eighth to break the game wide open.

The Phils have battled one distraction after another so far this season. They were just getting past all the hoopla of their World Series celebrations when they were rocked by the death of Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas.

Now they come home to face a city in mourning and two days of events to remember Harry the K.

For now, baseball will have to take a back seat.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Not a great sports night

Not the best of nights, sports fans.

Let’s start with the Flyers. This one is simple. They will not beat the Penguins if they insist on taking penalties and playing short-handed.

The fans were barely in their seats in the Burgh went the Flyers took their first penalty. It didn’t take for the Pens to cash in. That’s the way it went. The Penguins led, 4-0, in the third before Simon Gagne got the Flyers on the board.

This one was never in doubt. And it won’t be so long as the orange and black are playing short-handed. The Pens are probably a more talented team when they’re at even strength. Constantly playing short-handed is almost suicidal.

The Flyers have until Friday night to figure that one out and try to steal a game in Pittsburgh, otherwise this series could be over early.

Then there’s the Sixers. They won last night in Cleveland. Thumb’s up, right? Not exactly. Lebron James did not even dress, even though the Cavs were looking to tie an age-old mark held by the Celtics for best season home record in NBA history.

In effect, the Sixers beat the Cleveland JV team, and they had to go to overtime to do it.

The Sixers secured the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and will face the Magic. The first game tips off Sunday at 5:30. Don’t look for the Sixers to be around long.

We don’t even have Chester native Jameer Nelson to look forward to in this series. He’s still on the shelf with a bad shoulder.

It’s likely about the only thing local fans would have had to cheer about in this series.

A dose of 'reality'

We live our lives in search of the unexpected.

We hunt something we have not encountered before, something that takes us by surprise, something that grabs us by the throat.

In our mission to break out of our everyday doldrums, we are now armed with a bewildering array of technology. And yet after awhile we become bored with the same old texts, e-mails, voice-mails, Web sites, radio and TV.

So much of the media is built around the idea of shocking us. That is not necessarily the same as entertaining us. I would put the barrage of reality shows into that category. They seem in a race to see who can reach the bottom in catering to the lowest common denominator.

I will tell you I have not seen a single episode of “American Idol.” Not one.

But I was mesmerized by something I saw on the British version of the show on the news last night.

Think “Rocky,” only this time in a talent show, not a boxing ring.

The show is called “Britain’s Got Talent,” and yes it includes the smug presence of everybody’s favorite judge Simon Cowell. He has become well-known to “American Idol” fans for the way he can eviscerate a contestant.

I have never quite understood the appeal of being publicly humiliated in that fashion. Is your 15 minutes of fame worth that kind of degradation?

I suppose I was not alone in expecting more of the same – if not worse – when Susan Boyle strode onto that stage in London.

If you winced when you first set eyes on her, wondering just how bad what was to follow likely would be, I am guessing you were not alone.

The 47-year-old strode confidently onto the stage, but she appeared anything but what these shows are all about. She was 47, a bit on the stocky side, with frizzy hair. She admitted to the judges she had never been kissed, while saying her goal was to become a professional singer.

Yeah, right.

You just waited for the audience, hosts and judges to unleash their venom on her.

Then she opened her mouth.

What happened next was glorious. Boyle perfomed “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical “Les Miserables.”

You can see it here.

I might have to change my mind about reality TV. This wasn’t reality. It was unreal.

The classic underdog with the voice of an angel, Susan Boyle delivered more than just an unexpected treat.

Her performance made the hair stand up on my arms and brought tears to my eyes.

In these days where we drown in over-hyped, mediocre media, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Whose idea was this?

I freely admit to doing a lot of stupid things in my life. That would be especially true in my youth, now seemingly another lifetime ago.

The thought struck me yesterday that it probably would not be entirely outside the realm of possibility that at one time, in the company of some buddies, I could be coazed into sneaking into some place where we obviously were not supposed to be.

But Lincoln Financial Field? OK, the thought of running around that pristine grass where the Eagles strut their stuff certainly holds a certain allure.

Maybe a quick dash into the end zone and then high-tail it out of there.

Unfortunately for five Villanova students, that’s not where this prank stopped. After sneaking into the Linc, police say they pried loose a seat, and a sign with the Eagles logo on it, and were in the process of absconding with it when the gendarmes arrived. The seat was found propped up against the exterior wall of the stadium. The sign was recovered in a BMW the police believe would have been the getaway car.

We cheered the Wildcats recently as they made their run to the Final Four.

But these five knuckleheads get a decided thumb’s down. And criminal charges to boot.

Hard to believe, Harry

I guess the horse racing gods are not Harry Kalas fans.

As I pointed out yesterday, in the eighth race at Harrah’s Chester last night there was a horse named “Outahere Hanover.”

As we continue to mourn the loss of legendary Phils broadcaster Harry Kalas and his classic “Outtaheeeere” home run calls, you just had to think a pony named Outahere was going to hit the winner’s circle.

Sorry, this ain’t Hollywood.

Outahere Hanover showed for third place. A horse named Emerald Sky hit the tape first.

Emerald Sky? Maybe this morning, but did you see the sky the last three days?

It was as if the angels were crying for Harry, even if the horse racing gods were not.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 15

The Daily Numbers: 18, age of student at Haverford College who reported to police she was sexually assaulted on a walking path on the campus.
8 a.m. Saturday, when they will open the gates of Citizens Bank Park for a public tribute to Harry Kalas.
11.5 to 24 years in jail for a 67-year-old man convicted in the rape of a teen in Chester.
45 years since Wawa opened its first store in the Holmes section of Ridley Township. They will hold a day-long party at the store on Thursday.
6 candidates seeking two open seats on County Council. Republicans and Democrats will nominate 2 candidates each in the May primary.
30 companies who will be hosting a free career fair today in Chester, from 2-7 p.m. at Chester City Hall.
5 young people busted after they apparently broke into Lincoln Financial Field in Philly overnight. Police are investigating to see if it was some kind of prank.
17, age of Chester County teen, who was 9 months pregnant, who was killed when the car she was riding in skidded on a wet roadway yesterday and slammed into a school bus.
4 young people sent to the hospital after a car crash in the Feltonville section of Philly.
2 vessels that collided yesterday 50 miles off the coast of Cape May. No injuries were reported.
32 million dollar expansion planned for Valley Forge Military Academy that will boost enrollment to 500 cadets.
5 more days you have to register in order to vote in the May primary. Deadline is Monday.
1 more day to file your taxes. Today is April 15, Tax Deadline Day.
6.5 million dollar expansion of the Phoenixville Library that is drawing protests.
175 million dollar new slots parlor that will open today at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Houston, Pa.
200 dollar tax rebate on way to most Pa. home owners thanks to revenue from the state’s slots parlors.
13 people killed and another 167 injured on Pa. highways over the Easter weekend.
6 straight losses for the Sixers, who fell to the Celtics. They now face them in the first round of the playoffs.
4 prime time games for the Eagles, but they won’t play the Broncos until
2 days after Christmas.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Incredibly, we have lost another legendary Philly voice. Les Keiter, the original voice of the Big 5, died at his home in Hawaii. No doubt it sparked “pandemonium.”
I Don’t Get It: The issue of teen sexting – sending nude pictures of themselves online – is not going away. Officials in Vermont are looking at removing child pornography charges in such cases.
Today’s Upper: There will be a job fair held this afternoon at Chester City Hall. More than 30 businesses will be there looking to prospective employees.
Quote Box: “He was part of the landscape around here.”
-- J.R. Arters, salesman at B. Gross Menswear, on the everyday presence of the late Harry Kalas in Media.

A horse Harry would love

If you loved Harry Kalas, then you will love this story.

It comes courtesy of our Harrah’s handicapper Millard Beatty. It’s not exactly a secret liked the horses, and was not exactly shy about dropping a wager on the nags from time to time.

Well, Harry and his legions of local fans would have to smile at a horse that is running at Harrah’s tonight.

In the eighth race at the Chester harness track is one Outahere Hanover.
The driver is Tim Tetrick. The trainer and part-owner is Jason Skinner, along with his other part-owner, Keith Murray.

Outahere Hanover is listed this morning at 9-2. He’s had six starts in 2009, he’s hit the money six times, with four wins and a second.

You have to think the 3-year-old filly will win tonight.

As Millard relays it, wouldn’t it be perfect if the horse pulled away down the stretch, allowing fans to proclaim, “this one is outta heeere.”

Here’s to you, Harry.

A vigil for Harry

The Phillies have announced they will hold a public memorial service for legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas on Saturday.

Kalas’ family indicated the funeral and burial, to be held next week, will be private.

Fans will be able to take part in the memorial service Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. Fans can pay their respects from 8 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on a first-come, first-serve basis. There also will be a special tribute at 1 p.m. The Phils will play the Padres later Saturday night.
The team also announced they will play the rest of the season with a special black HK patch on their uniforms to honor the voice of the Phillies.

Here’s what I want to know. How many people do you think will camp overnight at the stadium Friday night, a vigil to the single voice that meant baseball in the Delaware Valley.

Another legendary voice lost

It has been a brutal week for sports fans in the Delaware Valley. It just got a little worse.

Still reeling from the loss of Harry Kalas, word has come of the loss of another distinctive voice of Philly sports.

If you are of a certain age, as I am, and the words “ring-tailed howitzer,” or “in-again, out-again Finnegan” have a very special meaning to you, you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Les Keiter, the early voice of the Big 5, has died. He was just a few weeks short of his 90th birthday.

Before “Big Al” Meltzer became the better known TV voice of the Big 5, it was Keiter who brought those special games – and very special era of Philly hoops into our homes.

There was one word to describe what usually happened inside the Palestra in those halcyon days, and it was Keiter who penned it: Pandemonium.

Keiter also was known for calling many of the biggest boxing matches, including the first Ali-Liston spectacle.

Much like Harry Kalas, The Big 5 is one of those things that is indelibly linked with Philadelphia sports.

And it was Les Keiter who provided the soundtrack to much of those thrilling moments.

Another legendary voice is silenced.

Downplaying Dawkins

The people who run the NFL apparently are not nearly as enamored of the whole Brian Dawkins-Eagles brouhaha as the Brids’ fans are.

