Wednesday, July 31, 2013
'Live From the Newsroom' tackles same-sex marriage
The state has now returned fire in the great same-sex marriage debate.
Pennsylvania yesterday filed suit against Montgomery County and Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes, seeking to put a halt to the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Hanes last week made headlines by following up on Attorney General Kathleen Kane's announcement that she would not defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage from a legal challenge from the ACLU. Kane said she found the ban morally indefensible and "wholly unconstitutional."
Obviously, Gov. Tom Corbett disagrees. Yesterday he sicced his Health Department, which is in charge of issuing records in the state, to go after Montco in court.
And so it turns.
Tonight, our live-stream Internet show, 'Live From the Newsroom,' will join the conversation and tackle the divisive issue of same-sex marriage. I'll be joined by the Delaware County Register of Wills Hugh Donaghue, who has said the county intends to follow the law and has no intention of issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Also on hand will be state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, of Haverford, one of the state's leading gay rights advocates. Leach actually this week officiated at a ceremony of a same-sex couple who had gotten their license from Montgomery County. And we'll also have the strong voice of our featured Sunday columnist Christine Flowers to join the fray.
Now I want to know what you think. Email me your observations or questions for our panel. Do you think Hanes is right. Or are he and Kane flouting Pennsylvania law? Where do we go from here? Should Delco start issuing licenses.
Why not join the conversation? Then tune in tonight at 7 on DelcoTimes.com and take part in our live chat during the show.
It's the hottest issue in the state. Make your opinion known.
Not so fast, Eagles fans
Attention Eagles fans! Before you get too carried away with all this talk about Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense, there's something you might want to know.
The NFL officials might have other ideas.
In a Wall Street Journal story, the NFL's vice president of officiating Dean Blandino makes clear his belief that it's the referees - not the coaches or players - who dictate the pace of the game.
"We have to make sure teams understand that they don't control the tempo, our officials do," Blandino said.
Can you say fly in the ointment?
Much of the interest sparked by the arrival of Chip Kelly from Oregon is the notion of how his up-tempo, frenetic pace that steamrolled college opponents during his reign at Oregon would fly in the NFL.
Turns it might never get off the ground.
If I'm Jeff Lurie, I'm on the horn with Roger Goodell asking exactly what Blandino means. I don't think Lurie is depositing $6 million bucks in Kelly's bank account just to see him run the same offense everyone else in the league features.Kelly pretty much wants to be running a play every 23 seconds or so. That's what he averaged at Oregon. Last year the Patriots featured a version of this offense.
The Eagles and Patriots kick off the exhibition season in a couple of weeks. Maybe they should have a backup officiating crew on standby to give the regulars a blow.
Or maybe we'll find out the league is serious about the officials sticking a pin in Kelly's trial balloon.
And if that's the case, Lurie, Kelly and Eagles fans should waste little time in crying foul.
Why Philly is a great sports town
That's the witching hour for the Phillies and the rest of baseball as the trade deadline dominates the conversation. After all that talk yesterday, and after calling up third baseman Cody Asche, fueling speculation that Michael Young would be dealt, the Phils stood pat. Young even homered.
But 4 is not the number that most interested me from last night's 7-3 win by the Phils.
It's not 8 either, the number of consecutive losses the Phils snapped by beating the Giants.
Nor 1, celebrating the 1st home run of the year from Carlos Ruiz, who is on the lips of many of those talking trades.
And not even 8, that would be the number of home runs for the guy at the top of all the trade speculation, third baseman Young.
The number that most interests me is 36,492. No, that's not the number of trade offers GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has received in the past week.
That's the number of people who went through the turnstiles at Citizens Bank Park last night.
This for a team coming off one of its worst road trips in recent memory, losers of 8 straight, pretty much slamming the door on any playoff hopes, swept by both the Cardinals and Tigers, and playing even worse than that record appeared.
Remember that number when people start talking about great sports towns. More than 36,000 people filed into that little gem of a stadium in South Philly last night to watch this fatally flawed team.
Maybe they were just glad to have baseball back in town.
