Friday, August 29, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 29

The Daily Numbers: 85,000 people jammed into Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver last night to see Barack Obama become the first person of color to be nominated for president by one of the major political parties.

12 noon, when GOP presidential nominee in waiting John McCain is expected to announce his choice of a running mate.

30,000 dollar fine slapped on Harrah’s Casino for an underage gambler at one of its slots machines as well as some security problems on the casino floor.

75 people who met last night in Middletown to hear the recommendation for the former home of the Franklin Mint, the final part of the “charrette” process.

448 to 17, ,vote by which teachers in Souderton voted in favor of a strike if talks do not reach a new contract.

3 DUI charges in 8 days for a professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

1,300 welfare recipients in Pennsylvania who are learning that their Social Security numbers and other key info were mistakenly mailed to other addresses.

7 gunshots pumped into a man at 21st and Diamond streets in Philadelphia. He died at the hospital.

89 age of man in East Goshen, Chester County, who police believe shot his 54-year-old daughter to death and then turned the gun on himself in a domestic disturbance. He’s in guarded condition.

18 houses spray-painted with anti-Bush and anti-war graffiti in Ocean County, N.J.

3 female employees who allegedly were being taped by a hidden camera in the bathroom of a Philadelphia jewelry store. The owner now faces charges.

2 dead in an apparent murder-suicide in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia; 5 children were found unharmed.

61 age of man who was scheduled to be sentenced for the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl in Montgomery County. His body was found in the Delaware River. He had jumped in. It’s being considered a suicide.

46 age of teacher at Saint Monica’s in Berwyn charged with having child porn on his home computer. He’s from Havertown and formerly taught at St. Bernadette’s in Drexel Hill.

621 state stores in Pennsylvania that will be getting a facelift by the LCB in an attempt to offer a more pleasant alcohol shopping experience.

1,500 National Guard troops dispatched to New Orleans today as the region braces for the possible arrival of Hurricane Gustav.

111 mph winds, what the storm could be packing when it arrives.


7 strong innings for Cole Hamels last night, but it wasn’t enough as the Phils’ bullpen coughed up another lead and lost to the Cubs.

0 outs recorded by Ryan Madson.

1 out recorded by Chad Durbin. When those two were done, a 4-1 lead had turned into a 6-4 loss.

1 full game behind the Mets, where Phils stand in NL East.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
The Phillies announced this week they’ve set a single-season record for the number of sellouts. Wednesday’s packed house at Citizens Bank Park marked the 45th sellout of the season. Not bad for a bunch of “front-runners.”
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I Don’t Get It: Can you imagine an uglier image than needles and syringes on the beach. Kind of makes the bottom of your feet tingle just thinking about it.

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to GOP standard-bearer John McCain. He aired a TV commercial last night with a message marking the historic nomination of his opponent, Democrat Barack Obama. “Job well done,” McCain said in the ad. Class move.

*

Quote Box: “I realize I am not the likeliest candidate for this office.”

-- Barack Obama last night in Denver, accepting the Democratic nomination, and becoming the first person of color to do so.

The dream come true

I find myself with something in common with Michelle Obama this morning. I’m incredibly proud of my country.

You might remember the wife of the newly minted Democratic nominee took some heat a while back for twisting a few words, or having them twisted for her. What she said sounded suspiciously like, “for the first time in her adult life,” she was proud of her country in the wake of her husband’s presidential candidacy.

I’m guessing that’s not literally what she meant. I think she was trying to reference how proud she was of her husband and his race for the White House.

I couldn’t agree with her more.

Forty-five years to the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to a massive throng on the mall in Washington, D.C., the dream took on the look of reality when Barack Obama strode onto that outdoor stage.

The dream was coming true for Barack Obama. And it came true for America, too.

It is, in fact, the American dream, where we believe that a child can grow up to be anything he or she wants to be.

And that includes president of the United States.

Last night Obama became the first person of color to be nominated for president by a major political party.

That does not mean we are done with race in this race. It will remain lurking in places we don’t like to think about. It remains to be seen whether people in a lot of states – and that includes Pennsylvania – vote as good as they talk.

But for one sparkling night, American was everything it is supposed to be, a place where we do not judge a person by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

And by their stance on the issues.

I will admit there is a bit of me that was leery about the way last night’s finale at the Democratic Convention in Denver was being set up. Republicans already are framing Obama as the “rock star” politician, more show than substance.

It seemed moving the proceedings from inside the Pepsi Center to the sprawling Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium, where 85,000 people were waiting to embrace him, appeared to play right into their hands.

It didn’t. Instead, it was electric.

And historic.

To his credit, Obama did not spend much time on race and the historical aspects of the evening. But it was the backbone of everything that happened.

Obama instead turned the tables on his GOP counterpart, moving again and again to link John McCain to the policies of George W. Bush and calling for change.

We now have three months to compare and contrast the two. McCain and the Republicans will gather in St. Paul starting Monday for their convention.

They will be hard-pressed to match the historical implications we witnessed last night in Denver.

It’s referred to as the Mile High City. And it was a Mile High Moment. A black man accepting the nomination of his party to seek the presidency of the United States.

Forty-five years ago, Rev. King talked about the dream. Last night it came true.

Another moment in history

Today we also mark another historic moment. And we again look warily at some menacing skies.

In New Orleans, they continue to put their lives back together three years after Katrina rumbled ashore and changed the Crescent City – and the nation – forever.

Now almost to the day, another storm is rumbling in the Gulf. The fear is that Gustav will mimic Katrina and lash New Orleans.

Many of the ceremonies to mark the third anniversary are being brushed aside today as the region braces for Gustav.

The National Guard was beginning to arrive in New Orleans, and some nursing homes and hospitals were beginning to move patients inland.

Just where Gustav will come ashore is not really known yet. Forecasters say it could hit anywhere from the Florida Panhandle to the east coast of Texas. But when it does, it likely will be packing a punch, possibly as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 111 mph or greater.

Say a prayer for the good people of New Orleans, and the entire region, that they are spared a repeat of the nightmare from three years ago.

Another nightmare on Jersey shore

Speaking of nightmares, it continues for some Jersey shore towns.

What started as a problem last weekend in Avalon, with medical waste washing up on the beach, leading to beach closings, has now turned up in neighboring Ocean City.

It’s hard to imagine a worse sight when it comes to the beach than used syringes, needles and medical waste.

The two instances aren’t believed to be related; that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.

The timing is about as bad as Gustav’s.

Already a peak vacation week, even more people will jam the Jersey Shore for the traditional last hurrah of the summer season, otherwise known as the Labor Day weekend.

But right now a string of beaches are closed in Ocean City. The news did not improve this morning. A woman has reported finding still another syringe on the beach.

Whether the beaches will be reopened is unclear. Just as in Avalon, only a small percentage of beach is closed.

But the image is unmistakable. And ugly.

Hurricanes don’t usually show up in New Jersey. Unfortunately, medical waste does.

And right now it is threatening to ruin the Labor Day weekend for a lot of people.

Phils not ‘ace’-ing this exam

Unless I’m mistaken, I consistently hear Cole Hamels described as the “ace” of the Phillies pitching staff.

So since when is the ace only capable of going seven innings?

Coming off two nights against the Mets that consisted of the ecstasy of a miracle comeback and the agony of a bullpen meltdown, the Phils went to Wrigley Field and promptly offered an instant replay of their ugly loss the night before.

Two nights ago, the Phils got the better of Mets’ ace Johan Santana, only to see their bullpen cough it up.

Last night they staked themselves to a lead against outstanding Cubs’ starter Ryan Dempster.

They went into the seventh inning with a 4-1 lead and Hamels on the mound.

But Hamels did not come out for the eighth. Having thrown 108 pitches, he was lifted in favor of Ryan Madson.

No, you didn’t read that wrong. The Phillies brain trust decided they had a better shot with Ryan Madson pitching than Cole Hamels.

I don’t know exactly what transpired in that decision. I don’t know if Hamels told them he didn’t have anything left. I hope that’s not the case. I hope he screamed like hell – doing his best Brett Myers imitation – that he wanted to go back out in the eighth.

Madson promptly imploded. Mike Fontenot greeted him with a home run. He then gave up two more hits before giving way to Chad Durbin. Durbin walked Derek Lee to load the bases. They didn’t stay that way long. Aramis Ramirez crushed a ball into the seats in left-center.

That’s two nights in a row the Phils – and their suddenly suspect bullpen – have grasped defeat from the jaws of victory.

It leaves them a full game behind the Mets, who did not play last night.

And it should leave a lot of people wondering exactly what the definition of “ace” is.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 28

The Daily Numbers: 1 person of color who has been nominated for president by a major political party. That would be Barack Obama.

52,000 acres in Delaware and Montgomery counties targeted for aerial spraying last night in an attempt to eradicate mosquitoes.

17 years, how long Sen. Joe Biden has taught a class at Widener Law School. Last night a group gathered at the Widener campus to watch him accept the Democratic vice presidential nomination.

107 mph, what Delaware state police clocked a driver at on I-495. He faces a host of charges, including driving under the influence.

1.5 miles, the perimeter inside which secondary students in the Penn-Delco School District must walk to school.

90 million dollar movie studio planned for Chester Township, which is one step closer to reality after a public hearing on Tuesday.

7 bucks a month, how much natural gas bills for PECO customers are expected to go down in September after the utility cuts its rates.

20 Philadelphia schools that made a state list of those considered ‘persistently dangerous.’

14 age of girl who was victimized by a former special education teacher from South Philadelphia who was sentenced to jail time for having sex with the girl.

10,000 reward being offered by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office for information on who was responsible for dumping medical waste that wound up on the beach in Avalon.

