Our Special Day Of Memory

On this special day it is easy to forget why we Americans have set aside a single 24 hours of the year to honor those servicemembers who have passed on whether it was through injuries or sickness occurred on the battlefield – or those others who have died in different ways in their line of duty.

Readers here know that I spent 33 years in the military and worked with every branch of the Armed Forces at one time or another over my career. Yet even with that experience as the overriding influence of my adult life I sometimes also tend to overlook what today means.

I say ‘easy to forget’ because it seems, to me at least, that as time passes Memorial Day is increasingly advertised as parties, shop sales, restaurant specials, etc. Even the formerly ever present Memorial Day parades have become less and less prevalent these days.

In the weeks before now we get inundated with almost anything but what today is truly intended for; a moment to take ease from your daily work and have the time to reflect on what others have sacrificed for the American citizens who came along after them.

No one makes us do that.  No government, religion, institution or organization has the right, or truly the power even, to force our appreciations of today or of anything else.  Understanding the importance of this most special day is inside ourselves, and while some feel the loss of ancestors and family loved ones who died in Service every single day, most of us need to be reminded sometimes.

Today is that day.

There are ways to help understand the magnitude of how and why our service men and women, past, present and undoubtedly the future, gave the “last full measure” so that we could enjoy the essential freedoms we have today.

And those freedoms are many. No matter how divided we are in societal ways we all have opportunities to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, mostly without restrictions depending on what it is.  We all know nothing is perfect. We all know that there are ills and prejudices in our country and, in varying degrees, in many of our formal institutions.

The big and important question is what will you and I do about those negatives so as to make the sacrifices made by those we memorialize on this day even more important and effective? Can we carry over the ideals they fought and died for?  Can we look forward with all personal honesty and say that we will try harder to make this a most safe and just country for all of us?

Not only for ourselves and those we know, but for all of our fellow citizens of the United States regardless of how they differ from us.  Personal differences on the battlefield were not anywhere near as important as the mission and our national cemeteries are filled with the dead of every race, religion and social class who did not question who was fighting alongside them.

Today is the day to ask ourselves hard and sometimes bitter questions. If we have been mistreated and insulted in our lifetimes can we rise above that even for a short time? One can never forget those slights, but is it possible to conduct ourselves in the opposite manner of those who harmed us instead of continuing to take it out on others who had no hand in the matter?

I am perhaps the most guilty of all when it comes to forgiving others’ actions but believe me when I say I now take the hard and honest effort to not just recognize what has happened to me but to ensure that I never carry that forward in any way, shape or form. I need to work hard to be the best man I can possibly be and that won’t end until I lie in my grave surrounded by my brothers and sisters in arms.

What does all that have to do with Memorial Day?

First we need to acknowledge that those Americans who fought and died helped to create the space in our lives for something bigger and more fruitful for not only ourselves but so to help our fellow peoples.

That understood I believe the beauty and essence of Memorial Day is this: when we can realize the full extent of what those men and women who died in Service did for us, and even before they died, which we tend to overlook, then we can well and finally understand that their actions allowed us the ability to live in a time and place where we are free to reflect and work on our best selves. They all gave us the freedom and abilities to take actions we deem necessary to lift others around us to be the best those others can be also.

There is no better gift than that my friends and I thank those who we memorialize today from the very bottom of my heart.

LCDR Reed H. Kohberger, USCG (Ret.).

Is Sportsmanship Gone?

This is an older draft of a piece I did right after we POV’ers collected our thoughts regarding Pitt athletics and sent it via email and in hard copy letter form to the AD.

“Sports is a moral undertaking because it requires of participants, and it schools spectators in the appreciation of, noble things – courage, grace under pressure, sportsmanship.”

~ George Will

In our Pitt POV letter to the Pitt Athletic Department sent last week one of the suggestions we fans made was this:

“Bring a feeling of sportsmanship back to Heinz and Pitt fans. As it is if one acknowledges a great play by an opponent he gets screamed at and degraded by other Pitt fans. Perhaps a small video about civility/sportsmanship would be a constant reminder. Maybe a 30-60 second video about Pitt’s history of the opponent? Something to acknowledge our football past with other school we are playing that day- Notre Dame, Penn State, Navy, WVU, etc. but also all opponents.  Maybe a Football alumni in a Public Service type video urging civility and sportsmanship among attendees?”

