Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

The Giants really aren't going to start the season 0-3, are they?

Let's hope so.

It will be a decidedly desperate Big Blue that rolls down the Jersey Turnpike for the Eagles' home opener at Lincoln Financial Field. The Giants should be as hot as the temperatures, which are expected to soar into the 90s.

It shouldn't matter. At this point the Eagles are a better team - and should get the win. But this is the Giants, and weird things always happen against the Giants. So I wouldn't be stunned if the Eagles cough this one up.

The Giants are in flames because of two fundamental problems: They can't run the ball and can't protect quarterback Eli Manning. Add in an Odell Beckham not playing at 100 percent and you have big problems.

This game likely will boil down to the Eagles defensive line vs. the Giants shaky offensive line. Those guys have been getting torched all week in New York. Coach Ben McAdoo even poured a little fire on his QB, criticizing some of the decision making of Manning. But if Manning gets even adequate protection, he could have a field day against a very banged-up Eagles secondary. The D-line can't allow that to happen.

Doug Pederson insists "we" have to fix the Birds' non-existent run game. Yo, Doug, you're the coach. Try calling some running plays. Give Carson Wentz a break. Don't look for that to happen. Look for Wentz to be dropping back - and often running for his life - again this Sunday. If he's again the Birds leading rusher, they could be in trouble.

A win could almost be the kiss of death for the Giants' season.

Pucker up, Big Blue.

THE PICK: Make it Eagles 23, Giants 17. Count on the D-Line to get to Eli enough to force a crucial late turnover to seal the deal

LAST WEEK: As I feared, Doug Pederson completely shirked the run game, despite being in a tie game with the highly respected Chiefs into the fourth quarter. Pederson says he will change his ways. I will believe it when I see it. Expect to see Carson Wentz chucking it downfield all day again Sunday. I don't think Wentz will rack up another 300-yard day against the Giants, but I do think he will take another heavy dose of punishment. The loss to Andy Reid drops the Eagles to 1-1, while my record remains spotless at 2-0.

GAME BY GAME: Chiefs 27, Eagles 20. (My Pick: Chiefs 33, Eagles 17)

Eagles 30, Redskins 17. (My Pick: Eagles 26, Redskins 13)

Friday, September 22, 2017

A new legal front in the opioid wars

Today's front page pretty tells you how seriously the county is taking their latest foray in the opioid war.

'This is War,' it declares.

Yesterday Delaware County became the first county in Pennsylvania to file suit against drug makers - and some of the doctors that advise them - in connection with the heroin and opioid epidemic that is ravaging so many of our communities.

What the county basically is alleging in their legal filing is that big pharmaceutical companies have for years been practicing deceitful practices in pushing powerful painkillers, knowing full well the dangers of long-term use leading to addiction.

Officials say many heroin addicts start down that road with legitimate prescriptions for painkillers, quickly find themselves addicted, then go looking for cheap alternatives when the prescription runs out.

It's a vicious circle.

It will be interesting to see if this lawsuit ever sees the inside of a courtroom, and what the drug companies response will be. You can read our story here.

'What is your fascination with this pipeline story'

I had a very interesting phone conversation earlier this week.

As usual, the caller wanted to debate what appeared on the front page that morning.

What was unusual about it was the very calm, reasoned, rational discussion we had. I assure you that is not always the case. What also was unusual was the hour. Let's just say it was early. It's obvious this person - like me - is up and at it very early in the day. The exec wanted to know about the process that goes into deciding what goes on the front page each day, in particular the lead story. It took awhile, but eventually this person got around to what I think they really wanted to talk about.

"What is the fascination with this pipeline?"

It's not an unusual question.

In part it was sparked by two front-page packages that appeared just a couple of days apart.

On Sunday we noted the grievances residents in the Andover development out in Thornbury have had since the Mariner East 2 project has literally moved into their front yard.

Then just a couple of days later, we learned that the group actually had gone to court seeking an injunction to halt construction. That wound up in our lead spot as well.

The caller noted some of the other stories that appeared in the paper that day, and wondered why they were not in that coveted lead spot. I think it's safe to say this person is a supporter of Mariner East 2. We have not avoided that aspect of the story.

Many elected officials, including Delaware County Council, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and labor unions, are big proponents of the Sunoco project.

They note the economic upside, the jobs involved, and the importance of the project to the future of Marcus Hook and the lower end of the county.

We talked about the process I go through each day in selecting that lead story. I have said many times it's the most important of the many decisions I make every day.

I'm not sure I convinced this person that I made the right call - or that we are not piling on when it comes to this pipeline story. But it was nice to have a cordial, rational conversation - especially that early in the day.

We will continue to follow the pipeline story. I happen to believe it's the most important economic story in the region.

That means it's not going away. Neither are we.

A key opportunity on the road to recover

The road to recovery is a long, crooked path.

Detours are not unusual.

One of the things we hear again and again from police and first responders is a frustration that, as good as Narcan is in saving those overdosing on heroin and opioids, they lament what too often happens next.

They note the lack of treatment and recovery programs.

They indicate they too often find the very same people, in the very same circumstances, once again in need of the life-saving drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

A crucial part of long-term recovery is something most of us would endorse.

The concept is simple.

It's called a second chance.

Talking about it is one thing.

Putting it into practice - especially in the business world - is another.

That's why a program rolled out this week by the county is so important.

It offers women in longterm recovery - who in the process of defeating the demons that knocked them down - another shot at gainful employment.

We talk about it on today's editorial page.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The ups & downs of Mariner East 2

It is the issue that will not go away.

It also happens to be perhaps the biggest economic story in the region - if we can just figure out where Amazon wants to park its new headquarters.

I'm talking about Mariner East 2.

Yes, the massive pipeline project that will traverse the width of Pennsylvania, ferrying massive amounts of butane, propane and ethane to Marcus Hook, continues to make news.

I have said many times that I believe the Sunoco project is the biggest economic story in the region. No one doubts the upside. But the concerns about it - and the possible dangers - are not going away.