More likely, it tells you everything you need to know about Philly as a sports town.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
The Daily Numbers for Tuesday July 30
Sorting through the rubble at Penn State
Here's what I am left with after hearing some of the testimony against three former Penn State executives yesterday on charges connected to the Jerry Sandusky fallout.It has nothing to do with Graham Spanier, the school's former president who now faces charges that he covered up the whole thing, along with two key aides. It has nothing to do with Mike McQueary, the former assistant football coach who lit match to this powderkeg when he witnessed something involving Sandusky and a young boy in a shower. And hard to believe, it does not even have anything to do with the legendary Joe Paterno, the coach whose role in this mess led to his firing and ugly downfall. He died just a few months later. Instead I am thinking about this: How long do you think it will take Penn State to get past this? Will the school ever recover. For years, when you heard the words Penn State, you thought of football, of blue and white, and their legendary coach. Now when I hear the words Penn State, I am just as likely to think of Jerry Sandusky and all the sordid detail that entails. Maybe it's just me. I certainly hope so. So my question is this? Will Penn State ever get past Jerry Sandusky?
Sen. Leach presides over same-sex marriage
Honoring No. 5
Monday, July 29, 2013
The Daily Numbers for Monday July 29
News in an instant
Think you'd like to be a newspaper editor? Keep tabs on a website like DelcoTimes.com? Be able to publish news in an instant with a click of a mouse?
This job has changed dramatically over the last five years. We've gone from delivering news via one platform - namely print - once a day, to giving our readers information updated by the second, 24 hours a day, across several platforms.
The explosion of social media has opened the floodgates when it comes to the dissemination of information. We are no longer alone when it comes to publishing. Sure, you can make the argument that we bring a certain expertise to the job at hand, but the business has been fundamentally altered.
It's hard to explain just how the changes in journalism have affected what I do for a living, the decisions I have to make every day, now seemingly every second, in terms of breaking news.
No one story in the past five years has driven that point home to me more than the sad saga of Sunil Tripathi. You might remember the name. He was the Radnor High grad and Brown University student who went missing - seemingly without a trace - earlier this spring.
But for several hours in the early-morning hours of April 18-19, he became the unfortunate focus of the biggest story in the universe.
And for a few hours, I was wrestling with the idea that this story was about to fall right into my lap.
So you want to know what it's like to sit in this chair, to make the decisions I make every day? First I would like you to read this story on the Sunil Tripathi situation.
Then read this story that appeared on our website later in the morning of April 19.
And finally my blog, which appeared a few days later.
I'm revisiting the topic today because it has been on my mind all weekend. I've shared this New York Times piece with as many people in the business as I can.
To me it defines the new world we all now live – and work – in.
I won't ever forget those hours of Thursday night, April 18, and even more importantly the early-morning of April 19.
Just thinking about it again gives me that horrible knot in the pit of my stomach that seems to go hand in hand with my job on the bad days.
I won't ever forget that drive into the office, all the while hearing a talk show host clearly identify the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing as being the missing student from Radnor, right here in Delaware County.
Of course the report, stemming initially from some chatter on a Boston police scanner, was incorrect. Sunil Tripathi was not connected to the Boston tragedy.
But in a business that now operates second to second, that would not be known for several hours.
At least one Radnor cop also had heard the radio report – they dispatched a squad car to the Tripathi house, where the media already was descending.
Social media, Twitter and Facebook, had been ablaze with the possible connection for hours. But I didn't have any confirmation, so I waited.
I can tell you that in other circumstances, I have cited other media reports on breaking stories. This time, I didn't. It was too big. Too important. I wanted to wait until I had someone in authority telling me that. It's what we have always done, and it's what we still do, even when delivering news instantaneously.
I am proud that we never posted or obviously printed anything naming Tripathi as a suspect. But I can tell you it was close, and we had staffers on social media following all the “chatter.”
This story, maybe more than any other I’ve dealt with, showed me that we now live – and most importantly work – in a different world.
My job has changed. We're not going back. And I don't want to. We will continue to deliver news 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
That is now what our readers expect. They also want something else from us, I think in part because of what we do, and what we have done for years. They turn to us more than ever for context and meaning in a world that bombards them with information, in particular when it comes to breaking news, sometimes unfiltered, and not always accurate.
