Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

The Giants really aren't going to start the season 0-3, are they?

Let's hope so.

It will be a decidedly desperate Big Blue that rolls down the Jersey Turnpike for the Eagles' home opener at Lincoln Financial Field. The Giants should be as hot as the temperatures, which are expected to soar into the 90s.

It shouldn't matter. At this point the Eagles are a better team - and should get the win. But this is the Giants, and weird things always happen against the Giants. So I wouldn't be stunned if the Eagles cough this one up.

The Giants are in flames because of two fundamental problems: They can't run the ball and can't protect quarterback Eli Manning. Add in an Odell Beckham not playing at 100 percent and you have big problems.

This game likely will boil down to the Eagles defensive line vs. the Giants shaky offensive line. Those guys have been getting torched all week in New York. Coach Ben McAdoo even poured a little fire on his QB, criticizing some of the decision making of Manning. But if Manning gets even adequate protection, he could have a field day against a very banged-up Eagles secondary. The D-line can't allow that to happen.

Doug Pederson insists "we" have to fix the Birds' non-existent run game. Yo, Doug, you're the coach. Try calling some running plays. Give Carson Wentz a break. Don't look for that to happen. Look for Wentz to be dropping back - and often running for his life - again this Sunday. If he's again the Birds leading rusher, they could be in trouble.

A win could almost be the kiss of death for the Giants' season.

Pucker up, Big Blue.

THE PICK: Make it Eagles 23, Giants 17. Count on the D-Line to get to Eli enough to force a crucial late turnover to seal the deal

LAST WEEK: As I feared, Doug Pederson completely shirked the run game, despite being in a tie game with the highly respected Chiefs into the fourth quarter. Pederson says he will change his ways. I will believe it when I see it. Expect to see Carson Wentz chucking it downfield all day again Sunday. I don't think Wentz will rack up another 300-yard day against the Giants, but I do think he will take another heavy dose of punishment. The loss to Andy Reid drops the Eagles to 1-1, while my record remains spotless at 2-0.

GAME BY GAME: Chiefs 27, Eagles 20. (My Pick: Chiefs 33, Eagles 17)

Eagles 30, Redskins 17. (My Pick: Eagles 26, Redskins 13)

Friday, September 22, 2017

A new legal front in the opioid wars

Today's front page pretty tells you how seriously the county is taking their latest foray in the opioid war.

'This is War,' it declares.

Yesterday Delaware County became the first county in Pennsylvania to file suit against drug makers - and some of the doctors that advise them - in connection with the heroin and opioid epidemic that is ravaging so many of our communities.

What the county basically is alleging in their legal filing is that big pharmaceutical companies have for years been practicing deceitful practices in pushing powerful painkillers, knowing full well the dangers of long-term use leading to addiction.

Officials say many heroin addicts start down that road with legitimate prescriptions for painkillers, quickly find themselves addicted, then go looking for cheap alternatives when the prescription runs out.

It's a vicious circle.

It will be interesting to see if this lawsuit ever sees the inside of a courtroom, and what the drug companies response will be. You can read our story here.

'What is your fascination with this pipeline story'

I had a very interesting phone conversation earlier this week.

As usual, the caller wanted to debate what appeared on the front page that morning.

What was unusual about it was the very calm, reasoned, rational discussion we had. I assure you that is not always the case. What also was unusual was the hour. Let's just say it was early. It's obvious this person - like me - is up and at it very early in the day. The exec wanted to know about the process that goes into deciding what goes on the front page each day, in particular the lead story. It took awhile, but eventually this person got around to what I think they really wanted to talk about.

"What is the fascination with this pipeline?"

It's not an unusual question.

In part it was sparked by two front-page packages that appeared just a couple of days apart.

On Sunday we noted the grievances residents in the Andover development out in Thornbury have had since the Mariner East 2 project has literally moved into their front yard.

Then just a couple of days later, we learned that the group actually had gone to court seeking an injunction to halt construction. That wound up in our lead spot as well.

The caller noted some of the other stories that appeared in the paper that day, and wondered why they were not in that coveted lead spot. I think it's safe to say this person is a supporter of Mariner East 2. We have not avoided that aspect of the story.

Many elected officials, including Delaware County Council, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and labor unions, are big proponents of the Sunoco project.

They note the economic upside, the jobs involved, and the importance of the project to the future of Marcus Hook and the lower end of the county.

We talked about the process I go through each day in selecting that lead story. I have said many times it's the most important of the many decisions I make every day.

I'm not sure I convinced this person that I made the right call - or that we are not piling on when it comes to this pipeline story. But it was nice to have a cordial, rational conversation - especially that early in the day.