The Eagles schedule – along with the rest of the NFL - came out last night. Eagles fans have been frothing at the mouth knowing that Dawkins – clad in the Orange Crush outfit of his new team, the Denver Broncos – would be coming to the Linc to play his old team.

No doubt Eagles fans had visions of an early season Sunday or Monday night prime time clash.

Not exactly.

The Broncos will play the Eagles at the Linc on Dec. 27, two days after Christmas. You have to hope Dawkins is still in the lineup at that point.

The Eagles open on the road at Carolina, a streak of four straight 1 o’clock Sunday starts, interrupted by a their oddly timed bye week in Week 4. Then they go to Oakland for a 4 p.m. contest on the West Coast.

The Birds will play in prime time games against at the Redskins, at home vs. the Cowboys, at the Bears and at the Giants.

Here’s one mortal lock. Chalk up a loss for the Birds Nov. 22 in Chicago. I say that not because of the teams, but because of travel. The Eagles are in San Diego the week before, then fly home, and then fly right back out to Chicago the next week. Very tough to do.

By the time the Eagles get around to playing the Broncos and Dawkins, it’s very likely both teams will have other issues on their minds, like fighting for their playoff lives.

Only a true conspiracy theory buff (like me) would wonder if the Eagles maybe let the league know they would not exactly be opposed to burying the Dawkins rematch deep at the tail-end of the schedule.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Of fathers and sons and baseball

It’s almost heresy to think it today, but the truth is that 38 years ago, I was not a Harry Kalas fan.

In fact, I resented this new guy calling the Phillies games on radio and TV.

I was a Campbell kid. The Phils booted an equally beloved Philly figure, Bill Campbell, to make room for Kalas.

I held that against Kalas for a long time.

My love of baseball came, as it did for so many, at my father’s side. My dad did not especially care for watching sports on TV. That was especially true for baseball. He would much rather sit outside on a warm summer night, a cigarette in one hand, a beer in the other, and the Phils on the radio.

All seemed right with the world when you looked out the window into the back yard and saw only that red glow from his cigarette and the dial on the radio.

I became my father’s son. There is nothing I enjoy more than sitting on my screened-in porch on a muggy summer night and listening to the Phils on the radio. Harry Kalas became the soundtrack of summer.

I will continue what some describe as the quaint practice of an admitted dinosaur, if this lousy weather ever warms up. But there will not be a night when I flip on that radio when I will not think of my father, and the love of the game he instilled in me.

It started with Bill Campbell. It continued for almost four decades with Harry Kalas. I have handed it off to my son. He is a creature of ESPN, he loves soccer, but last summer he became a baseball fan. I think that was in no small part because of the magic of a single voice: Harry Kalas.

The voice of summer is gone. The players come and go, but Harry Kalas was forever.

It could be fairly said that Kalas was the Phillies.

Thanks for the memories, Harry.

Harry was a Delco treasure

Among the many reasons we mourn the loss of Harry Kalas today, one should not be overlooked.

While much of the region remembers the voice of the Phillies, in Delaware County we also mourn a local treasure. In truth, Harry belonged to the entire Delaware Valley, but he lived here.

Kalas was a longtime Delaware County resident and was never shy about his feelings for his home turf.

But he didn’t just talk about it. Harry put his words – uttered in that unmistakable rich baritone – to work.

For years Kalas emceed the annual Veterans Day Parade in Media. So great were his ties to Media – which he proudly proclaimed as his home town – that they held a parade in his honor.

Every Christmas, Kalas would pay a visit to Fair Acres, the county’s home for the aged, and regale the residents with Christmas Carols. Sure to be included was Kalas’ signature tune, “High Hopes.”

There will be something missing next year when they assemble in Media on Veterans Day to honor those who served this country so well.

Harry will not be there.

As his famous sidekick Whitey Ashburn would no doubt agree: Hard to believe, Harry.

Paying homage to Harry

As you can imagine, yesterday was one of those days that was a very long, tough day for people who do what I do for a living.

The death of Harry Kalas, the voice of the Phillies, sent shock waves across the region.

But it also reminded of the importance of what we do here each day. By that, I mean creating a newspaper. Not a Web site, not a sound bite, not a piece of video, but a newspaper, something you hold in your hands. Ink on paper.

A lot of people are beginning to wonder just how much longer the print edition of the newspaper will be around. Ask someone that question today.

It is my hope that all across Delaware County, people will pick up a copy of today’s newspaper, if for no other reason than as a keepsake. It will be placed in a corner of the closet, or in a drawer, next to other newspapers that captured the events that shaped our lives.

The JFK Assassination, the day a man walked on the moon, the shooting of Ronald Reagan, the visit of Pope John Paul II to Philadelphia – and the day he was shot – last October when the Phillies won a World Series championship, and the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first African-American president.

Some would argue the death of Kalas does not quite measure up to that standard. I would disagree, and the front page of today’s newspaper, dominated by a single image of Kalas, would be testament to that belief.

Staff writer Tim Logue profiled Kalas just a few weeks ago. We ran that story on Sunday, April 5, opening day of the Phillies season.

I will admit that I assigned Tim this story because I was beginning to have some uneasy feelings about Kalas. His health seemed to be failing.
He had missed some of the Phils Grapefruit League season after undergoing an unspecified medical procedure.

I wanted Tim to ask Harry about his health, and about how long the 73-year-old Kalas saw himself still doing the games. Tim said Harry was non-committal, that he still enjoyed his work and had no plans to give it up.

I can admit there is another reason I wanted that story. I fully intended that to be our lead story, dominating that front page as well.
I had already written the headline: The Voice of Summer.

As it turned out, Villanova got in the way of that plan. The Wildcats were playing in the Final Four against North Carolina that Saturday night. They lost, but we still led the paper with the ‘Cats wild ride to that point.

We still managed to use that ‘Voice of Summer’ headline at the top of our left-hand rail on Page One.

It might have been the last print interview Kalas gave.

Eventually, the stories will disappear from all those Web sites, including our own. TV and radio will move on to other stories, as will newspapers, including this one.

But somewhere, in some old trunk with other cherished family heirlooms will be a newspaper with Kalas’ picture on the front and the simple
words: Harry is Gone.

As I often remind my staff and groups that I speak to, print is forever.

So are our memories of Harry Kalas.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Harry is gone

Summer will never be the same. I won't be sharing it with Harry Kalas.

A few weeks ago, I asked staff writer Tim Logue to see if he could line up an interview with legendary Phillies broadcaster and longtime Delaware County broadcaster Harry Kalas.

That interview appeared in our Sunday paper on opening day. I had a specific headline that I wanted to appear on the story: The Voice of Summer.

The truth is I wanted the interview for another reason. I was getting worried about Kalas. He had battled a couple of health problems this year and was not in the booth at the beginning of the Phils exhibition season in Clearwater.

I was wondering if possibly this might he Harry's last year.

It will, but not for the reason I feared.

Harry Kalas died yesterday after collapsing in the press box of the Nationals stadium in Washington, D.C., where the Phillies were due to play a game this afternoon. He was 73.

I have long been of the opinion that baseball is a game best listened to on the radio. That's how I learned the game from my dad. When I asked him about this odd habit, about why he would rather listen to the game on radio than watch it on TV, he would always respond the same way: "I can see the game better on the radio."

It is a love he imparted to his son. There are not many things I enjoy more than sitting out on the porch on a thick, humid summer evening and listen to a Phillies game on the radio.

I will continue to do that, just as I did when we lost Rich "Whitey" Ashburn a few years back. But it won't be the same.

The voice of summer is gone.

Rest easy, Harry. You always said that one day you would rejoin your old pal.

Heaven now has the best announcing team in the reunited pair of Kalas and Ashburn. No doubt they'll be listening to the game today.

No one in this region who considered him or herself a fan will ever listen to a Phillies home run without thinking of Harry Kalas and his signature call.

We won't ever hear the distinctive "Outttheeere" again.

The voice of the Phillies is gone.

The Daily Numbers - April 13

The Daily Numbers: 3 pirates shot and killed by Navy SEAL snipers in freeing a U.S. ship captain being held hostage Sunday. A 4th surrendered.
1 person killed this morning in a car fire that has shut down Route 202 north in Thornbury Township.
2 firefighters injured battling a fire that damaged 3 apartment units in East Lansdowne.
63, age of Randy Cain, founding member of the Delfonics. He died at his home, but his music, and songs like ‘La La Means I Love You’ will live forever.
17, age of defendant due to go on trial today in the slaying of a Starbucks manager on a Center City SEPTA concourse. Now the prosecution wants to try Kinta Stanton as an adult in the death of Sean Conroy.
1 person killed after a party erupted into a brawl last night at a community center in Lawnside, N.J.
90,000 dollars, amount of no-bid Pa. contract given to law firm that also made campaign donations to Gov. Ed Rendell.
3 loaded guns found by an 8-year-old boy playing near his house in New Castle County, Del.
1 child hurt when fisticuffs broke out during a party at a Chuck E.
Cheese restaurant in South Philly.
2 people shot on the 3200 block of North Randolph Street in North Philly Sunday night.
174 million dollar Powerball jackpot from six weeks ago that still has not been claimed. There were two winning tickets sold.
24 incidents of vandalism now under investigation in Bucks County.
Houses and vehicles are being targeted for the racist screeds.
93 cats found in a feces-filled home in central New Jersey.
9.2 percent dip in sales for Macy’s in March.
67 arrests and 167,000 dollars in drugs seized by cops in the first big weekend push of Operation Pressure Point in Philly.
34 million dollars in ticket sales for Miley Cyrus to lead the weekend box office with ‘Hannah Montana: The Movie.’
2.07, what we’re paying at the pump in the Philly area. Gas prices were unchanged over the weekend.
2 run pinch-hit homer in the 9th for Matt Stairs to spark the Phils to a win over the Rockies Sunday.
0 wins for the Nationals, where the Phils land today in D.C.
4-3 loss for the Flyers in their season finale vs. the Rangers, which means they go on the road to open their first-round playoff series in Pittsburgh Wednesday night.
22 points for Chris Bosh as the Raptors put away the struggling Sixers Sunday.
3 man playoff that went to Angel Cabrera Sunday as he captured the green jacket at The Masters.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You just have to love Matt Stairs. Or maybe the Phils should just start calling their late-innings pinch hitter Roy Hobbs, after the fabled Robert Redford character in ‘The Natural.’
I Don’t Get It: OK, the Obamas have a dog. It’s very cute. Now maybe we can all move on.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to those Navy SEALs who freed captive U.S. ship captain Richard Phillips Sunday.
Quote Box: “Every country will be treated the way it treats us. In the future, America will be the one mourning and crying.”
-- A pirate holding a Greek ship anchored in Somali town of Gaan after Americans killed three pirates and freed a ship captain being held on another vessel.

