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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

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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Saturday, June 17, 2006

10 Polls in 1 on the Phillies 

Another night, another loss. Fifth in a row. Seventh in the last 8. More losses for the year (34) than wins (33). One might expect dissatisfaction to reign. But, as we learned with the 10-in-1 Poll on Donovan McNabb, fans' true feelings can be tough to predict.
Free polls from
Which statements describe how you feel about the Phillies? Select as many answers as you like.

Yeah, I boo, or at least groan a lot. For good reason.
The team’s fine. Just be patient.
I can’t understand why Charlie Manuel is still here.
Charlie's fine. Everybody get off his case.
Trade Abreu for 3d baseman, catcher or No. 2 pitcher.
Do not trade Abreu, except for a top starting pitcher.
Pitching is the biggest problem.
Hitters need to strike out less, be more selective, be more clutch.
Overall, I'm impressed by the hitters.
If fans were more supportive, the team would have more wins.
I smile when I hear E-A-G-L-E-S chants at Phils games. The Phils’ minor-league system is a mess.
No, it’s not. Utley, Howard, Myers prove that.
Great ballpark.
Good not great ballpark. Ads, prices, enemy fans bother me.
I’ll happily attend at least another three games.
Just 3 reasons to go: Kids insist, free tickets, team gets fixed.
With GM Pat Gillick, I see exciting times ahead.
Sell the team! Change is needed at the top
I don’t really care. Go Eagles!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Idiot of the Week Poll No. 2 

Pittsburgh police officer inspects sports memorabilia.

Nobody jumped into a cage with lions, and Terrell Owens made more circumspect attire choices. (See last week's poll.) But this week still has a generous dose of dubious decisions. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gets on the world's fastest street-legal brand of motorcycle without a helmet and tackles a windshield with his face. A man decides the way to a woman's heart was to disrobe, jump out a window and get chased by a dude with a gun. A California man, believing his gold-detecting device, hires men to keep digging and digging and digging and digging and digging. Rightie writer Ann Coulter ticks off even fellow conservs by ripping 9/11 widows. A Holocaust-denying Wisconsin farmer will soon learn there's no demand for an Adolf Hitler theme park. Then there's the bank robber who left his birth certificate behind, prompting a cop to say, "That's very helpful." And, finally, somebody actually stole not just one Cheaper by the Dozen DVD, but 270! Now it's up to you: Vote!
Who's the Idiot of the Week?
Free polls from

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Give Dad a Book by a Philly Author for Father's Day 

In checking the Free Library's list of weekly author visits, I figured: Whoever's in charge might know more local authors than anybody. So why not ask for a list of suggested gift books for Father's Day? Andy Kahan, managing director of Author Events, was quick to oblige and show he indeed knows his scribes, passing along a generous list of choices. All the ones listed are from this year or last. You'll also find some suggestions from Inquirer columnist Karen Heller (marked*) and me, Peter Mucha (**). The more-info links for the books arbitrarily switch between Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Nonsports Nonfiction
Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood, by Donald Bogle.
Philadelphia Architecture, by Thom Nickels.
Lennon Revealed, biography of the Beatle, by ex-news anchor Larry Kane.
The Last Gangster, true tale of a turncoat Philadelphia mobster, by The Inquirer's George Anastasia
Fresh Inspiration: New Approaches to Chinese Cuisine, cookbook by chef Susanna Foo.
Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent's Natural Soul, by Scott Weidensaul.
Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History: 1585-1828, by Walter A. McDougall.
Guests of the Ayatollah : The First Battle in America's War With Militant Islam, examination of the Iran hostage crisis, by ex-Inquirer writer Mark Bowden.
Gouverneur Morris : Author, Statesman, and Man of the World, portrait of a founding father, by James J. Kirschke.
The Man Who Made Wall Street: Anthony J. Drexel and the Rise of Modern Finance, by Dan Rottenberg.
*The Sound on the Page : Great Writers Talk about Style and Voice in Writing, by Ben Yagoda.
**Letters to Sam: A Grandfather's Lesson on Love, Loss, and the Gifts of Life, by WHYY Voices in the Family host and Inquirer columnist Dan Gottlieb.

The Eagles Encyclopedia, by ex-Daily News columnist Ray Didinger, now with NFL Films.
If Football's a Religion, Why Don't We Have a Prayer?: Philadelphia, Its Faithful, and the Eternal Quest for Sports Salvation, by ex-Inquirer writer Jere Longman.
Box Like the Pros, by former heavyweight champ Joe Frazier.
The Lion in Autumn: A Season with Joe Paterno and Penn State Football, by Inquirer writer Frank Fitzpatrick.
Wilt: Larger Than Life, about the Sixers center Wilt Chamberlain, by Robert A. Cherry.
*Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager, by ex-Inquirer writer Buzz Bissinger.
**The Great Philadelphia Fan Book, by WIP hosts Glen Macnow and Anthony Gargano. (OK, it's from 2003, but it's a classic.)

C.R.E.A.M., Vol. 1, a political crime drama, by Solomon Jones ( says it comes out June 27, but he's at Central Library tonight).
The Wheelman, misadventures of a getaway driver in Philadelphia, by Duane Swierczynski.
Marked Man, latest Philly defense-attorney mystery by William Lashner.
Voodoo Lounge, tale of love during U.S. invasion of Haiti, by Christian Bauman.
Backward-Facing Man, character-driver thriller set in Philly, by Donald Silver.
**Dirty Blonde, latest Philly-based legal thriller by Lisa Scottoline.

