Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 31

The Daily Numbers: 1 of two inmates mistakenly released from Delaware County Prison who are now back in custody.
4 stories of mistaken releases, with a Havertown woman now saying she was cut loose early back in May.
2 shooting incidents 6 hours apart yesterday in Chester.
1 body found inside a burned-out car in a parking lot at Loomis Elementary School in Marple.
2 homicides so far this year in Springfield, with the ruling that the stabbing death of an 87-year-old woman was a murder. Her 88-year-old husband faces charges.
27 homicides total so far this year in the county.
100 mph, how fast motorcycle rider was going when his bike crashed on I-95 in Tinicum.
16,900 dollars, how much a Wilmington, Del., woman is believed to have stolen from the elderly Villanova man she was caring for. She has repaid $10,000. She pleaded guilty in court.
4, as in Category 4, that would be Earl, the storm that is blowing across the Caribbean and now is expected to roll up the East Coast. The current track will not result in a direct hit; it is expected to be 200 miles off the Jersey coast when it blows by.
53 days so far this year that we have hit the 90-degree mark. We are expecting temps in the 90s through Thursday.
1 of 2 people who held up the Game Stop store in Claymont, Del., with a machete is in custody.
2 female students at the University of Delaware who were pepper-sprayed and had their purses stolen Saturday night near the campus.
1 person killed in fire in Levittown home that authorities say was deliberately set.
260,000 dollars, what a federal judge ordered Lower Merion School District to pay to the lawyer who brought suit against them in that laptop spying flap.
1 hit, all the Phils managed to scratch out while being shut out by the Dodgers last night in L.A.
0 hits through the first seven innings off Hiroki Kuroda, who flirted with a no-hitter.
3 games back of the Braves, who won last night, for the second-place Phils.
1.5 games ahead of the Giants, who lost, in the wild-card race.
3 runs on 10 hits over 7 innings for Phils starter Roy Halladay, who took the loss. He’s now 16-10 on the year.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phillies simply cannot allow Hiroki Kuroda to no-hit them over seven innings and change. That’s embarrassing.
I Don’t Get It: Odd weapon of choice for a man and woman who held up a Game Stop store in Claymont, Del. They were wielding a machete.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the mother of Len Bias, the first-round NBA draft pick, who died of an accidental cocaine overdose. She brought her sobering message to Chester over the weekend.
Quote Box: “I am standing here today as a living witness of his strength and power if you can endire and you can believe God.”
- Dr. Lonise Bias, addressing crowd in Chester.

More comings and goings at county jail

The good news is that pretty much everybody is of the opinion that they have a problem at the Delaware County Prison in terms of paperwork snafus that have led to inmates being mistakenly set free.

County executive Marianne Grace and Prison Superintendent John Reilly huddled yesterday and decided to make the release process a function of security at the prison, as opposed to operations. That should help.

The even better news is that one of two inmates mistakenly released in recent weeks is back in custody. Ateia Polk, who was facing charges of robbery and terroristic threats, was in custody in Philadelhia.

The bad news? The other suspect, David Jeffrey Wilson, is still on the lam.

The even worse news? More people are coming forward to say they were cut loose early at the county jail. Today a Havertown woman is saying she was turned loose back in May, even after she says she told prison personnel she wasn’t supposed to be cut loose just yet. She still had nine days left on an 18-day sentence for violating her probation.

Instead she wound up out on the street.

At this point it might be a good idea for county and prison officials to try to get a feel for just how many prisoners in total have been given their walking papers by mistake.

Then taking the necessary steps to make sure it does not happen again.

Yesterday’s meeting was a good start. Now they need to keep pushing.

Hurricane-force talk about Earl

My name is Earl.

I am not a TV show. But you should get used to hearing my name. It likely will dominate the local TV news this week.

Earl is a huge Category 4 storm that just battered some tiny islands in the Caribbean and is now heading up the East Coast.

But that’s the problem. For all its bluster – and the accompanying banter of the talking heads on TV – it appears that Earl is not going to have much of an effect on our local weather.

Now there’s a caveat here. It all depends on the track of the storm.
Doesn’t it always?

But most of the computer projections now put Earl on a path that takes it farther out to sea, about 220 miles off the Jersey shore. That would likely mean little more than rough surf and rip tides at the shore.
We’ll get some rain late Thursday into Friday. But then it’s supposed to clear and looks like a great holiday weekend.

In short, Earl most likely will not not wash out the Labor Day weekend.

But then again, this is a weather story. Check back in 15 minutes. The forecast likely will have changed by then.

Silence of the Lambs ... er, Phils

Hiroki Kuroda?

Teams desperately trying to gain ground in heated pennant races are not supposed to lose games to someone named Hiroki Kuroda.

Coming off a three-game sweep of the league-leading Padres in San Diego, the Phils headed north last night for a stint in Chavez Ravine. It looks like they threw their bats into them instead.

Kuroda, who entered the game with a 9-11 record and an ERA of 3.56, blew away the Phils, who once again saw their bats go silent.

Silent? Maybe coma is more like it.

Kuroda no-hit the Phils into the eighth inning, when Shane Victorino slapped a sharp single to right.

That was the extent of the Phils’ offense. Reliever Hong-Chi Kuo got the last four outs of the game without giving up a hit. Dodgers 3, Phillies zippo.

One hit. That’s what the Phils mustered in the loss. In the process they saw another loss tagged to ace Roy Halladay, who deserved better.

Halladay was not at his best, but he wasn’t bad either. He scattered 10 hits and gave up three runs over seven innings.

But it’s tough to win when you don’t score. And it’s tough to score when you don’t hit.

The Phils did neither last night. Against Hiroki Kuroda.

In the process they fell three games back of the first-place Braves.

Luckily the Giants lost, so the Phils wild-card lead remains a game and a half. Don’t look now, but that is the Dodgers who closed to withing five and a half of the Phils.

The Phils remain consistent only in their inconsistency, especially at the plate. They seem to get good pitching every night, but too often fail to cash in on offense. They have all the appeal of the Eagles’

red-zone offense at the plate.

The get swept at home by the Astros, then sweep the Padres in San Diego.

They didn’t leave their hearts in San Francisco. But they apparently left their bars in San Diego.

They need them to show up tonight, before the Braves pull away for good.

For once, we might have gotten a break. Most people probably did not stay up to watch the Phils’ futility.

Speaking of inconsistency, Kyle Kendrick goes to the mound tonight in L.A.

Might be another reason to go to bed early.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 30

The Daily Numbers: 88, age of man charged with fatally stabbing his ailing wife in Springfield.
50 years, how long Ernest and Mary Rayfield lived on Madison Road in Springfield.
50 students from the closed St. Joe’s School in Collingdale who will be attending classes at St. Eugene’s in Primos.
100 mph, how fast police believe a motorcycle was going when it crashed on I-95 in Tinicum late last night, killing the driver.
13 parochial elementary schools that have closed in Delaware County since 1981.
109 years of service for Second Baptist Church in Media. They broke ground for a new building on Sunday.
21, age of man fatally shot during a confrontation in Yeadon early Saturday.
21, also the age of a man in critical condition after he was shot by two shotgun-toting assailants in the Stonehurst Hills section of Upper Darby last week.
72 homes that would be displaced in Tinicum by the final recommendation for expansion and a new runway at Philadelphia International Airport.
30 road projects at a cost of $257 million in federal stimulus funds being done across the Philadelphia region.
1 suspect being sought in the rape of a woman at downtown Philly bus stop last night.
30 residents chased from their homes when flames erupted at a rooming house in Atlantic City.
40 table games for blackjack, craps and mini-baccarat that will arrive at the SugarHouse casino in Philadelphia this morning. They are due to open Sept. 23.
2 people killed in a head-on crash in Southwest Philly Sunday morning.
28 cities in Northeast U.S. that set records for high average temperature for the period March through August.
8,500 pounds of ground beef that has been recalled in the latest E.-coli scare.
4.50 a month more for customers of Philadelphia Gas Works under rate hike that goes into effect Sept. 1.
120 new Silverliner rail cars for the SEPTA regional rail lines that have now been delayed. They’ll start arriving in October.
5 Delaware County school districts that will start the school year without a teachers’ contract in place.
2.70 a gallon, average price for gas in the Philly region. Of course it’s starting to go down just a the summer driving season comes to an end.
3 straight wins for the Phils in San Diego, after they got swept 4 straight at home by the Astros.
8 scoreless inning unfurled yesterday in a gem by Cole Hamels.
2 earned runs give up by Phillies starters in the 3-game set in San Diego.
16 straight batters retired by Hamels before he gave way to Ryan Madson for the 9th.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone able to figure out this Phillies team? If you have, please let the rest of us know. They lose 4 straight at home to the lowly Astros, then go to San Diego and sweep the best team in the National League? Go figure.
I Don’t Get It: A man left his pants behind as he fled the scene of a rape at a bus stop in downtown Philly last night. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who showed up over the weekend for the fundraiser for wounded Marine Lance Cpl. Nick Green of Nether Providence.
Quote Box: “We all just feel terrible about it. He was a good father and a good husband over the years.
- Springfield neighbor of Ernest Rayfield, who is charged in the stabbing death of his ailing, elderly wife.

The problem with online comments

It did not take long after the story about the sad situation in Springfield hit our website than the worse part about the internet soon reared its head again.