I love being able to deliver news to readers when they want – and as soon as we can get it – on the device the readers want to receive it.
Anyone who thinks we should be going back to the old ways is a fool.
But I also am aware of the immense power that we continue to wield, the notion of sharing and transmitting news in an instant.
I have to tell you sometimes it can be a humbling, scary experience. The early-morning hours of April 19 was one of those times.
And why I'll never forget the name of Sunil Trapathi.
The news isn't always good, folks
I always offer a caveat to business people who want to know how they can get their news in the paper or on our website.
I tell them we'd be happy to do it, while reminding them that it's likely some day we'll be contacting them under distinctly different circumstances. Meaning when bad news hits.
Don't believe me? Just ask Grant Gegwich. It's in my print column today.
One era begins, another ends in Philly sports
It was the start of one era - and the end of another - for Philly sports fans yesterday.
More than 30,000 fans entered Lincoln Financial Field to witness the first public workout for the Eagles under new head coach Chip Kelly.
Halfway across the country, the Phillies were busy putting the first few shovels full of dirt on the grave of a great team, a rotting shell of the vehicle that captured a World Weries title just a few years ago.
After winning their first game after the All-Star break in New York, the Phillies promptly dropped eight straight. And just when you thought things couldn't get any uglier after the team got shellacked 10-0 Saturday night, the Phils took their slapstick act to new depths yesterday in getting dusted again in Detroit, 12-4.
This team can't hit, can't field and only pitches in fits and starts. Reliever Jake Diekman was his own worst nightmare after he entered the game in the sixth. He botched two plays in the field, opening the door to another blowout loss.
Rookie outfielder Steve Susdorf, in his first game in the big leagues, somehow managed to bollix a routine fly ball. Darin Ruf contributed to the hijinks by fielding a ground ball, then firing high in an attempt to gun down a runner at the plate.
This looks like a team that has quit, particularly after they sent Raul Valdes to the mound Saturday and watched him get torched.
There's not a lot Manager Charlie Manuel can do about it, even if he is the one who is likely to pay the price.
The Phillies' play has for the most part made the decisions Ruben Amaro Jr. needs to make this week as the trade deadline approaches an after-thought. It doesn't really matter now. Baseball season is over.
Football season has begun in earnest, and the Eagles already have suffered a big loss.
Starting wide receiver Jeremy Maclin crumped to the grass in the team's second workout Saturday. He'll miss the season with a torn ACL. It's the same one he ripped up in college.
Not the best start for the Chip Kelly Era. But nowhere near as ugly as the end of an era for this core group of Phillies.
Friday, July 26, 2013
The Daily Numbers for Friday July 26
Delco's stand on same-sex marriage
As the world turns ... in Colwyn
My how the tables have turned down in tiny Colwyn.
It was just Sunday that Director of Public Safety Rochelle Bilal was being hauled into court to answer charges of theft and receiving stolen property filed against her and a police clerk by one of her own borough officers.
That didn't last long. Yesterday District Attorney Jack Whelan withdrew the charges, saying his office found no probable cause for the case filed by Officer Trevor Parham. You can read all those details here.
Last night borough council moved to fire Parham.
It's not Parham's first legal dustup. You might remember he was at the center of a case in which he was charged with using a Taser on a teen in a borough holding cell. He was acquitted of those charges.
Yesterday, after Whelan's ruling, Parham alleged the D.A. has a vendetta against him.
Funny, that's exactly what Bilal and her attorney were saying abour Parham.
What a town. We'll have an update with the latest from the Colwyn soap opera, including all the action at last night's council meeting.
All hail the kids from Ridley!
Forget the Phillies. How about those kids from Ridley?
While the Phillies were losing their fifth straight last night, the young stars from Ridley Area Little League won again, putting them on the brink of a state title.
Ridley's 9-4 win over West Point means they play for the state Little League title tonight in Bradford, Pa. And who might they be facing for the state crown? That would be next-door neighbors Lionville, from Chester County.
Make sure you follow Matt for live updates tonight on Twitter at @mattchandik, then pick up a copy of the Saturday Daily Times for complete coverage.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
The Daily Numbers for Thursday July 25
What Kathleen Kane has wrought
Some like it hot
Here's my dilemma: As anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows, I like it hot.