Rescue on high seas

It as the perfect gift for an Easter Sunday afternoon.

No, not news that the Obamas finally had selected a dog.

I refer to the headlines early yesterday afternoon that U.S. Navy SEALs had freed the captain of a U.S. ship who had been held captive by Somali pirates since last Wednesday.

The decision was apparently made after it was learned pirates were pointing a rifle at Capt. Richard Phillips, who had offered himself up as a hostage after the pirates stormed his ship.

Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, in a briefing after the daring night-time rescue, said Phillips was in imminent danger because one of the pirates had placed an AK-47 assault rifle to the back of his head.

Navy SEAL snipers took out three of the pirates; a fourth surrendered.

It was a feel-good moment in the often prickly area of how exactly to deal with pirates, who are increasingly causing problems in that area of the Indian Ocean.

Those problems are likely to get even more touchy now. The assault against the pirates sparked some tough words from other pirates and raised fears for others who are still being held captive.

“From now on, if we capture foreign ships and their respective countries try to attack us, we will kill them (the hostages),” a 30-year-old pirate told the Associated Press.

We’ll deal with those issues as they come up, and hopefully we will get a little more in the way of international cooperation in attacking the problem.

But for one afternoon, the rescue provided proof that America is now about to stand idly by and watch U.S. citizens – or for that matter any others – be put in harm’s way by a ragtag bunch of swashbucklers who think they can do as they please on the high seas.

Spring backward

Anyone else wondering when exactly spring is supposed to arrive?

It was 31 degrees according to the thermometer on my car dashboard when I climbed behind the wheel this morning.

Yesterday wasn’t a lot better. Sure, there was plenty of sunshine, which made it a lot better than Saturday’s steady rain and cold, raw conditions.

But it didn’t feel a lot better. And it was anything but warm.

We’ve not made it back into Daylight Savings Time, we’re started the baseball season, and we’ve celebrated Passover and Easter.

Spring can show up any day now.

Sunday at Augusta

It did not come as a surprise that yesterday’s final round of The Masters went to a sudden-death playoff.

What was surprising was that none of the three golfers going extra holes was named Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods.

It was an odd Sunday at Augusta National Golf Course, home of the Masters Tournament.

Most eyes were fixed not on the final pairing of the day, but instead a couple of groups ahead, where the true heavyweights of golf, Woods and Mickelson, spent the day doing their own version of Frazier and Ali and the ‘Thrilla in Manila.’

Call this one the ‘Thrilla in Augusta.’

Mickelson took the early advantage, blistering the front nine and pulling to within a shot of the lead. Woods was in full grinder mode, trailing both Mickelson and the leaders.

As it turned out, neither man made it to the playoff.

That honor was reserved for Kenny Perry, Chad Campbell and Angel Cabrera.

Perry had to be kicking himself. After an absolutely exquisite iron shot to the Par 3 16th left him with just a tap in and a two-stroke lead with two holes to play, he promptly threw away a green jacket by bogeying the final two holes.

Campbell was the first to fall in the playoff, leaving Perry and Cabrera to head back to the 10th tee. It appeared certain that it would be Cabrera would be the first to exit after he launched his tee shot on the first playoff hole on 18 into the trees. But he hit a miraculous shot back into the fairway, then got up and down from there.

It was Perry, clearly fighting his swing, who crumpled on the final hole.

Cabrera adds a green jacket to his U.S. Open championship.

But it was Woods vs. Mickelson that captured the thunder most of the day. Both had their chances. Mickelson shot himeself in the foot by hitting his tee shot on the Par 3 12th in the water. Woods clawed to within a shot before he fell on the final two holes.

In the process he did something I’ve never seen him do before. He blinked. He also did something else. On 18 Woods’ tee shot flew into the trees on the right side. In these instances Woods usually pulls off some kind of miracle. This time his shot caromed directly off a tree.

I know how you feel, Tiger. I do that all the time.

It’s about the only thing I do like Tiger.

Sunday at Augusta did not disappoint. It’s still the most riveting day in sports.

Stairs as Roy Hobbs

Maybe they should just start playing the music from “The Natural” when Matt Stairs comes up to bat.

Stairs did it again Sunday.

One of the most riveting memories of last year’s run to the World Series title was the monster shot Stairs launched deep into the L.A. night to beat the Dodgers in Game 4 of last year’s NLCS.

Yesterday he was at it again, this time in the Mile High City. Staairs was doing his best Robert Redford-Roy Hobbs imitation when he hit a ball almost a mile, depositing it in the Rockies bullpen, some 432 feet away from home plate, to lift the Phils to a 7-5 come-from-behind win.

Stairs really has one person on this team. Exactly what he did yesterday. Stairs does not get cheated when he comes up to bat. He’s swinging for the fences.

Yesterday, once again, he cleared them. With plenty to spare.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 10

The Daily Numbers: 3 different occasions when the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office says hit-run suspect Lemuel Payne violated his house arrest.
75,000 dollars bail for Payne that was revoked by a Delaware County Judge Thursday.
17, age of one of the suspects in the death of Starbucks manager Sean Conroy in a Center City subway concourse who now is back in jail acccused in a shooting.
0, how much some veterans will pay for classes at Pennsylvania Institute of Technology under a new program.
21, age of student at prestigious Gettysburg College who stands charged of killing his one-time girlfriend, also a student at the school.
2 men believed to be illegal immigrants charged in the fatal crash that took the life of a 27-year-old schoolteacher in Evesham, N.J.
3 businesses destroyed when flames ripped through a strip mall in Cherry Hill Thursday night.
4,800 calories in a 4 pound burger on the menu at a Michigan restaurant.
It sells for 20 bucks.
1 person hospitalized Thursday night after a shooting in Bristol Borough.
9.2 percent dip in sales for Macy’s in the last 5 weeks. That follows an
8.5 percent hit in February.
19 percent decline in revenue reported by Atlantic City casinos. That’s the 2nd straight month for a record dip.
60 percent cut in compensation for Lincoln National Corp CEO Dennis Glass. Don’t feel too bad. He went from $18 million to $7.3 million.
16, age of high school student in Delaware who police say was raped by her ROTC instructor. He’s 49.
6,000 people in town for the World Irish Dancing Championships.
125 deer killed in city parks in Philadelphia.
6 months, how long a Lancaster County kennel will be closed after state inspectors found violations. They’ll also pay a $166,000 fine.
10,000 dollar bail for a man charged with running a cockfighting ring in Reading.
1 game left in the regular season for the Flyers. They fell to the Rangers last night in New York. The two hook up again Sunday at the Wachovia Center.
99 points for the Sixers, who fell to the Bulls in Chicago.
4:10 this afternoon, start time for Phils to go against the Rockies in Denver.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.All eyes on Cole Hamels this afternoon. OK, I’ll be honest. One eye on Hamels, the other eye flipping over to the Masters.
I Don’t Get It: What exactly was Lemuel Payne thinking when the hit-run suspect decided to do the town at a Philly nightclub, still wearing his electronic home monitoring bracelet?
Today’s Upper: Rep. Joe Sestak and Pennsylvania Institute of Technology are teaming to provide free classes for veterans.
Quote Box: “You’re supposed to do and be where you are supposed to be.”
-- Delaware County Judge Frank Hazel, in revoking bail for hit-run suspect Lemuel Payne.

All Payne, no gain

The party’s over for Lemuel Payne.

The suspect in the fatal hit-run that snuffed out the promising life of a Ridley teen who has a penchant for apparently skipping out on his electronic home monitoring won’t have that problem anymore.

He’ll be monitored by guards at the Delaware County Prison.

Payne was in a Media courtroom yesterday for a hearing at which the District Attorney’s Office moved to have his bail revoked. Payne had been free on house arrest on electronic monitoring on charges that he was the driver of the black Mercedes that struck and killed Faith Sinclair last August as she tried to cross Chester Pike.

Payne didn’t seem to quite understand the parameters of house arrest. On at least three occasions, the D.A.’s office says he was out of his house in violation of his bail.

The last time officers got a tip that Payne would be at a Philadelphia nightspot. They staked the joint out. Sure enough, Payne showed up, his electronic monitoring bracelet still attached to his ankle.

Payne will now be in jail until his trial on the hit-run charges on May 11.

He likely will find the monitoring program there is a tad tougher.

An embezzlement trend

There has been another arrest involving a person embezzling a large amount of money from their employer.

And once again it’s a woman. I’m not sure why that is, but it strikes me as undeniable that this is something of a trend.

This week a Clifton Heights woman, Marianne Rossman, was charged with ripping off the Ridley Park doctors she worked for to the tune of more than $23,000.

That puts her in company with the school worker in Ridley, the township secretary in Bethel Township, and the treasurer in Thornbury.

Carol Ackley stole more than $573,000 from the Ridley School District.
She claimed to have a gambling addiction.

Forrest Finlay-Rabchuk pocketed more than $500,000 when no one was looking in Bethel. She said she didn’t know why she did it, but had some hefty shopping bills, including a home and cars, that might have hinted otherwise.

Deborah Perry entered a plea to embezzling more than $250,000 from Thornbury Township.

In the latest case, District Attorney Mike Green says there does not appear to be any wild shopping trips, extravagant lifestyles, or addictions that appeared to be fueling Rossman’s alleged thievery. She was just paying her credit card bills and tabs at local eateries.

Green is planning to hold an economic summit in May for small businesses to offer them some instruction in how not to fall victim to just this sort of crime.