The latest is a legal challenge issued by the homeowners association out at the Andover development in Thornbury Township.

They have gone to Commonwealth Court seeking an injunction to halt construction in their neighborhood.

I don't think it's going to happen.

There are two things I'm pretty sure of: Mariner East 2 is not going away. Neither are the community concerns.

You can read our editorial here.

County veterans lose a special friend

No one was more surprised than I was when I saw the lineup of guests set up by my pal Barbara Ann Zippi for one of our 'Live From the Newsroom' shows a few years back.

I actually had to read the list again.

Yep, that was longtime Newtown Supervisor Linda Houldin on the list. I kind of wondered how long it took Barb to convince her to do it.

The Newtown pol had several dust-ups with the paper and our coverage. She was not bashful about saying she did not think she had been treated fairly, and said so at several public appearances I made, including a luncheon of the Delaware County Press Club

But Houldin was not appearing on the show as Newtown supervisor. She was coming on wearing a couple of her other many hats, as head of the Delaware County Historical Society and co-founder of the Delaware County Veterans Memorial.

When she showed up at the office for the live-streaming of the show, I think she was still having trepidations about how things were going to go.

She could not have been nicer.

The show went off without a hitch.

And I had a new friend.

Veterans issues were very close to Linda's heart, along with her special educational push in getting young people involved in veterans issues and expanding their knowledge of what these men and women sacrificed.

We did several shows together, including one out at the Veterans Memorial out on West Chester Pike in Newtown Square.

Linda died earlier this week following a severe asthma attack.

The county has lost a special person.

And local veterans have lost a very special friend.

Maybe no one knew just how much she put into the drive to construct the memorial than Guy Fizzano. He's the board president of the Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association and another of the people responsible for that marvelous edifice.

"Her contributions to her community were both immeasurable and far reaching," Fizzano said of Houldin. "Hers is a legacy of profound generosity."

She touched a lot of lives in this county, and planted new seeds of respect and knowledge about veterans issues with young people.

And she even managed to surprise on old newspaper editor.

Rest well, Linda.

Young Phillies creating a buzz

What does it mean that two weeks into the Eagles season - with a huge game against the Giants looming Sunday - we're still talking about the Phillies.

Yes, the Phils won again last night, taking their third straight game from the Dodgers, who just happen to be the team with the best record in baseball. The Phils will go for the sweep this afternoon.

Last night's game was marked by another fantastic at-bat from rookie phenom Rhys Hoskins, who worked a walk, followed by a titanic blast from red-hot Aaron Altherr.

Center-field Odubel Herrera sealed the deal with a spectacular grab leaping against the wall for the final out in the 9th inning.

The Phillies have now won eight of 10 and are 32-33 since the All-Star break.

It now appears fairly certain that the team will avoid the ignominy of a 100-loss season.

Their record stands at 61-91. Yes, they remain 31 and a half games behind the Nats.

But there is an understandable buzz about this team, with a young nucleus of future stars.

There will be more than one interesting decision about the roster that will have to be made in Clearwater next spring.

Add a couple of starting pitchers and the Phillies could be on the brink of something special.

Worst to first? Well, let's not get carried away.

But it's Sept. 21, the last day of summer.

And we're still talking about a team with a 61-91 record.

What does that tell you?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A state budget prediction

Here's a little Pennsylvania state budget prediction.

Our friends in Harrisburg are about to resolve the state's budget mess.

And it will include a severance tax on the state's natural gas drillers.

This comes from a source I trust who is involved in the process.

As you know, the state has had a budget in place since July 1. But our fearless leaders forgot one thing: They don't have a plan in place to pay for it.

The Senate came up with a plan that raises a lot of taxes - but not the two biggies, the personal income or state sales tax.

Their plan would hike levies on utilities and cell phone bills, and does include a new tax on the state's natural gas drillers.

The House didn't like the sound of that. They instead want to borrow a bunch of money, raid the tobacco settlement fund, and skim off what they are calling "surplus" funds from many departments, including education and transportation.

They've been at loggerheads ever since, with the state hanging precariously over the fiscal abyss.

Now I'm told a budget funding package will be in place within the next 10 days.

And our Delco house delegation was smack in the middle of the deal.

House leaders attended a meeting and are apparently finally on board with some kind of severance tax on the Marcellus Shale industry.

That did not stop my source from saying something that many of us have believed now for years. The process in Harrisburg is broken and needs to be fixed.

"This thing has been mismanaged from the start," the source said.

More about race

Yesterday we took the always dicey proposition of talking about race in America.

Today we expanded on it on our editorial page.

We have a problem.

Yesterday's editorial was sparked by an incident that took place on the campus of Cabrini University in Radnor. An ugly racial epithet was scrawled on the door of the dorm room of an African-American student.

Yes, it included that word.

The incident is under investigation by both the school and Radnor police.

Much of the Main Line university ccommunity is rallying around Sennia Vann, the student who was targeted.

But the story doesn't stop there.

Incredibly, the school announced late Tuesday afternoon that two more incidents in the same dorm were discovered.

Students held a closed, town hall-style meeting Tuesday night to discuss the situation.

It's not just on college campuses.

In West Chester, the community continues to deal with racial tensions after racial threats against several students were posted on social media.

Another packed meeting was held last night do discuss the situation and the way the school district handled the situation.

You can read that story here. Yes, we need to talk about race. The reality is we need to do a lot more than talk. But at least that's a start. But judging on the reaction to yesterday's blog item, I don't hold out much hope of that.

A Rhys Hoskins at-bat, like baseball, is timeless

Baseball is timeless.

Literally.

It is the only major sport contested without a clock.

But don't take my word for it.

Ask Rhys Hoskins.

The young slugging Phillies phenom doesn't just hit home runs.

Last night he smacked a double with the bases loaded to boost the Phils to their second straight win over the best team in baseball, the L.A. Dodgers.

Hoskins has four RBI on the night.

But that probably wasn't the best thing about his night.

That double came on the 10th pitch of his at-bat against flame-throwing Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez.

