Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 30

The Daily Numbers: 6.3 percent of the population in Delaware County that is using food stamps in 2008. That’s up from 6.1 percent in 2007.
Statewide the number is 8.9 percent, up from 7.9 percent.
25 percent increase in clients reported by the Loaves and Fishes Pantry in Prospect Park.
14,000 dollars in charges racked up on his credit card that a blind lawyer from Broomall is fighting to make his credit card company pay. He says they got rung up by a prostitute. A judge tossed his claim.
39 weekends in jail for an Upper Darby woman who left her 2 kids home alone.
6.5 million dollars in savings expected to be achieved by the county in refinancing its general obligation bonds.
14 people busted as they protested at construction site for the Sugarhouse Casino on the waterfront in Philadelphia.
13.6 million dollars New Jersey says it is losing to those cheating the system on New Jersey Turnpike tolls.
3.8 million vehicles being recalled by Toyota to check floor mats that cause the accelerator pedal to stick.
1 person killed when an ATV slammed into a wall last night in West Philadelphia.
2 people busted at Philadelphia International Airport for attempting to smuggle drugs into the country by swallowing them wrapped inside pellets.
3 teens in Lehigh Valley killed in car crashes in just 4 days.
3 kittens believed tossed from the back of a bus parked on a street in Philly.
6 upscale homes that have been targeted by a burglar in neighborhoods north of Wilmington.
170 million dollar jackpot up for grabs in tonight’s Powerball drawing.
105 million dollars at stake in Friday’s Mega Millions jackpot.
12,496 votes for Republican Rep. Bob Mensch, who looks like the winner in the special election to fill the 24th District state Senate seat.
25 years in jail for a former Penn professor on child porn charges.
2.53, average price of gas in the region. That’s down 2 more cents.
1, Phillies Magic Number after they won and the Braves lost last night.
12 wins for J.A. Happ, first Phils’ rookie to do that since Jim Owens in 1959.
97 mph, what Ryan Madson’s fastball was clocked at in the ninth inning last night.
7 career grand slams for Pedro Feliz, who sent the crowd into a tizzy and the Phils up 5-1 when he went yard in the fifth with the bases jammed.
32, age of new Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. Why does he seem older than that.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Maybe now we can finally dispel that curse of 1964. Repeat after me. The Phillies are headed to the playoffs.
*
I Don’t Get It: Maryland has now banned texting while driving. In D.C.
today the government will take up the issue of distracted driving. What is Pennsylvania waiting for?
*
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Phillies and Eagles, who are teaming up for a T-shirt featuring the city skyline and both teams’ logos to fight cancer.
*
Quote Box: “In a three-month period, we lost 120 families through evictions, foreclosures and people who moved in with family or friends.”
- Linda Freeman, director of the Loaves and Fishes Pantry in Prospect Park.

Hurricane Camille on budget

Only a cynic would point out that Gov. Ed Rendell’s call for the Legislature to quit playing around with the budget deal and get something on his desk to sign on Sunday coincides with the fact that the Eagles have a bye this weekend.

OK, call me a cynic.

The governor can spend the day in Harrisburg and not have to worry about missing a single play, or his spot as a talking head on the post-game show.

In the meantime, there are signs that the budget accord may be in trouble. And some of the sniping is coming from Rendell’s own party.

House Democrats huddled in caucus at the Capitol yesterday, and were scolded by one of their own.

Which is why I have a new hero today. No, not Rendell. Although I do envy him and his role on the Eagles post-game show. Hell, I spend enough time on this blog writing about the Iggles. But then, no one is asking me to offer my opinions on TV.

No, the guy I am gaining admiration for is state Rep. Camille “Bud”
George. He’s 81 and he’s been in Harrisburg since the ‘70s. That means, especially when it comes to the budget, George has seen just about anything.

Except the debacle that has been playing out since Rendell and the Legislature blew through the June 30 deadline and then began playing this game of cat and mouse that is now going on three months.

George has seen enough.

Yesterday, he let members of his own party have it, urging them to “quit hiding,” stop “shirking their responsibilities,” and pass the budget deal that was reached last week.

But George is not just blowing off steam. He’s actually demanding action and accountability from those in his own party. In Harrisburg? Good luck.

George isn’t the only one who’s seen enough.

Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton, is proposing two pieces of legislation looking to end these kind of budget shenanigans. He wants all 253 legislators and governor to stand for re-election in the next general election any time they fail to deliver a fiscal plan on time.

It’ll never happen, but it’s a good thought. The problem is the people who would have to vote to put it in place are the same people responsible for the problem.

He’s also got a bill that would force the chairmen of House and Senate committees to submit a report of budget recommendations to their respective appropriations chairmen.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for that one to happen either.

As far as something landing on Rendell’s desk and ending this farce?

As they say down at Delaware Park as they mull over those NFL parlay tickets, I wouldn’t bet on it.

More animal abuse

I suppose the day just would not be complete without another story of animal abuse.

Enter a bus driver in Philadelphia. Witnesses indicate he was casually tossing kittens from the back door of his school bus after parking on a street in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia.

SPCA officials now have filed three misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty against the driver, identified as William Mitchell.

Apparently Mitchell told someone who was questioning what he was doing that the kittens had been left inside his van-sized bus.

So I suppose he decided to get rid of them.

Nice.

Welcome back, Trotter

I have officially decided to stop trying to figure out what exactly it is the Eagles are up to this season.

Except for this thought. I keep getting this vision of Andy Reid sitting at a poker table with a big stack of chips in front of him. He surveys the other players, looks at the bets, then slowly pushes all his chips into the center of the table. “All in,” fellas, he grumbles. Time’s yours.

It wasn’t enough to part ways with both of his starting offensive tackles and rebuild an offensive line, all the while counting on Shawn Andrews to return to his All-Pro status.

It wasn’t enough to see the team’s reputation dragged through the mud in the Brian Dawkins’ debacle.

Then the team decided to roll the dice again in August when they stunned just about everyone by bringing in Michael Vick, who had been away from the game for two years while doing time for running a dog-fighting operation.

The Eagles may be 2-1, but they lead the league in signing guys who have been out of the game for two years.

First it was Vick, with visions of “Wildcat” formations dancing in Andy’s head.

Now it’s the other side of the ball.

Welcome back, Trotter.

Yes, the Eagles are bringing back Jeremiah Trotter. When last seen in these parts (not counting when he’s sitting behind a microphone on sports talk radio), Trotter was limping into the sunset (and to Tampa
Bay) after being released by the Eagles in training camp 2007.

The move stunned Eagles fans, and maybe Trotter as well. It was his second go-round with the Birds. He had left of his own accord once before when he and the team could not agree on salary. Trotter went to D.C., didn’t play especially well, then returned as the Prodigal Son.

This is an Instant Replay. Back in 2007, Trotter was basically shot. His chronically bad knees simply would not let him be the player he once was, especially when it came to pass protection. The Eagles decided to cut their losses, and dropped the ax on “The Ax Man.”

But Trotter, who somehow is only 32 even though it seems like he’s been around forever, had surgery on those knees and says he feels better than ever. The Eagles worked him out twice and seem to agree.

Reid also looked at a defense, already minus Dawkins, that saw starting middle linebacker Stewart Bradley blow out a knee during a Linc practice in the summer, and sees a unit that might lack a bit of leadership, as well as a stud run-stuff in the middle.

Of course, I don’t think anyone has asked Omar Gaither his opinion on all this. Gaither happens to be the guy who started – and played very well – Sunday against the Chiefs.

Enter Trotter.

Hey, weirder things have happened. In the Eagles case they already have.
Trotter joins Vick in stories you never thought would happen.

It only reinforces one thing. When it comes to this season, Reid and the Eagles are “all in.”

They want to win. Now. And they’re apparently willing to do just about anything to reach that end.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Welcome back, Trotter.

The Herons' Nest: Kiss 1964 goodbye

Stick a fork in those nightmares of 1964.

It’s not going to happen. There will be no repeat of the Phillies’
monumental collapse.

Pedro Feliz made sure of that when, with the game deadlocked 1-1 in the fifth and tension slowly enveloping Citizens Bank Park, he launched a pitch into the left-field seats with the bases loaded.

Suddenly, all you saw were white rally towels waving everywhere. And the vision of 1964 being dispelled once and for all.

The Braves helped the party along, losing 5-4 to the Marlins.

That means the Phils’ Magic Number is now 1. All they have to do is win one of their remaining five games to collect their third consecutive NL East crown. Should they lose tonight to the Astros, but the Braves stumble, the Phils back into the title.

Simply put, the Phils are headed to the post-season.

What remains interesting now is who will fill what role once they get there. Charlie Manuel still has to figure out his starting rotation, as well as his closer.

Last night, even though he had Brad Lidge warming up in the bullpen, he allowed Ryan Madson, who entered the game in the eighth after Jamie Moyer tweaked his groin, to come back out and pitch the ninth. Madson blew away the Astros with some 97 mph heat.

Complicating Manuel’s roster decisions is the fact that even if they clinch tonight, the Phils are still battling for best overall record in the National League. Right now they sit one game better than the Cardinals, but one and a half games behind the Dodgers.

Pedro Martinez goes to the hill tonight to try to seal the NL East for the Phils.

