Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A very personal foul

Aug. 15
The pride of Delaware County will take a serious hit today.
This region takes a back seat to no one when it comes to sports lore.
One area almost no other place in the country can match is our ability to produce top-notch sports officials.
Delaware County currently has four referees doing games in the NBA. For the past few weeks, that small fraternity has been under a cloud.
Today the clouds will burst.
Tim Donaghy, a Havertown native and graduate of Cardinal O'Hara High School and Villanova, is expected to appear in federal court in New York and plead guilty in the scandal that has shaken professional sports to its core.
It is the NBA's worst nightmare. In the process a lot of people have come under the shadow of what Donaghy is believed to have done.
It comes down to this: Are the games on the up and up? And are the guys wearing those striped shirts truly the impartial arbiters they are supposed to be.
It now appears the answer in some of the games Donaghy was involved in is a resounding "no."
NBA Commissioner David Stern has made it clear he believes the situation facing his league – while clearly labeling it the worst thing he has faced in his tenure as leader of the NBA – was the work of one "rogue, isolated official."
That would be our very own Donaghy. No other NBA officials or players are believed to have been involved.
The Havertown native is expected to plead guilty today to charges he wagered on games he officiated.
It may have been the work of a single "rogue," but let's be clear, Donaghy is not going alone.
At least two other men, both with ties to Delco, are expected to be charged today as well.
But it's more than that. The other NBA refs who call Delco home have fallen under the shadow of what Donaghy is alleged to have done.
Any number of friends and acquaintances have been questioned by the FBI in the federal probe.
Even Cardinal O'Hara and Villanova have been dragged through the mud, much to the chagrin of many alumni who feel they are wrongly being singled out.
Tim Donaghy has called more than his share of "charging" violations in his NBA career. Today he's the one taking the "charge."
Call it a personal foul.

* Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses:An occasional look at why it's so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan. Let's just call him Roy Hobbs. In the words of Harry Kalas, "how about that Russ Branyan." In his first plate appearance for the Phils, Branyan made like Robert Redford's hero from "The Natural" and launched a pitch over the right-field fence. His two-run dinger was the winning margin in the Phils 4-3 win. The only thing missing was the music and exploding lights. Maybe there's just a bit of Hollywood in this Phillies story.

*The Daily Numbers:
2
men besides Tim Donaghy, both of whom have ties to Delaware County, who are expected to be charged in the NBA betting scandal today.
7 women, believe to be in their 70s and 80s, who have fallen victim to scammers posing as utility workers in Philadelphia. Once gaining access to the house, they distract the women and then rifle the home for cash and jewelry.
1
pedestrian killed when he was struck by a vehicle on the Schuylkill Expressway Tuesday night.
3
local bridges that have been rated as "structurally deficient" or functionally obsolete by PennDOT. They are the Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman and Tacony-Palmyra. Officials insist that despite the warnings the bridges remain safe for use.
4 of the state's 54 deck truss bridges similar in design to the one that collapsed in Minnesota that have serious deterioration. Most are in the western part of the state. One is near Allentown.
36,000 kids in Philadelphia who will be getting a free ride to school in a deal announced by the state and SEPTA.
19,000 in cash bribes believed to have been paid to a former state taxi inspector in Philadelphia. He got eight months in the slammer.
100 images of child porn that an heir to the Strawbridge retailing family is believed to have deleted from his computer after he learned he was the target of a police probe. He plans to plead guilty.
3 insurance companies being sued by a group of doctors from Connecticut who claim the firms steer patients to certain doctors to keep a lid on costs. The insurance companies are Cigna, United Health and Oxford Health.
22.5 million dollars, the cap Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166, of Haverford wants to place on candidates seeking to run for governor.
700 million dollars being used to expand the Philadelphia Convention Center. It's the first expansion since the center opened in 1994.
175 killed Tuesday in a very bad day in Iraq. Four different truck bombs went off in northern Iraq, and a Chinook helicopter carrying U.S. soldiers also went down.
1 season at the helm of Monsignor Bonner football for Jim Burner. He is out as the head coach.
1 at bat and 1 home run for new Phils' hero Russ Branyan.
1 hit the Phils managed against young Nationals starter Shawn Hill.
3 games behind the Mets, and a game back in the Wild-Card hunt. No change in Phils status. But they didn't fall any farther behind either.

*I Don't Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Here's an offer even the most die-hard Eagles fan might just turn down. Just in case you missed the Birds' debacle against the Ravens Monday night, Comcast Sportsnet is replaying it this afternoon at 2 o'clock. Better
set the VCR.

*Today's Upper: Is this August, or October? It's hard to complain about sparkling sunshine during the day, and cool nights.

*Quote Box: "Since he was about 6 years old, he wanted to be a firefighter."
-- Jim Brees, father of injured Parkside firefighter Dan Brees.

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