Monday, August 31, 2009

The Daily Numbers - August 31

The Daily Numbers: 70 years since the invasion of Poland in World War II. Local Poles have not forgotten the dark days that followed.
76,000 dollars, how much former Glenolden Mayor Ted Bathurst is believed to have stolen form customers who bought pre-paid funeral plans at his funeral home. He has now resigned his borough office.
1 killed and 1 injured when a railing on a 4th-floor balcony gave way, sending a man and woman plummeting to the ground below in Philadelphia.
4 years and change in prison for former powerful state Sen. Vince Fumo, starting today when he reports to jail in Kentucky.
84 dollar fine for illegal parking at Philadelphia International Airport, where officials are planning a crackdown starting today.
2 people killed execution style in the Cobbs Creek section of West Philly.
12, age of girl grazed by a gunshotin South Philly Saturday night.
25, age of woman in critical condition after she was struck by a car while riding her bike in the Queen Village section of the city.
2 states in the country that are still trying to hammer out budgets. Of course Pa. would be one, Connecticut the other.
139 million dollar judgment against SAP in a patent infringement case.
2.71 a gallon, what we’re paying for gas in the Philly region as we head into the Labor Day weekend.
8, as in ranked 8th for Penn State in rankings of green campuses.
2 firefighters killed by wildfires that are raging in California.
35,000 acres destroyed by the flames north of Los Angeles.
2 straight saves for Brad Lidge, certainly good news for the Phils.
1 run on 3 hits over 7 innings in another strong outing for Joe Blanton. That’s 12 straight starts in which he has surrendered 3 runs or less.
29 homers for Chase Utley, as he makes a late-season MVP push.
6 plays Thursday night for Michael Vick, more than enough for Donovan McNabb.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Keep a close eye on the Donovan McNabb-Michael Vick scenario. This one has disaster written all over it.
I Don’t Get It: So much for the much-ballyhooed circus atmosphere at the Linc for Michael Vick’s debut. There were probably more reporters than protesters.
Today’s Upper: Right on time, it looks like fall is arriving just as August departs.
Quote Box: “Poland was invaded with no mercy.Hitler gave an order to unmercifully slaughter the people.”
- Michael Blichasz, contemplating the 70th anniversary of the invasion of his homeland.

About Teddy Kennedy

As fate would have it, I was headed for Boston when the nation received word that Sen. Ted Kennedy, the “Liberal Lion” of the Senate, had died.

I was taking my daughter to Bean Town as she embarked on her first year of law school.

The first thing I noticed when we drove into Massachusetts was that the flags were at half-staff.

I have to say I underestimated the esteem, the reverence the pure love that is showered on the Kennedy family in New England.

You could literally feel the buzz on the street. It was electric.
Everywhere you looked, and every conversation you listened in on was about the man most simply referred to as “our Teddy.”

The local TV stations interrupted regular programming to go all Kennedy, all the time.

For me, I of course immediately thought of my mother. She should have been a Bostonian. She loved the Kennedys. It started with Jack, then moved on to Bobby and eventually landed on the mantle of Ted. When I looked at Rose, the matriarch of the Kennedy clan, I saw my mom.

Me? Let’s just say I’m not exactly Kennedy-esque. The truth is I was more conflicted. I had questions about Ted Kennedy. Questions about his makeup. Years ago questions about Chappaquiddick. And years later questions about his role in the events that led up to rape charges being filed against his nephew, William Kennedy Smith.

There is one thing that stuck in my mind from the time I first heard of Kennedy’s passing early Wednesday morning.

“Of whom much is given, much is expected.”

Ted Kennedy certainly lived up to that. There is not a single piece of important legislation that made its way through the Senate in the last few decades that does not carry his imprimatur.

My mom might roll over in her grave, but the truth is that Teddy’s legacy might surpass both of his brothers, if only because he was granted they one thing they were both denied. Years.

But there was something else that bothered me as well. This one is probably personal, and likely says more about me than him.

I can’t get past the fact that this guy likely never had 10 minutes of doubt in his life, about what he was going to do, if he was going to be a success, how he was going to provide for his family, how he would take care of his children. For him, all those things were a given. He was, after all, a Kennedy.

Then yesterday I heard a couple of quotes from, of all people, Bob Dole.
The guy might have been exactly the polar opposite of Kennedy. Charisma was not his thing. He didn’t come from what is sometimes referred to as “American Royalty.” He came from Kansas. And he was damn proud of it.

But Dole made a point that I had overlooked. It was exactly Kennedy’s background that so impressed Dole about what Teddy did with his life.

He stressed that the reality is Ted Kennedy didn’t have to work a day in his life.

Instead, he dedicated his life to public service, spending more than 50 years in the Senate.

Ted Kennedy became the voice of people who were the polar opposite of the man in the mirror. The poor, the downtrodden, those who did not have – who would never have – all the benefits bestowed on a kid from Massachusetts whose last name is Kennedy.

Of whom much is given, much is expected.

And Ted Kennedy delivered.

No Heartbreak Lidge for Phils

There was a very good sign for the Phillies Sunday.

The Phils were clinging to a 3-2 lead on the strength of a Carlos Ruiz double in the seventh.

In the ninth, a familiar figure strolled in from the bullpen.

That would be Brad Lidge, the man who rolled out the perfect season last year in leading the Phils to a World Series, and who has been anything but so far this year.

Go ahead. Admit it. You felt a familiar knot in your stomach when Lidge took the hill.

But the inconsistent closer looked very much like the ’08 edition, slamming the door on the Braves in a 1-2-3 ninth. He recorded the final out with a strikeout on a nasty slider that looked very much like the pitch that bedeviled hitters last summer.

That’s two straight good performances from Lidge.

It just might be the most important thing to happen to the Phils as they get ready for their September push.

Dogging Donovan

So much for the love affair between Philadelphia and Michael Vick.

I’m not talking about the fans. Thursday night’s debut at the Linc brought out only a handful of folks both pro and con on the notorious dog ring operator.

I’m talking about the guy just two numbers down from No. 7. That would be No. 5.

Maybe you’ve heard of him. His name is Donovan McNabb.

McNabb was outspoken in putting out the story that it was his idea to sign Vick. He was the one who put the idea in coach Andy Reid’s head.
He’s the one who pushed the idea of offering the troubled one-time All-Pro a second chance.

That lasted about six plays.

TV cameras caught a clearly agitated McNabb gesturing on the sidelines Thursday night during the Eagles’ exhibition game against the Jaguars.

The game marked the return of Vick after a two-year hiatus in which he was doing a stint in federal prison.

Vick trotted onto the field on the second play – to a rousing ovation from the stands.

Before the end of the first half, it was clear McNabb had seen more than enough of the great Michael Vick experiment.

He gave the classic hand-across-the-throat gesture to offensive coordinator Marty Monhinweg on the Birds’ sideline.

The weird thing is, McNabb might be right. His complaint is that the offense has yet to develop a rhythm and ability to sustain long drives, converting third downs in the process.

He has a point. I have a theory about preseason games. All you really want to see is at one point to have your starting offensive and defensive units playing well.

When it comes to offense, McNabb and the Eagles are still waiting. The Vick sideshow isn’t helping.

McNabb is not scheduled to play at all Thursday night in the exhibition finale against the Jets.

Vick will not be eligible for the first few regular season games, courtesy of a suspension that may be shortened by NFL czar Roger Goodell.

Maybe by then just exactly how the Eagles will use Vick will be sorted out.

For McNabb’s sake, we hope so.

The guy’s ego is more fragile than all that sand they keep dumping on the Jersey beaches every year, only to see it washed out with the first big storm of the season.

You can bet that once Vick is on the sideline, the first time McNabb throws one of his trademark two-hoppers to an open wide receiver, he will hear the same chant that rang out at the Linc Thursday night.

“We want Vick.”

It will not be music to McNabb’s ears.

And he might be left wondering what he was thinking about in pushing so hard to get Vick on the Eagles’ roster.

For his part, Mornhinweg said he understands McNabb’s frustration, but doesn’t think it’s going to be a big problem.

Yeah, right.

Has anyone - Donovan first and foremost – forgotten that No. 5 was booed lustily by the local zealots on Draft Day. He hasn’t exactly forgotten about that. Something tells me the Vick fiasco is headed down the same road.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Daily Numbers - August 25

The Daily Numbers: 2 hours, length of meeting held last night at the NovaCare Center between animal rights activists and Philadelphia Eagles execs over the Michael Vick situation.
75 people who protested outside the office of state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, in Chester yesterday to show their opposition to any cuts in early education programs in the state budget impasse.
17, age of teen charged with skimming $460 from the cash register at his job at the Target store on Baltimore Pike.
3 teens charged with the fatal beating of a Delco native and Starbucks manager on a downtown SEPTA subway concourse whose fate is now in the hands of a jury.
5 million dollar meth ring allegedly headed by members of the Outlaws Motorcycle Gang that was busted yesterday by the state attorney general’s office. They made 40 arrests. They say the gang controlled meth traffic in much of the suburbs.
4 burglaries in Ridley Park that have police asking the public for help in their investigation.
3 incidents of cars being broken into and items stolen in Springfield last week.
1 person injured in a 1-alarm fire that hit the Evraz Claymont Steel Co.
in Claymont, Del., last night. It used to be called CitiSteel.
3, age of boy who wandered away from his day care facility and was found along a busy highway in Newark, Del.
375 million dollar hit for Pennsylvania from the move by M. Night Shyamalan to shift production of his new film to Toronto because of the state budget impasse.
2 people charged in the shooting death of a marijuana dealer in Norristown.
1 killed, 1 injured in shooting in the Kensington section of Philadelphia Monday night.
3 teens shot early Tuesday morning on a street in Wilmington, Del. The incident occurred around 12:30 a.m.
350 new jobs connected to the latest Wal-Mart store that will open this fall in Warminster, Bucks County.
5, as in No. 5, where Philly ranks in terms of the most active summer concert locations, according to the Web site StubHub.
157 bucks, average price paid on StubHub for ducats to this summer’s Elton John/Billy Joel shows.
29, age of soldier from Somerville, N.J., killed while on patrol in Afghanistan.
300 Pa. National Guard troops who arrived back home at Fort Dix early Tuesday after a tour in Iraq. They are part of 4,000 members of the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team that served in Iraq.
50 percent more space for smoking being created at the new Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem.
0.68 ERA for Cliff Lee in his 5 starts since joining the Phils. He’s won all 5.
2 home runs for Ryan Howard yesterday as he teamed with Lee to push the Phils over the Mets, 6-2.
4 straight seasons Howard has hit at least 30 homers and driven in 100 runs. He’s only the second Phillie to do it. Chuck Klein is the other in 1929-32.
40 wins and 21 losses on the road this year for the Phils. That includes wins in 14 of their last 20 away from home.
2 days and counting until the return of Michael Vick to the NFL as the Eagles play the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Linc Thursday night.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Just call them the Dynamic Duo. Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard. They are carrying the Phils to October.
I Don’t Get It: Somebody paid $4.6 million to spend eternity above Marilyn Monroe. Actually they will lie in the crypt directly above the actress. Talk about the kiss of death. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Delaware’s loss is likely Harrah’s gain. Some of those dollars likely headed down I-95 for sports betting can now instead be deposited into slots at Harrah’s Chester, and help the property tax situation here in Pa.
Quote Box: “People are very angry about what’s happening to these dogs.
Hopefully, the Eagles will unde54rstand that it is an issue in Philadelphia, and it’s horrific, and it needs to be addressed.”
- Melissa Levy, executive director of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, talking about a meeting yesterday with Eagles’ officials about the signing of dog ring operator Michael Vick.

Free Pete Rose

How’s this for irony?

A federal court yesterday blocked a move by Delaware to roll out legalized sports betting.