Hey, it worked last night. Vote for Pedro!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 29

The Daily Numbers: 5,000 bucks now being offered by the state for information on dogfighting operations in the state.
2 years in prison and $1,000 fine, what a 19-year-old in Philly is facing after he admitted wrapping a cat in duct tape.
5 days in which fugitives will be able to turn themselves in at a church in Chester as part of Operation Safe Surrender. It starts Wednesday.
3 people shot in a drive-by shooting in Chester on Sunday. Police say the victims are not offering information on the possible shooter, who drove up in a car and opened fire.
123,000 doses of the first round of the H1N1 vaccine expected to be available in Pa. by mid-October.
15 people arrested as they attempted to block the construction site for the Sugarhouse Casino on the waterfront this morning in Philadelphia.
8, as in Oct. 8, the official groundbreaking for what is expected to be 1 of 2 casinos in the city.
15,000 workers at 4 Atlantic city casinos that have reached a contract agreement with their union.
1,500 union members who are threatening to walk off the job Friday if they don’t have a new deal with Temple University Hospital.
5 years in jail for a former Philadelphia sheriff’s deputy for a fatal shooting of her neighbor.
60 cars broken into and ransacked just over the state line in the parking lots of several nursing homes.
4 teen girls rescued after their boat got stuck in rapids on the Schuylkill River yesterday afternoon.
110 new jobs coming to the Brandywine Hundred area in Delaware with the arrival of a new auto insurer.
5,000 dollar reward posted in the search for the driver who struck a Philadelphia bicycle cop early Saturday.
6.3 percent of Delco households now using food stamps. That’s up 0.2 percent from a year ago.
8.9 percent of those in county living under the poverty level. That’s actually down 0.9 percent.
3 candidates vying in special election today for state Senate seat in 24th District. It was vacated by Sen. Rob Wonderling, who will become head of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
806 million dollar fraud being charged to former boss of Le-Nature Inc, a soft drink maker.
2.55, average price of gas in the region. That’s down 3 cents over the weekend.
3, where Phillies Magic Number continues to sit after they lost and Braves won again last night.
4 game lead for the Phils over the Braves, with 6 games left on the schedule.
6 runs on 9 hits surrendered by Cole Hamels in six innings and change last night.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Repeat after me: It’s not 1964 … It’s not 1964 .
*
I Don’t Get It: We have all kind of reward funds and information coming forward when an animal is abused. But people get shot and no one sees anything. I don’t get it.
*
Today’s Upper: Reinforcements are on the way. With flu shot clinics for seasonal flu in full swing, reports indicate that vaccine for the H1N1 version of the flu should be here in a couple of weeks.
*
Quote Box: “Dogfighting is a part of a violent subculture that operates in the darkest shadows of our society.”
- Attorney General Tom Corbett, announcing $5,000 dollar reward fund for information on such operations in the state.

Deja vu all over again

They are the four ugliest numbers in Philadelphia sports history.

1-9-6-4.

That’s why I’m here this morning to tell everyone to exhale. This is not 1964. The Phillies, despite their best effort to foist off a serious dose of déjà vu all over again on us, are not going to repeat the greatest collapse in baseball history.

Relax.

Yes, the Phils lost again last night. And of course the foe was familiar. It was the Astros once again sticking the knife in their backs. Nothing new about that. The Phillies have yet to beat them this year.

The Magic Number remains three. But that distant image in the rear-view mirror is getting closer. The Braves won again last night. They are now just four back.

In 1964, the Phils were 6 and a half up with 12 to play when Chico Ruiz stole home and one of the great collapses in sports history unraveled – along with the Phillies’ World Series hopes.

Most people believe last year’s World Series victory shattered the curse. Then why do we have all these butterflies in our stomachs?

At one point about a week ago the Phils were eight and a half up with 13 to play.

They have six games to play. They must win three, or at least some combination of wins and Braves’ losses that adds up to three.

Cole Hamels did not exactly help last night. The ace could not contain the pesky Astros. He gave up six runs on nine hits in six and two-thirds innings.

Tonight J.A. Happ takes the hill. I’m not going to say it’s crucial, but a win tonight would certainly go a long way toward settling everyone’s nerves. A loss, coupled with another win by the Braves, could make things that much more dicey.

Repeat after me: It’s not 1964.

Right?

Another challenge for Harrah's

The clock is now ticking down to a new challenge to Harrah’s perch as the king of local legalized gambling.

Officials in Philadelphia announced that they will finally break ground for the Sugarhouse Casino on the waterfront along North Delaware Avenue on Oct. 8. It is the first of what will eventually be two slots parlors inside the city limits. And it no doubt will siphon off some customers who have been making the trek down I-95 to Chester to load their money into the slots at Harrah’s.

Couple that with the arrival of sports parlay betting just another 20 minutes south on I-95 in Delaware, and there are more storm clouds on the horizon for Harrah’s. The casino has consistently been No. 2 in the state in terms of revenue, trailing only Philadelphia Park. But in the last year revenue has been declining, mirroring something that has been going in both Atlantic City and across the nation in Las Vegas.

Of course, there is a silver lining to those storm clouds. As part of the recent deal to settle the nearly three-month state budget impasse, the Legislature is likely to OK the introduction of table games in the state’s new slots parlors, including Harrah’s.

Win some, lose some. It’s something Harrah’s customers are all too accustomed to.

Two more views of Chester

I could not help but notice the dueling visions of the city of Chester that appeared on Page 6 of Monday’s print edition.

Of course, that is where my print column appears each week.

This week I wrote about my visit with the top brass of the Philadelphia Union in their offices on the fifth floor of the refurbished Chester Power Station on the Chester waterfront. Just across the parking lot, work is proceeding feverishly on an 18,500-seat stadium that will be home for the Major League Soccer franchise.

It is a big part of the continuing story of Chester’s turnaround. But it is not the only aspect of the city that makes the paper. I sometimes refer to the city’s dilemma as the two faces of Chester.

You didn’t have to look far Monday to see the other side.

Directly below my column was a story detailing still another street shooting in the city. It came exactly one week after a gunman opened fire on a city playground, killing one person and injuring several others.

In the more recent incident, gunfire rang out near Fifth and Whittington Place near the William Penn development about 10 a.m. Sunday. Three people were wounded.

Police also are dealing with something they encountered with the previous shooting. It would appear there were no shortage of witnesses to the two incidents, but no one is coming forward with information.

That’s one more troubling aspect to the two faces of Chester.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 28

The Daily Numbers: 11 plays and 30 yards for Michael Vick in his return to the NFL as a Philadelphia Eagle.
3 people shot on a Chester street Sunday, just 1 week after a gunman opened fire on a crowd at a playground.
2 suspects being sought for ripping off the poor box at St. John Fisher church in Upper Chichester.
19, age of man who has admitted to police that he duct-taped a cat from head to paws. He now faces charges.
2 teens killed in a 3-vehicle crash that left 2 other teens injured in Lehigh County.
40, age of man who was struck and killed as he tried to walk across Roosevelt Boulevard near Oxford Circle Sunday night.
100 million dollars in so-called “Walking Around Money” for pols’ pet projects believed to be stashed away in the Pa. budget deal.
1 person dead in an attempted robbery that went bad in Magnolia, Del., and 2 others injured.
40 foot fall from escalator at The Pier Shops at Caesars in Atlantic City that proved fatal to a 40-year-old man. Police are investigating how he fell.
5, as in Oct. 5, when the vaccine for swine flu is expected to arrive.
4 DUI offenses now racked up by a man in Felton, Del. He’s now in prison.
2.56, average price of gas across the Philly region.
34 points put up by the Eagles in rolling to an easy win over the Chiefs.
327 yards passing for Kevin Kolb. It’s the first time in NFL history that a rookie has thrown for more than 300 yards in his first 2 starts.
0 completions for Michael Vick, who ran the ball once for 7 yards.
3, the Phils’ Magic Number to win the NL East for the 3rd straight year.
5 runs on 7 hits surrendered by Joe Blanton in 5 innings and change.
15, as in No. 15, where Penn State now sits in rankings after they tumbled 10 spots after losing to Iowa Saturday night.
4 wins on the year on the Nascar circuit for Jimmie Johnson, who took Sunday’s race at Dover.
*
Call me a Phanatic
: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I feel a lot better about Kevin Kolb than I do about the Phillies bullpen.
*
I Don’t Get It: A 19-year-old is telling police in Philadelphia that he is responsible for wrapping a cat in duct tape from head to paws. I don’t get it.
*
Today’s Upper: Thumb’s up to Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Corson, who is back home in Ridley after being wounded in action in Afghanistan.
*
Quote Box: “You can’t punish 55 other guys for what one guy did when he wasn’t even on the team.”
- Eagles fan Dave Carosella of Darby Township, on the controversy swirling around Michael Vick’s return to the NFL at the Linc Sunday with the Eagles.

All Vick all the Time

Here’s what I know after watching the Eagles for three weeks.

Not a hell of a lot.

They blew out a bad Carolina team, then got smoked by a pretty good Saints club, and rebounded yesterday by crushing a truly dreadful Chiefs team.

There are, however, a few things that I do know.

First and foremost, Michael Vick’s re-entry to the NFL proved to be the most over-hyped story of the week. Vick’s total output? He appeared for
11 plays, which gained a total of 30 yards. He did not complete a pass.

That did not stop the networks and everyone else from falling all over themselves to tell Vick’s story – both before and after the game.

And that’s a shame. Because it overshadowed a first-rate effort by Kevin Kolb in leading the Eagles to an easy win.

All Kolb did was become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 300 yards in his first two starts.

Kolb was filling in for an ailing Donovan McNabb, who was sidelined for a second straight week with a fractured rib. Kolb sparkled, completing
24 of 34 for 327 yards while compiling a QB rating of 120.6.

Something else I think we have learned about the Eagles. They have a very good core of young star players at the skill positions. In addition to Kolb, second-year wide receiver DeSean Jackson is taking on the unmistakable look of an All-Pro star wideout. Rookie Jeremy Maclin also grabbed several passes yesterday. Tight end Brent Celek suddenly looks like the second coming of Mike Ditka. With Brian Westbrook once again on the shelf with a bum ankle, rookie LeSean McCoy filled in more than ably.