I feel very strongly about this issue and I’ll tell you why. It isn’t because I come from a different generation than most Pitt fans do – I’m 65 and attended Pitt starting back in 1974 – so I’m probably older than most but then again I’m younger than some also. It is because it has gotten to the point where it just isn’t that enjoyable to go to the games in person any longer. Don’t get me wrong – the tailgating is great and seeing old friends is also. But sitting in a seat surrounded by hundreds of loud, vile and oft times drunken idiots screaming not only at the day’s opponent and their fans, but also our own players and fans is killing what is left of my patience.

Let me give you some examples of how Pitt fans eat their own. These might be older examples but I’ve been told of some more recent ones – but because they aren’t first person I’ll use these.

I got to know Bill Stull’s father through The Pitt Blather when I was writing on there. We’d exchange emails during the off season and try to see each other once or twice at games. Not great friends but friendly acquaintances. His son Bill became our starter in 2008 and had a pretty rough time of it with only a 57% completion rate with 9 TDs to 10 INTs that season. However, LeSean McCoy ran roughshod over our opponents with 1,488 yards and we ended up with a 9-4 record (that we would kill for now.)

That year Pitt fans turned on Stull with a vengeance because, most probably I feel, he wasn’t Tyler Palko and they couldn’t give him much credit at all – but that was understandable as he was a hand-it-off QB primarily.

Then going into the 2009 season that negative feeling about Stull stuck with the fans no matter what he did out on the field as a senior starting QB. I clearly remember us going to the UCONN game that season – Pitt was 4-1 at the time and Stull had been playing lights out: 77/126 (61%) for 988 yards (13 YPC) with 11 TDs to 1 INT which was good for a great 154.20 QB rating.

Yet as I was discussing our plans to watch some of that game with Mr. Stull he asked if we could meet in the upper deck rail area so we did. After a bit I asked him why and he said,” Because no matter what Billy does people scream insults (things) at him… and, dammit, I just don’t want to hear it anymore.

Don’t believe it? I went back down to the lower level for the 2nd half , listened more closely and heard exactly what he was talking about. He wasn’t the only parent who experienced this.

Back around the same time I asked Pat Bostick, SR why his wife didn’t attend Pitt’s home games and he said virtually the same thing “She can’t stand the things the fans say about Pat so she stays home and listens on the radio.

Two true examples about two Pitt kids who gave their best out on the field, bled Blue and Gold, yet got crapped on by so-called Pitt fans regularly. Stull was 18-7 as a starter (or games where he took the majority of snaps) and if you ask Pitt fans about him today the majority still sneer at the mention of his name.

And we all know what Pitt fans feel about QB Tino Sunseri…

The above is incivility by fans toward Pitt’s own players – need we talk about what Pitt fans do with the opponents and the opponent’s fans? Here is perhaps the worse example of all…

We all remember Pat Narduzzi’s first big win against Penn State at Heinz back in 2016. I was at the game watching most of the 2nd half from the press box. When the game was over I started down the ramps with three older couples who were Penn State alumni. We were having a nice conversation about the game when all of a sudden running down behind us were about 10 drunken Pitt fans (from students to older men) who stopped specifically to yell obscenities directly into these peoples faces – older people who were being very gracious in their congratulations to me, a Pitt fan, and for our players for how well Pitt played to win.

I slammed one guy up against the wall and he ran off – still yelling sick crap over his shoulder. In 61 years of being a Pitt fan (yes, from birth) at that moment I felt damned ashamed to be associated with Pitt sports.

It still happens and has made it so I hardly want to drive up and attend games any longer.

Yes, I’m old school. I still value the efforts people put out to accomplish something special, most certainly if it has an affect on my enjoyment of their efforts and especially also if they are student/athletes. I applaud when an opponent’s player makes a great play out on the field; not just a touchdown or whatever, but when a kid does something athletically remarkable I believe he should hear appreciation from the fans of both schools.

Isn’t this really what makes sports all worthwhile? Isn’t the fact that we want to attend games in person, or to watch and listen to them if we can’t be there, and then take the time to discuss those games and the players who busted their asses during the matches so that we can cheer them on and have fun ourselves, proof that we care?