There are many things about the online world that I am coming to love.
But there remain some things about it that I loathe. One of those is the ability of some “commenters” on our website to add their special brand of crudeness, incivility, racism and in some instances just plain hate to the conversation.

The whole idea of having the ability to comment on every story that appears on our website is to further our mission of getting our readers more engaged, at times even taking part in the news process.

But it’s become clear to me that our current method of posting comments needs to be refined.

So here is your opportunity. Tell me how you think we should handle them.

Currently we require those who wish to comment to register, but in effect most of the commenters are provided the cloak of anonymity. They give us their e-mail address, the IP and a name they wish to appear with their comments. For all intent and purpose, their identity is unknown, at least to the general public.

That leads to problems. Specifically, it often gives people the online equivalent of “beer muscles.” Without their name being affixed to their beliefs, people are willing to say things they would never utter if they knew their name was going to be there for all to see.

In addition, the comments also are not reviewed before they appear on the site. If people object to something that appears in the comments, they can notify us via e-mail. We also review comments throughout the day and remove objectionable material.

But the fact is that a lot of comments that have no business being displayed in fact do wind up on our website, at least for awhile. They add little or nothing to the conversation. They do often throw gasoline on an already volatile mix. And sometimes they simply hurt. While we make it clear we are not responsible for the content posted in these forums, it doesn’t change the fact that we are hosting it on our site.

In recent weeks several stories have sparked objectionable comments.
Just about any crime story out of Chester will bring the racists out of the woodwork, condemning an entire race for the actions of a few. It’s as if no white people have ever committed a crime.

A story from Upper Darby on Friday on a shotgun shooting sparked an avalanche of ugly comments.

Then there’s the story of Strath Haven High School girls lacrosse coach Jan Duckenfield. The school board did not renew her contract to coach the team, which for the first time ever shared the Central League title last year. The story sparked strong reaction in the community, and likewise strong reactions on our website. Comments were posted both in favor and against the coach. But it didn’t take long for her enemies to turn the conversation into a personal attack on Duckenfield. I actually had several conversations with Duckenfield about the comments.
Eventually I decided to disable the ability of readers to comment on the story.

That is one option that I have. It is not one I want to use routinely.

At the same time, I am convinced we need a new way of dealing with comments. Right now I am considering reviewing all comments before they appear on the site. It is something of a Herculean task. The popularity of our site means the number of comments also has exploded.

I don’t want to cut off that outlet to readers. I also don’t want to stamp out the spontaneity of being able to post comments in real time.
It goes against the spirit of the Internet.

But I no longer want to be part of offering a forum for cowards who use the cloak of anonymity to post their hate-filled, ugly, demeaning commentaries.

Do you agree or disagree? Join the conversation. Post a comment on this blog and let me know how you would handle this situation.

Your thoughts will be shared with the editors of the newspaper as we determine a new policy for commenting online.

It might be the last time you can do so without that material being scrutinized before it goes out there for the world to see.

A sad story from Springfield

There’s really only one sentiment that washes over you when you read the sad story that played out in Springfield yesterday.

There’s just an overwhelming sense of sadness.

Ernest Rayfield is charged with the stabbing death of his seriously ill wife. Rayfield is 88.

You can read the full story here.

He apparently told police he’d “had enough” in caring for his wife. He was found kneeling over his wife’s lifeless body.

Sad actually doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Figuring out the Phils

If someone has figured out this Phillies team, please let the rest of us in on the secret.

After looking thoroughly inept and about to fall out of the playoff race in dropping four straight at home to the lowly Houston Astros, the Phils had their work cut out for them as they jetted across the country for a weekend set with the best team in the National League.

For a team struggling offensively, the thought of three games against the best pitching staff and ERA in baseball did not bode well for the Phils.

So of course the Phils simply reversed course and promptly beat the Padres three straight times.

In doing so, they actually beat San Diego at their own game. The Phils out-pitched and out-fielded the Padres, whose normally sure-handed defense let them down.

Hard-luck Cole Hamels wasn’t taking any chances yesterday. Again and again this year the team has failed to score for Hamels. He took care of that by blanking the Padres over eight strong innings.

Brad Lidge, who had blown a save opportunity on Friday night by balking home the tying run, then retired the Padres 1-2-3 Saturday night, was not needed on Sunday.

With the 5-0 lead the Phils called on Ryan Madson to close the door in the ninth. He did just that.

The bad news is despite winning three straight, the Phils failed to gain ground on the Braves. That’s in part due to the largesse of the Marlins, who managed to blow a 6-1 lead to Atlanta. The Braves scored three runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth – including a walk-off homer by catcher Brian McCann that had to be reviewed by instant replay.

Now the Phils head to L.A. and three games against the Dodgers.

The only thing you can be sure of is that you really don’t know which Phillies team will show up.

But I do know this. With Roy Halladay on the hill tonight, I like the Phils’ chances.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 27

The Daily Numbers: 20 years in prison, what the man who shot an Upper Darby cop is looking at. He pleaded guilty yesterday.
2 separate hunts – both bow & arrow and shotgun – planned to thin the deer herd at Ridley Creek State Park.
4 cent hike for a cup off coffee at Wawa. The increase goes into effect on Monday.
1,972,181 dollars in revenue from the new table games installed at Harrah’s Casino in Chester.
276,105 dollars in state taxes, and $39,444 in local taxes generated by the new games at the casino.
17 million dollars in revenue from table games at all 9 casinos operating in the state.
23 of September, when they are expected to open the doors of the SugarHouse Casino on the waterfront in Philly.
4 schools in Delaware County getting more than $4 million in new federal funding.
40-31 lead for Republican Pat Toomey over Democrat Joe Sestak among likely voters, according to new poll.
11 point lead for Republican Tom Corbett over Democrat Dan Onorato in the Pa. governor’s race.
37 percent of Pa. voters who believe President Obama is doing a good job, according to the poll.
30 percent who believe the state is headed in the right direction. 58 percent say it’s on the wrong track.
3, age of child who fired a shotgun at a firehouse in Seaford, Del. His 18-year-old mom now faces charges.
6, age of child killed when his mother’s parked car rolled down a hill and struck him in Abington.
5 people wounded in 3 shooting incidents in Philly last night.
15 people injured during a rough landing of a JetBlue flight yesterday in Sacramento, Calif.
4 straight losses to the Houston Astros for the Phils. They got swept.
4 runs on 9 hits over 6 innings for Phils starter Kyle Kendrick.
7 hits for the Phils, which produced just 2 runs.
2002, last time an opponent swept the Phils at Citizens Bank Park.
16-7 record for the Astros in Citizens Bank Park since it opened.
3.24 ERA for the Padres, the best team in the NL and where the Phils will spend the weekend.
3, as in crucial Game 3 of the NFL preseason for the Eagles tonight in Kansas City.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Brace yourself. We likely will know by the end of this road trip whether the Phils will be playing October baseball. I know it’s tough to say that. I’ll say it anyhow. They play in San Diego, Los Angeles and Denver. Put up or shut up.
I Don’t Get It: Some genius at Easton Area High School thought it would be neat to add a quote from Adolf Hitler to the school’s yearbook. And it got through. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: One person we won’t have to worry about seeing on the streets anytime soon is Marvin Marmolejos. He pleaded guilty to shooting Upper Darby Officer Ray Blohm yesterday.
Quote Box: “Ray is a lucky guy. He’s lucky to be alive. The bulletproof vest really saves his life.”
- Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood, on shooting of his officer, Ray Blohm.

Another 'oops' at county prison

They’re having an odd problem at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility.

They keep losing track of inmates.

For at least the third time this summer, the county lockup has mistakenly released inmates who were not supposed to be out on the street.

It’s got to be embarrassing for county and prison officials. Much is always made that the county saves lots of money by having a private company run the prison.

It started a few years back when County Council contracted with Wackenhut to build and run the new jail. Wackenhut then became Geo Inc.

Now a New Jersey outfit, Community Education Centers, is running the operation.

But they do so under the eye of a county employee. That would be Prison Superintendent John A. Reilly Jr. He’s a former county assistant district attorney.

I give Reilly credit. He did not hide when we confronted him with word of the latest “mistakes.” He met it head-on and admitted the facility has a problem and that it needs to be fixed.

You can read our editorial stance on the issue here.

Let’s hope Reilly is right.

Even more so, let’s hope they quickly corral the two suspects turned loose back on the streets, and that it doesn’t happen again.

Good times roll at Harrah's


Hear that sound? That’s the sweet jingle of success emanating from Harrah’s Chester Casino.

They introduced table games a few weeks ago. On Thursday the state Gaming Control Board announced the first revenue numbers tied to the new poker, roulette and blackjack tables.

Guess what? Harrah’s is raking it in. You’re stunned, I know.

You can read all about it here.

Harrah’s took in almost $2 million in revenue from table games. That puts it in fourth place among the state’s nine operating casinos.

Across the state, the take was $17.5 million.

Table games no doubt was a welcome tonic at Harrah’s, where revenue from slots seemed to be in the doldrums for almost a year. Not that the casino was exactly hurting.

But it’s not just the casino that is winning big. Table games at Harrah’s provided $276,105 in state taxes, and $39,444 in local taxes.

And don’t for get that the addition of table games resulted in 600 more jobs at the Chester facility.

There’s one more intersting development for Harrah’s on the horizon.