Can’t happen fast enough.

Sports doesn't get better than this

Forget March Madness. Don’t talk to me about Opening Day, not even one with a special ring ceremony.

Super Bowl Sunday? It’s a good party, but it comes in the middle of winter.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are still a few weeks off. Same for the NBA Playoffs.

No, the best sports event of the year started yesterday.

Yes, I’m a golf nut. But my guess is that my 27-inch TV (no, I haven’t gone big screen yet) is about as close as I will ever come to Augusta National Golf Course.

That’s where they play the Masters every year.

Look, I’m strictly a public links player. I’m not in danger of being admitted to any country clubs, let alone drive down Magnolia Lane.

But there is something about this very special weekend, and this very special place. For one, it’s just drop-dead gorgeous. With azaleas in full bloom, it looks – even on TV – like something touched by God.

Then there’s the golf. The Masters Tournament every year produces some of the most memorable golf of the year. If you’re not a golf fan, no doubt your eyes are rolling back in your head right about now. Be my guest. Golf is an acquired taste, especially on TV.

But each year the masters who run the Masters limit commercials to just a couple of minutes every hour. Imagine that, a sports event that does not cater to every whim of the czars who run TV. Instead, this weekend it goes the other way around. Nirvana for golf nuts.

Then there is one final item about this weekend. His name is Tiger Woods. The best athlete on the planet will be in the hunt this weekend at Augusta. Right now he’s five shots off the pace. Every set of eyes in the tournament will be watching him, just as every set of eyes at home watching on TV will be waiting for Tiger to go on the prowl.

Don’t look for me on Sunday. I will be in front of the TV. Enjoying the single best sports event of the year.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

How 'tweet' it is

Life is tweet.

Yes, I have taken the next step in my transformation from print dinosaur to new media guru.

In other words, I have joined Twitter. Now if I only understood it what you’re supposed to do with it. If you can help me out, feel free.

For those who like me who were unaware until recently of what exactly Twitter is, or how you are supposed to communicate using a message with no more than 140 characters, feel free to join in. Those short, and hopefully sweet updates are known as “tweets.” They are supposed to answer the question, “What are you doing?”

What am I doing? I’m drowning in technology and information, as usual.
Most of the time, I want to do nothing more than to simply unplug from all this information, stick a chair in the sand, curl up with a good book, and not communicate with anyone for hours.

That’s not going to happen anytime soon.

If there are any tech-savvy folks who can offer an aging dinosaur a hand as to exactly what I’m supposed to be doing with all this technology, you can post a comment on this blog.

Or you can join me here.

See you in cyberspace.

The Daily Numbers - April 8

The Daily Numbers: 23,000 dollars, how much a Clifton Heights woman is alleged to have ripped off from the doctor’s office where she worked.
55,000 dollars, low bid for work set to refurbish the historic Morton Train Station.
27, age of teacher killed in car crash in Evesham, N.J.
500 slot machines that got the green light yesterday for the Valley Forge Convention Center.
107 million dollars, how much investors are planning to spend to refurbish the site.
1 million dollars a year in tax revenue, what the area stands to gain from the site.
100,000 dollars believed in a safe that was stolen from a home in Parsippany, N.J.
144 million dollars, value of the one winning ticket sold in last night’s Powerball drawing. Talk about your stimulus packages.
12 murders charged yesterday to a vicious Philly drug gang, including 6 deaths from one arson fire. Police say they used violence to silence witnesses. The drug ring’s leader’s name is Kaboni Savage. Sounds about right.
10 years in jail for a Philly man on charges he was looking to sell 5 kilograms of cocaine.
6 months old, age of tot killed by her father in Lebanon, Pa. He pleaded guilty yesterday.
3 million dollar anonymous donation for the Penn State-Harrisburg campus.
2 Philly casinos that continue to spark controversy and protest. Foes went to Harrisburg yesterday to blast the city sites before the state Gaming Control Board.
7 runs down and looking at a 0-3 start, where Phils were before rallying for a huge win over Braves yesterday.
4 walks with the bases loaded by Braves pitchers in the seventh inning the fueled the Phils’ rally.
44,939 who were jammed into Citizens Bank Park for the special World Series ring ceremony that preceded the game. Not nearly that many were still in their chilly seats after the Phils fell behind, 10-3.
103 diamonds on the rings, which represent 92 regular season wins and 11 postseason victories.
3.84 karats in those pieces of bling, handed out to players and staff.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone else think the Phillies World Series rings were just a tad over the top in these economic times.
I Don’t Get It: A clear down point from yesterday’s ring ceremony. Not a great thing to hear those boos raining down on Adam Eaton. He’s gone now. It smeared a nice ceremony.
Today’s Upper: The thunderous applause offered to Pat Burrell. Here’s hoping he has a great year, except when he’s playing the Phillies.
Quote Box: “I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve seen a couple of walks-ins but never like that.”
-- Braves Manager Bobby Cox, after watching his pitcher walk in four Phillies runs in the seventh inning.

Ring-ing in the ears

A few random thoughts about the Phillies ring ceremony yesterday: After all, we waited 28 years to see it.

First and foremost, congratulations to the Phils, you earned it. Now, can we please put a halt to all the hosannas and get back to playing baseball. Maybe a road trip is just what this team needs. Then again, the way they’re pitching, a trip to Coors Field in the Mile High City of Denver might not be exactly what the doctor ordered.

High points of the day: Former GM Pat Gillick with tears in his eyes. A thunderous ovation for Pat Burrell.

Low point: A cacophony of boos that rained down on Adam Eaton. How long do you think that is going to be played on ESPN? We’ll hear about it every time Philly fans are debated. Not a good move.

And about those rings: Maybe it’s just me (after all I work in an industry that seems to be crumbling all around us), but did it strike anyone else as just a tad unseemly – even gaudy – to be handing out that kind of bling in these economic times?

Check out some of the numbers on these babies: 14 karat white gold, each one with 103 diamonds, coming to about 3.84 karats a pop. The top of the ring has a ruby inlay, with the Phillies P logo inset with diamonds.

The Phils would not comment on how much the rings were worth. I don’t blame them.

How long before one of them shows up on eBay?

A familiar ring

Another trip to the confessional booth. I was throwing dirt on the Phillies yesterday afternoon. Go ahead, admit it. You were, too. Maybe that’s why there were so many empty seats at Citizens Bank Park after the Phils fell behind 10-3.

In fact, I already had a Back Page in mind as smeared what had been a lovely ring ceremony by then starting the game, and offering further proof that their heads were still in 2008, instead of three games into 2009.

I envisioned a headline something like this: A FAMILIAR RING, Phils fall to 0-3 after being swept by Braves.

The Phillies trailed 10-3 in the seventh, and appeared to be well on their way to another one of their infamous slow starts.

Then a strange thing happened. The Braves bullpen took a page out of last year’s New York Mets. Suddenly none of the Braves pitchers could throw a strike.

They walked four guys with the bases loaded, and the Phils rallied for a
12-11 win.

Even last year’s guarantee, Brad Lidge, suffered a bit of a hiccup. The Phils’ stopper out of the pen gave up a home run in the ninth inning, but then held.

The win masked a couple of things. The Phils have now played three games and gotten three shaky starts from their pitchers. Not good.

Cole Hamels goes to the mound Friday in Denver. If he grabs his elbow in the first inning, you’ll know the karma from yesterday at Citizens Bank Park is not carrying over.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Harrah's has competition in Valley Forgge

UPDATE: This just in from AP. Harrah's has even more competition than I thought!

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A suburban Philadelphia hotel and meeting complex has the go-ahead from state regulators to add 500 slot machines.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted Wednesday to approve the application by the Valley Forge Convention Center.
The state Legislature legalized slot machine gambling in 2004 as a way to cut taxes and authorized the gaming board to award 14 casino licenses. Valley Forge was granted one of the two licenses that are available for resorts.
The other 12 licenses cost $50 million and allow up to 5,000 machines at each licensee. All but one of those have been awarded.

The Daily Numbers - April 8

The Daily Numbers: 0 runs scored by the Phils last night, as they fell 4-0 to the Braves.
0, also the number of wins the Phils have compiled so far in defense of their World Series title.
2 times the Delco D.A. has now filed first-degree murder charges against a Sharon Hill mother in the stabbing death of her daughter. The first time they got tossed by a magisterial district judge. The D.A. has refiled them.
100,000 dollars cash, amount of bail for a Collingdale man charged with beating his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter. That’s down from $500,000. He waived his preliminary hearing and will face trial.
75,000 dollars, 10 percent of the $750,000 bail that may be forfeited by hit-run suspect Lemuel Payne after he was found at a Philly nightclub last weekend. The D.A.’s office is moving to revoke bail.
17, age of Upper Darby teen who police believe accidentally shot his brother during a street fight. Police say the suspect was pistol-whipping another youth when the gun went off, wounding his brother.
1,100 dollars – all in pennies – raised by the kids at Annunciation BVM School in Haverford to help the Philly Police Hero Survivors’ Fund. Guess you could call it Pennies from Heaven.
16,156 arrests for DUI made by Pa. state police last year, that’s a new record high.
87,000 dollars, amount believed stolen from a fund for a police group by a former officer in Bucks County. She was found dead yesterday, hours before she was to be sentenced in the case.
1 million dollars, amount believed fleeced from members of a South Jersey church by a Phoenixville man via phony real estate schemes.
2 Philly casinos that may now be up and running by next year after being mired in controversy and protest.
33 percent of all murders in Philadelphia happen between March and October, and 50 percent of those occur between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m. Police will target those hours in a new program called “Operation Pressure Point.”
1 woman killed when flames roared through a row home in North Philly Tuesday night.
4 of the 9 free concerts put on by the Philadelphia Orchestra in Fairmount Park being cut this year because of budget deficits.
33 percent of the nation’s teachers who will retire in the next 4 years as Baby Boomers get ready to leave their jobs.
3 instances where thieves have targeted cars in Wawa parking lots in Bensalem. They are hitting women’s cars and taking pocketbooks left in the car while the women run into the store.
2 students at Newark High School in Delaware charged after bringing a loaded gun into the school.
1,250 jobs being cut by Citizens Financial, parent company of Citizens Bank.
9,000 jobs being shed by Royal Bank of Scotland.
1 run scored by the Phillies in 18 innings so far this year.
1 pitch, all it took for the Phils to fall behind the Braves last night after Jamie Moyer tossed a home run ball to open the game.
2-1 win for the Flyers last night, which locks up a playoff spot.
98 points for the Sixers, not enough to beat the Charlotte Bobcats. They lost 101-98.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.OK, give out the World Series rings already. Then maybe the Phils can snap out of their championship funk and begin to display the grit that led them to the crown last October.
I Don’t Get It: You have to wonder what Lemuel Payne was thinking. He was supposed to be on home monitoring as he awaited trial in the hit-run death of a Ridley teen. Instead police busted him at a Philadelphia nightspot. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Jack Shingle, the longtime Upper Darby coach and pal of the Police Athletic League. You can’t count the number of young lives he’s touched.
Quote Box: “We feel the evidence supports the charge of first-degree murder.”
-- Assistant District Attorney Michael Mattson, on the office’s move to reinstate more serious charges against a Sharon Hill mother in the stabbing death of her daughter.

