Ray Jr. on Sports

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  1. The Pittsburgh Pirates were able to salvage a split in a 2-game series vs. the Seattle Seahawks earlier this week. They were beaten 5-2 by the Seahawks Tuesday & they rebounded to beat them 8-1 Wednesday.
  2. You may ask how the Pirates can look so ‘opposite’ in 2 games? I think you know the answer: Pitching. Game 1 Jonathan Niese pitched horrible as he helped put the Pirates into an early 5-0 hole, while rookie Jameson Tallion kept the Mariners off the board, while the offense exploded for 8 runs. And this is the reason why the Pirates are 38-41, 14 games back from NL Leading Chicago.
  3. The Pirates offense has been trying to carry this team (although OF Andrew McCutchen has been struggling) but they can’t get it done without a great pitching staff. Taillon, Rookie Chad Kuhl (who won Sunday) and AAA Stud Tyler Glasnow need to make up 3/5 of this pitching staff now. Niese and Francisco Liriano (it pains me to say this) need to be out. And hopefully Gerrit Cole will heal up soon and get back on the mound.
  4. I know I mentioned this before, but it’s really a question of the front office’s motives and it will really show in the month of July. A good July for the Pirates will mean that they will be ‘buyers’ at the July 31st Trade Deadline. A bad one will mean that they will be ‘sellers’-which I honestly think that they can’t wait to be that.
  5. That’s why I honestly hope that the Pirates pull off a miracle similar to the movie ‘Major League.’ you know, when the owner wanted to make the team bad enough to sell, but the team came together to win the Division? Well, it would honestly take a miracle for these Pirates to do so, but I hope they give it the ‘Old’ College try. They don’t need to break up this team, just add more to it.
  6. And I’ve about had it up to here about McCutchen trade rumors. The dude only won the NL MVP 3 years ago, and he’s the face of this ball club. I (like you) wish he would snap out of his struggles and go on a nasty tear, but it hasn’t happened yet. But if you trade him, half of the PNC Park fan base will go with him. Don’t even think of it.
  7. As for the rest of MLB, the Cubs (51-26) are still getting it done. You know, it gets me when folks just aren’t happy for a team. Yes, I know that they’re the Pirates divisional rival, but who wouldn’t be pulling for the Cubs? They’re not only trying to win a division title, but a championship-and they spent almost $300 million to ensure that after winning 97 games. They get my respect.
  8. Here are the other Divisional leaders: NL East-Washington (47-32), NL West-San Francisco (49-31), in the AL East-Baltimore (47-30), Central-a very hot Cleveland (47-30) and in the West-Texas (51-29) and in the Wild Card: NL LA Dodgers (44-37) and Miami (41-37) and in the AL, Boston (42-36) and Toronto (43-37) should be interesting the rest of the way.
  9. Sad news about Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who is now on the disabled list with a herniated disk in his back. They didn’t waste any time to get help as they traded for Atlanta Braves pitcher Bud Norris who although is 3-7 (4.22 ERA) he’s 4-1 in his last 5 starts (2.15 ERA) so a change of scenery may be good for him.
  10. The Marlins also made a move as they acquired closer Fernando Rodney from the San Diego Padres for a prospect. Rodney has saved 17 saves for the Padres this season. Good moves by both teams. That’s how contenders do it.
  11. As for the NBA who is officially in their offseason, Free Agency looms (July 1st) as superstars LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Dwyane Wade (just to name a few) will be able to test the market-and what a market it will be as the salary cap will jump $20 million.
  12. I think Cleveland doesn’t need Einstein to be reminded to give James whatever he wants. The man just brought the city their first championship since 1964, and he’s agreed to one-year deals just to get to this Free Agency. Do the right thing Cleveland? If he leaves nope you don’t want to go, there.
  13. As for Durant, ESPN reported that he’s supposedly 90% sure of who he will sign with. Who? I wish I knew, but he’s apparently met with 5 teams as well as his current team, the OKC Thunder this week.
  14. As for Wade, it’s reported that he’s almost certain that he won’t return to Miami and there are even rumors that he may join LeBron in Cleveland (provided James stays) if that happens, shame on the Heat for letting him walk.
  15. Also: Congrats to this year’s Olympic Men’s Basketball team as rosters are now complete: Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks/Syracuse); Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors/North Carolina); Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls/Marquette); DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings/Kentucky); DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors/USC);
  16. Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder/Texas); Paul George (Indiana Pacers/Fresno State); Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors/Michigan State); Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers/Duke); DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers/Texas A&M); Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors/Villanova); and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors/Washington State). Congrats to all of them,
  17. For some reason, I thought that Duke HC Mike Krzyzewski was done coaching the Men’s Olympic Team, but there he is, coaching once again. now tied with coaching legend Henry Iba for the most U.S. Olympic basketball head coaching assignments. He’s good at what he does, and I’m sure that he’ll lead them to another Gold Medal, this time in Rio De Janero.
  18. As for the NFL, Johnny Manziel is making news again, and once again, it’s not good news. The NFL has suspended Manziel for 4 games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. I mean seriously, shouldn’t that alone inspire this kid to get his life together? He’s not even signed to a team either.
  19. The NFL has also handed out suspensions to Dallas Cowboys LB Rolando McClain for 10 games for the same consequence, and his teammate fellow DE DeMarcus Lawrence has his 4 game suspension upheld. Plus, the NY Jets DE Sheldon Richardson is suspended for a game for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Wow.
  20. I close this segment honoring two sports figures who passed away this week: Women’s college basketball HC Pat Summit, who won 8 NCAA National Championships with Tennessee, and NFL coach Buddy Ryan, who was the architect of the ’46’ Defense, one of the greatest formations in NFL history. Prayers for both of their families.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

The Best Parenting Advice You Will Ever Read

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It is common to hear people say that they hope they never raise their children like their parents did, however, more often than not, this ends up happening. If you wish to learn some of the best parenting advice, from a wide variety of sources that does not include your parents, this article is for you.