Baez would rear back and fire to the plate, and Hoskins would either take it or foul it off. This went on for nine glorious pitches before Hoskins roped the 10th offering into the left-centerfield alley.

The night before, much of the acclaim went to Aaron Altherr for his grand slam off Clayton Kershaw that won the game. But Altherr was set up in part by another fabulous at-bat by Hoskins, who eventually worked a walk to keep the inning alive.

Last night's gem had all the drama of one of the most memorable moments from the Phils' 2008 championship season, when pitcher Brett Myers battled the Brewers' C.C. Sabathia for 13 pitches before working a walk in the NLDS.

And all of this was without the courtesy of any clock.

Timeless.

Gotta love baseball.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Race in America

Still think this country does not have a race problem?

Wonder if we need to have a real discussion about racial issues?

Maybe you should talk to the students at Cabrini University.

The Main Line campus has been engulfed in a bit of an uproar after racial graffiti was discovered on a dorm room door. Of course this was not just any dorm room.

It happened to be where one of Cabrini's African-America students reside.

And, of course, it just had to include the N-word. Nice huh.

Luckily the campus is rallying around the student. School officials issued a statement supporting the student and indicating such behavior will not be tolerated.

The incident is under investigation by Radnor police.

What would possibly make someone do something so ugly?

Are we that insecure in our racial feelings?

Is the divide that deep?

You can read our story here.

When a pipeline becomes your back yard neighbor

I have to admit that I feel for the residents of Andover.

Where is Andover? It's on the western edge of the county, near the intersection of Routes 352 and 926. I drive by it every night on the way home.

Want a good example of the effect that construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline is having? Take a drive out Route 352. Some people there now have a pipeline literally in their back yard.

I am guessing that when people plunked down their hard-earned money, they had no idea that one day they would have a pipeline moving in next door.

They have lost some of their pristine scenery, trees, a buffer from the highway, and a bit of their privacy. We told some of their story Sunday.

None of this is likely going to change what is happening.

A couple of things should be said. First, Sunoco Pipeline is within its rights to do what they are doing. The courts have backed them in just about every instance. As ugly as the construction process looks right now, Sunoco is vowing to return the space as much as possible to the way it once was. They say the trees will be replanted, and that the company has complied with all the environmental requirements in our construction.

That does not seem to be soothing residents' concerns.

Word is they are now preparing to go into court in an attempt to have construction of the pipeline halted.

We'll stay with the story.

Business as usual in Harrisburg

Another day, another dollar in Harrisburg.

Actually lots of dollars. About $2 billion of them.

That's the spending gap the state is currently looking at.

Republicans who control both the House and Senate have not been able to agree on a funding mechanism.

So the state is beginning the painful process of halting payments on key services. The first hit was to Medicaid payments, which pick up the tab for health care for some of the state's neediest people.

Pension payments and education funding could be next.

The Senate returned from their summer vacation Monday, but a deal continues to elude our representatives in Harrisburg. It's embarrassing that this state continues to face the same kind of budget follies year after year.

At least the Senate got serious about dealing with the state's recurring budget woes. They passed a funding plan that included a variety of tax hikes, including the state's first severance tax on natural gas drillers.

The House, where Republicans are adamanty opposed to tax hikes (maybe because they have to run for office every two years?) instead are looking at a plant that skims off what they call 'surplus' funding from many departments, raids the tobacco lawsuit settlement fund, and pushes another increase in legal gaming in the state.

This is no longer just business as usual in Harrisburg.

People are now getting hurt.

Read our editorial here.

Then call you representative and senator and tell them to get a budget deal done.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dog Days

We are officially in the "dog days."

Yes, I know that we have reached the official final, few, precious days of summer.

According to the calendar, Autumn arrives Friday.

So am I late with my proclamation of "Dog Days."

But I'm not talking about the weather.

I'm talking about our front page.

Twice now in the past week we have featured dogs on Page One.

It's one of the absolute tenets of the newspaper industry.

You can't go wrong with stories about animals.

I talk about it in this week's Letter From the Editor.

Pederson 'running' into some problems

Note to Doug Pederson: You are the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Birds don't run the ball because you don't call running plays.

Firs things first. That was a valiant effort by the Birds in hanging in there against Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. They fell 27-20 but were in it literally to the final play - a Hail Mary pass that could have tied the game.

But you have to wonder what Pederson is thinking about when it comes to running the football.

The truth is he's not thinking of it at all.

In my weekly 'Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick' blog, I suggested this might be a game for a huge helping of free agent acquisition LeGarrette Blount, to keep the Chiefs' potent offense off the field, control the game and at the same time keep young phenom QB Carson Wentz alive.

So what happened? Blount touched the ball once - and that play was negated by a penalty. So officially Blount got zero carries.

The Eagles rushed the ball all of 17 times, while Wentz threw the ball 46 times. That's about three times more passes to rushes.

The Birds' leading rusher was Wentz, who was running for his life for the second straight week.

A staunch effort by the defense kept the Eagles in this game. If not for a missed chip shot field goal by new kicker Jake Elliott, the game would have been tied at 6 at the half.

As it was the Birds scraped their way to a lead in the third quarter. But instead of managing the game - and the clock - Pederson dialed up pass after pass.

Perhaps even more perplexing was Pederson's comments after the game, in which he consistently acknowledged the problems with the rushing game and vowed "we have to get that fixed."

Huh? Doug, you're the head coach. You are calling the plays. You have to embrace the run.

Now even players are starting to question the play-calling, with both tight end Zach Ertz and Blount wondering about all those pass plays.

And there might be something else going on here as well. It's blatantly obvious that Pederson has little or no say when it comes to player personnel on this team.

Howie Roseman went out and got Blount in the off-season. How do you think Roseman feels about seeing Blount get one carry all day yesterday.

Let's see what kind of spin Pederson manages to put on his play-calling this morning after having a chance to sleep on it. Just one thing, Doug. This is not a 'we' question.

If you haven't noticed, you're the head coach. You have to fix it.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

The student challenges the master.