2 people found dead in an apparent murder-suicide in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia.

1 penny dip in cost of gasoline, now going for an average of $3.61 in the suburban area.

1,000 fine levied against a New Jersey man for his role in the death of a sea gull.

0 what it costs to rent a bicycle in downtown Pottstown. You show the folks at Tri-State Bicycles a valid ID and you’re off and pedaling.

3 runs scored by the Phils last night as they took the lead from Mets’ ace Johan Santana. Wasn’t enough as the Phils fell, 6-3.

.5 games back one more time for the Phils after the loss.


4 games against the Cubs in Wrigley, starting tonight.

0 plays likely for Donovan McNabb and the Eagles starters tonight in the exhibition finale against the Jets.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
So high and so low. Yep, if it’s late August, it must be the Phillies. But Rudy Seanez? So it ain’t so, Charlie.
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I Don’t Get It: Seems odd that the state could not offer a little more in the way of notice to Radnor residents who are rightfully upset at the aerial spraying program against mosquitoes in their neighborhood.

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Today’s Upper: Regardless of your political affiliation, there’s no denying the historical significance of the nomination of Barack Obama to be president of the United States. It’s a milestone for the nation.

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Quote Box: “This is to prove … we have very powerful people in powerful places. Widener, though small, is all over.”

-- Widener sophomore Rob Colon at party Wednesday night to watch law school prof Sen. Joe Biden accept Democratic nomination as vice president.

History in Denver

There’s really only one word to describe what happened Wednesday in Denver, Colo.

And the same word will apply tonight when more than 70,000 will squeeze into a football stadium in the Mile High City.

They will not be there for a sporting event. Neither were the folks who gathered at the Pepsi Center (Denver’s version of the Wachovia Center) nearby on Wednesday.

They were there to witness history.

Sen. Barack Obama officially became the nominee of the Democratic Party to be president of the United States.

Despite no small amount of drama and angst about exactly how the Democrats would arrive at that end, how they would salve the bruised feelings of those who supported the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, it was a foregone conclusion that Obama would be the nominee.

It did not make the moment any less historic.

Barack Obama becomes the first person of color to be nominated for the highest office in the land by a major political party.

Tonight he will stride to the podium exactly 45 years to the day after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King did likewise in a sweltering Washington, D.C., and delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

On Wednesday, Barack Obama fulfilled King’s words.

It says much about how far the nation has come.

But the notoriety surrounding Obama’s candidacy, and the lingering doubts about the nation’s willingness to support a black candidate, tell us how far we still have to go.

For now, we all should enjoy the moment. We should revel in the democratic process. Note that is with a small d. The same process will be repeated next week when Republicans gather in Minneapolis/St. Paul to officially anoint John McCain as their candidate.

Yesterday Democrats strived mightily once again to unite behind Obama. They started with a roll call vote, then allowed Hillary Clinton, who was denied the opportunity to become the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party, to lead the New York delegation in asking that the move to back Obama be made by unanimous acclimation.

Then her husband, the last Democrat to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, also made it clear he was backing Obama, in the process sweeping aside comments from earlier in the campaign in which he openly questioned whether the Illinois senator was ready to be president. Bill Clinton used all of his oratorical skills to praise the man who had vanquished his wife in a brutally contested race.

Del. Sen. Joe Biden then took the stage, poked fun at himself and his knack for being long-winded, and used one word to answer the appeal to be the party’s vice-presidential candidate: Yes.

Then there was one final twist. Obama himself joined Biden on the stage. He will return to the spotlight to formally acccept the nomination tonight.

King spoke of a country that has yet to fully live up to its creed, that all men are created equal.

That has been especially true of the two major presidential parties and their nominees for president. Until yesterday they all had one thing in common.

Barack Obama changed all that.

Forty-five years ago, King spoke of a dream.

Yesterday and later today in Denver, Colo., Barack Obama will embody it.

They’re bugged out in Radnor

The good denizens out on the Main Line are bugged these days.

They’re furiously swatting away an unusually heavy infestation of mosquitoes.

And they’re equally bugged by the state’s attempt to eradicate the problem.

Citing the need to thin the skeeter population, the state announced plans Monday night to do some aerial spraying, a new twist in their war on the critters that are tied to West Nile Virus. For the most part the state Department of Environmental Protection has dispatched teams on the ground to attack the problem.

That didn’t seem to be working. Record numbers of mosquitoes have been detected in the region this summer. So they announced plans to take to the air to attack the problem. Word came Monday night.

The spraying was scheduled for Tuesday night, just about 24 hours later.

Radnor residents were not especially happy, either with the idea of spraying by air, or at what they say was the lack of proper notice they received.

Township officials, besieged by complaints from the public, actually went to court in an attempt to block the aerial plan. They lost, with a Commonwealth Court judge issuing a one-line ruling rejecting their claim late Wednesday afternoon.

The aerial spraying to attack the burgeoning mosquito population detected in the region was expected to go on as planned last night.

Some outdoor activities were canceled, despite state assurances that the spraying posed no danger to residents. It probably didn’t help that the initial advisory urged pregnant women and children to avoid exposure.

It is believed that 52,000 acres in Delaware and Montgomery counties were treated with a fine mist of the chemical resmerthrin.

Let’s hope it KO’d those pesky mosquitoes.

Easing residents concerns about the program, and the way it was implemented, might be a little harder to do.

For Phils, it’s one step forward, one step back

It’s been the story of the Phillies season. They are consistently inconsistent.

So one night after thrilling fans with a miracle comeback to beat the Mets in 13 innings and vault into first place, they promptly threw it all back Wednesday night.

Charlie Manuel was pushing all the right buttons during the Phils’ improbable win Tueday night. Not so last night.

Rudy Seanez?

Yep, that’s who was on the hill at crunch time for the Phils.

The fans had visions of a sweep as Kyle Kendrick walked a tightrope, consistently pitching out of danger. The Phils were clinging to a 3-2 lead over the Mets and their ace, Johan Santana.

Then they went to the bullpen. Scott Eyre was fine, pitching two scoreless innings, striking out three in the process.

Then Manuel handed the ball to Seanez. Not so good.

He gave up a home run to Carlos Delgado, his second of the game. Closer Brad Lidge, called on to put out the fire, didn’t fare much better.

The Phillies’ bullpen has been their strength all year. Last night it was their downfall.

Along the way they promptly fell out of first place. Instead of being up by a game and a half, they now trail by a half game. And they face a tough four-game series in Wrigley Field against the Cubs starting tonight.

One of these teams, the Phillies or Mets, is going to win the NL East. It just might come down to which bullpen throws away more games in the last month of the season.

Tuesday night the Phillies enjoyed the thrill of victory after being down 7-0. Last night they endured the agony of defeat after scratching out a lead against Santana.

So why would I feel a lot better about if it were just about anybody other than Rudy Seanez who threw the gas on the fire?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 27

The Daily Numbers: 17 age of teen driver who was the victim of a road-rage incident in which an older man confronted her with a gun. She was not seriously injured. Be careful out there.

2 Wawa holdups in Ridley and Claymont, Del., in a span of about 4 hours. Police believe the same man hit both convenience stores.

11 age of suspect in burglary at the Suburban Armory in Collingdale in which a cache of guns was stolen. He’s now been released on home monitoring.

3.6 billion dollar contract awarded to Boeing’s Ridley plant to build 181 CH-47F Chinook helicopters for the Army.

19 Delco towns that have been targeted for intense spraying in a battle against mosquitoes and West Nile Virus. Residents in Radnor are balking at the aerial spraying.

3 times sections of the beach in Avalon, N.J., have been closed this week because of medical waste washing up on the sand.

3 flights from Philadelphia International being cut by Southwest Airlines this winter. They are to Chicago and Tampa.

1 as in No. 1, where we rank when it comes to tipping, according to a new Zagat survey.

50 percent of the King of Prussia Mall that is being put up for sale by its owner.

8 age of boy found hanged to death in his home in Trenton, N.J..

53 million dollars paid for 39 Wachovia Bank branches in the region by American Realty Corp.

3 percent hike in home prices in the region, bucking the national trend. The president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors says it now takes an average of 72 days for a home to sell in this region.

7 point lead for Barack Obama over John McCain in a new poll of Pennsylvania voters done by Quinnipiac University.

0 change in the average price of gasoline overnight, according to AAA. Average price stands at $3.62.

450,000 residents in the region who say they will travel 50 miles or more on the Labor Day weekend. That’s down 1 percent from last year.

13 innings and 5 hours, and worth every second, as the Phils came from behind to beat the Mets last night.


4 hits for Chris Coste, including the game-winner, even though he did not enter the game until the eighth inning.

5 hits for Jimmy Rollins, as he continues to turn his season around.

2 Phillies pitchers who were used as pinch-hitters by Charlie Manuel.

.5 game lead for the Phils, as they leap-frogged the Mets to take over the top spot in the NL East.

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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Call it karma, but this is the game we likely will remember if the Phils hold on to win the National League East. Unbelievable.
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I Don’t Get It: What would possess someone to throw a brick at a car amid busy traffic on I-95? Or for that matter chase and confront a teen driver with a knife? Police are investigating both instances. Hey, be careful out there.

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Today’s Upper: We’re No. 1, and not just the Phillies. The folks at the Zagat survey that keeps tabs on the restaurant biz say the Philadelphia region is home to the best tippers.

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Quote Box: “The only people I hear talking about a divide are reorters asking for a comment on a divide.”

-- Delco native Gerald Lawrence, a delegate at the Democratic National Convention.

Hillary delivers the goods

That swooshing sound you hear everywhere this morning is the sound of Democrats exhaling.