Keeping the Faith

For Kim Ferrell, the pain continues. Or maybe that should read the “Payne” continues.

Ferrell is the mother of Faith Sinclair, the Ridley High honor student who was run down as she tried to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill last August. The driver who snuffed out Faith’s life – and then fled the scene - could not kill Ferrell’s faith in the system. But it is certainly being tested.

She waited patiently as police slowly built their case. A “person of interest” became the focus of the case early on. The black Mercedes that was believed to be the vehicle that ran Faith down was found. It had the exact damage police said they would expect to find.

Eventually, after two seemingly endless months, a suspect was arrested. Lemuel Payne, the owner of the Mercedes, was charged in the hit-run case.

Payne has been free on bail, under electronic home monitoring. He is not supposed to leave his house.

So he likely was somewhat surprised when he was met at a Philadelphia nightspot Saturday night by Delaware County detectives. Payne, still wearing his ankle bracelet, was taken into custody.

The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office believes it is not the first time Payne violated the conditions of his bail and monitoring. They say he also was out on the town back on Dec. 19, as well as on St. Patrick’s Day.

Payne is now sitting in Delaware County Prison. The D.A.’s Office will be in court next week seeking to revoke his bail. Payne is due to go on trial on May 11.

Kim Ferrell will be there. Not for Payne, but for Faith, to make sure she is not forgotten.

It’s her way of keeping the “Faith.”

More bad news for Harrah's

The news just got a little worse for Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack.

You might remember that just last week, the poobahs at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board were crowing about how revenue was up at six of the seven new slots parlors operating in the state.

Guess which one was down? You got it. Harrah’s, right there on the Delaware River in Chester. It was part of a somewhat alarming recent trend at the Chester slots operation, where revenue has been in decline since last summer. State Gaming Control Board figures show that while every other slots operation posted gains in March 2009 from the same month the year before, the action at Harrah’s was off 7 percent.

Now things are about to get even tougher for local slots parlors.

That’s because the seemingly endless process of putting two new slots operations in the city of Philadelphia looks like it is finally getting off the ground.

The folks at SugarHouse casino, which was awarded one of the two licenses for the city, this week announced a scaled-back plan to be located along the Delaware River. Today SugarHouse officials will present those plans to state regulators in Harrisburg.

Bottom line? It will be a smaller facility, but not necessarily any less of a threat to Harrah’s Chester operation. The smaller design has apparently wooed at least one former foe. City Councilman Frank DiCicco, who had led community opposition to the casino, now says he’s ready to get behind the project, in no small part because of its much-needed shot in the arm to a city bleeding red ink.

If SugarHouse gets the OK, they say they could have a temporary gaming facility up and running by the middle of 2010.

Foxwoods holds the city’s other gaming license, and after abandoning their own plans to local on the waterfront, they turned their eyes to a site in the Gallery shopping mall location in Center City. That plan drew almost as much protest as their original proposal. Now they’re looking at the old Strawbridge’s building in Center City. And get this, the Foxwoods folks say they want a facility open by the end of the year.

Community residents opposed to more legalizing gambling in the city also are headed to Harrisburg to make sure their voices are heard.

One thing is certain. The competition for gambling dollars is about to heat up. For Harrah’s, that is not the best of news.

A certain ring to it

The Phillies will collect their World Series rings this afternoon.

Maybe they also will get their first win of the season as well. They got shut out last night by the Braves, 4-0, after scoring just one run in a 4-1 loss in the Sunday night opener.

And once again the bad news arrived early. Jamie Moyer took the mound for the Phils last night and watched as his first pitch was deposited over the right-field fence. The first pitch, and it’s 1-0 Braves. They tacked on another run to make it 2-0. That’s really all they needed.

But hey, relax, right Jimmy Rollins? Why should we be heartbroken because the Phils lost “a” game. Even if they did an instant replay last night and now have lost two games. That’s why they play 162.

This afternoon will be another love fest for the 2008 World Champions. Pat Burrell will be back for the ceremony, before jetting off to rejoin his new mates, the Tampa Bay Rays, who are playing in Boston.

Maybe after this afternoon’s ring ceremony, the Phils can shake the memories of 2008 and start concentrating on 2009.

They are the defending World Series champions. It’s time they start playing like it.

A perfect season

Has there ever been a more dominating season than the one just completed at UConn.

No, not cranky Jim Calhoun’s men’s squad. They got eliminated in the Final Four.

I’m talking about Norristown native Geno Auriemma’s women’s team.

All they did last night was dispatch Louisville, 76-54, to win the NCAA women’s hoops championship.

In the process they went a perfect 39-0. The 22-point margin also extended another mind-bending streak. During that 39-game streak, the Huskies did not win a game by less than double digits. That’s never been done before in college basketball. It might not ever be done again.

There’s only one word for the season the UConn women just put together: Perfection.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 7

The Daily Numbers: 1981, when Officer Danny Faulkner was fatally shot during a traffic stop in Philly.
1982, when Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder. It’s been tied up in the court under appeals ever since. Monday the U.S. Supreme Court said it would not give Abu-Jamal a new trial.
13 people busted by police in a raid of bars in Chester as police fanned out to pick up fugitives.
2 incidents of vandalism that are under investigation by Springfield police. A local youth baseball field was “turfed” and Springfield Country Club saw several flag pins stolen.
50 students at Academy Park High School who officials believe are responsible for a quarter of troublesome incidents at the school.
150 dead in the earthquake that jolted Italy. A choral group from Strath Haven High School that is touring the country was jolted from their bed by the quake, but did not suffer any injuries.
2 incidents reported in South Jersey shore towns of scammers using the Internet to advertise bogus summer rentals, then stealing customers’ down payments.
7,000 dollars in counterfeit cash seized by police in Bensalem. The suspected counterfeiter is behind bars.
4 alarm fire that roared through a warehouse in Kensington overnight. No injuries were reported. 30 to 40 residents were evacuated from nearby homes.
40 roosters seized when police raided a cock-fighting operation in North Philadelphia Monday night.
63, age of Drexel University President Constantine Papadakis, who died unexpectedly Monday of complications from lung cancer.
1 person killed in Delaware when a chase of a stolen car suspect ended in a fatal crash.
24 jobs coming to Delaware, where Alstom Train Life Services will set up shop as a repair facility for Amtrak’s Acela trains.
6 to 23 months in jail for a former prosecutor in Bucks County on charges of corrupting the minors of teen boys. He had originally gotten house arrest but was resentenced Monday.
89-72 win in the national championship game for North Carolina over Michigan State. The game wasn’t that close.
1 game behind the Mets, where the Phils stand this morning. The New Yorkers won their opener over the Reds.
46, age of Phils starter Jamie Moyer as he takes the mound for his 23rd major league season tonight.
3 different Philly teams all playing games at 7 tonight. The Phils will be joined by the Sixers and Flyers.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Spare me the sarcasm, Jimmy Rollins. No one appreciates that world championship more than I do. And nothing aggravates me more than pro athletes mocking the passion of those who pay to go through the turnstiles.
I Don’t Get It: The 8 p.m. start for the opener at Citizens Bank Park, coupled with a gorgeous afternoon, made for perfect tailgating conditions. And no shortage of fights in the parking lots, including one in which an off-duty cop was slugged.
Today’s Upper: The Phillie Phanatic is getting his own ice cream flavor, courtesy of Turkey Hill. No it’s not a green mint chocolate chip. Can’t believe they missed that one.
Quote Box: “Case closed, it should have been done a long time ago.”
-- Larry Faulkner, brother of slain Philly Officer Danny Faulkner, on hearing the Supreme Court will not give his killer Mumia Abu-Jamal a new trial.

The Faulkner case

Maybe now Danny Faulkner can rest in peace.

And his widow and family members, many of whom live in Delaware County, can find some closure.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, despite the protestations of an array of Hollywood protesters and others who apparently never took the time to read the transcript of his trial, is not going anywhere.

He will remain in jail for the cold-blooded execution of the Philadelphia police officer almost 30 years ago.

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday rejected a plea to grant Abu-Jamal a new trial. The former Black Panther and radio reporter has been on death row since 1982, all while proclaiming his innocence and filing any number of appeals. Abu-Jamal maintained the prosecution wrongly excluded blacks from his jury.

The key color in this case was never black or white; it was blue, the color of the uniform Faulkner proudly wore. The trial testimony showed Abu-Jamal shot Faulkner when he came upon the officer in the midst of a traffic stop involving Abu-Jamal’s brother. Shots were exchanged. Both men were wounded. But witnesses indicated Abu-Jamal stood over a wounded Faulkner and fired another shot into his body.

Abu-Jamal’s lawyer has called the trial “a mockery of justice” and is vowing seek a rehearing by the high court.

The ruling does not affect the question of the death penalty for Abu-Jamal. That had been set aside, and the state has gone to court to get it reinstituted.

But there is now little chance that Abu-Jamal will get a new trial.

They say the wheels of justice turn slowly. No kidding. Faulkner was gunned down in 1981. Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1982.

Rest in peace, Danny.

