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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Flyers didn't play an overtime Sunday.

They enjoyed one. They attacked one. They dominated one.

And that's why they defeated the New Jersey Devils, 4-3.

"Usually, in overtime, the word in the dressing room before going back on is, 'Whenever you have a chance to put the puck on net, you throw one on net,'" said Danny Briere after scoring the game-winning goal. "You never know what can happen --- a lucky bounce, whatever. You can try to crash the net and try to find a loose puck."

So the Flyers chose to play to win ... rather than playing not to lose. For that, they are 11 victories from a Stanley Cup.

Check out my column in the Daily Times and Monday, along with a reflection on the Flyers' slow starts.

Saturday, April 28, 2012




ATLANTIC CITY --- The long, entertaining, historic career of Bernard Hopkins turned wobbly late Saturday night in the Boardwalk Hall when the North Philadelphia champion lost a majority decision to Chad Dawson.
In his second fight with Dawson since October, the North Philadelphia light-heavyweight showed willingness but lacked punching power at age 47.
Hopkins fell to 52-6-2. Dawson, of New Haven, Conn., improved to 31-1.
Their previous fight was stopped in the second round when Hopkins suffered a separated shoulder. The fight was ruled a no-contest, setting up the rematch for the Ring Magazine and WBC light heavyweight championship.
Two judges scored the rematch, 117-111, 117-111 in favor of Dawson. A third scored a 114-114 draw, drawing boos. The Daily Times favored Dawson, 118-112, awarding Hopkins the third and fourth rounds.
Said Hopkins: "What did he do to win that fight?" He added, "Let the public judge for themselves."
Hopkins stayed competitive early when he was able to work in tight. But Dawson, 29, found his range in mid-fight and his reach was too much for Hopkins to overcome.
"It feels good," Dawson said. "He is a great fighter. I will say one thing: Bernard Hopkins is a heck of a fighter. He fought his heart out. He is a great fighter."
Dawson built up a big lead, frustrating Hopkins, who hadn't won a fight by a knockout since 2004. At one point in the 11th round, Hopkins tackled Dawson. By the 12th, he was content to try to push Dawson into a corner.
Earlier, Dawson suffered a major cut over his left eye as the result of what referee Eddie Cotton ruled an "accidental" Hopkins head-butt.
In the semi-windup, heralded Seth Mitchell of Brandywine, Md., scored a TKO over Philly's Chazz Witherspoon at 2:31 of the third to win the vacant NABO heavyweight championship.
Mitchell improved to 25-0-1 with his 19th knockout, recovering from a fast start by Witherspoon in the first round. Witherspoon dipped to 30-3.
"I got a little excited after I had him hurting," Witherspoon said. "I never got back to fighting smart. He dealt with adversity great. I was fighting a stupid fight after I got him hurt. I was just looking for the knockout."
A left jab set Witherspoon up and Mitchell followed with a devastating right, prompting Randy Neumann to stop the fight.
"We have to sit back and see where we go from here," Mitchell said. "I believe we have something set up for September."


It's going to happen sometime. Bernard Hopkins is going to look his age in a boxing ring.

In a few hours, in Atlantic City, the 47-year-old light-heavyweight champion from North Philadelphia will fight Chad Dawson, 29.

They fought, almost, last October in L.A. --- at least until Dawson slammed Hopkins to the canvas, separating his shoulder. The fight was ruled a no contest because Hopkins could not go on.

Dawson, a left-hander, is almost a 4-to-1 favorite. But Hopkins has been an underdog too many times to count ... only to win. He out-thinks opponents. He will try to out-think Dawson tonight.

The odds say Dawson. So do the ages. Me, I won't believe Hopkins is done until I see it.

Hopkins, unanimously, by decision.

Friday, April 27, 2012


I will be a guest on Daily News Live on Comcast SportsNet today at 5:30 to talk some Sixers hoops.

Check it out.


Chicago is in a rage today about Evan Turner's comments to the Daily Times' Dennis Deitch that the Sixers were fortunate not to be playing the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Truth hurts.

