Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"She could pass for a dog!"

The term fat cat refers to a wealthy person who contributes to a political campaign.

But an animal shelter in New Jersey houses a real fat cat who may have had a few too many cans of Friskies.

The Camden County Animal Shelter took in a -- get this -- 44-pound feline on Saturday that was found wandering around without a collar in Voorhees, N.J. Volunteers were stunned to find a cat so large.

"She's built like a quarterback," said Deborah Wright, a shelter volunteer and current foster owner of the kitty. "I mean, how do you lose a 44-pound cat?!"

The new name for the fat cat, shown above: "Princess Chunk."

According to the Associated Press, the largest tabby on record weighed 46 pounds, 15 ounces. That cat, who lived in Australia, died in the 1980s. The Guinness World Records has since dropped the category, fearing cat owners might harm their animals in an attempt to break the record.

The cat's owner has until Saturday to reclaim her. After that, the weighty pet will be eligible for adoption.

Shelter officials hope to put Chunk on a diet.

"I'm about to put a leash on her and walk her," said Wright. "She could pass for a dog!"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Buy me some Twizzlers and Cracker Jack

Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack...

Most everyone knows those words to "Take Me Out to The Ball Game," which was written 100 years ago this month.

But Mr. Peanut and his friends were not welcome at last Friday night's Reading Phillies game as First Energy Stadium in Reading became a "peanut-free zone."

It was Food Allergy Awareness Night at the game, so peanuts were not sold and an entire section of the stadium was reserved for fans with peanut allergies.
Watching baseball without peanuts is like watching a Thanksgiving parade without the giant balloons. Thousands of fans were denied the enjoyment of eating peanuts while watching the game. And those who were allergic to peanuts had their own section, so why did the rest of us have to suffer?
As a mild form of protest, a few of us changed the line of the song to "Buy me some Twizzlers and Cracker Jack." It just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Feels So good

So, who knew that Phillies reserve outfielder So Toguchi would wait until the end of July to finally make a contribution to the first-place team?

Toguchi, an off-season acquisition expected to add a veteran presence to the bench, has been a bust. He botched a few plays earlier in the season as a defensive replacement in left field and has lost that role to backup infielder Eric Bruntlett.
At the plate, Toguchi's woes were even worse. He was the top pinch-hitter in the National League last year, yet was 0-for-16 in that role with the Phillies. Until Tuesday night.
I had little confidence when Toguchi was brought in to pinch-hit with the bases loaded, no outs and the Phillies trailing the Mets, 5-3, in the top of the ninth. A loss in this game, and the Phils would fall a game behind the Mets in the division standings.
I don't know who was shocked more -- Phillies' fans, or Mets' right fielder Endy Chavez -- when Toguchi, above in an Associated Press photo, sent a ball over Chavez' head for a game-tying double. Jimmy Rollins followed with a two-run double and the Phillies went on to an 8-6 victory.
Toguchi's hit must have felt oh So good to him -- and his teammates.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

And people complain about gas?

I bought some milk Monday night at one of our local grocery stores and was shocked to see that the price of milk at this store -- which claims to save you money on groceries -- had risen to $4.07.

That's a dime more than what I saw for a gallon of gas.

At least I can get 18 miles out of a gallon of gas. I hope I can get 18 bowls of cereal out of this gallon of milk.

Ron Burgundy, meet Larry Mendte

In Will Ferrell's hilarious 2004 picture "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," Ferrell's lead character -- the news anchorman (above left) of a television station in San Diego in the 1970s -- tries to sabotage the career of Veronica Corningstone, a younger reporter who became the newsroom's first female anchorman.

The movie was fictional, but at the time the movie was released, a real-life newsroom battle of the sexes between co-anchors Alycia Lane and Larry Mendte (above right) was brewing at CBS3 in Philadelphia. The battle led to both of them being out of a job.

On Monday, Mendte was charged with hacking into Lane's e-mail hundreds of times for more than two years, as leaked information about her personal life helped lead to her downfall.

