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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.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


The Sixers were in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, executed well, defended with authority, fought the Boston Celtics ... and lost, 85-75, ending their season.

We just struggle to score, man,” Collins said. “I sit over there on the bench and you don't know how I agonize over what I can do to get us a basket. We are fighting and clawing to try to stay in the games and then we finally walk to the line and miss four or five free throws.

It's just been a nightmare for us trying to score.”

Basketball can be that simple. And simply, the Sixers missed nine of their first 10 shots Saturday and shot 28-for-80 ... many, many times earning themselves good looks.

They did have 15 turnovers, and they still need a point guard.

But until they can shoot, they will never be real championship contenders.

Check out my column on team president Rod Thorn's determination to add some shooters a Sixers notebook and more in the Daily Times Sunday and, as always, on


BOSTON --- Even as the Sixers prepared Saturday to play Game 7 of a second-round playoff series against the Celtics at the TD Garden, their highest of higher-ups were declaring some measure of victory.
No matter what happens now, Doug Collins said, the Sixers are better for the playoff experience.
And no matter what happens now, team president Rod Thorn said, Philadelphia will be a more appealing option for any possible NBA free agent.
“To me, a Game 7 is worth 10 regular season games when you talk about the magnitude of the game and the chance to move into another round,” Collins said after a morning shoot-around. “I sort of chuckle at those who said that they wanted us to not make the playoffs and get the 12th pick in the draft instead of 15. I never understood that mentality and I wonder how they feel about it now that our guys have played, have had some success and have grown?”
If the Sixers have improved on the court, their appeal has grown elsewhere, Thorn said. And that growth could be of value during the offseason.
“I think so,” Thorn said. “Any time that you show that you have a pretty good team, it helps. With most players, it's about money but it's also about, 'I want to play on a team that has a chance to do something.' So I think any time that you show that you have a good team and do something in the playoffs it helps you recruiting free agents.”
l l l
The Sixers are to play the Celtics at 8. Their shoot-around Saturday, while closed to the press, apparently was low-key. Afterward, however, Elton Brand took extra shooting without any bandages on his sore neck and shoulder.
For the first time in the series, Brand said he is feeling some relief.
“Yeah,” he said. “The team chiropractor is doing a lot. So we are doing some stuff. It's lightening up, some, for sure.”
The chiropractors are relieving some pain in Brand's neck. The Sixers hope their overall attitude limits the other pain-in-the-neck that any win-or-else situation would provide.
“It's just a game,” Evan Turner said. “We have nothing to lose. Whatever is going to be is going to be. I got to meet Floyd Mayweather in Orlando at the All-Star Game and he told me he never gets nervous about losing as long as he is prepared and stuff. It's going to be what it is going to me. You are never asked to win a game but you are asked to battle throughout a game. And whatever happens, happens.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Doc Rivers had one word, just one, for a Game 7 in the NBA.


Now, the Celtics coach is about to learn, once again, how dangerous. That's because the Sixers won Game 6, 82-75, in the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday, reducing the Eastern Conference semifinals to a one-game series Saturday at the TD Garden.

 "They are young and fast and play with a lot of energy," Rivers said. "Everything is difficult for our guys. We knew this matchup, coming in, would be hard because they have a quickness advantage. We understand that."

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

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Add this to the lengthy list of reasons why the Sixers dropped Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, 101-85, in Boston Monday: They had trouble hearing each other on the court.

That, at least, according to Andre Iguodala.

"Our offense was stagnant," he said. "I don't think we did as good a job as we could have working together. And then their crowd gets into it. They get loud. Then we we can't relay the plays from the backcourt to each other. So we've got to do a better job of seeing each other and not just listening for the call but seeing the call, and just sticking together, staying confident and not getting rattled."

Said Doug Collins: "I don't know. What I try to do is get the call to one of our guys and have him relay that to our team. And so we've got to do a better job with that."
On whether there was a specific problem in Boston, Collins said, "I have no idea," before playfully making a reference to the way football quarterbacks receive plays. "Maybe the headset was off."

Read the Daily Times and check out Wednesday for complete Sixers coverage.