This does not bode well for Doug Pederson.

Andy Reid specializes in a couple of things: He always beats his former assistants who go on to head coaching jobs; and he always wins when he gets extra time to prepare. Remember Reid's record with the Eagles after bye weeks?

The Chiefs rolled over the Super Bowl champion Patriots more than a week ago to kick off the NFL season on a Thursday night. He's been prepping his team for Sunday's showdown with the Eagles ever since.

Alex Smith, armed with a lot of new weapons on offense, certainly appears as if he's looking to shed that 'game manager' label. The Chiefs exploded against the Pats, with Smith connecting with his new speedy weapons Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt. The loss of corner Ronald Darby, who dislocated his ankle in the Eagles opening day win over the Redskins, is not a good omen for the Birds. The best bet for Doug Pederson, who spent several years both playing for and as an assistant for Reid with the Chiefs, as well as a stint as his offensive coordinator, would be to control the game and keep the Chiefs' offense off the field.

This would be a great game for the Eagles to pound the Chiefs, with a big dose of LeGarrette Blount. We all know that is not going to happen. Pederson will continue to have Carson Wentz dropping back and throwing. Look for lots of three-and-outs for the Eagles. That could be suicidal in Arrowhead Stadium, one of the loudest venues in the NFL.

Look for lots of penalties and turnovers to doom the Birds.

THE PICK: Make it Chiefs 33, Eagles 17. Most people had circled this game as a loss for the Birds. I haven't seen anything to change my mind.

LAST WEEK: Carson Wentz threw for more than 300 yards, Nelson Agholor seemed to be reborn, but it was the Eagles' defense that starred in a jarring win over the Redskins. The defensive line dominated this game, putting constant pressure on Kirk Cousins and forcing a slew of turnovers. A repeat effort will be needed to keep the Birds in this contest against the Chiefs. We both stand at 1-0. That will change this week.

GAME BY GAME: Eagles 30, Redskins 17. (My Pick: Eagles 26, Redskins 13)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Charlton takes stand against GOP funding plan

Pennsylvania is now looking into the financial abyss.

There is a very good chance that the state may not be able to pay its bills today.

That is because while legislators have passed a budget, they have yet to come up with a way to pay for it.

This may seem a bit odd since Republicans control both the Senate and House, but the GOP can't even agree among themselves how to pay for the $32 billion spending plan.

The Senate back in July passed a plan that included a host of new taxes, including the state's first ever severance tax on the state's natural gas drillers.

But House GOP leaders, under the leadership of Speaker Rep. Mike Turzai R-Allegheny, continue to resist any new tax hikes. They passed their own plan - by a scant one-vote margin - that would instead raid surplus funds from many state departments, including mass transit.

The measure passed mostly on party lines - with every Democrat in the House voting against.

But a few moderate Republicans voted against this plan, which has been rapped by both Gov. Tom Wolf and Senate Republicans as not doing anything to fix the state's recurring budget problems.

One member of the Delco GOP agrees with them.

Rep. Alex Charlton, R-165, of Springfield, continues to show an independent streak. He voted against the GOP plan, and it's not the first time he's bucked his own party.

Good for him.

Time to get guns out of hands of domestic abusers

'Common sense' is not something we usually associated with Harrisburg.

We would enter Exhibit A the ongoing budget debacle that today threatens to see the state unable to pay its bills.

That's why we did a double-take this week when some local pols called a press conference to boost what they refer to as 'common sense' legislation.

But this time they are on the money.

It involves Senate Bill 501. And what it does is make a key change in Pennsylvania law that would make sure that anyone convicted of a domestic abuse crime or who has a finalized Protection From Abuse order against them be required to give up their guns.

And the measure pushed by Delco Republicans Sens. Tom Killion, R-9, and Tom McGarrigle, R-26, makes a very important adjustment.

Currently those convicted of such crimes can merely turn over their firearms to a friend or relative.

This too often has very unfortunate results.

The new legislation would mandate that those weapons be turned over to law enforcement or a register gun shop.

It has the backing of the D.A., law enforcement groups, as well as women's groups.

We add our support on today's editorial page.

Red Hot: Hoskins and the Indians

So what do you think happens first?

The Indians lose a game, or Phillies phenom Rhys Hoskins fails to homer in a game.

Both continue to be red hot.

The Indians won their American League record 22nd straight game last night.

Meanwhile, Hoskins just continues to be off the charts. He homered again last night. That makes 18 homers in the 34 games he's played since getting the call-up from Triple A on Aug. 10.

In the process, he becomes the fastest ever to get to 18 homers - and it wasn't even close.

The previous record was held by the Yankees Gary Sanchez - and it took him 45 games.

Hoskins had lots of company last night as the Phils swamped the Marlins, 10-0.

This team is taking on the look of an offensive juggernaut - and Hoskins is leading the charge.

Read all about it here.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Summer won't be the same; we'll hear less of L.A.

Suddenly, the Phillies have me yearning for spring training.

All except for one thing.

That's right, I can't wait to see what a full season of Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola might be like.

Last night Hoskins continued his recreation of 'The Natural,' smashing his 17th home run in just his 33rd game.

And Aaron Nola had another strong outing, striking out 11 in 7 innings.

The Phils smoked the Marlins, 8-1.

Suddenly, we can't wait until next year.

Except for one thing.

At least for me, next year won't be nearly as much fun, regardless of how good Hoskins, Nola, Herrera, Williams and the rest of the gang are.

That's because we'll be hearing less of L.A.

If you're wondering what L.A. stands for, you clearly are not what I am - a radiophile.

That's right, I actually prefer listening to baseball on the radio. It's something I inherited from my dad.

And that is where Larry Andersen resides, providing the color commentary to Scott Franzke's play-by-play.

I should have put an underline on the 'color.'

Yeah, Larry Andersen is colorful. And hilarious.

How good is the back-and-forth between Franzke and Andersen. They managed to hold an audience despite this mostly dreadful season of Phillies baseball.