Real hot. And humid. Like cut the air with a knife humid.
But I have a problem with that kind of weather. Actually, my wife does. She hates it. So she flips on the air-conditioning.
I hate air-conditioning. It might as well be winter. I'm trapped inside with the curtains drawn to keep the sun out. Might as well be February.
So I usually sit outside while she's inside.
Having said that, I was all smiles when I pulled around the corner and saw the old homestead last night. First thing I noticed was the fact that all the windows were open.
It got better. Last night was gorgeous. I actually slept with the covers on.
And this morning was just stupendous. There was another huge moon that made everything look almost like dusk, even if it was 4 a.m.
OK, that's enough. Bring back the heat and humidity. Or at least a winning Phillies team.
It's over, Ruben
If you listened hard enough, you could almost hear old Dandy Don Meredith warbling his favorite tune during last night's disastrous Phillies effort in St. Louis last night.
"Turn out the lights, the party's over."
Attention Ruben Amaro Jr.: It's not just the fans, bloggers and media that are imploring you to sell. Listen to your players. They sent you a resounding message with their play last night.
It's over. This team is not going anywhere. It's time to pull the plug and see what you can get for the few valued pieces left on this sinking ship.
The Phillies were overmatched again last night against a good team, getting blown out by the Redbirds, 11-3. and it wasn't that close.
The Phillies dropped their fourth straight game, and did it in sloppy fashion. Get all the details here from Dennis Deitch.
Making matters worse, the Phils learned before the game they would be without the services of their lone offensive threat, All-Star outfielder Dom Brown. He is dealing with concussion symptoms after falling hard while diving for a line drive Tuesday night.
The Phils looked like they were ready to raise the white flag early. Manuel had to go to a pinch hitter for starter John Lannan in the fifth inning, looking for a spark with his team down only 4-1. Didn't work out. He sent up John McDonald and his less than lusty .103 batting average. He promptly hit into a double-play to kill any hope of a rally.
I'm not sure how long Amaro can afford to wait to get value for the players that likely would draw serious interest. Other teams are making moves. The Phils are sitting in idle. And putting their fans to sleep.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The Daily Numbers for Wednesday July 24
What Ryan Braun cost us
Chase is over for this Phillies team
The Phillies took another stop closer to being "sellers" last night, looking fairly lifeless in a 4-1 loss to open a key road trip in St. Louis.
Chase Utley seems to be at the top of the possible shopping list. Utley offered a punctuation mark on his value last night by banging out three hits and raising his batting average to .286.
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has just about a week to decide if the Phillies are going to be "buyers" or "sellers" at the trade deadline. Any more performances like last night might make it an easier decision, both for the team and for Utley.
This team is not going anywhere. It is fatally flawed, with gaping holes in both their bullpen and outfield.
They owe closer Jonathan Papelbon another $26 million, along with another $13 million in a vesting option for 2016.
A team struggling to keep its head over the .500 mark does not need a $26 million closer, especially not one who has developed velocity problems, as Papelbon has the past few weeks.
But they do need a second baseman. And it will not make Amaro's job any easier that Utley just happens to be very likely the most popular player on the team.
Still, these two guys likely represent their best bet when it comes to acquiring the kind of prospects they so desperately need to rebuild this squad.
This team is not likely to make the playoffs with Utley. Moving him might improve their chances in years to come.
And that's a fact, Jack.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The Daily Numbers for Tuesday July 23
Some Frank talk about the royal baby
A violent weekend in Chester
There is a vigil and protest planned tonight in Chester to mark the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, and to honor the memory of Trayvon Martin.
They really didn't have to look that far to find victims of street violence.
This weekend there were eight separate shootings in the city of Chester. One of them was fatal. One life was lost, another man is in critical condition and several others were wounded.
The shootings occurred between 11:48 p.m. Saturday and 10:26 p.m. Sunday. They were't limited to any one neighborhood.
Much has been made of the verdict that acquitted George Zimmerman of all charges in the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.
But you don't have to look that far to find victims of gun violence. People are being shot - killed or wounded - all too often in Chester.