An important tip for parents is to become acquainted with your children’s friends as well as their parents. By getting to know your children’s playmates and also their moms and dads, it is possible to develop a sense of comfort and confidence in the types of influences to which your sons and daughters are regularly exposed.

Be wary about introducing pacifiers to your breastfeed baby. Pacifiers are designed to take care of a baby’s need to suck, however the reason a baby needs to suck is because that is how they breastfeed. If they can satisfy their need to suck elsewhere it will hurt your breastfeeding relationship. Limit pacifiers for at least the first 6 weeks.

You can make your disciplinary efforts far more effective, by trying to shift the focus of your words from only highlighting the child’s wrongdoing to using positive language. Children who are repeatedly criticized, have a natural tendency to resist discipline, which in turn, leads to increased instances of fits, discipline problems and poor conduct.

Any child who walks to classes each day ought to have reflective fabric on their clothes or book bags. You can find reflective material that can easily be applied with Velcro strips to any surface. Retro-reflective materials, whether Velcro or tape, make children more visible if they’re walking prior to sunrise or after dark. No matter what time of day it is, wearing reflective materials draws drivers’ attention to your children’s presence and makes road accidents less likely.

A great parenting tip is to not always let your child get what they want. If you let your child get what they want all the time, they’ll go through life thinking they’ll never have to hear the word “no”. Be reasonable with your child and tell them “no” when you need to.

If you are a new mom of twins, ASK FOR HELP! Not asking for help is one of the worst things that moms of twins do. Having newborn twins is not the same as having one baby. Take anyone and every one’s offer of help whether doing some grocery shopping, running the dishwasher, or just sitting with the sleeping babies for you to get a break. You will be a better mom for it.

A great parenting tip is to always utilize disciplinary techniques as a way of shielding your child from harm instead of using them as punitive tools that may harm self-esteem. In this way, you will also be able to instruct your child in the things they ought to be doing instead of dwelling on what they should not.

A great parenting tip is to involve the whole family when it comes to making decisions. Start having family meetings. This will make every member of your family, including your child, feel more responsible and helpful. Don’t just think you’re the only authority and that you should make all the decisions.

Giving firm and clear instructions can help when you have trouble getting a child to listen to you. Asking your child to do something generally gets poorer results than when you firmly tell them to do something. For example, a common problem that many parents have is getting their child to brush their teeth at night. Asking the child to brush their teeth is not going to be as successful as telling them it is time to brush their teeth.

Make sure you monitor the computer activity of your teenager. Thousands of teenagers chat with people online and they can get themselves in a questionable situation. This could be prevented if more parents followed their child’s computer activity, and stopped them from using the computer if they are chatting with strangers.

A good relationship with your Child’s teacher is very important. It is important for the teacher to feel as though you are working with him or her as a team. They should be able to contact you if they have any concerns and you should take them into careful consideration.

Going back to the basics is sometimes an important thing to do with your child, no matter how boring it might seem to them. By ignoring today’s technology and fast pace you will give your child lifelong immeasurable skills. Some things that you can do with your child include sewing, camping, hiking and building. These are all activities that will teach your child basic skills that can be carried with them throughout their lifetime.

Be aware of what your children are doing in school. Whether class work or trouble-making, it’s natural for a child to seek attention through various institutions in their life. Sometimes they feel stress or rigor and refuse to ask for help from their parents due to external influences. Asking about school life can open up a channel of conversation to help a child reveal their emotions.

Getting your kids to do chores can be an opportunity for positive character-building rather than an ordeal. If you keep records (like a chore chart) of your expectations and encourage your children to meet them, you can foster a sense of accomplishment and actually make them look forward to helping out around the house.

For better parenting performance, you should remember that your life as a parent and as a worker are not separate. If your job tends to give you stress, avoid taking that stress out on your children at all costs. When a parenting situation tempts you to be angry or disappointed, keep in mind the other stressful factors in your life that may contribute to your attitude.

In conclusion, you want to make sure that you are doing what is best for your children. Parenting is a passion of yours and it is imperative that you are not just following what your own parents did, but are providing for your children in a way that caters to them, specifically. Use the advice in this article for your advantage.

Best Beaches for Families to Drive to from Pittsburgh, PA

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In your college years, spring break has all been about partying into the early morning hours of several of the craziest and wildest vacation destinations. However, now that you already have your own family and got kids, spring break and hot spots like Cancun and Miami would not just cut it. Nevertheless, it does not mean that you need to give up all the excitement and fun to escape several days from the ho-hum and chill situations of Pittsburgh. There are lots of great spring break getaways, which are conveniently located within just few hours of downtown Pittsburgh, most of which, offering lots of family-friendly relaxation and fun. Pack up your car and your suitcases, and treat the entire family to a spring break vacation in one of these destinations considered the best for Pittsburgh families.