SugarHouse, the first of two proposed casinos on the Philadelphia waterfront, is set to open its doors on Sept. 23.

It will be interesting to see what kind of effect a Philly casino will have on the Chester site.

But for now, it’s let the good times roll.

How sweep it ain't for Phils

You could hear it in Charlie Manuel’s voice.

It’s the same thing running through the mind of every Phillies fan.


After the Phils endured an epic sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros, Manuel insisted that he “knows” his team is better than that.

“I think we’re better,” Manuel said after yesterday’s 5-1 debacle of a Businesspersons (Anything But) Special.

He quickly corrected himself.

“I know, I don’t think – I know we’re better than what you’re seeing. I know we’re better than that.”

He might not have a lot of company there.

The truth is I don’t know what the Phils are at this point.

I wrote them off once, only to see them pull a Lazarus and come back to life, despite a slew of injuries. Ironically, their current slide coincided with the return of stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

The loss dropped them three games behind the idle Braves. They also fell out of the top spot in the wild card, now trailing the Giants by half game.

Things don’t get any easier tonight. They head to San Diego and a weekend set with the best team in the National League.

Their stars need to show up, put this team on their shoulders as they have in years past, and rally the troops. Howard, who is usually Herculean at this time of year, was an abysmal one for 16 with 10 strikeouts in his first series since coming back from an ankle injury.

The Phils have survived a lot this season. They might not survive this West Coast trip if they don’t snap out of their doldrums.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 26

The Daily Numbers: 2 more prisoner mistakenly released from Delaware County Prison in another paperwork snafu.
45 percent dip in the sale of existing homes in Delaware County in July.
That was the worst decline in the eight-county region.
27.3 million dollars in net income in the quarter for home builder Toll Brothers. That was better than expected.
2 suspects being sought in the brutal beating of a convenience store clerk in Darby Borough.
3 suspects arrested in the robbery of the Sovereign Bank in Media.
2 days of shotgun hunts set to thin the deer herd at Ridley Creek State Park. There also will be archery hunting.
350,000 a year job for Philadelphia Housing Authority czar Carl Greene that could go up in smoke today in an avalanche of bad news, including a string of sexual harassment complaints filed against him.
1 human case of West Nile virus reported in the state, with the victim coming from Philadelphia.
100 new teachers being hired for positions in the Philadelphia School District.
9 age of daughter a Delco mom us accused of punching.
1 motorcycle rider serious injured when his bike collided with a Dodge Durango on Philadelphia Pike in Claymont.
1 person killed when his truck slammed into an abutment on the St.
Georges Bridge in Del.
2 assaults being linked to a complete nude man in the Pennypack Park area of Philly.
50,000 dollars worth of equipment missing from the Philadelphia School District, according to a new audit.
3 straight losses for the Phils at the hands of the Astros.
2 home runs surrendered by Phils ace Roy Halladay, enough to earn him the loss.
6 hits given up by Halladay in 7 innings. He threw only 73 pitches.
44,657 jammed into Citizens Bank Park; that’s 106 consecutive sellouts.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.There’s no escaping the fact that the Phils were playing better before Chase Utley and Ryan Howard returned to the lineup. Both are struggling.
Did they come back too soon, and are they hurting the team?
I Don’t Get It: Two thugs beat up a convenience store clerk in Darby Borough. They battered him unconscious, then when he woke up they beat him again. Nice.
Today’s Upper: The state is getting ready to take action to thin the deer herd in Ridley Creek State Park. Good.
Quote Box: “We have a problem here and we’re going to fix it – that’s the bottom line.”
- Delaware County Prison Superintendent John Reilly, on the latest paperwork snafu that let two criminals walk out of the facility.

Smile, you're on Criminals Camera!


Anyone else ever wonder just how much of our lives is now being captured on videotape?

It’s pretty obvious the criminals don’t.

Let’s face it. Every time you walk into a convenience store, your image is recorded on surveillance equipment.

The same goes for every toll booth we go through. Every ATM we approach, every bank we visit.

And yet nothing seems to deter criminals from going about their dirty business.

The latest incident is this nasty confrontation in Darby Borough.

Two suspects are captured on videotape beating a clerk in the convenience store of a gas station.

It’s become a daily parade. Smile criminals, you’re on Candid Camera.

Only there’s nothing funny about these shows.

Sooner or later, one of these incidents is going to turn deadly.

My guess is that likely will be captured on videotape as well.

The heart of Riddle Hospital

I am always fascinated by the myriad ways the newspaper affects a community.

And of course I am always the person people turn to whey they don’t care for something that has appeared in the paper.

That’s what took me to Riddle Hospital yesterday afternoon. I was there to meet the new boss out there, Gary Perecko.

Actually, all of this was preceded by a Sound Off item that did not have especially complimentary things to say about the hospital. In fact, the caller’s description of a recent visit to the ER was anything but.

That prompted a phone call from Cecilia Cummings, the head of communications for Main Line Health. She wondered if we would be interested in getting a response from the hospital. I told her we’d welcome it. That item appeared on our op-ed page.

It also I think probably laid the groundwork for a visit with Perecko, who has been the president of Riddle for the last 16 months.

We sat in his office and had a talk about the hospital. One of the things that fascinated me as I sat there was how many similarities I saw between the hospital and the newspaper.

We’re both dealing with a horrendous economy, struggling to provide a service amid a changing economic landscape.

Much like me, Perecko also is getting his staff used to the idea of being part of a corporate atmosphere. For years Riddle was an independent hospital. They are now aligned with Main Line Health.

One of Perecko's goals is not to lose that community connection, while taking full advantage of everything his relationship with Main Line offers.

I now how he feels.

I came away from the conversation impressed with Perecko, thinking of him as something of the heartbeat of a crucial cog in the Delaware County community.

Welcome to Delco, Gary.

Look for a full feature story on Riddle and Perecko's role at the helm Sunday in the Business section from staff writer Kathleen Carey.

The Phils continue to flop

The Phillies aren’t going to make this easy.

They managed to lose their third straight game to the Astros last night.
In doing so they squandered another solid outing by their “ace,” Roy Halladay.

Halladay was not perfect against the Astros. Too bad. The way the Phils are hitting, that would come in handy.

Instead Halladay gave up a couple of home run balls and the once-again punchless Phils fell. Former Phil J.A. Happ got the win, outdueling Halladay.

In the process the Phillies have lost a golden opportunity to pull even with the Braves, who also lost yesterday. I guess it could be worse. The Braves had a 10-1 lead only to lose to the Rockies, 12-10. Their lead over the Phils remains at two and a half.

Likewise, the Giants lost to the Reds, meaning the Phils are still tied for the wild card spot.

But they won’t be for long if they don’t snap out of still another in what seems like a season-long series of offensive slumps.

And has anyone else noticed that the latest slump corresponded with the return of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard from the disabled list?

The Phils had been red-hot, running off an incredible winning record at home. Then they get their two key cogs in the lineup back and the team goes ice cold.

They can’t fire hitting instructor Milt Thompson again; he’s already been canned.

Maybe Utley and Howard would have benefitted from more rehab action in the minors.

Instead, they showed up at Citizens Bank Park. The team has not been the same since.

Bottom line is this team has no business losing three straight to the Astros, regardless of how many questionable calls are made by the umps.

Somewhere, Ed Wade is smiling.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 25

The Daily Numbers: 600,000 dollars, that is what some residents fear the debt is out in Bethel Township. Supervisors don’t agree.
2 as in 2nd debate between 7th District Congress contenders Pat Meehan and Bryan Lentz on tap Thursday night.
50,000 dollar grant up for grabs that fans of the Philadelphia Union are being asked to help secure to build a soccer facility for a youth group soccer club in the city.
116 years old, that would be the ordinance on sidewalks in Aldan Borough that is under fire from some residents.
45-90 months in prison for a Rutledge man convicted of possessing child porn.
635,000 dollar spending gap that appears to have been closed in Norwood Borough.
2, that would be No. 2, Philadelphia’s unwanted status in the World Series of bedbugs. The city’s problem is surpassed only by New York City.
0 of the $3.4 billion ‘Race to the Top’ in federal education funds coming to Pa. We lost out to a group of other states. New Jersey and Delaware also got shut out.
260 foot paddleboat that is headed to the Delaware River as the city’s next major tourist attraction.
5,000 dollars in cash, $50,000 in jewelry and 2 laptops ripped home during a home invasion in Northeast Philly.
93, age of woman who ‘fought like hell’ when home invaders charged into her Center City apartment building. It is part of a crime spree targeting elderly women.
287-38, margin by which newspaper workers in Philly OK’d a 6 percent cut in wages.
3 Montco men whose deaths were heat-related this summer. No charges will be brought in the cases.
17 misdemeanor counts filed against a New Jersey man who is charged with cheating at the Delaware Park casino.
3 shootings, 1 fatal, yesterday in Wilmington, Del.
122 million dollars targeted for a research hub that will specialize in energy-efficient building technologies at the South Philly Navy Yard.
24 police officers to be hired in Delaware thanks to more than $5 million in federal stimulus aid.
10 million dollar facelift for the Holiday Inn in Claymont. They’re looking to draw airport travelers.
35.4 percent dip in sales of existing homes in the Philly regionin July.
That’s even worse than the national decline of 25.5 percent.
16 innings, which took 5 hours, 20 minutes to play, for the Phils to fall again to the Astros last night.
2 straight nights a Phillie was ejected. Last night it was Ryan Howard’s turn.
105 straight sellouts at Citizens Bank Park with 45,494 in the house last night.
2.5 games behind the Braves, where the Phils still sit. The Braves also lost. But they’re now tied with the Giants in the wild card race.
1, as in No. 1 draft pick Brandon Graham, who also now is a starting defensive end for the Eagles.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Umpires are at their best when you don’t notice them. That has not exactly been the case for the Phillies the last two nights. On consecutive nights, they’ve seen manager Charlie Manuel and slugger Ryan Howard get the heave-ho. The Phils lost both games.
I Don’t Get It: Police say a mentally challenged woman had her handbag ripped off by a thug as she waited for her bus in Upper Darby. I don’t get it.
get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the vets, family and friends rallying to the aid of Marine Lance Cpl. Nick Green, who was wounded in North Philadelphia.
Once again Delco opens its heart to someone in need.
Quote Box: “They are scared to death to have a gun in the house.”
- Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood, on why members of the Asian community are reluctant to have a gun to ward off criminals.