Look at it this way. If someone had asked you before the season what the Eagles’ chances were in a game when they would be without both McNabb and Westbrook, their top two offensive weapons, how would you have responded? Exactly.

I’m thinking not many would predict a win, let alone a 34-14 blowout.

Yes, these were the Chiefs. They are, in a word, dreadful. Worse than the Panthers.

Guess what? After the bye, the Birds are looking at Tampa Bay, Oakland, Washington. Anyone have any trepidations about those three games? That would put the Birds at 5-1.

Then the real season begins. And I suppose that is when we find out how good this team is – or isn’t.

In the meantime, spare me the Vick coverage. I am guessing Andy Reid will continue to sprinkle any number of variations on his “Wildcat”
formations into the mix.

But yesterday, the Wildcat actually was more effective when the direct snap went to McCoy.

Oh, and one other thing, which I will freely admit. Yes, I grimace a bit every time Vick jogs onto the field. It still bothers me that the Eagles rolled the dice on this story in the first place. Why they felt the need to do so I have no idea.

It’s now clear this team is going to go exactly as far as McNabb carries them, and if he’s not available then Kolb looks more than capable of shouldering the load.

Vick is a sideshow, one that already has been given way too much attention.

With Vick at the helm yesterday, the Wildcat did little more than meow.
While the memory of those dogs continues to growl in the deep recesses of my memory.

Phils' bullpen could use some magic

The Phillies Magic Number is now 3.

Unfortunately there continues to be little magic in their bullpen.

Pressed into service again yesterday after Joe Blanton ran into trouble in the sixth, the bullpen again delivered a serious case of nail-biting to Philly fans who moved down the dial after watching a laugher with the Eagles blowing out the Chiefs.

It appeared for a while as if the Phils might do the same to the Brewers, rolling to a 6-1 lead, before Blanton faltered, and Charlie Manuel made the move to the ‘pen.

Four relievers later, it was left to Ryan Madson to record the final four outs as the Phils clung to a 6-5 lead.

Madson allowed a double to Cecil Fielder, who eventually reached third, putting the tying run just 90 feet away, before punching out Mike Cameron on a called third strike that looked low to me.

With the Eagles now out of the picture for the next two weeks courtesy of the bye week, the Phils get a chance to come home and paint the town red again.

They have four games with the Astros and three with the Marlins.

They need any combination of three Phillies wins or losses by the Braves to take their third straight NL East crown.

But that’s not really what they’re about any more. Everyone has expected this team to be in the post-season. What fans – and the Phils as well – could use right now is a little relief.

Hey, can Kevin Kolb pitch?

Justice for 'Sticky' the cat

How’s this for irony?

On the same day that Michael Vick makes his return to the NFL (in an Eagles uniform, no less), police announce they have solved the case of the duct-taped cat.

“Sticky” captured the region’s imagination last week when the kitty was discovered wrapped head to paws in duct tape. The picture of the cat is one of those that simply jarred your senses. All I could think about is what that cat went through in getting that tape off of its coat.

Just as I simply cannot watch Michael Vick trot out onto the field without thinking about what happened to those dogs as part of the dog-fighting operation he financed. If what happened to them in the actual fight was not barbarian enough for you, then what Vick and others are alleged to have done to some of the dogs who were so unfortunate as to prove not great fighters is almost beyond human.

Just a few hours after Vick made his return after doing two years in federal prison at Lincoln Financial Field yesterday, police announced a man had turned himself in to face charges in the case of “Sticky.”

James Davis, 19, of Philadelphia, surrendered to police after apparently giving a statement to the SPCA. Davis apparently was irked that the cat was in his back yard, and says he simply does not know what came over him next.

It is believed he snagged the cat, wrapped it head to paw in duct tape, stuck it in a bag and left it in his back yard. But the cat was making so much noise that he put it in a neighbor’s yard, where it was found the next day.

SPCA officials had posted a $2,000 reward and it appears as if that offer paid off, as someone came forward with information leading to Davis.

As for “Sticky,” as the cat was dubbed by SPCA officials, it was sedated before the hour-long process of cutting the duct tape away. The cat is now recovering.

My guess is that there is no lucrative NFL contract waiting for Davis.
He will face cruelty charges, officials said.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Welcome back, my friend, to the show that never ends.

Yes, the Eagles really are like a sideshow. All they need is a Big Top. But this Sunday is sure to take on a special significance the second Michael Vick trots out onto the field.

The Wildcat will turn Wild Dog on Sunday when Vick brings another demension to the Birds. Whether or not that is a good thing remains to be seen. Bottom line is that the Eagles win this game.

Only way I see them losing is via a bunch of stupid penalties, turnovers and special teams miscues. Oh, never mind.

The big question on this team likely will not be answered for two weeks, when Donovan McNabb returns after the Bye Week.

Tomorrow, look for Kevin Kolb to be under center, with Vick making more than a cameo as Andy Reid continues to play mad scientist with the offense. He better enjoy the gadgets and gimmicks now, because I do not see McNabb being nearly as entralled as his coach is with this style offense.

The Eagles should have more than enough to handle the Chiefs, even with a banged-up Brian Westbrook and DeSean Jackson.

One other note. The team is honoring Randall Cunningham at halftime, inducting him into the Eagles Honor Roll. Don't hit the concessions at the half. Stick around and offer a prolonged standing ovation to a guy who never really got his due here.

Then sit back and watch the Birds put away the Chiefs.

Make it Eagles 27, Chiefs 17.

Last Week: Yes, I picked the Saints to win, but I did not think they would get blown out. Sean McDermott's defense needs to turn things around, as does special teams.

Season Record: 1-1.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Sept 25

The Daily Numbers: 45 minutes, how long a jury deliberated in the case of Lisa Scott last night. They will be back at it this morning.
78,000 dollars ripped off from 335 customers by the owner of Springfield Auto Tags, according to police.
889,000 winning lottery ticket for a Upper Chichester resident, purchased at a township convenience store.
150 million dollars up for grabs in the Powerball drawing Saturday tomorrow night.
18, age of teen shot in the leg while walking along West Seventh Street in Chester.
2 burglaries and another attempted burglary that have Yeadon residents on edge.
20 percent tax on revenue from small games of chance that has volunteer fire companies burned up.
650 million dollars worth of reconstruction projects being done by PennDOT, why it seems like there are detours everywhere you turn.
6 people charged with running a violent drug-trafficking operation in Norristown and Plymouth Meeting.
2 times a man is believed to have run over a pregnant woman in Philadelphia. Police say he ran her over, then backed up over her again.
She died of her injuries. They are looking for the 23-year-old man
11 percent growth expected over next 25 years in the region, according to report from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
1 dead after 4 people shot in 3 incidents last night in Philadelphia.
20 students from a school in West Mount Airy who fanned out to help a woman after her purse was stolen. They recovered it.
2 Arcadia University students who were attacked as they walked near the Glenside campus in separate incidents.
810 billion dollars in holiday sales being predicted for the Christmas shopping season. That would match last year, which was down 2.4 percent.
21, age of man charged in arson at Claymont apartment complex.
10,000 dollars in damage done in a fire at the Brandywine Country Club last week. An employee has been charged with setting the blaze.
8 times in five months, how many times police say a Claymont man broke into an Italian eatery.
0.6 percent decline in existing home sales in eight-county Philadelphia region in August from same month last year.
5,000 dollar reward to be posted by Tom Corbett and Humane Society for info on dog fighting.
2,000 dollar reward now being offered in case of the duct-taped cat. The reward fund was doubled yesterday.
4 officers injured when a suspect opened fire on them in Lakewood, N.J.
The suspect also was shot.
2.60 a gallon, average price of gas in Philly region.
11 wins for rookie J.A. Happ as the Phillies won last night vs. the Brewers. Happ might be the answer to their bullpen and closer dilemmas.
133 runs batted in for Ryan Howard after knocking in 2 more last night.
He’s now passed Cecil Fielder for the NL lead.
20 home runs for Jimmy Rollins after he went yard last night to break the game open.
1 goal surrendered by Ray Emery as the Flyers won again last night in exhibition hockey play.
25, as in March 25, then the Philadelphia Union will kick off the new MLS season with the first game in team history.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I thought the Eagles and Andy Reid were desperate before. But offering a workout to Jeremiah Trotter, who they cut two years ago and has not played since 2007? Is Bill Bergey unavailable?
*
I Don’t Get It: Mackenzie Phillips. Way too much information. The truth is, I don’t want to know all the tawdry details of her life. And it’s just plain sad that so many people do.
*
Today’s Upper: Tonight is the annual vigil by Parents of Murdered Children, to be held at their Memorial Garden in Upper Chichester. It’s good that we never forget those wrested form us by acts of violence.
*
Quote Box: “Before they testified … when they put their hands on the Bible, I’m shocked it didn’t burst into flames.”
- Attorney Mark Much, on the tale being told about his client by several teen boys who say they had sex with the woman.

The case against Lisa Scott

Let me make this clear. I am not on the jury that is currently mulling the fate of Lisa Scott.

The D.A.’s office should be thankful for that.

If I were I would not be returning to the courthouse this morning. I would have returned my verdict last night.

The trial of the Linwood woman on charges she had sex with several teen boys is now in the hands of the jury. They deliberated about 90 minutes before calling it a night around 7:30.

They will be back at it this morning. A verdict is expected today.

If you’re asking me, I would tell you to put the house on an acquittal.

Scott took the stand in her own defense yesterday. She denied having sex with any of the boys.

The boys have offered differing versions of the events that led to the charges. One has admitted lying to the police about having sex with Scott.