We will continue to follow the pipeline story. I happen to believe it's the most important economic story in the region.

That means it's not going away. Neither are we.

A key opportunity on the road to recover

The road to recovery is a long, crooked path.

Detours are not unusual.

One of the things we hear again and again from police and first responders is a frustration that, as good as Narcan is in saving those overdosing on heroin and opioids, they lament what too often happens next.

They note the lack of treatment and recovery programs.

They indicate they too often find the very same people, in the very same circumstances, once again in need of the life-saving drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

A crucial part of long-term recovery is something most of us would endorse.

The concept is simple.

It's called a second chance.

Talking about it is one thing.

Putting it into practice - especially in the business world - is another.

That's why a program rolled out this week by the county is so important.

It offers women in longterm recovery - who in the process of defeating the demons that knocked them down - another shot at gainful employment.

We talk about it on today's editorial page.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The ups & downs of Mariner East 2

It is the issue that will not go away.

It also happens to be perhaps the biggest economic story in the region - if we can just figure out where Amazon wants to park its new headquarters.

I'm talking about Mariner East 2.

Yes, the massive pipeline project that will traverse the width of Pennsylvania, ferrying massive amounts of butane, propane and ethane to Marcus Hook, continues to make news.

I have said many times that I believe the Sunoco project is the biggest economic story in the region. No one doubts the upside. But the concerns about it - and the possible dangers - are not going away.

The latest is a legal challenge issued by the homeowners association out at the Andover development in Thornbury Township.

They have gone to Commonwealth Court seeking an injunction to halt construction in their neighborhood.

I don't think it's going to happen.

There are two things I'm pretty sure of: Mariner East 2 is not going away. Neither are the community concerns.

You can read our editorial here.

County veterans lose a special friend

No one was more surprised than I was when I saw the lineup of guests set up by my pal Barbara Ann Zippi for one of our 'Live From the Newsroom' shows a few years back.

I actually had to read the list again.

Yep, that was longtime Newtown Supervisor Linda Houldin on the list. I kind of wondered how long it took Barb to convince her to do it.

The Newtown pol had several dust-ups with the paper and our coverage. She was not bashful about saying she did not think she had been treated fairly, and said so at several public appearances I made, including a luncheon of the Delaware County Press Club

But Houldin was not appearing on the show as Newtown supervisor. She was coming on wearing a couple of her other many hats, as head of the Delaware County Historical Society and co-founder of the Delaware County Veterans Memorial.

When she showed up at the office for the live-streaming of the show, I think she was still having trepidations about how things were going to go.

She could not have been nicer.

The show went off without a hitch.

And I had a new friend.

Veterans issues were very close to Linda's heart, along with her special educational push in getting young people involved in veterans issues and expanding their knowledge of what these men and women sacrificed.

We did several shows together, including one out at the Veterans Memorial out on West Chester Pike in Newtown Square.

Linda died earlier this week following a severe asthma attack.

The county has lost a special person.

And local veterans have lost a very special friend.

Maybe no one knew just how much she put into the drive to construct the memorial than Guy Fizzano. He's the board president of the Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association and another of the people responsible for that marvelous edifice.

"Her contributions to her community were both immeasurable and far reaching," Fizzano said of Houldin. "Hers is a legacy of profound generosity."

She touched a lot of lives in this county, and planted new seeds of respect and knowledge about veterans issues with young people.

And she even managed to surprise on old newspaper editor.

Rest well, Linda.

Young Phillies creating a buzz

What does it mean that two weeks into the Eagles season - with a huge game against the Giants looming Sunday - we're still talking about the Phillies.

Yes, the Phils won again last night, taking their third straight game from the Dodgers, who just happen to be the team with the best record in baseball. The Phils will go for the sweep this afternoon.

Last night's game was marked by another fantastic at-bat from rookie phenom Rhys Hoskins, who worked a walk, followed by a titanic blast from red-hot Aaron Altherr.

Center-field Odubel Herrera sealed the deal with a spectacular grab leaping against the wall for the final out in the 9th inning.

The Phillies have now won eight of 10 and are 32-33 since the All-Star break.

It now appears fairly certain that the team will avoid the ignominy of a 100-loss season.

Their record stands at 61-91. Yes, they remain 31 and a half games behind the Nats.

But there is an understandable buzz about this team, with a young nucleus of future stars.

There will be more than one interesting decision about the roster that will have to be made in Clearwater next spring.

Add a couple of starting pitchers and the Phillies could be on the brink of something special.

Worst to first? Well, let's not get carried away.

But it's Sept. 21, the last day of summer.

And we're still talking about a team with a 61-91 record.

What does that tell you?