  1. Camelback Mountain Waterpark – Get wild and wet at Camelback Mountain Waterpark. It is the largest waterpark in Pennsylvania. You will forget that you are in the Pocono Mountains when you are slipping and sliding on more than 37 different water slides, rides, and attractions amidst its 84-degree and climate controlled temperature. The Aquatopia indoor waterpark is ideal for the entire family, as it is offering fun for all ages, ranging from the Camel Kid Theme Park, up to the family rides for the little ones, and the rushing thrill rides especially designed for bigger kids.
  2. Rehoboth Beach – Nothing says spring break, such as a trip to the beach. With that, the Rehoboth Beach in Delaware is among the favorite seaside stops of Pittsburghers. It is family friendly, welcoming, and clean. Rehoboth is offering a resort feel without all of the craziness that you would see at common spring break beaches. As a matter of fact, it is a great place for kids because of it numerous boardwalk activities, parks, and restaurants.
  3. New River Gorge National River – There is no place like the New River Gorge National River in Virginia, which you can take in great outdoors. The entire family is going to enjoy endless days of having to explore the mountain region of the state with everything from hiking and camping up to white water rafting. Younger children are going to love the Youth Arts in the Park events, the Junior Ranger program, along with the Science Youth Nature Camp. Get yourself surrounded with the beauty of nature with this about 4-hour drive south, in Glen Jean.
  4. Delaware Beaches – The Atlantic coast is offering sun-craving Pittsburghers with an easy ocean escape. In the southern Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach is drawing a younger crowd because of its renowned party vibe and nightlife.
  5. Jersey Shore – Just like the beaches in Delaware, the Atlantic coast in southern New Jersey is an approximately 7-hour drive from Pittsburgh, offering a wide range of beaches, from the urban boardwalk and famous casinos of the Atlantic city to the amusement parks and calm Victorian beauty of Cape May in Wildwood.

Get ready for what you would need for the summer, while thinking about which among these best beaches are really best to drive with families.

Pitt Basketball Announces Non-Conference Schedule

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Panthers Face Maryland & Penn State; Play in 2K Classic

Tuesday, June 28

PITTSBURGH – Head coach Kevin Stallings announced the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team’s 2016-17 non-conference schedule Tuesday. The Panthers’ non-conference schedule features matchups with five teams that played in the postseason a year ago as well as potential games against Marquette, Michigan and SMU as part of the 2K Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project.

 

“We have a strong schedule for the 2016-17 season with non-conference matchups that will help prepare us for an extremely difficult ACC schedule,” said Stallings. “We are also playing some marquee games against regional rivals and will continue to look to add games of that stature in the future with a focus on bringing them to the Petersen Events Center.”

 

Pitt opens the season with four games in the 22nd annual 2K Classic with opponents for the event being announced at a later date as part of ESPN’s bracket unveiling show. The Panthers’ season opener takes place Friday, Nov. 11at the Petersen Events Center with the second game of the 2K Classic Monday, Nov. 14. Pitt along with Marquette, Michigan and SMU will compete in the 2K Classic Championship Rounds presented by Continental Tire Nov. 17-18at Madison Square Garden.

 

Stallings’ group returns to the Petersen Events Center for home contests against 2016 NCAA Tournament qualifier Yale (Nov. 22) and Morehead State (Nov. 25), before traveling to College Park, Md., for an ACC – Big Ten Challenge matchup with Maryland (Nov. 29) to close out the first month of the season.

 

The annual City Game with cross-town foe Duquesne is slated for Dec. 2 at CONSOL Energy Center. Pitt has won 15 straight games and lead the all-time series 53-31. The Panthers host Buffalo Dec. 7, before traveling to Newark, N.J., to face in-state rival Penn State in the Never Forget Tribute Classic. Notre Dame and Villanova will square off in the first game of the event at the Prudential Center.

 

Pitt concludes its non-conference schedule with home games against Rice (Dec. 17), Omaha (Dec. 21) and Marshall (Dec. 28) before entering ACC play.

 

In addition to a competitive non-conference slate, Pitt faces a loaded schedule in ACC play with 12 games against 2016 postseason qualifiers. The Panthers face Louisville, North Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia twice apiece next season to go along with home games against Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. Pitt also makes trips to Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, NC State and Wake Forest as part of its road schedule.

 

“Anytime you are playing an ACC schedule and in a high-level event like the 2K Classic you will have a schedule that will challenge and excite your players and your fan base,” Stallings added.

 

Pitt will also host Pitt-Johnstown in an exhibition game Nov. 5 at the Petersen Events Center. Game time will be determined at a later date.

 

Schedule Notes (excludes 2K Classic pairings that will be announced at a later date)

  • Seven of Pitt’s nine non-conference games are against teams that finished in the top 150 of the RPI last season.
  • 23 of Pitt’s 27 games are against teams that finished in the top 150 of the RPI last season, including nine games against teams that finished in the top 25.
  • 17 of Pitt’s 27 games currently scheduled are against teams that reached postseason play in 2016, including 11 contests against NCAA Tournament teams.
  • The average RPI of Pitt’s opponents on the current 27-game schedule is 78.29.