The Sixers do not match up well against Miami. Against Chicago: Look out.

If Derrick Rose stands on his head, the Bulls will be a handful. Sometimes, though, he struggles from the field. If Doug Collins can devise a gameplan to blunt Rose, the Sixers match up well everyplace else.

Consider: Chicago has the 18th-ranked NBA offense, the Sixers the 22nd. The Bulls are the top defensive team. The Sixers? Number 3.

If Chicago fans are fuming, it's because they are worried.

Sixers in six.

Check out my column on why the Sixers can defeat the Bulls in the Daily Times Saturday and, as always, on

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Already deep into a successful offseason, the Eagles aggressively moved up in the draft Thursday to select Fletcher Cox.

Cox is a 298-pound defensive lineman from Mississippi State who will play, if not start, immediately, according to Andy Reid.

With Jeffrey Lurie being even more demanding this season, the Birds didn't have time to wait. They needed to improve right away. Cox continues that trend.

Check out my column in the Daily Times Friday and, as usual, on

Monday, April 23, 2012


The Sixers won their 34th game Monday, and in a 66-game NBA season, that means a winning record. It was their first since 2005.

In a 105-87 victory over the Nets, the Sixers had 25 assists and seven turnovers, six players in double figures and repeated opportunities to fade. But they didn't.

That made Doug Collins 2-for-2 in postseason appearances as the Sixers' coach.

 "We are trying to establish that this is something that we want to do every year," Collins said. "We'd like to be a team that is going to be on the rise. You have to look at us right now, with the wins we have. And Boston is going to win our division; they have 37 wins. So we think the gap has been narrowed a little."

Check out my column in the Daily Times Tuesday and, as always, on


To benefit Cheltenham Little League, Sun. April 29, 8 a.m. to 11. Just $5.

Presentation Church on Old Soldiers road between Rising Sun Ave. and Tookany Creek Pkwy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


It began with Peter Laviolette leaning over some glass to threaten the Pittsburgh coaching staff. It ended with a 5-1 Flyers victory Sunday.

It was an eight-game, cross-state volcano of bad blood and great hockey, including  a six-game opening round playoff series that was one of the most comprehensively compelling in Flyers history.

There were hat tricks and Hulk Hogan. Leads built and blown. Good goaltending and hideous goaltending. Strategy. Fights. Ejections. Injuries. Stars --- some established, some emerging. Fans dresed as bears. Insults. Highlights. Tension.

"Yeah," Scott Hartnell said. "It was great."

The schedule helped, with the NHL shipping the Flyers to Pittsburgh in each of the final two weekends of the regular season as an un-intentional run-up to the first-round series. But the Pens and Flyers didn't need much help in disliking one another. Their fans either.

So it is over and the Stanley Cup tournament will settle down, with closer games and quieter tempers.

Too bad.

Check out my column in the Daily Times Monday, and as always on, along with a story about the Game 6 excellence of Ilya Bryzgalov.

Friday, April 20, 2012


The Flyers dressed five rookies Friday in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series in Pittsburgh.

That just might explain why there will be a Game 6, the Penguins avoiding elimination with a 3-2 victory.

While the Flyers have been courageous in taking their 3-2 series lead, they have to be experiencing some doubt now.

That leaves it to the veterans to lead Sunday in Game 6 ... or risk a Game 7 back in Pittsburgh.

"I wouldn't call them rookies any more," said Scott Hartnell, after scoring his first goal of the series. "They've played in a lot of games. They have played in a lot of big games. And they played well in those big games. So the whole season is riding on this one game here."

Added Hartnell: "We definitely don't want to come back for Game 7. And we have to be great to beat them."

Check out my column in the Daily Times and on Saturday, along with a story about revived Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


According to the promoters, six-time world champion Julio Cesar Chavez will be at ringside Friday at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philly to watch the rematch between Angel Ocasio and Jason Sosa. The two area lightweights fought to a majority draw in their first encounter.

Chavez will be joined by his son, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., in a marketing effort for an energy drink, the promoters said.

According to the promoters, Chavez Sr. will be available for autographs.

