Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Holy War surrounding Monsignor Lynn

Seth Williams needs to tell us what he really thinks.

Make no mistake, the Philadelphia district attorney is not even a little bit happy about an appeals court ruling that threw out the case against Monsignor William Lynn, convicted of endangering the welfare of children in the children's sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Yesterday a Philadelphia judge admitted she may have erred in her interpretation of the law, and set bail for the only high-ranking church official convicted in the scandals.

That did not sit particularly well with Williams. In fact, he decided to raise a little holy hell.

He railed against the ruling tossing the case against Lynn and called the move to grant him bail an abomination.

Williams vowed to do everything in his power to put Lynn "back where he belongs, behind bars."

I agree with Williams when he says he was "disgusted" with the rulings and what has transpired in this case. What I don't agree with is the unshakeable facts that at the time Lynn is alleged to have been endangering children, the law did not apply to him. It was changed later, and Lynn was charged retroactively.

I spent yesterday morning talking about this volatile subject with Dom Giordano on his WPHT-1210 AM radio show. Clearly Dom is of the belief that Lynn absolutely did endanger children and that he deserved to be in jail.

I don't necessarily disagree with him, when it comes to what Lynn and in fact the superiors of the archdiocese did in terms of the way they handled child sexual abuse cases.

But it doesn't change the law.

Apparently, it doesn't change opinions either.

Resolving to avoid the weather in 2014

I've never been a big fan of New Year's resolutions. What am I going to do, give up cursing for the umpteenth time.

I am making an exception this year.

I am swearing off the local weather forecasters.

Yes, we apparently are in line for some kind of nasty winter weather later this week.

Sounds like there is a chance of snow Thursday into Friday. And we are going to be hit with some ferocious cold temperatures.

Can't we just leave it at that? Of course not. Instead we will get 24-hour coverage of whatever it is that is going to happen.

Count me out.

I'm ringing in 2014, and ringing out the hype that so often accompanies the local forecast. Who's with me?

A new test for Foles, Eagles

The Eagles - and Nick Foles - are headed into new territory.

One of the undercurrents of this most-unexpected season that sees the Birds playing a Wild Card game at home Saturday night is the breaks they have gotten along the way.

Now make no mistake, this team is good, and they have a fantastic coach with an innovative system that has changed just about everything involving the NFL regimen, from training to diets.

But the Birds also have been lucky. Hey, the guy who said he'd rather be lucky than good was right. In this case, the Eagles have been both good and lucky.

They played the Packers without star QB Aaron Rodgers, who returned to the lineup Sunday and pulled off a miracle finish to propel Green Bay into the playoffs.

They got the Lions and their high-flying offense in a near blizzard at the Linc, conditions that sent star running back Reggie Bush to the sidelines with a hamstring problem.

Their rematch with the Cowboys for all the marbles Sunday night in Big D featured Kyle Orton, as opposed to Tony Romo, at quarterback. Oddly enough, Orton played very well, right up until the moment he did his best Romo imitation by throwing a critical interception that sealed the Cowboys' fate just when it seemed they might be pulling off a come-from-behind victory.

The Eagles will get no such break Saturday night vs. the Saints.

Instead, they will face a legitimate superstar in New Orleans QB Drew Brees. Nick Foles will peer across the field and see the QB he would like to be.

The Eagles and Foles will need to pick up their game considerably. In particular, if they can't put any more pressure on Brees with their defensive front than they did against Orton, it could be a long night.

The prescription for victory in this game just might be something that Kelly does not especially like to do.

The Eagles should control the clock - and keep Brees and the Saints offense off the field - by running the ball with a steady diet of LeSean McCoy.

The breaks are over for the Eagles. Now comes the hard part. We're about to find out exactly how good Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and Chip Kelly are.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Dec. 30 (Eagles-Cowboys Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 10-6 record for the Eagles in the 1st year under Chip Kelly.

7-1 in their last 8 games.

4 wins last year under Andy Reid.

24-22 win in a nail-biter over the Cowboys in a winner-take-all for the NFC East crown and a spot in the playoffs.

131 yards rushing on 27 carries for LeSean McCoy.

17 of 26 for 263 yards for Nick Foles.

8 o’clock Saturday night, first round of the playoffs vs. the Saints at the Linc.

30 of 46 for Cowboys QB Kyle Orton in a great effort filling in for injured Tony Romo.

2 key interceptions, including the clincher for Brandon Boykin with a little more than 3 minutes left.

2 interceptions thrown all year by Nick Foles.

5 sacks of Foles by the Cowboys.

6 INTs on the year for Boykin.

3 straight seasons in which the Cowboys have now blown a chance to win the NFC East on the last day of the regular season.

2 records set yesterday by McCoy, shattering marks of Wilbert Montgomery for rushing yards in a season, and total yards from scrimmage held by Brian Westbrook.

3 years out of the playoffs that comes to an end for the Birds, who last played in the post-season in 2010.

9 NFC East crowns for the Eagles, the last one being in 2010.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Raise your hand if you had pegged Chip Kelly to go 10-6 in his 1st year at helm of the Birds. Thought so.

I Don’t Get It: Patrick Chung. The thought of him going against Drew Brees will keep us from getting back any of the sleep we lost last night. Get well soon, Earll Wolff.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Mychal Kendricks, who forced a fumble and also had an interception. We’re looking at an All-Pro in the making.

Quote Box: “That was an interesting fourth quarter ... to say the least.”

- Chip Kelly after the Eagles squeaked by the Cowboys last night.

Justice for Monsignor Lynn

Attorneys for Monsignor William Lynn - the only high-ranking church official ever convicted in connection with the burgeoning child sex abuse scandal - will be in court today looking to have their client freed on bail.

I hope he gets it, and he goes free after 18 months behind bars.

That's not because I condone for a second what I believe he and other archdiocesan officials did. It remains in my view no less horrendous, what amounts to a policy of putting the reputation of the church and problem priests over that of children.

I believe Monsignor Lynn was doing the bidding his job as best he could, implementing the policies put in place by Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who was not charged in the scandal.

I think his actions - and the church's policies - did in fact endanger the welfare of children. Lynn himself while on the stand during his trial indicated that "doing his best" to protect kids was not enough. But opinions - even moral ones - do not trump the law.

And clearly there were serious legal issues surrounding Lynn's conviction.

Specifically, a three-judge state appeals court ruled in his favor after his lawyers made the argument that Lynn never should have been charged - let alone convicted - under Pennsylvania law. That's because the law that was in place at the time Lynn's actions are in question, did not apply to Lynn in his supervisory status as secretary for the clergy in the archcdiocese. The law targeted only people with direct supervision over of children, such as parents or teachers.

The law was changed in 2007, widened in scope to include those such as employers whose employees end up harming children.

In Lynn's case, the case zeroed in on a reassignment of Edward Avery, a defrocked priest who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting an altar boy.

You can find our editorial position here.

This is my person opinion.

I should note that Monsignor Lynn was my parish priest. Much of what I have written in regards to his case have not exactly been welcomed by many in my parish, St. Joseph's in Downingtown.

I still abhor the behavior of the archdiocese in this case. No doubt advocates for victim abuse will rue the appeals court's ruling. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams already is ripping the ruling and indicating he may appeal.

Protesters were back outside the Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Center City yesterday. The moral argument clearly is on their side.

The legal argument just as clearly is not.

Monsignor Lynn has been behind bars for 18 months for a crime that he could not have committed, because the law did not apply to him at the time.

Many no doubt will refer to it as getting off on a legal technicality.

I don't consider spending 18 months in jail anything of the sort. Lynn has paid a huge price. So has the church.

My hope is that they have learned from the scandal that has burned around this issue for years. My belief is they likely have not.

That should not be used as a wedge to keep him in jail.

It's time for Monsignor William Lynn to be freed.

From worst to first


Let those numbers roll off your tongue this morning and marvel at how far the Eagles have come under Chip Kelly.

One year after a dispirited flock of Birds coughed up a four-win season that paved the way out of town for Andy Reid after 14 years at the helm, Chip Kelly has pulled off a miraculous turnaround.

Worst to First.

It wasn't easy. These things never are. The Eagles gave the Delaware Valley a serious case of white-knuckle football in their prime time confrontation with the hated Cowboys last night, using a Brandon Boykin interception to finally seal the deal, and a 24-22 victory. You can get all the details here.

Now the Eagles host the New Orleans Saints in a first-round playoff game on Saturday night at the Linc. So much for all those who belittled Kelly, his hyper offense, and his offbeat coaching methods as "high school" stuff.

Start looking for every team in the league to start sucking down smoothies, the drink of choice that Kelly uses as part of his 'different' training regimen.