Defense attorney Mark Much has savaged the prosecution’s case and the boys’ stories, saying he was surprised that when they placed their hands on the Bible before testifying, “I’m shocked it didn’t burst into flames.”

Ouch.

Here’s a couple of other thoughts. Scott has been in jail since she was charged in March. Her picture has been all over the paper. It’s on today’s front page because I wanted to be sure to give equal coverage to her denial of the charges as was given to when they were filed.

If there is a verdict, she likely will be on the front page again.

In the meantime, her accusers do so in anonymity. Their names are now known; their pictures not shown. Some of them have run afoul of the law themselves.

I wonder exactly how fair that is. I wonder about it a lot.

A major league debut for Union

It’s now official.

When Major League Soccer kicks off next spring, all eyes will be on the Philadelphia Union.

You know, the team that will play its home games in Chester. At least some of them.

In another busy day for the region’s latest entry on the professional sports scene, MLS announced the Union would take part in the league’s opening game on March 25 in Seattle against the Sounders.

The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes at 9:30 p.m. from Qwest Field.

The Union’s home opener will be April 10 against D.C. United.
Unfortunately, that game will not be played in Chester. It will be played at Lincoln Financial Field, after Union officials told the league they could not be sure the stadium would be ready for the opening of the season.

CEO Nick Sakiewicz said it is possible that more than one game will have to be played at the Linc, but was certain that a “majority” of Union games will be played in Chester.

Don’t forget to check back on Monday for a special update on the stadium construction taking place under the Commodore Barry Bridge, along with a video, and a Letter From the Editor column on my visit with team execs this week.

We’ll also put up a link to the Web cam the team is promising to have up and running that will keep tabs on the stadium construction from a perch atop the old Peco Power Station building just down the street, where the team’s offices are now housed.

More desperation from Eagles

I have taken the position that some of the actions of the Eagles and Andy Reid show an air of desperation.

They uncharacteristically focused on offense during the draft, using their top picks to take wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy.

They revamped their offensive line, bidding adieu to longtime bookend tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan. They signed Stacy Andrews (Shawn’s
brother) to a big contract even though he was coming off knee surgery.
Then they flipped the brothers, moving Shawn outside to Runyan’s spot.
Of course, Shawn is now on the shelf for the year. They signed Jason Peters to man the other side, but were unable to get what they hoped would be their starting offensive line on the field for even one play in the preseason.

Then, in perhaps the most stunning move, the team announced it was signing convicted dog ring operator Michael Vick. He will make his debut Sunday as “mad scientist” Andy Reid continues to toy with the Wildcat offense.

But yesterday the idea of desperation hit a new high at the Nova Care Center. Or maybe a new low.

The Eagles confirmed they brought in former linebacker Jeremiah Trotter for a workout. He has not played since he hooked on with Tampa Bay after being released by the Eagles in 2007. That is two years ago, about the same amount of time Vick was out of the game.

Last seen, Trotter was behind a microphone doing talk radio on WIP.

I love Trotter. I love the way he played. OK, I never was a big fan of his “Ax Man” routine after every tackle, but the guy was a flat-out stud middle linebacker.

But that’s the whole point. The key word in that sentence is WAS.
Trotter played on bad wheels, with knees ravaged from years of NFL action, even when he was an All-Pro.

The move seems to be an admission that the Eagles believe they are still weak up the middle, especially against the run.

Of course, there’s a guy now wearing orange in Denver who likely would agree with them. But Brian Dawkins does not play here anymore.

Sean McDermott’s defense, one week after a sparkling debut against the Panthers, got blown out by Drew Brees and the Saints. Apparently neither Omar Gaither nor Joe Mays are the answer.

Still, the Eagles should win this game. You can check back here tomorrow for the dreaded Saturday Eagles pick.

There’s no truth to the rumor that Harold Carmichael and Bill Bergey are coming in for workouts today.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 24

The Daily Numbers: 14 months, that’s how old the toddler was supposed to be that a suspected Internet pervert was coming to Delco to have a sexual liaison with. He instead got busted.
21, age of Sharon Hill man charged in the fatal shooting of a Darby Borough teen.
50 witnesses to a fatal shooting in Darby Borough, and just a couple of people who came forward with info that led to the arrest.
17 homicides so far this year in the county; 2 in Darby Borough.
5 people left homeless when flames raced through a home in Prospect Park.
10 years ago when Maria Procopio left her job at QVC in West Chester.
She has not been seen or heard from since.
8 percent sales tax in Philly, that’s up 1 percent and it goes into effect on Oct. 8. It will be in effect 5 years.
1,000 dollar reward being offered for information on who duct-taped that cat from head to paws in Philly.
160 million dollar budget gap still facing Philly schools.
13 message boards with travel times and other info about to be unveiled along the Schuylkill Expressway.
6 to 20 years in slammer for ringleader of theft ring that specialized in stealing guns and selling them to drug dealers.
150 million dollars up for grabs in the Powerball drawing Saturday after no one hit all the numbers against last night.
287,000 dollars in no-show work charged against a former aide to ex-Sen.
Vince Fumo.
110,000 dollars in cash and four kilos of cocaine in the ritzy apartment of woman who begged for her life before being shot to death in the Piazza Apartments in Northern Liberties.
28 billion dollar state budget deal that now is not expected to be finished before next week.
4 police officers wounded when a suspect opened fire as they attempted to serve a warrant in Lakewood, N.J.
2 dead, 3 wounded in a night of violence in Philly last night.
10, as in April 10, when Philadelphia Union will play their home opener.
It won’t be played in Chester, though. It will be at the Linc because their Chester stadium likely will not be done in time.
3 to 5 days on the shelf for Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, who has an inflamed wrist. An MRI showed no other damage.
11 blown saves for Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who was victimized again last night in a 7-6 Phils loss.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Can anybody close games? Hell, at this point maybe they should try Michael Vick. We once had the Wild Thing out of the ‘Pen. How about the Wildcat?
*
I Don’t Get It: Men are still being busted in undercover Internet sex stings. I don’t get it. What are these guys thinking?
*
Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for the residents who came forward with information that allowed police to make an arrest in the fatal shooting in Darby the other night.
*
Quote Box: “This is disturbing as it gets.”
- D.A. Mike Green, on information in the arrest of the latest suspect bagged by his Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Welcome to Delco

Welcome to Delaware County, Anthony Taylor.

We hope you like your accommodations … in Delaware County Prison.

Yes, it has happened again.

Mr. Taylor, who hails from Staten Island, N.Y., and is the married father of a 3-year-old son, is not just another tourist.

According to the Delaware County District Attorney’s office, he’s an Internet sex fiend.

Taylor is the latest to be stung by undercover officers of the Delaware County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

The charges filed against him indicate that after meeting a woman online, Taylor suggested a rendezvous, according to the D.A.

Taylor hopped in his car and headed for Delco, enticed by the thought of a sexual liaison with a mother and her 14-month-old daughter. That’s not a typo. 14 months old.

Taylor was busted in the parking lot of a business in Middletown when he showed up for his meeting.

D.A. Mike Green called the case “as disturbing as it gets.”

Hard to argue with him.

It’s also hard to argue with this, something I’ve said before but will repeat again here. What don’t these guys get? When are they going to catch on that they do not really know who is on the other end of that chat line.

And, finally this disturbing thought. Is their willingness to roll the dice merely a signal of how many of these type of encounters are going on that are not part of a sting, that involve real moms, real kids, and real perverts.

Maybe we need to hire more undercover officers.

More soccer news

I guess all it takes is a visit from the Daily Times to shake things up in the offices of the Philadelphia Union.

The new Major League Soccer team’s offices in Chester must have been buzzing yesterday.

The day before I had a sit-down with team boss Nick Sakiewicz, who confirmed that he did not think that the team would be able to play its home opener, set for next spring, in the stadium under construction on the Chester waterfront.

Less than 24 hours later the team made it official. Their first home game will be played April 10 against the club they hope will become one of their biggest rivals, D.C. United. But the game will not be played in Chester. Instead it will be played at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles.

As I was chatting with Sakiewicz, I offered the notion that this was not all bad. When the international CONCACAF matches were played at the Linc this summer, they drew as many as 30,000 soccer fans.

You would think the Union could get a similar turnout for what amounts to a historic first home game. Their Chester stadium will hold 18,500.
Attendance at the Linc could double that.

What’s the downside? Well, it certainly would be nice if the game was played in Chester, but that’s not going to happen. There also is this.
Even if they draw 30,000 to South Philly, they still will be playing in a stadium that is half-empty, instead of the atmosphere generated by a stadium in Chester that is packed to the rafters.

There is also the chance the team will have to play more than one game someplace other than Chester as they juggle a very tight construction timeline that is very much dependent on not getting hijacked by severe winter weather.

Look for the team to make a bit more news today. MLS is expected to announce that the Union, the 16th team to enter the MLS, will play in the season opener on March 25 in Seattle.

Here’s something you can count on. They could play their games on Neptune and the Sons of Ben would be there. These soccer zealots are getting their own section, and even their own entrance to the Chester Stadium.

I don’t think they’ll have any trouble finding their way up I-95 to the Linc.

The Mackenzie Phillips story

Some people just don’t know when to go away. Or shut up.

And of course, we in the media are more than happy to simply hand them a bigger megaphone, a bigger stage, another opportunity to stay in the spotlight.

That’s what so much of news is today. Nothing really shocks us anymore.
Everything is fair game. Put a camera on someone, or offer them a book deal, and they will pour out their souls, especially if it gets them five minutes on the sofa with Oprah. Or back on the cover of People magazine.

Today’s case involves Mackenzie Phillips. Maybe you remember her. She was the daughter of John Phillips, one of the founders of the ’60s pop group The Mamas and the Papas. Mackenzie starred on the popular ’70s sitcom “One Day at a Time,” older sister to Valerie Bertinelli.