They have survived Hillary. The senator from New York had her moment in the spotlight at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last night. And she delivered the goods with a call to unite behind Sen. Barack Obama and send him to the White House in November.

It’s been a long, strange trip that found Clinton at the podium in Denver. She no doubt had been expecting to be there Thursday night, to accept the mantle as the first woman nominated by a major party for president, coinciding with the 88th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.

Didn’t work out that way. A lot of other people also exercised their suffrage. In the process, the scales tipped to Obama.

But Clinton would not go away. Neither would the rumors.

Ever since it became apparent that Clinton would not be able to dig her way out of an early hole and overtake Obama’s commanding lead, despite big wins for her in Pennsylvania and most of the key big states Democrats traditionally need to win, there have been rumblings of anger in the Clinton camp.

Hillary was not happy. Neither was her husband, former President Bill. Even more furious were here legions of supporters, many of them women, who felt they had been cheated out of something that was rightfully theirs, or so they thought -- the Democratic nomination.

They insisted she was the better candidate, that she was in a better position to beat the apparent GOP standard-bearer John McCain, that the numbers eventually would tilt her way.

But the numbers did not lie. The nomination – something the Clinton camp seemed to believe they were almost entitled to – were not going to change. She would not be able to overcome Obama’s lead. He was going to be the nominee.

The Clinton camp accepted all of this through gritted teeth. Then everyone held their breath for months in expectations of just how involved Clinton would be in backing Obama.

Last night Hillary Clinton dispelled all of that with a speech that hit all the right notes for those looking for a unified party moving out of Denver and on to the general election in November.

Of course, as there always is with the Clintons, there are a few more landmines to avoid. There is today’s roll call vote that apparently is still the focus of intense lobbying this morning. Just how far the vote actually goes remains to be seen, and whether those who may not get the opportunity to cast their voices for Hillary will cry foul could still soil the Dems’ week.

Then there is Mr. Bill. The former president also speaks tonight, before the vice presidential nominee, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden.

Whether Bill Clinton will be as magnanimous as his wife remains to be seen.

Maybe it’s time for Democrats to start holding their breath again.

Nightmare in Avalon

The recent weather has been the stuff chamber of commerce officials at the shore dream of.

Unless of course you happen to be an official in Avalon, N.J.

The popular Jersey shore spot has had to close its beaches three different times since the weekend because of medical waste washing up on the beach. It’s ugly stuff, cotton swabs, pill casings, and even worse, exposed syringes and needles.

Just the thought of all those happy feet on the sand in close proximity to those needles is enough to turn your stomach – and turn a tourism official’s hair prematurely gray.

Luckily there have been no instances of anyone being injured by any of the medical debris. But it still could not come at a worse time. This is one of the busiest weeks of the year at the shore – the lead-up to the unofficial end of the season with the Labor Day weekend.

Yesterday the beaches were closed again. A decision on whether they can be reopened today will be mater later this morning.

In the meantime, officials are opening a criminal probe into how the material wound up on the beach. It appears fairly clear that this did not come from a barge at sea because it has been limited to a fairly small area.

Now they’re apparently considering another possibility. That would be sabotage. It’s one of the things being considered by town officials, along with the state Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Environmental Protection.

We hope they catch those responsible, and throw the book at them. Or at least a few needles.

Be careful out there on the roads

Here’s something I am constantly reminding myself when I’m out on the road. It might not be a bad idea for others to do the same.

Take a deep breath before you do something, say something, or offer a gesture you might live to regreat.

I had to swallow my tongue last night on the ride home when the woman behind me decided she didn’t like the way I was driving and leaned on her horn. The truth is she was probably right. I was in my normal “ride home” coma-like state and should have gotten out of the left-hand lane to let her go by. Still, I didn’t appreciate the rude sound from directly behind me.

I decided to let it go. The truth is you really don’t know what kind of people are out there on the road and what they’re capable of doing.

Take the Chadds Ford teen who apparently did something a man took offense at while driving along Route 1 out in just over the county line in Chester County. He started following her – closely – for miles. Police say he chased her across the state line into Delaware. When she came to a stop sign he pulled his pickup truck in front of her car. Then he got out and confronted her. He pushed his way into the car. She eventually was punched in the face and the man waved a knife in her face.

Scary stuff. And we’re seeing more and more of it all the time. Something is making us go haywire when we get behind the wheel.

And I include myself in that group. I will admit that my temper usually gets the best of me when I’m driving. I am too quick to offer some fairly colorful descriptions of someone else’s driving ability, or a fairly popular hand gesture.

I’m going to remind myself to refrain from doing such things. The truth is you just don’t know who is out there, and what they’re capable of.

The idea is to get to your destination – preferably in one piece.

Call them front-running Phils

This one had disaster written all over it.

No, not Hillary speaking at the Democratic National Convention. I refer to last night’s Phillies-Mets extravaganza at Citizens Bank Park.

This is the kind of outing you worry about when Jamie Moyer takes the mound. Saying he just didn’t have it last night would be kind.

Moyer lasted just three innings. In the process he dug the Phils a 6-0 hole. It would get worse. Soon the Phils found themselves trailing 7-0.

Things were so bad manager Charlie Manuel decided to let reliever Clay Condrey hit for himself, I guess in the hopes of getting a few more innings out of him and saving the rest of the Phils’ overworked bullpen.

Then something magical happened. Condrey promptly spanked a double. The spark had been lit.

It took 13 innings and more than five hours, but eventually the Phils climbed out of that 7-0 hole for an improbable – some might say miraculous – 8-7 win.

How weird was it? Chris Coste entered the game in the eighth inning and still had four hits, including the game-winner in the 13th.

The Phillies used two pitchers, Cole Hamels and Brett Myers, as pinch-hitters.

Mr. Front-Runner himself, Jimmy Rollins, continued his turnaround. He pounded out five hits, including a key home run. That was followed a few batters later by Ryan Howard.

The Phils desperately needed to win last night. That’s in no small part because they face the Mets’ ace, Johan Santana, tonight.

But they awoke this morning in first place, leap-frogging the Mets with the improbable win.

And they put a smile on a lot of faces who went to bed sure that they would be a game and a half out today with Santana looming over tonight’s affair.

It’s hard to say who had a better night, the Phils or Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 26

The Daily Numbers: 5 attempts on the life of Alfonso ‘Fonnie’ Caldwell, who was busted yesterday for his role in a huge cocaine operation that ran drugs in the city of Chester.

20 years in prison, what Caldwell faces if convicted on all counts.

24 pounds of cocaine, how much of the drug police believe Caldwell sold on the streets of Chester.

500,000 dollars that police believe went through Caldwell’s drug operation in the years 2003-06.

5,770 students go back to school today – a week before Labor Day – in the Ridley School District.

12 items that remain on the bargaining table as Springfield School District and its teachers try to reach a new contract agreement.

20 to 40 years in prison for an Allentown man who pleaded guilty for his role in the beating death of a Kutztown University student last fall.

2 beach closures in Avalon, N.J., after medical waste washed up on the shore. Authorities are now conducting a criminal probe to determine who is responsible for dumping the waste in the ocean.

100 acres burned in a forest fire in the Wharton State Forest in Camden County, N.J.

1 Philadelphia police officer and 3 others injured when a a patrol car collided with a car near Broad and Spring Garden streets about 1 a.m. this morning.

1 killed and 1 injured in a shooting that took place Monday at a communications center in Buena Vista, N.J.

1,000 dollars, 2 credit cards and a Pa. driver’s license found in a plastic bag in the surf in Ocean City, Md. The 11-year-old Delaware girl who found it turned it in to the very thankful owners.

28,000 children for whom damages are being sought in another lawsuit that has targeted the troubled Department of Human Services in Philadelphia.

25 years in jail for a former white skinhead for conspiring to commit a racial killing more than 20 years ago. The man was actually acquitted of the actual killing.

2 cent dip in the cost of gasoline over the weekend in the region, according to AAA. Average price now is $3.62.


3 hits last night for Jimmy Rollins, as the Phils swept the Dodgers.

1.66 ERA for Brett Myers since he has been recalled from the minors.

9 hits, 0 runs given up Myers in 7 innings against the Dodgers last night.

2 key games for the Phils and Mets starting tonight at Citizens Bank Park with the Phils still a half-game behind the Mets in NL East.

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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Is that a sign of a turnaround last night from Jimmy Rollins? His three hits sparked the Phils, who also got another good effort from starter Brett Myers.
*

I Don’t Get It: Why did the Democrats wait until 10:30 last night to roll out the star of the night, Michelle Obama? Prime time is one thing, but that’s just too late to get to the featured speaker.

*

Today’s Upper: Who says there are no good kids around anymore? Take the case of an 11-year-old girl from Brandywine Hundred in Delaware. She’s being rightly lauded for returning the plastic bag she found in the surf in Ocean City containing two credit cards and a driver’s license. Oh, and something else. There was a cool $1,000 in cash as well. She did the right thing. Good for her.

*

Quote Box: “Caldwell was not some small-time drug operator. Tens of thousands of dollars were changing hands during drug transactions.”

-- U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid, in announcing charges against ‘Fonnie’ Caldwell.

Rocky Mountain Low

Here’s a tip for the Democratic Party. You are holding your nominating convention in Denver. You know, the Mile High City. Need proof? Look to the west. That big wall there? Those are the Rocky Mountains. They also come in handy when you’re driving around town. You can’t get lost because you always know which way is west. Those mountains have a way of reminding you of that.

And that’s my point. Denver is in the Mountain Time Zone. I know some of this “inside” Denver stuff because I lived there for a few years back in the ’70s. Got my degree from the University of Colorado.

