Blogs > Jack McCaffery's blog

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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SIMPLY THE BECHT'ST ... and some hoop talk

Even as he was one of the most durable tight ends of his generation, Monsignor Bonner grad Anthony Becht never forgot his Delaware County roots.

So there he was Tuesday at Widener, watching the Friars fall, 3-1, to Neumann-Goretti in the Catholic League baseball final befort heading out to supply an inspirational message to the Hero Bowl football players.

Becht, among the final cuts of the Arizona Cardinals last summer, would like to play pro football again. But the lockout has been particularly tough on veteran free agents who haven't had a chance to show what they can do in a formal setting.

Check out my column on Becht and his career and his commitments to Delco in the Daily Times and on Wednesday.

And as usual, no visit to Chester is complete without some basketball talk. Specifically, why is the Clippers' Lamon Church still unsigned as a college player?

My man Chris Vito, the Chester beat writer for the Daily Times, says Church is getting closer to a decision and is considering St. Francis (Pa.) and LIU, among other options.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


If it was necessary to point out that, though winning, the Phillies' offense was AWOL, it's necessary too to stress that their 11-hit effort in a 9-5 loss Sunday to the Mets in New York had several encouraging facets.

For one, Domonic Brown has raised his average to .320.

For another, Ben Francisco is stirring, porviding two hits and an RBI.

For another, Raul Ibanez is hitting .337 (32 for 95) since escaping an 0-for-35 slump. He hit his seventh homer of the season Sunday.

Vance Worley had nothing ... and not a lot of defensive help.

But if the Phillies can hit like that, with the starting pitching they possess, they will have the N.L. East won with three weeks left in the season.

Check out my coverage from New York in the Daily Times Monday and on


Ryan Howard is not in the lineup for the Phillies Sunday, but he is healthy and avaialble for pinch hitting.

Charlie Manuel:  "He's fine. I'm just giving him a blow. We played that long game the other night and everything and we are getting ready to play a day game tomorrow. And with (left-handed Jonathon) Niese pitching today, I just thought I would give him a day off today.”

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Raul Ibanez, 39, delivered the winning run to end a 19-inning game Wednesday, slept four hours, then played all day Thursday for the Phillies, supplying a home run in a 10-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

I've got a buddy of mine who is a Navy SEAL,” Ibanez said. “And I think about those guys at moments like this. They go without sleeping all the time. And it is just a mind-over-matter thing. Actually, when I was driving to the park today I said, 'I hope I'm playing.' When you first wake up, you are pretty tired. But when you start driving over here, your mindset is to play. You want to play all the time.”

He has struggled this season, but he's kept at it. Now, he is enjoying a 15-RBI May and helping the Phillies both offensively and defensively.

It's as much a reason as anything why the Phillies are still in command of the N.L. East.

Check out my column in the Daily Times Friday and on

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


That was one E. Tiger Woods at Aronimink Tuesday, tub-thumping for the June 28 AT&T National. Since he finished tied for 46th at the same course last year, he knows one thing: It can be troublesome.

He is not so sure, though, that Aronimink is ready to host a major championship.

Eldrick:  “Well certainly Aronimink has the greens and the green complexes to do that. The only thing it is probably missing is the length and maybe a little bit of the infrastructure as well.”

Check out my column on Woods' visit to Delco in the Daily Times Tuesday and on

Monday, May 23, 2011


Ruben Amaro finally has made it clear: Either the Phillies start hitting, or he will find a lineup that will.

More than that, he did not rule out the possibility that they would increase their payroll to the point where they would join the Yankees in paying a luxury tax ... if he thought that would be necessary.

Amaro:  “I haven’t really had a discussion with David (Montgomery) about that one way or the other. Those are things we will have to discuss at the particular time. Hopefully the guys we have here will improve our club and we won’t have to go that route.”

The Phillies' general manager was talking with the press on the field Monday, before the Phillies would thump the Cincinnati Reds, 10-3. His point: The offense has to improve ... and not just for one night.

So it's clear: The general manager is watching ... and so are plenty of others. How about the Phils drawing a record regular-season crowd of 45,841 to Citizens Bank Park Monday? The reason, clearly: Chase Utley was making his season debut.


Check out my column in the Daily Times Tuesday and on 

"I could definitely sense how loud the crowd was (on first at bat)," Utley said. "I tried to tune them out a little bit, but they were a little too loud. But we’ll take that all day long."

If we don’t produce, we are going to have to figure out a way to have them produce,” Amaro said. “Whether it is internally or externally, we’ll have to try to get better. I don’t think we can survive getting --- what? --- two runs a game for the next 100 games.”

Saturday, May 21, 2011


To 97.5 FM, the Fanatic, from noon to 4 today as I talk sports and take phone calls.

Figure on John from Plymouth Meeting calling to ridicule Jim Calhoun, as he has done for the last 57 consecutive Jack McCaffery programs, beating Joe DiMaggio's record. Who knows why. It's what he does.

Figure on hearing some frank talk, too, about the Phillies' disappearing offense --- not a regurgitation of the club-fed nonsense about injuries causing the lack of scoring.

