Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It's never sunny for Philly sports fans

I often write here about the Phillies and why, in general, it's so damn hard to be a Philadelphia sports fan. So I am casually doing some reading at home last night while listening to the game when I hear the news of the Apocalypse.

Yep, ace Cole Hamels will miss his scheduled start tonight with an elbow problem. That has an ominous sound to it. It's kind of like that old spring training mantra the Phils always trot out: "We're just going to shut him down for a few days. Nothing serious."

Yeah, right.

Of course the Phils go on to beat the Dodgers, but does anybody care?

Can this team possibly survive the loss of Halmels, even as Chase Utley is taking swings in the batting cage again?

What exactly is it the sports gods have against us as Philly fans, anyway.

No Trotter, No Utley. Anybody check to see if Donovan McNabb is on crutches this morning?

*

I get lots of interesting phone calls at the newspaper every day. Most times people are surprised that the editor of the newspaper answers the phone.

Most of the time the people calling want to complain. They didn't like something that was in the paper. They want to point out an error in our reporting, or they are outraged that the item appeared at all.

As I said yesterday, our reporting on the Parkside fire and some of the peripheral issues involved has sparked several phone calls.

Not everyone has been a big fan of how we've handled the story.

That changed a bit yesterday. I couldn't have been happier. Not because someone was calling to thank us for our coverage and agreeing with what we had done, but because of who it was that was calling.

Bill Connor was on the line. If you don't know him, you should. He's one of those behind-the-scenes people who contribute so much to our public safety, and asks so little in return.

Connor is president of the Delaware County Firemen's Association. He called to thank me for the column I wrote Monday about volunteer firefighters, and also to thank the paper for all the coverage we've done on the Parkside fire.

But he also wanted to tell me a story. It's one worth retelling.

Connor told me how much he appreciated my mentioning in the column how much I disagree with those who sometimes complain about fire whistles. The argument usually goes that they are dinosaurs that serve no great purpose amid all the new technology at our disposal to alert volunteers to fire calls.

Connor begs to disagree.

And this saga proves his point. He is a member of both Oakmont Fire Co. in Haverford and Lansdowne Fire Co. A few years back, he was returning from a trip to the shore with his wife. He was wending his way through West Philly and into Delco when he heard the distinct sound of a fire whistle.

"That's Lansdowne's whistle," Connor informed the Mrs. She did not seem all that interested in a trip to the fire station. But I suppose she knew they were going.

Once they arrived there, Connor learned that while they had a few volunteers on hand, they did not have a driver. They did now. Connor got behind the wheel.

The call was for a man down who had suffered a heart attack. They managed to get him to the hospital, where he was revived. Connor wonders what would have happened had he not heard that alarm.

That's something to think about the next time you hear one go off. As I said on Monday, be glad there are men like Connor, and those two kids in Parkside, who are still more than willing to answer the call.

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