 

Non-Conference Opponent Capsules

  • 2K Classic [Nov. 11, Nov. 14, Nov. 17-18] – Pitt is playing in the 2K Classic for the first time in the 22-year history of the event … matchups for the event will be announced on ESPN’s bracket unveiling show in late July or early August … Pitt will host two home games in the opening round of the tournament before advancing to the championship rounds at Madison Square Garden Nov. 17-18 … the Panthers will be joined in New York by Marquette, Michigan and SMU. The complete 2K Classic field consists of Pitt, Eastern Michigan, Gardner-Webb, Howard, IUPUI, Marquette, Michigan and SMU.

 

  • Yale [Nov. 22] – The Bulldogs are coming off a 23-7 season, including a 13-1 mark in the Ivy League and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.  The Bulldogs picked up their first tournament win in school history with a 79-75 win over Baylor in the first round before falling to Duke in the round of 32. The Bulldogs, coached by James Jones, return several key contributors including all-league guard Makai Mason (16.0 ppg., 3.8 apg.). Pitt is 4-2 all-time against Yale with the last meeting occurring Jan. 2, 1956.

 

  • Morehead State [Nov. 25] – The Eagles completed the 2015-2016 season 23-14 with an 11-5 ledger in the Ohio Valley Conference. Morehead State reached the finals of the CBI, winning game one of the best-of three series before losing the next two to Nevada. The Eagles, coached by former Kentucky guard Sean Woods, are expected to return three of their top five players from a year ago in Corban Collins (11.0 ppg.), Xavier Moon (10.2 ppg.) and DeJuan Marrero (8.2 ppg., 7.2 rpg.). Pitt topped the Eagles 72-62 last season in the Gotham Classic as Jamel Artis and Michael Young combined for 42 points and 12 rebounds. Pitt leads the all-time series 2-0.

 

  • at Maryland (ACC – Big Ten Challenge) [Nov. 29]  –The Terrapins went 27-9 with a 12-6 Big Ten conference mark last season and reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. Maryland returns several key contributors, including All-America candidate Melo Trimble (14.8 ppg., 4.9 apg.), and is likely to start the season ranked in the top 25 of the AP Poll. Pitt has won three straight meetings in the series but Maryland holds a 5-4 edge all-time against the Panthers.

 

  • vs. Duquesne (The City Game – CONSOL Energy Center) [Dec. 2] – The Dukes finished 17-17 with a 6-12 Atlantic 10 record a year ago. Duquesne earned a spot in the College Basketball Invitational, defeating Nebraska-Omaha in round one, before falling to Morehead State. The Dukes, led by fifth-year head coach Jim Ferry, return a pair of starters in Eric James (9.1 ppg.) and Darius Lewis (6.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg.). Pitt has won 15 straight in the series and is 53-31 all-time against the cross-town foe. www.pittsburghpanthers.com

Pirates take 3 of 4 from Dodgers; Mariners next

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One week ago the Pittsburgh Pirates were not only in the midst of their worst slump of the still-young 2016 season, but of the past 4 years. Losers of 20 out of their last 26, they also fell 5 games under .500 and began to start looking like those teams who underachieved from 1993-2012. And if you know that bit of history, then you’re fully aware that it’s not a good one.

What caused this slump? Injuries and pitching. The Pirates have had several players get hurt in the past month. Injuries to C Francisco Cervelli (.257), starting P Gerrit Cole (6-5, 2.77 ERA) and RF Gregory Polanco were the most critical as they’re still out and there really hasn’t been a timetable for their return. In their place, the Pirates have had to acquire a catcher (Erik Kratz) and call up 2 of their stud rookie prospects (Jameson Tallon & Chad Kuhl) to hopefully hold it down while Cervelli and Cole recover and get their team back in contention. With Super 4th OF Matt Joyce (.294, 8 HR, 26 RBI) the Pirates know they’re good at that position as Polanco mends.

After losing 3 of 4 to the SF Giants, the Pirates faced another tall task as they welcomed the hot LA Dodgers to PNC Park. They were hoping for a miracle and nearly got one as they won 3 of 4 from the Dodgers this past weekend.

How??? It’s simple science. They key to the Pirates success from 2013-15 has been pitching which was also the key to them winning their first 3 games vs. the Dodgers. How did they lose the 4th game? Lack of pitching.

In the rubber match vs. the Dodgers, the Pirates actually stormed to a 4-0 lead which is usually enough for a team to win, but unfortunately starter Francisco Liriano did all he could to blow their huge lead as he gave up 5 runs end route to the 5-4 victory. Liriano is now 4-8 with an eye-popping 5.33 ERA while Dodgers starter Matt Kazmir survived giving up the 4 runs to win his 6th of the season.

Kratz did what he could for his team as his 2-run single extended the Pirates lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the first after OF Starling Marte and RF Sean Rodriguez each delivered RBI singles. The Dodgers would score a run in the 3rd before exploding for 4 more runs in the 5th thanks to a 2-out single by OF AJ Ellis and a 2-run bases-loaded single by OF Yasiel Puig, which chased Liriano.

In Sunday’s game, rookie Chad Kuhl pitched five effective innings and David Freese hit a three-run double that sent the Pittsburgh Pirates past Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on Sunday night.