The ruling comes 20 years to the day that Pete Rose was banned from baseball.

If you’re looking for someone to argue that Pete Rose is a Hall of Fame person, in the words of Michael Vick, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Having said that, it’s hard to look at the man’s accomplishments on the field and say with a straight face that he does not deserve a spot in Cooperstown.

Of course, that ignores the issue of “character” and what part – if any – that actually should play in making that decision.

Pete Rose violated one of the most sacred tenets of the game. It is why the ban on gambling – and associating with those who do – is clearly posted inside the locker room of every major league team.

Still, there is only one person whose name appears next to that category of Most Hits. It states Rose, Peter.

As a person, manager and any number of other categories, Pete Rose leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, Rose gambled on baseball. Yes, despite his longtime vocal efforts to the contrary, he bet on his own team’s games. The belief is he never bet against his team. I hope that’s true.

But so far as between the lines, he remains without peer. He is baseball’s all-time hits leader. This is one hit that he should do without.

If we can offer a second chance to Michael Vick, how can we continue to turn thumb’s down to Rose.

I’ll steal this one from columnist Jack McCaffery. Free Pete Rose.

The Michael Vick show

The latest chapter in the Michael Vick saga played out yesterday down at the Nova Care Center.

Call this one Chapter Two.

The first chapter was the shock that curdled across the region when the Eagles decided to roll the dice and sign the one-time dog-fighting ring operator.

Yesterday the Eagles continued their push to ease the ruffled feathers caused by that move by sitting down with animal rights activists.

Maybe they think this thing is going to blow over.

They could not be more wrong.

Later today Andy Reid is expected to announce whether or not Vick will actually take the field Thursday night at the Linc when the Eagles play their important third exhibition game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Most people close to the team indicate that Vick – who has been suspended for the first two preseason games – likely will get the green light to play.

Which will set up one of the great media three-ring circuses in recent memory as the eyes of the nation turn to South Philly.

All they need to do is erect a big top over Lincoln Financial Field.

My position – as well as that of this newspaper paper - is clear. Vick deserves a second chance. That means he gets a second shot at the NFL, and yes, that includes his $1.5 million salary. Vick doesn’t work for minimum wage. He’s an NFL quarterback. Believe it or not, the Eagles are getting him cheap.

But the expense they face is a mounting wall of public opinion opposing the team’s decision to sign Vick.

Those voices are not likely to be stilled anytime soon. Don’t believe me? Tune in Thursday night.

The Phillies' Dynamic Duo

This might be Philly’s best 1-2 punch since “Rocky” and “Rocky II.”

Yo, Adrian. How ’bout dat Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard.

The Phillies Dynamic Duo continued their reign of terror yesterday, powering the Phils to still another win over the Mets.

Howard hit two more home runs to up his total to 31 on the year. He also cleared the 100 RBI mark. Howard hit a homer in the first to put the Phils in front and another in the third. He accounted for five of the Phils six runs.

In going yard twice, Howard becomes only the second Phillie to hit 30 home runs and drive in more than 100 runs in five straight seasons. No, the other one was not Michael Jack Schmidt. Chuck Klein pulled off the feat from 1929-32.

In the meantime, Lee was been utterly dominant since coming to the National League.

He’s now 5-0 in his five starts, after going seven innings, scattering six hits and giving up two runs, one of those tainted by what amounted to a four-base error when Chase Utley uncharacteristically botched a popup and then threw the ball into left field trying to nail the runner at second.

Lee’s ERA is a miniscule 0.68 in his five innings with the Phils.

Call him General Lee.

And Von Ryan’s Express.

The two of them are likely to carry the Phils deep into October once again.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Daily Numbers - August 24

The Daily Numbers: 3 outs, as in an unassisted triple play pulled off by Eric Bruntlett and the Phillies in the ninth inning to hold off the Mets Sunday.
7, age of Glenolden girl who is spearheading a move to support our troops by collecting used cell phones.
3 judge panel that will hear arguments today from the 4 pro sports leagues in their attempt to block legalized sports betting in Delaware.
990,900 contract to operate busing services for Chester Upland School District that has been taken away from a local company and awarded to a lower bid from a Philadelphia firm.
50 Chester residents who work for Countywide Transportation who could lose their jobs in the contract sticks.
0 traffic now being allowed on the Third Street Bridge in Media after council voted 4-3 to halt foot and bike traffic on the span as well as vehicles.
37 intersections on Chester Pike through the county that will get more than $3 million in improvement projects via federal stimulus money.
2,500 new cases of pediatric brain cancer reported each year. State Rep.
Bryan Lentz, D-161, has set up a foundation to fight the killer to honor his 2-year-old son, who succumbed to the disease.
2 men busted as police and the SPCA raid a dog-fighting operation in Germantown.
21, age of woman who reported being attacked and raped as she jogged in Fairmount Park Sunday morning. It’s the 2nd recent sexual attack in the park.
41, age of missing Chester County woman who was found dead in her car.
Police say they do not believe it was a case of foul play.
3 people threatened with a sawed-off shotgun by a man apparently seeking revenge in Delaware.
3 people killed in a horrific car crash in Delaware. A man has been charged in the crash that killed a mother and father, as well as their 12-year-old child.
3 bank jobs believed to be the work of the “Broad Street Bandit” in Philadelphia. A suspect has now been taken into custody.
25 workers who stand to lose their jobs when Rohm and Haas closes its factory in the Bridesburg section of Philadelphia.
2 men, 1 armed with a machete, who took $250 from a man they confronted on Porter Street in South Philadelphia.
1 police cruiser stolen from a parking lot at the 35th Police District near Broad and Champlost streets
3 teens awaiting word on their fate as a jury begins deliberations today on charges they were responsible for the death of a Starbucks manager who died of an asthma attack after he was accosted on a Center City SEPTA subway concourse.
100 people who packed a meeting Saturday in Bucks County concerning a planned archery deer hunt for Tyler State Park.
2 home runs for the Phils in the first inning to race out to a 6-0 lead.
2 wins for Pedro Martinez. He went 6 innings and gave up 4 runs.
2 times in Major League Baseball history that a game has ended on an unassisted triple play.
3 days and counting until the return of Michael Vick to the NFL as the Eagles play the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Linc Thursday night.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.How about that Eric Bruntlett. He almost gives the game away single-handedly in the ninth, then literally seals the deal all by himself with an unassisted triple play.
I Don’t Get It: The Eagles are sitting down with animal agencies, including the Delco SPCA, later this afternoon to try to soothe some ruffled feathers over their signing of Michael Vick.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to state Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-161, and family. They are honoring the memory of their 2-year-old son with a foundation to battle pediatric brain cancer, which took his life.
Quote Box: “The buzz about sports betting has been phenomenal.”
- Andrew Gentile, general manager of Delaware Park, where legal sports betting could debut in a couple of weeks.

The Vick Countdown

There’s no truth to the rumor that Michael Vick was spotted in Germantown this weekend.

The new Eagles backup QB should brace himself for that kind of bad joke – and worse.

The truth is that maybe he should have been. Philadelphia police busted up a dog-fighting operation and training ring at a home on Binghurst Avenue.

Vick, of course, is now the nation’s most famous dog-fighting ring operator. He’s also the newest Eagle, and is expcted to see his first action since being reinstated and signed by the Birds Thursday night in their third exhibition game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

A couple of weeks back, when the Eagles stunned the Delaware Valley – and the rest of the sports world – by signing Vick, everyone made a point of noting that Vick had changed, that he had seen the error of his ways, and that he now wants to take the lead in the fight against this kind of barbaric activity.

If that’s the case, then he should have been in Germantown this weekend.
That’s where the problem is. It’s not at an animal shelter on the Main Line. Nor really at the Eagles practice facility in South Philly.

The Eagles are having a sit-down this afternoon with several animal rights groups, including the Delaware County SPCA.

They are looking to open a dialog with the groups about the Vick signing and how they plan to use him in the war against illegal dog-fighting operations.

They also are likely looking to set some ground rules and support for what promises to be a circus-like atmosphere at the Linc Thursday night when Vick trots out onto that field.

The Eagles are about to learn first-hand the true repercussions of the Vick signing.

The Michael Vick countdown is on. Three days and counting. Buckle your seat belts. It’s likely going to be a bumpy ride.

Rolling the dice on sports gambling

I have always been of the opinion that we could wipe out the national deficit in just a couple of Sundays.

And how would I pull off that bit of fiscal fancy?

Easy. Legalize betting on NFL games.

The state of Delaware is about to put that notion to the test.

Much to the chagrin of the four major league sports, Delaware is planning to go forward with a plan for a sports betting lottery.

But the pros are not going down without a fight.

The four leagues will be in a federal courtroom today in Philadelphia asking a judge to halt the plan, which is set to go into effect in just a couple of weeks when the NFL kicks off its season.

Delaware is one of just four states that are exempt from a federal ban on sports betting because it once ran a sports lottery in 1976.

The pro leagues will argue that the integrity of their sports are at risk.

I am assuming they will do that with a straight face.

Millions of dollars change hands on literally every pro sporting event.
Pool slips are a staple of many offices. The corner bookie has been a fixture in most neighborhoods for years. The betting “line” has been a fixture of newspaper sports pages for as long as I’ve been in this crazy business.

I know a lot of guys who simply can’t enjoy sitting and watching a game without a little “action” on it.

That “action” is about to go legitimate, if Delaware gets its way.

This is all part of the increasingly high stakes world of legalized gambling.

First it was Delaware with slots parlors. Pennsylvania got tired of watching all that money bleed from just about every border and decided to get into the slots pool itself.

Now Pa. is very likely to add table games to the mix.

Delaware now is countering with sports gambling.

Sundays in the fall will never be the same.

A little baseball magic

Go ahead, admit it.

In the ninth inning of yesterday’s Phils-Mets game, you were using Eric Buntlett’s name in vain. You were wondering why this guy is still in the major leagues.

Bruntlett has struggled this year. His offense has been almost non-existent in his few spot starts as the team’s leading utility player. Then yesterday against the Mets, he broke out of his slump.
Bruntlett got three hits and was robbed of a fourth in his rare start for a resting Chase Utley.

But he almost gave it all away in the ninth inning. Bruntlett booted one ball for an error and probably could have been given an error on another play.

What should have been an easy inning slamming the door for Brad Lidge was now turning into a nail-biter, the Phils trying to protect a 9-7 lead and the tying runs now on base.

Then something happened that makes baseball the magical game it is.

The Mets’ Jeff Francoeur hits a liner that appears ticketed for center field and another run in. But the Mets had started their runners, meaning Bruntlett was headed toward second to cover, right into the path of Francoeur’s line drive. Bruntlett snagged the liner, steppped on second and then tagged out the runner coming from first.

That’s what they call an unassisted triple play. It’s only the second time in Phillies history they have pulled one off. It’s only the second time in Major League Baseball history a game has ended on one.

Somebody up there likes the Phils. Or really dislikes the Mets. At any rate, it appears someone decided to make Eric Bruntlett a star yesterday. Then turn him into a goat. Then make him a star once again.

That’s baseball.

I’ll take it, either way.

The teams hook up in a rare Monday afternoon getaway game this afternoon.

Maybe the Phils can win on an inside-the park home run. I suppose it would be too much for that to fall on Eric Bruntlett’s shoulders.

All of which recalls something once said by legendary Phils broadcaster Rich “Whitey” Ashburn. He was talking about baseball, its ebb and flow over a marathon season, and the potential magic that could occur at any moment.

“You never know when you are going to see something you’ve never seen before,” Ashburn used to say.