I was thinking about the Mountain Time Zone – and the fact that nobody lives there – last night as I struggled unsuccessfully to stay awake to hear Michelle Obama officially open the convention at which her husband will be nominated for president.

The people in Denver and other locales in the Mountain Time Zone are used to events taking place at odd times. Especially televised events, and in particular nationally televised events.

Like, oh for instance, dinosaurs such as these shindigs the two major political parties hold every four years to nominate their candidates for the highest office in the land.

The Mountain Time Zone is two hours behind us here on the East Coast. TV does not look especially kindly on the Mountain Time Zone. That’s because they know no one lives there, at least when it comes to ratings. So the denizens of the Mountain Time Zone basically hold events whenever TV tells them to. For instance, Monday Night Football kicks off at 7 p.m. in Denver.

So can someone explain to me why Michelle Obama did not step to the microphone last night before 10:30 p.m. That’s actually my guess. I was long gone at that point. I was flipping furiously between the Democrats and the Phillies when I succumbed to Mr. Sand Man.

I didn’t see the end of the Phillies game. Nor did I see the emotional appearance of Sen. Ted Kennedy, battling cancer, at the podium in Denver. So Michelle Obama had no shot with me.

Why not have her speak at 8 p.m., or even 9? It’s not like there is any great drama involved here. Obama will be nominated for president; joined by his choice for vice president, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden.

By the way, if you’re interested in a local angle on what’s happening at the convention in Denver, You can check out Gerald Lawrence’s blog here.

If there’s any drama in this Democratic fun fest, it might come tonight, when it’s Hillary Clinton’s turn to address the faithful. Hopefully she’ll speak a little earlier than Michelle Obama did.

Every word, every facial tic and expression will be examined with a microscope to see if she’s just putting on a good front, or if she in fact is on board with Obama taking the mantle she surely believed was hers to claim.

But unless they bump up her speech by a couple of hours, or she suddenly joins the New York Mets’ bullpen, I doubt I will be seeing her.

A tale of two hit-and-runs

In Philadelphia, Haitian-born cabdriver Yves Aristilde sits behind bars, with bail set at $6 million.

He is charged in the fatal hit-and-run crash that snuffed out the life of 5-year-old Tyrell Elliott as he crossed a street in the Logan section of the city with his mother just before 2 a.m. Sunday.

Police believe Aristilde, 62, was behind the wheel of a Yellow Cab that allegedly blew through a red light and slammed into the mother and child.

Aristilde left the scene and abandoned his heavily damaged cab a few blocks away, according to police. He turned himself in to authorities the next day.

Just a few miles away, Kimberly Ferrell sits and waits. She lost her 16-year-old daughter, Faith Sinclair, to a hit-and-run driver more than three weeks ago.

Police have impounded the vehicle they believe struck and killed the popular teen as she tried to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill. They know who the owner is. They’re referring to him as “a person of interest.” But they do not know who was driving that night. No one has been charged in the case.

The owner of the Mercedes has declined to talk to police.

Kimberly Ferrell buried her daughter, but she can’t bury what happened. And she can’t bury her feelings, either.

She visits the site where her daughter was killed and reads passages of the book they were sharing at the time she was so violently taken from her.

And she waits. For closure, and for justice.

Phils on a J-Roll

Another 40,873 “front-runners” packed into Citizens Bank Park last night to see Jimmy Rollins break out of his slump.

Rollins, the reigning National League MVP, has been in the fans’ crosshairs since referring to them as “front-runners” on a national TV show while the team was on the West Coast.

Rollins has not exactly been lighting it up this year – on the field or off. He’s been benched two different times, once for failing to run out a pop fly, and once for arriving at the stadium late for an early game in New York.

Rollins’ play has not exactly been at MVP standards this year either. First, he suffered an ankle injury that put him on the shelf at the start of the year. He has struggled offensively most of the year.

He was in a 4-for-48 funk heading into last night’s finale against the Dodgers.

So all J-Roll did was splash three hits – a single, double and triple – all over the park in leading the Phils to a sweep of the Dodgers.

He was helped in no small part by another Phil who has had his troubles this year. That would be starter Brett Myers, who continues to sparkle in his comeback after a stint in the minors to work the kinks out of his pitching.

Myers got the win, allowing the Dodgers nine hits over seven innings, but not allowing a single runner to cross home plate. Two relievers sealed the shutout.

The Phils remain a half-game out since the Mets shelled the Astros.

And who should appear at Citizens Bank Park tonight? That would be those hated New Yorkers. At stake is a quick two-game series that marks the Gothams final visit to Philly this year. The Phils still have to bid adieu to Shea Stadium, which will be torn down after the season, later in September.

Oh, someone else also will show up at the Park the next two nights. Somewhere in excess of 45,000 “front-runners” will pack the place, going to jowl-to-jowl with any New York fans that make the trip south and hoping the locals can recapture first place in the NL East.

They will be screaming their lungs out for the Phillies. That includes Rollins.

J-Roll might be turning things around just in time. He usually tortures the Mets. Tonight would be a good time to let his bat and glove continue to do the talking.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 25

The Daily Numbers: 30 dollar per ton fee that could be slapped on trash haulers by the Delaware County Solid Waste Authority.

8 million dollars, how much the proposal could genarate.

43 bucks a month more, what it could wind up costing residents more to have their trash collected if the plan is approved.

3 weeks and 1 day since 16-year-old Faith Sinclair was struck and killed as she tried to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill.

5 age of boy struck and killed by a taxi cab in the Logal section of Philadelphia early Sunday. The driver fled, but turned himself in the following day.

3 a.m., when the text message announcing Joe Biden as Barack Obama’s VP choice went out early Saturday. The campaign was scooped on its own announcement by several news outlets.

3.63 a gallon, what we’re paying for gasoline in the Philly region, according to AAA. That’s down 10 percent from the high of $4.16.

1 dead and 4 hurt in car crash on Route 38 in Morrestown, N.J., last night.

8 age of youth believed assaulted by an assistant coach of a pee wee football team in Winslow Township, N.J. The child was playing on the opposing team.

400 dollars in copper piping stolen from a home in Wilmington.

7.6 percent boost in average residential monthly natural gas bill set by Peco as part of a settlement in gas rates.

500 times, how often former anchor Larry Mendte is believed to have tapped into co-anchor Alycia Lane’s e-mail. He entered guilty plea on Friday.

2 key hits last night for Pedro Feliz. He singled to tie the game in the 9th, then won it in the 11th with a 3-run homer.

.5 games behind the Mets, where the Phils now sit.


1 more game against the Dodgers tonight, then 2 with the Mets at Citizens Bank Park for the Phils. If the Phils win tonight, they’ll be tied going into the showdown with the Mets.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
If there is a key difference between the Phils and Mets, it can be found in the bullpen. If the Mets blow it again, their bullpen will likely be their downfall.
*

I Don’t Get It: It’s now been three weeks and still no word on progress in the hit-run case involving 16-year-old Faith Sinclair. I find it hard to believe no one has come forward with any new info in the case.

*

Today’s Upper: The big three networks are cutting back on their coverage of the national political conventions. Good. These affairs are not what they used to be. There’s no suspense. The tickets are for the most part set before the convention. They’re glorified infomercials.

*

Quote Box: “Given a choice, I think every elected representative would rather not have to go before their taxpayers for this and I think for some people it’s going to be a 100 percent increase for what they have to pay.”

-- Swarthmore Borough Manager Jane Billings, on a proposed hike in trash collection fees.

Pa. the key to Biden pick

For much of the weekend, the eyes of the political world were focused on the Greenville section of Wilmington.

That happens to be the affluent enclave where Sen. Joe Biden resides.

Early Saturday morning he became the choice of Democratic nominee-in-waiting Sen. Barack Obama to join him on the ticket as vice president.

Later on Saturday, the scene shifted to Springfield, Ill., where Biden joined Obama for their first appearance together.

Now the nation is riveted on Denver, where the “Joe-Bama” ticket will get the official blessing of the party faithful at the Democratic National Convention this week.

Excuse me, but my eyes are not focused on any of the above. In fact, my eyes continue to zero in on Pennsylvania. More specifically, the suburban Philadelphia area.

You see, I think that was one of the keys to Obama’s selection of Biden to ride shotgun on the ticket.

Just as it has the last few elections, Pennsylvania is, as they say, “in play.”

More than that, I believe the suburban Philadelphia counties, including Delaware County, will be the key, possibly tipping the state.

Democrats have been making gains in what was once turf dominated by the GOP. Here in Delaware County, we’ve seen Dems take the county in the last four presidential races. And we’ve seen upstart Rep. Joe Sestak show longtime incumbent Rep. Curt Weldon the door.

I think that’s the key to the Biden selection. Obama has not fared too well here. He got his clock cleaned by Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Pennsylvania Primary. His comments about Pennsylvanians clinging to guns and religion did not play well here. He is seen as somewhat of a snob, an elitist, someone who does not understand the middle-class that makes up so many of our neighbhorhoods.

Enter Biden.

We like him here, sometimes referring to him as “Pennsylvania’s third senator.”

Get used to seeing a lot of him. Pennsylvania is in play. Obama has made his own play, with the selection of local guy Biden to shore up his flagging support in the Keystone State.

Now our eyes will shift one more time. We now will wait for Sen. John McCain’s choice for VP.

Anyone else think McCain just might try to trump the Biden pick by putting former Gov. Tom Ridge on his ticket?

One thing is certain.

Pennsylvania is going to be a battleground state. And Delaware County will be right in the middle of it.

2 hit-runs, 2 deaths, 2 different endings

One was 16; the other was 5.

Both had their entire lives in front of them. Both were snuffed out in an instant.