She’s been down this road before, telling us all more than we ever needed to know about her drug use and multiple stabs at rehab.

She’s back with a new book offering. I won’t bother to tell you what she reveals. You won’t have much trouble finding it, if you’re so inclined.

If true, I don’t want to lessen what happened to Mackenzie Phillips. I’m just not sure we need to know all about it now, more than 20 years after it happened.

But that’s not the way this works anymore. We tell all, and ask questions later.

What was once our deepest, darkest secrets are now simply fodder for a best-seller, or for big ratings, or to sell magazines and newspapers.

I was shocked when I first heard Mackenzie Phillips’ saga.

But overall I was consumed with another feeling.

It’s just sad. For all of us.

More heartbreak from Lidge

We wanted to talk this morning in the blog about Michael Vick, and Andy Reid’s foolish charade yesterday that he had not yet decided if Vick will play on Sunday. Yeah, right.

But the truth of the matter is we have bigger fish to fry. Or I suppose that should be the Fish frying the Phils, or at least their bullpen.

When we lapsed into a coma last night, the Phils were comfortably ahead of the Marlins as a deluge descended on Land Shark Stadium.

The few fans who were there – aside from all the Phillies fans who had invaded South Florida – took cover. The sensible ones went home.

Too bad the umps didn’t decide to do the same. After a 45-minute rain delay, play resumed in the eighth inning. What happened next was even less pretty than the weather.

The Phils had gone out to a 6-3 lead in the seventh, powered by Ryan Howard’s two-run homer, his 42nd on the year.

But Cole Hamels got nicked for a run in the bottom of the inning to make it 6-4. Ryan Madson got touched for a run in the eighth, and you just had a bad feeling what was coming next.

Yep, Manager Charlie Manuel summoned Brad Lidge for the ninth, with the Phils clinging to a 6-5 lead.

Voila, another killer loss as Lidge surrendered his league-high 11th blown save. The Phils’ magic number remains 5, in large part because the magic Lidge showed last year in running the table with a perfect
48-for-48 in save situations has escaped him this year.

He’s been consistently inconsistent. The result too often has been what happened last night.

Exactly where Manuel goes from here no one is quite sure. Madson doesn’t seem to be suited for the closer role. Chan Ho Park and Brett Myers are both hurting. J.A. Happ, who is starting tonight, might get a shot at it. Even Pedro Martinez could get a look.

One thing is clear. It is becoming increasingly obvious that this is not Lidge’s year. As has been his habit over his career, he is following a great year with a sub-par one.

Right now the Phils can’t really afford to keep running him out there.
Unfortunately, Manuel doesn’t have a lot of options.

It might be the story of this season. Call it Heartbreak Lidge.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 23

The Daily Numbers: 3 years to 18 and a half years in jail for a Ridley teen for his role in a DUI crash that left another Ridley teen paralyzed.
1 game for the new MLS team in Chester, the Philadelphia Union, that likely will be played somewhere else.
50 witnesses to a fatal shooting in Darby Borough, but police say no one is coming forward with information.
15, age of teen who was shot in Philadelphia last night after he lunged at police officers with a knife.
84, age of woman in Philly who was stabbed with scissors during a robbery attempt in her apartment in the Spring Garden section.
105 years and going strong for the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia.
5, age of rape victim in Delaware. A 16-year-old has been charged in the attack.
2 teen boys who were found to be carrying shotguns after they were stopped in connection with a burglary in New Jersey.
550 people that will be hired for a new Wegmans supermarket in Malvern.
It’s one of 3 new stores the chain will open in the area, along with Collegeville and King of Prussia.
75 million dollars up for grabs in the Mega Millions lottery jackpot Friday. Tonight’s Powerball drawing is already at $111 million.
3 young hikers being held in Iran, including one from Elkins Park.
11 swine flu-related deaths in Pennsylvania after a 27-year-old man succumbed to H1N1 in the Pittsburgh area.
186 million gallons of gas saved by use of public transit in 2008, according to new study.
5, that’s Phils Magic Number to claim another NL East title.
7 shutout innings from starter Joe Blanton as the Phils rolled in the first game of a double-header yesterday vs. the Marlins.
2 hits in 8 innings, all that Marlins’ starter Anibal Sanchez gave up in leading the Fish to a win in the nightcap.
3 goals in the preseason for Flyers’ rookie and top draft pick James Van Riemsdyk, who is making a big push to make the team
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Count the Phils in so far as the playoffs are concerned. The Magic Number is 5. They aren’t going to blow that lead. Now Charlie Manuel needs to get his bullpen healthy and figure out his starting rotation for the playoffs.
*
I Don’t Get It: How can anyone wrap a cat head to toe in duct tape. I just don’t get it.
*
Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for the usually placid, staid arts community. They’re ticked about the way the Legislature solved the state budget impasse, by slapping the state sales tax on tickets to shows and museums, and today they’re headed to Harrisburg to let them know it.
*
Quote Box: “Life’s just different. I wish that night had never happened.”
- Steven Jewell, the Ridley teen who was paralyzed when the car he was riding in was slammed by a DUI driver.

Take that, you SOBs


Nick Sakiewicz has a message for the die-hard band of soccer zealots who call themselves the Sons of Ben, SOBs for short.

He has heard your cries.

Sometime this weekend the boss of the Philadelphia Union, the region’s newest entry into professional sports via Major League Soccer, will unveil a web cam on the team’s Web site where fans can monitor the day-to-day development of the stadium being built under the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester.

And it is being built. I can now vouch for that personally. Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit down with Sakiewicz and his team, and also get a first-hand look at the construction site. Yep, that’s a stadium all right.

I got the distinct feeling in talking to Sakiewicz that he was more than a little exasperated at how long it has taken to get the Web cam up and running at the Chester site. You get the distinct feeling in talking to him that Sakiewicz believes in dealing with issues head-on and that he’s not all that enamored of any hiccups along the way.

Speaking of glitches, there is one large one looming on the horizon, a bit of bad news that followed the welcome addition of the web cam.
Sakiewicz confirmed that he does not expect the team, which will begin play in the MLS next spring, to play its first game in the Chester stadium.

Last week the team announced it was considering alternate sites.
Basically it looks like the Union’s first home game will take place at either Franklin Field or Lincoln Financial Field in Philly.

The stadium project team is operating under an incredibly tight timeline through the winter and into next spring. They are still working out details with MLS officials in terms of possibly scheduling the team’s first few games on the road and a few other possibilities.

I’ll have much more on my visit with Sakiewicz – including another message he has – this one targeting all the naysayers who believe soccer will never make it in this area, in my Monday column.

For now, look for that web cam sometime this weekend at philadelphiaunion.com.

Chaos in Colwyn

For a tiny little town, Colwyn Borough has more than its share of problems.

For more than a year, controversy has swirled around its volunteer fire company.

The borough council and police chief have been sniping at each other for months over the question of overtime.

Questions have been raised about work done on a borough police patrol car by a shop owned by a councilman and whether he has the proper license to do the work.

This all came to a head at a special meeting of Colwyn Borough Council last night.

And what did they decide to do? They fired Police Chief Bryan Hills. The chief vowed to appeal the ruling. Several of his officers are expected to stage a protest at borough hall this morning. Some may even resign from the force. Exactly who will be patrolling borough streets remains to be seen.

In the meantime, residents showed up at last night’s council meeting to ask their representatives what is going on.

No doubt they were less than thrilled with what they learned.

It shouldn't happen to a cat


This one simply makes you shake your head and wonder which is the animal and which is the human.

A humane official in Philadelphia reports that they found a cat that had been wrapped from head to toe in duct tape.

At first I had trouble believing it. Then I saw the photo of this poor little cat wrapped up like some kine of feline mummy.

I have just one question in this case: Exactly what kind of animal could possibly do this to a defenseless animal? And what does it say about our society that this could possibly happen?

Clearly we’re doing something wrong. The recent string of animal abuse just makes you shake your head and wonder, if people are capable of this, what else are they capable of?

I can only imagine what that cat went through as SPCA officials removed the duct tape, taking hunks of furr with it along the way. Officials say they were able to remove the tape, and the cat is recovering.

As for the rest of us shocked that this could happen, that might take a little longer.

And one final thought, and I know some people will undoubtedly believe this is a cheap shot.

Maybe in a society where we’re so eager to forgive people who do horrendous things to animals, including granting them status once again as a celebrity millionaire athlete, maybe we should not be all that taken aback that abuse of animals suddenly is not viewed as all that big a deal.

Some mid-week thoughts on the Birds

Here’s a few things to ponder while waiting for the Phillies to clinch the National League East.

By the way, the Magic Number is now 5 after they split a twin-bill with the Marlins in a nearly deserted Land Shark Stadium in Miami. Any combination of Phils wins and losses by either the Braves or Marlins (they flip-flopped positions yesterday, with the Braves now in second place), and the Phils capture their third straight crown.

In the meantime, across the street at Nova Care Nation, the pot continues to simmer for the Eagles.

A couple of early predictions: Donovan McNabb does not play this week. I know, Andy Reid will say every day that McNabb is feeling better and his rib is starting to get “sticky,” whatever that means. It says here Donovan is in street clothes Sunday when the Chiefs hit town, then gets the benefit of the bye week to fully recover.

He’ll have company on the sideline. I don’t think Brian Westbrook plays either. He may be in uniform, but the Birds would be wise to try to steal a win without putting their increasingly brittle lead running back back in harm’s way.

That gives you Kevin Kolb at quarterback, and LeSean McCoy as the lead back. Priority No. 1 for this duo will be to protect the ball. Another ill-advised pick from Kolb, coupled with something McCoy showed in the preseason, a propensity for fumbling, could lead to the unthinkable, a loss against K.C.