You can put what happened to the Phils Sunday in New York on that list.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Daily Numbers - August 21

The Daily Numbers: 1 body found inside a burning car in Middletown that continues to be something of a mystery.
2 suspects in custody in one of the weirder scams to come down the pike recently. They try to con people with the idea that they can use chemicals to turn $100 bills painted black into real money. Only problem is they’re not $100 bills. They’re plain paper. And people acutally fall for this?
1,800 members of United Aerospace Workers Local 1069 who voted to authorize its bargaining committee to call a strike if talks break down this fall.
3 times now state Rep. Mario Civera has introduced an amendment to solve the state budget crisis. It’s doubtful this one will work. Civera does not have the votes in the House.
3 incidents in recent months in which gunshots have been fired at houses in Concord Township.
1, as in No. 1, where Villanova ranks in U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings. The Wildcats are rated the top Master’s university in the Northeast.
3 separate problems with utility breaches at the site of the future Giant Supermarket in Springfield that have led the township to shut down work on the site.
100, age of man beaten up and robbed by a thug in Southwest Philly.
1 more weekend of the popular Cash for Clunkers program. It will end Monday.
428 million dollars, what Lincoln National Corp. is getting for its asset management unit, which it is selling to Macquarie Group.
31, as in Aug. 31, when Vince Fumo must report to prison. An attempt to delay the date was rejected by a federal judge.
80,000 dollars in Social Security payments stolen by a Philly woman. She continued to cash the checks, which were for her dead grandmother.
7 busted as police in Exton, Chester County, shut down a meth lab that was operating a couple blocks away from the Exton Square Mall.
8.4 percent jobless rate in Pa. as 4,800 jobs were axed in July.
3,000 jobs that will be sliced in Philadelphia under the doomsday budget announced Thursday by Mayor Nutter.
2 people injured this morning when a small plane flying out of Reading crashed near Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.
22, age of female student at East Stroudsburg University who is now admitting falsely reporting being raped.
4 home runs in 3 games for Jayson Werth as the Phils swept the Diamondbacks last night, 12-3.
2 other Phils who also homered, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz.
8 strong innings for Phillies starter Joe Blanton.
1 home run hit by former Chester High and Saint Joe’s star Jameer Nelson as his Orlando Magic teammates took batting practice before last night’s Phils game.
1 touchdown scored by the Eagles first-teamers in another lousy preseason performance last night against the Colts.
10 of 14 for 167 yards, including a 76-yard TD strike, for Colts QB Peyton Manning.
4 or the 5 projected Eagles starters on the offensive line who were out of the lineup.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Keep telling yourself it’s the preseason. That the Eagles don’t have most of their offensive line on the field yet. Or simply flip the channel and watch the Phillies.
I Don’t Get It: Vandals trashed a store in the Feltonville section of Philadelphia, apparently believing it was being operated by Iranians.
Actually the owners are Palestinian. It’s still a hate crime. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Time for our annual end-of-summer tradition, the Champs ‘N’ Charity Classic softball tournament. Join us in the fight against cancer.
Quote Box: “We’re doing our job and being assaulted during an almost near riot.”
- Upper Darby police Superintendent Mike Chitwood, complaining about low bail set for two suspects last weekend.

Tough Guys

Some times all you can do is shake your head.

In Darby Township, police are looking for two thugs who picked on a 92-year-old lady.

First they tried the old con of posing as utility workers. When she was too sharp for that and told them to buzz off, they beat her to her open back door and barged in. They left with $5,000 in cash and jewels.

She was not harmed in the attack by these two gutless cowards.

The same cannot be said for a 100-year-old man in Elmwood section of Southeast Philadelphia.

The neighborhood there is in an uproar after the centenarian was jumped, pummeled and held up as he was walking home with his groceries.

This happened about 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Grovers Avenue near 68th.

The thug came up behind the old guy, put him in a choke hold and wrestled him to the ground. Then he takes off with the groceries and $30 in cash.


I’m not much for vigilante justice. I like to leave that to the authorities.

But you’d like to think there would be a special kind of hell for guys who pick on elderly people like this.

Especially if their neighbors get to them before the cops do.

The Plaxico Burress sentence

This is not likely to a popular opinion in these parts.

I have no great love for the New York Giants, nor for their former star wide receiver, Plaxico Burress. But is it just me, or does anyone else think former Burress is getting a raw deal.

Plaxico yesterday pleaded guilty to a weapons charge involving an incident in which he was illegally carrying a gun in a nightclub.

It didn’t help that the gun went off. Plaxico shot himself in the leg.
In effect, he also shot himself in the foot, scuttling his NFL career.

No one else was injured.

As part of the plea he entered yesterday, Burress will do two years in prison.

You read that right. Two years.

We constandtly hear complaints when athletes and other high-profile celebrities run afoul of the law that they get every benefit of the doubt, and their fame works in their favor. This might be a case where an athlete’s fame actually worked against him. It appears authorities in New York decided to make an example out of Burress, using him to send a message that they are serious about the war on illegal guns.

Burress shot himself in the leg and got two years. Michael Vick did 18 months for running a dog-fighting ring and admitting to help kill some animals. Former Eagles receiver Donte Stallworth did 30 days for running over and killing a man while driving drunk.

Something does not add up here.

Beat goes on for Phils

The beat goes on for the Phillies.

And so does the beating they have been laying on opposition pitching.

Last night they punctuated a sweep of the Diamondbacks by tattooing a parade of Arizona pitchers.

Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz all homered as the Phils rolled to a 12-3 win. They’re still waiting for Howard’s moon shot to come down.

And once again the Phils got a superb effort from their starting pitcher. Joe Blanton went eight innings, scattering 10 hits and surrendering three runs, which were aided by a couple of defensive miscues.

Now it’s on to New York for the weekend. Remember the Mets?

They should hold a “Binocular Night” giveaway in Queens. The Mets and their fans will need them to see the Phils.

The Mets are now 14 and a half games back in the NL East standings.

Tonight Cole Hamels goes to the mound.

Who would have thought back in April that Hamels might be the fourth best pitcher on the team?

The ace of the staff and last year’s playoff and World Series MVP has struggled during a season in which the only thing about his performance has been his inconsistency.

Hamels can start to change that tonight in New York. Why not, every thing else seems to be breaking the Phils’ way.

Who let the dogs out?

Andy Reid is embarrassed.

No, not by the fact that his team just signed a guy who spent two years in federal prison for bankrolling a vicious dog-fighting operation.

He’s talking about his Eagles. Or maybe we should call them Beagles.

Who let the dogs out? The Birds had plenty of them on display last night against the Colts. The Eagles probably should have saved the air fare.

In Reid’s words, the Birds offered an “embarrassing performance.”

Peyton Manning and his first-team offensive mates on the Colts savaged the Birds’ defensive starters, including a 76-yard strike to Reggie Wayne streaking down the left sideline. Wayne could not have been more open if he was standing in the desert. It is exactly the kind of thing that will raise a few eyebrows about the Sean McDermott era as defensive coordinator.

Here’s a piece of advice. Exhale. Relax. They call these preseason games for a reason. They don’t count.

I have a question I ask every year when fans start whining about how the Eagles are playing in the preseason. Name me one thing you remember about last preseason. Thought so.

Here’s the way I like to think about these glorified practices, for which fans pay regular-season prices. At some point in these four games, you want to see your first team offense and defense play well. So far this year, we’re still waiting.

About the only thing of note to point out last night was the gorgeous strike from Donovan McNabb to DeSean Jackson for a TD.

The third game of the season is usually the most important. That’s when the first-teamers play a full half, maybe into the third quarter, as they tune up for the opener two weeks away.

But the Eagles have a problem this year when it comes to next Thursday’s game at the Linc. Actually two problems.

The first is that their offensive line is a mess, and likely will continue to be right up until the opener. Shawn Andrews is still MIA.
Todd Herremans likely will miss the entire preseason. Jason Peters is dinged up. That does not bode well for the offense, nor for Donovan McNabb’s health.

The other problem is that you can now start the countdown clock to what undoubtedly will be one of the biggest media circuses in NFL history.

That will be Michael Vick’s return to the league, which likely will happen at some point Thursday night.

Six days and counting. Who let the dogs out?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Daily Numbers - August 20

The Daily Numbers: 19, age of Nicole Gallo, killed when she was run down on the sidewalk outside Delaware County Memorial Hospital last week.
Gone way too soon.
2013, as in the Class of 2013, which moved into their dorm rooms at Villanova yesterday, the first school to report. What happened to summer?
2 times now a gas main has been ruptured by workers at the new Giant store at the location of the former Valu City in Springfield.
176 properties listed for sheriff’s sale at the Media Courthouse on Friday.
5,000 in cash ripped off from a 92-year-old woman in Darby Township by a couple of bogus utility workers. Police are hot on their trail.
100 year old woman beaten and robbed in Southwest Philly in broad daylight.
1 body found inside a burned-out car in Middletown yesterday. Police responded to a report of a car fire. When the flames were extinguished, a body was discovered still inside.
34, age of former coach at Kennedy-Kenrick High School nabbed in an Internet sex sting.
1 winning ticket worth $259 million sold in South Carolina in last night’s Powerball drawing. You could do some serious damage at the Piggly Wiggly with that kind of cash.
1 man dead after he was struck by a car on Route 13 in New Castle, Del.
5.30 percent, average rate for a 30-year mortgage in Pennsylvania.
That’s down from 5.38 from the week before.
7, as in No. 7, which is now emblazoned on Eagles jerseys with Michael Vick’s name on them. Dick’s Sporting Goods has decided not to sell the items.
26 years in prison for a Chester County man in a 2004 kidnapping of the son of a diner owner.
21, age of student from Downingtown, Chester County, who was shot and killed while walking home in Tampa, Fla. He was a student-athlete at the University of Tampa.
6.5 months after they were first supposed to be in use, SEPTA is now hoping to roll out its new electronic token system on Sept. 30.
350 people who showed up at a party thrown in South Philly last night by former Sen. Vince Fumo, to celebrate his recent engagement. It was also something of a bon voyage. Fumo is due to report to prison on Aug. 31 unless he can block the move in court.
30-19, votes by which the Senate yesterday rejected a move to override a veto by Gov. Ed Rendell on a state budget plan.
1.4 billion dollar deficit facing the city of Philadelphia. A plan to OK a tax hike is still tied up in the Harrisburg budget debate. Meantime today Mayor Michael Nutter today will roll out his so-called “doomsday budget.”
6 fires that have ravaged a block in North Philadelphia and put residents on edge.
0 hits surrendered by Phils’ starter Cliff Lee through 6 innings last night in blowing away the Diamondbacks.
2 hits and one unearned run eventually given up by Lee.
11 strikeouts for Lee, a career high. It also was his 4th straight win since joining the Phils, including 2 complete games.
4 home runs blasted by the Phils, including 2 for Jayson Werth.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Ruben Amaro Jr. looks like a genius in the aftermath of what Cliff Lee has done in his four starts for the Phils. Lee is 4-0 and seemingly flirts with a no-hitter every time out.
I Don’t Get It: Tony Danza is going to teach a high school class at Northeast High School as part of a reality TV show. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos for Dick’s Sporting Goods, which has decided – at least for now – not to sell Michael Vick No. 7 Eagles jerseys.
Quote Box: “Good kid. Sweet kid. It’s a great loss for everyone.”
- Melissa Weidler, track coach at Lebanon Valley College, on the death of Clifton Heights resident and one of her student-athletes Nicole Gallo.

Talking about Lower Chi

I had a very nice conversation with Vince McCormick yesterday.

It was not the first time.

McCormick first called me a few weeks ago. It was the day our annual Community Guide came out. He was not a happy camper.

McCormick is a commissioner in Lower Chichester. He took exception to the photo and caption that ran in the Guide with the listings from Lower Chichester. The photo was of the sign in the township noting that use of a cell phone while driving was not allowed in their town.

McCormick specifically believed the caption with the photo, which questioned whether the ordinance could actually be enforced, was a cheap shot. And he pretty much told me exactly that. In some fairly colorful language.