Kuhl (1-0) allowed three runs and four hits in five innings after getting called up from Triple-A Indianapolis before the game. The 23-year-old righty struck out five and walked four after going 6-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 14 minor league starts.

Kershaw (11-2) took his second loss of the season exactly two months after he was beaten by Miami on April 26. He gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings, striking out four and walking two.

In Saturday’s game, McCutchen homered twice, Jeff Locke took a perfect game into the sixth inning, and the Pirates beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1 Saturday night.

It was McCutchen 11th career multi-homer game – second this year. The nine-year veteran’s batting average had dropped to .239 – 55 points below his career average – after going 9 for 49 (.184) with 16 strikeouts in his previous 13 games. While Locke (7-5) retired his first 15 batters before consecutive doubles by Scott Van Slyke and A.J. Ellis to start the sixth inning broke up his perfect game and shutout bids. Locke allowed one run and five hits in seven innings, striking out three and walking none.

And in Friday’s game, Matt Joyce homered and doubled among his three hits and Pittsburgh beat Los Angeles 8-6, ending the Dodgers’ six-game winning streak and giving manager Clint Hurdle his 1,000th career victory.

Hurdle is in his sixth season with the Pirates and also had an eight-year managerial stint with the Colorado Rockies from 2002-09.

Joyce drove in two runs while filling in for right fielder Gregory Polanco, who sat out with lower leg discomfort. His RBI single in a two-run fifth inning helped push the Pirates’ lead to 7-4 and his eighth homer, a solo shot in the seventh off Chris Hatcher, made it 8-6. Jung Ho Kang also homered as the Pirates won for just the third time in 16 games. Sean Rodriguez had three RBIs and Starling Marte added two hits.

Pirates rookie starter Jameson Taillon had a second consecutive poor start, allowing four runs and eight hits in four-plus innings with two strikeouts and one walk. Neftali Feliz (2-0), the fourth of six Pirates pitchers, retired all five batters he faced, and Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.

As a result, the Pirates are now 37-40, 12.5 games back from the NL-leading Chicago Cubs and if the season ended today, the Pirates would not be in the postseason as they now trail both NL Wild Card spots by 4.5 games. With 85 games left and the All-Star Break looming, the Pirates truly have lots of work to do.

Speaking of that All-Star Break, we know there will be at least one Pirate to represent them in this year’s Mid-Summer Classic in San Diego, but who will it be? It’s hard to imagine, but 5-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen (.243, 12 HR, 32 RBI) has a shot at missing his first All-Star Game since 2010 and remember, he was a starter the last 2 years. He is currently in 9th place in fan voting. The only way that McCutchen will get in at this point is if he gets very hot this week and gets his batting average above .250 or if NL (and NY Mets) Manager Terry Collins adds him on reputation.

It is a strong possibility that fellow Pirates OFs Starling Marte (.326, 6 HR, 29 RBI) and Polanco (.296, 10 HR, 44 RBI) could get the nod as OF reserves, but the definite pick is 2-time All-Star closer Mark Melancon who is 3rd in saves with 22. Time will tell as voting ends June 30.

Meanwhile the Pirates need to figure out what to do with struggling starters like Liriano, who had been the Pirates most consistent starter the past 3 seasons. It’s truly hard to believe that the Pirates best starter is Locke who also is 5-1 at home. But his 5.12 ERA is still much to be desired. Jonathan Niese (6-5) has the team’s best ERA at 4.93, which isn’t that encouraging. In addition to Kuhl (1-0) fellow rookie Jameson Tallion (1-1, 4.50) knows that one good start will improve his ERA numbers.

As for the bullpen, at one time it was one of MLB’s best but with the exception of Melancon and Feliz, it’s now one of MLB’s worst. Former All-Star set-up man Tony Watson has a 3.48 ERA and set-up men Jared Hughes (4.37), Rob Scahill (4.41) Arquimedes Caminero (4.21) have struggled to hold leads for the Pirates. Hopefully former starter Juan Nicasio (5-6, 5.48 ERA) can help the struggling bullpen.

The Pirates will now take the road and play the Seattle Mariners (38-38) in a 2-game series with Niese as the series-opening starter. The series starts Tuesday night.

The Pirates know that they only way they can get back above .500 and a shot at their 4th consecutive NL Wild Card Berth, is by winning and they’re hoping taking 3 of 4 from the Dodgers will be a start of good things to come.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

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The Importance of Exercise for Senior Adults

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There are many people who are in their 50s or 60s who decide to cease their fitness activities because they believe that they no longer need them or that they are dangerous considering their condition. However, they are wrong. If you want to keep your fitness level, you must get involved in physical activity because in this way you will feel better and your will be much healthier. The good news is that there are a huge number of exercises ideal for senior adults. Some of these exercises may be conducted at home while others should be practiced in a local gym. In any case, it is crucial to remember that exercise and physical activity come with many benefits for both the mental, emotional and physical health of the elderly.

One of the main reasons why exercise and fitness activities are important for senior citizens is the fact that with this type of activity they will be able to lower back pain and boost energy. The vast majority of senior adults are feeling pain in the back. As a result of this constant and persistent pain, they will soon notice that their energy is drained. In addition, such pain will accelerate the natural process of aging. However, exercise makes both the back muscles and the core muscles much stronger. This is the best way to prevent injuries and to ease back pain. People can strengthen their muscles, bones, tissues and joints at any age. Arthritis symptoms can be soothed with exercise too.