The Phils and the Fans

Let’s get this off our chest right now. I am a firm believer in the notion that when you pay outrageous sums for a ticket to a pro sporting event, fork over a ransom to park, then are gouged for a hot dog and beer, you are well withing your rights to boo.

Still, I will admit that the signature Philly sound that rained down on Brett Myers and the Phils Sunday night may have been a tad premature.

Just minutes before, the Phillies raised their World Series Championship banner. Have we forgotten last autumn already? The curse is over. Billy Penn be damned. We’re not losers. But we remain among the most tempestuous fans in sports.

We proved that again Sunday night. After a lot of pomp and circumstance involving the celebration of their title, the Phils finally got around to playing the game. That’s part of the problem. It’s entirely possible the Phils’ heads remained in the year that was emplazoned on that flag that now flies so gracefully over Citizens Bank Park. That would be 2008. Unfortunately, they are now playing games in the 2009 campaign.

Yes, it’s only one game. We were reminded of just that after the game by a churlish Jimmy Rollins, who feigned mock disgust after the loss.

“My heart is broken that we lost “a” game,” Rollins said, his voice and expression dripping with sarcasm. The emphasis was on the “a” in that sentence. Meaning there are 161 more games to play. Probably a little early to jump to any conclusions. Point taken, Mr. Rollins.

But there is still something that rankles when athletes react this way. It’s pretty obvious that one of us don’t get it: Either the fans remain too prickly, too quick to jump on a negative and offer a vocal commentary, or the players still simply “don’t get it.” They don’t understand the passion of the fans, nor the high prices they pay to enter the rarefied air of the exalted playground that taxpayer dollars helped build.

All will be forgiven tonight should the ancient one, Jamie Moyer, mow down the Braves. But should Moyer offer up an outing mimicking his last few starts in the Grapefruit League, look for a familiar sound to rain down from the stands.

It’s a new year. We’re a game behind the Mets, who won yesterday.

Maybe the Phils could take a page out of Notre Dame’s book: Play like a champion today.

'Nova gets some company

Cheer up, Villanova Fans.

You’re not alone in getting crushed by those big, bad North Carolina Tar Heels.

And at least you had the good sense to do it on a Saturday night, when there were any number of other diversions that might keep everybody but the die-hards away from the game.

No such luck for Michigan State. Armed by about 60,000 fans among the 72,000 people jammed into Ford Field in nearby Detroit Monday night, the Spartans met a very similar fate as the Wildcats.

Adding insult to injury, it was not the first time Michigan State got smoked by Carolina this year. Heck, it wasn’t even the first time in Ford Field.

Carolina had beaten Michigan State by 35 four months ago in the same cavernous football stadium. Monday night proved to be an instant replay, with the Tar Heels winning in a walk, 89-72. And it wasn’t that close.

The biggest loser in all this was not Villanova, nor even Michigan State.

It was likely CBS, which paid a ton of money to broadcast the tournament, only to get two blowouts in the last two games, and a lackluster win by Michigan State over UConn in the other Final Four contest.

How many people do you think stayed with last night’s game after halftime? This one was over early, when Carolina blew open the game in the first half and really never looked back.

Serves TV and the NCAA right for starting a game after 9:15.

Michigan State joined by the rest of us by being put to sleep.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 6

The Daily Numbers: 17 minutes, how long it took Phils fans to boo last night as starter Brett Myers surrendered a series of homers as the pinstripes dropped the opener to the Braves.
72 degrees, our expected high today, but it will be marked by heavy downpours, thunder and lightning. A flood watch is in effect in the region.
2 brothers from Ridley Township who face charges connected to a heist at a local jewelry store.
25,000 dollars in scholarships for local parochial school students to continue their education at a Catholic high school.
50, where the death toll now stands after an earthquake rattled large portions of Italy. It is expected to climb.
1 person injured when a police cruiser and pickup truck collided in an intersection at Castor and Aramingo avenues in Philly.
2 people shot in North Philadelphia early this morning.
20 teens who went on a mini-crime spree in Philly. Charges include assault and robbery after they confronted a homeowner.
14, age of teen injured in Chester County when a bottle bomb blew up in his face. He suffered burns to his face.
8.9 percent dip in passenger traffic in March for US Airways.
2.04, average price we’re paying at the pumps for gasoline in Philly region.
3 officers fatally shot during street confrontation in Pittsburgh.
73, age of man charged with killing his 73-year-old wife in Jerome, Pa., near Pittsburgh.
1985, still the one and only national champion for Villanova. The Wildcats were eliminated Saturday night by North Carolina.
30 wins and eight losses, the final mark for the Wildcats.
3 home runs surrendered by Brett Myers last night as the Phils dropped their opener to the Braves
2 hits, all the Phils could muster against Braves starter Derek Lowe.
56 wins vs. 69 losses for the Phils in their openers.
4 straight opening day losses for the Phillies.
29 point loss for the Sixers last night as they got blown out by the New Jersey Nets.
1 player in double figures for the Sixers. Lou Williams tallied 14 points.
1 more day the Phils and their fans have to wait to try to even their record. No game tonight.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.What, the Phillies maybe thought they were going to get a pass because they won the World Series? In this town? It took just 17 minutes for the boos to rain down on Brett Myers after he surrendered a third home run. A bit of an overreaction? Sure. A surprise? Hardly.
I Don’t Get It: It’s been a brutal week for gun crimes. Something has to be done. I don’t want to tread on anyone’s Second Amendment rights. But I think we have to do something to keep guns out of the hands of those intent on doing great harm with them.
Today’s Upper: Hey, look on the bright side, the Phils have another 161 games left on their schedule. Then again, Villanova has zero. Their season is over.
Quote Box: “I made three mistakes and they didn’t miss them.”
-- Phillies starter Brett Myers, on the three home run balls he served up against the Braves last night.

About that front page

One of the things I love most about this job is that every day I get to sit here and put together our signature page. That would be Page One.

It is without question the most important decision I make here every day. That is because we use that front page to sell the newspaper.

Last Friday, we got word of a very special event that was going to take place at Linwood Elementary School in Lower Chichester.

A local soldier who had been serving during his second tour in Iraq was going to pay a visit to the school and surprise his two sons in their reading class.

My mind immediately started thinking about a front page. The result is the newspaper we printed on Saturday.

There were several other important stories going on Friday. A gunman went on a rampage, killing 14 people including himself in Binghamton, N.Y. The region also was buzzing as Villanova prepared to play North Carolina in the Final Four on Saturday night.

But it was going to take a lot more than that to deter my vision of that front page. Of course, that decision became even more cemented when I saw the photo captured by staff photographer Bob Gurecki. It was exactly what I had in mind.

Marine Cpl. Jason Smith was hugging his two sons, Jason Jr., and Gary, who were stunned when he showed up in their class.

The only thing left was to formulate a headline. Really only one word stuck in my head.

I decided to create an overline to sum up the scene. It state simply, “Soldier & Sons Reunion.”

We used one word to sum up the scene: Dad!

The look on the faces of Jason Smith’s two boys told you everything you needed to know about the emotion of that moment.

Some days I love this job.

Opening night blues

The Phillies have the National League East right where they want them.

A game ahead of them.

Someone might want to remind the defending World Series champions that they are no longer playing exhibition games. Starting last night these count in the standings.

You’d be hard-pressed by the Phils showing last night. Offensively they did nothing against Braves starter Derek Lowe, managing just a couple of hits through eight innings.

On the mound, Brett Myers, forced into opening night starter status by the cranky left elbow of Cole Hamels, struggled. With Myers, that means long balls. Last night they should have handed out batting helmets in the outfield bleachers.

Myers surrendered three dingers, including a monster shot by Brian McCann, a laser off the bat of Jeff Francoeur, and the first major league hit for rookie Jordan Schafer.

It took all of 17 minutes for the defending champs to be greeted by that most familiar of Philly chants, booing.

Relax, Phillies fans. This is nothing new. You can make the argument that this is actually this team’s M.O. They’re not comfortable unless they’re behind.

But they certainly put a few smudges on what was a celebration of last fall’s World Series victory.

They have 161 more chances to defend their crown.

It’s likely most of them will be as big a letdown as last night was.

End of the line for Villanova

It’s all ‘Ova.

Villanova’s magical run to the NCAA Final Four ended with a thud Saturday night.

The truth is they just played a better team.

Jay Wright’s Wildcats did the one thing they really could not afford to do against powerful North Carolina. They fell behind early. Down by double-digits in the first half, the ‘Cats scratched their way back into it, and actually closed to within five points early in the second half.

But instead of pounding the ball inside as they had done in putting a physical beating on UCLA, Duke and Pittsburgh, the Wildcats tried to finesse the Tar Heels, firing away from outside.

They were at the mission of their shooting, and their shooting failed them.

Doesn’t do a thing to diminish the kind of season the ‘Cats had.

Bottom line is that if they play North Carolina 10 times, I’m thinking they probably lose eight or nine of them.

Jay Wright has laid the foundation of greatness on the Main Line. Villanova is set to be a perennial contender for a long run in the NCAA Tourney.