Tickets will be available at the door.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


After taking a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven, the Flyers could afford to lose a game in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Or two. Or three.

They could not afford to lose their self confidence.

That, they well may have done Wednesday in a 10-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.


Because their two goaltenders, including $51 million Ilya Bryzgalov, let them down ... and let them know that no matter how well they play, they are not necessarily any more qualified in goal than they have been since Ron Hextall was the postseason MVP in 1987.

Bryzgalov was useless. Bobrovsky was unacceptable. Each allowed five goals on 18 shots.

Bryzgalov was injured late in the season. Interestingly, when that topic arose after the game, he bristled, insisting he would not discuss the bone chip in his foot. If that's a problem, the Flyers have an even bigger one: That Bobrovsky is overmatched at the big-league level.

Since Michael Leighton is hanging around, now that the Phantoms have been eliminated from the AHL playoffs, he should be the No. 2 goalie.

Because he had no choice, Peter Laviolette dismissed any discussion of a goalie crisis, allowing only that all of the Flyers must play better. He's right. But if they play well and have goalies who fail, they ultimately will collapse.

And the Flyers have a long, long history as proof.

Check out my column in the Daily Times Thursday and, as always, on ... along with a piece on the Flyers' reaction to the crisis.


To see a brief interview with Angel Ocasio, who will fight a lightweight rematch against Jason Sosa Friday at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philadelphia, check

Film clips of rising bantamweight sensation Miguel Cartagena and promoter Greg Robinson are also up on

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I will be gassing with Angelo Cataldi Monday morning around 7:20 on WIP 94.1 FM and 610 AM.

Check it out.


It's one thing for a hockey series to wind up soaked in bad blood. It has happened, yes, from time to time.

Rare, though, has one been as scheduled, warned and anticipated as the Flyers-Penguins series that Sunday yielded 148 penalty minutes and multiple fights ... including one between two of the best players in the sport, Claude Giroux and Sidney Crosby.

 "I didn't expect it," Max Talbot would say afterward.

Didn't expect it?

Did he not see Peter Laviolette nearly climb into the Pittsburgh bench three weekends ago, ready to rumble? Did he not hear all the threats the weekend after, when the Flyers ended their season in Pittsburgh?

Sometimes, it seems like hockey ill-will is manufactured, not that the fans don't appreciate the entertainment. This time? It's real.

Check out my column in the Daily Times and on Monday, along with a feature article on Giroux's brilliance in the series.

Friday, April 13, 2012


It doesn't take long for a reputation to develop.

Two games into the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Flyers already have one: Resilient.

After rallying from 3-0 down to win Game 1 and 3-1 down to win Game 2, the Flyers are about to win something else: Adoration.

"It will be nice to get back to Philadelphia and best fans in the league and to  let them make some noise," Peter Laviolette said. "It will be nice to see a wave of orange instead of white."

Game 3 will be Sunday in the Wells Fargo Center. Prediction: One of the loudest ovations in recent history.

Does that make the Flyers Cup contenders? Not necessarily. They were resilient two years ago, rallying to win a series in Boston after trailing 3-0 in games and 3-0 in Game 7. Their season finished, well, the way it has since 1975,

But whatever happens now, these Flyers will captivate ... because they do not quit.

Check out my column in the Daily Times Sunday and, as always, on


An interesting rematch is set for next Friday (April 20) at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philly.  Philly's Angel Ocasio, a rising lightweight star, will re-engage talented Jason Sosa of South Jersey. In January, they fought to a majority draw.

At 6-0-1, Ocasio is worth keeping an eye on.

The following --- by one of the best boxing writers going, Kurt Wolfheimer --- is from the promoters:


For immediate release:
Philadelphia, PA- There is a score to be settled in the main event  of Greg Robinson’s Power Productions “Philly Barn Burner 3” card on Friday night April 20th at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Philadelphia, when rising lightweight stars, Angel Ocasio (6-0-1, 1KO) and Jason Sosa (4-1-2, 1KO) square off in a highly anticipated eight round rematch.