Furthermore, exercise and fitness activities help senior adults to enhance the work of their digestive system and the metabolism of sugar. In other words, glucose found in the body will be absorbed and burned in a proper way when you are physically active. The elderly is more prone to diseases like diabetes and exercise lowers the chances of developing such diseases. If they exercise regularly the digestive system won’t experience problems like constipation or diarrhea – two common health issues in senior citizens.

Senior adults looking for easy and simple exercises can try stretching. This is a very important element of any fitness program. Stretching is crucial because It prepares the muscles and joints for physical activity. However, make sure that you are not over-stretching your body parts because this can lead to muscle tearing. It is the best idea to start with short stretching sessions and gradually increase the time spent on this activity.

In addition, exercises dedicated to strengthening must be performed at least three times a week. Senior adults should use lightweights and at the same time, they must work on finding the optimal breathing pattern while exercising. Many senior citizens are advised to practice aquatic exercises because they can improve vitality and strength and water keeps the joints and bones safe.

In the end, we should not forget that everyday household chores can have positive effect on their health. The elderly must remain active all the time because this is the only way to live a healthy and happy life.

The Hardest Lesson Of All: Teaching Children About Death

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by: Debbie Orme and Jane Bartlett

How many uses can you find for a dead fox? When I happened upon one recently whilst out walking with my children, the poor lifeless creature suddenly became the catalyst for an important family moment. It was an opportunity to talk about death. You won’t find ‘thanatology’ on the curriculum at school, yet it’s the one subject that every child will have to deal with at some point. Thanatology is the little known word used to describe death education, a taboo in our society, especially when dealing with children. They learn about birth in sex education, but our final rite of passage is rarely acknowledged by either school or home.

It is estimated by Winston’s Wish, a charity that works with bereaved children and their families, that 5% of children will experience the death of a parent or sibling, and 10% will lose a parent, carer, close friend or relative. Most children will be aware of the death of someone more distant, or will lose a pet. No matter how idyllic we try to make childhood, death will always be there to cast a shadow.

The modern child’s relationship to death is likely to be a puerile one. Many children are exposed to high levels of glorified violence and death through television and video games. At Halloween they play ghoulish games to confront fears about what lies beyond the grave. However, most children are unlikely to have ever seen a real dead body, or possibly even had a meaningful conversation with an adult about our final destiny. It is important that we share with children the reality of death, not in a morbid, fearful way, but as a natural process and great mystery. We all want children to inhabit a happy, positive world, but to deny them the reality of death also denies them something about the reality of life. In the words of the popular spiritual writer, the late M.Scott Peck, ‘When we shy away from death, the ever-changing nature of things, we inevitably shy away from life.’ Also, if we do not allow the concept of death to gently permeate children’s lives, they will be ill prepared if sudden tragedy were to strike.

The children’s bereavement charity The Gone Forever Project is pressing the Government and Teacher’s Training Agency to include death education in the school curriculum. It wants to ensure that all teachers are trained in the awareness of the issues which surround loss and bereavement, as part of their initial training. Teachers can include death education across the curriculum, as part of emotional literacy in Personal, Social and Health Education, or funeral rituals in Religious Education. Death could also be discussed in science lessons in terms of the lifecycle of the natural world. Schools also often have to respond to real deaths, either of a pupil, a parent or teacher. My son’s junior school recently held an assembly in memory of one its pupils who had died of leukaemia. Helium balloons were released by the children with goodbye messages. Holding such a ceremony was controversial amongst the staff, some of whom thought it might be unnecessarily upsetting. When I went to collect my children, many pupils were weeping. It was terribly sad, but I felt that as well as being an important farewell ritual, it also reminded us all of the value of life. Parents and children seemed to be acutely aware of how much they loved each other that day.

Parents will find that opportunities to discuss death with their children will spontaneously occur. On the simplest level you can point out to your children the cycles of birth and death that exist in nature. Notice together how the flowers first bloom, then die, how autumn and winter follow spring and summer. Discuss the ageing process by observing the physiology between old and young; and like the fox we found at the roadside, there are likely to be animal corpses to contemplate.

The death of a pet often provides children with their first experience of personal grief, and for this reason is a positive learning experience. When a child’s pet dies a parent needs to be sensitive about the loss, no matter how small the animal. An important way of doing this is by making sure there is a thoughtful goodbye ritual. This reassures the child that the pet was cared for, as well as providing a focus for their bereavement. Debbie Orme runs ‘Goodbye My Pet’ a company that makes attractive cardboard pet coffins and grave markers. It also supplies a helpful ceremony book to guide parents and children through a simple pet funeral at home. ‘I get lots of letters from families telling me how much the funeral helped them all come to terms with the loss of their pet. Parents also say that the experience enabled the family to share their beliefs and feelings in a way they wouldn’t normally. Adult pet lovers have used my coffins and ceremony booklets too, with similar results.’ Debbie Orme believes that although the loss of a pet is a sad event for children, if handled well, it can also become a meaningful and memorable family experience.