That's because the duo - in particular the Andersen, the former journeyman Phillies pitcher - is not just about baseball. It can be about anything - and usually is.

Andersen is that rare on-air analyst. He's not afraid to call out the home team. He will tell you when he thinks they stink, he will erupt when he sees lack of effort, and he will rail against what he sees as poor umpiring.

In other words, he's one of us.

Andersen has indicate that after 48 consecutive summers in baseball, he wants to cut back next year. He likely will only do home games, preferring not to endure any more road trips.

Hard to blame him.

There is a long history of great radio and TV commentary tied to the Phillies.

I grew up with By Saam and Bill Campbell.

Of course we still all mourn 'Whitey' Ashburn and Harry Kalas.

We thought they would never be replaced.

Then we were regaled night in and night out with the whimsical offerings of L.A. There was something else unique about the duo - they are heard only on the radio. Unlike many teams, they do not share duties with the TV broadcast.

That gives them a special relationship with those - like me - who prefer to listen to the games on the radio. It is part of my summer.

A tradition I first picked up from my father. He would sit at a picnic table in the back yard with a transistor radio. That orange glow from his cigarette as he enjoyed his favorite adult beverage was a sure sign that all was right with the world. When his youngest son once asked him why he never came inside to watch the game on TV, he offered perhaps the best description I've ever heard.

"I can see the game better on the radio," he offered.

Here's to you, dad.

And here's to you, L.A.

Thanks for all those great summer nights.

Animal House

We all about animals today.

On our editorial page, we join those wishing Layla and Gracie well.

They are the two pit bull pups who were found in emaciated condition abandoned in an Upper Darby park. The two dogs likely endured horrific abuse before they were dumped.

We offer a salute to Justice Rescue and the folks nursing them back to health, and hope those responsible for the abuse our brought to another kind of 'Justice.'

And on today's front page, we bring you the county District Attorney Office's newest tool in the war on child porn.

We're calling this 2-year-old labrador 'Checkpoint Charlie.'

That's because Charlie is being used to detect hidden electronic devices where suspects often stash child porn.

Just don't ask us how she does it.

A tribute to Billy Batts

Billy Batts is dead.

Again.

If you didn't nod your head in agreement at this news, you're obviously not a 'Goodfellas' fan.

Confession here.

As an longtime, dedicated channel surfer, I can admit that there are a couple of things that will stop me dead in my tracks. 'Goodfellas' is one of them.

Just ask my wife. She hates this mob saga movie starring Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci.

She thinks I have always wanted to be a mobster.

She might be right.

I have seen 'Goodfellas' more times than I can count, even if most of the time I only see snippets of it, until my wife intervenes.

Billy Batts is a gangster in the flick played by veteran character actor Frank Vincent.

Vincent is always the perfect image of a gangster.

Here's another confession.

Vincent is probably best known for playing mob boss Phil Leotardo, Tony Soprano's nemesis on 'The Sopranos.' Would you believe I have never seen a single episode of 'The Sopranos'?

Vincent also appeared in 'Raging Bull' and another great mob flick, 'Casino.'

In 2006, Vincent published a book, "A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man."

I don't doubt it a bit.

Rest well, Billy Batts. Or at least easier than you did in your gruesome demise at the hands of DeNiro and Pesci in 'Goodfellas.'

Now excuse me while I go home and get my shinebox.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

2 Delco natives doing good

We love stories about Delaware County natives making good.

Today we have two of them.

Meet Gary Dauberman and Dray Clark.

Dauberman grew up in Glen Mills and attended Rose Tree Media Schools.

He hung out at the Granite Run Mall and was a regular at the Comic Shop, Games 'n' Gadgets, Aladdin's Castle and Jolly Time. He also was an avid reader and writer, spending lots of time in Waldenbooks. That's where he picked up Stephen King's masterpiece "It."

Today Dauberman is the screenwriter for the film adaptation of the movie, which just happens to be the hottest flick in the nation.

You can read his story here.

Clark is a Chester native who has rocketed to fame in TV news.

Now he's coming home.

Clark has accepted a position as a writer/anchor at NBC10.

Check him out here.

Answering the alarm

Just as they did on Sept. 11, they are the people walking toward the danger, even as everyone else is trying desperately to get away.

We take a moment today to note something that took place over the weekend.

It was a fundraiser for two local volunteer fire departments.

There are several important things to note here.

One, these volunteers are becoming something of a rare species. People just don't volunteer or take part in service to their community as they once did.

Two, if municipalities had to institute paid emergency services, tax bills would skyrocket.

Forget 9/11 for a moment. Think about this the next time you hear that fire whistle go off at 3 in the morning.

Before you roll over in bed, take time to be thankful that someone is still answering the alarm.

You can read our editorial here.

An appreciation of Rhys Hoskins

Forget the Eagles.

At least for a few days. Unless, of course, you're a kicker. In that case, stand by. They might nee you. Instead, let's talk about Rhys Hoskins.

The legend continues to grow.

Hoskins hit two more home runs last night, a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh that kickstarted the Phils' comeback from a 7-3 deficit, and a monster blast to dead center that evened the game again in the bottom of the 10th after the Marlins had taken the lead in the top half of the frame.

Hoskins now has 16 home runs in 112 at-bats since he broke into the Phillies lineup on Aug. 10.

How sizzling has Hoskins been.

Consider Ryan Howard's National League Rookie of the Year season in 2005. The slugger took over for Jim Thome after a season-ending injury. Howard took over first base duties and slammed 22 home runs in just 312 at bats, hitting at a .288 average and knocked in 63 runs.

Hoskins already has 16 dingers in a lot fewer at-bats.

He's easily hit more homers in his first 31 games than any other Phillie. Dick Allen, Pat Burrell and Ricky Jordan all had 6. Tommy Joseph hit 8 and some guys named Buzz Arlett and Don hurst both hit 9, in 1931 and 1928, respectively.

Hoskins could wind up leading the team in homers. Joseph has 21 and Maikel Franco has hit 20.