Both fighters originally stepped into the ring back on January 13th with thoughts of getting a signature victory strapped to their resumes. The highly contested six round battle teetered back and forth, with Mak Boxing Management’s and North Philly lightweight sensation Angel Ocasio using his superior power to bang out the early rounds, and Camden, New Jersey’s Jason Sosa using his hand speed to take the middle rounds. The fight went down to the wire as the near capacity crowd stood on their feet, watching Ocasio and Sosa slug away right until the final bell,  putting it in the judge’s hands. The scores were tallied and the majority draw was announced, which sent the crowd into a crescendo of boos at the unlikely decision.



Will be discussing baseball Hall of Fame, steroids, Pete Rose and other topics with @JonMarks975 on 97.5 FM The Fanatic at 7:30ish tonight.

Check it out.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


In one day of franchise upheaval last summer, Paul Holmgren traded popular Flyers Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.

In return, he acquired Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and some financial room to commit long (long, long, long, long) term to Ilya Bryzgalov.

For that haul, the Flyers are 1-0 in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, as Schenn was the No. 1 star in a 4-3 overtime victory Wednesday in Pittsburgh, Bryzgalov as fine in goal, Simmonds was everyplace and Voracek scored the game-winner.


"I've learned over time that it doesn't make any sense to look back," Holmgren said. "Mike and Jeff are now together in Los Angeles and I'm sure they are going to have some success there. But we're happy with the guys we got back and are looking for good things."

Check out my column about the sleepless night Holmgren spent before trading Carter and Richards in the Daily Times Friday and, as always, on

Wednesday, April 11, 2012



The Flyers were behind, 3-0, Wednesday night. Good a time as any to start to play.
And, oh, how they played, roaring to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime.
Fast. Crisp. Strong. Good goaltending. Veteran production, Danny Briere scoring twice. Hustle, particularly from Kimmo Timonen, Jaromir Jagr, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. Jakub Voracek with the game-winner.
How often can they do that?
Well, they did it for most of a season in which they fell behind in games 46 times.
Ultimately, that could be a problem. But for one night, it did leave the Penguins stunned.
"In the first period," Peter Laviolette said, "there was too much watching. Too much standing. I think we got better in the second period, to a level that we were satisfied. And in the third period, we started played good hockey and we felt good going into the overtime."
Check out my column in the Daily Times Thursday and, as always, on

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


The Pittsburgh Penguins finished ahead of the Flyers in the standings. But the Flyers won the season series. The Penguins have the better players at the top of their roster. The Flyers are deeper. The Penguins will have the home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the Flyers play well on the road.
Which way to go, then, in the best-of-seven?
Go with the singular driving instinct that made the Flyers what they were this season. Go with the idea that everyone --- the press, the fans, Ed Snider, Paul Holmgren --- was right when they decided that the one thing separating the Flyers from fulfillment was a distinct No. 1 goaltender.
Was everyone right? Was the press right to yell that it was time for Peter Laviolette to commit to one, just one, goaltender? Was Holmgren right to bring Ilya Bryzgalov to Philadelphia? Was Snider right to OK $51 million in financing?
Check it out: The NHL is about to find out.
Bryzgalov was the Player of the Month in March, but has had a slightly injured foot. He'll start Wednesday in Pittsburgh and, presumably, for as long as the Flyers hang around the playoffs.
If he is leaky, creaky and altogether like too many other Flyers goalies since 1987, then the Penguins will win. If he is spectacular, stumping the Pens three, four, five times a period, then the Flyers are off to Round 2.
The pick: I'll go with the instinct. I'll go with the press. I'll go with Snider and Holmgren. I'll go with Bryzgalov until there is no reason not to.
Flyers in six.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


There is a prevailing thought that since the Phillies will be so reliant this season on their pitching that they must supplement it with defense.


Because they are so strong on the mound, the Phillies can afford to take some chances in the field. Indeed, for two reasons, they must. One: They need as much hitting as possible, particularly with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley injured. Two: Their pitchers will get demoralized, and quickly, if they continue to pitch splendidly deep into games ... but without collecting W's.