In 3 Delco towns, it's Finance 101

 In three different Delaware County towns, questions are being raised about municipal finances.

In Haverford, they just concluded a probe of the Public Works Department that resulted in two resignations of longtime employees. No criminal charges are coming as a result of the probe, but it’s pretty clear that there were things happening there that should not have been, and that likely should have been caught long before.

In Norwood, there are now questions being raised about just how bad the borough’s finances really are, and whether that whopping tax hike enacted by the new council was really necessary. That ought to go down fairly toughly with the corn flakes this morning.

And out in Bethel, a citizens group is asking questions about the bottom line there and whether in fact the township is $600,000 in the red.

In these brutal economic times, peoople start paying pretty close attention to the bottom line.

Every penny counts.

As the leaders of thee local towns are finding out.

Don't let the bedbugs bite

Philadelphia is coming up short to the Big Apple in one more contest.
Only this time that’s fine by us.

The results of the great bedbug sweepstakes are in. I know you’ve been itching to hear about them.

The bad news? We’re No. 2. New York is even worse. They’re on top of the heap, A No. 1, when it comes to the fiendish littler critters.

Look at it this way: We just lost the World Series of bedbugs to the Big Apple. They can have 'em.

The bug company Terminix did the survey and compiled the rankings.

Probably not something you want to include in your next promotional campaign.

It’s better when you stay overnight? Sure, and it’s even better without the bedbugs.

Bedbugs and you: Perfect together. Uh, not exactly.

The big problem with this is the risk that every time you visit the Big Apple or Philly, you take some of these little devils home with you.

The bloodsuckers seem to be popping up all over the place.

One clean in Philly said she actually changes clothes each night before she heads home.

Now that bites.

Towssin' and turnin' with Phils

This is pretty much all you need to know about last night’s Phillies game.

It ended with Roy Oswalt playing left field for the Phils. And Raul Ibanez at first base.

The marathon, bizarre evening ended with another bitter loss, another bitter call by an umpire that led to a Phils’ ejection, and the Phils continuing to tread water two and a half games behind the Braves, who also lost. But the 4-2, 16-inning loss to the Astros did cost 6he Phils their one-game lead over the Giants, who pulled even by beating up on the Reds.

Oswalt was in left field because Ryan Howard was in the clubhouse. The slugger went ballistic after he got a quick hook from a Triple-A umpire who had been called up to fill in. Scott Barry ruled Howard went around on what certainly looked like a check swing in the 14th inning.

Howard tossed his bat, and Barry tossed him. An enraged Howard started making his way toward third base when a lot of players and other umps got in front of him.

It was the second straight night the Phils came out on the losing end of a tough call, and the second straight night they blew a chance to gain on the Braves.

After the ejection, Ibanez moved to first, and that left Charlie Manuel looking down his depleted bench to see who he was going to put in left field. Enter Roy Oswalt.

There’s a couple of things here. Howard has to know better than to get tossed when he knows full well that the team has no one else to play first base.

And rookie umpire Barry also has to know the situation and not have such a short fuse.

Howard had a right to be upset. It appeared he did indeed check his swing.

The bottom line is that the Phils continue to look up at the Braves, two and a half games back. And they’re now even with the Giants in the wild card race.

The only question is who will get tossed in tonight’s finale.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 24

The Daily Numbers: 2 former employees of the Haverford Township Public Works Department who will not face any charges in a probe of their work hours.
75 mph winds clocked in what the National Weather Service is not labeling a tornado that struck Chester during Sunday’s wild storm. It hit near the Commodore Barry Bridge.
16 homicides this year in the city of Chester, after the ruling that the latest shooting death was in fact a murder.
25 homicides so far this year in Delaware County.
200 homicides in the city of Philadelphia.
2 Upper Darby residents charged with terrorizing a woman after a road-rage incident.
300 dollar fee being slapped on bloggers by the city of Philadelphia in the form of a new tax. Hope they don’t come after me.
4 million dollars now being targeted for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
1 former GOP senator backing Rep. Joe Sestak in his Senate run. Chuck Hagel will make the announcement today in Philly.
1 billion dollars Gov. Ed Rendell hopes to raise with a combination oil taxes and increase motorist fees to fund needed bridge and road repairs.
4 Center City robberies targeting elderly women in Center City Philadelphia.
14 and 17, age of two teen suspects charged in the murder of an elderly World War II vet.
30 New Jersey convenience store burglaries now believed to be tied to the same suspect.
40, age of woman in Delaware who police say brought a small child along when she stole diapers from a grocery store.
3,185 houses sold in the eight-county region in July. That’s half the
6,233 sold in June.
9.3 percent jobless rate reported in Pa. in July. That represents the loss of another 7,000 jobs.
7 DUIs charges for a firefighter in Delaware. He has 6 convictions and has been busted again.
250,000 dollar settlement reportedly being paid by the insurance company to settle a harassment complaint filed against the troubled boss of the Philadelphia Housing Authority.
7 innings for Brett Myers as the Astros rallied last night to beat the Phils.
9 strikeouts for Phils starter Joe Blanton. The Astros got 2 in the eighth against Ryan Madson for the win.
2.5 back of the Braves, where the Phils remain. Their lead in the Wild Card is now down to 1 over the Cards.
104 straight sellouts, even on a rainy night at Citizens Bank Park with
44,081 in the seats.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Donovan McNabb is back, talking to GQ about his tenure with the Eagles.
He’s apparently still not over being booed on Draft Day and the fact that no one in the organization came to his side when he was criticized during his 11 years in Philly. I guess that 112,000,000 they forked over to him wasn’t enough.
I Don’t Get It: A 14-year-old is being charged with the murder of an elderly vet in Philly. Along with his older partner in crime, who was all of 17. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Erinn Smith-Deiss. She’s a teacher at Bywood Elementary in Upper Darby and headed a drive by teachers to buy supplies for their students. Bravo!
Quote Box: “I feel that an elected official who cannot handle their own financial need to the state or normal everyday taxes should not vote to raise taxes when they can not pay their own.”
- Norwood resident Barbara Stamm, on Councilman George Reed’s tax problems.

Sestak wins backing - from a Republican


Joe Sestak is holding another press conference today.

Ho-Hum. Sestak holding a press conference is the equivalent of the sun coming up in the east. Happens all the time.

But today’s event is a little different.

Sestak is going to announce another endorsement in his campaign to capture the U.S. Senate seat. But this one has a twist.

The guy joining his camp is a former Senator from Nebraska.

And a Republican.

Check it out here.

This one likely will have smoke curling from the ears of both local and national Republican leaders.

So far in this campaign, their guy Pat Toomey seems to have had Sestak on the ropes.

But a defection from their own camp certainly will get a lot of attention in a very close race.

Chuck Hagel will travel to Philadelphia to make the announcement that he’s backing the Democrat Sestak.

In doing so he no doubt will be wearing a target. Expect the GOP to unleash their wrath at a man who was once one of their own.

This race seems to be have stepped into the background of the heated Lentz-Meehan campaign to replace Sestak as the 7th District rep in Congress.

Not anymore.

Chuck Hagel will put the Sestak-Toomey battle back on the front burner today.

Tiger free? Hardly

Tiger Woods can go on the prowl again. He’s a free man.

By that I mean he is no longer married.

The once greatest golfer on the planet and his wife, Elin, quietly announced yesterday that they had ended their marriage. It was the final chapter in the bombshell story that exploded last Thanksgiving when Woods careened down his driveway in his SUV and promptly slammed into a fire hydrant.

What followed was a months-long meltdown the likes of which our celebrity-sotted atmosphere has never seen. A parade of women came forward to claim they had affairs with Woods. He checked himself into a clinic to be treated for sex addiction. Then he went on TV to acknowledge his problems.

After being away from the game for months, Woods finally returned to the links for the Masters.

But make no mistake. This is not the same man who climbed into that SUV last Thanksgiving.

Part of the mystique that surrounded Woods as a golfer ended about the time his SUV hit that fire hydrant.

He was superman. Most of his opponents were defeated before they ever stepped up to the first tee.

In that respect, I would compare him to Mike Tyson in his prime. You could see the fear in his opponents’ eyes. Most of them were looking for a place to fall down.