Monday, May 21, 2012


BOSTON --- The Sixers are still within two victories of the Final Four and, with the right intensity, breaks and coaching, they could get there.

But if their 101-85 loss in the TD Garden proved one thing Monday, it is that they need a point guard, and they need one immediately.

Two words: Jameer Nelson.

That should be their offseason plan.

For now, they should just try to be more careful with the ball with the point guards (big men, too) that they employ. Monday, they made 15 turnovers.

Good luck winning playoff games that way.

"The Celtics anticipate," Collins said. "Their big guys are very aggressive. And you've got to be very strong with the ball. I don't think we were strong with the ball. We made too many one-handed passes. You can't make one-hand passes against them, because you can't take them back."

Check out my column on the turnover crisis, along with some notes about the Sixers still feeling good about themselves heading into Game 6 and complete Sixers coverage in the Daily Times Tuesday and, as always, on


BOSTON --- The Sixers showed up at the TD Garden Monday, tied in the second-round playoff series with the Celtics even after falling behind 18 points in Game 3.
In itself, that's an achievement --- just not enough of one, not now, not according to Doug Collins.
"I don't think our guys feel like that at all," the Sixers' coach said Monday, after a morning shoot-around. "I think our guys feel very strong. Had we had that mindset that we got farther than anyone thought, we would have lost Game 4.
"We were down, 49-31, and nothing was going right. It would have been easy for human nature to take over and say, 'It's been fun or whatever, but they are the better team.' But our guys didn't do that.
"We feel very strongly that if we come in here and play well, we can win."
The morning shoot-around, as per Sixers policy, was closed to the press. All players were accounted for, however, including Elton Brand. Brand has been suffering from an injured neck and shoulder and was heavily bandaged after the workout.
Collins indicated, however, that Brand would start in Game 5, which will start at 7.
"That's sort of been the status quo," Collins said. "But there is no question, he is very limited in what he can do moving his neck."
Collins said he will go early to Lavoy Allen as a potential defensive remedy for Kevin Garnett.
"I like him to play Kevin as much as possible," Collins said. "When Doc takes him out, maybe Lavoy will come out. I'm not saying he is the 'K.G. Stopper', but he is a guy who goves us some strength and does a pretty good job with him."

Friday, May 18, 2012


Here's a great opportunity for golfers who want to support a worthy cause.

The Brad Hennefer Golf for Life Foundation's seventh annual Golf Classic is Aug. 13 at the Links Golf Club in Marlton, N.J.

It is a non-profit organization inspired by Brad Hennefer, who has Down syndrome and who has been featured in Sports Illustrated and the New York Times among other prominent sports outlets. Brad was the first individual with Down syndrome to win two varsity letters in high school, in golf and basketball, at Cherry Hill East.

There are opportunities to play, to sponsor, to contribute or any combination of the above. Check out


Doug Collins starts Elton Brand, will continue to start Elton Brand, will always start Elton Brand no matter how injured, and he is injured now.

He will start him because he thinks he should. Besides, if the Sixers' 92-83 victory over Boston proved anything Friday, it was the eternal basketball truth that it's not who starts, but who finishes.

That would have been Lavoy Allen Friday, and Thad Young, and Lou Williams, and, give or take an offense-defense substitution pattern, Jodie Meeks ... none of whom were in the starting lineup.

"We were sitting there talking to each other tonight," Young said. "We said, 'If we are going to get back in this game, it is going to have to be as a team, a whole thing, not just individually.' So we just played our roles and perfected our roles tonight and just had fun doing it."

So the Sixers head to Boston for Game 5, assured of another home game.

Before it, Brand will be introduced with the starters.

"I just think E.B. deserves to start," Collins said. "I think he is one of our proudest players. I admire and respect him to the ultimate. I am not going to come in here in a game like tonight and not have him in our starting lineup. I'm just not going to do that. I have too much respect for this game and for him and what he's done, for our team and for what he's done for our organization.

"He was a much-maligned player here for a couple of years because of his contract and his injuries. And I am going to give him every chance to be successful. I believe that's what you do with players who are professional and do those kind of things. And that's just what I am going to do."

Even if it really matters who he has in at the end.