I wish I had the answer. I'm sure Chester Mayor John Linder does, too. I hope when they gather tonight to remember Martin, they decide to take action to take back their neighborhoods from the gun-toting toughs who too often rule them now.
Life Without Electricity
It's amazing what we take for granted every day.
When I open my eyes in the morning (usually long before the alarm goes off), I expect to be able to look at the clock on my nightstand and see how many more precious minutes I have until I have to get up and start the day. I have long ago lost the ability to "sleep in." I usually am in a dead sleep for a couple of hours early, then I'm pretty much up for a couple of fitful final hours.
My usual habit is to keep glancing at the clock to keep tabs on the time.
Not last night.
That's because we had lost power at some point in the night, courtesy of the deluge that dumped several more inches of rain on the region, along with a pretty impressive thunder and lightning show.
Apparently, at least according to my kids, the alarm clock is pretty much a thing of the past. They use their phone for that duty these days. Is there anything you can't use your phone for today? And if there is, I am sure it will only be a few minutes before someone designs "an app for that."
I'm old school. I wear an Indiglo watch to bed, so I didn't need to look for the phone to determine what time it was. Luckily, I still had an hour to lie in bed and ponder the day ahead.
That's about the extent of the good news. Ever try to exist in your house without electric? It's not as easy as you might think, as I learned this morning.
Luckily, I am pretty much used to getting up and around in the dark. My wife doesn't get up until later, so my normal early-morning routine is to pretty much function in the dark. Yes, there are a lot of people who insist I do that pretty much all day.
I can maneuver around the room, grab my radio and head downstairs. Yes, I still have an old AM/FM portable radio. It - along with KYW Newsradio - has been my faithful morning companion for years. That old battery-operated radio has been stronger than any storm to hit us for 30 years.
It is the first thing I do every morning. Once I'm on the stairs (and out of earshot for my wife) I flip on the radio to see if the world has survived since I slid into my coma-like state the night before.
Having successfully navigated the stairs I glanced outside. Yep, looked like the whole neighborhood was in the dark.
But as I strode toward the kitchen, panic set in. Not when I flipped on the light switch only to be reminded that was a luxury I was now living without. I'm talking something much more important than that. I'm talking coffee.
I realized the second thing I do every morning was going to be a problem. No, not the bathroom. That's third on my list.
No electric, no java. For a second, I was panic-stricken. I actually considered getting in my car and making a quick Wawa run, but I didn't know if they would have power either.
I glumly headed back up the steps, and wondered how I was supposed to get ready for work without lights. My wife informed me that the battery-powered lantern she acquired from her mother during one of last winter's storm was downstairs in the laundry room.
I manged to wash my face and hair, then realized there would be no blow-dry this morning. I think I will survive.
I carried the lantern into the closet and grabbed a shirt, tie and pants. I hope the hell they match.
When I finally stepped outside and was walking to the car, a weird thing happened. At first I thought the power came back on. It almost seemed like it was getting light out. Then I looked up. There in the sky (which had obviously cleared) was one of the most amazing moons I have ever seen, able to clearly light up the darkened neighborhood.
I got into the car, turned the key, and smiled as the dash lights came on. Amazing what a little light can do.
From there I made a beeline to the Wawa. This morning it was 24 ounces. After all I had some catching up to do. I usually polish off two large mugs before I leave the house, and have my commuter mug with me for the ride into the office.
I rail a lot about the technology I have to deal with every day.
Electricity would not be one of them. It comes in pretty handy.
I can survive without a lot of things. Coffee is not one of them.
The day can only get better from here.
Monday, July 22, 2013
The Daily Numbers for Monday July 22
Weekends will never be the same
This time, Chitwood not embracing limelight
There's not a lot of gray area when it comes to Mike Chitwood.
The Upper Darby top cop known to many as "Media Mike" shoots from the lip. In the process he rubs some folks the wrong way.
But Chitwood has been somewhat muffled when it comes to an investigation that led to the termination of two township police officers. I explain in this week's print column.
Royalty in the UK - Mickelson of course
There's big news out of the UK!
No, not the expected birth of their first child for Princess Kate and Prince William. In case you haven't heard, the Duchess of Cambridge is in labor and has been taken to the hospital.
Yeah, I'm on the edge of my seat, too.