Both were victims of hit-run drivers. They met death at the hands of a car, and a driver who did not stop after so brutally extinguishing their lives.

But there is a key difference in the circumstances surrounding the cases of little Tyrell Elliott, who was struck and killed in the Logan section of Philadelphia early Sunday, and Faith Sinclair, who was hit three weeks ago as she tried to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill.

After initially fleeing the scene, a suspect in the hit-run death of 5-year-old Elliott has come forward to turn himself in. There’s been no such development in the Sinclair tragedy.

Police have impounded a car they believe is the Mercedes that slammed into her. They know who the owner of the car is, but no charges have been filed in the case.

We still do not know who was driving.

It’s now been three weeks and one day.

We have not forgotten.

The Mendte Saga

There’s always been a part of me that felt badly for Larry Mendte. Right up until the time he strode to the microphone at his lawyer’s office late Friday afternoon.

Earlier in the day the longtime local TV news anchor had entered a guilty plea to charges that he tapped into the private e-mails of his co-anchor, Alycia Lane, and then leaked info to the media to portray her in a bad light.

Mendte could have simply said he was sorry, that there was no excuse for what he did, and thrown himself on the mercy of the court – and public. For the most part he did just that.

But apparently he simply could not leave it at that. So he strode to the microphones a few hours later at his lawyer’s office and promptly made like the Mets’ bullpen, throwing some gasoline on the fire.

Mendte made it clear his problems started with the arrival of Lane at the station, where he was the king of local news.

Mendte admitted that he and Lane had a “flirtatious, unprofessional and improper relationship.” He didn’t say they had an affair. Just what they had is unclear.

Just what he was trying to accomplish with this is equally unclear, at least to me. Lane’s attorney immediately fired back, threatening to sue Mendte if he characterized the relationship as an “affair,” which he vehemently denied ever happened.

I don’t know what exactly drove Mendte to make the statement he delivered. I don’t know if he was trying to make himself appear more of a victim, or if he was just trying to lob more dirt in Lane’s direction.

Here’s the entire text of what he said. Read it. Maybe you can understand what he was getting at. It strikes me as one final desperate play to justify his actions, which can’t really be justified and for which he rightly pleaded guilty.

Text of statement by former TV news anchor Larry Mendte at news conference:

--
For thirty years, I have reported stories here in Philadelphia and across the country, and, now, I have become one through no one’s fault but my own.
My actions have hurt and disappointed my family, colleagues, friends, and viewers who trusted me, and for that, I am truly sorry.
My family has been incredibly strong and supportive. You will notice, however, that Dawn is not here with me today at this podium. She wanted to be, but I asked her not to. Although the image of my loving wife standing by my side may have helped me, I think it would hurt her. She still has to anchor the news, which she has done with remarkable personal strength and grace right through this process.
Having her here with me now would have pulled her directly into this intense media spotlight, and I will not do that to her. I have already done enough to her.
Let me explain. This whole episode started five years ago when Alycia Lane came to Philadelphia. Almost immediately, Dawn heard rumors that Alycia and I were a little too close and she should watch out.
The rumors were true. Alycia and I had a flirtatious, unprofessional, and improper relationship.
Dawn found proof of that relationship when she waited in my office on New Years Day 2005 and read e-mails that I had left out on my desk, e-mails between Alycia and me that confirmed her suspicions.
Dawn confronted me with the e-mails. I told her the truth. I told her I loved her, and I apologized. I then immediately stopped having long dinners with Alycia, staying out late with Alycia, and I stopped allowing her to come into my office to do her makeup every day.
The relationship that was once close quickly turned into a personal feud.
Alycia Lane then became friends with others in the building, including the new General Manager. Suddenly, I had shows and responsibilities pulled away from me without explanation. The GM angrily confronted me one day and said that I was bad-mouthing him. I was not. But, clearly, I was not on the list you want to be on with the new GM.
I found proof that it was Alycia who was undermining me when I saw an e-mail she sent to management that she left up on the computer she uses on the set.
I then started looking at other e-mails with passwords I learned when Alycia asked me to help set up her work retirement account, a private stock account, and when she showed me personal e-mails.
I did this without her permission, and it was wrong.
I saw more e-mails bad-mouthing me. I confronted Alycia and asked her to stop. She said that she would not. I complained to management about the problem, and I felt they ignored me.
My role at the station was still being diminished when Alycia told me during an argument on the set, that she (was) the rising star and that I was “50 and on my way out.” Regrettably this made it into the newspapers.
During a meeting the next day, the General Manager acknowledged that he had checked my contract and he really couldn’t move me.
We were the fastest growing newscast in the country. We were winning local and national awards. And, my GM was checking my contract to see where he could move me.
I felt I was in trouble. My career, my future, my family’s future was in trouble. And, this is where I got into more trouble — federal trouble.
I then started checking Alycia Lane’s e-mails by illegally gaining access to all of her accounts. I used a device called a keykatcher that is much too easily available on the Internet. I started seeing things that might be of interest to the press, and I passed some of them on.
I was not the source of every story about Alycia Lane or the sole source on many, but I was a source, and I was getting some of the information from her e-mails.
It was wrong. I admit it was wrong. I told you the motivation, but I make no excuses for my behavior.
And, that is why today I pled guilty to a federal charge brought by the U.S. attorney’s office. I have cooperated fully with the FBI and the U.S. attorney from the very beginning.
I have offered to give speeches to colleges, corporations, and community groups about Internet security. I make that offer publicly now.
My father used to say that everyone serves a purpose in life, if only as a bad example. I am now an example who can help others. Many employees and students are cavalier about misuse of the internet and e-mails. They don’t know that it is a federal crime and you will be prosecuted. I am living proof of that.
I know that pleading guilty and cooperating defies the new world order that teaches to deny, deny, deny at all costs.
Many people told me, maybe they’ll never find out the whole truth, with a good lawyer you might get away with it. I have a good lawyer. That’s not the point.
I just can’t do that to my family. I can’t allow this to drag on. And, I don’t think one more penny of the taxpayer’s money should be spent on this case.
Most importantly, I did it. I tell my children all of the time that if you don’t take responsibility, nothing will change. I am taking responsibility and am seeking help to change.
I apologize to Alycia Lane for what I did. And, I ask that this long mutually self-destructive feud now end. We have both paid a high cost. And, others have been hurt as well. I am sorry to all.
My wife also is owed apologies.
I will forever be in Dawn’s debt for her forgiveness and her loyalty. I will work every day to deserve her love, and I love her more everyday. The rest of my family also has been strong and loyal for me during this time. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
I want to apologize one more time to the viewers, the people who kept us on the air with their loyalty and their trust. I let you down. I hope the day will come when I will once again be worthy of your trust.
I do want to stay here in Philadelphia. I realize that I may never anchor here again, but I love this city far too much to move. This is where I grew up; this is where I want to raise my children. I don’t want to take this city from them because of my mistakes.
There is one last thing I would like to say. Many of you know I attended Catholic schools in the area. Confession is a big part of my faith. So is forgiveness. It is something we have all asked for at one time or another in our lives. I do so now, and, as always, I put my life in God’s hands.
On the advice of counsel, I regret to say, I will not be taking any questions.

Vote for Pedro, as key to Phils' turnaround

Anyone else notice that the doldrums the Phillies’ bats seem to have been mired in for a couple of weeks coincided with the time that Pedro Feliz was on the DL? I did.

With Feliz adding at least a little pop to the bottom of their lineup, the Phils seem to be playing with more confidence, at least at the plate.

Feliz was the hero last night, first tying the Sunday night special with the Dodgers with a base hit in the bottom of the ninth. Then he grabbed the spotlight in the 11th by depositing a pitch in the bleachers in center-field, lifting the Phils to a 5-2 win.

It means the Phils can now return the favor of a sweep, which L.A. tattooed on them on the West Coast, with a win tonight. The Phils have won three straight against the Dodgers. They go for four tonight.

Making it even sweeter is that the Mets’ bullpen imploded once again yesterday, costing them another game. The Phils are now just a half-game back, and could pull even with a win tonight.

And guess who shows up at Citizens Bank Park tomorrow night? That’s right, those hated New Yorkers.

Credit Pedro Feliz for helping turn around the Phils’ fortunes one more time.

Yep, football season does not start for at least two more weeks.

The print column: Alone together

Here's this week's print column:

It was a long, quiet ride back down the Northeast Extension Friday. It’s a ride my wife and I have become quite familiar with. But we’ve never quite dealt with the realization we were struggling with on Friday.

You could cut the tension with a knife. She dabbed at her eyes. I tried not to look over at her as I bit my lip and stared out at the highway.
So we drove home in silence. We pulled into the driveway of the only house we’ve ever lived in, put the key in the door and walked into a new world.
We were officially empty nesters.

Just two days after depositing our daughter back at school, we did the same for our son. We both knew this day was coming. Somehow, in planning his high school graduation, the party and then the usual summer flings, we had tried to put it out of our minds.

Now, there’s no denying it. That doesn’t make it any easier to believe.
Where does the time go? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was walking him to the bus stop. Back then, he was the one biting his quivering lip as he headed off to his own strange new world. Most people call it kindergarten.
I don’t know what has taken me more by surprise, the fact that my son is now heading off to college, or that my daughter is now entering her senior year.

It seems like yesterday that we first piled all her belongings into the car and headed off. This year she drove herself.

Come May, she will be graduating and then heading out to make her own way in the world. Or possibly law school.

As we made that familiar trip home Friday, my wife and I both knew all too well what this meant. Neither of us particularly wanted to talk about it.
And I know that’s exactly what was on her mind. The silence.

