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What Is Early Word?
The Philadelphia Inquirer's experimental online "morning show", which began in Sept. 2005, went on hiatus in the summer of 2006, after a gradual shift to putting more of its content directly on Philly.com.



About the Host
Peter Mucha, husband and father of two, grew up in Cherry Hill and is a lifelong Philly sports fan. He's been writing and editing for The Inquirer for 18 years. His motto (at least for today): "If I'm not brief, give me grief."

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The Inquirer's ever-evolving way to start your day. Email. Phone: 215-854-2388.

Friday, May 05, 2006

If Parents Are Baby Slaves ... 

Take a Hike When Bonds Bats? 

WIP's Howard Eskin proposes a dramatic way to protest "that cheater" Barry Bond and his pursuit of revered home run milestones: Every time Bonds bats at Citizens Bank Park Friday though Sunday, fans should get up and walk out. Empty stands would send a great message on TV, the combative yakkster suggests. Should Bonds hit three more for No. 715, raising what some say is a steroid-enhanced total past Babe Ruth's career mark, a backdrop of vacant seats would be a lasting visual comment for history books.

Many callers have said they'll do it, Eskin tells Early Word. (And so far, his plan is the No. 1 vote-getter in the poll below.) "Let's face it, based on the evidence that has been published Barry Bonds is a cheater," he said. "I can't believe people want to watch or acknowledge a cheater. And reality is that because he appears to clearly have cheated using steroids he really is not tieing or passing Babe Ruth anyway. His home runs are a lie. Fans deserve better."

Some callers have counter-suggested, well, maybe fans should just turn their backs. Nowhere near as strong a message, Eskin says.

Bonds, who's whacked more homers at the park than any visiting player, quipped in an Inquirer interview: "I don't have to worry about how Philadelphia fans treat me -- I'm not on the home team."

Fans here are expected to boo, as they did this week in Milwaukee, and security is being beefed up, not just to protect Bonds, but supposedly to safeguard fans from each other during home-run-ball scrambles.

Here's an additional mischievous protest idea (both could be done): Fans with outfield seats bring extra baseballs, and when Bonds rips a round-tripper, let 'em roll, perhaps rendering the real one indistinguishable and worthless.

What do you think? Vote in our poll and post a comment.
How should Philadelphia fans treat Barry Bonds?
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Look, I Have Such a Talented Beard! 

Or so the contestants seemed to be saying with their imaginative chin-hair creations in the International German Beard and Moustache Championships on Saturday. Guy at left made his fuzzfest look like a windmill. Coincidentally, beards were also shown off Saturday in New York, site of the Sikh Day Parade.

Claim to Fame: He Has Nixon's Sandwich 

Full of baloney?

Bet They Can't Do That Again 

The Kind of Muslim That Seldom Makes News 

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Joe Conklin Heard Again on WIP 

Warped. Juvenile. Maverick. Imitator. Philadelphian. Insults? Not in the least when applied to "Man of 1,000 Voices" Joe Conklin, who resurfaced this morning on WIP. It was a kind of see-how-it-goes audition, said the impressive impressionist, who was on WIP's Morning Show for years until 2003, when he wound up on WMMR's Philly Guys, till that got bumped for Preston & Steve. Enough yadda yadda yadda, though: We want jokes! This morning's bits, said Conklin, included Andy Reid saying, "We drafted two wide receivers and we think Hugh Douglas can beat up both of them if we have to." The "coach" noted Birds took Winston Justice from USC, Reid's second-favorite place after KFC. Another positive: The black draftees are speaking to Donovan, "so that's a good sign." (We trust you caught the references to T.O.'s trouble getting along with people here.) By phone he said he's added Ed Rendell and Allen Iverson impressions since leaving 'IP (and &%$#@*& I would have had audio to share if I'd just hit one more &%$#@*& button). Joe, call back!

All right, he did: Here's Joe and like five other guys! (Windows media, might need to play it loud)

this is an audio post - click to play


Back to the yadda, yadda, yadda: Word was 'MMR still had Conklin under contract till the end of April, although he has been doing a weekly "Chip Snapper's Tap" bit on sports-talk rival WPEN.

The vibes are good, reports the Inquirer's Mike Klein, who got this email from WIP program director Marc Rayfield: "We love Joe's work. He is the funniest man in Philadelphia. There is no 'defined' relationship at this point. But you will be hearing him from time to time on WIP."

For those of us who still occasionally hum the "Kato" song, a classic Conklin "Day-O" takeoff about O.J. Simpson's pal, "time to time" ain't good enough.

As Angelo Cataldi said at the time of Conklin's 'IP firing: "The prospect of losing Joe Conklin makes me sick to my stomach. He's the most talented guy I've ever worked with."