I’m kind of used to those kind of calls. They go with the territory.
Yes, McCormick raised his voice. Yes, there was profanity involved. It’s not like I haven’t heard it before. Or ocasionally used such language myself. OK, a little more than ocasionally.

What happened Wednesday was a lot more rare. McCormick called me again.
He wanted to thank us for the story that appeared in that day’s paper, which we also teased off Page 1, on the township’s move to ban use of mobile devices to “text” while driving.

He left me a very nice voice-mail, even apologizing for some of his language in the previous call. Let me tell you, that does not happen very often.

I called him back. We had a very nice conversation. He admitted he was a “hothead” and we again went over the piece in the Community Guide.

I thanked him for his follow-up call and told him how rare it was. Then I did something else. I told him very simply that we likely would have another call down the road, probably once again at odds. The truth is, we’re not always going to agree on every issue.

I’m still not sure if the ordinances being developed in Lower Chi are enforceable or not.

I imagine there is some merit to the argument a lot of people make that this is something that should be handled at the state level, by the Legislature.

I’m not holding my breath. How are those state budget talks going, anyhow?

In the meantime, it seems like every time I get behind the wheel I am dodging people who are yakking on cell phones.

Try this. The next time you’re sitting behind a car at a red light and the car does not move after the light turns green, resist the urge to lean on the horn. Instead, wait for the opportunity to pull aside the car. I’d be willing to bet you the person driving has a cell phone stuck in their ear.

We’ve had a tragic reminder of the dangers of distracted drivers with the senseless death of a teen in Upper Darby, run down by a young driver police say was adjusting her iPod.

I don’t know if the Lower Chi law is legal, if it’s enforceable, or if they actually write tickets.

I do know that if it keeps one person off their cell phone while driving, it’s a good idea.

What do you do with $259 million?

If you’re reading this blog, it’s pretty safe to assume that neither one of us one last night’s Powerball drawing.

What exactly do you do with $259 million? I have no idea, although I think I could have a helluva good time trying to figure it out.

I don’t have that luxury. But someone in South Carolina does.

There was one winning ticket sold last night. No doubt from some Piggly Wiggly outlet.

Here’s the winning numbers: 14-24-31-43-51. Powerball: 27.

I played in the office pool. Don’t worry. We’ll all be here at our posts this morning.

Dreaming of the next big jackpot.

Controversy continues to 'dog' Birds

So far the Eagles seem to have withstood the onslaught of negative publicity surrounding their decision to sign notorious dog-ring operator Michael Vick.

If their objective was to drive the Phillies off their perch atop the Philly sports world, they have done that. The region has been talking about Vick and little else for a week.

The guess here is that the talk is not going to cool off anytime soon.
Vick is not making the trip to Indianapolis for tonight’s second exhibition game. But expect the drumbeat to reach a fever pitch next week when Vick becomes eligible to play in the Birds next practice game, right here in the comfy confines of Lincoln Financial Field.

The team reports that while they have fielded some questions from their corporate sponsors, none have yet jumped ship over the Vick issue.

But there was one interesting development. Dick’s Sporting Good announced they would not carry the No. 7 Michael Vick Eagles jersey, at least not right away.

A store spokesman says it’s too soon, and the firm is still gauging public opinion.

That’s something local retailer Clothes Quarters in Ridley already made.
They are not carrying the Vick jerseys either.

Good for them.

Yep, expect the Vick controversy to “dog” the Birds for some time to come.

General Lee in command for Phils

Anybody remember Roy Halladay?

He’s the ace of the Toronto Blue Jays who was the apple of most Phillies fans back during the build-up to the trade deadline.

Ruben Amaro Jr. decided the Blue Jays were asking too much, in particular two of the Phils’ best young arms, J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek.
He nixed the offer.

Instead Amaro hooked up with the Indians and sent a slew of lesser prospects to Cleveland for the current AL Cy Young Award winner, Cliff Lee.

What happened next has been almost magical. Lee has gone to the hill four times for the Phils. He’s posted four wins, and looked dominant in almost all of them.

In two of the outings, including last night, Lee no-hit the opposition into the sixth.

All Lee did last night was blow away the Indians, striking out a career high 11, walking nobody. He gave up two hits and just a single unearned run. It was his fifth complete game this year, and second in a Phils’

Then there is this: Lee’s ERA since joining the Phils is a miniscule 0.82.

Not surprisingly, he was toasted when he came to bat, as well as in the ninth when he put down the Diamondbacks in order by the biggest crowd to pack Citizens Bank Park so far this year, 45,647.

Couple Lee’s dominance with another display of power from the Phils’
lineup, including homers by Chasey Utley, Ryan Howard and two for Jayson Werth, and the Phils cruise to a 8-1 win.

The Phils are now 5.5 games up in the NL East over the Marlins.

And Lee is a big reason.

Roy who?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Daily Numbers - August 19

The Daily Numbers: 112,000 dollars believed ripped off from the Suburban Swim Club by a former coach and manager.
45,000 dollars, the amount of an unpaid electric bill that gave an indication that something was not exactly “in the swim” at the facility.
3 different meetings set in Yeadon borough on Thursday to try to figure out the political mess that continues to roil council in the tiny town.
23, age of woman jogger who reported being raped in Ardmore not far from the popular Suburban Square Shopping Center.
32 projects costing more than $50 million that were rolled out by Delco County Council and SEPTA on Tuesday.
120 million dollar budget shortfall being predicted by SEPTA in 2011 after all this federal stimulus money dries up.
10 years on the Radnor Township board of commissioners for Lisa Paolino, who announced her resignation this week.
50 tickets handed out by police in Delaware Tuesday morning in a crackdown on aggressive drivers, meaning those speeding and ignoring traffic signs.
10 people wounded in a series of shootings that are plaguing Wilmington.
125 customers in the Bywood and Stonehurst sections of Upper Darby found to have illegal hookups in a crackdown by Peco Energy.
65 million dollars wagered last week at the new Sands Bethlehem casino, putting it in 4th place in the Pa. slots sweepstakes. Among those that take in more is Harrah’s Chester.
400,000 dollars worth of gold and jewels ripped off by thieves who drilled their way into a Philly jewelry store over the weekend.
4 straight days the price of gasoline in the 5-county Philly region has held at $2.71 a gallon.
16 million passengers expected to fly this Labor Day weekend. That’s 1 million fewer than last year, down 3.5 percent.
9, age of girl missing in Schuylkill River last night after it’s believed she was pushed in while a group of kids were involved in horseplay.
83, age of woman found dead in her home in Philadelphia, becoming the city’s 1st heat-related death of the summer.
350 well-wishers who will bid farewell to former powerful state Sen. Vince Fumo before he is scheduled to report to prison.
6 scoreless innings last night for Jamie Moyer, in relief of starter Pedro Martinez. Moyer surrendered only 2 singles.
66 minute rain delay that separated the pitching performances of Moyer and starter Pedro Martinez.
2004, the last time Moyer had appeared in relief.
51 sellouts in 59 home dates for the Phils after last night’s packed house.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Surely this is just the way Charlie Manuel planned it when he made the controversial decision to insert Pedro Martinez in his starting lineup and banish Jamie Moyer to the bullpen. Yeah, sure.
I Don’t Get It: Another day, another business ruined, not by the brutal economy, but instead by a trusted employee. This time it was Suburban Swim Club.
Today’s Upper: A thumb’s up to the folks in Lower Chichester, who are trying to make their roads safer while banning use of hand-held devices to send text messages while driving. Good for them.
Quote Box: “The swimming program has been decimated by Sotillo’s greed.”
- D.A. Mike Green, on the arrest of the former manager of the Suburban Swim Club for ripping off $112,000.

In hot water

Talk about getting soaked.

The word at the Suburban Swim Club – what’s left of it – this morning is betrayal.

That’s what they feel was done to them by the man hired to be the manager and coach at the facility.

You might say Jose Sotillo is in hot water. Yesterday he was charged with ripping off the swim club – which produced Olympic gold medalist Brendan Hansen – to the tune of more than $100,000.

It’s the latest in a seemingly never-ending series of businesses that have been savaged – not by the tanking economy – but by their own employees.

Suburban saw its electricity shut off. The facility is now closed. The club is trying to reorganize. Right now they’re operating out of Swarthmore College. The building off Providence Road in Newtown Square is in foreclosure.

All because, according to the charges, because one man could not keep his hands out of the till.

Yes, Jose Sotillo is in some serious hot water. Unfortunately, he managed to sink a proud, legendary local swim club in the process.

Now that's what I call summer

Sometimes Mother Nature is just plain cruel.

I’m not talking about the celestial light show she put on last night, pounding the region with lightning and a veritable deluge.

I’m talking about what preceded it.

We are in the midst of our first serious heat wave of the summer season.
In fact, if you ask me, summer has been anything but this year.

Look, I like it hot, the hotter the better. Humidity? Bring it on. I like the air thick. Those days have been few and far between so far this summer – until this week.

Of course I might get a disagreement from kids like David Hughes out in Chichester. David is pictured in the newspaper today getting doused with a hose after a football practice at Chichester High School.

No doubt Hughes and kids all across the county are not quite as enthused about this hot streak as I am.

I know how they feel. That was me out there practicing, albeit some 40 years ago.

Somethings you don’t forget. Like the smell of newly cut grass when the temperature reaches 90 degrees with high humidity. And the sound of the crickets, their high-pitched whir creating the sounds of summer.

I feel for you, David. I still like it hot, but I feel your pain.

Some things you don’t forget.

A new 1-2 punch for Phils

Meet Charlie Manuel, baseball genius.

You couldn’t script what happened last night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies threw almost more than 80 years of arms at the Diamondbacks, sandwiched around a 66-minute rain delay.

Most of the people were anticipating the first home start for the latest addition to the Phils’ pitching staff, right-hander Pedro Martinez.

Ironically, they also got an added treat, a gem of a relief performance by the man he replaced in the starting rotation.

It was just a week ago that Manuel and the Phils’ brass were facing the very ticklish situation of adding the three-time Cy Young Award winner Martinez to their starting pitching staff. Someone had to go. That someone turned out to be Moyer.

He was not especially happy about it. And, in a very un-Jamie Moyer-like moment, gathered the media in Chicago to tell them exactly how he felt about it. He used words like “misled.”

Last night at a once-again sold-out Citizens Bank Park, Martinez walked to the mound while Moyer headed to the bullpen. Then Mother Nature got involved.

Martinez threw three innings, giving up one run, before lightning and a pounding rain storm sent everyone running for cover.

Over an hour later, it was the man Martinez replaced who walked out to the mound. It was Moyer’s first relief appearance since 2004, and he made it one to remember.

Moyer tossed six scoreless innings, giving up just two singles while striking out five.

Surely Charlie Manuel planned exactly this way.

Maybe he should make them a tandem. Last night “Pedro Moyer” looked pretty formidable.

