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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.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Before the Phillies would rally Monday to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-6, Charlie Manuel was discussing what he could envision as "a light at the end of a tunnel."

Though the Phillies remain in last place, that light is a bit less faint. For not only did they win in their final at-bat for the second time in as many days, but franchise pillars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hit back-to-back home runs.

“I think every day we play we get more and more into the fact of where we are and where we are going,” Manuel said before the game. “And I am very optimistic about it and really looking forward to seeing how we react and how we can do things.”
Utley and Howard back. Roy Halladay, back, even if not fully himself ... at least not yet. Late rallies. Wins.
Check out the complete Phillies coverage in the Daily Times Tuesday, and as always, on, where there are four fresh Phillies videos.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


It was sadly fitting Sunday that before Penn State dragged down its monument to Joe Paterno, it first erected a buffer of fences and shields.

Secrecy, to the ugly end.

Monday, the NCAA will hand down punishment. It will not demand the death penalty. Still, Penn State football, as it has become known, will be toppled like that statue.

By then, though, it will be time to move on. The statue is gone. The school president was fired. Paterno is deceased.

Penn State even did what not many would do --- pay a premium fee for a former FBI director to go on TV and reveal its every horrible secret about its football program's hesitancy to stifle a chid-abuse scandal.

The victims remain and will be scarred for life. Tragic. But Jerry Sandusky is in jail for that, and Penn State presumably will pay millions in settlements. It's not cure-all system. But Penn State can't do much more, not now.

Finally, there is nothing more to hide.

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

Saturday, July 21, 2012


The bad news for Phillies fans: They lost, 6-5, Saturday, to the Giants in 10 innings.

Worse news for Phillies fans:  Potential free agent Cole Hamels doesn't want to play for a  loser.

Encouraging news for Phillies fans: Hamels understands that the Phillies are committed to winning.

“Yeah, I mean, you don't like playing for a team that loses,” Hamels said after what might have been his last Citizens Bank Park start in a Phillies uniform. “But unfortunately, it takes all of us. If I am not winning my ballgames, then I am obviously a culprit, too.”

Hamels pitched 7 2-3 innings Saturday, surrendering 10 hits, including three home runs, and striking out six. He had a 5-4 lead, lost it in the eighth, left in a 5-5 tie and waved to the cheering crowd on his way to a no-decision.

“I know the atmosphere here is that they want to win,” Hamels said. “And they want to win now. That's always the key to anything. The organization wants to win. The fans want to win. The players want to win. So that's ultimately what we'd have to stick with, and that's kind of the decision that I would ever revert to.”

Check out the complete Phillies coverage in the Daily Times Sunday and, as always, on

Friday, July 20, 2012


In a pregame conversation Friday, Charlie Manuel volunteered this about his bullpen: 
“Like I said before, I like our talent in our bullpen. But it's the experience and the fact that we are inconsistent. That location-command part comes from the fact that our pitchers are inexperienced. If possible, if we could address some of that, I think we would definitely be in a position to see if we could finish strong.”

During the Phillies' 7-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants, Manuel's actions matched his words. That's when he let Vance Worley, with a triple-figure pitch count in the sixth, pitch to Brandon Crawford ... whose grand slam put the game out of reach for the floundering Phillies offense.

His choices essentially amounted to either lefty Jeremy Horst or right-handed Michael Schwimmer, who had been loosened in the bullpen.

"It's tough of me to put one of those kids in a bases loaded, one-out situation in a game right now," Manuel said. "That's kind of tough. I still felt that Worley had enough. I still felt that he was my best option."

It was his best option ... and his best way, apparently, to send the SOS to the front office: More bullpen help ... and now.

Check out my column on the Phillies and their struggles in the Daily Times Saturday and, as always, on

Monday, July 16, 2012


The Villanova basketball program may soon have a new home --- that, according to at least one internationally recognized sports superstar who convinced that the Pavilion will be imploded to make way for a new arena.

That would be Billie Jean King, owner of the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis, which plays its home games at the Pavilion.

"Someday, they are going to implode this and we will have an even nicer arena," King said Monday night, before the Freedoms' game against the Kansas City Explorers. "They will build a beautiful, new one too."

Is that a fact?