You see, for a guy who makes his living with words, I have been described as a man of very few of them. At least verbally. My family jokingly refers to me as “The Quiet Man,” mocking not only one of my favorite movies, but my tendency toward long periods of silence. My wife is no longer laughing.
I plead guilty. I’m not a big talker. I’m more likely to be found with my face buried in a newspaper than engaged in some sparkling repartee at the dinner table.

I’m sure that’s what was on my wife’s mind. She likely was thinking of what her life was like 21 years ago, before our daughter was born.
I had been at the Daily Times for a year when I informed her, a month before I was to meet her at the altar, that I was going to start working nights.

You might say it was not especially well received. For some reason, she never kicked my sorry behind to the curb.

The truth is my wife has been married to two people for the past 25 years. She’s been saddled with me, and this newspaper.

We had met at a newspaper in Coatesville, and she’s been sharing me ever since.

She has gotten used to her ink-stained partner. I don’t think she’s ever been wild about it. But she’s dealt with it.

Our first year of marriage was not our best. We were newlyweds. She worked days. I worked nights. And weekends. We didn’t see a lot of each other. She was miserable, alone in an apartment.

We bought a house. And the first thing I bought her was a dog. Sort of a way to make up for the one she married. It was the best purchase I ever made. I have said many times I believe that little Sheltie saved our marriage.

Then came the kids. My wife got used to me missing the back-to-school nights. Even after I became editor and stopped working nights, she knows my allegiance has always been split.

Now, as we trudged back into the house, it dawned on both of us that we’re back where we started. Just the two of us.

I figured I’d try to lighten the mood.

When we entered the house, I did not sit down in a chair and grab a newspaper. I didn’t flip on the TV. I didn’t walk out on the screened-in porch and turn on the radio.

Instead, I decided to introduce myself.
“Hi, I’m Phil,” I said. “Remember me?”


Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at 610-622-8818. E-mail him at editor@delcotimes.com. To visit his daily blog, the Heron’s Nest, go to www3.allaroundphilly.com/blogs/delcotimes/philh/blog.html.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 19

*

The Daily Numbers: 4 Delco towns scheduled to be sprayed to battle West Nile virus in the next 2 days.

16 age of teen expected to surrender today on charges of racial intimidation tied to graffiti in Collingdale.

7 to 1, the vote by Haverford commissioners to approve a deer hunt to thin the herd on the former Haverford State Hospital grounds.

100 mph, speeds reached during a chase of suspects in a robbery and shooting in Wilmington that made its way up I-95 and ended in Chester when the car crashed and wound up on its roof.

2 more high-level officials and an administrator at Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services disciplined in the probe of the death of a 14-year-old girl.

2 Philly city councilmen who will propose a ban on use of hand-held devices including cell phones while driving.

300 tombstones toppled during a vandalism rampage at Mount Vernon Cemetery in North Philadelphia.

52 age of woman found dead in the doorway of a palatial home in Chester County where she had been house-sitting. Her boyfriend now faces charges.

3.5 million dollars, what the feds now allege Sen. Vince Fumo defrauded from taxpayers. He faces trial this fall.

92 age of man who was beaten and carjacked as he delivered food to a friend in Wilmington.

9 personal watercraft vendors in South Jersey cited by state troopers with violations related to rentals of the popular water vehicles.

5 gunshot wounds suffered by a man outside a bar on Torresdale Avenue in the Mayfair section of Philly last night.

44 pound cat, dubbed Prince Chunk, who made an appearance at a local Petco store to push for adoption of stray animals.

51 million dollar price tag on the Riverwalk at Millennium project in Conshohocken that was damaged by a massive fire last week. Yesterday the first lawsuit was filed, and names a firm in Aston that was doing work at the site.


1 million dollars pledged to the Salvation Army by the Sunoco Foundation.

3 teens held for trial in the beating death of an illegal immigrant in Pottsville, despite the protests of some locals.

3 games for the Phils against the Nationals, starting tonight at Citizens Bank Park.

9 games on this homestand, with the Dodgers and Mets due in later this week.

45,000 set of eyes that will be zeroing in on every move Jimmy Rollins makes tonight after his comments last week about Philly fans being “front-runners.”

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
It’s Jimmy Rollins Night at Citizens Bank Park tonight. Instead of a bobblehead, maybe they should be giving away earplugs.
*

I Don’t Get It: The lawyers involved in suing the city in the case of the little girl who died while in the care of DHS are now saying they are misunderstood and want an apology from the mayor and D.A. That’s a tough argument to make.

*

Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for all those who opened their wallets once again to help us in our war against cancer, the real reason behind our annual Champs ‘n’ Charity Softball Classic.

*

Quote Box: “This is nothing new. We’ve been calling out for this and crying out for years and years.”

-- State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, in the wake of the latest wave of violence to envelop the city of Chester.

Was that gas for $3.35 a gallon, or a mirage?

I was driving home from Marcus Hook last night when I think I saw a mirage.

No, I had not been drinking. But it was dark, so mirage might not be the right word.

But as I motored up Route 452 through Aston, I could swear I saw a Wawa station selling gas for $3.35 a gallon. At least that’s what I think it said on the sign.

According to the latest release from AAA, the average price for gas in the Philadelphia suburbs is $370, down a nickel over the weekend. But it pales in comparison to what is going on in Aston.

Apparently there may be something of a gas war going on, with the Wawas in Aston and nearby Brookhaven competing to see who can sell gas for less. In between is a car wash that also is getting in on the action, offering a special discount for cash customers.

There’s only one thing I find more astounding than my shock at seeing that price. Of course that is that we are now overjoyed at the prospect of filling up the tank for $3.35 a gallon. There was a time, like this time last year, when we would have been outraged at that possibility, insisting we were being “gouged” at the pump.

Not anymore.

There actually is one more thing that stunned me about that price. Maybe I was in shock. Or maybe I was just in my usual near-coma like condition driving home.

But I was up at Five Points near Neumann College when I glanced at the gauge and saw I was sitting with just a quarter tank. A part of me wanted to turn around and go back, just so I could indulge in the luxury of cheap gasoline. Of course I didn’t. And have been kicking myself ever since.

Maybe I’ll go out of my way to check it out on the way home. Hey, at that price, it might be more economical to waste a little gas to get a cheap thrill.

A beautiful night in the Hook

I spent last night in the lovely confines of Marcus Hook.

The occasion was one I’m always proud of, our annual Daily Times/Exelon Champs ‘n’ Charity softball tournament. You can read all about the action on the field by clicking here.

I’m more interested in what was happening off the field.

First and foremost is the real reason for the tournament. That would be the fight against cancer.

Through our partnership with our good friends at Exelon, we have now been doing this for 25 years.

Over the years any number of teams have proven themselves to be the “best by test.” But there really is only one winner.

Through the efforts of tournament director Boog Laird and his tireless mom, Josephine “Gigi” Laird, who was working the crowd from the time I got there ‘til the last pitch, we continue to raise a staggering amount of money for the American Cancer Society. Gigi by herself sold something in the neighborhood of $3,000 in raffle tickets. She took home the Barbara “Pickle” Prettie Award given to the top seller for the fifth straight year. We’re talking dynasty here. Matt Moore of James Moore Painting won the Tom k”T.C.” Clark Memorial Award, which goes to the player in the men’s division who raises the most money for the American Cancer Society. Moore kicked in a cool $1,350 into the kitty.

And that’s part of the other thing I wanted to talk about. It’s just that kind of response that is endemic to Delaware County. Every time someone is in need, and the call goes out for help, this county opens its arms, hearts – and wallets – and fills the need.

Last night was a glorious summer evening in Marcus Hook. A nice crowd turned out, first for the exhibition game that pitted two teams that dominated the tournament for years, Clank’s and Willowbrook Pub. Then for the main event. And all night people reached into their pockets to answer the bell in the fight against cancer.

It struck me as emblematic of the people who read this newspaper every day. And in truth, of the people who put it together as well. We are proud of our affiliation with Marcus Hook and our annual summer sojourn.

The locals didn’t even boo when a certain newspaper editor was introduced before the game. That puts me one up on Jimmy Rollins.

It struck me as what a community newspaper should be doing. Thanks to all who make this project possible. Hope to see you again next year.

The Rollins Watch

Sometime around 7:20 tonight a familiar face will stride to home plate at Citizens Bank Park.

And a familiar sound likely will fill the ballpark.

The Jimmy Rollins watch is on. Smoke has been curling from many fans’ ears since Rollins went on national TV last week and branded the Philly faithful as “front-runners.”

It didn’t sit too well with the locals. The venom has been dripping from callers on sports talk radio ever since. Newspapers have been filled with opinions, both backing and castigating the reigning National League MVP.

Rollins actually went right back on the syndicated show the next night to clarify his remarks.

It’s not likely to change the reception he gets tonight. Rollins likely is going to get an earful.

It will be interesting to see how Rollins – and the team – reacts. The Phillies got a break yesterday when the Mets’ bullpen imploded one more time, costing them a game they probably should have won in Pittsburgh. That means the Phils go into tonight’s home stand just a game and a half back of the New Yorkers.

Maybe Rollins and the team can use this flap as a rallying point. They would not be the first Philly sports team to put the wagons in a circle and adopt an “us against them” mentality.

But first there is tonight to deal with.

Rollins might best answer the fans by manufacturing a run the way he did the other night in San Diego. That’s something he and the team have not done nearly enough.

Bottom line? The fans will have their say. But Rollins likely will get the last word, by his play on the field.

The Phils need Rollins to be the player he was last year in driving the team to a NL East crown.

And they need him to start doing it tonight. A bunt base-hit (or for that matter a walk or any way he can finagle to get on base), a stolen base and run scored in the first inning would go a long way toward smoothing out this rough patch.