Woods has yet to come close to being the golfer he was before he became fodder for the tabloids. Ironically, he probably played better when he first came back. His recent play shows no inkling of the dominant player he once was.

More than that, Woods’ persona has been fundamentally changed.

At least it has for me. I used to be the guy’s biggest fan. That’s because he was mesmerizing. He simply did things on a golf course no one had ever seen before. I play golf, and not particularly well. I have no idea what game Tiger was playing when he was at his best.

And that’s the problem. He’s no longer at his best. Not even close.

Now he is something I once thought was not possible. Woods is just another guy on the PGA Tour.

Maybe that will change next year. Maybe Woods will come back better than ever.

To be honest, I don’t really care.

Today Tiger Woods is a free man. But the truth is he will never be free.
His name now will forever be stained with an asterisk.

There will always be whispers every time his name is mentioned.

My guess is that Tiger Woods is not washed up. He will win again on the PGA Tour.

He just won’t be looked at the same way. At least not by me.

The Phils own version of 'Groundhog Day'

The Phillies are living their own version of the Bill Murray flick “Groundhog Day.”

In the movie, Murray played a burned-out weatherman sent to cover the festivities in Punxsutawney, only to wake up every day and find he was repeating the circumstances over and over again.

Likewise, the Phillies wake up every morning and find themselves two and a half games back of the Braves in the National League East race.

They missed a golden opportunity to slice a game off the Braves lead last night when Atlanta lost. So of course the Phils promptly coughed up a 2-1 lead and lost to the Astros, 3-2.

There were a lot of elements that went into this loss, not the least of which is that former Phil Brett Myers gave the Astros another quality start, getting the win. Two other former Phillies, Michael Bourn and Jason Michaels, played key parts in the Astros’ rally.

That rally was fueled in part by a bunt by Bourn in which he managed to evade the tag by Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. First off, Howard claims he in fact nicked Bourn with the tag. More importantly, it certainly appeared as if Bourn stretched the baseline to evade the tag.
Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel made that point to first base umpire Greg Gibson to no avail. He got tossed for his efforts.

And finally, speaking of “Groundhog Day,” there was still one more bone-headed base-running blunder by Jayson Werth.

The Phillies outfielder was on second base when the Astros decided to intentionally walk red-hot catcher Carlos Ruiz. But after snagging ball four, the Astros catcher stood up and gunned the ball to second, where Werth was suffering still one more brain cramp. Werth obviously was not paying attention to the play after the intentional pass and was tagged out to end the inning.

Remember this happened during an intentional walk!

Everyone today will be talking about the call that allowed the eventual winning run to get on base for the Astros during that bunt and attempted tag.

That’s an umpire’s call and there’s not a lot you can do about it.
Manuel made his feelings known and got tossed for his effort.

Today he needs to sit down with his right-fielder and try to figure out why he continues to suffer these base-running blunders.

In the meantime, the Phils lost a golden opportunity to close in on the Braves. And they saw their lead in the NL Wild Card shaved to a single run after the Cards won.

This is one “Groundhog Day” story we don’t need to see again.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 23

The Daily Numbers: 1, as in the 1st debate of the political season, pitting state Rep. Bryan Lentz and Pat Meehan. Well done, gentlemen.
108 people who will lose their jobs when the Pathmark supermarket closes its doors in Broomall.
0 injuries in a suspicious fire that is being investigated in Chester Township. A family was routed from their home in the fire, but no injuries were reported.
1,800 homes in Delco that were left without power when a powerful storm rocked the region Sunday afternoon. Heavy rain caused minor flooding in several areas of the county as well.
200 to 300 dollars taken by robbers who hit the Exxon station on Oak Avenue in Secane.
19, age of Aldan teen now facing child porn charges after authorities found images of children engaged in sex acts on his computer.
40 and 17, ages of mother and daughter brutally assaulted in a home invasion in Lindenwold, N.J.
44,000 dollar bonus for Philadelphia Housing Authority boss Carl Greene, who is now taking a leave to get his personal finances together.
63 people arrested in a crackdown on prostitution in Atlantic City.
2 drivers taken to the hospital early this morning when a SEPTA trolley collided with a minivan in Northern Liberties section of Philly.
29 million dollars from a new federal program being eyed by SEPTA to implement their new ‘smart card’ technology for collecting fares.
50 residents of an apartment building evacuated from their homes when fire struck in Woodbury, N.J.
31, age of man killed when his car went off Route 841 in Chester County and struck a utility pole.
4 Philadelphia police officers who suffered minor injuries in a scuffle as they tried to break up a fight among several women in Feltonville.
7 sharp innings for Phils starter Roy Oswalt. He got the win as the Phils blanked the Nats, 6-0.
2 game lead for the Phils in the NL Wild Card standings.
2.5 games back of the Braves, where the Phils sit in the NL East.
0 touchdowns scored by the Eagles so far in two preseason games.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick. Does it make any difference if Andy Reid is still calling the plays.
I Don’t Get It: We like to think that as a nation we adhere to certain beliefs. Then a story like the mosque proposed for New York City comes along and puts us all to the test.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Dr. Joyce Wells, who takes over a interim superintendent of Chester Upland Schools.
Quote Box:
“This is like a dream come true, I’m going to be perfectly honest.”
- Wells, on taking over the reins of the district.

Lentz vs. Meehan

 So much for waiting for the traditional post-Labor Day kickoff to the political season.

Bryan Lentz and Pat Meehan have been going at it all summer. Lentz, the Democrat state rep, and Meehan, the Republican former U.S. attorney and Delco D.A., are in one of the most high-profile congressional races in the nation.

They are jousting to replace Joe Sestak as the U.S. rep in the 7th District. Sestak, as you may have heard, is giving up the seat to seek a seat in the U.S. Senate. Sestak ousted former Republican Sen. Arlen Specter in the Dem primary, and will face off with Republican Pat Toomey in November.

Both the Republican and Democratic national committees have identified the 7th District race as crucial and are vowing to plow tons of money into the race.

Lentz and Meehan got an early start on the debate season when they appeared on longtime TV newsman and political analyst Larry Kane’s “Voice of Reason” show on Comcast.

The debate aired last night.

Click here to see how it went.

In the meantime, if you thought the Sestak-Curt Weldon showdown in 2006 was a knockdown, drag-out affair, you’re probably going to love the Meehan-Lentz battle royal.

To this point, much of the give-and-take in this race has been about petty politcs. But I’ll give credit to both candidates, who sat with Kane and offered a solid, reasoned discussion of the issues.

Let’s hope that’s the model for the rest of the political season.


End of summer draws near

We deposited my daughter back at college for her second year of law school over the weekend.

And I am a convert to the Tappan Zee Bridge. I have determined there is no easy way to drive from Philadelphia to Boston. But I also have vowed to avoid the George Washington Bridge in New York City at all costs.

I tried just about every time of day. It didn’t matter. Getting across the GW proved a nightmare.

Yes, taking the Garden State Parkway and the Tappan Zee seems a bit longer. But at least you are moving, although I was a bit chagrined on the ride home southbound Saturday night to glance across at the northbound traffic that was backed up forever in several locations approaching the bridge.

We hit it Friday morning and sailed right across. Maybe you just have to keep your fingers crossed and your foot on the gas pedal.

This week our son will enjoy his final week of summer before heading back to campus himself. Luckily, he drives himself.

One thing is certain. Summer is over. Didn’t we just finish the dishes for the Memorial Day picnic?

Don’t remind me what is coming. I know all too well. It already is too dark to read once I finally manage to make it out onto the screened-in porch most nights.

The days are growing shorter. So are my memories of summer.

Pardon me if I attempt to squeeze every last second out of it. I just lover summer. Almost as much as I hate winter.

One thing I now realize is that there is no sense complaining about it. You can’t stop the clock. Whoever said time marches on was smarter than I am.

All I can do is wonder where the time went.

'Passing' grade for Eagles' offense

We interrupt the Phillies stretch run to bring you this “all points bulletin” from the Eagles.

Has anyone seen this team’s offense? So far this preseason it has been for the most part “missing in action.” That’s especially so once they wander into the red zone.

The Eagles so far have scored exactly zero touchdowns. That’s not a misprint. The Birds have yet to stick it into the end zone. Actually, they did once Friday night against the Bengals, but that one was called back on a penalty.

This should not come as news to anyone who has watched Andy Reid’s teams over the years.

Donovan McNabb is gone, Kevin Kolb is your new starting QB, but Reid is still calling the plays. That means the Eagles will remain a pass-first offense. And that means they will continue to struggle once they get into the red zone, when the area they have to work with is compressed.

Reid simply does not believe in the idea of simply running the ball down the other team’s throats once they get near the goal line. They are not the exact opposite of the classic NFC East power team. You might go so far as to say they are a finesse team.

Reid will always look to pass first, to the detriment of the running game.

It’s hard to make any kind of judgment from these preseason glorified scrimmages.

But we have seen this act before from the Eagles offense.

It is classic Andy Reid. When asked after the game Friday night, Andy responded with this classic Reid-ism: “We have to do a better job when we get in there.”

That sound familiar to anyone.

For years now I have spit out the automatic response when asked about the Eagles chances. 10-6 has been my mantra for about a decade now.

Not this year.

This team has 8-8 written all over it.