But how many times do we hear and read about how the ‘who, what, when and where‘ reasons Pitt had the lost the game without ever taking the time to look and see things from another point of view and acknowledge that the other team practiced and played just as hard, or harder, to get their victory? It’s not unreasonable folks. Let’s give credit where it is deserved. That is what mature and thinking adults do. We try our best see things as they are, not just how the we want them to be…

It sure as hell should be what we do – and if it isn’t that way for you personally then I pity you for continually slamming that sharp “poor sportsmanship” stick into your eye then whining so loudly about how much it hurts. Doing that at a game ruins the true fan’s enjoyment of the sport being played at the time. Just please stay home, crawl into your shell, and bitch to yourself about how bad life treats you. Otherwise why would you do what you do over and over again? If crapping on others is the best you can think of in how show your appreciation of Pitt’s teams, then you really are showing your true self, and that’s just too bad.


Baseball Diamonds in the Rough or SOP?

Here is a great and detailed piece by our own Erie Kid – Rick. Thanks for the piece and folks, enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed spending four hours proofreading it. Just kidding – 15 minutes top which is pretty fast…🏌️‍♂️

Pitt baseball is currently in the midst of an awful skid, losing their last four and then six of the last eight games. The Panthers are tied for 2nd place in the Coastal division with Miami. GT sits atop the Coastal with a1-1/2 game lead.

This is the final weekend of the regular season for the ACC and once magical season for Panther baseball. Pitt still has a chance to finish on top.

Let’s look at what is at stake this weekend besides a regular season Coastal championship. In my opinion, Pitt must sweep their final regular season series to have a chance at winning the Coastal, along with having a chance to climb back into the Top 25 and to have a chance to host a regional (I know right?)

Pitt has the luxury of playing at home against the last place team, Wake Forest, from the Atlantic Division while Georgia Tech hosts North Carolina at home while Miami travels to Louisville. A sweep would also help gain back some of the magic that this season was experiencing prior to the losing “skid”.

I’m not going to mention any possible excuses, just solutions. First, Bell is known for being a pitching mastermind. He was a pitcher at Florida State and was the pitching coach for the Seminoles before being hired at Pitt as the head coach. During this skid his pitching selections and in game relief choices have been just as bad as the starting line-up’s silent bats.

It started with a poor choice to start the West Virginia CC (WVCC) game and continued with questionable relief choices game after game. This past weekend saw two close games to start the North Carolina State series and Pitt’s best reliever, SR Jordan McCrum, never threw a pitch and that is a serious head scratcher.

In the third and final game with the Wolfpack, McCrum was brought in for mop up duty when the game was out of hand in a horrible drubbing. Pitt needs a focused and masterminded Bell to guide Pitt back to a magical season.

There is no doubt the meat of the order is struggling and has for the past seven games. The #2 hitter Nico Popa was 1 for 12 in the NC State series and is 3 for 21 in his last five games, #3 hitter Kyle Hess is 4 for 20 in his last five games and #4 hitter Ron Washington, Jr is 4 for 18 over the past five games. Combined, these three hitters are 8 for 59 or a hefty .136 batting average. That is horrible…

My solution (or advice to Bell) would be to mix up the batting order and slide our #9 hitter, Jordan Anderson, to the #2 slot (he is hitting282 and is an excellent bunter) and move #5 hitter David Yanni to the #3 slot (he raised his average 14 points in the last seven games). I would then drop the #2, #3 and #4 hitters down to #4 through #6.

That shake-up alone should take some of the pressure off some key hitters and reward two guys who have played well by moving them up to key spots in the hitting order.

The mishandling of ace reliever McCrum needs to be corrected this weekend. I would intentionally bring him in when the game is close, and the current pitcher needs to be relieved (the very first opportunity vs Wake Forest). If we get to Game 2 and that situation does not present itself, McCrum would know he is going in late in Game 2 for “practice reps”.

McCrum will be a key part of wins over the next few weeks if Pitt can salvage the magical season which we once were excited about.

The first pitch vs Wake Forest is scheduled for 6pm on Thursday night (tonight). Bring your dog, bark a lot, and sprinkle some magical dust on the carpeted diamond of Cost Field.

Let’s talk about the game on this thread and see if we fans can help bring home a winner!