I’m thinking this could go either way. Maybe Rollins suddenly puts the team on his back and carries them the rest of the way. There are those who believe Rollins’ comments were a way of trying to snap his team out of their now months-long doldrums.

Or he simply might recoil at the razzing from the stands. If the Phils fall behind early tonight, it could get ugly.

My hope is that there is only one instance of front-runners tonight. Not from Rollins’ lips, nor from the stands. I want to see front-runners on the scoreboard, with the Phils posting a solid win over a team they should dominate.

The Phils need to start playing well. And Rollins is the key to their lineup. Tonight, the first of nine games in Citizens Bank Park, would be a good time to start.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Daily Numbers -- August 18

The Daily Numbers: 6 homicides in a week that have left the city of Chester reeling, as well as looking for answers.

20 years since Carla Carrington was shot and killed, an innocent victim in a gun battle on Chester streets. The city is still trying to find an answer to random street violence.

15 days since Faith Sinclair was struck and killed while trying to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill. There has been no arrest in the case.

22 years serving Marcus Hook for longtime Councilman Bernie Gallo. He announced he’s stepping down.

80 dogs shot and killed at two eastern Pennsylvania kennels, spurring calls by the governor and others for changes in the state dog laws.

50 mph winds sported by Tropical Storm Fay, which is now taking aim at the Florida Keys.

5 straight weeks now that the price of gasoline has actually declined.

3.72 a gallon, the average price we are now paying in the 5-county Philly area.

1.4 million dollars in bonuses doled out to legislative staffers in Harrisburg, resulting in charges against 12 Dem personnel. Now there’s word some GOP staff members are getting subpoenas in the probe.


400 people chased from their homes when flames consumed an apartment complex in Conshohocken last week. On Sunday some people were allowed back in their undamaged units, while others started the sad task of trying to pick up the pieces, in some cases having lost everything they own.

6 sexual assaults now being probed in the Frankford area of Philadelphia. Another assault was reported overnight.

2 alarm fire that consumed a popular South Jersey eatery, Frangelica’s in Chesilhurst.

44 pound cat, dubbed Prince Chunk, who made an appearance at a local Petco store to push for adoption of stray animals.

14 age of soccer player who collapsed and died after a practice in Quakertown, Bucks County.


2 people shot in the parking lot of a South Jersey hotel Saturday night.

2 people stabbed by a man wielding a samurai sword in South Jersey over weekend.

8 strong innings for Phils starter Cole Hamels in leading the Phils to a win in San Diego to put a silver lining on their dismal West Coast trip.

7 starts Hamels had gone without posting a win. His last win came on July 3.

2 run homer for Pat Burrell, which is all the Phils mustered in their 2-1 win in San Diego.

2 games back for the Phils as they chase the Mets and come to kick off a series against the Nationals Tuesday night.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Let’s hope the Phils discover their bats tucked safely away at Citizens Bank Park. They certainly didn’t make the trip to the West Coast.
*

I Don’t Get It: It was 20 years ago that the Chester community was stunned by the senseless death of Carla Carrington. The event was marked in the city on Sunday, even as still another wave of violence grips the city. Some things don’t change.

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Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for Brendan Hansen and Marcus McElhenny, two Delco athletes who captured medals in Beijing.

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Quote Box: “I didn’t really do this for Carla. I did this for everyone in the city, and in the neighboring city of Philadelphia.”

-- Yvonne Carrington, mother of murder victim Carla Carrington, at ceremony in Chester Sunday marking the 20th anniversary of her death.

Gold mettle performance

What else can you say about Michael Phelps? The man is simply not of this world. The Golden Boy of the Beijing Olympics made good on his vow to capture eight gold medals in swimming.

But it’s something I learned from one of his teammates that will stay with me.

I wrote about Brendan Hansen in my print column today. You can check it out here.

No one was pulling harder for the men’s relay team Saturday night than I was. Yes, I wanted to see Michael Phelps make history. But I also wanted to see Hansen capture a medal.

Hansen is one of our own. He’s a product of Karakung Swim Club and Haverford High School.

It’s not been the best of times for Hansen in recent weeks. First he failed to qualify for the Olympics in his specialty, the 200-meter breaststroke. The slump continued as he finished fourth in the 100-meter race at Beijing. That left him out of the medals. And he had to watch as his arch-rival, Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima, shattered his world record in capturing the hardware.

Then there was the talk leading up to Saturday night’s 4x100 medley relay.

The commentators made it pretty clear. Phelps had seven gold medals in his pocket to tie Mark Spitz for the most ever in a single Olympics. All that stood between him and history was this medley race.

And that meant, as good as Phelps has been, he was dependent on his teammates upholding their end of the bargain. The whispers were unmistakable. Would Hansen cost Phelps a shot at history?

My wife actually picked up on a key moment. And it goes to show the “mettle” of one Brendan Hansen. It occurred between the Delco swimmer and Phelps’ mother. “Don’t worry, I won’t let you down,” he said to her.

Hansen was good to his word, swimming the second leg of the medley, followed by Phelps, as the U.S. team set a new world record in the event. Along the way, Phelps was launched into immortality.

But I was overjoyed as I watched Hansen join his teammates on the medal stand, flashing that winning smile, displaying both his gold medal and an American flag.

That’s what I call a “gold mettle” performance.

Hansen is not Delco’s only link to the Games.

Lansdowne native Marcus McElhenny, a Lansdowne native and Monsignor Bonner grad, captured a bronze medal as the coxswain on the men’s eight boat in rowing.

Well done, gentlemen.

Brace yourself for a storm of coverage

Get used to hearing about Fay.

No, she’s not being considered for the vice presidential spot by either John McCain or Barack Obama.

And, so far as I know, she has not had an affair with John Edwards.

But she will be the talk of the town this week.

Fay is a tropical storm. Not a hurricane, mind you. A tropical storm. At least right now.

She is about 1,500 miles south of us, having hammered Haiti and the Dominican Republic and blown over Cuba with winds clocked at 50 mph, she now is taking aim at the Florida Keys. Fay is expected to hit Florida tonight. The fear is that once back out over the Gulf of Mexico, she could strengthen and hit hurricane status.

What does all this have to do with us? Everything. This is weather, after all. Bad weather. Stormy weather. That makes it important, or so the folks on TV will tell us incessantly over the next couple of days.

Me? All I want to know is whether this will mean rain for us later in the week.

But first we’ll have to deal with a week of the “Say Fay” kid.

Brace yourself for a storm of coverage

Get used to hearing about Fay.

No, she’s not being considered for the vice presidential spot by either John McCain or Barack Obama.

And, so far as I know, she has not had an affair with John Edwards.

But she will be the talk of the town this week.

Fay is a tropical storm. Not a hurricane, mind you. A tropical storm. At least right now.

She is about 1,500 miles south of us, having hammered Haiti and the Dominican Republic and blown over Cuba with winds clocked at 50 mph, she now is taking aim at the Florida Keys. Fay is expected to hit Florida tonight. The fear is that once back out over the Gulf of Mexico, she could strengthen and hit hurricane status.

What does all this have to do with us? Everything. This is weather, after all. Bad weather. Stormy weather. That makes it important, or so the folks on TV will tell us incessantly over the next couple of days.

Me? All I want to know is whether this will mean rain for us later in the week.

But first we’ll have to deal with a week of the “Say Fay” kid.

King Cole to the rescue

Cole Hamels must be starting to wonder what his Phillies’ teammates have against him.

Hamels had gone seven starts without posting a win. He last visited the win column on July 3.

It’s not that he was pitching badly. In fact, the left-hander been every bit the ace the Phils expected him to be. It’s just that the Phils this summer have developed the annoying habit of having their bats go to sleep every time Hamels pitches.

His record was a deceptive 9-8, just a game over .500. But Hamels had pitched better than that. Need proof? He sported an ERA of 3.22.

Hamels finally snapped his winless streak last night as the Phils closed out their disastrous West Coast trip.

If ever a team needed its star pitcher to step up, it was the Phils last night. Hamels did not disappoint them. He threw eight innings, giving up just one run on seven hits. But it wasn’t easy. That’s because the Phils continue to shoot blanks at the plate.

They won, 2-1, riding Hamels’ nasty left arm and a two-run homer from Pat Burrell.

The win managed to keep them within shouting distance of the Mets, who continue to be two games up.

The Phils now return to Citizens Bank Park, where they open a series with the Nationals Tuesday night.

Maybe they’ll find their missing bats there. One thing’s certain: They didn’t make the trip to the West Coast.

Friday, August 15, 2008

12 days and counting

Congratulations. It’s Friday. You’ve made it to the end of another week. Summer is on the wane. It looks like it’s going to be a pleasant weekend.

Unless you happen to be the mother, father or family member of Faith Sinclair.

It’s now been 12 days since the hit-run accident that took her life as she attempted to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill.

That’s almost two weeks. And we still don’t know who was driving the car that snuffed out the 16-year-old’s life.

We know the car. In fact, police have a black Mercedes in their possession that is believed to be the vehicle that struck Faith. We know who owns it. Police have labeled him a “person of interest.” But we don’t know who was driving it that Sunday night when Faith was fatally struck, and the driver never bothered to stop.

No charges have been filed in the case.

Sunday night will mark two weeks since the crash. Maybe those involved are hoping that the incident will simply fade from memory.

Police continue to investigate. The owner of the car has indicated through the lawyer he hired that he will not be talking to police.

There is a $10,000 reward for information in the case. You’d think that wouldn’t be needed in a case in which the life of an innocent teen was taken away, her family left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

Maybe it’s not enough. Police believe there was a passenger in that car. That’s two people who likely know exactly what happened that fateful night.

In the meantime, her family and friends wait. But they don’t forget.