For Andy Reid, that’s what you would call a “passing” grade.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 19

The Daily Numbers: 125 foot tree that landed on a garage in Concord Township, squashing a ’56 Thunderbird that was kept inside.
16, age of Chadds Ford teen charged as an adult in the stabbing of another teen outside the MapleZone sports center in Bethel.
38 caliber handgun with 6 live rounds in the chamber found on an 18-year-old man in Chester.
4 armed men who invaded a home in the Bryn Mawr section of Radnor Township, tied up the family, and stole cash and a 52-inch TV.
250,000 dollars, how much a Broomall woman pleaded guilty to stealing from her boss yesterday in Montgomery County court. She also faces additional charges here of stealing from another employer, QVC.
22.6 decline in profits in the quarter for the 11 Atlantic City casinos. They took in $149 million, as opposed to $192 million in the same period the year before.
22 pervious arrests for the man now charged with assaulting a Philadelphia police officer during a shoplifting arrest.
11 homes burned in an arson fire in the Logan section of Philadelphia overnight.
5 arson fires in New Castle County, Del., in a span of just over 3 hours.
29 million dollars from a new federal program being eyed by SEPTA to implement their new ‘smart card’ technology for collecting fares.
80 million jackpot up for grabs Saturday night in the Powerball drawing after no one hit again last night.
87, age of man shot and killed outside his home in North Philadelphia last night.
350,000 a year, annual salary of Philadelphia Housing Authority boss Carl Greene. He’s taking a leave from the job in the wake of stories that he has failed to pay his own mortgage.
5,000 dollar reward posted for information on a suspected killer who escaped from custody in Philly last weekend.
100 layoffs now likely under the revised budget numbers rolled out by Gov. Ed Rendell yesterday.
100 consecutive sellouts for the Phils, which they will hit tonight vs. the Giants.
47 regular season sellouts in 33 years for the Phils at Veterans Stadium.
3 hits last night for Jimmy Rollins as the Phils rolled to an 8-2 win over the Giants.
0 for 7 slide broken by Chase Utley, who got his 1st hit since returning from thumb injury on a swinging-bunt single.
17-2, Phils mark at home since July 8.
2 game lead for the Phils over the Giants in the Wild Card standings.
2.5 games back of the Braves, where Phils sit in NL East standings.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.In case you didn’t notice, the Eagles broke camp yesterday up at Lehigh. Talk about a team that is on the back burner.
I Don’t Get It: Police say a teen charged with stabbing another teen in Bethel licked the blood off the knife to show how tough he was. I don’t’
get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the citizens of Chester, who will gather one final time this afternoon in the last of a summerlong series of anti-violence rallies held by Mayor Wendell Butler.
Quote Box: “I always liked the T-Bird – when you’re a kid, you don’t have the money.”
- Concord resident Jim Waters, on his 1956 Thunderbird that was crushed when a massive tree fell on the garage that housed it.

Stopping the violence in Chester

 They will gather one more time in the city of Chester tonight.

Citizens will come together in an effort to stop the violence.

It is the last of a summerlong series of community rallies held by Mayor Wendell Butler. Tonight’s will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Wellington Ridge Housing development, at 12th and Highland Avenue in the city.

This last rally takes on added importance because of what happened in the city last weekend. No less than six people were shot in 5 incidents.

Some residents are asking the city to consider going bacl to the state of emergency – including a strict curfew and ban on public gatherings – that was put in place for more than a month this summer in the wake of an unprecedented wave of fatal shootings.

Mayor Butler seems reluctant to do so. We agree with him

You can read our beliefs on what needs to happen to stop the violence in Chester here.


Crapping out in A.C.

For Atlantic City, the hits just keep coming.

The numbers are in for the 11 shore casinos for the second quarter of the year. They are not pretty.

Gross operating profits were down 22.6 percent as the casinos raked in only $149 million in the period April through June, as opposed to $192 million for the same period the year before.

And once again the finger of blame is being pointed at Pennsylvania, including Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack, which continues to literally eat Atlantic City’s lunch. Those people who routinely used to shuffle over the bridges and “downtheshore” and now staying closer to home.

But that might not even be the biggest indignity suffered by the struggling shore town.

There’s a new billboard looming over the main highway into town. It’s not one that’s likely to make city officials smile. It carries a message from the city Police Benevolent Association.

This is what is says: “In AC, everyone wants to get lucky. With 73 less police officers, even the bad guys are feeling lucky.”


The police union is vehemently opposed to cuts imposed by the budget-constrained city. The police force could be down 73 officers by Sept. 30 if state funding is not granted. That’s not likely, given the kind of tough budget talk emanating out of new Gov. Chris Christie in Trenton.

Inside the casinos, I think that’s what they call crapping out.

It's a party at Citizens Bank Park

The Eagles broke training camp in Lehigh yesterday and kicked off what is known is some quarters as the ‘Lehigh 500’ – the mad dash down the Northeast Extension of the Blue Route and the return to Philadelphia.

That’s what passes for news with the Eagles these days.

No one really seems to care. Oh, they take a peek to see how Kevin Kolb is progressing. They continue to wonder if the defense can stop anybody. But for the most part, what was once unthinkable is now fact. Call us when the regular season starts. The Eagles are an afterthought.

This is now the Phillies’ town.

The Fightin’s will do something tonight that almost defies belief.

They will entertain their 100th consecutive sold-out crowd at their little palace, Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies are now the darlings of a new generation, many of whom never stepped foot in archaic Veterans Stadium.

“The Bank” is now much more than a sporting venue. It is a destination point.

In short, Citizens Bank Park is hot. In the summer, it is now the place to be. Every night’s a party.

Of course, it helps that the Phillies are also red-hot at home as they make another push toward a post-season berth.

The Phils have now won 20 of their last 25 games. Even better for the home fans, they have now won 17 of their last 19 games at Citizens Bank Park since July 8.

In other words, Citizens Bank Park has been a non-stop party for most of the summer.

Last night the Phils continued to get huge efforts from guys who have been injured or otherwise struggled. Jimmy Rollins looks like he’s getting his groove back. He stroked three hits, including a home run, to lead the Phils over the Giants again. The win boosts their lead in the NL Wild Card race to two games.

There’s really only one problem. No one has bothered to tell the Braves about the Phils’ plans. Atlanta keeps winning, coming from behind in the ninth again last night, as they cling to a two-and-a-half game lead in the NL East. The two teams have six dates left on their calendars, including the last three games of the regular season in Atlanta.

In the meantime, the Phils will let the good times roll, and watch the turnstiles at Citizens Bank Park whirl in a blur of sell-outs previous Phils’ teams could only dream of.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 18

The Daily Numbers: 3 recent home invasions, in Upper Darby, Haverford and Ridley, in which Asian business owners from 69th Street have been the targets.
45-36 lead for Republican Pat Toomey over Joe Sestak in a Public Policy Polling survey of the Pa. Senate race. Similar gap of 46-37 for Toomey in the latest Rasmussen poll.
2 alarm fire that damaged a home in Marcus Hook.
2 arrests in Chester of 2 convicted felons on weapons charges that were the result of the city’s bike patrols.
50 friends and family who gathered on the 5th anniversary of the murder of Lori Ann Sullivan to remember their loved one.
3 Delco school districts, Chester Upland, William Penn and Southeast Delco, applying for some serious federal money aimed at improving achievement in schools that are struggling.
450,805 dollar grant accepted by county council to fund the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
1 of 24 counts on which former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was convicted. The jury deadlocked on 23 others.
10 complaints filed this summer by pilots who claim laser pointers were directed at them as they approached the Atlantic City International Airport.
22, size of football cleats needed by a high school player in New Jersey.
1, ranking for Villanova for regional universities – north category by in U.S. News and World Report 3, ranking of Swarthmore College in U.S. News and World Report rankings of liberal arts colleges. Haverford College came in at 9, and Bryn Mawr at 30.
24, age of Army Spec. Jamal Rhett, of Palmyra, N.J., who was killed in action in Afghanistan.
6 people wounded in 5 shooting incidents this past weekend in Chester.
29 year veteran Philadelphia police officer injured in a scuffle with a shoplifting suspect outside a drug store.
2 convicted cop killers who got life in prison – not the death penalty – after a jury in Philadelphia deadlocked on their fate.
2 victims of duck boat tragedy in Philly whose parents visited the site where their children died on Tuesday.
46, age of former parochial school aide in Montgomery County who pleaded guilty to child molestation charges.
0 criminal charges being filed in connection with that controversy over laptop-spying in Lower Merion School District.
1.2 million scam run by a man on 1,000 businesses by a Churchville man who sold them bogus placements.
0 for 5 for Chase Utley as he returned to the Phillies lineup last night vs. the Giants at Citizens Bank Park.
9-3 win for Phils, which gives them 1-game lead over Giants in NL Wild Card race, and keeps them 2 and a half behind Braves in NL East.
2-0 lead for Giants in top of 1st inning, courtesy of home run by our old pal Pat Burrell.
98 straight sellouts at Citizens Bank Park for Phils.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Hey, Pat Burrell can hit all the home runs he wants, so long as the Phils win.
I Don’t Get It: A Chester County teen has been charged with soliciting on Facebook for a hit man to knock off a woman he knew. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the pedal power on display in Chester, with bicycle cops making arrests of two felons on weapons charges.
Quote Box: “I love your forever and always. You will never be forgotten.”
- Christie Hammond, friend of Lori Ann Sullivan, at memorial service noting the 5-year anniversary since her murder.