Critics will say the Eagles got a lot of breaks en route to that 10-6 record. They are right. Last night they faced a Cowboys team missing its star quarterback, just as they had earlier this season when they beat the Packers in Lambeau without Aaron Rodgers.

Kyle Orton seemed more than up to the task of upsetting the Eagles, right up until the moment when he did his best Tony Romo imitation, throwing a crucial interception late in the fourth quarter to seal Dallas' fate.

Raise your hand if you had the Eagles at 10-6 back in August? If you had them even managing to keep their heads above .500, let alone competing for an NFC East title and spot in the playoffs.

That's how far Kelly has brought this team in just a few short months.

Imagine what he might be able to do when he has a few more years - and drafts - to put his system in place. And consider one other thing. Consider the difference in this franchise with Kelly at the helm, as opposed to those final few years of the Andy Reid regime.

The former Eagles coach made no friends in Pennsylvania yesterday, resting most of his key starters as the Chief blew a chance to beat the Chargers, thus keeping the Steelers out of the playoffs.

Reid's team now must go on the road for the first round of the post-season.

Given the same choice against the Bears last week, a game that meant next to nothing for the Eagles since it was clear they had to beat the Cowboys regardless to get into the playoffs, Kelly took the opposite approach. He used his starters, hit the gas, and never looked back.

Much as he has done all year.

It's been an exhilirating ride. And a most refreshing change from where we were last year at this time. And next to no one - other than maybe Kelly himself saw it coming.

How far can the Eagles go in the post-season? Ask all those experts who had the Birds winning four games this year.

10-6. It's a mark that no doubt has a lot of people around the NFL green with envy.

Kelly green, you might say.

Revisiting a Page One headline

The most important decision I make here every day as editor of the Daily Times is what is going to appear on our front page.

Some days I do a better job than others. Just ask anybody in Upper Darby.

I explain the process in today's print column.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Raise your hand if you saw this coming back in August — the Eagles playing the Cowboys in the final game on the schedule, with the winner claiming first place in the NFC East and a spot in the playoffs.

Didn’t think so.

I also think you can forget a lot of what you’ve been hearing all week. I don’t think it’s going to make much difference now that Tony Romo is officially out for the game and Kyle Orton is at QB for the Cowboys. The Eagles are the better team, by a lot.

This Eagles team barely resembles the bunch that struggled mightily against the ‘Boys at the Linc in October. It was Nick Foles’ worst day. With a chance to grab the spotlight — and starting QB position - he came up small.

He’s been lights out since, ably assisted by LeSean McCoy, the best back in the NFL.

But the real secret to this game will be Kelly, who seems to bring his game to a new level when he hits the national stage, something that transfers to his team. His play-calling in last Sunday night’s demolition of the Bears was almost flawless.

And once again this weekend entire country will be watching the Eagles-Cowboys game as the finale to the NFL’s regular season.

The Cowboys will go with Orton, now that Tony Romo has undergone his second serious back surgery in two years. But much more important will be the absence of middle linebacker Sean Lee. He played a big role in stifling McCoy back in that first game.

The Cowboys will bank on a huge helping from running back DeMarco Murray to fill the void left by Romo. It won’t be enough.

I look for big games from Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy, and a party that will start the New Year’s celebration early back in Philly.

The Pick: Make it Eagles 33, Cowboys 23. Forget the Romo saga. In one game, I’m taking Chip Kelly over Jason Garrett every day of the week. What Kelly has done with this team in a single season is simply astounding. He’s going to win a Super Bowl someday, I just hope it’s in Philly.

Last Week: Kelly made a believer out of me when the Eagles absolutely dismantled the Bears on national TV. By the second half, the Bears looked like a team that wanted to be just about anywhere other than the Linc. And remember it was the Bears who had everything to play for as opposed to the Eagles, who knew going in that the game was basically meaningless for them.

Season Record: I expected the Bears to handle the Birds with that much at stake. Wrong again. Missing the Bears game dropped me to 9-6. Meanwhile, the Birds are sitting at an identical 9-6 and in control of their own destiny in Dallas. Win and they’re in. I think they do just that - and in convincing fashion.

Game by Game: Eagles 33, Redskins 27 (My Pick: Redskins 31, Eagles 23)

Chargers 33, Eagles 30 (My Pick: Eagles 33, Chargers 17)

Chiefs 26, Eagles 16 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Chiefs 23)

Broncos 52, Eagles 20 (My Pick: Broncos 41, Eagles 27)

Eagles 36, Giants 21 (My Pick: Eagles 29, Giants 26)

Eagles 31, Buccaneers 20 (My Pick: Eagles 26, Buccaneers 17)

Cowboys 17, Eagles 3 (My Pick: Cowboys 33, Eagles 23)

Giants 15, Eagles 7 (My Pick: Giants 26, Eagles 23)

Eagles 49, Raiders 20 (My Pick: Raiders 23, Eagles 13)

Eagles 27, Packers 13 (My Pick: Eagles 29. Packers 16)

Eagles 24, Redskins 16 (My Pick: Eagles 33, Redskins 27)

Eagles 24, Cardinals 21 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Cardinals 19)

Eagles 34, Lions 20 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Lions 23)

Vikings 48, Eagles 30 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Vikings 19)

Eagles 54, Bears 11 (My Pick: Bears 29, Eagles 27)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas spirit alive and well in Middletown

It's often difficult to find a story that represents the Christmas spirit.

Not this year.

I can't think of anything that represents the meaning of Christmas more than the way the Middletown community rallied to the side of an elderly couple who were victimized by some decidedly Grinch-like thieves who targeted them and stole their $4,500 life savings. You can read it here.

Oh, and other thing: Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday Morning Quarterback

Chip Kelly learned his lesson.

One week after sending a message to his team - and the Vikings - that the Eagles were scared of return man Cordarrelle Patterson, Kelly put his team and everyone on notice that he would not make the same mistake two weeks in a row.

The Eagles kicked off to Bears returner extraordinaire Devin Hester and - surprise,surprise - tackled him. The Birds then put their foot on the Bears' throat and never looked back in a rollicking, 54-11 blowout in front of a prime time audience.

The Eagles had nothing to play for after the Cowboys scored on the last play of their 1 o'clock game vs. the Redskins. Dallas' win meant Sunday night's game meant next to nothing for the Eagles. Next Sunday's crucial showdown in Dallas would be a winner-take-all extravaganza for the NFC East crown and a spot in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Bears had just the opposite challenge going in. They knew that if they could beat the Eagles, they would lock up the NFC Central crown. The Eagles never gave them a shot.

Count me among those stunned at what I was watching last night.

The Eagles sent a message to all those who doubted them after last week's letdown in Minnesota, in which their defense was gashed again and again.

When Kelly and the Eagles played scared.

Has a defense ever made a bigger turnaround? They hounded Jay Cutler into a miserable night, made running back Matt Forte an afterthought, and strangled the life out of the Bears early on the way to a rout.

Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy continue their personal competition for the NFL's MVP honors.

But most of all, this game belonged to their head coach, Chip Kelly.

He was questioned for several questionable decisions in Minnesota. There were no questions last night, except for perhaps how long he would keep his starters in the game.

Earlier this year, the Eagles showed problems living with the lead after getting up on teams. There was no sign of that last night. The Birds never let the Bears breathe, let along consider a comeback. The Bears looked like a team that wanted nothing than to get back on the plane and slink back to Chicago.

Chip Kelly did all that.

Now it comes down to one more game. In Dallas. In prime time, since it was announced at halftime of last night's game that the Eagles-Dallas game was being 'flexed' to prime time.

It comes down to this. For one game, who do you like, Chip Kelly or Jason Garrett?

Thought so. Playoffs, here we come.

A very special Christmas tradition

Every year since I became editor of the Daily Times back in 1999 (time flies when you're having fun, no?) I have rerun the Christmas column I wrote for my mother as she first slipped into the ravages of Alzheimer's and dementia.

It always takes me back to another time, a simpler time, when home and family meant everything.

I'm always amazed at the reaction that single column evokes in readers. I start getting calls and emails from readers just after Thanksgiving asking when I'm going to run my 'Christmas column' again.

It will run every Christmas so long as I'm still here.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all from the Heron's Nest.

Here it is.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

That thud you heard last week was the sound of the Eagles coming back to Earth - with a bang.

The Birds, who had been on quite the roll, winners of five straight, gave one of their worst efforts of the season, in the process getting scorched by Matt Cassell and the Vikings.

The tone was set on the opening kickoff, when Chip Kelly decided to defer after winning the coin flip and unveiled his secret weapon - squib kicking rather than booting it to dangerous return man Cordarelle Patterson. It blew up in his face, told his team he was playing scared, and they followed his cue.