Think Hoskins can kick field goals?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Remembering in Delco

Yesterday we paused to mark a solemn day.

It's still hard to believe that it's been 16 years since that gorgeous blue sky was forever tainted by a plume of gray smoke rising from the World Trade Center in New York City.

No one has to remind Don Wilkins of what happened on that day.

All Wilkins, a lifetime volunteer firefighter, has to do is look in his front yard.

Wilkins constructed a memorial to honor the more than 300 first responders who died that day.

We salute his effort.

You can read our editorial here.

Anyone remember Sam Bradford?

I'm not a big believer in revisionist history.

But I can admit to being the president the Sam Bradford Fan Club.

Still am.

I can admire a guy who fights his way back from not one but two serious knee injuries in order to stand behind very often shaky offensive lines while 11 guys on the other side of the ball try to do him harm.

I thought Bradford had the chance to do great things with the Eagles.

Didn't happen.

And when Vikings young standout QB Teddy Bridgewater blew out his knee two years ago in the pre-season, the Eagles and Vikings pulled off that rarest of NFL breeds, a colossal blockbuster trade.

The Birds sent Bradford to the Vikings, in effect getting back the draft pick they had given up in order to draft Wentz. The Eagles made the young gunslinger their starting QB a week before the season opener. In the meantime, Bradford went off to Minnesota and had a fairly ordinary year.

Bradford needs a clean pocket to be effective. Last night he got it, and the results were spectacular.

This was the Bradford I was hoping to see with the Eagles.

Perfect mechanics.

Balls delivered right into his receivers' hands, in stride.

Bradford dropped some balls into spots that a lot of quarterbacks just can not - or will not - make.

One of the criticisms Bradford received while with the Eagles was that all he did was dink and dunk. Not last night. He was hitting receivers down the field, as well as the short balls.

Again, the accuracy, which we got glimpses of here, was spectacular.

Bradford wound up 27 of 32 for 346 yards and no turnovers as the Vikings scorched the Saints in the early Monday Night Football game. Keep an eye on 'Sammy Sleeves.'

I once predicted he might be the Offensive Player of the Year in the NFL for the Eagles.

Maybe I just had the wrong team.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Never Forget

I still find hard to believe it's been 16 years.

Americans today will once again gather in a public proclmation of the single thought that has coursed through our veins since Sept. 11, 2001.

Never Forget.

Here in Delaware County, the annual Sept. 11 Remembrance Ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. in Rose Tree Park.

The ceremony will take place at the Delaware County Law Enforcement and Fire & EMS Memorial in Rose Tree Park located at 1671 N. Providence Road in Upper Providence Township. The ceremony includes the laying of memorial wreaths for police, firefighters and first responders, and for the victims of September 11th and the servicemen and woman who have given their lives in pursuit of freedom since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

As part of the ceremony, Delaware County first responders and law enforcement will be recognized for their heroic actions.

Retired Coast Guard Fire Chief Chuck Burk will be serving as the keynote speaker.

Never Forget.

Sept. 11: 2 blue skies, 2 memories

It will always be the first thing I think of on Sept. 11.

It remains one of the most beautiful blue September skies I've ever seen.

A couple of things.

First, I find it hard to believe it's been 16 years since we all first looked on in horror as a plume of gray smoke altered that blue sky - and our lives - forever.

And I now have a second blue sky connected to that day that continues to haunt me.

I explain it in my weekly Letter From the Editor.

Eagles win one for Doug

Forget the Gipper.

The Eagles yesterday won one for Doug.

That would be their head coach, Doug Pederson.

You might remember that Pederson was torched last week by former NFL GM Mike Lombardi, who unloaded both barrels on Pederson as the least qualified head coach in the NFL.

Pederson did not return fire, low-keying the whole thing in a perfect fit for his personality.

But those scorching words were not lost in the Eagles locker room, where some even wondered if maybe they were connected to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, a one-time Lombardi protege who some see as lying in wait for Pederson's job.

In the meantime, the Eagles went out and scorched the Redskins in the season opener, 30-17.

In a show of support, several Birds offered their head coach a Gatorade shower after the win, something that usually accompanies a bit bigger game than simple an opening day win.

But the message was clear.

The team stands behind Pederson.

As for the game, it reinforced several things we already knew.

Carson Wentz is very good, especially when he's improvising. And with this offensive line, it seems he's going to be improvising a lot. The line is a mess, much as it appeared for the bulk of the pre-season. Adding a little fuel to the fire is a groin injury that shelved left tackle Jason Peters for much of the second half.

On the other side of the ball, everyone figured the Eagles were going to be good.

They were very good. Led by defensive end Brandon Graham, who spent most of the day in Kirk Cousins' face, they dominated the game, forcing four turnovers.

Unfortunately, they lost newly acquired cornerback Ronald Darby to a nasty looking ankle injury. How long he will be out has not yet been determined.

Wentz went 26 of 39 for 307 yards. Nelson Agholor showed signs of life.

Basically, this game reinforced everything we saw in the preseason. Wentz can be very good, but still seems a bit klunky on routine throws from the pocket. The offensive line needs major work. The defensive line and linebacking units are studs, while questions again hover over the secondary.

But they're 1-0.

So is Doug Pederson.

Take that, Mike Lombardi.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Are you ready for some football?

Yes, I have returned for another season of fearless Eagles predictions.

And I have good news and bad news. The good news? This opener vs. the Redskins is the closest thing to a lock the Eagles might face this year. Put the house on it, the Birds take the measure of the Redskins and start the season with a win.

So what's the bad news? It just might be a "must" win for Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz and the gang.

In Week One? Yes, in Week One.

Take a glance at that schedule.

It gets a whole lot tougher from here. The Eagles go to Kansas City next week, where a rested Andy Reid and the Chiefs will be waiting fresh off their thumping of the Super Bowl champion Patriots Thursday night.

Then the Birds have the Giants at home before jetting to the West Coast to face the Chargers, a home tilt vs. the Cardinals and a road game vs. Panthers.