About that mosque

In our politically charged atmosphere, it is without question the issue of the moment.

The sparks are literally flying off this one.

It is the plan to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center just two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center attack in New York City.

This one should be easy. It is at the heart of what we believe in, what we stand for. It is the notion of religious freedom, and the firm belief that we do not, as individuals or as a government, block the right of people to worship in the way they want, where they want.

That is what I believe. Saying it is one thing; believing it and then having the conviction to stand behind that belief is something else altogether.

I don’t believe anyone is arguing whether these groups have the right to build the mosque on this site.

To them, the site becomes their own “sacred ground,” every bit as much as the “sacred ground” of the World Trade Center, which symbolizes to many Americans the essence of the terror that was delivered to this country on Sept. 11, 2001.

I wish I could simply say the groups have the right to build on the site and be done with it. But I would be lying if I did so. Yes, there is a part of me that is taken aback by that possibility.

I will forever remember that day, where I was, what I was doing. More than that, I think often about how that day scarred this nation, in the process changing it forever.

In short, we are not the same country today that we were on Sept. 10, 2001.

It is for exactly those reasons that I will defend the right of those who want to build that mosque so close to Ground Zero. It defines who we are, as individuals and as a nation.

But it will not stop the lingering wish that they would decide to build it somewhere else.

I get the feeling I am not alone. I don’t know if it’s right, but it’s the way I feel.

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A very special concert souvenir

 It was not exactly “All My Lovin,’” but for Rose Ann Belluso it was something even better.

The 49-year-old Downingtown woman and big fan of the Fab Four took in Sunday night’s Paul McCartney show at the Wells Fargo Center. But she didn’t go alone. She was toting a sign that encouraged the former Beatle to sign her back.

Toward the end of his show, Sir Paul did just that. But Belluso was not satisfied with the Sharpie signature that now adorned her back. That’s when she decided to make it a bit more permanent.

Belluso went to a tattoo parlor in West Chester and had the signature made permanent.

Check out her story here.

I have never been a big proponent of tattoos, even though my son now has two of them adorning his arms.

Maybe it’s because I’m a certain age, but this strikes me as being very cool.

I don’t know which is cooler, the fact that Belluso thought to make the pitch to Paul, or the fact that one of the most famous people in the world actually took her up on it.

Paul was never really my favorite Beatle. I was more of a John Lennon guy. Paul always struck me as a bit of a lightweight. He was the good-looking Beatle, part of the reason behind all those shrieking young girls.

John is long gone, taken in a moment of madness. Recently we also lost George, the “Quiet Beatle” who laid down all those guitar tracks.

Of course, their music will live forever.

No Rose Ann Belluso has one more memory – and a very special souvenir – that will also stand the test of time.

Yesterday? Belluso’s tattoo will be here tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that.

“All My Loving” indeed, and a permanent reminder of a very special encounter with a member of the Far Four.

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Reunion night at Citizens Bank Park

The Phillies welcomed back a couple of old friends last night.

Only one was wearing red pinstripes.

Pat Burrell was back in the familiar confines of Citizens Bank Park. The popular member of the 2008 World Champions – who along with his dog led the parade down Broad Street – was welcomed “home” with a lusty cheer, right up until the point where he deposited a Roy Oswalt pitch into the left-field seats.

Burrell’s blast spotted the Giants to a 2-0 lead. It would not last long.

The Phillies stormed back to put up nine runs in rolling to a 9-3 win.

The Phils also welcomed back Chase Utley to the lineup. After missing a month and a half with a sprained thumb, Utley was back at his post at second base last night.

There was no storybook return for Utley. He went a very workmanlike
0-for-5 at the plate. But Utley’s return means much more than that. He just might be the heart and soul of the team. Maybe that’s one reason why no one on the Phils’ bench as much as batted an eye when Burrell put the Giants on top in the top of the first.

Phils’ hurler Roy Oswalt settled down and went six strong innings.

The win lifts the Phillies a game over the Giants in the Wild Card chase, while they stay two and a half back of the Braves in the NL East.

They likely will welcome slugger Ryan Howard back to the lineup next week.

As homecomings go, we’ll take Utley’s 0-for-5 any day.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Mean streets in Chester

There is no end to the violence in Chester. It was not a good weekend in the city.

After three different shootings overnight Friday into Saturday, police report still another shooting in the city Sunday night.

This time gunfire rang out around 11 Sunday night at Eighth and Woods streets. Two young teen boys, 14, and 15, were hit.

That no doubt will do nothing to silence the call by some in the city to reinstate the state of emergency and strict curfew that seemed to rein in some of the street violence earlier this summer.

Mayor Wendell Butler sounded like a frustrated man when we talked to him Sunday about the late-night shootings Friday night.

My guess is that he won’t be in a much better mood today, with two more young gunshot victims in the city.

There is not going to be any easy answer to what is going on in Chester.
It took a long time for the city to get in the position it finds itself in today. It likely will take just as long to get out of it.

In the meantime, gunfire continues to be a routine occurrence on the city streets.

Another tech breakthrough, and an honor for Greg

We have taken one more step on the path to becoming a multi-platform, multi-media entity.

In other words, we’re not just about print any more.

Last night we provided a live stream of the women’s title game from our annual Champs ‘N’ Charity softball tournament, which raises money for the American Cancer Society.

You can catch a re-broadcast of it here.

That’s right, we donned our best TV gear and provided those readers who could not make it out to Father Nall Field in Ridley (or who did not wish to dodge the raindrops that fell much of the night) with a live telecast from the game.

We’re planning to do the same tonight with the men’s title game from Marcus Hook, weather permitting. Of course, everyone knows that it never rains in the Hook!

We have now been doing this event for a quarter of a century. I was especially pleased to see that we have renamed the MVP Trophy for Greg Greenday, a longtime news and sports editor here at the Daily Times.

Greg was influential in getting the tourney off the ground 25 years ago, and actually served as director the first two years.

It’s ironic that he lost his life to the same dread disease we have been raising money to fight all these years.

Starting this year, the MVP of tourney will receive the Greg Greenday MVP Award.

Somewhere, Greg is shaking his head at all the technology we find ourselves swimming in these days in this crazy business.

And he’s undoubtedly smiling at the idea of the MVP trophy bearing his name.

Were he still around, he likely would have upbraided us for lavishing such an honor on such a workmanlike, unassuming guy.

I can’t think of anyone who deserves the honor more.

Phils smell the playoffs

The Phillies are in the playoffs – at least as of right now.

Technically the Phils are tied with the Giants for the National League wild-card spot. But courtesy of their win over the Mets at a soggy CitiField last night, they actually scratched a couple of percentage points ahead.

They remain two games behind the Braves for the top spot in the NL East.

Kyle Kendrick continued his Jekyll & Hyde Act. Last night it was the good Kyle who showed up. After getting shelled in his last outing, unable to get out of the second inning, Kendrick went six and two-thirds strong innings last night, giving up just one run on six hits.

Shane Victorino also got in the act, banging out three hits in his best effort since returning from the disabled list.

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard look like they’re also getting ready to return to the lineup. Utley has made a couple of rehab starts in Clearwater and could be back in the Phils’ lineup when they open a home series against the Giants Tuesday night. Howard is now starting to take batting practice as he tests his tender ankle.

The Phils might actually have their full lineup ready for the stretch run.

Can you say playoffs?

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 13

The Daily Numbers: 7-14 years in prison for Chester man in the random bullet shooting that led to the death of Kathy Ann Stewart. Doesn’t seem like a fair trade-off, does it?
120 names read off last night at the opening ceremony of the national convention of Parents of Murdered Children. The convention is being hosted by the Delco chapter.
512,000 dollar settlement in a suit filed by the family of a Collingdale girl who was mauled by a pit bull.
24 percent cut in funding for a slew of PennDOT projects, including work on some SEPTA projects here in Delco.
2 Goood Samaritans who tracked down a suspected mugger after he grabbed a woman’s pocketbook in the parking lot of a supermarket in Ridley Thursday.
6 hours, how long police say a woman left her two kids outside in the car while she went into Parx Casino and gambled.
6 times this summer police have been summoned for just such an incident.
100 to 200 bucks, how much a robber got from a South Philadelphia laundromat owner, who was stabbed to death in a violence struggle in the store.
5 gunmen who invaded a home in the Torresdale section of Philly early Friday. The owner was tied up while the suspects ransacked the house and then fled with cash.
3, age of child police say was abducted by his mother in Delaware. She now faces charges, along with a friend.
5 million dollars bail for a woman in Reading in whose home police have now found human remains for a 2nd time.
9-2, that’s the hole the Phils found themselves in last night with just
2 innings left against the Dodgers.
10-9 win in a miracle comeback for the Fightins.
4 runs in the 8th and another 4 in the 9th for the walkoff win.
2 games back of the Braves, where the Phils sit as they head for the Big Apple and a weekend series with the Mets.
18 game hitting streak snapped for Raul Ibanez, who went 0-for-5 on the night.
5, where the Business Journal ranks the Eagles in terms of successful NFL franchises. The Cowboys ranked 1st, followed by the Saints, Colts and Patriots.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.What else can you say? Ya gotta’ believe!
I Don’t Get It: Seven to 14 years in jail does not seem like nearly enough for a shooting incident that took the life of an innocent woman.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Delaware County Parents of Murdered Children, which is hosting the annual convention at the Philadelphia Marriott this weekend.
Quote Box: “I can’t call my mother now when I’m in pain. I wake up every day and she’s on my mind.”
- Katisha Stewart, daughter of shooting victim Kathy Ann Stewart, at sentencing for one of two men charged in her death.