The Eagles defense looked about as bad as it has since being singed by Peyton Manning in Denver. Oddly enough, they had played very well since then, holding a series of foes under 21 points as the team reeled off five straight wins.

Now it’s a two-game season, and the Eagles still have wiggle room since the Cowboys and Tony Romo incredulously coughed up another big second half lead. The Cowboys play at 1 in D.C. If they win, the Eagles prime time game doesn’t mean a lot. But if they lose again, the Eagles can take the NFC East crown with a win. The problem is I don’t think they’re going to beat the Bears

Chicago is just the kind of passing team that will give the Eagles’ defensive secondary fits.

This would be the ideal game for the Eagles and Kelly to slow things down a bit and control the clock with a huge helping of LeSean McCoy. The Bears run defense is one of the worst in the league. But I don’t think Kelly will change his ways, which means Jay Cutler will have plenty of chances to gash the Birds.

Another factor could be what is supposed to be a very mild day, but windy and rainy. If the wind wreaks havoc with the passing game, that could work in the Birds’ favor.

This isn’t a trap game. The Eagles have already tossed that one out there last week.

I happen to think the Cowboys are going to lose in D.C., and then the Eagles will do the same at the Linc.

The Pick: Make it Bears 29, Eagles 27. Nick Foles drives the Eagles into position for the game-winning field goal. And with 3 ticks showing on the clock, from 48 yards out, Alex Henery boots it .... and it’s .... wide right. Then it’s on to Dallas for all the marbles in the NFC East.

Last Week: Can you say trap game? The Eagles can issue all the platitudes they want. They took the Vikings for granted and it came back to haunt them big time. They didn’t get a lot of help from the coach, who insisted on a curious kickoff philosophy that set the tone from the opening bell and consistently put the Vikes in great field position. Then he decided to give the ball to the best running back in the league just eight times. Not Chip Kelly’s finest hour.

Season Record: I did not expect the Eagles to put in such a dismal showing in Minnesota. It just proves to me that they have been a charmed team much of the year, getting lots of breaks via other teams missing star players and more than their share of calls from the refs. It all caught up with them last Sunday. The loss drops me to 9-5, while the Birds now stand at 8-6. Despite all this, they remain atop the NFC East, thanks to the gift who just keeps on giving. That would be Tony Romo and the Cowboys, of course.

Game by Game: Eagles 33, Redskins 27 (My Pick: Redskins 31, Eagles 23)

Chargers 33, Eagles 30 (My Pick: Eagles 33, Chargers 17)

Chiefs 26, Eagles 16 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Chiefs 23)

Broncos 52, Eagles 20 (My Pick: Broncos 41, Eagles 27)

Eagles 36, Giants 21 (My Pick: Eagles 29, Giants 26)

Eagles 31, Buccaneers 20 (My Pick: Eagles 26, Buccaneers 17)

Cowboys 17, Eagles 3 (My Pick: Cowboys 33, Eagles 23)

Giants 15, Eagles 7 (My Pick: Giants 26, Eagles 23)

Eagles 49, Raiders 20 (My Pick: Raiders 23, Eagles 13)

Eagles 27, Packers 13 (My Pick: Eagles 29. Packers 16)

Eagles 24, Redskins 16 (My Pick: Eagles 33, Redskins 27)

Eagles 24, Cardinals 21 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Cardinals 19)

Eagles 34, Lions 20 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Lions 23)

Vikings 48, Eagles 30 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Vikings 19)

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Dec. 20

The Daily Numbers: 3,000 Delco residents who are staring at the possible cutoff of their federal extended unemployment benefits.

7.3 percent unemployment rate in Delaware County.

7.5 percent unemployment rate across the state.

268,000 employed across the county.

500 million dollars from that recent transportation package approved by the Pa. Legislature that is set to go to public transportation.

10,000 passengers who use the Media-Elwyn regional rail line ever day. That line is due for a major upgrade. 60 million to be spent to rehab the deteriorating Crum Creek Bridge in Swarthmore.

30 minutes, how long it took a jury in Media to convict a Ridley woman of making a straw gun purchase.

52, age of man from Chester Township who faces charges of corruption of minors.

935 dollars that poured into the Merry Christmas Fund yesterday, bringing the total raised to $15,212. The goal is $60,000.

0 tax hike in the Darby Borough budget. No tax hike in Marcus Hook or Concord either.

75 properties recently reassessed for one property owner in the Lower Chichester area, including 30 in the township.

77 counts of ID theft filed against a Secane man.

72 degrees, expected high temperature on Sunday. It would break the record of 68 for the day.

80 people injured in collapse of part of a packed theatre in London.

5 soldiers killed in crash of helicopter in Afghanistan.

11 point gain for the stock market yesterday.

4.47 percent interest rate, the average rate on 30-year mortgage.

5 goals scored by the Flyers in the 3rd period last night to rally for a 5-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

2 goals - to tie the game and then win it - for Claude Giroux.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Who would have thought that a Sunday night Eagles game in late December would be accompanied by 60-degree temperatures, 2 weeks after they played an epic snow bowl on the same field.

I Don’t Get It: Straw gun purchases. Don’t do it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the beauty of Christmas at Longwood. It’s a long tradition in the region.

Quote Box: “Extending unemployment insurance will help those actively seeking work and provide a jolt to the gross domestic product as we move in the new year.”

- U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr.

Breaking the quiet at O'Hara

It had been fairly quiet the last couple of weeks at Cardinal O'Hara High School, with the dust finally settling after the flap involving the removal of the school principal.

The quiet ended yesterday.

Parents received a letter from the school informing them that a part-time track coach at the school had been arrested by Chester Township police.

The letter was emailed to me overnight by a person who was wondering why the school gave no other information about the arrest.

I think I know why. It's not pretty. Christopher Smith is charged with corruption of minors. Here's our story today on the charges filed against Smith.

In our coverage of this story, we did not mention Smith's connection with O'Hara in our headline, although we do point it out in our story.

We also did not place it on our front page.

The incident did not occur on school grounds and did not involve any O'Hara students. Police allege the incidents occurred in Smith's home.

Still, I can see why parents would be left wondering about some things after receiving the letter from Bill McCusker, president of O'Hara, and Pete Balzano, associate superintendent of secondary schools for the archdiocese.

No doubt this will offer those who like to criticize us the opportunity to claim that the Daily Times is once again picking on O'Hara, showing our anti-Catholic bias.

In the meantime, I'm still waiting for somone to tell me why Marge Rogai was dismissed as principal.

Delco's Collectors

You could call him Delco's own 'Pinball Wizard.'

Ed Dougherty made a name for himself on the PGA Tour. But his other passion is collecting. He has the ultimate "man cave" in his Linwood home, an exception collection of classic pinball machines, model trains and guitars.

He has something in common with lots of folks in Delco. We love to collect stuff.

Starting Sunday and running the entire holiday week, we are going to take a close look at these people and their collections, what got them started and what fuels their passion.

One man has the ultimate in Hitchcock memorabilia. Another is a Notre Dame fanatic, with everything Irish. For one woman, it's dolls. Another man is all about cars.

You'll learn about our passion for collecting starting Sunday.

We're calling this series "Collecting Memories."

Don't miss a single day, starting Sunday in the Daily Times and DelcoTimes.com.

Why Sunday night's Eagles game vs. Bears matters

Much has been made of the fact that the Eagles will know their fate when they walk out onto the field at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday night to face the Bears in a Sunday night prime time affair.

That's because the Cowboys are in Washington to face their arch-rivals, the Redskins, in a 1 o'clock game. If the Cowboys win, the Eagles Sunday night is rendered moot - as far as the NFC East goes. If Dallas wins, it doesn't matter if the Eagles win or lose Sunday night. The NFC East will be decided in a winner-take-all game on the final Sunday of the season in Dallas. If the Cowboys lose, the Eagles will win the NFC East with a win Sunday night. If they match the 'Boys by falling to the Bears, the Eagles will still win the division if they beat Dallas the next week.

But even if Dallas wins at 1, the Eagles game will still mean something in terms of playoff seeding. Right now the Eagles are sitting at 8-5. If they finish with two more wins to get to 10-6, they likely would wind up with the No. 3 seed and possibly get a home playoff game.

But if they lose Sunday night, and then win in Dallas to take the NFC East, they likely would face the daunting challenge of going on the road in the first round of the playoffs, possibly to either New Orleans or Seattle.

The Birds should take a page out of the late Oakland Raiders legendary owner Al Davis' book: "Just win, baby."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Heron's Nest for Thursday, Dec. 19

The Daily Numbers: 40 million credit card accounts that may be in jeopardy after a major hacking incident involving Target stores nationwide.

2 large bronze doors stolen from mausoleums inside Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill.

36,000 dollars, how much the doors are believed to be worth.