Check it out ...

And check out my story in the Daily Times Sunday and on about the rude treatment Chicago Fire goaltender Jon Conway, who was developed in the FC Delco system and at Sun Valley High, received Saturday at PPL Park, where his family owns Union season tickets.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


In another soccer match played Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park, Wilson Valdez scored in the 85th minute and Philadelphia United won, 2-1, over F.C. Colorado.

Goalkeeper Cole Hamels was superb.

Check out my column on Phillies, their offense, and manager Charlie Manuel's belief that a touch more fire would help on and in the Daily Times Thursday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


J.C. Romero.


I will be a guest of Angelo Cataldi on WIP 610-AM at 8:30 Wednesday morning to talk about
this Daily Times column among other topics

And check out my column in the Daily Times and on Wednesday about Jose Canseco being sued in Delaware County --- where the celebrity fighting never really does stop.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Have you noticed? The Phillies never score.

And how long has it been going on?

More than a year ... or ever since Mick Billmeyer was caught using binoculars in the bullpen.

Charlie Manuel is finally starting to lose his patience, promising that he will find somebody who can hit. That's Ruben Amaro's job, though, to stock the team.

As for Manuel, he has to appoint a new hitting coach, dramatically re-configure his everyday lineup ... and hope that he doesn't have to pay for a year-long slump that has made the Phillies a truly hideous hittiing team.

That's the cue for everyone to yell that it is just our imagination, that it is all just a result of injuries and that the key Phillies --- their average age about 98 --- will suddenly remember how to hit.

Check out my column on the unhappy anniversary in the Daily Times Tuesday and on

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Add the names Istak Cop and Mirka Knapkova to rowing's Gold Challenge Cup. Each won $10,000 Saturday for winning a 2,000-meter, single-scull race at the Dad Vail Regatta, essentially making them the best individual male and female scullers in the world.

But it's the story that intrigues. And that's why it had been 45 years between Gold Cup races. The reason: The Cup had been lost. And had not Philadelphia businessman and sportsman Herb Lotman bought it and used it to help revitalize the Dad Vail, it may have remained hidden.

Don Spero was the last winner ... in 1966. "A Sherlock Holmes case," he called it.

Check out my column Sunday in the Daily Times and on 

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Bernard Hopkins unleashed another verbal barrage at Donovan McNabb the other day Joe Hand's Gym, questioning the quarterback's toughness as a function of his upbringing.

It was his 29,000th such blasting of McNabb. In his defense, he was dragged into it this time, asked for some reason by reporters there to cover boxing what his opinion was of Michael Vick. Naturally, the conversation twisted toward McNabb.

It's an odd dynamic, but a never-ending one. It's also unnecessary, and probably always was. B-Hop is a Hall of Fame-level boxer, still ranked by many as the No. 1 light-heavyweight in the world. He fight Jean Pascal in a rematch of their December draw March 21 in Montreal. Should he win at age 46, he will surpass George Foreman as the oldest fighter ever to win a significant championship.

That should be enough attention, without beating up on McNabb, too.

Check out my column on Hopkins in the Daily Times Friday and on

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


A certain general manager of a certain hockey team met the press Tuesday and declared:

--- That his team has no goaltending crisis.

---- That his captain is fine and has no relationship issues with the head coach.

--- The the nucleus, aging or not, is not threatened by a slamming window of opportunity.

"Window?" he said. "I don't even know what that means."

Must be the general manager of one splendid hockey team.

Which one?

Take a guess.


Check out my column on and in the Daily Times Wednesday for more happiness from Voorh ... I mean, some town where that particular hockey team trains.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Chris Pronger agreed to a conference call with hockey writers Monday to discuss the Flyers' season and how it finished.

Someone wanted to know about his injuries, mysterious as they are, and why he didn't play late in the Boston series.

As usual, he played the it's-none-of-your-business card.

Even if there is an undercurrent of playfulness in his remark, he's wrong. He's wrong because Flyers fans, through the press, have every reason to know what it was that caused a $7.6 million defenseman to go absent at the end of a postseason.

It's their business as long as the Flyers market Chris Pronger sweaters and other merchandise. It's their business as long as tickets are being sold to watch top players, and Pronger is on his way to the Hall of Fame.

And even if revealing injury information during the season might compromise a team's chances of winning (doubtful, but possible) the fans of the Flyers deserve at least to know what happened.

Pronger finally relented, saying it was a lower-body injury, then admitting to back issues --- issues that could go more complicated sooon, once he meets with specialists.

But why the run-around?

As long as Pronger is pictured on billboards, the fans have a right to know why he is not in uniform on game night. That's all.

Check out my column on and in the Daily Times Wednesday on Brian Boucher's end-of-season thoughts on another abruptly ended Flyers season.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


They had one 14-game stretch this season where they could not score more than four runs.

But that was everyone's imagination.

They just played a weekend series against the Atlanta Braves and didn't score more than one run in an inning.

But that was everyone's imagination.

They had 53 games last season where they scored two or fewer runs.

But that was everyone's imagination.

They had a weekend series against the Mets in which they didn't score at all.