I have never quite gotten the whole Royal Family thing. Pretty good gig, if you can get it though.
I was much more interested in the other royalty from the UK this weekend. That would be golf royalty, and another bauble in the crown of Phil Mickelson.
This comes from a decided non-Mickelson fan. The final round 66 he put together Sunday to come from five strokes back and win the British Open at Muirfield is one of the great rounds of golf in the history of the Majors.
My guy Tiger once again never got it going on Sunday.
But Phil hit some shots late in the round, including a three-wood from 300 yards out that he ran onto the green and set up a birdie on 17, that were just exquisite. Maybe even royal. He followed that up with a gorgeous iron approach to 10 feet on 18.
Mickelson birdied four of the final six holes.
I'm not really sure why I've never warmed up Mickelson. But I'm starting to come around. He seems like a really nice guy. And right now, he is indisputably the best golfer on the planet.
Yes, Tiger is still ranked No. 1. Phil checks in at No. 2. I didn't realize until I heard driving in this morning that Mickelson has never been ranked No. 1. I guess that is what happens when you hit your peak at the same time as the best golfer of all time.
But make no mistake. There was new royalty crowned in Scotland this weekend. And it wasn't Tiger.
Not the second half start the Phillies wanted
The Phillies exploded out of the blocks Friday night to kick off the "second half," erupting for 15 hits en route to a 13-8 blowout win over the Mets.
They had Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee line up to pitch Saturday and Sunday.
Rack up another series win, right?
Ugh, not exactly.
Hamels struggled on Saturday, going just five innings, and getting knocked around for four runs on seven hits.
It didn't get any better on Sunday, when Cliff Lee again was serving up home run balls. For the second straight game, Lee surrendered back-to-back homers and the Phils' streak of winning series was snapped.
Lee gave up three homers in total. If you're counting, that's seven homers in his last two starts, after he got shelled for four dingers by the Nats on July 10.
On the flip side, the Phil's bats were totally overmatched going against Mets' ace Matt Harvey. He didn't allow a hit until the fourth and struck out 10, twice striking out the side.
Looking for silver linings? Both the Braves and Nationals lost, which means the Phils remain six and a half out in the NL East.
Hey, how about that Phil Mickelson?
Or, a little closer to home, football season starts today as Chip Kelly opens his first training camp in South Philly.
If the Phillies want to remain on the radar screen, they better figure out a way to take the upcomign series in St. Louis in Atlanta, or they almost assuredly will be steamrolled by the Eagles Express.
Friday, July 19, 2013
The Daily Numbers for Friday July 19
Heat takes a nasty turn for roofers
I was actually considering rolling out one of my old summer favorites for today's front page. The days of the week and Mother Nature were combining for the perfect "Fry-Day" Page One hammer.
That all changed early yesterday afternoon when this brutal heat wave took a very serious turn. Several roofers doing a job on the roof of the Chichester Middle School were overcome. Emergency responders were doing a rescue. You can get all the details here.
Think you were hot yesterday? Imagine being on a roof working with tar that can reach upwards of 400 degrees.
Thankfully, all the workers appear to be OK.
In the meantime, make sure you're contributing to our live blog as the heat wave rolls on. Give us your pictures and videos. The heat wave is not expected to break until Saturday night.
How hot is it? Well, if you read this column at all, you'll know that I am not a big fan of air-conditioning. I tolerate it at work, but I actually like this kind of weather. The hotter and more humid, the better I like it.
But when I left the office last night, I have to admit that even I considered switching on the air in the car. Somehow, I managed to make it home with the windows open.
Amazingly, when I got back in the car to head in this morning, it felt even worse. You know it's summer when you open the front door and the air hits you like a warm, wet rag.
Hey, look on the bright side, we get the Phillies back tonight. I'll be the guy sitting out on the deck listening to the game. Now if I could just keep those pesky skeeters away.
Can you say pennant race?
Buckle your seat belts, Phillies fans. The second half has been cleared for takeoff.
And it looks like it might be a bumpy ride.
For some reason, I'm optimistic about the second half.
And I can tell you why in one word: Pitching.
The Phils have the best starting rotation in the National League East.