32 million dollar budget - without a tax hike - OKd in Radnor.

2.8 percent hike in the sewer fee.

40 dollars more in taxes that will be paid by residents in Springfield.

5 men, including one from Chester Township, charged in $6 million dollar check theft ring in Philadelphia.

23, age of man shot late Tuesday in Chester.

5,100 dollars that rolled into the Daily Times Merry Christmas Fund.

70 degrees, the expected high temperature on Sunday.

64, the record high for Dec. 22.

1 ticket bought by woman in Stone Mountain, Ga., with the winning numbers in the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot.

120 million dollar lump sum, after taxes, what she’s opting to take.

1 other winning ticket sold in California.

30 to 35 jobs coming to Upper Darby with today’s opening of a new H&M clothing store.

10 million dollar loan being sought for more improvements on 69th Street by the township.

292 points spike for stock market yesterday.

8 carries for Shady McCoy vs. the Vikings last Sunday. He’s looking for a lot more work Sunday night vs. the Bears.

1,343 yards racked up so far this year by McCoy.

5.0 yards every time he carries the ball, what McCoy is averaging.

48 points by former La Salle player Aaric Murray for Texas Southern as they upset Temple, 90-89.

75-55 win for Saint Joe’s over Drexel.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Shady McCoy says he wants to put the Eagles on his back and carry them to a win Sunday night vs. the Bears. He’ll get no argument from me.

I Don’t Get It: Now they’re stealing mausoleum doors. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Delco for opening its heart, and its wallet, as more than $5,000 rolled into the Merry Christmas Fund.

Quote Box: “Nothing is sacred to these junkies.”

- Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood, on the theft of two large mausoleum doors.

Two tales from Upper Darby

As you might have guessed, I'm a bit sensitive these days to the concerns of many in Upper Darby about how their township is often portrayed in the pages of the Daily Times.

Believe me, I have heard them loud and clear.

Now I'd like them to hear me. It's not as easy as it looks.

Take today's edition for example. I wanted to note one more aspect of the amazing turnaround that is going on in the township's 69th Street Shopping District. The popular clothing outlet H&M will open its doors in the old McClatchy building. They're bringing 50 jobs to the township as well.

The H&M opening comes just a few months after Burlington Coat Factory opened its doors not far away.

Mayor Tom Micozzie is rightfully proud of what's been accomplished on 69th Street - which had fallen on some lean years from its heyday when it was known in the popular ad campaign as 'Easy Street.' He points out the next step in the revival will be the plans to demolish the old Sears site at 69th and Chestnut streets.

Township officials have applied for a $10 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to help the process, in particular to updgrade lighting and parking in the area.

Then there's our other front page story today.

It involves the theft of valuable, one-of-a-kind bronze doors from a couple of mausoleums in Arlington Cemetery in Drexel Hill.

These are massive doors that weigh several hundred pounds each.

The brazen thefts prompted Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood - never one to be at a loss for words - to note that 'nothing is sacred.' Thus our front page headline.

Chitwood thinks he knows the culprit, the same kind of drug scourge that is affecting all parts of the county, forcing junkies to steal whatever they can get their hands on so they can buy their next fix.

Both stories made the front page. We used a skybox for the continued boom on 69th Street. The cemetery theft was the lead. My guess is that's not going to make some people very happy.

Welcome to my world.

Say goodbye to winter - at least for a few days

We're about to get a break from the winter of our discontent.

Big time.

While it is still way too cold for my taste out there this morning, the region is waiting for a serious warm-up, including a possible record warm day on Sunday.

No doubt malls and small businesses that have seen holiday sales hammered by nasty weather the last couple of weekends will be cheering the news.

The temperature will rise into the high 40s this afternoon, then the serious warm-up begins. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 50s both Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, believe it or not, the thermometer is supposed to push close to 70 degrees. On the down side, there also is a chance of wind and rain, which could affect that Sunday night soiree they are holding down at Lincoln Financial Field.

The record high temperature for Sunday is 62, set back in 1998. The normal high for the day is 42. Our record high for today is 70, set just a few years ago in 2006.

It will cool off a bit to 52 on Monday. By then most of the snow that has accumulate with our string of pre-winter storms is likely to be long gone.

If you're banking on a white Christmas, I wouldn't get my hopes up. The temperatures will dip to 52 on Monday, but there is no sign of more snow before Christmas Day.

Global warming? Bring it on, baby!

Nothing Shady about this forecast

If you're wondering what happened to Shady McCoy in the Eagles' debacle Sunday in Minnesota, you're not the only one.

No. 25 - simetimes referred to as 'Cut On a Dime' - has his doubts, too. McCoy got only eight carries as the Birds melted down in the dome vs. the Vikes, one week after running all over the vaunted Detroit Lions defense in that Snow Bowl at Lincoln Financial Field.

McCoy doesn't want that to happen again. And he has a message for coach Chip Kelly: Give me the ball. Check out what McCoy said yesterday.

He wants to put the Birds on his back Sunday night in a crucial prime time affair vs. the Bears. In other words, run the ball.

Kelly took a page out of Andy Reid's playbook last week, getting pass happy, and it blew up in his face. McCoy is advocating for a much bigger dose of the run game Sunday.

He's not going to get an argument from me. That kind of attack would have two benefits. It would get McCoy much more involved in the offense, which is never a bad thing. At the same time, it will keep the Bears high-powered offense - and that Eagles defense that got scorched by an inferior Vikings offense last week - off the field.

Do you think Chip Kelly is listening?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Dec. 18

The Daily Numbers: 120 employees at Sunoco’s Center City Philadelphia HQ who will be moving to new digs in Newtown Square.

340 workers from Sunoco’s Airport Business Center in Tinicum also headed to Newtown.

200,000 square feet of space being taken by Sunoco in development at the Ellis Preserve.

2016, when the move is expected to take place.

2011, when Sunoco idled its iconic Marcus Hook refinery.

1 person killed in crash on Route 252 in Upper Providence near Rose Tree Park yesterday morning.

30 videos featuring child porn found on computer of 22-year-old Springfield man.

4,500 life savings, along with jewelry stolen from home of elderly Middletown couple.

74, age of Philly lawyer James Binns, who will graduate from Delaware County Community College Municipal Police Academy tonight.

40 dollar property tax hike looming in Prospect Park.

7-15 years in jail for Chester County man convicted of running dog-fighting operation out of his home with his wife.

153 members of the state House, down from the current 203, under a bill approved by the House yesterday.

38 members of the state Senate, down from the current 50, according to another bill.

23 million dollars a year, how much the downsizing could save Pennsylvania taxpayers.

2 Delco state reps, both Democrats, who voted against the plan.

9.31 dip for the stock market yesterday.

2 winning tickets sold - in California and Georgia - in that $636 million Mega Millions jackpot last night.

24 hours a day, the hours for Toys ‘R’ Us in the countdown to Christmas.

87 straight hours, from 6 a.m. Dec. 21 to 9 p.m. Christmas Eve.

100 straight hours, how long Kohl’s will stay open.

5-2 win for the Flyers over the Caps last night.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Eagles cornerback Cary Williams says he’s glad the Eagles lost that ugly game in Minnesota Sunday. He says the team was getting too full of itself and needed to “knocked off its high horse.” OK.

I Don’t Get It: Isn’t there something better that could be done with all that money thrown away on Mega Millions lottery tickets with little or no chance to win.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Sunoco for their decision to return to their roots. They will leave their Center City Philly HQ and fill space in the development at the Ellis Preserve at Newtown Square.

Quote Box: “Thomas Wolfe was wrong, you can go home again.” Pat Killian, director of the Delaware County Commerce Center, on the move by Sunoco.

Sun rises in Delco - again!

Somewhere, J. Howard Pew is smiling today.

The company founded by his father, and which he turned into the juggernaut called Sun Oil, is coming home. The Pew family started their oil business in Marcus Hook.

Sunoco announced yesterday they would move their corporate headquarters out of Center City Philadelphia and relocated to new digs in Newtown Square, on a tract known as the Ellis Preserve. Ironically, it's just down West Chester Pike from the former home of one of their old rivals, Atlantic Richfield Co., later known as Arco Chemical.

For years Sun's headquarters also called Delco home, with corporate offices in Radnor.

The move to Newtown Square also will affect employees at the company's Airport Administrative Center in Lester, Tinicum Township. They also will be moved to Newtown Square. In total the move affects 340 workers from Tinicum, and another 120 workers at the firm's Center City headquarters in Philadelphia.

It also comes just a year after the company shuttered its iconic Marcus Hook refinery.

Welcome home, Sunoco.

A holiday toast - to cutting the size of Legislature

Here's something you don't see every day.

A governing body is looking at trimming the fat - its own!