For this year’s seniors, including Dante Cunningham, a job well done.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 3

The Daily Numbers: 62 cents, tax hike on every pack of cigarettes that went into effect this week.
1.01 total federal tax now on smokes.
42 bucks, price of at one carton of cigarettes. That alone should be enough to get you to kick the habit.
7 percent dip in revenue for Harrah’s Chester Casino in March 2009 over the same month last year.
29 million dollars, how much Harrah’s took in last month. They’re not exactly going broke.
3 p.m., when Del. police say gunfire broke out on I-495, with one driver shooting a handgun at another. No injuries were reported.
3,000 people in New Jersey who are being advised to get tested after 5 cancer patients who visited the same doctor came down with hepatitis B.
669,000 people out of work in the country, the highest number in 26 years.
1,000 people who showed up at a job fair in Newark, Del., for 300 to 500 jobs being filled by Barclays financial group.
24 people being laid off by Sun Microsystems in Valley Forge.
1,000 dollar bonus checks being given to workers by the owner of Bollinger Insurance in New Jersey. Jack Windoff got a windfall when he sold 51 percent of the company. He’s sharing it with 454 of his employees. Nice.
19.3 percent decline in job cuts reported across the country in March.
3 hours, how long the Northeast Extension was shut down yesterday afternoon after two big rigs collided near the Lansdale interchange.
14, age of girl found nearly nude and semi-conscious in Fairmount Park. She’s hospitalized in stable condition.
32, age of mom charged with drugging her daughter so the mom’s boyfriend could get her pregnant. They could not have kids and planned to use the daughter instead.
3 Pa. unions who reached a deal with Gov. Ed. Rendell that will allow state workers to avoid threatened furloughs.
13 turnovers for Sixers in first half last night against the Bucks. They rallied in the second half for a 105-95 win.
18 points for Jamelle Cornley as the Penn State Nittany Lions captured the NIT title last night by beating Baylor.
10 home runs for Ryan Howard in the spring. He went yard in the Phils’ final spring tuneup yesterday against the Nats.
9 runs on 11 hits over 4 innings in another shaky outing for Jamie Moyer.
2 more days until the Phils open the season Sunday night against the Braves. They’ll play 2 exhibition games against the team they beat for the World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays, tonight and tomorrow afternoon.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.This promises to be one of the great sports weekends in recent memory. Villanova plays in the Final Four, and the Phils kick off the defense of their World Series crown Sunday night against the Braves.
I Don’t Get It: Police say a man bit and slashed his fiancee in Upper Darby. And what set him off? He didn’t like the way she made his sandwich. He nearly sliced off her finger. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Here’s another sign of the times. Upscale Philly restaurateur Stephen Starr announced his latest venture, this one on Franklin Square. It’s a seasonal stand that will feature burgers and hot dogs. Gotta love that.
Quote Box: “We want them to do it in a responsible, safe manner.”
-- Radnor Police superintendent John Rutty, on the expected celebration on campus should the Wildcats repeat their miracle of 1985 and capture the national title.

Singing blues at Harrah's?

Someone will have to explain this one to me.

Gambling was supposed to be recession-proof. Not in Atlantic City. The shore gambling mecca is being battered by a bad economy and new competition from slots operations in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

But here in Pennsylvania, the money continues to roll in – with one exception. Sort of.

Six of the seven slots parlors operating in Pennsylvania showed gains in March 2009 over the same month in 2008, according to figures released yesterday by the state Gaming Control Board.

Guess which was the only Keystone State casino to show a drop in revenue? That would be our very own Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack. Revenue along the Chester waterfront was off more than 7 percent from March 2008.

Of course, this is all relative. Yes, Harrah’s take was down, all the way to $29 million and change this year, as opposed to $31 million last year. We should all be struggling along that way.

Still, it’s a part of a recent trend at the Chester location, where the numbers have been trickling down since last summer, aside from a spike around the holidays.

In the meantime, the other six slots operations in the state continue to post increases. Play at Philly Park was up 6 percent; Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs was up 36 percent; Hollywood Casino at Penn National Racecourse jumped 30 percent.

However, it should be noted that Harrah’s Chester’s total take of $29,269.145 in March was second only to Philly Park’s $32,706.513.

Maybe Harrah’s struggles are just one more sign of the economy. But if that’s the case, why aren’t the other Pennsylvania gaming operations showing similar decreases?

And this comes while the two locations awarded to Philadelphia remain mired in controversy. Eventually, two more sites will open somewhere in this area, and that certainly will not help Harrah’s bottom line.

For their part, Harrah’s is not talking about the declines. Neither is anyone at the state Gaming Control Board.

I can’t blame Harrah’s. They’re likely too busy counting their money. It just doesn’t take as long as it used to.

Butt out

A confession here. I have never been a smoker, if you discount the few puffs my cousin and I took as rebellious kids with our secret stash of cigs behind the auto glass store on the edge of the town where we grew up. From the very first puff, that burning in my throat told me this was not for me.

Obviously, somewhere along the line, I lost track of just how expensive a habit this was.

It’s for that reason I was more than a bit jarred while standing in line at my local Wawa when the person in front of me bought a carton of cigarettes. I almost dropped my coffee. His tab came to a cool $50. No, he wasn’t buying lunch for the office. He had a cup of coffee, a donut, and a carton of cigarettes.

These days a pack of butts will set you back more than five bucks.

I’m flabbergasted. Or maybe I’m just cheap. One reason I’m fairly certain I never smoked is because I know I would never fork over that kind of money to feed my “fix.”

No doubt smokers winced again this week when the new federal taxes on tobacco kicked in. The cost of their tobacco craving just went up another 62 cents. That pushes the price of a pack of cigarettes close to $6.

The idea, I suppose, is partly to raise revenue, and also partly to get people to kick the habit.

Talk about kicking people when they’re down. It’s kind of like watching your life savings go up in smoke. Only this time it is just that.

One more reason to butt out, folks.

A winning sports weekend

For sports fans, it does not get much better than this weekend.

Even this morning’s rain brings back memories of the last few times we saw the Boys of Summer – last fall. The Phillies dodged raindrops on their way to becoming Reign Men – the World Series champions of baseball.

Today the pinstripes return to South Philly. The Phils will play a two-game “on deck” set against the team they vanquished last October, the Tampa Bay Rays.

They will see a familiar face in the other dugout. That would be Pat Burrell, who signed a free agent deal with the American Leaguers after the Phillies signed Raul Ibanez to patrol left field for them this year.

Usually, the Phils would have the stage all to themselves this weekend. Both the Sixers and Flyers are slogging through the final stretch of their marathon regular seasons before kicking it up a notch for the playoffs. The Eagles are bickering with the city over luxury box revenue as they await the NFL Draft.

But this is not just any April. This is the continuation of March Madness. And the Villanova Wildcats are in the thick of it.

Jay Wright’s kids will stride onto the court at Ford Field in Detroit Saturday night in front of 70,000 people to tangle with North Carolina. One thing’s for sure. There will be tons of blue.

We survived winter. Spring has sprung. The Phils are home. And ‘Nova is in the Final Four.

Take a deep breath and enjoy a rare sports weekend.

And one other thing. Go ahead and say it.

“Defending World Series Champions.”

Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 2

The Daily Numbers: 30 years in jail for Dorothy Prawdzik of Drexel Hill for her role in a nefarious child sexual abuse case in Colwyn.
95,000 dollars being paid by a Delaware County chiropractic practice in a lawsuit alleging discrimination against a pregnant employee. The firm denies any wrongdoing.
10,000 miles to be hiked by a Lansdowne man who will traverse the Appalachian Trail and then the rest of the country to raise money for the Sierra Club.
47,000 dollars that Springfield School District will get in a settlement with the owners of the Best Buy on Baltimore Pike in a property assessment dispute.
11 bags of pot found in the backpack of a 4th-grader at Morton Elementary School in Southwest Philadelphia.
62 cent hike in the price of cigarettes now that a hefty new federal tax has kicked in.
37,554.54, amount of traffic ticket slapped on a truck driver in Bethlehem caught without the proper permit to haul the “super load” 213,000-pound cylinder his rig was carrying.
15 years in jail, what former Eagles wide receiver Donte Stallworth could be looking at, charged with DUI manslaughter after he struck and killed a pedestrian in Miami.
14, age of girl in Dauphin County, Pa., who faces murder charges in the drowning death of her brother nearly three years ago.
40,000 dollars, how much police allege a Philadelphia officer stole from a drug kingpin. A jury is deadlocked on the charges.
7.9 percent dip in state revenue collections in March. That’s $334 million less than expected.
200 rowdy Villanova fans who showed up in the rain yesterday to see the team off as they head for their Final Four matchup with North Carolina Saturday.
2 goals given up by Toronto netminder Curtis Joseph, as the Maple Leafs posted a 3-2 win.
17 goals this year for college phenom James van Riemsdyk, who signed a deal with the Flyers yesterday.
6 million dollar salary for UConn coach Jim Calhoun last year.
2 to 3 weeks, how long Sixers standout Thaddeus Young will be on the shelf with an ankle injury.
1 more game in Clearwater for the Phils today before they head north for the season opener on Sunday.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Three days and counting before the Phils kick off their defense of their World Series Championship Sunday night. In the meantime we’ll just have to be satisfied with a Final Four appearance by Villanova. What a weekend!
I Don’t Get It: What was done to children inside the Colwyn home of John Jacky Worman almost defies belief. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: All together now: Let’s go ‘Nova!
Quote Box: “I never agreed to a deal. If I had agreed to a deal, I would have put it in writing.”
-- Former Philly Mayor John Street, denying claim by Eagles brass that they had a deal in their fight over money from skyboxes at Veterans Stadium.

About that malpractice claim

About that malpractice case

One of the things I like best about our Internet site is that it tells us every day which stories we have posted are most popular.

Anyone care to guess what sat at the top of roost yesterday?

Every day I get at least one or two phone calls from outraged readers critical of our decision to run a particular story or the way it was displayed in the newspaper.

Usually they accuse us of trying to sensationalize the story. They always want to know why such stories have to be in the paper. The answer has many facets, but one of them is this: That’s what people read.

In yesterday’s paper we ran a story about a malpractice case being heard in the Media Courthouse. Testimony is continuing. So is our coverage.

Let me just say that it involves a particularly delicate claim. And, I might point out, the doctor accused is adamantly denying the plaintiff’s allegation.

We could have splashed it all over our front page. We did not. We could have used some salacious headline, or used any number of double entendres. We simply tried to present the information in a straightforward way.

I suppose you could make the argument over whether the suit should have been covered at all.

Yesterday more than 3,100 people went to our Web site to read the story.

I would assume they’ll be back today for the update.

The face of evil

It’s hard to imagine the kind of evil that was going on inside the Colwyn home of John Worman.

Dorothy Prawdzik is going to have 30 years to think about it.

Prawdzik yesterday was sentenced to three decades in prison for her role in the child sexual abuse and porn case that stunned even hardened federal prosecutors.

Prawdzik is believed to have helped Worman in his nefarious exploitation of innocent kids, literally delivering some of the kids into his demonic den of iniquity.

Yesterday, as she was sentenced in federal court, we finally heard from Prawdzik. She admitted she made “some mistakes.”