Check out my column on Collins, his substitution pattern and its role in a critical Sixers victory in the Daily Times Saturday and, as always, on

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The Sixers knew, they had to know, that they could not match the Celtics, superstar for superstar, in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

But they could win.

They could win if they played like they did in splitting two games in Boston. They could win if they ran five defensive players back with passion, denying Rajon Rondo open-floor space. They could win if they played physical defense against Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

They could win ... and they still might win.  But not playing the way they did in a 107-91 Game 3 loss at home.

"I thought we got seduced a little bit tonight," Doug Collins said. "I never thought we had any defensive mindset all night. They sliced and diced, got out on the break and scored."

Get seduced in the regular season, there's time to recover. Sleep against Garnett, Rondo and Pierce in the playoffs, and the offseason arrives in a hurry.

The Sixers will return to practice Thursday at PCOM. They know what they did wrong Wednesday. It was easy to see.

Check out my column in the Daily Times and on Thursday, along with a story on the reemergence of Thad Young.

Monday, May 14, 2012


BOSTON --- For all the thought and preparation that went into the Sixers' 82-81 Game 2 victory over the Celtics Monday, nothing mattered more than one thing: At the end, Evan Turner wanted the ball, scored ... and indicated that he would do so again if asked.

It's how the NBA works: Pristine game plans create close playoff games, and big-play scorers make the difference.

Turner is not there --- not yet. But he had six late points Monday that likely saved a Sixers season that already is longer than the know-it-alls expected.

"I wasn't scared to take the shot," Turner said. "I made big shots growing up. I have confidence that when I have an 'iso' or anything like that, I can help the team out."

Check out my column on Turner's big-play moment in the Daily Times Tuesday and, as always, on


BOSTON --- After reporting on his injured neck Sunday, Elton Brand joked that he was fearful of a pending visit from the Celtics' chiropractor.
"I hope," the Sixers forward said, laughing out loud, "he doesn't try to make it worse."
A day later, still having mild fun with the topic, Brand reported some mild positive news.
"He was good," Brand said, smiling. "Very professional."
Despite those good intentions and professional touch, Brand still felt sore Monday morning. He stressed, though, that he will play in Game 2 Monday night despite what the Sixers reported as a strain of the third cervical on his left side.
Brand was dressed for and participated fully in what Doug Collins reported was a very light morning but private walk-through and shooting practice.
"It's just the left side of your body, reaching up for rebounds and stuff," Brand said. "But I'll be fine shooting and I'll be fine rebounding and playing defense. As long as I can run and jump, I'll be fine. And I will play."
That means the Sixers will be fully staffed for Game 2, which starts at 7 p.m. in the TD Garden. Thad Young, who injured his right ankle in a 92-91 Game 1 loss Saturday, also participated in the shoot-around Monday. Afterward, the forward had his right shin iced in a non-related issue.
"I'm cool," Young said. "I'll play."
That completes the physical report. Mentally? Hmmm.
Collins, on the Sixers' confidence: "I thought we played well in Game 1. I told our guys that against a team like the Celtics and at this level of play in the second round, you can't have a seven-minute, 53-second stretch where you are up 13 and you've got a pretty good grip on the game going into halftime and then have a 1-for-14 stretch with four turnovers where we missed three or four very make-able shots. And they went 10-for-15 in that stretch. So they hit us, 21-4, and they shot 67 percent. We were 1-for-14 with four turnovers. You've got to stay away from those kind of droughts."
The Sixers are expected to keep a firmer defensive grip on Kevin Garnett who burned then for 29 Game 1 points, and to be more aggressive driving to the basket. In Game 1, they shot 20 free throws and believe they need to visit the line more regularly.
"We have to get to the line," Andre Iguodala said. "We didn't get to the line as much as we wanted in Game 1. We have to attack a little more tonight."

Sunday, May 13, 2012


BOSTON --- The Sixers lost by one point Saturday on a night when, 17 times, Rajon Rondo saw an open teammate and did something radical. He threw him the ball.

That's what point guards, real ones, do. They don't hesitate. They anticipate. The Sixers do not have one of those point guards. They have two, three or four players assigned to the position, every one of them thinking shot first, pass second.