So a plan, put into place Sunday in Pittsburgh: Juan Pierre leading off. Jim Thome at first. Ty Wigginton in the lineup. Thome, who walked around afterward in a cumbersome back wrap, is too creaky to play every day at age 41. Charlie Manuel said he will not be in the lineup for the home opener.

But Pierre's speed to first Sunday was clocked at 3.8. And he went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a stolen base. Around that offensively challenged team, that's a virtual one-man Fireworks Night.

Wigginton started at third Sunday, with Placido Polanco having a day off. But if Freddy Galvis, who has still has as many big-league hits as Michael Jordan, keeps struggling, Manuel must play both Wigginton and Polanco.

It's the only way the Phillies will be able to cope.

That was a four-run outburst Sunday. And though it was in a loss, it was an improvement.

Check out my column in the Daily Times Monday and, as always, on

Saturday, April 7, 2012


The Flyers ended their regular season with a 4-2 loss Saturday to the same Pittsburgh Penguins that they will meet in the first round of the playoffs.

Afterward, they didn't provide bulletin board material. They did everything but channel Vince McMahon's late, great XFL.

Brayden Schenn: "There's a lot of bad blood between the two teams already. And there's going to be more."

Claude Giroux:  "We're not big fans, of their players."

Scott Hartnell:  "I'm sure there will be a lot of blood. And a lot of goals."

Max Talbot:  "Momentum or hatred or whatever is going to start Wednesday. And it is going to be fun."

There hasn't been that much pre-event honesty in football since Super Bowl III.

So bring on the playoffs ... and the video clips.

Check out my column Sunday in the Daily Times ... and as always, on

Friday, April 6, 2012


The Pirates and Phillies both started lineups Thursday that, were they combined, could barely compete for a championship.

The difference is that one team is going to win the N.L. East while the Pirates will concoct their 20th consecutive losing season.

Why? Look at Game 1. Erik Bedard was great. Roy Halladay was better. And Jonathan Papelbon was perfect. Phils win, 1-0. One game. Big difference.

As unacceptably as the Phillies hit, will hit and have hit for the past two years, they are favored --- favored big --- in 60 percent of their games because of that pitching. Enjoy it. There is not likely to be anything like it in the next 50 years of Phillies history.

Check out my column on the Flyers, Phillies, Eagles and other topics in the Daily Times Saturday and, as always, on

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Charlie Manuel pulled Roy Halladay from a baseball game Thursday, three outs before a shutout, with a pitch count of 92, in perfect weather, against the Pittsburgh Pirates who could barely push a baseball past the pitching mound.

"I understand it at this point," Halladay said. "But a couple weeks from now, I am going to fight him."

Those are the rules ... as Manuel knows.

This is one, too: Win.

So in came Jonathan Papelbon and, 10 pitches later, the Phillies were 1-0.

It was a risky decision. Not the wrong one. Not the right one. But the kind managers are paid to make.

 "Rich Dubee and I knew exactly where (Halladay) was with his workload," Manuel said. "The next time he goes out there, we might be able to push him over 100 pitches. In three or four starts, he will be wound up to go 115, 120 pitches."

Roy Halladay and Jonathan Papelbon are two of the most accomplished pitchers of this generation. Individually, they are great. Combined, they were too much for the Pirates.

If the Phillies win the N.L. East by one game, remember the day in April when Charlie Manuel made a courageous decision.

Chcek out my column in the Daily Times Friday and, as always, on

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


There is something about math that just works well at this time of a hockey season.

Specifically, it allows for a liberal interpretation of the laws of average.

When the Flyers lost, 5-3, to the Rangers Tuesday, they completed their first winless season against New York in 40 years, going 0-6.

To Jakub Voracek, that was ... a positive?

"That means if we have to play them in the playoffs, they will have to beat us 10 times this year," he said. "And that would be tough to do."

One way to win 10 in a row is to begin with the first six. That math works, too.

But if ignoring a crisis is a sports team's virtue, then the Flyers are ready for the postseason.

Check out my column on Ilya Bryzgalov and the ever-patient Peter Laviolette in the Daily Times Wednesday and, as always, on