“I’m sorry for the victims that got hurt in this case,” she told U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Stengel. “I can’t make excuses.”

She’s right about that.

So was Stengel. He called Prawdzik a “sociopath” and “a parent’s worst nightmare.”

To say the least.

Bird brains

The war of words between the Eagles and the city continues.

The two sides are in an increasingly bitter standoff over money the team owes the city on luxury boxes at a stadium that no longer exists. That, of course would be Veterans Stadium. The Eagles now play in a swanky new playground called Lincoln Financial Field, which was built in no small part thanks to a big chunk of public money.

Here’s the dispute: The city says the team owes $8 million in revenue from the old skyboxes at The Vet. Ironically, they were constructed in the old bowl as part of the deal that kept former owner Leonoard Tose from relocating the team to the Arizona desert.

The city filed suit against the team to get the money. The team fired back, saying they were withholding funding because the city owed them money for the fiasco that led to the cancellation of a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens when the turf at the city-owned and operated facility was found to be in dangerous disrepair. Guess how much the Eagles claimed they were owed? Yep, that would $8 million.

Now Eagles owner Jeff Lurie and his right-hand man Joe Banner have decided to up the ante in the dispute. In sworn statements filed in court, they say they actually had a verbal agreement with former Mayor John Street to settle the matter for a lot less, around $1 million.

Only one problem. Street does not remember any such deal. The Eagles say they had a verbal agreement. That comes as news to Street, but apparently not to a city rep who was in the negotiations and who also believes the two sides had reached a deal. But Street yesterday made his first statement on the story, and denied the team’s version of events.

“We didn’t cut a secret deal. There was no deal,” he said.

Kind of brings to mind the old adage, “Get it in writing.” Apparently the Eagles did not.

Here’s the bottom line, especially for the Eagles. They very well may be right, and they’d still be wrong.

Lurie and Banner could star in a new version of “Grounhog Day.” They keep reliving the same PR blunders.

Just weeks after the Brian Dawkins disaster blew up in their face, they are right back at it, proving how bad you can look even if you happen to be right. I don’t know if the team is right in this case or not. I do know they look like hell, and wonder if the $8 million is worth the hit their image is taking.

Then again, maybe Lurie and Banner don’t care about that image. If they did, I somehow don’t think they would continue to let themselves be put in these positions, as the public face of an organization that so many people insist “just don’t get it.”

Jeff Lurie recently was added to Forbes Magazine’s list of the richest men in America, a newly minted billionaire.

The city is facing an economic nightmare, a massive budget deficit that is threatening city jobs and services. At one point they considered closing libraries.

And here Lurie sits bickering with them over $8 million. Yes, that’s a lot of money. To you and me.

But to an organization valued at $1.1 billion, is it worth this kind of aggravation?

More importantly, is it worth being held up as greedy misers counting every penny while the city you call home and fans who line your pockets struggle in the worst economy since the Great Depression.

The Eagles, famous for considering themselves the “gold standard,” just may have struck fool’s gold.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 1

The Daily Numbers: 43 suspected fugitives rounded up by Upper Darby police in a sting named Operation We Didn’t Forget About You.
8,000 dollars, how much police believe a caregiver ripped off from an 87-year-old from Chadds Ford.
95 to 100 mph, speeds reached during chase of a suspect that started on I-95 in Chester, and wound up near Independence Hall in Philly. Along the way, police say a Morton man slammed through a fence at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philly.
2 Chester men each facing up to 15 years in federal prison on charges they engaged in straw gun purchases.
67, age of Altimese Roberts, who was brutally beaten to death in her Darby Township home. Yolanda Certain now faces trial in her murder.
2,000 orders for Villanova merchandise recorded yesterday at the campus store as well as online.
4 dozen dogs rescued from a Bucks County home. The home owner has now pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges.
416 bags of heroin seized by police from a home in New Castle, Del. A man and woman are under arrest.
2, age of toddler who fell from the roof of a house in West Philly Tuesday afternoon.
11, age of girl under arrest in Milford, Del., in a hoax text message threat against her school. Not funny.
12, number of gunshots that hit a 19-year-old in a West Philly shooting Monday night. The teen survived.
23 months old, age of tot in Chester County killed by what police say was a drug overdose. The 28-year-old father now faces charges.
16, age of teen wounded when he was attacked by 3 assailants outside his high school in the Hunting Park section of Philly.
14 bags of pot seized by police at a Philadelphia elementary school. Two 10-year-olds and a 9-year-old were taken into custody.
1 year deal signed by offensive lineman Nick Cole with the Eagles.
1 run and 3 hits given up by Phils pitcher Brett Myers in his final exhibition tuneup yesterday in Clearwater. The Phils named Myers their starter on opening night Sunday against the Braves.
19 points for Andre Iguodala last night as the Sixers won over the Atlanta Hawks, but they may have lost Thaddeus Young to an ankle injury.
29 players now on the Phils roster. One of them is not Geoff Jenkins. He was released yesterday.
8 million dollars, what the city says the Eagles owe them in taxes from luxury boxes at Veterans Stadium.
1 million, what Jeff Lurie says was the deal he had with former Mayor John Street to settle the matter.
45 percent of fans responding to an AP poll who say the high price of tickets is the No. 1 problem facing Major League Baseball.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Jeff Lurie and Joe Banner refer to their organization as the “gold standard.” Lurie recently was named a billionaire. Their franchise is one of the most valuable in sports. But they’re in court fighting the city over $8 million the city says the team owes from luxury boxes at Veterans Stadium. Nice.
I Don’t Get It: We all know that use of the N-word is a slur that should not be used in any context. Now a group of Special Olympians is looking to do the same for the hurtful R-word, sometimes ignorantly slapped on those with mental and physical disabilities. Good for them.
Today’s Upper: The Associated Press All-Pennsylvania girls and boys hoops teams are peppered with names from Delaware County. And they mirror our All-Delco selections. Kudos to all.
Quote Box: “He’s embraced Philadelphia and that’s made it easy for people to embrace him.”
-- Saint Joe’s basketball coach Phil Martelli, talking about Villanova head coach Jay Wright.

A Chitwood greeting card

There are no shortage of opinions when it comes to Upper Darby police Superintendent Mike Chitwood.

But you have to give him this: The guy has a sense of humor.

Chitwood yesterday announced the results of a series of early-morning raids targeting people charged with a host of wrongdoing who failed to show up for court.

He dubbed it “Operation We Didn’t Forget About You.”

Hallmark has nothing on this guy.

This wasn’t exactly a greeting card Upper Darby lawmen dropped on 43 suspects Tuesday. They fanned out in the pre-dawn hours and re-introduced these folks who skipped bail to the law. Some of the offenses go back as far as 2000.

The suspects weren’t exactly thrilled with their little greeting card. Some were found hiding in a closet and under a pile of clothes.

And Chitwood isn’t done.

He says this isn’t the last time he’ll roll out “Operation We Didn’t Forget About You.”

He says police will strike when suspects least expect it.

Surprise! Just like Hallmark, when only the very best will do.

Best in the state

It has long been believed that Delaware County high school basketball takes a back seat to no one.

It’s nice to know the rest of the state agrees with us.

The Associated Press all-Pennsylvania boys and girls basketball teams came out in the last few days, and they have Delaware County written all over them.

Ironically, the teams became public the same two days as this newspaper announced our All-Delco boys and girls basketball teams, only in the reverse order.

Yesterday, Cardinal O’Hara standout Stephanie Holzer graced our Back Page as the All-Delco Player of the Year. Yesterday, the AP concurred, naming her the top AAAA player in the state. A similar honor was bestowed on Kerri Shields, from state champion Archbishop Carroll, named the AAA player of the year. In fact, every member of our All-Delco squad also captured statewide honors.

Today it’s the boys turn. Our list is topped by Tyree Johnson, who led the Penn Wood High School boys to their first state AAAA title. He was also named to the AP all-Pa. team, joined by Glen Mills standout Aaric Murray. Johnson’s Penn Wood teammate, Aaron Brown, was named to the third team.

D.J. Irving, from Carroll, and Strath Haven’s Calvin Newell, were named to the AAA all-Pa. team. Both also are members of our All-Delco team.

Lest you think all this talent gets there on their own, we suggest you check out a couple of other names on that all-state list.

Penn Wood Coach Clyde Jones was named boys AAAA coach of the year. Carroll coach Chuck Creighton was named the girls AAA coach of the year.

Only reinforces what we’ve been saying for weeks. Delaware County, home of champions.

Lurie and Banner are at it again

Welcome to the latest session of the Jeff Lurie-Joe Banner Charm School.

The Eagles brass find themselves in a bit of a hissing match with Philadelphia city officials over money the city believes the team owes from luxury boxes at Veterans Stadium.

Now Lurie and Banner – the men who brought us the “gold standard” – have a new spin on the story.

They now claim that they had a deal with former Mayor John Street to settle the claim for a lot less than what the city now believes the team owes. The city says the team is in arrears to the tune of $8 million. But the Eagles have now filed legal documents in a bid to prove that they had a deal with Street to settle the matter for a number more like $1 million. The team is in court, asking a judge to enforce the smaller number.

The Nutter Administration says it knows nothing about any such deal.

This all stems from the city filing suit against the team back in 2004, saying they owed money from the luxury boxes at Veterans Stadium. The team countered by saying the city never forked over the money the team lost when a preseason game had to be canceled because of poor turf conditions at the Vet. They’ve been at a legal impasse ever since.

A couple of things strike me here. You may recall that a fairly substantial amount of public funds went into building the Eagles swanky new playground, Lincoln Financial Field.

And Forbes Magazine recently added Lurie to its list of the richest people in America, a bona fide billionaire.

The city is currently standing at the edge of an economic abyss, a budget deficit that grows by the day and currently stands in the neighborhood of $2.5 billion. That’s a nice neighborhood, one no doubt Lurie would be comfortable in.

Meanwhile, the Eagles are swimming in green, one of the most prized franchises in pro sports.

You might say they are solid gold, every bit of what Team Lurie and Banner have so infamously coined the “Gold Standard.”

Except for two areas: Winning Super Bowls and, apparently, paying city taxes.