Bad news, Gang Green. There might not be a lot of wins in that stretch.

Howie Roseman made the Eagles a better team in the off-season. He gave Carson Wentz some more weapons, adding receivers Torrey Smith for a deep threat and Alshon Jeffery as a big target. LeGarrette Blount was added to strengthen a questionable ground game.

On defense, the Eagles should be solid, with cornerback Ronald Darby solidifying one of last year's biggest problems, a shake secondary. The strength of this team should again be their defensive line and linebacking corps.

But after four pre-season games, does anyone really have a good feel for this Eagles team?

Doug Pederson decided to play it safe, and protect his players.

We'll start finding out if that was a good idea about 1 o'clock Sunday.

THE PICK: Make it Eagles 26, Redskins 13. Like I said, it's not every year you see a must-win situation in Week One. This might be one of those years for the Birds. It gets a lot tougher from here.

LAST WEEK: It's a clean slate. Last year the Eagles went 7-9. Doug Pederson has to improve on that record this year. I see the Birds at 9-7 and in the hunt in the NFC East, a possible playoff team. Of course, this all has a huge asterisk. Carson Wentz has to stay upright - and on the field. An injury to Wentz - with Nick Foles and his ailing elbow waiting in the wings - and all bets are off. That said, if Pederson does not push the Birds to a winning mark, Jeff Lurie might be looking for his next coach.

GAME BY GAME: I think I'd just as soon most of my prognostications from last season. My motto: Sometimes correct, always certain. But hey, football back, and so are our beloved Birds.

All together now: E-A-G-L-E-S!.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Keeping the faith in Chester

Chester is a city with problems.

Luckily, it has a lot of people working on a solution.

Foremost among them is something that has always been at the heart of the Chester community.

The church.

But today's church leaders in the city know that service is no longer restricted to the pews.

It's in the street.

And that is where they are taking their message.

They are keeping the faith - perhaps in ways some never thought of before.

We talk about what they are doing - and salute their efforts - on today's editorial page.

It's a storm of big news stories

Anyone remember Harvey?

All eyes now are turning to the Caribbean and Florida as Irma - said to be the most powerful storm ever to form in the Atlantic - rumbles across the islands and takes dead aim at Florida.

Irma has spurred the Associated Press to label it 'The Big One' - the mythical storm that Florida has always feared, which cold devastate the peninsula. Scary stuff. Read it here.

Mandatory evacuations for the Florida Keys and Miami are in effect.

And there is still another storm brewing out in the Atlantic called Jose right behind it.

It's amazing how fast we pivot from one big story to the next one.

But a lot of people here in Delaware County have not forgotten those dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Like the Ridley High swim team, for instance.

You can read about what they are doing to help here.

Get your Eagles centerspread schedule today

How about that Andy Reid.

The Eagles old boss took his Kansas City Chiefs into the home of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and spanked Tom Brady and the Pats to kick off the NFL season last night.

So are you ready for some football?

Don't start the season without a special full-color Eagles schedule centerspread.

You can get it in the print edition of today's Daily Times.

The Eagles kick off the season Sunday against the Redskins. We'll have full coverage from beat writer Bob Grotz and columnist Jack McCaffery.

In the meantime, get your schedule and map out how you think Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz and the rest of Gang Green will fare this year.

Don't kick off the season without it.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The DACA debate

The DACA debate came to the Springfield office of U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan Wednesday.

The Republican made it clear after President Trump rescinded the program that protects those who were brought into the country illegally by their parents when they were kids that he now believes it's up to Congress to fix the situation.

If there was any doubt, he was reminded of that by dozens who paraded outside his office in opposition to the move by the president.

DACA - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - offers protection to some 800,000 young people, many of them students and professionals who have never known any other country. It gives them the right to go to school, or work. Almost all of them have jobs and pay taxes.

Among those 800,000 are nearly 6,000 right here in Pennsylvania.

On our editorial page, we take a look at the issue, and wonder why it suddenly became such a hot-button item now, with one region of the nation still trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey, while another braces for Hurricane Irma, and everyone keeping an eye on North Korea.

Don't look for Congress to settle this thing. Have they been able to agree on anything else?

You can read our editorial here.

Reward fund for info on abused dogs now at $6,500

There is an important update on yesterday's Page One story involving the horrific abuse of two dogs that were found in Penn Pines Park in Upper Darby.

The reward fund for information for who is responsible for abusing the dogs, leaving them emaciated and suffering is now up to $6,500.

Gracie and Layla continue to be in bad shape but are slowly being nursed back to health at Aardvark Animal Hospital in Chester County after being rescued by the Justice Rescue Group.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the group at 215-942-6363, or by emailing them at abuse@justice-rescue.com. Information also may be given to Upper Darby police at 610-734-7693.

Let's deliver justice for Gracie and Layla

Coming Friday: Special Eagles schedule centerspread

Want another sign that summer is over?

The NFL starts tonight.

That's right, you don't have to wait until Sunday to get your football fix.

Our old pal Andy Reid jumps into the prime-time spotlight tonight when his Kansas City Chiefs face the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Eagles fans will have to cool their jets until Sunday, when the Eagles head down I-95 to kick things off vs. the Redskins. Not sure about who the Birds play and when?

You're in luck. Make sure you pick up a copy of Friday's Daily Times for a special, full-color centerspread Eagles schedule featuring Carson Wentz.

Don't start the season without it.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

One picture is all it takes

My initial plan was not to lead today's paper with the ordeal of the two dogs that were rescued from an Upper Darby park.

Then staff writer Rose Quinn showed me the picture that appears on Page One.

That is basically all it took.

Photos have a way of doing that.

One glance at that photo tells you all you need to know about the ordeal these two dogs endured.

But it's what is happening in the image that actually draws you in.

One of the dogs is resting her head on her pal.

Yeah, it's that kind of image.

Police believe the two dogs were used for fighting before being dumped in the park. They were in bad shape, emaciated, scarred and barely clinging to life when they were found in Penn Pines Park.