It's the hand Doug Collins is being forced to play, and it can be a winning hand. There is more than one way to play basketball. But it's just a lot easier to make a committee system work at the point when the opponent doesn't have a Rondo-like magician.

Check out my column in the Daily Times and on Monday, along with a look at the struggling --- but willing --- Elton Brand.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


BOSTON --- The Sixers could have played poorly Saturday, sloppy, lazy, seemingly still celebrating their wild series victory over the Chicago Bulls.

They could have done that and written off their Game 1 loss to the Celtics as basketball, as life, as bad luck.

But they didn't. And they can't. And that's a problem.

It's one thing to play poorly and lose. It's another to play about as well as possible ... and lose.

The Sixers were lively Saturday, and willing to plant five red shirts at the defensive end to block every Boston surge. They defended with passion, shot well early and were in a position to commandeer control of the series.

And whent that's good enough, it's like a boxer who hits an opponent with his best possible punch ... only to notice that he is still there, standing.

Now what?

"If you've followed our team all year, that's kind of the team we are," Doug Collins said. "We don't drop our heads. We don't do that. We'll come back and play just as hard in Game 2. And we will, as long as I am the coach."

Game 2 Monday.

Check out my column and a story on the Sixers' learning experience in the Daily Times Sunday and, as always, on

Thursday, May 10, 2012


The Flyers and the Eagles are in their offseasons. The Phillies are playing that way.

And the Sixers are in the second round of the playoffs ... which has Josh Harris, their first-year owner, with a fresh opportunity to fill a certain void.

“We want to fill that gap and grab the fans by the collar and drag them into the stadium,” Harris said after the Sixers' 79-78 victory over the Chicago Bulls Thursday. “We're going to leverage the opportunity and hopefully do a good job out there and bring some excitement to Philly.”

Check out the Daily Times and Friday for my story on Harris and a column about how the Sixers are turning on Philadelphia's sports fans.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Weak goaltending. Lost expressions. Lack of coaching adjustments. Fans leaving early.

The end of another Flyers' season, their 39th in failed pursuit of Stanley Cup III.

Not that it was Ilya Bryzgalov's fault that they lost, for hockey is a team game and, wow, did he have plenty of help. But he was not the $51 million goalie that he was sold as ... and certainly was undependable in the Devils series.

Now what? Last offseason, the Flyers changed philosophies and captains --- spending big for a goaltender and shipping Mike Richards to L.A.

For a while, that upheaval seemed to make sense. Ultimately, it might. They do have an intriguing, young nucleus.

It's just that it could have happened this year. And they know it.

Check out my column in the Daily Times and on Wednesday, along with a story about Kimmo Timonen, who is convinced that the Flyers will win a Stanley Cup some day ... but not sure whether he will be with them to enjoy it.


I will be talking sports with Angelo Cataldi Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. on WIP 94.1 and 610.

Won't be a shortage of topics ... check it out.

Monday, May 7, 2012


From the promoters:


Vasquez back in the win column plus Crawley, Barbosa & Mercurio stay undefeated
CHESTER, PA (May 7, 2012)—This past Friday night at Harrahs in Chester Dhafir Smith boxed his to a ten round unanimous decision and in the process captured the Pennsylvania State Light Heavyweight title.
That fight was the main event of promoted by Joey Eye Boxing Promotions and David Feldman.
Smith used his guile and experience to time the hard charging Ferrante and used a solid job to put another notch on his belt.
Smith, who has fought everybody in the Super Middleweight and Light Heavyweight divisions and holds a win over IBF Super Middleweight champion Jeff Lacy, won by scores of 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93.
In the six round Lightweight co-feature, Victor Vasquez got back in the win column with a unanimous decision over Paul Fernandez in a rematch.
Vasquez dropped Fernandez in the first and again in the fifth and cruised to victory by scores of 60-52 on all cards.
In another rematch, John Mercurio made it two for two against William Miranda as he became the first man to stop Miranda by scoring the TKO at fifty-nine seconds of the fourth and final scheduled round of their Heavyweight bout.
Brian Donahue and Taneal Goyco fought to a four round spirited draw featuring two Philadelphia based fighters.
Alex Barbosa got more than he bargained for but came away with a four round majority decision over Jonathan Ocassio in a Super Bantamweight bout.
In the opening bout, Tyrone Crawley Jr. remained undefeated with a four round unanimous decision over thirteen fight veteran Luis Antonio Lopez in a Welterweight bout.
10 ROUNDS-PA STATE LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT—Dhafir Smith (26-22-7) 175 lbs of Upper Darby, PA U DEC over Tony Ferrante (12-4) 176 lbs of Philadelphia, PA…scores were 99-91; 98-92 and 97-93
6 ROUNDS—LIGHTWEIGHTS—Victor Vasquez (15-6-1) 135 ½ lbs of Philadelphia, PA U DEC over Paul Fernandez (5-5-2) 135 lbs of Philadelphia, PA..Scores were 60-52 on all cards
4 ROUNDS—HEAVYWEIGHTS—John Mercurio (5-0, 4 KO’s) 237 lbs of Philadelphia, PA TKO 4 (:59) over William Miranda (5-5-1) 238 lbs of Allentown, PA
4 ROUNDS—LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS—Taneal Goyco (4-3-1) 182 ½ lbs of Philadelphia MAJ DRAW with Brian Donahue (2-2-1) 177 lbs of Philadelphia, PA…Scores were 39-37 for Donahue..38-38…38-38
4 ROUNDS—SUPER BANTAMWEIGHTS—Alex Barbosa (3-0) 124 lbs of Philadelphia, PA MAJ DEC over Jonathan Ocassio (0-9)..Scores were 40-36; 39-37 and 38-38
4 ROUNDS—WELTERWEIGHTS—Tyrone Crawley Jr. (2-0) 141 lbs of Philadelphia, PA U DEC over Luis Antonio Lopez (2-11-1) 140 lbs of Union City, NJ…Scores were 40-36..40-35 and 40-35


Sunday, May 6, 2012


Lose a game. Lose a couple of games. Run into some bad luck. Experience the pain that can be hockey. It happens.

What should not happen --- but what is happening to the Flyers in their series with the New Jersey Devils --- is that they continue to lose the same way: By being pushed to the outside on the offensive end and settling for bad shots and turnovers.

"They are coming hard with their forecheck," Peter Laviolette said after a 4-2 loss that dumped the Flyers in a 1-3 series hole. "They are turning over a lot of pucks. So we have to do a better job of getting out of our end."

In Game 1, the Devils took the first 11 shots.

In Game 2, the Flyers nearly went an entire period without a shot on goal.

Sunday, they went approximately 17 mid-game minutes without a shot on Martin Brodeur.

A minor league team would create more chances.

"We are not skating," Kimmo Timonen said, repeatedly, afterward.

Fine. Skating will help. But at some point, Laviolette has to find a way to make a max-financed offense generate some responsible, big-league hockey shots.

"I expect a lot of meetings tomorrow," Timonen said.

Good idea.

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

Friday, May 4, 2012


That's two straight for the Sixers, six of their last eight, six wins in the last seven games they've taken seriously, not including a throw-away in Detroit in regular-season Game 66.

That's not a quirk.

In May, that's a serious trend.

"We hung in there all season, as a team, through all the ups and downs," said Spencer Hawes, who collected 21 points and nine rebounds in a 79-74 victory over the Chicago Bulls Friday in the Wells Fargo Center. "Now we have a strong opportunity in the playoffs and we have to capitalize on it."

They are two victories from the conference semifinals.

Doug Collins expects roars of support Sunday, in Game 4.

"We have a group of guys that like playing with one another," Collins said. "I sure like coaching them. You saw that competitive fire burning pretty deep tonight. And Philadelphia should be very proud.
"That is the type of team that they will cheer for."

Why not?

 Check out my column on the reborn Sixers in the Daily Times Saturday and, as always, on

Thursday, May 3, 2012


The Flyers are down, two games to one, in their first-to-four against the Devils. They lost, 4-3, Thursday, in overtime, when Ilya Bryzgalov allowed a rebound and Alexi Ponikarovsky converted it.