The Pennsylvania House yesterday passed a measure the would shrink the size of the Legislature, one of the biggest and most expensive in the nation. You can read all the details here.

Under the plan, the House of Representatives would be cut from 203 to 153 members. Another House bill would take the ax to the Senate, cutting its size from 50 members to 38.

One of the co-sponsors of the measure is none other than Delco's own state Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

"Reducing the size of the Legislature is a common-sense reform measure that can save Pennsylvania taxpayers approximately $23 million a year and will allow for a more efficient deliberative process in the General Assembly," Adolph said.

He won't get any argument from us.

But he apparently will from state Reps. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, of Chester, and Greg Vitali, D-166, of Haverford. The two Democrats both voted against cutting the size of the House. All other members of the Delco delegation voted in favor of the plan.

That brutal Eagles loss in Minnesota was a good thing?

You've got it all wrong, Eagles fans.

That brutal showing by the Birds in Minnesota was a good thing.

That comes from someone who was pretty close to the carnage. Eagles cornerback Cary Williams, part of an Eagles defense that got scorched for 382 yards by journeyman Matt Cassell, believes the loss was a wake-up call for the Birds, maybe the best thing that could have happened to them. You can read Bob Grotz's story here.

"It was great that we were able to knock us off and we learned from the experience," Williams said in a brutally honest depiction of the game nor usually mouthed by professional athletes."

"It definitely knocked us off our high horse," the cornerback who was benched after picking up an unsportsmanlike penalty late in the game. "We thought we were good. We thought we were going to just go into Minnesota and win. That those guys were going to lie down. It definitely showed us."

Funny, I could have sworn I heard just about every Eagle mouthing the exact opposite all last week, that they did not believe in the so-called trap game and certainly were not looking past the lowly Vikings, who limped into the game without All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson, and his backup.

If Williams' comments are on the money, the Eagles will come out on fire Sunday night vs. the Bears. But if they struggle again, especially on defense, those words will wrong just as hollow as all those denials the Birds offered all last week as to whether could get complacent after ripping off five wins in a row. We'll find out in the next two weeks if the Eagles can take Williams' blunt assessment to heart.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Dec. 17

The Daily Numbers: 586 million dollar Mega Millions jackpot up for grabs tonight. That’s called putting the green in Christmas.

1 in 259 million, you’re odds of hitting the correct numbers. There is actually a better chance you’ll be canonized. Maybe you, not me.

100.98, how much more Upper Darby residents will pay under tax hike in their budget.

99.12 tax hike awaiting residents in Aldan in the new year.

.71 mills increase in Rutledge.

20 dollar increase in the sewer rates coming in Eddystone.

22, age of missing Newtown man whose body was found on a beach in Virginia.

27 of November, the last time William Schwenger of Clifton Heights was seen. He’s been missing ever since.

1,745 dollars that rolled into the Daily Times Merry Christmas Fund.

1 inch tops, what we expect to see in this morning’s clipper snowstorm, with another one on the way tonight.

4 snowstorms that we’ve had already, and winter does not start for another 4 days.

30 more years on to of his life sentence for abortion Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The additional time is for drug charges.

87, age of influential country star Ray Price, who died Monday.

129 point gain for the stock market yesterday.

14 percent uptick in table games revenue for Pa. casinos in November.

10 billion in stock being bought back by Boeing.

29 points dropped on the Sixers last night by the Nets Joe Johnson.

130-94 final score in the Sixers loss. Ouch!

8 tackles Sunday for Mychal Kendricks, along with an interception and a sack.

2, any combination of Eagles wins and Cowboys losses adding up to 2 gives the Birds the NFC East crown and a spot in the playoffs.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Do you want the Cowboys to win or lose their 1 p.m. Sunday match with the Redskins? If they win, the Eagles game Sunday night doesn’t mean a thing. If they lose, the Eagles can win the division by beating the Bears.

I Don’t Get It: What’s with 4 winter storms before winter even arrives. And now they say it’s going to be 60 degrees on Sunday.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those optimists lined up to buy Mega Million tickets.

Quote Box: “Some of them are waiting for it to reach a billion dollars. It’s getting to the point where it might happen.”

- Dave Davis, owner of Davis Trading Post, on Mega Millions jackpot.

The pre-winter of our discontent

Here's something to soothe the savage beast - otherwise known as winter, which by the way does not arrivce until Saturday.

If you've not ventured out yet this morning, this is fair warning. We've had some more snow. Not really a lot, just enough to cause a mess for your morning commute.

Most of the area roads got a light dusting, enough to make them slick, especially the side roads that were not heavily treated last night.

A reminder on one of the trouble spots in Delco this morning: Route 252 in Upper Providence is closed between Providence Road and Palmers Mill Road because of a crash and car fire.

This now makes four pre-winter storms to hit the region in about a week. And we're actually supposed to get hit with another 'clipper' that give us another coating for the evening rush hour.

But if you hate winter as much as I do, there may be a bright spot in all this.

Think weekend, which just happens to be the last shopping weekend before Christmas.

The are calling for a gradual warm-up this week, into the 50s Friday, the high 50s on Saturday and maybe even 60 degrees on Sunday.

Perfect weather to hit the malls, or maybe that Eagles game Sunday night at the Linc.

Music to my ears

Now this is music to my ears.

One of my favorite bands, Hall and Oates, is headed to Rock Hall of Fame.

It's about time. All they've done is sold more than pop duo in history. You heard it right they're at the top of the heap, the best-selling pop duo in history.

It's been a long time since I saw them at the legendary Stone Balloon in Newark, Del., circa 1980.

They blew the roof of the old bar that night.

And they sound every bit as good today.

Listen to this and tell if it's not one of the best pop songs you've ever heard:

The voices of Upper Darby

As you may have heard by now, not everyone was exactly thrilled by last Friday's front page.

One of the persons I heard from was Penny Starr-Ashton, who wanted to come to the defense of Upper Darby schools.

I urged her to make her voice known on our editorial pages. You can reader her letter here. There are more that will appear in the next few days.

I have said this many times. A lot of people think I'm a pretty powerful guy because I'm the editor of the newspaper.

The truth is I am really only the custodian here. The paper really belongs to its readers. I don't think for a moment that I never make mistakes. I make plenty of them every day.

What I think is most important is that this process be a dialog. I certainly have a voice. And I am more than willing to offer a platform for opposing opinions. That's one of the reasons I always ask people who don't like something we did to offer their version of events on our op-ed page.

Most important of all, I want the paper to be fair. I think we came up short of that on Friday and I'll be the first to admit it.

Birds will already know their fate Sunday night

There is a weird twist connected to that epic meltdown by the Cowboys and Tony Romo on Sunday, in which they blew a double-digit second half lead. And, of course, it directly involves the Birds.

The Eagles will know exactly where they stand when they take the field at the Linc Sunday night in a prime time affair vs. the Bears.

That's because the Cowboys play the Redskins at 1. If the Cowboys win that game, it does not matter what the Eagles do Sunday night. Win or lose, they still will have to beat the Cowboys in Dallas the following Sunday in a winner-take-all extravaganza for the NFC East and a spot in the playoffs.

If the Cowboys should come up short once again, the Eagles will know that if they can put away 'Da Bears' they will win the NFC East and that final game in Dallas will be made meaningless.

I'm interested to see how rookie head coach Chip Kelly will handle it if the Cowboys win, making the Eagles-Bears game pretty much a scrimmage for the Birds. Yesterday he said he would still play his regulars in the prime time affair. Can you imagine the outcry if LeSean McCoy is injured? I don't envy the position Kelly will find himself in should Dallas lose.

And here's an early hint: I actually think both the Cowboys and Eagles are going to lose Sunday, setting up a true battle for the NFC Least in the season finale.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Dec. 17 (Eagles-Vikings Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 5 game win streak that went by the boards as the Eagles came up small in 48-30 loss to the Vikings.

8 rushes for 38 yards for LeSean McCoy, 1 week after he went wild in the snow against the vaunted Lions defense. How does that work?

30 of 48 for 428 yards for Nick Foles, who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. Hard to say he didn’t play well, but he really didn’t.

1 interception for Foles.

26 of 35 for 382 yards Vikings QB Matt Cassell.

3 rushing TDs for Vikes running back Matt Asiato, who did not have a carry before yesterday.

10 catches - and 1 temper tantrum - for Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

51 yard field goal for Alex Henery, but he was forced to squib kick on all his kickoffs, setting up the Vikings with short fields.

17 points per game, what the Eagles were giving up during their 5-game win streak. They got torched for 48 yesterday.

11 catches for 165 yards for Vikings receiver Greg Jennings.

8-6 mark for the Eagles.

7-7 record for the Cowboys, who coughed up a big lead and fell to the Packers, 37-36.