So did Charlie Manuel, baseball genius.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Daily Numbers - August 18

The Daily Numbers: 26 years in jail, what Robert Michael Smith faces after entering guilty plea in DUI crash that left a Ridley teen paralyzed.
92, age of victim who lost $5,000 in cash to in a burglary scam in her Darby home.
1 bullet and 2 victims in an incident in Upper Darby in which one bullet from a gun is believed to have gone through 1 victim and struck a 2nd.
It is one of 2 shootings in the township under investigation.
1 Pekingese dog stolen from a Jeep in the parking lot of the Brandywine Town Center in Delaware. It has since been recovered. A person who “bought” the pup says he recognized it from news reports.
100 degrees, what it will feel like outside today as we officially hit day 3 in the 90s, and thus the 1st actual heat wave of summer.
79.99, what you can expect to pony up for a No. 7 Michael Vick Eagles jersey, now on sale at local sporting good stores.
70 mourners who gathered outside a Havertown mattress store on the 4th anniversary of the murder of a woman who worked there by her estranged husband.
17, age of teen charged with causing $96,000 in vandalism to a school in Delaware.
2 16 year olds arguing at a playground hoops game in Southwest Philly that erupted in gunfire Monday night. One teen is believed to have gone home, gotten a gun, returned and shot his adversary.
22, age of youth from West Africa who was shot and killed in a street robbery in Philly.
12 Philadelphia workers Mayor Michael Nutter says will be laid off as the city continues to plead with state officials to pass a budget, and their tax-increase plan.
10 million dollars a month, how much the city is losing during the impasse. Officials now say they’re likely not going to see any money for August or September.
100 police cadets who have been told by the city not to report for their class in the fall.
8 weeks now that the state budget mess has dragged on in Harrisburg, with no deal in sight.
130 million credit card numbers believed stolen by three men in New Jersey in a massive ID theft operation.
1 dead in a motorcycle crash in Glasgow, Del.
1 teen killed and 2 others injured in a head-on crash in Winslow, N.J.
4, age of child rushed to Children’s Hospital Monday night after a firecracker accident in the city.
40 pounds lost by Gov. Ed Rendell. He wants to get down to 200 pounds. At one point he was tipping the scales at 265.
100 mph winds whipped up by Hurricane Bill, which is churning out in the Atlantic. It’s the 1st hurricane of the season.
2 quarterbacks on the field at the same time, the idea presented by Donovan McNabb yesterday in talking about how the Eagles will use Michael Vick.
1 start and 1 win so far for Pedro Martinez with Phils. He’ll take the mound for his first start ever at Citizens Bank Park tonight.
15 million dollar deal signed by the top pick in the Major League Baseball Draft. That would be pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
100 mph, how fast Strasburg’s fastball routinely is clocked at.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.All eyes will be on the starter tonight at Citizens Bank Park. Pedro Martinez will take the hill for the first time in front of Phils’ fans. They might instead wonder who is going to close out the game, given the problems suffered by Brad Lidge this year.
I Don’t Get It: Another day, another couple of young lives forever altered by drunken driving. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Darin ‘Philly’ Swain is trying to connect with kids on their terms. He’s putting out a rap record to get out his message of anti-violence.
Quote Box: “The whole thing is sad. There’s nothing to be happy about.”
- Peter Sacco, stepfather of Steve Jewell, who was left paralyzed when the car he was in was slammed by a driver who was DUI, in court yesterday as the driver entered a guilty plea.

The wheels of justice

Robert Michael Smith Jr. entered a guilty plea in Delaware County Court yesterday.

A tearful Smith admitted he was drunk
behind the wheel when the car he was driving slammed into another vehicle carrying a group of Ridley teens, all classmates at Ridley High.

Smith could face as much as 26 year in jail when he is sentenced in September.

Steve Jewell could only wish for such a sentence.

Robert Smith walked into the Media Courthouse yesterday. And he walked out. He will walk back in again on Sept. 22 for his sentencing.

Jewell only wishes he could do the same.

Jewell was in the car that Smith plowed into on that fateful night. He is paralyzed from the waist down. After long weeks of rehab, Smith remains in a wheelchair.

That’s how he got to his graduation from Ridley High. It’s how he joined his friends at Senior Week festivities.

It is likely how he will get everywhere the rest of his life.

Robert Smith will be sentenced on Sept. 22.

Steve Jewell has already been sentenced, to a life in a wheelchair.

Jewell was not in the courtoom yesterday, but his stepfather was.

“It’s a hard life for Steve now,” Peter Sacco said. “The whole thing is sad.”

Two young lives changed forever.

Sacco’s right. It’s just unbelievable sad.

Front Page News

I’m used to fielding complaints from readers about our front page.

It goes with the territory.

So I was not surprised to get an e-mail from a reader commenting on our coverage of Michael Vick.

I was sure we were about to be taken to task for our editorial supporting the Eagles’ decision to offer Vick a second chance.

This was about Vick all right, but not exactly what I expected.

The reader wanted to comment about our choice to lead Saturday’s front page with the fallout from the Vick affair.

In case you missed it, something else newsworthy happened in this county on Friday.

In a bizarre accident, a 19-year-old girl was killed when a car went out of control, went up on the sidewalk, and struck 19-year-old Nicole Gallo. She was killed instantly. A friend was seriously injured. The driver of the car, who police indicate may have been distracted while adjusting an iPod, was not injured.

The reader, clearly someone close to Gallo, believe Gallo deserved more attention than a guy returning to football after serving time for running a dog-fighting operation.

Actually, Gallo’s story was covered fairly thoroughly on Saturday, and it was teased off the front page. And we followed the story for an update on Sunday.

But the reader was right. It was not our lead story either day. The reader believes she deserved better.

Here's what the reader wrote in an e-mail:
I’m used to fielding complaints from readers about our front page.

It goes with the territory.

So I was not surprised to get an e-mail from a reader commenting on our coverage of Michael Vick.

I was sure we were about to be taken to task for our editorial supporting the Eagles’ decision to offer Vick a second chance.

This was about Vick all right, but not exactly what I expected.

The reader wanted to comment about our choice to lead Saturday’s front page with the fallout from the Vick affair.

In case you missed it, something else newsworthy happened in this county on Friday.

In a bizarre accident, a 19-year-old girl was killed when a car went out of control, went up on the sidewalk, and struck 19-year-old Nicole Gallo. She was killed instantly. A friend was seriously injured. The driver of the car, who police indicate may have been distracted while adjusting an iPod, was not injured.

The reader, clearly someone close to Gallo, believe Gallo deserved more attention than a guy returning to football after serving time for running a dog-fighting operation.

Actually, Gallo’s story was covered fairly thoroughly on Saturday, and it was teased off the front page. And we followed the story for an update on Sunday.

But the reader was right. It was not our lead story either day. The reader believes she deserved better.

Here is what the reader had to say:

"It is such a shame that a young girl 19 years old is killed by a freak accident and the front page of the Daily Times is focused on Michael Vick. Where is the news that matters. Not because someone is a celebrity or in the public eyes. He is a convicted felon and yes deserves a second chance in society, however, should be banned from the NFL just like they did to Pete Rose. Look, Michael Vick is irrelevant compared to what happened to Nicole Gallo today and if anything should be on the front page, it should be that, not Michael Vick. It is a disgrace of what hits the front page of the newspapers anymore. I don't think I will purchase the Daily Times again. I should just wait to see it on the news because whatever they feel is important to put on the front page they will. The big headline news on channel 6 today was about Michael Vick not about the tragic accident involving the 2 girls in which 1 died or what the families are feeling at this time. Who really cares about Michael Vick, who he signed with or how much money he will be getting. An innocent child's life was taken and another one is critically injured in the hospital. Where are the priorities in the news today?"

I’m not sure I disagree.

Heartbreak Lidge

We interrupt the Michael Vick saga to return you to the Phillies season.

No, baseball hasn’t gone away. It just got pushed off the sports pages – and the news pages as well – by our all-consuming rush to cover the Eagles dalliance with convicted dog ring runner Michael Vick.

But now that Vick is back at practice, and Donovan McNabb is talking about the possibility of both of them being on the field at the same time in a double-threat, we can now turn our sights once again to Citizens Bank Park.

That’s where the Phils will send Pedro Martinez to the mound tonight for his first home start as a Phil. No doubt Pedro will be warmly received by another packed house. That is not the problem.

This is. Pedro – even on a good night – will get you maybe five or six innings.

Eventually, this game is going to be decided by the bullpens, and very well could come down to the ninth inning.

And in case you haven’t noticed, that has become a problem for the Phils.

Brad Lidge, who as everyone remembers was simply perfect last season, never relinquishing a save opportunity, has been anything but so far this year. All Lidge did last year was save 48 games in 48 opportunities. Not so this year.

He was at it again in Atlanta over the weekend. He managed to nail down a game Friday night, even though he was hit hard, and then imploded again Saturday.

He bobbled a bunt try, then fired the ball into right field, leading to the tying run. A couple of batters later, the Braves won the game on a base hit with the bases loaded. Lidge faced six batters, and only got one of them out.

It was the eighth blown save of the season for Lidge, who continues to say he feels great and is throwing the ball just as well as he did last year, but is simply not getting the breaks.

He better turn that around, and fast. Tonight’s game is likely not going to be decided by Pedro Martinez. It will be decided by the Phillies’
bullpen, including Lidge coming on in the ninth.

Not exactly a comforting thought. What a difference a year makes.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Daily Numbers - August 17

The Daily Numbers: 2,190 foreclosures handled by Delco Sheriff Joe McGinn last year.
5,300 homes in foreclosure across Pennsylvania so far this year.
3 days of 90-plus temperatures, which constitutes a heat wave. We’re expected to be over 90 through Thursday.
1 Pekingese dog stolen from a Jeep in the parking lot of the Brandywine Town Center in Delaware.
105,000 barrels of oil on board a tanker that went aground on the Delaware River Sunday night.
415 million dollars now at stake in the Powerball and Mega Millions lottery drawings this week because no one has hit the jackpot recently.
50,000 dollars to be spent in Marple for a sidewalk on Paxon Hollow Road from Paxon Hollow Middle School to Jamestown Road.
20 years of having Aramark handle food services for the Chester Upland School District that could be going by the boards with a new deal to Chartwells.
31, age of Philly man who died after a traffic stop and his subsequent arrest by Pa. State Police.
27, age of Glen Mills man who died in a crash in Chester County when his car slammed into another one. Police say 1 suspect in the striking car, and both men in the car that was hit fled the scene.
4 video cameras now watching over a park and ball field in Upland, where vandalism has been a recurring problem.
60,000 dollars a year for the new code enforcement officer in Upper Providence.
22, age of man suspected in sexual assault in Philly who was captured by a group of neighbors in an Overbrook alley and held until police arrived.
10 percent of Philadelphia’s police force that is out on disability on most days. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says that’s unacceptable.
3 teens who go on trial today in the fatal attack on Upper Darby native Sean Conroy on a SEPTA subway concourse.
37 intersections on Route 13 in Delco that will get $3 million in improvements.
2.71 a gallon, the average price in the Philly region.
75 mph winds whipped up by Hurricane Bill, which is churning out in the Atlantic. It’s the 1st hurricane of the season.
2 home runs for Ryan Howard to lead the Phils over the Braves last night. That’s 30 on the season for the slugger.
1 hour, 37 minute rain delay that pushed back last night’s 8 p.m. start for the Phils and Braves.
3 hits over 7 and two-thirds innings for Phils starter J.A. Happ. He improves to 9-2 on the year.
3 Pro Bowls on the shelf on Michael Vick, who is now the property of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.If the Eagles were hoping to knock the Phillies off the Back Page with their move to hire Michael Vick, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
I Don’t Get It: Now there’s still another story circulating about how exactly Brett Myers managed to come up with a swollen right eye. Somehow I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this one.
Today’s Upper: Hey, that’s why they call it summer. It took a lot longer than expected, but it looks like summer is finally here.
Quote Box: “I don’t remember sleeping or eating. We didn’t care that we were dirty and muddy. I just remember the music and a genuine feeling of peacefulness.”
- Delco resident Audi Henshaw Flanagan, remember her weekend at Woodstock 40 years ago.

The tears of Michael Vick

Michael Vick says he cried in prison.

That will give him something in common with a lot of Eagles fans who feel betrayed by the team’s decision to sign the one-time Pro Bowl standout who went to jail for his role in running a dog-fighting operation.

Vick made the admission last night during a national interview on the CBS weekly news magazine “Sixty Minutes.”

The other people crying at last week’s Vick developments may have been CBS executives.