In an Associated Press story, federal prosecutors contend that Mendte gained access to Alycia Lane's accounts from home and at work — about 537 times between January and May alone. Lane's attorney said the motive was jealousy, but authorities were silent on both Mendte's motive and his method.

"People expect that e-mail in a password-protected personal e-mail account is private," acting U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid said. "The mere accessing and reading of privileged information is criminal. This case, however, went well beyond just reading someone's e-mail."

Lane was fired by the station in January after several embarrassing off-air incidents, including an altercation with a New York City police officer late last year.

Mendte, who co-anchored the news with Lane for more than four years, is charged with a felony count of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization. He was fired last month after FBI agents searched his home and seized his computer.

I wonder if Mendte and Lane filled the CBS3 newsroom with exchanges like this one from "Anchorman," courtesy of

Veronica Corningstone: Mr. Burgundy, I am a professional and I would like to do my job.
Ron Burgundy: Big deal. I am very professional.
Veronica Corningstone: Mr. Burgundy, you are acting like a baby.
Ron Burgundy: I'm not a baby, I'm a MAN, I am an ANCHORMAN.
Veronica Corningstone: You are not a man. You are a big fat joke.
Ron Burgundy: I'm a man who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn. That's what kind of man I am. You're just a woman with a small brain. With a brain a third the size of us. It's science.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Phillies second-half prediction

As the Phillies get ready to open the second half, they sit tied for first place in the National League East with the New York Mets, who just weeks ago were 7 games behind the Phillies, but a current 10-game winning streak has brought them to the top of the division.

The Phillies sit in their current position despite the following negatives:

* Reigning MVP Jimmy Rollins missed a month of the season with an ankle injury, and has been inconsistent at best since his return;

* Cleanup hitter Ryan Hitter spent most of the season at or below the .200 mark and is on pace for more than 200 strikeouts. However, a hot last 30 days has him leading the league in home runs and RBI;

* Opening Day starter Brett Myers struggled for most of the first half, and has spent July in the minor leagues;

* Starting catcher Carlos Ruiz would hit just above .200 with only 20 RBI at the break.

But thanks to a stellar bullpen, good starting pitching from Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick and the offensive heroics of Chase Utley and Pat Burrell, above in an Associated Press photo, the Phillies have put themselves in line for the postseason.
In mid-June, the team was 13 games above .500 and seemingly poised to take control of the division. Instead, it went into a tailspin and is in a fight with the Mets and Marlins at the top of the division.
The past few Phillies have shown they are a second-half team, and the players expect the same over the next 2 1/2 months.
But I don't know about this team. Just when you think they're playing good and will go on a roll, they lose 6 out of 7 games. They don't seem to have a long winning streak -- like the Mets are on now -- in them.
At the start of the season, I predicted 86 wins. I'll change that to 90 wins, but I don't think it will be enough to get to the postseason. The Mets will win the division, and the wild card will come out of the National League Central.
I hope I'm wrong.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

First the Vet, now the Spectrum

This won't be quite as painful as watching Veterans Stadium implode, but in 2009, The Wachovia Spectrum, the former home to the 76ers and Flyers, will also become a pile of rubble.

Comcast-Spectacor announced Tuesday that the building, shown at right in an Associated Press photo, will close and be demolished next year.

The arena that housed the Broad Street Bullies when they claimed Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975 and the Sixers when they won the city's last championship in 1983 will be torn down to make room for Philly Live!, a complex of retail space, bars, restaurants and a hotel.

Comcast-Spectacor was started by Ed Snider — founder of the Flyers, chairman of the 76ers and co-founder of what is now Comcast's local sports channel.

"This has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make," said Snider, Comcast-Spectacor's chairman. "The Spectrum is my baby. It's one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me."

Three games I saw at The Spectrum (there were no naming rights on the building then) still stand out today.

