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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.



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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, September 09, 2006

Ryan Howard Nickname Poll, Round 2 

We're one step closer to a final Top 5 showdown poll for a Ryan Howard nickname. Howitzer, H-Bomb and Rhyno look sure to make the finals. But first one last shot for a new idea to earn its way into the contest.
Which of these OTHER Ryan Howard nickname ideas do you like best?
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Next 'Rocky' Money-Making Idea Is ... 

Good grief. I saw this on Action News last night: A series of Rocky action figures includes a slab of meat! What's next? What will vendors sell or rent near the statue being dedicated today near the Art Museum? I'm thinking: Gotta have an inflatable Rocky doll for people to pose with at the top of the steps. Rake in bucks by renting the doll and selling photos. And hey why not rent a pedestal so people can look like they're posing with the statue, which stands on a 4-foot block? Of course, the sixth Rocky movie is also a questionable let's-cash-in enterprise. But you Phinish the Phrase:

The next let's-cash-in-on-Rocky idea could be ...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Need Nicknames for Howard, McNabb? 

WIP, a philly.com discussion board, a PhilliesPhans.com poll and armchairgm's "contest" have all been brainstorming for nicknames for Ryan Howard. Which prompted me to think of a few myself: The Six Machine. KerPowered. ShaSlam. And Whoomp. I'm gonna put the whole lot of them in a new poll. Feel free to keep posting suggestions, though. If we get a clear Top 5, I'll post a final showdown poll between those and any newcomers, then message the biggest vote-getters to sportswriters and 'IP hosts.

While we're at it, anybody got a nickname for McNabb? Popeye popped into my head, because he's both strong and funny, not because of any eye conditions. Too bad Pinkston's gone: He's built like Olive Oyl.
Which nickname do you like most for Ryan Howard? (Pull down menu and pick BEFORE you click "Vote.")
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Eagles Off-Season Report Card: A 

C'mon, admit it, you cynics out there. You, OK we, were afraid last year's 6-10 Eagles would think all they needed to do was recover from their physical wounds and those emotional ones created by Terrell "Boogey Monster" Owens.

But I gotta praise the Eagles for clearly realizing much more was needed.
They seriously upgraded the defensive line by signing Darren Howard.
They got a legit wideout in Donte Stallworth.
The doubly upgraded their dubious backup QB situation, even though McNabb seems healthy again.
They re-signed John Runyan and beefed up the future of the O-line.
They re-signed Brian Dawkins.
They examined a lot of options at all sorts of positions, and so ought to be better or at least deeper.
They really do seem to have regained their composure and confidence.

Still not impressed? Likely then, you're still worried about depth at running back, receiver and tight end.

But look at their moves as part of a two-year plan. Shore up those lines this year, fill in at skill positions and linebacker next year. I've long thought it's not that Andy Reid undervalues runners, catchers and linebackers, just that salary-cap-smart teams have to save money somewhere. So where are you most likely to find bargains? Not at QB, cornerback, offensive tackle or defensive end. No, you're more likely to find a gem among positions haunted more by normal sized people: the positions the Eagles seem to downgrade. There, their strategy seems to be a numbers game: Sign this second-tier free agent, draft this third-rounder, pick up a guy in a trade, and one of them could be prove to be diamond in the rough. If not this year, then next year. This thinking is also why they drafted McNabb (good luck replacing him) instead of Ricky Williams (replaced multiple times). It's supply and demand, and it's smart.

Until, of course, you're that one piece away from the Super Bowl. Which is why they took a risk on Owens. Let's hope they take simiilar chances again.

Not saying the Eagles will be great. They still have many question marks about who can stay healthy, whose talent is for real, how tough the competition is, and whether Andy Reid's game plans will keep opponents guessing more this year ... and handle late-game drives.

Just saying for a team that already went deep into the playoffs, it's impressive their future still seems bright.

Prediction: 11-5 if they stay healthy and Reid innovates, with a playoff win or two.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Phinish the Phrase: Down Under Edition 

Irwin, wife Terri and an albino Burmese python

WIP host Steve Martarano's reaction to hearing that Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin was killed by a sting ray: "It's not news that he died. It was news yesterday that he was still alive." What was your reaction to his death? Phinish the Phrase:

When I heard that the Crocodile Hunter died, I thought ...


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