When word leaked out during Thursday night’s preseason game that Vick had signed with the Birds, CBS already was busy pushing their “exclusive” last night. So much for that.

The network had to put out parts of the piece to get the little bit of leverage left in their “exclusive.”

Of course, I’m fairly confident a ton of people tuned in last night to see Vick explain his actions.

And for his tears.

A dilemma for Mario Civera

In their visit with our editorial board, state Rep. Mario Civera, R-164, and state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, D-9, were fairly blunt in their belief that Democrats and Gov. Ed Rendell were dragging their feet when it comes to striking a budget deal.

In fact, they plainly indicated they do not see a budget resolution until sometime in September.

That could present a problem for Civera. And I asked him about it.

This is the last time the Upper Darby Republican will do one of these state budget charades. He’s giving up his state House seat to run for County Council.

I asked him if the state budget impasse could affect his plans, if he was troubled at all at the prospect of possibly being out campaigning for council while the state was still operating without a fiscal plan.

Civera admitted he had thought about it, and it’s not necessarily something he wants to do.

Then I asked him point blank: Would he ever consider withdrawing from the council race if the state budget mess drags on closer to election day?

No chance, he told the editorial board.

Civera says he made the decision to leave the state House and has no plans to change tracks now.

I guess an optimist could view that as a belief that the state will have a budget in place by the first week in November.

Then again, the way this state operates, I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

Or, in Civera’s case, the House either.

Grabbing a Tiger by the tail

I imagine many people are still coming to grips with the stunning news that the Eagles signed disgraced quarterback Michael Vick.

But for me, and for many golf nuts, it was not the THE most stunning story of the weekend.

No, instead that would be confirmation that Tiger Woods is mortal, maybe even human.

He still plays a game with which I am unfamiliar, but I am all too familiar with the putting woes that bedeviled Tiger Sunday in the final round of golf’s last major of the summer, the PGA, at Hazeltine Golf Course in Minnesota.

Woods did not win the PGA. This despite the best efforts of most in the national media to give him the Wanamaker Trophy on Friday and Saturday, when he built a seemingly comfortable four-stroke lead.

A funny thing happened to Tiger over the weekend. He got caught – and passed. That had never happened before.

Woods had carried the lead into the final round of a major 14 times as the sun came up on Sunday. When he shook the hand of Y.E. Yang just after 7 p.m. on the 18th green, that streak was shattered. So was just a little of the myth of Tiger’s invincibility.

After his round, Tiger lamented that he hit the ball great all day, but simply could not make anything on the greens.

In the meantime, it was Yang who made the dramatic shots, and was doing the Tiger-esque fist pumping.

Next thing you’ll be telling me the Eagles signed a backup quarterback who did time for running a dog-fighting operation.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Daily Numbers - August 14

The Daily Numbers: 2 years in prison spent by Michael Vick in connection to a dog-fighting ring. Today he’s a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
1.5 million dollars, how much the Birds will pay Vick this year, with an option for next year at a cool $5 milllion.
10 million dollars up front, what the state would collect from each of their new slots parlors in licensing fees if they added table games to the mix.
386 million dollars in grants for 172,000 college students across the Commonwealth that are tied up in the state budget impasse.
12.8 billion dollars in the state budget that has been freed up, mostly to pay state workers.
13 point lead for Sen. Arlen Specter over Rep. Joe Sestak, in the latest polling released by the Rasmussen Group.
48 to 36 percent lead for Republican Pat Toomey over Specter in a race for the Senate. That one is a turnaround from what once was a comfortable lead for Specter.
50, age of man arrested in Glassboro, N.J., charged with selling illegal firearms to undercover troopers.
3 bank holdups in Philadelphia all believed to be the work of the same man.
5 men, all in their mid-20s, charged in a series of home break-ins that has targeted homes along the Route 62 corridor in Mongtomery County.
1 year after the massive fire that raced through the Riverwalk apartment complex in Conshohocken.
792 houses worth $461 million sold in the last three months by regional home builder Toll Brothers.
21, age of Chicago fan who turned himself in to face charges that he tossed a beer in the face of Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino.
8 strong innings for Phils’ starter Cliff Lee as he won his 3rd straight game since joining the team.
2 years, how long it’s been since Michael Vick actually played in an NFL game.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Let’s just say this is going to be a most interesting day for the Eagles and their fans. Michael Vick will be introduced as their new backup quarterback. Call it a dog day afternoon, or morning for that matter.
I Don’t Get It: I still say everyone includes a second chance. That includes Michael Vick. I don’t get those who believe the guy should be banished forever.
Today’s Upper: Hey, at least we’re not talking about David Akers missing a potential game-winning field goal.
Quote Box: “I’m a believer that as long as people go through the right process, they deserve a second chance.”
- Eagles coach Andy Reid on the signing of Michael Vick.

The signing of Michael Vick

I had an e-mail waiting for me when I arrived at work this morning.
That’s not unusual; I usually have several of them that have arrived overnight.

As soon as I saw who it was from, I knew what it was about.

My wife and I had dinner with old friends Saturday night. Like me, they are huge Eagles fans. They also happen to be animal lovers.

Eventually the conversations converged. They asked me if I thought Michael Vick would play again in the NFL. I did not hesitate.


He’s one tweaked knee away from a phone call from a team more than willing to employ his services, I quipped.

It didn’t take that long.

The Eagles stunned just about everybody last night by signing the disgraced former Falcons quarterback.

If you’re a sports fan – or an animal lover – you might have heard of him. When last seen he was walking out of a federal prison after doing two years for his role in running a dog-fighting operation.

This morning he will be introduced as the Eagles new backup quarterback.

Saturday night I tried to explain to my friends my thinking, that I’m a firm believer in offering a second chance. That includes Vick. Bottom line? He did his time. I think he deserves a chance to make a living.

The Eagles obviously agree. They will pay him $1.5 million this year and more than $5 million if they decide to keep him next year. Anyone remember Brian Dawkins? The man many (I don’t happen to be among them) believe was the heart and soul of the Eagles defense parted ways with the team over a couple million bucks.

Talk about stepping in dog dung and coming up smelling like a rose.

My friends are not nearly so forgiving as I am. They were adamant that no team would dare risk the public relations nightmare of signing Vick.

Certainly none of us ever imagined it would be our beloved Birds.

“That wailing noise you hear is Bill in tears at the Eagles betrayal at signing Michael Vick,” Lisa wrote me in her e-mail. “Of all the teams, I never gave them a thought … We are making protest signs and putting the harness on our pit bull even as we speak.”

I don’t think they are alone.

The things Vick admitted to doing to those pit bulls is beyond horrific.

He has made overtures since his release from prison to humane societies and others to indicate he has reformed.

I have not changed my opinion. I believe he has a right to do his job.
Michael Vick happens to be a football player. One that brings some special talents to a team. Or at least he used to. Starting tomorrow, he will do that in a green uniform, I imagine with the number 7 emblazoned on it.

Somewhere, Ron Jaworski must be howling. He won’t be alone.

I’m sure the Eagles took into account the backlash they are going to face on this signing.

They have just become the poster boys for giving people a second chance.
And paying them pretty damn well to do it.

Joe Banner’s infamous “gold standard” probably never looked more so to Michael Vick. But to animal lovers, it will be forever tarnished.

The Eagles gave Michael Vick a second chance. It will be interesting if their fans are willing to do the same - for both Vick and the team.

The budget impasse

We got a visit yesterday from two of the leading Delaware County Republicans in Harrisburg, state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, and state Rep. Mario Civera, R-164.

Both are up to their necks in the budget standoff that has now dragged on for a month and a half. In particular Pileggi has found himself on the hot seat, at times being accused of holding the city of Philadelphia “hostage” in these hardball negotiations.

Yesterday we offered them an opportunity to give their view of the budget mess.

I came away with three distinct impressions.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a budget to be put in place. It’s not going to happen anytime soon. If I was going to guess, I would say this thing will drag on well into September, if not October.

Both Civera and Pileggi are frustrated by state Democrats, in particular Gov. Ed Rendell, and what they claim is the lack of action toward reaching a deal.

Finally, here’s a sure bet. Table games are coming to Pennsylvania.
Video poker in bars and social clubs is not. Pileggi basically said it’s a matter of when, not if, table games arrives in the Keystone State. He said there is zero support – and zero chance – of video poker getting the green light.

Losing the Battle of Brandywine - again

On Sept. 11, 1777, British soldiers defeated Continental troops at the Battle of the Brandywine.

It probably stung only a little more than what will happen at the sprawling 52-acre site along Route 1 in Chadds Ford today.

Very simply, they will shut the place down. Oh, the grounds will still be open. You can picnic there, or possibly stroll the trails.

But the tourist center will be closed, as will the historic buildings.
Almost all of the paid staff will be laid off. Brandywine Battlefield has lost the Battle of the Pa. Budget.

The state Historical and Museum Commission has decided to shutter most of the facility and lay off the staff. It’s all about money.

But in terms of what the state is dealing with, the money to run the Battlefield is peanuts. We’re talking about a $350,000 annual outlay.

No matter. They will close the books on history today at Brandywine Battlefield.

Talk about a losing battle.

Dog & Pony Show for Eagles

Maybe the Eagles were just tired of the Phillies getting all the attention.

Not content to kick off their exhibition season just a few hours after new Phillie Cliff Lee threw his third consecutive gem to lead the Phils to a sweep of the Cubs, the Eagles promptly swept all other news away with their blockbuster signing of disgraced quarterback Michael Vick.

Forget locally, this quickly became the top story in the nation. That is not necessarily a good thing for the Eagles. In short, this is a huge roll of the dice.

Just in case you missed it, the Eagles did lose the game last night to the Patriots, including the return of their own QB Tom Brady.

No one will remember that. OK, we might remember the fact that David Akers missed a 43-yard field goal that could have won it. It was one of two misses. He made four other ones.

Rookies LaSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin look like valuable additions. The offensive line and defense still look like questions.

But those questions are not nearly the thing that will “dog” the Eagles today and in the weeks to come.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Daily Numbers - August 13

The Daily Numbers: 120 years in jail for John Jackey Worman on child porn charges. It’s not enough.
11,000 videos and 1 million images or child porn found by authorities on Worman’s computer.
4 inch blow dart used to attack joggers and bicyclists in 4 separate incidents under investigation in Delaware.
8 hours, how long a man drove after having an online chat and setting up what he thought was going to be a sexual liaison with a woman and her daughters. He was arrested in Ridley in an online sex sting.
90 day extension added to the amnesty program by which Chester residents can avoid penalties and interest.
48, age of Morton man who pleaded guilty to the attempted luring of a teen near the MacDade Mall.
1 child killed and 5 others injured in a fire that ravaged a home in South Philadelphia early this morning.
34, age of woman who reported being attacked and raped in Fairmount Park about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
3 teens who go on trial today for the fatal attack on Sean Conroy on a Center City SEPTA subway concourse.
80,000 dollars racked up on stolen IDs by a man in Lehigh County. He used much of the money for penis enlargements and breast enhancement procedures for 2 women. You could say he’s busted.
213 million dollars up for grabs in Saturday’s Powerball jackpot. No one hit again last night. Guess it’s time to buy tickets.
100,000 dollars in grants handed out by the Delaware County Community Foundation to fund hospice and home health care services.
5,300 foreclosure notices received by Pennsylvania residents in Jyly.
That’s a four-year high.
16 puppies delivered by a rescue dog on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. She was headed to her new home in New Jersey when she delivered. Must be dog days.
1 budget hearing held yesterday by the state Senate in an attempt to clear a hurdle for Philadelphia to raise taxes and avoid a budget collapse.
33 straight days Gov. Ed Rendell says he’s been in Harrisburg, ready to deal with the budget impasse. He also says he’s passing up an African safari with his wife.
8 to 13 percent hit for Pa. casinos’ slots revenue, if a move to OK table games is approved, according to a state horsemen’s group.
55, age of Bear, Del., woman who police say stole medication from a senior citizen who was playing the slots at Delaware Park.
14, age of boy police say a 23-year-old woman was having sex with in Harrington, Del. She’s also charged with taking a swing at officers who arrived at a disturbance at a home where the woman was banging on the door.
5 innings for Pedro Martinez in his Phils’ debut, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits. He struck out 5 while throwing 99 pitches.
4.5 game lead for Phils over both the Marlins and Braves.
0 injuries, what the ailing Eagles can afford as they kick off the exhibition season tonight against the Pats with little semblance of the lineup they hope will start the season.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.So far so good for the Pedro Martinez experience. He gave the Phils what they might have expected from a decent Jamie Moyer outing.
I Don’t Get It: Philly fans get killed nationally for every minor infraction of etiquette. I’m waiting to hear the howls of outrage today after a Cubs’ fan doused Shane Victorino with a cup of beer just as he was trying to catch a fly ball last night. The silence is deafening.
Today’s Upper: Yes, if it’s the middle of August, it must be football season. Go Eagles!
Quote Box: “You’re not human. You’re a monster.”
- Mother of one of his victims to John Jackey Worman, as he was sentenced to 120 years in prison on child pornorgraphy charges.