At the top of the list is the 1992 NCAA men's basketball East Regional final between Duke and Kentucky, what many consider the greatest college basketball game ever. That night, I was in the fourth row behind the basket where Christian Laettner's buzzer-beating jump shot gave the Blue Devils a 104-103 overtime win.

Another game I won't forget is Game 6 of the 1980 NBA championship series when the Sixers hosted the Los Angeles Lakers. With center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar back in L.A. with a sprained ankle, rookie point guard Magic Johnson moved to center and scored 42 points to lead the Lakers to a win and the league title.

The only Flyers game I saw at The Spectrum was in February 1979. The significance of that game was that goalie Bernie Parent suffered a career-ending eye injury when an errant stick went through the right eye hole in his mask and caused permanent damage to his vision.

My memories of Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, college basketball, and yes, even a pro wrestling event occurred mostly at The Spectrum, another icon of my younger days that is about to crumble. It's not a sign that I'm getting old; it's just that everything I grew up with is.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

NFL star a true hero

Here is one sports star you can actually call a hero.

Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez, shown at right, recently made a life-saving play when he kept a man from choking to death in a California restaurant.

"Tony saved my life. There's no doubt," Ken Hunter, a shipping company manager, told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Huntington Beach, Calif.

"Tony came up behind me and gave me the Heimlich maneuver. Thank God he was there."

According to the Associated Press story, Gonzalez, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who has set numerous NFL records, was having dinner with family at a restaurant in Huntington Beach. Hunter, 45, was dining with his girlfriend at the next table when suddenly a piece of meat stuck in his throat.

"I tried to take a drink of water, but I couldn't swallow," Hunter told The AP. "Then I couldn't breathe. That's a terrible feeling. I couldn't breathe. Then I guess I started to panic."

Gonzalez, sitting with his back to Hunter's table, looked around when he heard Hunter's companion yelling.

"She was screaming, 'He can't breathe, he can't breathe,'" Gonzalez said by phone from California, where he lives in the offseason. "The whole restaurant was quiet. Nobody was doing anything.

"Then I saw he was turning blue. Everybody in the restaurant was just kind of sitting there wide-eyed."

The 6-foot-5 Gonzalez, about a foot taller than Hunter, jumped out of his chair and came up behind the stricken man and began to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

"After just a few seconds, the piece of meat popped out," Hunter said. "I could breathe again. It's a good thing Tony is so tall because I had stood up — I think."

Hunter went into the restroom to clean up and didn't realize he'd been saved by a famous athlete until he came out.

"I'm a big NFL fan and I recognized him right away. I was still kind of dazed when I went over and thanked him and said, 'What can I do for you?' I guess I said it about 1,000 times."

One of the most productive receivers in pro football history, Gonzalez holds the NFL record for tight ends with 820 career receptions and 102 catches in a season. He needs only 79 more yards receiving to become the career leader among tight ends.

He has never received any formal instruction in the Heimlich maneuver.

"I had seen it done, so I just did it," Gonzalez said. "When you find yourself in those situations where you have to take action in a crucial situation, you just do it. I got the same feeling I get when I go on a hospital visit.'"

Hunter is a lifelong fan of the San Diego Chargers, one of Kansas City's key rivals in the AFC West, and plans to be at the game when the Chiefs visit the Chargers on Nov. 9.

"I'm Tony's No. 1 fan now," he said.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Myers in the minors

The Phillies sent scuffling right-hander Brett Myers to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday, hoping the Opening Day starter can right himself and help the Phillies in the second half of the season.

Myers is just 3-9 this season in 17 starts, with an awful 5.94 earned run average. His first start for the Iron Pigs will be tonight.

The Phillies have stayed in first place this season despite Myers' struggles, but with few other options, he needs to get straightened if the Phillies are to stay in the hunt for the National League East title.

Here's one bold prediction on Myers' future: ESPN "Baseball Tonight" analyst Chris Singleton said Tuesday night that Myers will return and have the lowest earned run average in the National League in the second half of the season.
If that's the case, the Phillies will be in the post-season.