2, any combination of Eagles wins and Cowboys losses that add up to 2 gives the Eagles the NFC East crown and a spot in the playoffs.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Kelly set the stage for this disaster with his philosophy of squib kicks because he feared the Vikings vaunted return man Cordarelle Patterson. That’s called playing scared. The team matched their coach.

I Don’t Get It: Even more perplexing is Kelly’s decision to do after he deferred upon winning the coin toss. If you’re so damn scared of the guy, why kick instead of taking the ball and letting your own offense set the pace?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Tony Romo and the Cowboys. A thoroughly depressing day brightened a bit when Dallas blew a big lead and coughed up a game vs. the Packers.

Quote Box: “A lot of frustration, honestly.” DeSean Jackson, after the game on his sideline blowup after an interception.

About that front page

I sometimes refer to it as the most valuable real estate in Delaware County.

But there is no house on it. Square feet? Forget it. This parcel is just about one square foot total.

It's not on the Main Line, although it does circulate there.

It's the front page of the newspaper.

Every day, it's one of the most important decisions I make. In fact, the second my feet hit the floor in those early a.m. hours, the tumblers in my head start thinking about what might grace that front page the next day.

Which brings me to last Friday's front page, which detailed an alleged mugging incident in Upper Darby. There was a problem with it.

When we first heard about the incident, we thought it took place outside Bywood Elementary School, where a grandmother had just dropped off her niece.

We took a photo of the exterior of the school and coupled it with a headline that focused on the incident and the school.

As we later found out, the alleged incident did not take place at the school. The woman had left the school, and gone to a local convenience store when she noticed a woman following her. She was headed back to the school when the alleged mugging took place. She eventually went back to the school to call 911.

There were several problems with that front page. The headline was insensitive, and the inclusion of it with the photo cast Bywood Elementary School in an unnecessarily bad light.

I heard from many people on Friday, including the mayor and township manager, as well as several parents who were concerned about the image of their school being tarnished.

They were right.

One thing people should know. Reporters don't design pages and they don't write headlines. Our Upper Darby correspondent Linda Reilly did not write the headline, but she took some of the grief for it.

When we found out early Friday about the circumstances involving the incident, I quickly changed the online version of the story and removed the photo of the school.

Several readers and Upper Darby residents said they thought the front page was simply an attempt to sensationalize the story to sell newspapers.

It's an accusation that is made against the newspaper all the time. There is some truth to it. We are a tabloid format. We take one story and focus on it on that front page. We are depending on single-copy sales of the newspaper, so yes, every day I am trying to sell as many papers as I can. In this instance, it was the wrong call. That was my decision, and I'll take the heat for it.

We cover a lot of stories involving Upper Darby police. Superintendent Mike Chitwood is what you might call "media friendly."

But it's incumbent on us to also detail the other stories in Upper Darby, including the many good stories coming out of the Upper Darby School District. I aim to do just that. Today's front page includes a story on a new fundraising effort the district is implementing in an effort to increase elementary school reading levels.

It's all part of what I do here each day. Unfortunately, last Friday I didn't do it very well.

It didn't take long for Chip Kelly to lose this game

If Chip Kelly is looking for a reason his team came up so small in a big game against the Vikings, all he needs to do is look in the mirror.

Chip Kelly lost this game on the very first play.

That's when he decided to implement a day-long series of squib kicks, apparently because he was afraid of the prowess of Vikings return man rookie Cordarelle Patterson.

I have one question for the coach. If he was that scared of this guy, why did he defer after he won the coin toss?

Kelly's move sent a message to both his team - and the Vikings. It told his special teams he did not trust them to play Patterson straight up. And it was a slap in the face of Matt Cassell and the Vikings offense, which was playing without All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson as well as his backup. Instead the Vikes were forced to start untested Matt Asiata.

One final thing about this bizarre tactic: Alex Henery kicked a 51-yard field goal that sailed into the net behind the goal posts, but he apparently is unable to kick the ball out of the end zone on a kickoff. Sure there were lots of other things that went wrong yesterday.

One week after donning his Superman cape in the snow and running wild against the vaunted Detroit Lions defense, LeSean McCoy got all of eight carries as Kelly went into full Andy Reid mode.

The Birds' defense was atrocious, barely even bothering to show up. The safety play, a season-long headache, continues to be a boil on the Birds' butt. With Earl Wolff still on the injured list, the Eagles have been forced to play Patrick Chung. The results have been the same all year. Out of position, burned and failing to make tackles.

Nick Foles threw for a ton of yards, but he didn't really impress, and he again opened the window on the discussion about whether or not he is Kelly's quarterback of the future.

Was this a case of the Sports Illustrated jinx, after Foles graced the cover of the regional edition of the mag. Uh, no. This was a case of a team that is not that good, that has gotten tons of breaks all season long, playing in a horrific division (see Cowboys, Redskins, Giants) finally coming down to earth. With a thud.

The Eagles still have a legitimate shot at the playoffs. But they are not a good team. Not even close. Not after that effort that put out in Minnesota.

It was that kind of day. Thank god for the Cowboys.

How 'bout dem Cowboys!

I work weird hours. I get to the office very early, which means I usually wind up 'retiring' for the evening fairly early.

That especially holds true on the weekend. My wife always says she can tell a difference in me when I wake up on Sunday morning. She always says I am already reverting to 'work' mode.

She's right. I can fell myself slipping back into my work routine even before Sunday afternoon begins.

Yesterday the Eagles did not help my mood one bit, failing to show up in a huge game vs. the Vikings.

After I watched the post-game show and got all the 'bitching' out of my system about the Birds' feeble effort, I decided to sneak a peek at the Cowboys game. My mood did not exactly improve. Dallas was blowing out the Packers.

After dinner, I bid the Mrs. a good night and slinked off to bed with a book I've been trying to slog through for months. As is usually the case, it didn't take long before I slipped off into coma-like conditions.

So imagine surprise bright and early this morning when I heard some chatter on the Big Daddy Graham show, which accompanies me on my early commute into the office, about how the Eagles had gotten a huge break from the Cowboys.

Incredibly, the Cowboys and Tony Romo coughed up another game in an epic come-from-ahead loss. Here's what it all means to Eagles fans.

The Cowboys play the Redskins at 1 o'clock on Sunday. The Eagles don't play until the prime time game Sunday night. By then they will know what they are playing for.

If the Cowboys win, it doesn't matter what the Eagles do against the Bears. Win or lose, the game the following week in Dallas will still be winner-take-all for the NFC East title and a spot in the playoffs.

If the Cowboys lose to the 'Skins, things are a bit different. If the Eagles win, they win the NFC East and the Dallas game is meaningless.

If the Eagles lose, it doesn't matter, they can still win the division if they beat Dallas. But if they lose to the Cowboys, they are tied and the Cowboys have the tie-breaker.

It's that simple.

I've never been a Cowboys fan. I hate that star on their helmet. But at least this Cowboys regime, with Tony Romo, is the gift that keeps on giving.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

I think we can safely assume the weather will be slightly better inside the dome in Minnesota on Sunday than it was at the Linc last Sunday.

In one of the epic football games in Eagles history, the Birds woke up from a snow-induced coma to lay 34 second-half points on the Lions and blitz Motown.

This Sunday’s game has all the makings of a classic trap game. The Vikings are 3-9, and looking at the likelihood of facing the Eagles without All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson.

Then there’s the ‘jinx.’ Yes, that is a snowy Nick Foles gracing the regional cover of Sports Illustrated this week. That would scare me except for one thing: If there is one athlete that such an honor will not faze, it is Foles, the Forrest Gump of the NFL. Foles has the perfect temperament for a quarterback, he doesn’t get too high with the successes, nor too low with a flurry of missed connections. Instead, he’s more the cool, calm, confident gunslinger.

Then there’s the Chip Kelly factor. So far the coach has been pushing all the right buttons in his new approach to the NFL. I don’t think he’ll allow his young team to get caught looking past the Vikings.

And finally, the Birds have something no other team in the league has. They have the best running back in the league in LeSean McCoy. All that plus a defense that once again should be successful in keeping an opponent under 21 points adds up to another win for the Birds.

The Pick: Make it Eagles 31, Vikings 19. The key to the game will again be Foles’ ability to avoid turnovers, and an increasingly opportunistic defense picking on the Vikings. That trend continues and the Eagles roll.

Last Week: Foles and the Eagles offense did nothing in the first half in the Blizzard Bowl against the Lions. Then they came out for the second half, flipped the switch, and torched the vaunted Detroit defense. Maybe the most impressive feat of the day was the way the Eagles’ offensive line controlled the game in the second half.