Add to that the fact that they were playing their best baseball headed into the break and I think you have the makings of a pennant race. Yes, I know losing Ben Revere is a huge loss. He'll be out six-eight weeks after taking a nasty foul ball off his foot. The leadoff man had hiked his average over .300 and was becoming the perfect table-setter, base stealer and general on-base pest the Phils have sorely needed. He joins Ryan Howard on the shelf.
But the pennant race is all about pitching, and I like the Phils' starters. Cole Hamels looks like he's rounding into form, and Cliff Lee has been a horse again this summer.
The Phils open the second half dead even at 48-48. They have 66 games to play, starting tonight with a weekend sting in what will be an oven-like CitiField in New York City against the Mets.
They are six and a half games back of the Braves, and only a half-game behind of the Nationals. Neither one of those teams scare me.
The key to these 66 games likely resides in the bullpen, and that could be a problem for the Phillies. They've struggled to find the right combination there, although Antonio Bastardo looks like he's finally becoming a viable option as an eighth-inning guy. But closer Jonathan Papelbon has had issues of his own, and could be on the trading block if that continues.
The Phils' best path to the playoffs would be by winning the division. Both Wild Card winners could wind up coming out of the Central Division, where both the Pirates and Reds are well over .500 as they chase the first-place Cardinals.
Beat writer Dennis Deitch takes a look at what G.M. Ruben Amaro Jr. is thinking as the days tick off toward the trade deadline. If the Phils don't get off to a good second half start, it could be time to man the lifeboats.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
The Daily Numbers for Thursday July 18
Another unwanted headline for Crozer
As fate would have it, I had a visit last week from Grant Gegwich. He's the new vice president of public relations and marketing at Crozer Keystone Health System.
Crozer just happens to be the county's largest employer, with more than 6,800 employees. That makes them pretty important in this county, and certainly very important to us.
Grant wanted to stop in and formally introduce himself, even though we've worked with him for years. He's new as the top dog. We had a great conversation, with him suggesting some items we might want to develop in terms of stories, and us letting him know of our needs in terms of information, especially at nights and on weekends, when staffing is reduced.
Of course, the linchpin of the Crozer system is Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland.
As is almost always the case with businesses in the county, inevitably we will end up calling them under circumstances that are not the best. This happens routinely at Crozer. Their Burn Center is nationally renowned. It is not unusual for serious burn victims from all across the region to wind up there.
Toward the end of the meeting, Grant mentioned a recent story that his bosses were less than thrilled with. It involved a shooting that occurred outside the medical center in the parking lot. They believed our coverage painted Crozer unnecessarily in a bad light.
I immediately thought of that conversation as I was driving into the office early Tuesday and heard the news that a woman - a patient at Crozer - had been wounded by a stray bullet that came from outside the hospital.
That's one of the reasons I was glad that District Attorney Jack Whelan decided to have a press conference outside the hospital later in the morning. Whelan stressed that this was a fluke, a most unusual incident for what is in fact a very safe facility.
He stressed that they had no reason to believe that either the woman or the hospital had been targeted. Instead, the most likely culprit was random gunfire that could have come from as far as a mile away.
Investigators continue to probe the surrounding neighborhoods as they try to determine where those shots came from.
Luckily, the woman who was wounded was not seriously injured. She was treated and is expected to make a full recovery.
We will continue to cover Crozer. We will tell you of the many great things that are happening there.
And, of course, when a patient is wounded by a stray bullet.
Political feud boils over in Sharon Hill
Who says there's no sports? Go Tiger!
Here's a little secret. I know this is supposed to be big news for a tabloid newspaper editor, but I don't give a hoot about the royal baby.
Other than the fact that, should William and Kat's offspring be a girl, will they name it for his mother, Princess Diana, the story does not do a thing for me.
I am much more interested in something else happening across the pond this weekend. That, of course, would be the British Open, or as the locals somewhat haughtily refer to it, The Open Championship.
And it's getting here just in time.
The Phillies haven't played in what seems like weeks. (Actually, they resume their post-All Star Game schedule Friday night in New York against the Mets). The Eagles have not yet assembled in South Philly (remember, they're not going to Lehigh this summer), and the Flyers and Sixers are doing their normal off-season tinkering. No, the Sixers have not yet hired a coach. I'm not in the running, by the way. Neither is Ron Hextall, he just signed to be assistant GM and seemingly heir-in-waiting for Paul Holmgren.
