A Weather Change at Last??!

Random Thoughts:

* Someone should figure out how many consecutive days it has rained here in Indiana County.  I think we’re looking at a string of days with raindrops dating back to the last week of June, but I’m not sure.  Regardless, it looks like our luck is finally changing and monsoon season might be over.  The strong storms that moved through last night may have finally knocked down the humidity.  Today’s high, with sunny skies in the afternoon, is forecast to be 77 degrees.  I’ll take that.

* I missed most of the Pirates game last night because, well, it was past my bed time.  Good work by the team last night, breaking their losing streak.  Let’s hope it continues.  As I mentioned before, this team is not going to collapse.  There might be bumps in the road but I think they’ll be okay.  Some wanted to team to keep its current lineup and not make any moves at the trade deadline.  I bet those people have changed their minds.  Definite upgrades are needed.  I’m headed to PNC Park on Sunday….they better win.

Epic Collapse 2013?

As sure as the changing of the seasons, here we are once again in July debating whether the Pittsburgh Pirates can hold onto what has been a successful season.  Let’s take a look at the history.  It’s 2011 – around July – and the Pirates are surging.  For the first time in forever, they’re actually “buyers” at the trade deadline.  Then they fall about.  Explanations range from the hysterical (a blown umpiring decision in a 19-inning game vs. Atlanta,) to the plausible…..the team didn’t have much depth.

But…..2012 would be different, right?  Not so much.  The team held on a little longer this team, thanks to an out-of-this-world season by Andrew McCutchen.  Again, explanations range from crazy (it was the Brad Lincoln trade that did it!) to again the predictable, more accurate – THE TEAM HAD NO DEPTH.

Now we’re in 2013 and expectations are out of this world.  I admit to falling victim to this.  Some talked of this Oakland series as a possible World Series match-up.  I hope that is possible but I’d never predict it.  A couple weeks ago I asked the question on our Facebook page, what do the Pirates need to do at the trade deadline.  I think, that now, it’s obvious that they need to go after some bench players.  The team needs to pad its depth, therefore addressing the problem over the last few years.  Pitching isn’t the problem….the pitching staff is getting it done.  The team just isn’t scoring enough runs to even overcome a 2 run deficit.  So, for what it is worth, find some good position players that can come off the bench and put some balls in play.  We’ll see what happens.  Plus, for the record, I don’t think the team is collapsing.

Independence Day Redux

There was no post yesterday due to the Independence Day holiday.  I worked a little in the early morning and then spent the day with family.

On the air yesterday I shared some great speeches from the history of the United States.  I read the “Gettysburg Address,” quoted Ronald Reagan’s speech after the Challenger disaster and recited an excerpt from President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, just to name a few.  I also played patriotic bumper music, including one of my favorites, Ray Charles’ version of “America the Beautiful.”

A little personal opinion that I will keep short:  There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the greatest nation in the world, perhaps ever.  America gets blamed for a wide variety of actions across the world and often, they’re false accusations.  But when something goes wrong in the world, who gets the call?  We do.  This nation has done more good for the global community, spending around $50 billion in foreign aid, often heading to countries that aren’t friendly with us.  It is not, and has not been perfect, but I’m glad this is my country.  In this country, we can disagree with authority without fear of oppression.  We can worship freely and here are words engrained in my mind after years of education in journalism:  “freedom of the press shall not be infringed.”  No, there’s no doubt in my mind, this is the world’s greatest nation.

Bad News: You Missed Independence Day

People all over the nation will get together for cookouts and fireworks, celebrating the birth of the United States of America.  Except, they’re wrong.  July 4th really doesn’t have much of a claim on the title of “America’s Independence Day.”  You can make a much stronger case for July 2nd.

John Adams wrote this to his wife, Abigail, 237 years ago today on July 3, 1776:

“the Second of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.”

July 2nd is the day the Continental Congress approved a resolution supporting independence from Great Britain.  That effectively declared the independence of the colonies.  But, historically, something else hadn’t happened yet, namely, the Declaration of Independence. 

The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4th.  You’ve seen the illustrations of that event, right?  All of the founders gathered in Independence Hall on a hot July day?  Wrong.  Historians say the founders never gathered to sign the document.  They believe most of the founders signed the Declaration on August 2nd, with the last founder to sign the declaration inking his signature in 1777!

Here’s a sign of the times.  Great Britain didn’t find out about the declaration until the end of August.

Hometown Headliners

It’s the week of Independence Day, but on Hometown Magazine (heard on NewsTalk AM 1160 WCCS) we’re not taking the week off!  A week of high profile guests continues today with a special visit from officials with the Pittsburgh Pirates!

The voice of the Pirates, Greg Brown, will be in studio today along with Pirates President Frank Coonelly.  They’re in Indiana, along with Pirates owner Bob Nutting, to unveil plans for a Miracle League Field at the Indiana YMCA.  The Pirates do quite a few of these appearances on behalf of Pirates Charities.  The Miracle League is a fantastic organization for disabled kids.  It helps them play baseball on fields engineered for them, with rubberized soft surfaces, flat pitcher mounds and bases and other safety features.  It’s great that Indiana will be the home of one of these fields, and wonderful that members of the Pirates organization are visiting Indiana to kick things off.  On the field, the Pirates keep rolling.  They’re the best team in Major League Baseball.  JUST A REMINDER:  The last time this team finished the regular season with a winning record, I was eight-years-old.  There are 21-year-olds that have never experienced a Pirates winning season!  Let’s go buccos!

One other big guest this week is Congressman Bill Shuster.  Congressman Shuster is visiting the program for the first time, but not the last.  We’re proud to announce that the Congressman will be checking in with us on Hometown Magazine once a month.  It is great news for our efforts to keep you up to date with what our legislators are up to in Washington, D.C.  Congressman Shuster will be calling into Hometown Magazine tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

The possibility exists for more big guests this week, especially in regard to to the state budget.  Stay tuned!

Seven Score and 10 Years Ago

“As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.” – Battle Hymn of the Republic
One Hundred-and-Fifty years ago today, two armies gathered in the area around a small Pennsylvania town and changed the course of world history.  Ever since I was a child, I’ve been drawn to the Civil War and Gettysburg.  As I grow older, that interest grows more detailed through the reading of books and continued visits to that consequential battlefield.

I’ll focus on the battle itself later in this post.  But, you know what makes the biggest impression on me when thinking about the Civil War?  I’m sure this isn’t a unique thought, in fact, the question has been asked over and over again since our nation’s founding.  How in the world could we say “all men are created equal” with millions in bondage in plantations across the South?  Furthermore, couldn’t that issue have been addressed without the deaths of 600,000 soldiers?  The period of time from the founding of our nation to the Civil War is shameful for that very reason, from Bloody Kansas, to Harper’s Ferry to the Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court.  Could this not be address without the shedding of blood?

Contemporary newspaper accounts called Gettysburg the “high water mark of the Confederacy.”  Historians aren’t real sure about the real importance of the battle.  By the end of the war, the South’s army was in tatters.  They just didn’t have the economy to keep up with the industrial north.  So, perhaps the battle of Gettysburg just represented the inevitable beginning of the end for Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” – Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

It is this that is one of the biggest parts of Gettysburg’s legacy.  One Hundred-and-Fifty years ago, in a small town in Pennsylvania, two armies met and started the process of reversing 87-years of errors.  What came out of that terrible conflict wasn’t perfect, but it was far better than what came before.