Season Record: I wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen in those weather conditions, but I was still riding the Birds to beat the Lions and it paid off. I’m on a serious roll 9-4, while the Birds have now won five straight themselves to get to 8-5, alone atop the NFC East.

Game by Game: Eagles 33, Redskins 27 (My Pick: Redskins 31, Eagles 23)

Chargers 33, Eagles 30 (My Pick: Eagles 33, Chargers 17)

Chiefs 26, Eagles 16 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Chiefs 23)

Broncos 52, Eagles 20 (My Pick: Broncos 41, Eagles 27)

Eagles 36, Giants 21 (My Pick: Eagles 29, Giants 26)

Eagles 31, Buccaneers 20 (My Pick: Eagles 26, Buccaneers 17)

Cowboys 17, Eagles 3 (My Pick: Cowboys 33, Eagles 23)

Giants 15, Eagles 7 (My Pick: Giants 26, Eagles 23)

Eagles 49, Raiders 20 (My Pick: Raiders 23, Eagles 13)

Eagles 27, Packers 13 (My Pick: Eagles 29. Packers 16)

Eagles 24, Redskins 16 (My Pick: Eagles 33, Redskins 27)

Eagles 24, Cardinals 21 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Cardinals 19)

Eagles 34, Lions 20 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Lions 23)

Friday, December 13, 2013

What McGarrigle does not have - ties to Corbett

I've always liked Tom McGarrigle.

I refer to him as the 'everyman' of Delco politics. This is a down-to-earth guy who knows what it's like for the common working man and woman. Running a gas station and auto repair shop will do that for you.

McGarrigle is the chairman of County Council. Now he's got his eyes on a bigger prize. And now he's got the Delco Republican Party behind him. You can read all the details here.

The GOP is backing McGarrigle as their candidate in what looks to be one of the most hotly contested legislative races in the state next fall. He will seek the 26th District state Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Ted Erickson.

McGarrigle was the choice over at least three other GOP hopefuls, state Reps. Nick Miccarelli, R-162, and Joe Hackett, R-161, as well as county executive director Marianne Grace.

If you're wondering what swung the GOP to McGarrigle (and we know you all are), here's one theory. You could make the case for Grace, especially since that is the same path Erickson took before heading to Harrisburg. He served as county executive director. As a practical matter, she's probably the most important person in county government.

But when it comes to Miccarelli and Hackett, things get more interesting - and a lot more political.

At the top of the November ballot will be a race for governor of Pennsylvania. That's where embattled Republican Gov. Tom Corbett will be desperately clinging to the governor's mansion. Corbett has had a rough first four years and polling indicates he very likely could be the most endangered incumbent governor in the nation.

Many of his policies, in particular when it comes to his budgets and education funding, have proved immensely unpopular.

If Miccarelli or Hackett were the GOP's pick, they would be tarred and feathered for their backing of the governor's spending plans. The Democratic ads would almost write themselves. In effect, they wouldn't be running against the likely Democrat, union leader John Kane. Instead, they would have to run against both Kane and the shadow of Tom Corbett.

McGarrigle doesn't have that problem. He can't really be linked to Tom Not-So-Terrific. And that very well may be why he was the GOP's choice.

Coming Sunday: Firearms in the Family

In connection with the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting rampage that snuffed out 20 young lives and those of six educators in Newtown, Conn., on Sunday the Daily Times will present a special seven-day series taking a look at the role guns play in our society.

Reporters from our parent company, Digital First Media, have fanned out across the country to talk to people about guns, and how deeply they are ingrained in our society. As you can imagine, the passions run strong on this issue on both sides.

We also will talk to those on both sides of the gun issue right here in Delco.

This is not an effort to cast blame, or take sides.

Instead, the series will delve deeply into what guns mean to America as a culture and the role they play in our families. Our journalists spent several months this year traveling the country from Michigan to Denver to California, meeting families and learning what part firearms play in their lives and the lives of their children. Each family agreed that responsible gun ownership was imperative, but definitions of “responsible” varied widely.

We'll profile a family that espouses the belief of 'open carry,' others who forbid guns to enter their homes, and others.

We'll profile six different families and their beliefs.

In the year following the Newtown massacre, there has been no great change in Americans’ feelings about gun control. A brief spike in calls for new restrictions has petered out. By October, only 49 percent of Americans felt existing laws were too lax — a new low.

'Firearms in the Family' is an attempt to explain why, and why this issue strikes so deep in American society. And it starts Sunday.

The life of the Pa. Parties - in NYC!

If you live in Pennsylvania, this is one of the most galling weekends of the year.

Yes, it's time once again for the annual gala of the Pennsylvania Society, when the powerful, the wannabes, and the movers and shakers in Pennsylvania politics gather to pat themselves on the back.

Unfortunately, they don't do this in Philadelphia. Or Pittsburgh. Or even Harrisburg. Hell, they don't even do it in Bird-In-Hand, though they might have more fun there.

Instead, the swells will gather, as they have for the past two decades, in New York City. That's right, forget the Big Pretzel. The big hitters in Pennsylvania politics instead will gather in The Big Apple.

It's a weekend of parties, politics and shmoozing. And since we are headed into a gubernatorial election next year, with Republican Tom Corbett looking especially vulnerable, everybody who is anybody in Pa. politics will be there.

But why New York? Why not spend all that money and stimulate the economy right here in Pennsylvania. The Waldorf-Astoria will be packed to the gills with Pennsylvania power brokers with their pockets full of money looking to see and be seen in the political event of the year.

It's an outrage. Every Pennsylvanian should take it as a personal insult.

Think about that, about the party going on inside the Waldorf, while you are out shoveling the driveway on Saturday.

Snow fooling: Here comes Storm No. 3

Don't panic.

I repeat, there is no need to panic.

It is going to snow again on Saturday. That makes Storm No. 3 - and we don't even officially hit winter until next Saturday.

It it will make you feel better, by all means hit the grocery store tonight and load up on junk food to get you through the weekend.

But I would not make it a priority. This does not look like a monster storm. The forecast right now calls for snow to move in around mid-day on Saturday. We're expecting to get a couple of hours of snow before it changes to rain later in the day. Yeah, I know, haven't we heard that before?

Right now it looks like Delco and most of the region will get 1-3 inches, with the amounts of course running higher the farther west and north you go. There might be up to 4 inches in northern Chester and Montgomery counties, and more up in Lehigh County and the Poconos.

In other words, it looks like it's going to be a mess.

It does not bode well for playing soccer at PPL Park, or football again at Lincoln Financial Field. The NCAA Division I men's soccer championships are in Chester, and of course the Linc will be packed for the annual Army-Navy gridiron classic.

It's enough to make you yearn for pitchers and catchers.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Dec. 12

The Daily Numbers: 3, age of son police say was burned on his cheek by his father, who heated a fork on the stove and then pressed it against his son’s cheek.

18 degrees, the overnight low. It will get worse Friday morning, when it supposed to dip to 16.

2.8 percent tax hike in the budget approved by Delaware County Council Wednesday.

336 million dollar spending plan.

20 bucks, how much more the average homeowner will end up paying under the new plan.

522 million dollar budget approved in Chester County, but it does not include a tax hike. They’re actually cutting spending.

3 people being sought in a bank heist in Yeadon.

0 tax hike included in the preliminary budget for Chester city.

0 tax hike in the Clifton Heights budget.

5-3 vote with 1 abstention by which Haverford commissioners nixed a proposal for CareLink Community Support to set up an office in a former elementary school.

4.89 percent tax hike out in Haverford.

33.7 acres out in Concord that will be developed, including a new Wegmans supermarket.

5 child abuse bills now on their way to Gov. Corbett for his signature.

10,000 more Pennsylvanians who were able to sign up for new insurance plan under Affordable Care Act in November.

2.9 million dollars raised by Democrat Tom Wolf in his bid for governor in Pa. He’s planning to chip in $10 million of his own money.

2 million XBox One consoles sold in first 18 days on the market.

2.35 billion dollar IPO for Hilton Hotels, outdoing even Twitter.

129 point decline for stock market on Wednesday.

7-2 blowout loss for the Flyers last night at the hands of the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks in Chicago.

19 point lead for the Sixers that went up in smoke as they fell to the T-Wolves, 106-99.

4 seasons at the helm of Chester High Football for Chuck Crews. He was let go on Wednesday

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

If there is one guy on the face of the Earth who is not going to be fazed by an appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, it is Nick Foles.

I Don’t Get It: A father now stands charged of using a fork heated on the stove to burn his son’s cheek. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Chester City Council, which yesterday rolled out a budget that actually cuts taxes.

Quote Box: “How do you do that to a kid?”

- Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood, after arresting father for burning his son with a hot fork.

Some days you just shake your head

I stopped being surprised by the news a long time ago.

Still, some days you just have to shake your head.