Then there’s the backup QB spot. Here’s where things get interesting. It would seem that Reid will need to make Michael Vick his No. 2 quarterback if he wants to get him on the field in his “Wildcat”
formations. That would make Jeff Garcia the emergency No. 3 clipboard holder.

Here’s the question of the week. What’s the over/under on the number of plays for Vick. Last week the Eagles featured 10 plays with the Wildcat formation. You have to think they’ll do at least as much now that they have Vick in their arsenal.

And here’s the bigger question. Say Reid goes hog-wild with Vick in his Wildcat gadgetry. Let’s say it’s successful, and the Eagles roll over the Chiefs, in large part because of the spark provided by Vick.

Then Reid, Vick and McNabb have two weeks to come to some kind of consensus on how this thing will work with Donovan back on the field.

This kind of thing could only happen to the Birds.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 22

The Daily Numbers: 100 people who were on and around a playground in Chester when gunfire erupted, killing 1 person and injuring 4 others.
19, age of Felix Pizarro, the teen killed in that drive-by shooting in Chester.
28 hours later, more gunshots, this time in Darby Borough, and another person killed.
50 people who were around the shooting scene at Third and Darby Terrrace in the borough last night who witnessed the shooting. Police say all stated they did not see anything or are unwilling to cooperate.
7 percent state sales tax that would now be applied to tickets for theatre and concerts, as well as admission to museums. Cultural groups are not thrilled at this last-second, out-of-the-blue method to balance the state budget in Harrisburg.
700 arts and cultural leaders who gathered in Philly last night to blast the proposal.
95 degrees, highest temperature we recorded this summer, back on Aug.
21. Autumn arrives at 5:18 this afternoon.
40,000 dollar legal dispute over a dog caught in the middle of a nasty divorce in Jersey. A judge has awarded shared custody with the pooch set to spend time with both the man and woman.
6 daring heists in Bucks County in which a cat burglar has entered homes while the residents were sleeping.
21, age of Montco man who now faces charges in a fatal motorcycle accident in which the woman riding on the back of his bike was thrown off, and over the side of the Dannehower Bridge over the Schuylkill. She was killed.
47, age of man in Newark, Del., charged with beating his estranged wife, her boyfriend and another man with a baseball bat.
3 different shootings last night in Philadelphia that left at least 5 people were shot.
1 beloved grocer who was shot and killed in Southwest Philly.
18, age of missing Penn State student who was found dead at the bottom of a stairwell on the State College campus.
8 cats killed when flames rage through a home in Chesapeake City, Del.
2.63 per gallon, what we’re paying for gasoline in the Philly region.
2 NFL starts for Kevin Kolb if he’s tabbed the guy this week by Andy Reid. The coach is waiting to see how Donovan McNabb and his ouchy rib feel.
2 games today for the Phils in South Florida vs. the Marlins. The first game is a makeup of a rainout earlier this season.
6, Magic Number of Phils wins and Marlins losses for the Phils to wrap up their 3rd straight NL East crown.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.This week should be a repeat of last week for Birds’ fans. Every day Andy Reid will say Donovan McNabb will go if he can. If not Kevin Kolb will go. And don’t forget Mr. Wildcat himself, Michael Vick, also is available this week.
*
I Don’t Get It: There’s nothing like a last-minute, blindside, out-of-the-blue fix to the state budget crisis. You’re probably not surprised that local cultural organizations are less than thrilled at the idea of slapping the state’s 6 percent sales tax on tickets and admissions to concerts, museums and other events.
*
Today’s Upper: Good call in having a big push set to pop music to remind kids how important it is to wash their hands. This is all tied to moves to prevent the spread of H1N1 virus. Get more info at wordoutawarness.com.
*
Quote Box: “This is absolutely senseless.”
- Chester Police Capt. Joe Massi, on the drive-by shooting that snuffed out the promising life of 19-year-old Felix Pizarro Sunday night.

The president does Letterman

Attention all conservatives and others of that stripe who believe the editor of this newspaper believes President Barack Obama walks on the water, who insist this editor would never utter a word of protest against the current commander-in-chief.

I am about to do something that might surprise you. I am going to criticize Obama.

The guy has been everywhere this weekend. You could not turn on your TV Sunday morning without seeing him on one of the morning talk shows, pushing his health-care reform plan. I’m surprised he didn’t show up beside Howie, Terry and Jimmy on the Fox NFL pregame show.

But that pretty much goes with the territory. The Sunday morning platform is meant to debate those kinds of issues.

What he did last night does not.

Obama became the first sitting president to appear on David Letterman’s late-night gabfest.

Count me out. I think it was a mistake, but I’m sure the president is not exactly waiting for me to weigh in.

The truth is I kind of expect the president to be presidential. I have nothing against Letterman. There was a time (seemingly another lifetime
ago) when I was a regular watcher.

It’s great for goofy skits, comedians, and other pop figures. But I don’t think the president should be sitting there on the couch. It just doesn’t look especially presidential.

And finally there’s this. I know it’s on a lot of minds, and it’s been on mine. I think it’s a fair criticism. In fact, it’s one I hear all the time.

Can you imagine the reaction if that had been George W. Bush sitting there next to Dave? Be honest. He would have gotten killed.

My guess is that Obama will pretty much get a pass on his late-night visit.

Not from me.

Come on Mr. President. You’re better than that.

Desperate times for Birds

There’s a word that keeps popping into my mind when it comes to this
2009 version of the Eagles.

It’s a word I have not associated with this team – and in particular with head coach Andy Reid – in the 10 years he’s been at the helm.

The word is desperation.

Starting back in the off-season, more and more of Reid’s moves have the smell of a guy who is desperate to get back to the Super Bowl.

Is Reid under a new and different pressure to win, to get the Birds back in the big game? No one is saying, although you can infer what you want from team President Joe Banner’s proclamation before the season that the team has put together the best roster in the NFL.

Reid decided to revamp his offensive line in the offseason. He brought in Stacy Andrews, who had undergone knee surgery, and planned to plop him down beside his brother Shawn. Now Shawn is on the shelf for the season, and Stacy is out of the lineup, apparently still having some problems with that knee.

Reid decided to bring in Michael Vick under the guise of offering him a second chance after the one-time All-Pro spent two years in jail on a dog-fighting conviction.

Reid immediately started dreaming up all sorts of versions of the “Wildcat” offense, no doubt with Vick in mind.

When he rolled this plan out in a preseason game, it clearly irked starting quarterback Donovan McNabb.

Then McNabb went down with a fractured rib. Kevin Kolb was pronounced the starter, but Jeff Garcia was brought in as a backup. Reid delved even further into his funky Wildcat offerings, apparently in the believe he might be able to take some pressure of Kolb in his debut as an NFL starter. He likely was less than thrilled with Garcia’s comments after the game, that he believed the gadget plays hindered Kolb’s ability to get into the flow of the game. It was the same argument against all the gimmicks and gadgets sounded by McNabb.

There are other warning signs surrounding this team. After a big first week in which they harassed Jake Delhomme into a turnover machine, the defense under new coordinator Sean McDermott was undressed by Drew Brees and the Saints. Even worse, they appeared to be something that would have been unthinkable while Brian Dawkins was here. They looked soft, routinely missing tackles and offering big cushions to the Saints receivers.

On the other side of the ball, when they weren’t running gadget plays, the Birds were looking for Brian Westbrook. In the second half they could find him sitting on the trainer’s table, getting his ankle taped.
Yes, it’s the ankle Westbrook had surgery on in the off-season. No, he says he doesn’t think it’s serious. He hopes to play this Sunday against the Chiefs. No doubt so does Reid. Am I the only one who wonders just how much Westbrook has left now that he’s reached that magic age for NFL running backs, 30?

We likely will go through another week of QB roulette down at the Nova Care Center. McNabb continues to rehab, but the team probably would just as soon get through this week without him, then get the luxury of the bye week to allow McNabb a full recovery.

Expect to hear Reid say all week that McNabb will try to play, but if he can’t go Kolb will be the man.

More interesting is who will be the backup. Michael Vick now enters the equation, and you can only imagine what kind of Wildcat formations Reid is dreaming up.

The truth is, the Eagles should win this week, when the Chiefs arrive at the Linc. They should be able to just line up and beat this team the old-fashioned way. Don’t count on it. Expect to see Vick in all manner of bizarre formations.

This will certainly become more of an issue when McNabb returns, and just how much he is willing to share the stage with Vick.

Of course, all this could blow up in Reid’s face. Should by some chance (not outside the realm of reason) Matt Cassell bring the Chiefs in and wins, then that air of desperation surrounding this team will become all too real.

Count the Marlins fans

Things kind of slow around the office? Here’s a game you might want to play this afternoon.

Kudos to Big Daddy Graham and his overnight show in WIP for giving me this thought.

The Phillies are playing a double-header in Florida against the Marlins.
The first game, scheduled to start at 4:10, is actually a makeup game from a rain-out earlier this season.

The Marlins are not exactly packing them in down there in South Florida.
They get maybe 8,000 on regular game nights.

How many people do you think are going to show up for that makeup game this afternoon?