Justice for Colwyn 'monster'

John Jackey Worman likely will never again see the light of day as a free man.

Not soon enough.

That’s how heinous his acts were.

Worman Wednesday was sentenced by a federal judge to 120 years in jail after being convicted of 56 counts involving child pornography.

What Worman was doing to kids – some as young as 3 – is almost beyond belief.

A mother of one of his victims referred to him as as monster. A juror referred to his as “Satan.” The judge yesterday said it was the worst case of child porn in U.S. history.

The hope in justice is that the punishment fit the crime. That won’t happen in this case. Nothing can be done by a civilized society to equate to what Worman did to those children.

We’ll simply have to take solace in the fact that he will never be able to do it again.

Reality bytes in online sex stings

It’s happened again, and once again I am left scratching my head as to how – and why.

A man has an online conversation with a woman in an Internet “chat”
room. The name of the room is “Incest is Natural.” That should give you an idea where this is going.

He allegedly sets up a liaison with his online acquaintance, whom he thinks is a mom with three young girls. The man’s idea of a good time is sex with mom and her daughters.

So excited is he that he jumps in his car and heads off to meet his new pals. The man is in Cleveland, Ohio. The “mom” is in Delaware County.

Only the mom is not a mom, and she does not have three daughters who she is willing to serve up to this guy's sexual desires. She’s actually an undercover officer with the Delaware County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The man drives eight hours, right into the arms of officers waiting for him in the parking lot of a drug store in Ridley, just off the Blue Route.

OK, I’ll admit it. I don’t get it. When exactly are these guys going to learn that they have no idea who that person on the other end of these chats really is?

My only conclusion is either that the lure is so overpowering as to minimize the obvious risk, or maybe even more troubling is that such suspected pervs routinely do this kind of thing without getting caught.

I’ll admit I still have some questions about exactly what these suspects are guilty of, after all, for the most part all they have done is “chatted” dirty online. Apparently the key is when they actually show up for one of these rendezvouses. That goes to intent.

But it doesn’t change my initial question. When are guys like Arnold Lawhun, who is now residing at the Delaware County Prison, going to figure out how this game works?

Crying in our beers

Try to imagine the reaction if the following scenario had played out at Citizens Bank Park.

A Cubs outfielder is drifting back toward the wall, taking bead on a long fly ball, face skyward, glove extended.

Then, just before that Rawlings smacked into the leather, he was smaked in the face with a cup of beer.

Well, that’s precisely what happened to Shane Victorino last night in Wrigley Field.

The Phillies outfielder got a faceful of foam, but somehow managed to keep his concentration and still made the catch. The fan was ejected.

No doubt this won’t get the nearly the national condemnation it would if such a transgression were to occur here in Philly, where it would quickly mushroom into a national debate on Philly fans.

Not so much for those loveable legions of Cubbies’ fans.

I like the way Victorino handled the situation. After the game, he didn’t really want to talk about it.

“It was a beer, so let’s not talk about it,” he said.

Nice play, Shane.

We await the national debate on fan behavior that does not occur in Philly.

My guess is we’ll be left crying in our beers.

The Pedro era

The curtain went up on the Pedro era last night for the Phils.

It looked pretty much like the Jamie Moyer era.

Pedro Martinez made his Phillies debut in Wrigley Field Wednesday night, and thanks to the reappearance of the Phils’ slumbering lumber, it was a smashing success.

The Phillies ravaged Cubs’ pitchers for 12 runs, including home runs by Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez. It was the second straight night Rollins had homered out of the leadoff spot.

But all eyes were on Pedro, and he gave the Phils a very solid effort, pretty much like Jamie Moyer on a good night.

Martinez went five innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. He threw
99 pitches.

We’ll take it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Daily Numbers - August 12

The Daily Numbers: 2 more cases of carbon monoxide, the ruling in the accidental deaths of a man and his 3-year-old daughter in the garage of their Middletown home.
200 dollar reward in the case of a kitten that may have been thrown from a moving car in Brookhaven.
56 counts of child porn – including videotaping young children – for which John Jackey Worman will be sentenced in federal court today.
2 more teens charged in a wolfpack-style attack in Upper Darby. And top cop Mike Chitwood is steamed at the way the juvenile justice system works, too often a revolving door putting these kids right back on the streets.
100 people who gathered outside the Media Courthouse at lunch time to protest proposed cuts to education and social service agencies as part of the state budget standoff.
3,000 city workers in Philadelphia that could be laid off should the state Legislature not approve its budget plan, which is caught up in the web of budget politics.
2 bicyclists in Delaware who report they were the victims of attacks with an unusual weapon – blow darts.
2 robberies at Southwest Philly fast-food joints believed to be the work of the same suspect.
5,000 dollar challenge grant being sought to help the local food charity Philabundance. Newtown, Bucks County, philanthropist Gene Epstein, says he will put up $5,000 to match any group that can do the same. That would mean 33,000 meals for the region’s hungy.
10 video cameras that will be put in place on cars on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford El. They will cost $3.3 million.
3 American hikers who have been detained in Iran for two weeks. Their families say they entered the country by mistake and are pleading for their release.
4,000 members of the Stryker Brigade Pa. National Guard unit who soon will be heading home from Iraq.
2 men shot to death just a block apart in Lancaster yesterday.
200 more jobs being cut by the regional credit card firm Advanta.
2 more small Pa. water and wastewater systems being acquired by Aqua America.
12.7 percent decline in slots revenue in July at the Atlantic City casinos from the same month last year.
3 hits for the Phils last night, who still managed to win over the Cubs, 4-3.
256 wins in his career for Jamie Moyer. He’s also sporting a 5.47 ERA this season.
7 blown saves in 28 chances for Brad Lidge, who was perfect last season.
That’s a problem.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Jamie Moyer says he doesn’t want to be a distraction. What exactly does he think comments like those he made yesterday, saying he believes he was “misled” by the team, constitute?
I Don’t Get It: Rick Pitino is about as big time as it gets in college coaching. Now there’s a report the Louisville hoops coach told police he had sex with a woman in a restaurant and now she’s trying to extort him for millions. He also says he paid her $3,000 for an abortion.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Bucks County philanthropist Gene Epstein. He is putting up $5,000 of his own to any group that can match it raising funds for the food charity Philabundance.
Quote Box: “I’m a little disheartened because I know this past winter, when I was negotiating with the Phillies, this was a sore thumb, if you will, about this potentially happening.”
- Jamie Moyer, on his demotion to the bullpen by the Phillies.

The face of evil

Judges routinely peer down from the bench into the face of evil.

Never more so than today in a federal courtroom in Philadelphia, when a judge will set his gaze upon one John Jackey Worman.

Just how evil, how depraved is Worman, and the acts of which he stands convicted.

After rendering a guilty verdict last year, one juror described Worman this way: “It was like looking at Satan sitting at the table.”

Today Worman will be sentenced for his acts, one of the most horrific instances of child abuse ever detailed. Worman, along with two women convicted of helping in his debauchery, was convicted of all 56 counts against him.

Children, some as young as 3 years old, were abused and videotaped by Worman.

Worman faces a maximum sentence of 15 to 30 years on each offense. He deserves every minute of it.

The face of Satan? Certainly the face of evil.

One that hopefully will never again see the light of day.

Phillies now Team Turmoil

You want the good news or the bad news about the Phillies this morning?

OK, here goes. They won last night, to keep their three and a half game edge over the Marlins. Ben Francisco, the guy who was included in the trade that brought starter Cliff Lee to red pinstripes, hit a homer in the 12th to push the Phils to a 4-3 over the Cubs in Wrigley.

That pretty much sums up the good news.

Now for the other stuff. This team seems to be fraying at the seams. I suppose they could rally and put their troubles behind them, or the whole thing could simply unravel.

Tonight will be the key. Pedro Martinez takes the mound tonight to pitch in a major league game for the first time since last September.

Martinez is taking Jamie Moyer’s spot in the starting rotation, and the 46-year-old who just a few months ago was riding down Broad Street as a World Series hero is not happy about it. For his efforts – and his 16-7 mark last year – Moyer was awarded a new, two-year, $13 million deal.
But that’s not all Moyer says he got. He believes he got assurances from the Phils that exactly the kind of thing that happened this week would not take place.

Now he feels “misled.” He is going to the bullpen, and he does not want to be a distraction, but that is exactly what he became yesterday when he met with reporters and blew off a little steam, saying the whole thing had left him “disheartened.”

As much as we appreciate Moyer and what he did for the team last year, his numbers this year, including the highest ERA of any starter in the NL, simply don’t cut it. Moyer has been around long enough to know that.

So what happens tonight if Martinez implodes in his return to the big leagues? Don’t ask.

The funny thing is, that might not even be the most pressing pitching problem the Phils face. Last year’s lights-out closer, Brad Lidge, had another hiccup last night, coughing up a 3-2 lead in the ninth, including the sure-fire recipe for disaster of walking the lead-off man.

Then there are the Phils’ bats. Anyone seen them recently? When Francisco launched that pitch in the 12th into the basket just over the fence in the left-field corner, it was just their third hit of the night.

Tonight all eyes will be on Martinez. Ruben Amaro Jr. surely will not be the only one with his fingers crossed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Daily Numbers - August 11

The Daily Numbers: 2 people found dead in a garage in Middletown. The 38-year-old father and his 3-year-old daughter are believed to have succumbed to carbon monoxide.
3 kittens that have now fallen victim to abuse in Delaware County. The latest incident is under investigation in Brookhaven.
18 suspected pot plants seized inside a home in Upper Darby after police responded to a report of a gas leak.
3 members of borough council in Yeadon who once again failed to show up for a meeting Monday night.
250 state workers who are getting layoff notices as the Pa. budget impasse continues with no end in sight.
4 years in prison on corruption charges for the former aide to a Philly councilman.
1 billion dollar contract for Boeing’s Delco plant to build 15 Chinook helicopters for Canada.
3, age of victim of a robbery in Wilmington. Police say a man snatched the toddler’s purse in a deli. It contained a few dollars in change.
2 more concerts by Pearl Jam added in October as part of the official closing of the Spectrum. Pearl Jam will be the last band to play the legendary hall.
12, age of youth who is credited with saving the life of a stranger who had fallen out of a canoe at a Chester County campground.
46, age of Phils’ starter Jamie Moyer, who is being demoted to the bullpen.
37, age of Pedro Martinez, who will take Moyer’s spot in the starting rotation.
3 Cy Young Awards on Martinez’s shelf.
16 wins last year for Moyer. That was tops on the staff. He was awarded with a new, 2-year deal.
3.5 game lead for the Phils over the Marlins, who won again last night while the Phils were idle.
2 more Eagles who have bitten by the injury bug at Lehigh. Backup QB Kevin Kolb and defensive lineman Trent Cole are both on the shelf and will miss the exhibition opener Thursday night against the Pats.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.What do you think the chances are that Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro Jr. are sporting T-shirts today that say, “Vote for Pedro.”
I Don’t Get It: What is it suddenly with abuse of cats in Delco. The latest incident is under investigation in Brookhaven.
Today’s Upper: 2 more days before the Eagles take the field for their first exhibition game. The downer? How many guys do you think are going to get hurt in these four meaningless affairs?
Quote Box: “I don’t think he was particularly happy. He’s a competitive guy and he wants to be out there every five days for us.”
- Phils GM Ruben Amaro, on how Jamie Moyer took the news that he was being demoted to bullpen.