For more Conklin, check out his website.

Daily News photo above shows Conklin eating what looks like 239 Bean Soup. Why exactly 239 beans? Because, he loves to say in an Irish accent, one more would be "too fahrty."

Now That's Some Crazy Glue 

The Typos Continue 

EZ Pass, "Sleazy Pass."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

23 Years, 90 Seasons, ZERO Titles 

ATLANTA: Braves 95BALTIMORE (2 titles): Orioles 83, Ravens 01. And that's not counting 1995 Canadian football title!BOSTON (6 titles): Celtics 84, 86; Patriots 02, 04, 05; Red Sox 04BUFFALO: Last title in 66 when Bills won AFL. But no MLB, and NBA Braves stayed just 7 years. Drought: 79 seasonsCALGARY (4): Flames  89; CFL's Stampeders 92, 98, 01CHICAGO (8 titles): Bears  86; Bulls 91-93, 96-98; White Sox 05CINCINNATI:  Reds 90CLEVELAND: Last title won by Browns in 64. But NHL Barons lasted just 2 years in late 70s. Drought: 115 seasons (longest)DALLAS (4 titles): Cowboys  93, 94, 96; Stars  99DENVER (4 titles): Broncos 98, 99; Avalanche 96, 01DETROIT (7 titles): Tigers 84; Pistons 89, 90, 04; Red Wings 97, 98, 02E. RUTHERFORD, NJ (3 titles): Devils  95, 00, 03 (5 titles if you count Giants  87, 91)EDMONTON (8 titles): Oilers  84, 85, 87,  88, 90; CFL's Eskimos 05, 03, 93MILWAUKEE/GREEN BAY: Packers 97HOUSTON (2 titles): Rockets 94, 95KANSAS CITY: Royals 85LOS ANGELES / ANAHEIM (9 titles): Raiders 84; Dodgers 88; Lakers 85, 87, 88, 00-02; Angels 02MIAMI (2 titles): Marlins 97, 03MINNEAPOLIS (2 titles): Twins 87, 91MONTREAL (3 titles): Canadiens  86, 93; CFL's Alouettes 02LONG ISLAND:  Islanders  83NEW YORK CITY (8 titles): Mets 86; Giants 87, 91; Rangers  94; Yankees 96, 98-00OAKLAND:  Athletics 89PHILADELPHIA: Last title was Sixers in 83. Drought: 90 seasons. Longest of any city with teams in the four major sportsPITTSBURGH (3 titles):  Penguins  91, 92,  Steelers  06SAN ANTONIO (3 titles): Spurs 99, 03, 05SAN DIEGO: Last title was 63 when Chargers won AFL. But no hockey, and NBA Clippers stayed just 5 seasons. Drought: 82 seasonsSAN FRANCISCO (4 titles): 49ers 85, 89, 90, 95ST. LOUIS:  Rams 00SEATTLE: Last title was Supersonics in 79. But no hockey team. Drought: 77 seasonsTAMPA-ST. PETE (2 titles): Buccaneers 03, Lightning 04TORONTO (6 titles): Blue Jays 92, 93; CFL's Argonauts 91, 96, 97, 04PHOENIX / TUCSON: Diamondbacks 01WASHINGTON, D.C. (2 titles): Redskins 88, 92
Point to a blue-dot city for facts about its titles since 1983.
Red cities have at least 2 franchises with no title every year since then.

Now the Flyers are out of the playoffs, marking yet another season since Philadelphia's four major franchises have won a championship. Here's how pathetic this streak really is:

It's the longest current streak for a city with four major-league teams.

Not only that, if my figures are right, it's the LONGEST SUCH STREAK EVER for a city with four major-league teams, topping Chicago's 22-years drought between NFL titles by the '63 and '85 Bears. (Based on records since 1947, when NBA began.)

During this miserable run, the following cities have all won FOUR OR MORE championships: Los Angeles (9, counting Anaheim), New York (9, counting Islanders), Edmonton (8, counting 3 Canadian football titles), Detroit (7), Toronto (2 baseball, 4 CFL), Boston (6), Dallas (4), Denver (4), San Francisco (4), Calgary (1 NHL, 3 CFL), and even E. Rutherford, N.J. (5), if you count the N.Y. Giants.

Has any other city been so disappointed for so long? Here's the case for Cleveland. OK, it hasn't had a hockey team since 1978. But it hasn't had a championship since 1964, when the Browns won. That's 42 years. So long, some grandfathers there have never seen a parade! That's 116 seasons (counting all 35 for the Cavaliers, two for hockey, 41 for Indians (no '94 Series), not counting five for after Browns left for Baltimore. Couldn't find anywhere else that tops Philly's 89. (Exclude Buffalo and San Diego's AFL titles, you gotta exclude their AFL seasons, too.) These loser cities, Seattle and Philly are red dots on the map above.