Makes You Stop and Think: Sonnets, by Daniel Hoffman.
Deja Vu Diner, by Leonard Gontarek.

Have a book (or other gift) you'd recommend for a dad? Tell us about it here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Did You Score Eagles Tickets? 

Yesterday's post on how to get Eagles tickets brought has already brought a dozen tales today. So I've moved those remarks onto this new post. So how'd you do? I got tickets to two games ... as I posted below. Anybody get the T.O. game?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

How to Score Eagles Tix Tomorrow 

OK, this is verrrry stupid of me. I mean, if I do this, and further empower hundreds of rabid fans, no way I'll score four sets of Eagles tickets tomorrow, the way I did last year. But it's my business to share info. And, besides, this isn't exactly top-secret information. So here goes.

First, put together a team of at least three people with a computer and two phones, at least one of the phones with a crystal-clear connection. Be ready to roll into action by 9:30 a.m., a half-hour before tickets go on sale. They're only offered by phone or Internet through Ticketmaster. And be prepared to buy extra trickets (which you can always sell) because NEVER LISTEN to any co-conspirator who says, "Hang up, I got through." Things can and do go wrong after "getting through."

Phone Game Plan A
Stall a Helpful Agent
1. Plan your stalling tactics. Be ready to either (a) buy tickets for another concert or event, or (b) ask about events with no affordable tickets left.
2. Have your Eagles schedule handy. Circle the least popular home games. Get greedy (gotta have the T.O. game!) and you're more likely to get nothing.
2. Be ready to call early, even 20 (some say 30) minutes in advance of the 10 a.m. deadline.
3. Call a Ticketmaster in a town with no NFL franchise. Here's the link to the "Find a ticket outlet" list.
4. Start your stall, watching your time. If you want to-the-second time, go to the U.S. Naval Observatory website.
5. Be alert for signs this agent will be a stickler and refuse to sell Eagles tickets to anyone who calls before 10! Agents are told to refuse. I've had it happen. But some agents will do you a favor, if you kind of make friends with them. Don't come straight out and ask, however, because they are on recorded lines. You have to be subtle, drop hints, and hope you get lucky. If agent does hang up, quickly try Phone Plan B below.
6. At 10 a.m. ask for Eagles tickets. Be specific, not just about opponent and number of tickets but the DATE! Don't be like the guy who bought four Giants tickets only to find out they were PRE-SEASON games!!!
7. If the agent offers seats, take them. Do not dicker or waste time checking seat locations or otherwise consider changes. Buy the tickets.
8. If the agent asks, "Anything else?" try another game. Again, take whatever is offered.

Phone Game Plan B
Try Tricky Automated Buying System
1. About 9:55, using a very good phone, call a Ticketmaster in Arizona. Or Colorado. Some state in another time zone. Again, check "Find a ticket outlet" list. Yes, it'll be closed. That's the idea. No one else will be calling. You're not out to talk to an agent, but use the automated ticket-buying system.
2. If you get through too quickly, just keep hitting the selection for "Return to Main Menu" as often as needed.
3. If you're lucky, Ticketmaster will have a selection like Press 1 for "Philadelphia Eagles." (A reason to call another NFL city?) If not, when you do try to buy, speak very clearly. And good luck. Sometimes this system is ridiculously off-target. You say "Philadelphia Eagles" and it says "Bruce Springsteen"?

Computer Plan
1. Sign up in advance for a Ticketmaster account so your credit card information can be on file. This saves time and ways for things to go wrong.
2. Know exactly how many tickets you want for which games. (Again, the less popular the game, the better your chances.)
3. Check out the exact time on Naval Observatory site.
4. Find the right page on Keep clicking "Refresh" if you're not seeing the right message that tickets are on sale.
5. At 10 a.m., or as soon as your find the right "order tickets" link, click it, and follow the instructions. If you seem to be getting through, and the process stalls, do NOT hit "refresh" or "back," but simply cross your fingers and wait. Does trying on multiple screens help or mess things up? Sorry, I'm not sure, but I do know the system is finicky.

If you get tickets, come back here, post a comment and gloat.


Anything you disagree with? Post your comments here.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Iverson's Seriously Overrated, 3 Economists Calculate 

For weeks, I've been dreaming of crunching numbers to answer every Sixer fan's biggest question: How big an asset is Allen Iverson? Some fans even say he's a liability, because he's not a team player, a high-percentage shooter or a great defender. Well, along comes a trio of economists to do the analysis and conclude: Iverson is one of the most overrated players in the league. Apparently this essay updates what they wrote in a new book on the NBA, The Wages of Wins. Many of its conclusions, such as Kevin Garnett being the league's true MVP, fly in the face of the conventional wisdom, like a new list of the league's most valuable players, where Iverson ranks No. 9 and Garnett garners only an honorable mention. But here's how many wins a sampling of players were actually worth this season, one of the economists told the New York Times:

Kevin Garnett, 26
LeBron James, 20.4
Ben Wallace, 20.1
Dwyane Wade, 18.2
Dirk Nowitzki, 18
Marcus Camby, 13.7
Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony COMBINED, 13

In his whole career, Iverson has never been higher than the 36th most valuable player in the league, and his average rank isn't in the top 100!

That stat's from an extended look at "the Iverson problem," Blink author Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker review of Wages of Wins. See also further discussion on Gladwell's blog, where fellow Sixer Chris Webber also makes a list of the league's most overrated players.

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