Today is one of them.

Our lead story details a case from Upper Darby where a man is charged with heating up a fork on the stove and then burning his son's cheek.

The father is now in jail. The boy and three of his brothers are now in the hands of County Children and Youth Services.

Like I said, some days there is nothing you can do but shake your head.

Here comes Storm No. 3

Brace yourself.

First for the forecast. If you have not ventured out as yet this morning, let me offer a suggestion. Don't. It is seriously cold out there this morning. The temperature has now dipped into the teens, or approximately 70 degrees colder than my preference.

I guess we'll have to deal with it.

Here's something else we'll have to deal with. And again I'm talking about the forecast.

Call it the agony of the forecast, and the ecstasy of the local forecasters who react with glee every time a storm appears on the horizon.

It looks like we are getting something on Saturday. That will be Storm No. 3 of this pre-winter of our discontent.

It doesn't sound like Armageddon, but I'm sure that given 48 hours to hype it up, our forecasters will turn this into something just south of the Storm of the Century.

Raise your hand if you think we'll hear this from some breathless TV type on Saturday: All you can say on a day like this is, if you don't have to go out, don't. Of course, just cuddle up in front of the TV and watch our non-stop coverage of wet roads.

This sounds more like a nuisance storm, with snow arriving in the afternoon, then changing to rain Saturday night and into Sunday.

Luckily, it does not snow in the malls. I'm sure they would be grateful if you ignore all those warnings not to go out, let alone the bars and restaurants that depend on Saturday night business.

Saint Nick to the rescue of Philly sports fans

Thank God for the Eagles.

Anyone want to ponder what the winter sports scene would be like around here if Chip Kelly had not come around to resuscitate the Birds.

Last night the Flyers got something of a measuring stick to see where they stand in the NHL when they faced off against the best team in the league, the Chicago Blackhawks. The Flyers actually took a 1-0 lead into the second period. That's when the defending Stanley Cup champions turned on the jets, scoring five goals on the way to a 7-2 rout. Rob Parent has all the details from the Windy City.

Sixers fan? Go back to bed, pull the covers up over your head, and stay there until Draft Day. Last night the Sixers bolted to a big 19-point lead in the first half, only to fall to the T-Wolves.

If anyone has any idea what Ruben Amaro Jr.'s plan is for the Phillies, please let us know.

Thankfully, we have meaningful football in December, courtesy of Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and the gang.

Just in case he hadn't heard the persistent rumbling of those who continue to doubt him, Foles was greeted with another dilemma yesterday.

Yes, that's the Eagles QB featured on the front cover of this week's regional edition of Sports Illustrated. A lot of people believe there's a jinx that goes along with being showcased by SI.

I'm not one of them. I expect Foles, who has yet to be the least bit flustered by anything other than some concussion symptoms in that dreadful game against the Cowboys.

Foles has the perfect demeanor for an NFL quarterback, not too high and not too low. Instead, he strikes me more and more as the cool, confident gunslinger.

He did not get off to a good start in those wild Snow Bowl conditions at the Linc Sunday, but he never panicked.

I don't expect anything less when the Eagles fly into the cozy confines of the dome in Minnesota on Sunday. We'll all be glued to our TVs.

We need the Eagles to keep this run going. Because the winter sports scene in Philly looks like it is going to be a long, cold slog to the spring.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Dec. 11

The Daily Numbers: 300 dollars, cost of headphones Christian Massey was wearing when he was robbed, shot and killed.

19, age of Arkel Garcia, the Philly teen who has been charged in Massey’s killing.

2.2 inches of snow recorded at Philly International Airport on Tuesday.

4 inches in Drexel Hill.

10.8 inches over the last two days, according to official listings of the National Weather Service. 8.3 inches, how much snow we got all last winter.

2 men involved in a shootout in Yeadon after a robbery attempt.

130 dollars that came in to the Merry Christmas Fund. We need a big boost if we’re going to hit our goal of $60,000.

4 votes on borough council to discharge Police Chief William Conner. There was 1 abstention.

21, age of woman who survived a close encounter on the tracks with an Amtrak Acela train at the Glenolden Station yesterday afternoon.

95,000 people packed into stadium in South Africa for service to honor Nelson Mandela.

63 billion dollars in spending cuts restored under budget deal reached in Washington, D.C., yesterday 52.40 point decline for stock market yesterday.

8:30 p.m. kickoff for Eagles and Bears at the Linc on Dec. 22 after game was ‘flexed’ to prime time Sunday night game.

2 aces - Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels - that Ruben Amaro says he is not trying to move, contrary to some national reports.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

The rest of the nation is now paying attention to what the red-hot Eagles are doing. Their game Dec. 22 at the Linc vs. the Bears has now been flexed to the national Sunday night game.

I Don’t Get It: Still can’t believe you would shoot someone for a pair of headphones. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to drivers who for the most part kept their wits about them while out on the roads during yesterday morning’s snowy conditions.

Quote Box: “He was like a big teddy bear.”

- Marple Newtown athletic director Dennis Reardon, on Christian Massey.

When a life is worth less than a pair of headphones

Ever wonder what a life is worth?

You would like to think we would place it above a set of headphones, even a very pricy set.

Then again, maybe not.

I'm still trying to come to grips with the achingly sad story of Christian Massey. He's the "gentle giant" who graduated last year from Marple Newtown High School.

Chris was orphaned and wound up at the Don Guanella School in Marple. From there he was mainstreamed to Marple Newtown High School.

He quickly became a popular part of the MN community, playing both football and basketball.

Police say on the afternoon of Nov. 30, he was accosted as he left a house in West Philly. The robber was intent on taking his Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. They retail for about $300.

Chris did not seek a confrontation. He apparently didn't want to give up his headphones either. I can't blame him.

That decision may have cost him his life. Police say he was gunned down as he tried to flee his attacker.

On Monday, the Marple Newtown community made its way to Hickman Temple AME Church to bid their friend goodbye.

Michael McGowan coached Massey for five years on a Special Olympics basketball team.

"I was so proud of the man he had become. He never let his life be slowed down by the obstacles put in front of him."

But none of those obstacles was packing a gun.

That thought was not lost on Marple Newtown Athletic Director Dennis Reardon.

"The biggest thing about all of this is that no matter the obstacles he overcame, the highest obstacle to overcome is someone with evil in their heart," Reardon said.

While his friends and family were mourning, police were making an arrest. They have charged a 19-year-old. The teen's family gave a TV interview saying he could not have done it, that he was home watching movies at the time of the murder.

I hope they're right.

I'd hate to think that a life is worth less than a nice set of headphones.

That would be an obstacle I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle.

Repeat after me, Eagles fans: Karma ...

If you believe in karma, then you have to love this Eagles team.

Everything is breaking their way.

And we're not the only ones noticing. The red-hot Birds are about to go prime time. Their final home game of the season, on Dec. 22 against the Chicago Bears, has been "flexed" to NBC's prime time Sunday night game. Kickoff will be around 8:30.

In the meantime, Chip Kelly will continue to get the Eagles ready to face the Vikings out in their dome on Sunday. The big question is whether All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson will be in the lineup on Sunday. He injured his foot last week and did not return.

It would only follow the magical run the Eagles have been on. Aaron Rodgers was out of the lineup when the Birds smoked them at Lambeau. Now there is talk he could be back to face the Cowboys in Sunday's 4:15 national telecast.

The Eagles hold the keys to their playoff push. Win three games and they're in. Stumble in either of the next two weeks, and suddenly you're looking at a "winner take all" match vs. the Cowboys in the season finale on Dec. 29.

If that game has playoff implications, it's a pretty good bet that one also could wind up being moved to prime time.

Yep, Chip Kelly and the Eagles have arrived.

Your morning commuter alert

Here's the early word from my morning commute. The roads are fine. Getting into your car, on the other hand, is a different animal altogether.

Your big issue this morning is not going to be the infamous "black ice," despite the impassioned pleas of the good folks on TV. I didn't encounter any. Then again, I was not in many parking lots or sidewalks. That's where the problems are.

And in my driveway, of course. The small puddle of water that insists on collecting right at the bottom of the driveway (and of course precisely where you place your foot when getting in or out of the car) was solid ice this morning.

Once I traversed that, the big challenge was deicing the car. The entire car this morning was wrapped in that really fine layer of ice that is almost impossible to scrape off the windshield and windows. Your best bet is to start your car and let the defroster run for while to break it up.

But once you're out on the road, it should be smooth sailing.

You might also want to bundle up. It is seriously cold out there this morning, with temperatures in the teens. And just for good measure, they're calling for some kind of mess to arrive Saturday, with some snow and rain hitting the region.

Have I mentioned recently (like in the last 5 minutes) that I hate winter?