Here's a list that totals up each franchise's drought in cities with four major-league teams. It's another kind of misery index. Guess who comes out worst.

By the way, only Detroit has waited longer than Philadelphia for an NFL championship. Check out this list:

Top 5 longest current droughts for a franchise in a single city
1. Chicago Cubs, no titles since 1908.
2. Cleveland Indians, 1948.
3. Detroit Lions, 1957.
4. San Francisco Giants, 1958.
5. Philadelphia Eagles, 1960.

All I can say is:

Note: If you see or suspect a mistake (and with all this this data, that's likely), email Early Word. I'll check it out and fix as needed.

Philly's Bradley Reveals Fraud Behind 'Da Vince Code' 

Dan Brown's best-seller pretends to unravel the mystery behind a supposed centuries-old secret society, the Priory of Sion. His website lists this organization's existence as a "bizarre fact." Only problem: The group appears to be the invention of a fraudulent Frenchman, Philly's own Ed Bradley reported on 60 Minutes Sunday.

Yes, France's national library, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, does have papers that supposedly list the group's leaders all the way back to Isaac Newtown. But they were probaby deposited in the 1960s, and a man named Pierre Plantand is suspected to have concocted them to support his claim to be the latest grandmaster of the Priory of Sion, says the CBS report. One historian calls him "a fantastist." Another expert, asked where this fraud ranks in history, said, "This is undoubtedly the most magnificent — we take our hats off in admiration to the achievement. It's really quite extraordinary." See full text of the 60 Minutes report.

The film version of The Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks (above), hits screens May 19.

Eagles: Big Money and Big Dudes 

Ah, a couple of lightweights: Coach Reid and tackle Winston Justice,
a second-round pick who weighs a mere 319.

The Eagles made a strong bid to get Javon Walker, WIP's Howard Eskin reported yesterday afternoon. According to his unnamed source, the team, which brought the receiver in for a physical on Saturday, actually negotiated a tentative agreement, offering an average annual salary of $7.5 million a year. (Gee, if they'd offered T.O. that kind of money, maybe he would have behaved like a choir boy.) To consummate a trade, however, the Birds would have had to give up a first-round pick, Eskin said, because Green Bay preferred to move the wideout to out of the conference. Another reason is that Denver had a higher second-round pick to trade, No. 37, acquired from San Francisco in a trade. The Eagles were able to get up only to No. 39, where they drafted offensive tackle Winston Justice.

Worth the weight? Eskin also interviewed Andy Reid, who, while personable, made little news, except to say not to pencil in either Hank Fraley or Jamal Jackson as the starting center yet. Reid sounded very enthusiastic about the signing of undrafted free agent Nick Cole, a 6-foot, 350-pounder from New Mexico State. Cole went undrafted because teams prefer taller o-linemen, the coach said.

Apparently, the team's assembling quite of a collection of scale-damagers. Some facts:
1. The Eagles roster now has 20 guys who weight 300 pounds or more.
2. The heaviest is 356-pound fourth-round pick Max Jean-Gilles.
3. The Eagles could actually put together an offensive line of Jon Runyan (330), Shawn Andrews (340), Cole, Jean-Gilles and Tre Thomas (349), that would weigh a combined 1,725 pounds, more than the heaviest recorded grizzly bear.
4. Add in tight end L.J. Smith and you get 1,983 pounds.
5. Keep smith, swap in undrafted tackle Dejuan Skinner (359) for Runyan, and you're topping a ton, with 2,012 pounds.
6. The lightest Eagle is now 5-9 return man Jeremy Bloom, who at 173 weighs less than half as much as Jean-Gilles.
7. Bloom and cornerback Dexter Wynn (177) together weigh less than Jean-Gilles.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Wow! That's Like, $47.63 Apiece! 

OK, I have no right to mock others' typos, having made many myself. But this is such a whopper ... one missing word and powerball.com had itself a $364,999,635 mistake. Well, at least it's right on that phony check. (Check if it's been fixed yet.)