Children all deal with bereavement in different ways. Typically they may express their feelings through actions rather than words. Young children may wet the bed, cry and seek attention or feel unwell. Older children my display changes in personality, show sleep and appetite disturbances, find it hard to concentrate at school and become depressed. Some children may show no obvious signs of bereavement at all initially. It is quite usual for grief to come in waves and for a child to feel sad one moment, and the next seem perfectly happy. Although talking to children about the death of a person or animal that they love may be one of the hardest things we ever have to do, it is one of the most important ways we can help as they journey through their grief.

Children’s levels of understanding about death

Under twos

Have little concept of death but will still miss the deceased and sense the upset.

Two to four year olds

Find it hard to understand that death is permanent, and may ask when the deceased is coming back.

Five to ten year olds

They begin to understand the finality of death, and can have lots of questions about it.

Adolescence

The finality of death is more fully understood. It may be a time of high emotions, and a reluctance to open up and share with you.

About The Author

Debbie Orme is director of Goodbye My Pet, providers of home burial items and pet coffins. http://www.goodbyemypet.co.uk.

Ray Jr. on Sports

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  1. Well folks, the 2016 NBA Draft took place Thursday night, and although I feel that it’s not as glamorous as the NFL Draft (but not as boring as the MLB and NHL Drafts) you can guarantee that the NBA teams were excited to build up their rosters.
  2. Philadelphia 76ers are an example of one of those ‘excited’ teams as once again they earned the #1 overall pick (as they should after finishing 10-72) as expected, the 76ers drafted LSU’s Ben Simmons, arguably the best player in the draft.
  3. Fans and media alike are really hoping that Simmons can have the same impact as HOF Allen Iverson had when he was drafted in 1996. What Sixers fans have to remember is that although Iverson was drafted and won NBA Rookie of the Year in 96-97 (that also included a wicked crossover that shook Michael Jordan out of his shoes), the Sixers still needed time to get good as well. I like the pick, but the Sixers still need a team. Give them time.
  4. Pick #2 went to the LA Lakers, whom after the retirement of Kobe Bryant and 2 very horrible seasons, drafted Duke’s Brandon Ingram, the school’s best player in 2015-16. Ingram is a start to the Lakers rebuilding process, but they know they can’t build a team around him-especially if they’re trying to get good in a hurry. No, the Lakers need to also make a splash move in Free Agency too. A Kevin Durant or even Dwayne Wade would work.
  5. After those first 2 picks, the Draft was pretty much of a bore. But as long as those teams will benefit from drafting those kids, that’s all that matters. As for the local schools, unfortunately no Pitt players were drafted. I was hoping that G James Robinson would get picked up, but he did not. Maybe as an undrafted free agent, or overseas. I wish him the best.
  6. The biggest trade of the day was when the OKC Thunder traded C Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova and a 2017 11th round overall pick. Watch out world, the Celtics are continuing to get better.
  7. But the biggest trade of the week came from Chicago where the Bulls traded franchise player Derrick Rose to the NY Knicks for C Robin Lopez and guards Jerian Grant Jose Calderon. It doesn’t take Einstein to guess that the Knicks won that trade. If he remains healthy, he and F Carmelo Anthony could make things fun in the Big Apple, but they need a big free agent name too.
  8. And of course, there was the NBA Finals where the Cleveland Cavaliers upset the defending champion Golden St. Warriors in a 93-89 Game 7 thriller. The win gave the Cavs the city’s first championship of any kind since the Browns won in 1964. Wow. I would never stop partying if I was a local.
  9. It also gave Finals MVP Lebron James his 3rd title overall (he won 2 with Miami) he came through on his promise to bring Cleveland a title, which he did. I’m very happy for him. Maybe now folks will get off his back. He’s one of the best.
  10. Speaking of James, he announced Thursday that he will not play for the USA team in this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio De Janero to get rest. I mean, can you blame him? The man just led his team from a 3-1 deficit to win it all. Wouldn’t you be tired?
  11. Speaking of that Olympic team, here’s who’s on it now: Durant, Anthony, Paul George, DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green, Kylie Irving and Klay Thompson, to name a few. Hard to believe that Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook and James Harden aren’t going to play. It’ll be interesting how the team does vs. other competition.
  12. Now for MLB…the Pirates are officially a bad team. I’m sorry, they’re my team, but they’re a bad team after losing 3 of 4 to the SF Giants. The Pirates have now lost 20 of 26 and with a record of 34-39, they’re now trailing the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs by 14 games. Just horrible man.
  13. Someone I know said the Pirates are getting what they deserve by doing nothing to capitalize off their 98-win season in 2015-especially with the pitching staff. They let JA Happ walk all the way to Toronto and they sign former Pirate Ryan Vogelsong. They did call up prospect Jameson Tallion, but they need to call up prospect P Ryan Glasnow and 1B Josh Bell.
  14. I wish I could just sit down and talk to the Pirates front office-and ask them if they’re crazy. They’re still acting cheap again, while the Cubs spent $290-and they’re fighting or a championship.
  15. And the offense hasn’t been too impressive either. Other than 1B John Jaso, OF Gregory Polanco, the team doesn’t look to hot. And it doesn’t help that P Gerrit Cole and C Francisco Cervelli are out because of injury. Wow.
  16. As for the standings, of course the Cubs lead the NL Central, the SF Giants lead NL West and the Washington Nationals lead the NL East. In the West, the Baltimore Orioles (and former Pirates 3b-1b Pedro Alvarez) lead the AL East, the Cleveland Indians lead the Central and the Texan Rangers lead the West.
  17. Here’s how slow the NFL is this time of year: ESPN reported that Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown was catching passes from Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. Really ESPN, why is that news?? (Don’t answer, it’s rhetorical)
  18. Truth is, if the Steelers are saying anything about Brown, it would be about giving him a new contract, as his 6-year deal was signed back in 2011. I know that RB Le’Veon Bell will need a new deal, but Brown isn’t just the best WR on the Steelers, but also the NFL. Sign the man.
  19. And of course, more Johnny Manziel news: ESPN also reported that the former Browns QB was involved in a hit-and-run crash on Monday. Really kid, stop trying to destroy yourself. Get some help.
  20. And finally, in the NHL the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins can have added another trophy to the case as GM Jim Rutherford was named NHL GM of the Year. Congrat to him and much deserved.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