Pat's Stakes

It took Delaware County Democrats 20 years to topple Curt Weldon and capture the 7th District seat in Congress.

And some say it took a federal investigation into Weldon to do it.

It might take them all of four years to watch it return to GOP control.

All of this is rooted in the decision by U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak to vacate his seat in D.C. and throw down the gantlet smack in the middle of Sen.
Arlen Specter’s path to the Democratic nomination.

Consider Sestak the first domino in one of those elaborate table-top displays. Sestak’s long-awaited official announcement that he would challenge Specter for the Dem nod knocked over that first domino. You know what happens next - away they go.

Sestak’s announcement created the “specter” – as it were – of a second race, one to replace Sestak in Congress.

Republican Craig Williams, while woefully underfunded, ran a solid race against Sestak in 2008. To no avail. He was solidly thumped by Sestak.

Williams was expected to consider running again. Steve Welch, an entrepreneur from Montgomery County, has already announced he would seek the GOP nod.

On the Democratic side, state Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-161, was considered the likely front-runner. Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166, long a thorn in the GOP’s side, also was tinkering with the idea of heading to D.C.

Then the county political landscape was rocked by an announcement on Friday by a very familiar face.

Pat Meehan is a former Delaware County district attorney, as well as the respected former U.S. Attorney for eastern Pennsylvania known for rooting out corruption.

The common belief was that Meehan was looking at a run for governor, a race that would pit him against Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach and Attorney General Tom Corbett.

But on Friday Meehan took himself out of the running for the GOP gubernatorial race, and indicated he was considering a run for the 7th District House seat.

In short, that changes everything. Meehan would immediately become the favorite in the race, which would return the seat to GOP hands after just two terms under Joe Sestak.

That doesn’t mean it’s a lock. Meehan hasn’t even officially announced yet, although most in the county GOP consider that a foregone conclusion.

The question now will shift to the Democrats and what they want to do.
If either Lentz or Vitali run, the party runs the risk of not only losing the seat in Congress, but also a seat in the state House.

Call it Pat’s Stakes. And for Delco Democrats, the stakes are very high.

Phillies vote for Pedro

The results are in. The Phillies brain trust has voted for Pedro.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner is in the Phillies rotation; Jamie Moyer is out.

Martinez, 37, will start Wednesday night at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. Moyer, 46, goes to the bullpen.

Can you say out with the old? Maybe this is the Phils’ idea of a youth movement.

The ever-changing look of the Phillies pitching staff is getting still one more facelift. J.A. Happ will be on the hill tonight for the opener.
Then Charlie Manuel will give the ball to Martinez. The guy who seems to be the team’s new ace, Cliff Lee, will have his next start pushed back to Thursday, meaning he gets almost seven days between starts.

It’s hard to believe that it was just a few months ago that fans were in an uproar over whether or not the Phils would offer the then age-less Moyer a new deal. Eventually, faced with what looked like a public relations nightmare, the Phils gave in and inked Moyer for two more years.

Now he’s headed to the bullpen, looking every bit like a guy who’s at the end of the road.

Then again, if Martinez finds out getting out major leaguers is a lot tougher than Double A hitters, Moyer will be ready to return.

Then there is this even more troubling nugget from the Phillies world.
The Marlins won again last night. They now trail the Phils by just three and a half games.

Why does that sound so much closer than four games out?

It shouldn't happen to a cat

All of a sudden, it seems like it’s open season on cats in Delaware County.

First it was a kitty that was set on fire in Darby Borough. A 9-year-old boy was taken into custody. Then a cat was found after it was shot with a BB gun in Chester.

Now it seems like another cat has been victimized, this time in Brookhaven.

It is believed that a kitty may have been tossed from a moving car during yesterday morning’s busy rush hour along Edgmont Avenue.

The heroine in this case is TaLisha Champ, who works at a nearby McDonald’s and was waiting for a bus after completing her shift. She noticed the cat in the street and directed cars around the kitty until help could arrive.

The 6-week-old kitten has injuries consistent with being tossed from a moving car.

It just makes you shake your head. And also wonder this: If people are capable of doing this to defenseless animals, what else are they capable of?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 10

The Daily Numbers: 3 people from Montgomery County killed in the collision of a small plane and a helicopter over the Hudson River in New York City on Saturday.
100 degrees, what it is going to feel like as we get our first taste of real summer weather today.
98,000 dollars in debt that has forced Darby Mayor Helen Thomas to file for bankruptcy to avoid having her house go to a sheriff’s sale.
170 properties that will be on the block at the next scheduled sheriff sale in the county on Aug. 21.
18, age of Katelyn Mariana, a 2008 grad of Ridley High who was remembered at a memorial service this weekend. She was killed in a crash at the Jersey shore last summer.
500 residents who turned out to share in the fun yesterday at the annual corn boil in Bethel Township.
5 suspects rounded up on drug charges in Upper Darby.
7, age of Valerie West of Collingdale, the winner of the Delco Idol Jr.
22 feet, length of whale that beached itself in Lewes, Del., over the weekend. It had to be euthanized.
2 suspects nabbed by police in a heist of a Center City massage parlor in Philly this morning.
2.68 a gallon, what we’re paying in the Philly region on average for gas.
3 straight losses for the Phils as they got swept by the Marlins.
4 game lead for the Phils over the Marlins. It was 7 back on Thursday night.
3 runs on 11 hits surrendered by starter Jamie Moyer. Questions continue to swirl around his spot in the rotation.
6 runs surrendered by reliever Rodrigo Lopez.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I could swear the Phillies were 7 games up on the Marlins when this weekend started. Which of these teams is in first place, anyhow?
I Don’t Get It: Shane Victorino didn’t exactly help things by getting tossed out of the game for arguing balls and strikes. At the time Victorino was not even batting. He was in center field and was making hand gestures at home plate umpire Ed Rapuano.
Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for 7-year-old Valerie West of Collingdale, the newly crowned Delco Idol Jr.
Quote Box: “I was upset how we played today. We lost our composure.”
- Phils Manager Charlie Manuel, after yesterday’s blowout loss to the Marlins.

The Dog Days

My wife and I had dinner with a couple of old friends – and very loyal readers of the Daily Times – Saturday night.

One of the reasons I enjoy their company so much is because they can offer a running commentary on what is going on here in Delco.

They are not shy about voicing their opinions. And Saturday night they confirmed something I have suspected for some time.

We routinely run stories about people who find themselves in the worst circumstances imaginable. After a while, the stories almost seem to blur together. Another horrific tale. Another tragedy. Eventually I suppose people build up a kind of defense. I know I do.

But let that story involve an animal, and you can’t get enough people in here to answer the phones. I’ve seen it happen again and again.

But in this case there was a twist. They were upset about the way we treated a recent story involving an animal, but not for the reason you might suspect.

They’re the proud new owners of a pit bull pup. And they say the breed is getting a bad rap, in part because of the constant stories about pit bull attacks.

We recently reported on an incident that happened in Collingdale, where a little girl was mauled by a pit bull that had gotten out of the house.

They wanted me to know that these instances are a decided minority, but they tend to leave a black mark on the entire breed.

So I stand corrected. I will try to be sure we don’t unfairly stereotype pit bulls.

Just in time for the dog days of August.

The Dog Days

My wife and I had dinner with a couple of old friends – and very loyal readers of the Daily Times – Saturday night.

One of the reasons I enjoy their company so much is because they can offer a running commentary on what is going on here in Delco.

They are not shy about voicing their opinions. And Saturday night they confirmed something I have suspected for some time.

We routinely run stories about people who find themselves in the worst circumstances imaginable. After a while, the stories almost seem to blur together. Another horrific tale. Another tragedy. Eventually I suppose people build up a kind of defense. I know I do.

But let that story involve an animal, and you can’t get enough people in here to answer the phones. I’ve seen it happen again and again.

But in this case there was a twist. They were upset about the way we treated a recent story involving an animal, but not for the reason you might suspect.

They’re the proud new owners of a pit bull pup. And they say the breed is getting a bad rap, in part because of the constant stories about pit bull attacks.

We recently reported on an incident that happened in Collingdale, where a little girl was mauled by a pit bull that had gotten out of the house.

They wanted me to know that these instances are a decided minority, but they tend to leave a black mark on the entire breed.

So I stand corrected. I will try to be sure we don’t unfairly stereotype pit bulls.

Just in time for the dog days of August.

Life's a Beach

I’m back – and I brought the heat with me. Feel free to blame me for today's heat and humidity. I will admit it - I love this kind of weather. In fact, I've been waiting for it all summer. So don't expect me to grouse about how hot it is today.

That doesn't mean I won't fathom a guess as to whether it's the heat or the humidity, so long as we get lots of both.

In the meantime, I am happy to report that Rehoboth Beach is just as lovely – and just as expensive – as ever.

Or course the quaint little town I knew as a kid is long gone, but I still love the place.

And yes, in case you were wondering, the first place I headed once I hit town was Grotto Pizza for a slice.

And I am still in the market for answers to a couple of my favorite Rehoboth questions.

For one, why is it exactly that a single slice always tastes better than a full pie? And why is it that the slice at the beach tastes better than a slice in Newark, Del. Maybe it’s the salt air?

And when I figure that out I’ll get around to the mystery of what exactly does give Grotto that “legendary taste.”

All I know is that I love it. And can’t wait to get back again.

Lost Weekend in South Philly

Anybody know which of those teams that was playing at Citizens Bank Park over the weekend was in first place?

I know, it was hard to tell.

The Phillies had a chance this weekend to do what the Mets could not do to them the past couple of years. That is, drive a stake through their hearts and put them away.

Instead, the Phils did their best Gotham impersonation.

Instead of being up by eight or nine games, the Phils now can see the Marlins clearly in the rear-view mirror. The Marlins came in and kicked the Phillies all over their home turf. This morning they are just four games back. And the Braves are right behind them, just four and a half back.

It’s not so much that the Phils lost three games to the Marlins, it’s the way they went about it on what was clearly a Lost Weekend.

Yesterday they looked almost disinterested. They got another mediocre effort from Jamie Moyer, and they continued what is quickly becoming their trademark, inability to hit with runners on base.

Moyer gave way to the bullpen, and the difference from last fall could not be more clear.

When the dust cleared, the Phils were licking their wounds, along with a
12-3 defeat.

And they still have to figure out what they are going to do with Moyer, with Pedro Martinez waiting in the wings.

On the whole, not a very good weekend in South Philly.

And don’t even get me started on the Eagles.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Life's a beach

The Heron's Nest is returning to his roots - and one of his favorite places on Earth.

Yes, it's once again time for our annual sojourn to Rehoboth Beach, Del. I'll be the guy with the All-Delco T-shirt on, stained of course with Grotto Pizza.

By all means say hello if you see me. You'll likely get the usual response.

"Say, aren't you the editor of the Daily Times?"

"That depends on who wants to know."

See you in a week.