Phila. looks extremely good on 'Extreme Makeover' 

Photo by The Inquirer's David Swanson
Does Philadelphia know how to throw an Extreme Makeover or what? Last night, the city looked as good as a city could, demonstrating incredible spirit and generosity, galvanized by the
ABC feel-good redo show, which needed two hours to tell the whole tale. Benefiting big-time was the Py family of the Northeast -- two grandparents and three kids who lost their mom to breast cancer, their dad to aneurism. Demolished was the old asbestos-and-lead contaminated split-level on Haldeman Avenue. Seven days later -- just seven! -- when the bus moved, the grandmother, Carole, screamed with amazement to behold a two-story wonder. As the family toured, they were almost speechless, except for the kids fighting over who'd get which computer in a dedicated homework area. The new home has cathedral ceilings, "a kitchen to beat all kitchens," a plasma TV, a bedroom with a bed hidden under basketball-court floor, upstairs washer and dryer, a swimming pool and a Hummer of a barbecue grill in what Grandpop Bill called "a paradise island in Philadelphia." And those are just some of the highlights. "This is more than I can handle," Carole said.

It couldn't have happened without time and money donated by more than 1,000 volunteers and several area companies. But the house was only part of the community's generosity. The Eagles, whose Jeremiah Trotter pitched in, hosted a Vanessa Carlton concert that raised $35,000 for breast cancer research. Sixer Chris Webber stopped by with autographed jerseys and season tickets. Northeast Auto Outlet donated a van. Drexel University president Constantine Papadakis delivered college scholarships for the kids. The builder, the Dewey Company of Wayne, gave $150,000 to help pay off the mortgage. Extreme is right. Philadelphians can be extremely proud ... if not extremely jealous.

A photo gallery and more info, including a bio of designer Paul DiMeo, originally from Media, Pa., can be found at abc.com.

ABC photo
Carole and Bill Py with grandchildren Samantha, Joey (red shirt) and William.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

"I Think You Pound the Football This Year!" 

What?! Bold prediction from ex-Eagle Brian Baldinger, now Fox football analyst. Pointed out on NBC10's Sports Final last night that the Birds now have the two biggest guards in football in Sean Andrews and new draftee Max Jean-Gilles, and a big young center in Jamal Jackson. That signals a likely shift, Baldinger says: Eagles will get a big running back, and take the fight to foes right up the middle. Look for New Orleans to make Antwan Smith available: "He is an animal," says Baldinger. "I think they can become a better football team, and a more powerful football team." You're talking it snowing in hell, retorted host John Clark. "Coaches get smarter," Baldinger said.

Two Things I Don't Care About 

1. Pumping my own gas in Jersey. Fine by me either way.
2. The Star-Spangled Banner in Spanish. What's the prob?

What big-whup news story would be on your list?

'Selling [Dung] to the Point That It's Sickening' 

"Fatty"? Gastric bypass? Them's fightin' words, from Rosie O'Donnell about Star Jones Reynolds, soon-to-be fellow cohosts on The View. "Catfight just waiting to happen?" asks Inquirer's Newmakers column. Hey, if not an Ultimate Fighting bout, how 'bout a Cohost Kombat video game? Rrrrowr!

Speaking of Bitter Battles 

"A lawyer for Scores quoted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in endorsing a man's right to a lap dance." Nice line by Jennifer Lin from story about Philadelphia strip-club hearing. Next graf: "The audience booed."

'American Idol' Just Barely Got on the Air 

Every network said no. Except for Fox. Which kept delaying. Until Rupert Murdoch's daughter got Daddy to chime in. From a book that comes out Tuesday.

Is This a Good Thing to Do to Beer? 

Man Plays Flintstones Theme Song With Hand Noises 

You say it's not news? OK, but it was news to me that this kind of "music" could be digitized. Roll the video:


Measuring Ants' Heads Drives Researchers Nuts 

AP photo of a fire ant"One of my master's students quit graduate school after the 4,000th head-width measurement. Her own head slightly unstable on her neck, she bumped into the doorjamb on her way out," writes Walter Tschinkel in an oh-by-the-way essay in his book The Fire Ants. Another student pioneered a better way: "Pulverize the ants into powder, pick out heads," as the New York Times' James Gorman puts it, and nudge each noggin into his "wedge micrometer." Gorman's point? "It's time for readers of scientific journals to rise up and demand interludes, anecdotes, even jokes in scientific papers. " More of the essay on the essay.

Grading the NFL Draft 

Gets an A:
B:
C:
D or F:
Incomplete: Everybody else.

Heck, you can't even grade last year's Eagles draft yet. Could be an A. Defensive tackle Mike Patterson and receiver Reggie Brown started and looked good. Defensive end Trent Cole, offensive lineman Todd Herremans, and running back Ryan Moats showed flashes of promise. Safety Sean Considine might be a future starting safety. Or could still be a C or lower, if injury, competition or complacency relegates most of these guys to the sidelines.

Eagles are still hoping for production from once-promising '03 picks Jerome McDougal and Billy McMullen.


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