"I know," King said. "Yeah. I know. I am thrilled about that. It will be nice to have a new facility. Oh, yeah, they are definitely going to someday have a new facility and it will be great. Right here where we are standing. This will be imploded. But most people know where Villanova is. They used to have tournaments here years ago. Everyone kind of knows this is the tennis place for the greater Philadelphia area. And the Freedoms are really thrilled to be here. The Villanova people cannot be nicer. And that makes a huge difference."

Saturday, July 14, 2012


The Union surrendered an own-goal in the 90th minute Saturday, and should have been deflated.

Instead, it won, 2-1, in extra time, in a six-standings-point value game over visiting Montreal.

It has been that kind of season for the Union, which started slowly, experienced a change in managers ... yet is suddenly on a three-game MLS winning streak and is maintaining realistic hopes of returning to the playoffs.

“These guys are amazing,” manager John Hackworth said. “I can't say enough. Even the guys on the bench sitting behind me were saying, 'We are going to win. We are going to win this game.' And that is something that is pretty special in this team right now.”

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

Sunday, July 8, 2012


After the Phillies ended the traditional first half of the baseball season having lost 10 of their last 11, including a 4-3 loss to the Braves Sunday, team president David Montgomery threw some support behind manager Charlie Manuel and G.M. Ruben Amaro Jr.

“I'm satisfied with 'effort',” he said. “I am not satisfied with 'results'. None of us could come close to saying that. They are the same people. Charlie hasn't let seven years of managing success go to his head. Is he doing anything different? I don't see that. Is he trying hard to communicate more? I do see that. We have talked about that. We are not playing fundamentally sound baseball.

“Whether it's David Montgomery, whether it's Ruben, whether it's Charlie, whether it's Charlie's staff, whether it's Ruben's staff of whether it is the 35 people who have played for us, nobody can look in the mirror and say, 'Boy, this is somebody else's problem. It's not mine.' It's all of our problems. And usually the best way to get through this is instead of pointing, it is to stay together.”

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


PHILADELPHIA --- In the realities of baseball finance, Cole Hamels is facing two fruitful options: Sign with the Phillies ... or sign someplace else.

The Phillies, though, have a third option: Trade him first.

David Montgomery?

"Is that an option? Of course that's an option," the Phillies' president said Sunday. "Is that realistic? That is not our inclination at this point. We have said that repeatedly. Our inclination is that when you think about 'today and tomorrow' as the 'present and the future', the one thing that Cole represents is that he is a 'bridge' player. He is important today and he can be very important to us because of his age and his ability for a number of years. That, to us, makes sense. That is a player you want to chase.”

So the Phillies' chase continues for a home-grown, 28-year old All-Star and former World Series MVP.

“We're just going to do what we have been doing, which is try to convince him that this is the right place for him," Montgomery said. "I want him back. But 'we' want him back. I think the fans want him back. The Cole Hamels-es within an organization don't come along every day. Cole has the right to do what he is doing, which is to thoughtfully evaluate his opportunities. We would like to retain him. He has certainly not given us the indication that we would read, 'No way do I want to play here.' You can't misread that.

“Looking back at the Scott Rolen situation at that time, there was evidence of that that we chose to look past," Montgomery continued. “We don't see any of that in Cole. We see a young man deciding whether to make a commitment or wait and evaluate his opportunities."
Hamels is 10-4 with a 3.20 ERA at the All-Star break.


Saturday, July 7, 2012


Since it is too late for anything to help the Phillies this year, Charlie Manuel already has Day 1 planned for next winter in Clearwater.

His plan: Better condition his relief pitchers so they will be prepared to throw more often, harder and with less trouble in the regular season.

Oddly enough, he has yet to share that idea with pitching coach Rich Dubee.

“Actually, I haven't even talked to Dubee about that,” Manuel said. “But what I see is we have a lot of one-inning guys or guys that can only go to 35 pitches, 30 pitches. I would like to see them strung out more. I would love to see them be geared in spring training so when we break spring training, they will be geared for two or three innings instead of just one inning. I haven't sat down and discussed that with him. I have in the past. But it's always been when you prepare something. You set it up. It's always been that way.”

Told of Manuel's plan, Dubee half-shrugged and insisted his relief pitchers are sufficiently durable.

For more, check out my column in the Daily Times Sunday and, as always, on