But that was everyone's imagination.

Raul Ibanez is 38 and is hitting .212 and is done.

But that is everyone's imagination.

Or can it be that the Phillies are one inept offensive baseball team that will fail miserably this season unless major changes are made, and made soon?

You saw what just happened to the Flyers: Once they realized that their goaltending would ultimately let them down, they stopped playing.  What happens when the Phillies' starting pitchers realize that no matter what they do, they cannot win?

The Phillies have sold out their last 143 regular-season games. It's because they were supposed to be exciting. But beyond Ryan Howard, they barely have warning-track power.

But that's just our imagination ...

Check out my column in the Daily Times and on Monday about why the Phillies shouldn't be celebrating their first-place status.

Friday, May 6, 2011


The Flyers' season ended Friday night with a 5-1 loss to the Bruins. With it, an era probably ended, too. There will be changes. There must be changes.

But it was clear for more than a month that they were not a championship team. Mix in injuries to Chris Pronger and Jeff Carter, among others, and they barely were equipped to worm through one playoff round.

It happens.

That's what had to have made what happened in 2010 so disturbing to Flyers fans. That was the miracle season they'd been awaiting. That was the year that they did rally from an 0-3 series hole to beat the Bruins. That was the year that as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference tournament they stumbled into the home-ice advantage over the Montreal Canadiens in the conference final.

That was the year that Pronger was dominating, and defenses were too slow change their concentration and thrust it upon Danny Briere. That was the year they had only to beat Antti Niemi --- a good goalie, but not a superstar --- in the Cup finals. That was when Peter Laviolette's messages were still coming through clear. That was the year when they had the spirit to win a Stanley Cup.

That was the wasted year.

Not the one that just ended.

Check out the Daily Times and Saturday for my column on --- yup --- the goaltending and a sidebar on Mike Richards.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Hockey writers long ago cracked Peter Laviolette's code and were able to figure out who he'd planned to use as his next-day's goaltender. Simply, the last of the goalies to leave the ice after the final practice before the game would be the backup.

Thursday, Laviolette had both Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher leave the TD Garden rink simultaneously, then played his little post-practice game of not revealing his starter.

He was acting like he was Charlie Manuel choosing between Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

It's comical. Really, it is. Laviolette is acting as if the Boston Bruins care much who is in the Flyers net.

A suggestion: Start Bobrovsky. Why? Boucher deserves the break now. To continue to run him out there is only to make him look foolish. There is no reason for that now. He has been professional for too long (the spontaneous Bill Barber roast notwithstanding.) Give him a rest.

And check out my column Friday in the Daily Times and on about the Flyers, a team in free-fall.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


The Flyers, as per recent tradition, tried two goalies Wednesday in a 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Ed Snider watched ... and understood.

“The coach is making a decision," the Comcast-Spectacor chairman said. "And I have no qualms with the decisions that he’s made. He’s doing everything in his power to win.”

Peter Laviolette, then, is off the goaltending hook. But when Snider was pressed about the way his organization acquires goaltenders, he didn't so quickly salute.

"You know, the season’s not over," he said, "and we will evaluate everything when the season is over."

One interpretation: He's not planning to saddle his head coach with such goaltending next year.

“It’s unusual,” he said of the goaltending carousel. “That’s all I can say. It’s unusual. But I don’t think it’s wrong. I think it is something that had to be done and I think the coach has done a good job in deciding what he is going to do and when he is going to do it.”

Check out my story on Snider in the Daily Times and on Thursday. Also, I will have a column about how the Flyers appear demoralized.

They rallied from an 0-3 hole to eliminate Boston last spring.

This year?

Don't count on it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Chris Pronger is injured, absent, hidden from view.

Brian Boucher has a malfunctioning finger, to match 30 years of Flyers goaltending.

Simon Gagne is not coming to the rescue this time.

Jeff Carter might ... as if that will matter.

All of which means that just because they recovered from an 0-3 hole to eliminate the Boston Bruins from the playoffs last season, they don't automatically get to do so again this year.

They can recover from a 1-2 deficit, though. That, they can create with a victory Wednesday at the Garden.

Tuesday at the Skate Zone, they still seemed confident and motivated --- just not as much as they did last year.

Prediction: A quick end to a strange season. But that's just a prediction.

Check out my column Wednsday in the Daily Times and on about Peter Laviolette's ridiculous claim that the pressure is now on the Bruins. Really. What does he take Philadelphia fans for?

Now, it is off to Boston for me ...

Monday, May 2, 2011


The Flyers and Bruins roared into overtime Monday, Tim Thomas at one end of the ice, Brian Boucher at the other.

Take a guess.

Boucher wasn't bad Monday, not bad at all. Sergei Bobrovsky was even better in half a period of relief, Boucher attending to a "malfunction," according to Peter Laviolette. That's English for finger injury.

He wasn't bad ... but he wasn't good enough, wasting a 2-0 lead and then losing.

Deny the connection. The Flyers will. But admit the obvious: If the game is tight, the Flyers don't have the netminding to prevail.

One of these years .... 

One of these years ...

Check out my column in the Daily Times and on Tuesday.