Get The Most From Your Travel Plans

luggage

Everyone enjoys traveling. Seeing and experiencing new things can be exciting. All vacations and excursions need to be planned well. A traveler who is unprepared can encounter a lot of problems. If you want some tips on how make your next vacation more enjoyable, read on.

Only pack the clothes you will need. In some instances, it does not pay to be over-prepared. Many people pack far too many clothes when they travel. This is a problem. It is especially a problem when they inadvertently lose the bags that contained them. Try packing multipurpose clothes that you can re-wear.

For safe traveling, don’t carry all your valuables in one place. No one wants to deal with missing belongings while on a trip, but if you do have to, it’s better to minimize loss. Put your credit cards, cash, jewelry, and whatever else you value in a variety of different locations — some in your bag, some in your pocket, some in your wallet, and such. That way even if something gets stolen or lost, you probably won’t lose everything.

Make sure that you fill any prescriptions that you take on a regular basis before you leave town on a trip. Running out of medication while visiting a new place can be both stressful and expensive as you have to track down a pharmacy that can fill your prescription for you.

If you travel by air frequently, it’s a good idea to learn the rules of the TSA. Every airport has a security checkpoint that you need yo pass before you can get too your plane and not knowing the security rules can make your time at the checkpoint frustrating for you and the people around you.

Ditch the fanny pack. Not only do you look the part of a tourist, a fanny pack is often easy pickings for a thief. If you crave the convenience of the fanny pack, consider getting a multi-pocket travel vest instead. These carry just as much but keep the items close to your body where they are safer.

Before traveling to an area that is completely unfamiliar one should do some research to know what to expect. This research can be as simple as where to get good food, to as in depth as where to go for entertainment and pre-purchasing of tickets. Research of any kind can surely improve the quality of travel and the overall trip.

Traveling light can make the difference is a great vacation and a tortuous experience. Think about it. If you don’t take it with you can almost always buy it there. There are exceptions of course but even with those just a little bit of thought while packing can greatly reduce your load and make your trip much more enjoyable.

Space can sometimes be an issue when you are trying to pack too many clothes into your suitcase. Rolling your clothes up can sometimes decrease the amount of space you use. If you are concerned about your clothes getting wrinkled, roll them in tissue paper as well. This will free up important space in your luggage.

Locate a restaurant near your hotel if you plan to stay longer than overnight. While many hotels have restaurants built right in, such eateries will be sad, generic affairs offering little to remember. By finding a local restaurant within easy travel distance you will gain access to a little bit of local color.

If you know in advance that you will be passing through some less-than-desirable neighborhoods or areas of town en route to your destination, don’t rely solely on your in-dash GPS system. Map out alternate routes using MapQuest or Google Maps, so you don’t end up in a bad part of town, in the middle of the night, with bad directions.

Pay special attention to the holidays of the countries you are traveling to. Different countries celebrate different holidays, and if you do not know when these are, you can give yourself a headache. Many restaurants and businesses will close on holidays, so look them up before you travel to save yourself the trouble.

You can save yourself a lot of time and avoid hassles by traveling as light as possible. If you just take carry-on luggage and don’t check any bags, you won’t have to waste your time standing around the baggage carousel after your flight and you’ll never have to worry about the airline losing your bags.

If you are traveling in a car, take the time to go slightly out of your way and visit small town bars and restaurants. You will meet some interesting people and have the chance to sample some of the local fare. Residents of these towns will instantly recognize unfamiliar faces and often go out of their way to talk to you.

Give your kids something to do when traveling by car by allowing them to carry portable video games and books along for the trip. These things can not only occupy them, but they can make the trip a lot less stressful for everyone. This also makes the driving time pass quicker.

If you are headed to another country, do not make monetary exchanges at the airport. However, they are usually higher exchange rates due to the convenience they present to the traveler. Before traveling, find banks nearby that exchange currency, since they will typically offer better rates.

When staying in a hotel abroad, use common sense safety. Keep your door locked and meet visitors in the lobby. Do not leave valuables laying about where a cleaner could find them, instead, use the hotel safe. Let someone know when you expect to return, if you will be out late.

A good vacation requires good planning to ensure that everyone enjoys themselves. These are just some ideas that can make your next vacation a little more trouble-free. When you plan your next excursion, do some research and plan your itinerary well. Keep some of these travel tips in mind, and enjoy your next trip.