So if you're a golf nut like me, the British Open provides the perfect tonic (even better if accompanied by some Tanqueray!)
And, of course, there's an added bonus. Because of the time change, the competition is going on six hours ahead of our time. In other words, the guys are out on the course now, and finish up in the early afternoon.
It's perfect for an early-bird like me.
So who's going to win? Who else, Tiger of course. I know, he hasn't been at his best lately in the Majors. Specifically, he hasn't won one since the 2008 U.S. Open.
Take my word for it. That streak stops this weekend at Muirfield. And here's an added bonus. Tiger will follow that up by taking the final major of the year - The PGA - in a couple of weeks. You heard it here first.
Too bad we're not all across the pond. We could plunk down a few quid on my knowledge.
Put the house on it, Tiger wins the next two majors. Just make sure it's your house, not mine.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The World's Greatest Invention
As he almost always does, my early-morning pal Big Daddy Graham gave me another great trip down memory lane this morning.
Most of you are probably still in a coma-like state at that hour. But I get to the office early, and Big Daddy is my commuting pal as I listen to his overnight show on WIP 94.1.
Most nights he does a segment he calls, "Let's Go Back to Your Childhood." I almost always connect with it.
He teased it going into the break this morning, saying he was going to talk about "the greatest invention" in history.
I happen to have some strong thoughts on this topic. I personally believe the TV remote control is the single greatest invention ever, a device that fundamentally changed our society. My kids still have trouble believing that when I was a tyke, if you wanted to change the channel on the tube, you actually had to get up out of your comfy seat, walk over to the TV, and change the dial manually. I'm not making this up.
But that's not what Big Daddy had in mind, and in light of what we're dealing with weather-wise in the region this week, it's hard to argue with him.
Big Daddy wanted to praise the merits of air-conditioning.
All together now: Ahhhhhhhhhh!
Even better, he wanted to point out something else I distinctly remember: Life without air-conditioning. We had similar upbringings, although he grew up in a city rowhouse, and I did my early years in a small country town. Neither of us grew up in a house that was air-conditioned.
I mean not one room. None.
Yes, we also slept on the floor downstairs. When it got really hot, as it is around here this week, we would actually "camp out" on the screened-in porch.
The second floor of the house was like an oven, almost unbearable. Never seemed to stop my mom and dad from making the trek up the stairs every day.
There was one thing my dad refused to do, however. During one particular wicked heat wave, our mother got the idea to do dinner down in the basement, where it was decidedly cooler, but also decidedly unfinished. We're talking about a basement that often got water, that had concrete floors and more than a little assorted junk sitting just about everywhere. The washer and dryer set in one corner, along with a line where my mom used to hang clothes.
The kids all thought dinner in the basement was a fabulous idea. Hey, it was different from what we did every night. We even helped set the table. We looked at it as an adventure. Our father did not. He was not exactly the adventurous type. He was interested in meat and potatoes. He was a man who was - how should I say this? - fairly set in his ways. He took one look in the basement, shot one look at my mom, and promptly took his normal spot at the dinner table in the kitchen. That's where he ate, while the rest of us dined in the basement.
To this day I am not a big fan of air-conditioning. I'll take it in the office. But I hate using it at home. I love hot weather, and humidity. I know, that makes me more than a little weird. I look at it this way: Air-conditioning does something that I hate; it reminds me of winter, I'm trapped inside a house. That's why I so loved my screened-in porch, and why I like the sunroom that replaced it in the winter, it's not the same in the summer. Add in this year's voracious crop of mosquitoes, and I can barely get in any time out on the deck at night before I'm being eaten alive.
There's something else I noticed this week. Where I sit at our kitchen table (and does every family have assigned seats at this table? I don't think we've ever sat in any other arrangement) is right above one of the grate, which these days is pumping out the A.C. I hate it. As I sat there last night, I thought about dad, and his decision not to dinner in the basement.
I couldn't help but smile. I know how you feel, Dad.
Thanks for another great memory, Big Daddy!