In the postseason, Bryzgalov has a 3.54 goals-against average a .878 saves percentage. Poor, in other words.

So consider that the cue, the one Peter Laviolette began after the game when he big-timed a questioner who wondered about the Flyers' goaltender, insisting Bryzgalov is not struggling. Consider it the cue for Bryzgalov's apologists to unite.

Why? Because that's the Flyers' story. And if their followers buy it, man, they will buy anything.

Anyway, check out my column on the Flyers and their desperate straits along with a look at the struggling Claude Giroux in the Daily Times Friday and, as always, on


Tony Ferrante weighed in at 176 pounds, Dhafir Smith at 175 for the main event to be held Friday night (7:30) at Harrah's-Chester.

The two Philly fighters will compete for the Pennsylvania Light Heavyweight championship.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


The following is from the promoters:


CHESTER, PA (April 24, 2012)—On Friday night May 4th, grizzled veteran Dhafir “No Fear” Smith has stepped in for the injured Tommy Karpency and will face Tony “Boom Boom” Ferrante for the Pennsylvania State Light Heavyweight championship at Harrahs in Chester.
The show is promoted by Joey Eye Boxing.
Smith of Philadelphia has a record of 25-22-7 with four knockouts. He has been in with some of the bigger names in boxing such as Shaun George, Max Alexander, Wayne Johnsen, Mike Paschall, Curtis Stevens, Andre Ward, Adonis Stevenson, Kingsley Ikeke, Jerson Ravelo, Jesus Gonzalez, Cornelius White.
Smith holds a win over former IBF Super Middleweight champ Jeff Lacy.
Ferrante of Philadelphia has a record of 12-3 with seven knockouts and is coming off a ten round loss to former four time world title challenger Omar Sheika in what many are hailing as one of the best fights in Pennsylvania in recent years.
In that fight, Sheika and Ferrante fought tooth and nail in a bout where both guys were battered and exchanged heavy shots throughout the fight. Ferrante landed some great shots but it wasn’t enough as Sheika applied pressure and outlasted the tough Ferrante and won by scores of 99-90, 99-90 and a better indicator of 95-94.
Ferrante won his first nine professional bouts before dropping back to back bouts to Chuck Mussachio (15-1-2) and Ronson Frank (17-0).
Ironically, Mussachio worked Ferrante’s corner for his bout against Sheika
In a six round co-feature, Victor Vasquez (14-6-1, 7 KO’s) will rematch Paul Fernandez (5-4-2, 3 KO’s) in a battle of Philadelphia based lightweights
John Mercurio (4-0, 3 KO’s) will look to gain his second win over William Miranda (5-4-1) of Allentown, PA in a six round Heavyweight bout.
Taneal Goyco (4-3, 2 KO’s) of Philadelphia will see action in a six round Light Heavyweight bout against an opponent to be named.
Alex Barbosa (2-0, 1 KO) of Philadelphia will take on Jonathan Ocassio (0-8) of Philadelphia in a four round Bantamweight bout.
Joey Tiberi (7-1, 5 KO’s) of Newark, Delaware will face off with Sidell Blocker (1-5-1) of Pleasantville, NJ in a four round Lightweight bout.
Tyrone Crawley Jr. (1-0) of Philadelphia will take on an opponent to be named in a four round Lightweight bout.
Tickets are now on sale for $100 (VIP); $65 (Ringside) and $45 (General Admission) and can be purchased at the Harrahs Chester Gift Shop; By calling Joey Eye (267-304-9399); David Feldman (610-291-0806); 800-480-8020 or on

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


The most backhanded compliment in hockey is the one the Flyers settled for after a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils: It wasn't the goaltender's fault.

No, it wasn't Ilya Bryzgalov's fault that the Flyers lost, falling into a 1-1 tie in the second-round playoff series.

But on a night when they were slow, when their power play was solved, when they ran out of steam late, the Flyers might have expected their goaltender to win them a game. It's kind of what that $51 million was all about.

Instead, after two spectacluar periods, Bryzgalov was ordinary in the third --- on a night when he had to be better than that.

So, all together now, if it makes everyone feel better: Bryzgalov was not to blame.

What a compliment, that.

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