Life is cheap

 Abdul Johnson was sentenced Thursday for his role in a Chester street altercation in which their mission to avenge another shooting ended in the death of Kathy Ann Stewart.

One of the shots fired by Johnson and co-defendant Dominique Smith went through the wall of a home and struck Stewart in the head as she chatted innocently on her cell phone. Stewart had been in the city as part of her daily ritual, checking in on her ailing mother.

The bullet struck her in the head, killing her.

Johnson yesterday was sentenced to seven to 14 years in jail after pleading guilty to charges on involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault.

Life comes pretty cheap these days.

The down side og legalized gambling

I’m not sure what I find more surprising, the fact that a woman apparently left her two children out in her steaming car while she went inside Parx Casino to play the slots, or that police say it is the sixth time such an incident has happened this summer.

Bensalem police have charged a woman with child endangerment after they were called to Parx Casino at Philly Park on Aug. 1.

Sharon Balek, 35, is charged with leaving her two daughters, 15 and 8, in the car while she went inside to play the slots.

Six hours later, the kids finally called their day, who came and picked them up. The children were not injured.

Video surveillance captured mom inside playing the slots.

I have written several times that this huge expansion of legalized gambling is going to have an unquestionable down side.

Consider this exhibit A.

Hearing is believe for Phils

 Here's a small treat for anyone who happened to miss the end of last night's thrilling Phils' win over the Dodgers. 

CLICK HERE to hear WPHT radio guy Scott Franzke's thrilling call of the Phils' heroics in the ninth.

Ya Gotta Believe!

Turns out Tugger was right. It was Frank Edwin ‘Tug’ McGraw’s favorite
saying: Ya Gotta’ Believe!

Go ahead, admit it. You did not hang in there with the Phils last night.
I know I didn’t. Of course that didn’t have anything to do with the fact that they were behind, 9-2, going into the eighth inning.

I had slipped into my normal coma-like state long before that.

The last thing I remember is Joe Blanton’s continued allergic reaction to the first inning. Before you could even look up, the Phils trailed the Dodgers last night, 3-0.

The Phils scratched out a couple of runs before their bullpen once again imploded.

So the Phils had six outs left going into the bottom of the eighth, staring up at a 9-2 hole.

Ya Gotta Believe, right?

What happened next was just this side of a miracle. Aided by a the Dodgers’ own shaky bullpen, as well as a crucial infield error, the Phillies scored four in the eighth and four more in the ninth for a most improbably 10-9 win.

Improbable? How about miraculous.

This is the kind of win a that can unite a team in thinking it’s their destiny. You won’t get any argument from me. I’ve already written the Phils off several times this summer.

I’m going with Tug the rest of the way. Look out Braves, here we come.

Ya Gotta Believe!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 12

The Daily Numbers: $50,000, what an Upper Darby woman is seeking in a lawsuit against Disney claiming she was groped by a Mickey Mouse character.
2 teens who have been charged in a vandalism spree that did serious damage inside Academy Park High School.
60, age of man charged in Upper Darby with approaching two girls, 5 and 7, in a local playground and asking them for sex.
3 Philly men charged in the latest Chester shooting. A 55-year-old man was wounded in the attempted abduction.
17, age of junior firefighter in Darby Township charged with setting a fire in a dumpster outside a local beauty salon.
271 animals adopted in July from the Delaware County SPCA. That’s an 11 percent increase, 60 more than the 211 adopted in June.
10,000 dead fish that washed up along the shore on the Delaware Bay in South Jersey.
4, age of little boy who died in an accidental shooting at his home in Royersford.
4 Philadelphia police officers injured during a drug raid last night.
20,000 dollars worth of jewelry swiped by people who were visiting a home in Newtown, Bucks County, during an open house. It’s one of several such incidents in the area recently.
265 point plunge for the Down Jones yesterday. There goes the old 401K. Do yourself a favor. Don’t look.
21 years on house arrest, the sentence handed down to a woman from Warminster who ripped off her employer for almost a half-million dollars. She will be allowed to go to work so she can repay the debt, but otherwise will be confined to her home.
280 million dollar budget gap that could trigger more state spending cuts, according to Gov. Ed Rendell.
38 million dollars up for grabs on the Powerball drawing Saturday night.
16 percent increase in electricity use so far this summer, according to 11, age of girl raped by a 27-year-old man in Philly. He pleaded guilty in the case.
30 years in state prison without parole for the man who gunned down a casino employee in Atlantic City.
7 scoreless innings last night for Roy Oswalt as the Phils shut out the Dodgers.
1-2-3 9th inning for Brad Lidge, including two strikeouts.
15-4, Phils record since July 22.
1-1 tie for Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in Chester last night vs. Real Salt Lake.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Good news and bad news for Phils on injury front. Chase Utley has been cleared to swing a bat, and Shane Victorino continues to rehab nicely at Lehigh Valley. But they likely lost key bench guy Ross Gload last night when he strained a groin on a double. Gload had been swinging a very hot bat and providing some needed punch off the Phils bench.
I Don’t Get It: Why do the Eagles insist on getting themselves into these no-win situation. This time it was a guy wearing a No. 5 Donovan McNabb Redskins’ jersey. They should have ignored it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Delco SPCA, where adoptions are way up.
That’s the whole idea.
Quote Box: “We’ll be looking at restitution.”
- Southeast Delco Superintendent Stephen Butz, after two teens were busted in a vandalism spree at Academy Park High School.

This lawsuit not exactly ducky

This lawsuit not exactly ducky

Talk about your Mickey Mouse lawsuit.

A Delaware County woman is suing Mickey Mouse and Disney, claiming the mascot groped her breast. She says she’s been traumatized and can no longer work.

Sound Goofy? Not to April Magolon. The Upper Darby woman is seeking damages in excess of $50,000.

You can read all about the suit here.

Shirt happens with Eagles

The vaunted “gold standard” of Jeff Lurie et al has picked up another ding in its shiny exterior.

This time I can’t really blame them, but they still brought it on themselves.

Here’s the deal. Jim Devlin, a fan from King of Prussia, managed to score a credential that allowed him to patrol the Eagles sideline for yesterday’s practice sessions.

His choice of attire certainly got the Eagles’ attention. Devlin showed up in a Donovan McNabb No. 5 Redskins jersey.

Devlin says he was looking “to get a reaction.” He got one.

An Eagles security official approached Devlin and asked him to remove the jersey. Whether or not he was doing this at the request of Andy Reid is still a matter of conjecture. Devlin says the security guy told him Reid had noticed it. The team later said they simply did not want the jersey in that VIP section of the sidelines.

The truth is this is a lot about nothing. Except that it again points out just how thin-skinned the Eagles organization is.

Was this guy wrong for wearing the McNabb jersey? Absolutely. If he was in the stands or anywhere else, it wouldn’t have been a big issue. But the fact is that he had a credential to be on the sidelines.

What’s telling here is the way the Eagles reacted. They should have simply ignored it. Instead, they again imposed their will. In the process they gave Devlin his 15 minutes of fame and created a story where there probably was none before.

I actually feel for them in this instance. Sure, your first reaction is to tell this knucklehead to take off the jersey. They could have booted him out altogether. Instead, they asked him to take off the jersey. He complied, and was actually seen later in the day back on the sidelines with a Kevin Kolb jersey on.

If you think this team has exorcised the demons surrounding Donovan McNabb, think again.

I wonder what their reaction would have been had it been a jersey with any other player’s name and number on it?

Of course, that didn’t happen. It was No. 5. Even though he now works a couple hundred miles south on I-95, the shadow of McNabb still lingers over the Eagles.

And it doesn’t look it’s going to go away anytime soon.

The Big 'O' leads Phils

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Roy Oswalt.

The Phils’ latest acquisition made his debut at Citizens Bank Park last night, and he delivered the goods.

Oswalt was every bit the third spike in the Phils’ powerful triple-headed monster at the top of their pitching rotation.

Oswalt dazzled the Dodgers over 7 innings, shutting them out on just five hits.

And what happened after Oswalt left the game might be just as impressive. Ryan Madson gave up just one hit in the eighth, while Brad Lidge showed glimpses of ’08 as the closer blew away L.A. 1-2-3 in the ninth, striking out two in the process.

If Lidge can hold this form, it will be a huge boost for the Phils as they continue to try to catch the first-place Braves. Last night’s win kept them two and half back.

There was more good news the Phils even before the game started. Doctors cleared second baseman Chase Utley to start swinging the bat as he rehabs from the bum thumb that required surgery.

In the meantime, Shane Victorino did his second rehab start in Lehigh Valley and looks ready to rejoin the team this weekend.

And Ryan Howard is now walking without crutches.

The Phils look like they’re getting their horses ready for the stretch run.

And they’re being led by the combination of “2HO.” Last night Roy Oswalt proved exactly why Ruben Amaro Jr. went out and got him.

Last night’s 7th, 8th and 9th innings were the blueprint that Charlie Manuel draws up in his dreams.

Tonight, Joe Blanton takes the mound for the Phils. Keep your fingers crossed.