Let's hope they catch the people responsible soon.

You can read the story here.

As usual, Delco answers the call

Goodbye, Harvey.

Hello, Irma.

If only it were that simple.

The truth is we'll be dealing with the effects of Hurricane Harvey and the devastation it delivered to Houston for months, if not years.

And all of this even as Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Category 5 storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, takes aim at the Caribbean and Florida after that.

That is why what happened here in Delaware County last week was so important.

It is the essence of community, rallying together in time of need.

You can read our editorial here.

The 'Dreamers' now dealing with American nightmare

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Uh, never mind.

That famous quote, which comes from Emma Lazarus' sonnet, of course adorns the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.

But for many of those "Dreamers" brought to the United State illegally by their parents, the American Dream yesterday turned into a possible nightmare.

That's what happened when President Trump sent his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, out to announce that the administration was rescinding the DACA program, put in place by President Obama to offer protection to these young people - many of whom have never known another home.

Sessions focused on the constitutionality of Obama's unilateral edict, taken after Congress refused to act.

In a way, Trump is now tossing the ball back at Congress, giving them six months to come up with a solution.

In the meantime, 800,000 young immigrants face the possibility of their American dream ending in deportment.

Last night Trump tweeted that if Congress did not address the matter, he would "revisit" it.

The ball is now in Congress' court.

That does not bode well for the "Dreamers."

If they couldn't get anything done on health care, or just about any other issue, what makes any of them believe they will reach any kind of agreement on the most contentious issue of immigration.

No one seems to doubt the need to do something. It's how DACA was done - and in reality who did it - that is the problem.

Since it was something that was done by President Obama, naturally President Trump wants it undone, just as he made his first order of business once in office the attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. We saw how that worked out.

Democrats likely will seek a stand-alone measure fixing DACA, while Republicans are likely to try to tie it to funding for the president's dream of a wall on the southern border.

With Houston still recovering from the wrath of Harvey, Hurricane Irma taking aim at Florida, and the world trying to deal with the wrath of Kim Jong Un in North Korea, President Trump decided now is the time to take up the DACA battle.

CLICK HERE to see how many local representatives are reacting to the news. A rally will be held today at noon outside the district office of U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan on Sproul Road in Springfield urging protection for the "Dreamers."

The clock is now ticking.

Congress has six months to act. Actually, they only have a month, since that is when those in the country illegally actually will have to apply for an exemption.

What do you think the chances of Congress getting anything done are?

Yeah, that's what I think too.

Those tired, huddled masses aren't entering New York harbor. They're wandering the halls of Congress.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A Labor of Love as Delco opens heart for Houston

Here is the number for the day:

2.89.

No, that is not the number of kids who are actually happy about heading back to school.

That is the cost of a gallon of gas at the Wawas I drive by each morning on the way to work.

Yes, we are all feeling the effects of Harvey.

But I hope you had a chance to read our Monday story in which we detailed the efforts of several groups around Delaware County to help in the relief effort in Houston.

Among them was the folks at the Providence Animal Center, formerly the Delco SPCA, who drove to Texas to rescue some animals who had been stranded in the flood waters.

If you missed this Labor Day edition, you can read it here.

It's official: Summer is over

Everything is different today.

Actually, I started to feel this way last week.

OK, I'll be totally honest.

I got the first twinges back in early August when I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw Rehoboth Beach facing into the background.

Summer is over.

The kids who did not start school last week head back today, in the traditional post-Labor Day return.

School buses will once again clog the roads. Traffic patterns will be different.

I noticed something this year that seemed a little different this year.

Is it just me or does the sun now seem different. It seems lower in the sky than it was back in June and July. The shadows from the trees seem to form earlier in the day. My deck, which usually gets full sun much of the day, was in shadows even yesterday afternoon, with a bright sun overhead.

Not helping matters was the unseasonably cool temperatures we endured last week.

Yes, I know many people actually enjoy them.

Not me. I like it hot and humid. We're supposed to get a little reminder that it is still technically summer today, with muggy conditions and temperatures hitting at least the mid-80s.

But then it will turn cold again.

Summer is over.

I talk about my feelings in my weekly print Letter From the Editor.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Delco opens its heart

I've set it a million times: When the chips are down, nobody delivers like Delco.

Yesterday we ran a story on Proaction Restoration in Ridley, where owner Mike McIntyre announced he and one of his crews would head to Harvey-ravaged Houston to deliver some much-needed goods and offer their services in the cleanup and restoration.

They didn't expect what happened after the news hit the street.

Their neighbors and other Delco folks overwhelmed them with donations to take to Houston.

You can read the story here.

And the Providence Animal Center also is getting involved. They are driving to Houston to pick up animals in shelters there to make room for the many animals displaced in the hurricane.

That story is here.

It's just a reminder of the very special people that live here in Delaware County, who are always ready to open their hearts - and their wallets - in times of need.

Concerns linger over Mariner East 2

If you thought that settlement reached between Sunoco and environmental groups eased residents' concerns about Mariner East 2, think again.

That would be especially true if you took part in any of three events this week here in Delaware County.

At the Rose Tree Media School board meeting, the Middletown commissioners meeting, and a special telephone town hall set up by a local state rep and state senator, residents' concerns came through loud and clear.

Don't expect them to go away anytime soon.

Then again, don't expect Mariner East 2 to go away either.

We're going to have to live with it.

At least we can keep close tabs on it to ease residents' concerns.

Read our editorial here.

62 isn't much better than 60

Turning 40 didn't faze me a bit.

Same for 50. Half a century? No sweat.

But I found 60 to be a bit of a different animal. It just sounds so much older than 59.

Two years later, 62 is no treat either.

Yes, that is actually me in that picture. I am guessing I am all of 23 or 24 in that shot, taken in the pool at my aunt's home in Hollywood, Fla., when we trekked down there for my cousin's wedding. That's mom next to me.

How cheap am I? I took the train down there. Stayed up all night in the bar car.

I guess those are the things you do when you are 23 or 24.

Certainly not at 62.