Check out the TV broadcast on Comcast this afternoon. I’m guessing you will probably be able to count the people in some sections without using up all your digits.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 21

The Daily Numbers: 1 person killed and 3 others wounded when gunfire erupted at a Chester playground last night. More than 100 people were on the playground when the gunmen opened fire.
50 animal rights activists who protested outside Lincoln Financial Field yesterday for the Eagles home opener because of the Birds’ decision to sign Michael Vick.
14 months without a fire company in the tiny town of Colwyn. The borough is about to roll out a new fire company, but the controversy is not going away.
300,000 dollars in federal stimulus money for Cheyney University. It will be used to repair and preserve campus buildings.
600,000 dollars for Delco from the U.S. Justice Department to continue the work of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
52, age of woman who was killed when she ran into the path of a tractor-trailer on Route 13 in New Castle, Del., last night.
28 counts of rape lodged against a 24-year-old Del. man in connection with a sex assault on a juvenile.
2 percent hike in sales tax in the city of Philadelphia, under a deal to solve the city’s budget mess.
25 cent tax per pack slapped on cigarette smokers, under the state’s new budget.
8 people rescued from a sinking fishing boat off New Jersey.
3 people killed overnight in Philadelphia, including 1 suspect gunned down by an off-duty police officer.
23,000 Pennsylvanians who are about to lose their unemployment benefits.
391 yards passing for Kevin Kolb in his debut as a starter in the NFL.
Didn’t make much difference as the Birds got blown out.
311 yards for Saints QB Drew Brees in leading the Saints to a 48-22 rout.
3 interceptions thrown by Kolb, only 1 of which really affected the outcome of the game.
6, Magic Number of Phils wins and Marlins losses for the Phils to wrap up their 3rd straight NL East crown.
45 wins and 29 losses for the Phils on the road this year.
105,121 people jammed into that spanking new stadium built by Jerry Jones for the Cowboys home opener last night. The Cowboys lost to the Giants.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.If that effort by the Eagles’ defense and special teams was not enough to ruin a beautiful Sunday, try this. Brian Westbrook is hurt again.
You’re shocked, I know.
*
I Don’t Get It: Amazing that less than 24 hours after thousands converged safely on the Chester riverfront, gunfire was sprayed across a city basketball court, killing one and injuring three.
*
Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for all those people who took part in Saturday’s Riverfront Ramble, and for Mother Nature for providing such a gorgeous day.
*
Quote Box: “He’s going to win the game for them next week, baby.”
- Eagles fan to a crowd of protesters outside the stadium to show their disapproval of the team’s decision to sign Michael Vick.

No defense for this ugly home opener for Birds

There two big reasons why the Eagles got blown out in their home opener yesterday against the Saints.

Neither of them is named Kevin Kolb.

Guess what? That wasn’t the Panthers the Eagles were facing yesterday.
It was the Saints, with Drew Brees at quarterback, not Jake Delhomme.

Last week we wondered if the Eagles were that good or the Panthers were that bad. We started to get some answers yesterday.

Brees dissected Sean McDermott’s guys. Speaking of the Birds’ new defensive coordinator, Week 2 of the post-Jim Johnson era did not go nearly as well as Week 1. Too bad you can’t face Delhomme every week.

The Eagles’ defense, as is now their custom, did not show up for the first drive of the game. Just as the Panthers did last week, the Saints took the opening drive and marched right down the field. Kolb was in a 7-0 before he stepped on the field for his NFL starting debut. To his credit, Kolb responded, hitting DeSean Jackson with a 77-yard strike to even the score.

That’s the last time anything about this contest was even. The Eagles defense did not put nearly enough pressure on Brees. They didn’t tackle, they didn’t cover.

Starting cornerback Sheldon Brown, maybe looking to replace the emotional entrances of the departed leader of the defense Brian Dawkins, ran onto the field during the introductions wearing a “Jason”-style mask. What unfolded was a horror for Eagles fans.

Nearly as culpable in this fiasco were the Eagles special teams, which were anything but.

In maybe the key play of the day, kick returner Will Hobbs coughed up the second half kickoff. The Saints recovered and scored. Kevin Kolb made one of his few mistakes on the next possession, tossing a pick along the sidelines, and the rout was on.

After the game, Andy Reid described the Birds’ effort as “horrendous.”

The same might be said of Reid’s constant tinkering with Wildcat formations. The Eagles ran nine of them yesterday.

Finally, there is one more final troubling aspect to come out of the game. Those who were worried about the health of Brian Westbrook had good reason to be. Westbrook was held out the entire preseason. He looked fairly pedestrian last week, and yesterday he left the game, complaining of pain in that right ankle he had surgery on in the off-season.

Reid had one thing right yesterday. It was a horrendous showing.

First and foremost by the defense, followed closely by special teams.

Don’t blame Kevin Kolb for this one. And if Donovan McNabb can’t go next week (and it might be wise for the Eagles to hold him out, then get the luxury of the Bye Week to get him healthy), look for him, not Garcia or anyone else, to be under center.

Unless, of course, Reid wants to introduce Michael Vick and another host of Wildcat formations to what will likely be a fairly impatient home crowd.

Forget the offense, Andy. And while you’re at it, forget some of these gimmick gadget plays. The problem with this team is on defense.

Better get that fixed before throwing more gas on the fire.

It's a deal in Harrisburg

Stop the presses. The state of Pennsylvania has a new budget.

How can I tell? Yes, that was Gov. Ed Rendell back on the set of the Eagles “Post-Game Live” show on Comcast last night. Maybe the guv should have stayed in Harrisburg. The team played a lot better last week when he was hanging out in the middle of the state.

It only took 80 days past the July 1 deadline, but the state does indeed have a new fiscal plan.

It will not come without some pain. Especially if you’re a smoker. Yes, you’re about to get hit again. The state will slap another quarter-a-pack tax on butts. They’re also taking aim at small cigars.

The $27.9 billion spending plan also had a surprise for patrons of the arts, as well as the organizations that run them. The state for the first time will slap a tax on cultural performances and venues. That means if you want to go the Art Museum, or take in a show by the Philadelphia Orchestra, it’s going to cost you more. Movies and sports events are exempt. And isn’t it nice to know that not only are tax dollars used to build the multi-billion dollar playground for all these millionaire players and owners, but they also managed to work around any other new tax levy. At least fans won’t have to dig deeper for what are already outrageously priced tickets.

The same can’t be said for fans of the arts. They’re going to get hit every time they go to a museum, the theater or a concert.

Many cultural organizations already reeling from budget cuts see this as adding insult to injury.

Rendell wants to be known as the “education governor.” He’s vowing to make that his legacy.

This nasty budget fight shows just how far he is willing to go to keep it that way. Rendell stuck to his guns on education funding, and even his opponents are now admitting he got what he wanted. Funding for early education programs was for the most part not touched. Neither was the new program he unveiled last year that shifted the way the state allocates funds, with more money going to those districts most in need.

The budget also clears the way for table games to arrive in state casinos.

All of this has to be approved by the Legislature. But for now, it appears the state has a new budget. Finally.

As with any budget, there are winners and losers. Or, in the case of table games, both.

The 2 faces of Chester

They are the two faces of Chester.

On Saturday, thousands streamed into the city and enjoyed a picture-perfect day along the city’s waterfront as part of the county’s annual Riverfront Ramble.

Less than 24 hours later, another group of city residents are enjoying a late summer game of hoops on a playground at Eighth and Caldwell streets. A car rolls by. Gunfire erupts. When it is over, a 19-year-old is dead. At least three others are wounded.

In these situations I usually defer to Mayor Wendell Butler. I once heard him offer what I thought was the best explanation of the challenge Chester faces as it struggles to overcome an image of a place that is unsafe and should be avoided.

Butler said people need to know that they can come into the city, do whatever it is they need to do, and return home safely.

That certainly was the case on Saturday. It is perhaps the city’s biggest secret. From Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack near the Eddystone border, up and down Route 291, under the Commodore Barry Bridge and to the Wharf at Rivertown, the city is seeing the beginnings of a renaissance.

Under the Barry, the unmistakable vision of a stadium is beginning to reach for the sky. It will be the home of the region’s new Major League Soccer franchise, the Philadelphia Union. Chester, once a might industrial icon, once again will be a major league town.

But it’s not enough for visitors to enter the city, take advantage of its gorgeous natural resources as thousands did on Saturday at the Ramble, and return home safely.

Those who live in Chester must be free of the burden of street violence as well. Parents must know that their kids can visit a local playground to shoot some hoops and return home safely.

That did not happen Sunday night. There were about 100 people on that playground when gunshots rang out.

The rebirth of Chester is doomed to failure if it does not include those who live there.

That is the city’s challenge. Saturday’s Riverfront Ramble should go a long way to proving the city is not as it is so often portrayed. Sunday night’s gunfire was a step in the wrong direction.

Especially for those most affected, the residents who call Chester home.
They’re the ones in the line of fire.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

In honor of Andy Reid, I decided to get off to a slow start.

Let's just say my pick of the Panthers to win, 23-16, last week didn't exactly work out.

Yes, I was impressed. The normally slow-starting Birds came out on fire, especially on defense, even though they allowed the Panthers to use up half of the first period doing exactly what I had feared they would, running the ball right down the Eagles' throats.

For some reason, the Panthers then decided to put the game in the hands of Jake Delhomme. How'd that work out, John Fox?

From that point on, Sean McDermott's boys took over the game. McDermott, making his regular season debut as a coordinator, did Jim Johnson proud, throwing everything at Jake Delhomme but the kitchen sink.

The Eagles won going away.

Here's my problem: Are the Eagles that good, especially on defense, or are the Panthers that bad. As far as Jake Delhomme is concerned, I'm convinced he is exactly that bad.

The Eagles won't have that luxury this week, when Drew Brees and the Saints come marching in. This will give us a much better look at how good the Birds are.

An even bigger question looms on the other side of the ball. The Eagles likely lost Donovan McNabb, who fractured a rib in the third period against the Panthers and has been "doubtful" ever since.

I'll believe he's not playing when I see Kevin Kolb under center. The Eagles brought in Jeff Garcia to be a backup, just to add a little more intrigue to what is quickly turning into the QB follies.