Neither do we.

12 days and counting.

Nightmare on I-95

Another trip into the confessional.

Am I the only one who gets a little nervous every time one of those big rigs roars by me on the road?

I always glance at those huge tires, which are right about the level of my face as they blow by, and what might happen should one of them fly off.

That’s the nightmare scenario that unfolded on I-95 in South Philly yesterday.

State police say a wheel and tire flew off a southbound tractor-trailer, careened into the northbound lanes, and slammed into a van.

The driver was killed. His wife, sitting next to him, suffered only minor injuries.

I can’t imagine the horror that unfolded inside that mini-van.

One second Maurizio Bertoli, 64, of Keansburg, N.J., was simply driving home on the interstate. The next he was gone. Just like that.

I wonder if he even saw the wheel coming at him. And if he did if he realized there wasn’t a thing he could do.

The state trooper at the scene said he’s never seen a wheel do that kind of damage to another vehicle.

My guess is we’ll soon forget Bertoli. But not what happened to him.

In fact, I will think about it every time I see a tractor-trailer whizzing down the road.

And I’ll grip the wheel just that much tighter.

Fans don't reign at the Linc

Since when exactly do football games have rain delays?

Since they’re accompanied by thunder and lightning. That’s what happened last night, when the Eagles and Panthers were ushered off the field in the first quarter of the exhibition game at the Linc. They didn’t return for almost an hour.

The players beat a hasty retreat to the locker rooms. It’s not that easy for the fans. They have to fend for themselves for the most part.

A big part of this is because, after all, these are little more than glorified practice games. Ones that come with regular-season prices.

If may just be the biggest scam in sports. And it’s one of the reasons, among many, that I am no longer an Eagles season ticket holder. The Eagles don’t give you a choice. You have to buy the exhibition games. It’s part of the deal.

That doesn’t make it right.

And I repeat my pre-season mantra that I announce each year. Please tell me one thing you remember from last year’s pre-season games? Thought so.

And a month from now, we likely will remember little about the players or the game that was held last night at the Linc.

In fact, the one thing we are likely to remember is the fact that it was delayed for an hour.

Besides, I’m a newspaper editor. And I deal with deadlines. If you have an hour or two, I’ll tell you what an hour rain delay on an exhibition game, which take forever to play in the first place and which did not start until 8 p.m., does to our deadlines.

It’s not pretty. Kind of like last night’s weather.

Hey, how ‘bout that DeSean Jackson!

J-Roll finds himself in a jam

Jimmy Rollins is still talking.

He’s not apologizing for calling Philly fans front-runners. He thinks he was misunderstood.

I’m not so sure.

Rollins was back on “The Best Damn Sports Show” yesterday to clarify the “front-runner” comments he made on Wednesday that ignited a firestorm 3,000 miles away back in Philly.

Fans here are passionate, demanding, and yes, critical. But front-runners? Not in any way I’ve ever known. Fans here are with their teams win or lose. That’s why we remain hopeful even though it’s been a quarter century since our last championship.

Rollins wanted people to know that the way most of us perceived his comments is not what he meant. He didn’t mean we bail on the team. He apparently was referring to booing the team – and players – when they’re not doing well.

To be honest with you, I’ve about come to the end of wondering exactly why it is that our teams do not win championships. There’s a part of me that is at least willing to consider the fact that the suffocating atmosphere that pervades pro sports in this town simply consumes some athletes.

Maybe it’s starting to get to Rollins. Something’s been haywire this year. He’s just not the same player he was last year while waging a valiant MVP campaign.

Now he dogs it on fly balls, fails to show up for games on time, and seems anything but the team leader he proclaims himself to be.

Then again, maybe that’s exactly what’s going on. Maybe Rollins took the opportunity while the team was 3,000 miles away to set up one of those classic “us vs. them” stands, with the players determined to win just so they can turn around and shove it in the fans’ faces.

If that’s the case, it’s not exactly working.

Take a glance at the standings today. Yes, those are your second-place Phillies. They went meekly again last night, getting swept by the Dodgers. The Phils got exactly two baserunners against the mighty Hiroki Kuroda on the way to a 3-1 loss. With a Mets win, the New Yorkers now are in first alone. The Phils are a game back, with the Marlins breathing down their necks.

And Mr. Rollins? He backed up Wednesday night’s 0-for-5 with a ditto last night, going 0-for-4. Now it’s on to sunny San Diego.

Who knows what Rollins will say today. Or when he gets back to town on Tuesday.

Here’s a suggestion, Jimmy. We love you. We want the J-Roll from last year, not the Flay-Roll we’re seeing this year.

Oh, and one other thing. Buy some earplugs.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Good, bad news on the crime front

Good news and bad news this morning on the crime front.

First and foremost. There were no reported homicides overnight. Death actually took a day off in the county, after an especially brutal few days that saw a rash of six homicides in Chester and a slaying in Sharon Hill as well.

More good news from Collingdale, where police have made an arrest in the vandalism that targeted the historic Eden Cemetery, final resting spot of many notable African-Americans.

Police say a teen is expected to turn himself in today to face charges in connection with damage to 201 headstones at the historic cemetery.

He is one of three juveniles believed involved to the vandalism spree.

Unfortunately, since he’s under age, he likely will not be exposed to the public shame he so richly deserves.

The bad news? We’ve now hit 11 days since the hit-run accident that took the life of 16-year-old Faith Sinclair.

She was struck and killed as she tried to cross Chester Pike about 10 p.m. on Sunday night Aug. 3.

Police have impounded the car they believe was involved in the accident. They know who owns the black 2000 S-Type Mercedes. They have called him a “person of interest” in the case. No charges have been filed. The owner so far has declined to discuss the situation with authorities.

Police do not know who was driving. All they know is the silence coming from their investigation.

11 days and counting.

Jimmy hits the fans

Manny being Manny? Forget that. We’re dealing with another case of Jimmy being Jimmy.

I speak of the reigning National League MVP, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

It has not been the follow-up to his sterling season from last year that Rollins, the team or the fans envisioned.

First Rollins tweaked an ankle and had to miss several weeks at the start of the season. Then there was his failure to run out a pop up. That earned him a hook midway in a ballgame and a seat on the pine. He was apologetic afterward.

Then came his late arrival at Shea for an early game against the Mets. Manager Charlie Manuel benched him. But this time Rollins made it clear he did not agree.

All this came while Rollins was having a clearly sub-par year.

Last night for some reason Rollins decided to put a little icing on this lousy cake, and in the process smeared it in the fans’ faces.

Rollins and slugger Ryan Howard made an appearance on the “Best Damn Sports Show Period.” Eventually the talk turned to playing in Philly.

The hosts kind of goaded the players into talking about how tough it is to play in Philly. Rollins took it from there.

He thinks we’re front-runners.

I am not making this up.

The team is shattering attendance marks, on course to see 3 million people walk through the turnstiles. Every night it seems another 45,000 pack Citizens Bank Park.

But we’re front-runners. At least according to our star shortstop.

I’m not sure what’s happened to Jimmy Rollins. Maybe he’s just full of himself and his MVP status.

But his play this year has not been anything approaching an MVP level.

Maybe Rollins, the guy who last year boasted that the Phils were the team to beat, then backed it up with his play on the field, is looking for a ticket out of town. Maybe he wants to return to his home in Oakland.

But he’s picked the wrong target for his wrath.

Front-runners?

Shame on you, Jimmy.

Phils going oh! for West Coast

The Phils continue to play consistent ball. Consistently inconsistently.

They continue to be oh-for-the-West Coast after blowing a game they clearly should have won last night.

The Phils got three early home runs to build a 6-1 lead. Then they proceeded to provide those bleary-eyed fans who hung in there with the action from Los Angeles with a slow water torture as they frittered it away.

Nomar Garciaparra’s homer in the bottom of the 9th sealed the deal, and sent the Phils back to their hotel losers, and also no longer in sole possession of first place. The Mets won to pull into a tie with the Phils.

Do you think it dawned on anyone in the front office at the trade deadline when it became apparent that the Dodgers were in the lead to get Manny Ramirez that the Phillies had eight games against L.A. remaining on their schedule?

Once again last night Ramirez was the difference in the game.

Manny being Manny? Or just the Phillies being the Phillies?

This West Coast trip has the makings of a Bataan Death March for the Phils, who may return home next week no longer in the catbird’s seat in the NL East.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The long, agonizing wait in Sharon Hill

Ten days and counting in Sharon Hill.

It was a week ago last Sunday night that 16-year-old Faith Sinclair tried to cross Chester Pike at Laurel Road. She never made it.

The teen was struck and killed by someone driving a black Mercedes. The driver remains unknown.

Tuesday, just a few days after burying her daughter, Faith Sinclair’s mother went public with an emotional plea. She doesn’t want revenge; she simply wants justice.

Kim Ferrell stood at the intersection where her daughter’s life was snuffed out, just a few steps from the house where she grew up, and asked the driver of the Mercedes to come forward. You can read all the details here.

Ferrell says she knows her daughter has forgiven the driver, and she has as well. But she still needs one thing.

She wants to “let my little girl rest in peace.”

Police have impounded a 2000 black S-type Mercedes that they recovered from a garage in Upper Darby. It was covered with a cloth and the windows of the garage had been blacked out. Police say the damage on the vehicle is consistent with what would be expected from the accident.

The owner of the Mercedes, Lemuel Payne, has been identified by police as a “person of interest” in the case. He has hired an attorney and so far is not talking to police. No charges have been filed in the case.

Ten days and counting. Sinclair’s father, Michael, indicated yesterday he did not want to comment until after the police investigation was completed.

“This ain’t over,” is all he said.

Not by a long shot.