If Kolb plays, I say he has a very short leash (with all apologies to Michael Vick).

Am I the only one who still believes Donovan McNabb is going to try to play in this game?

I see this game as a huge task for the Birds. Kolb starts, I don't have any idea who finishes. The Eagles' defense comes back to Earth a bit. Monday morning we awake to the Michael Vick era.

Make it Saints 29, Eagles 13.

RECORD: 0-1, after thinking the Panthers would roll over the Birds last week.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 18

The Daily Numbers: 100 properties in Chester yesterday that got a visit from Peco crews looking for illegal hookups.
121 properties inspected a few weeks back in Upper Darby and 7 illegal taps disconnected 150,000 dollars lost in the first quarter of this year due to illegal hookups, according to the utility.
2 charges of harassment to which former Yeadon Councilman Terry McGirth pleaded guilty to yesterday.
200 survivors of suicide who gathered in Rose Tree Park last night for their annual vigil to remember those we’ve lost.
2 more Delco soldiers who returned home safe and sound from Iraq.
9 p.m. curfew enacted during a crackdown on violence in Darby Borough that is now being questioned by the ACLU.
12 students arrested at Chester High yesterday after 3 incidents at the school
15 unions that have thrown their backing to Rep. Bryan Lentz in the 7th District congressional race. Lentz has not even declared his candidacy yet.
52 gunshots fired during a street altercation in the Eastwick section of Philadelphia yesterday afternoon.
18, as in 18th District Police HQ in Philly, where a man was busted yesterday for impersonating an officer. He was nabbed going through women’s lockers.
1-800-347-3735. That’s the number to report suspected Section 8 housing fraud. The DA charged 4 people with cheating the system this week.
3,000 Philly employees who will not be laid off now that the state Senate has passed a rescue plan.
6 months to 24 years, the ages that health officials say should be getting a flu shot. Delco rolled out its preparedness plan yesterday.
4 firefighters suspended in Atlantic City amid a probe after several teen girls alleged they were lured into a fire house and then engaged in sex acts.
105 jobs being slashed in West Chester with the closing of a Men’s Wearhouse distribution center.
8.6 percent jobless rate in Pa. in August. That’s up .10, but is still lower than that national rate of 9.7 percent.
22 months in jail for a West Chester lawyer for conspiring with another lawyer to commit tax evasion.
79, age of retail giant Al Boscov, who was on hand yesterday in court as a judge approved his family stores’ exit from bankruptcy.
50,000 grant from the foundation founded by Phils’ pitcher Cole Hamels and his wife, Heidi, to John B. Stetson Middle School. They used it to buy computers and musical instruments.
15 straight batters retired by Hamels last night as he mowed down the Nationals and the Phils won, 4-2.
5 straight wins for the Phils, who are now 25 games over .500.
30 saves for Brad Lidge in 40 attempts. He got the save last night despite giving up a run.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Mr. October is back, a few weeks early. Cole Hamels certainly looks like he’s ready for the playoffs.
*
I Don’t Get It: Spare me all the hoopla. I don’t think there was ever a chance that officials were going to let that much-hyped Doomsday Budget go into effect in Philly. The cavalry arrived yesterday, just in the nick of time. I’m stunned, just stunned.
*
Today’s Upper: The Eagles will add Randall Cunningham to their honor roll at halftime of their Sept. 27 game against the Chiefs. Kind of fitting that “The Ultimate Weapon” be honored on the day Michael Vick returns to football.
*
Quote Box: “For me, this is a place where I can be real.”
- Linda Falasco, at last night’s Candlelight Vigil to Remember Those Lost to Suicide.

A Chester stadium update

This is no doubt not what the Sons of Ben wanted to hear.

I’m not talking about the announcement that Major League Soccer will take a break next year for the finals of the World Cup. That will include the Philadelphia Union, the newest entry into the MLS, which will play its home games in Chester.

At least some of them. Hopefully.

That’s the problem. The local entry in the MLS confirmed yesterday that they are at least making contingency plans should their new home under the Commodore Barry Bridge on the Chester waterfront not be ready to open the season.

The MLS season is expected to kick off on March 25.

Team officials stress this is merely a security net, something they needed to do, but hope they never have to implement.

Right now the stadium is on target to be ready for the start of the season, according to Tom Veit, president of the Philadelphia Union. And yes, it still bugs me a bit that the team is going with that Philly moniker, even though they just moved into offices at the Wharf at Rivertown in Chester, and will play their games here in Delaware County as well.

Bottom line is I need to get over it. Everyone knew the team would go with Philly as its banner, regardless where they actually ended up playing.

Something else everyone has been wondering about is the status of their 18,500-seat playground in Chester. Don’t look now, but the place is actually starting to resemble a stadium.

As to whether it will be ready by next spring, I’ll leave that to Veit.

Yesterday he told our Tim Logue that as of right now construction is right on schedule. Of course, that could change, depending on what kind of winter we have.

“We are on a very tight timeline,” Veit admitted. “With a project this big you have to be ready with another option in case the (construction) takes a little longer then you think.”

Under consideration are Lincoln Financial Field and Franklin Field on the Penn campus.

I am actually heading down to Chester next week for a tour of the team’s offices and the stadium site.

I’ll give you a full report on what I see.

Doomsday averted

“Doomsday” has been averted in Philadelphia. Cheers erupted among his key aides as Mayor Michael Nutter announced that the dreaded “Plan C”
was “terminated.”

Here’s my question: Is there one person out there who thought Plan C was ever going to be put into place?

I don’t know how much money the city spent printing up those 3,000 layoff notices, but they should have saved it and put it toward the daunting deficit they are looking at.

Bottom line here is that it was never going to happen. That is just the way things get done in Harrisburg. It’s a waltz, not a rumba. Or maybe it’s just a rumble. For weeks now Nutter has been doing his best “Chicken Little” act, telling everyone who will listen (which apparently does not include many people in Harrisburg) that the sky was falling.
Most people ignored him. And for good reason. Everyone knew that what happened yesterday was eventually going to happen. It was just a matter of when.

The mayor geared up his Doomsday Machine. He said the city would have to lay off 3,000 workers, including a big chunk of police and firefighters.

If it sounded dire, it’s because it was. But it was never going to happen.

Yesterday, the cavalry arrived, right on time, which of course means a few months late.

The state Senate passed a measure that will allow the city to step back from the abyss. It now goes to Gov. Rendell, who is likely to sign it today.

Cheers went up as Nutter informed his staff that Doomsday was off.

It’s a good thing. No one wants to see anybody lose his or her job.
Nobody wants to see services cut. Nobody wants to see libraries or parks close their doors.

Here’s another thing nobody wants: Higher taxes. But that’s what they’re going to get.

The deal allows the city to hike the sales tax from 7 to 8 percent over the next five years. That will make it 2 percent higher than most of the rest of the state. Hey, maybe city residents will suddenly start pouring into Delco to make their purposes.

And here’s something unions certainly don’t want: The city also gets the green light to defer payments into their pension plan for the next two years.

Nutter now faces negotiations with city unions who aren’t quite as thrilled by this deal as the mayor’s staff is.

Doomsday has been averted. That’s today’s headline. I could have written it months ago.

A coup for Rep. Lentz

State rep Bryan Lentz pulled off something of a coup Thursday.

He picked up a major union endorsement for a job he hasn’t even announced he’s running for yet.

Lentz, D-161, is expected to seek the Democratic nod and face Republican Pat Meehan in a heavyweight battle for the 7th District Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Joe Sestak, who has decided to duke it out with Sen. Arlen Specter.

That’s if he is not challenged in the primary by his pal from the state House, Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166. Vitali likewise has not yet announced his intentions.

Lentz has not officially announced his candidacy just yet. But that didn’t stop the Delaware County Central Labor Council, an affiliate of the Southeastern Area Labor Federation of Pennsylvania, from offering him their endorsement.

The groups who were present at the labor meeting this week represent 15 or 20 unions. These are groups that routinely used to back longtime 7th District Republican Curt Weldon.

It’s not terribly surprising that unions would back a Democrat, even here in GOP-laden Delaware County.

It is a tad novel for them to do so when their favored candidate has not yet thrown his hat in the ring.

Mr. October is back

The weather is starting to chill out, so it must be time for Cole Hamels to heat up.

Mr. October is back.

Hamels took the mound for the Phillies last night and was perfect for five innings, quickly buzzing through the first 15 batters he faced.

Hamels struck out 10 as the Phils rolled to their fifth straight win, beating the hapless Nationals, 4-2.

Hamels even helped his own cause, driving in a run in the sixth by singling with the bases loaded.

The lefty entered the season as the unquestioned ace of the Phillies’
staff, coming off MVP efforts in both the NLCS and the World Series.

But he struggled much of the year, admitting he wasn’t really ready for spring training and at the beginning of the season.

He’s on fire now. Hamels is now 10-9 on the season after giving up just one run and five hits over eight innings.

Welcome back, Mr. October.

Meanwhile, across the street, the mystery over who will be Mr. Sept. 20 continues to swirl around the Eagles.

Will it be Kevin Kolb under center when the Eagles face the Saints in their home opener Sunday? Or will Donovan McNabb try to gut it out with a fractured rib. And if Andy Reid goes with Kolb, how long a leash (sorry about that, Mr. Vick) does he give him. Will he go to Jeff Garcia if Kolb struggles in the first half and continues his penchant for turning the ball over? Yesterday offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was saying that if Kolb starts, he will be the guy all day. Everyone who believes that raise your hand. Thought so.

This one sounds like a game day decision.

Has Hamels ever played quarterback?

Don't forget to stop back tomorrow for the Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick.! Play at your own risk