Monday, May 25, 2009

Good Weekend Writing

Aviation and baseball are two subjects that attract more than just a passing interest with me. Over this holiday weekend, as many rites of summer begin to make themselves known to us again, I thought I would call attention to two excellent pieces of journalism. One calls attention to history, while another details the potential loss of an avocation for thousands of Americans.

Gary Harmon of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has been reporting periodically in recent weeks on a new security directive from the Transportation Security Administration that threatens the practice of, and commerce surrounding, general aviation.

Yesterday, Mr. Harmon got most of Page One and then some to detail not only the frustration of private pilots, airport operators and trade associations, but also to illustrate the manner in which the TSA has tried to hide behind vague rhetoric and confidentiality laws to conceal details of most of the changes being made.

Pressure from trade groups and members of congress has yielded a commitment from TSA to revise certain portions of the directive, but they still won't share those revisions with the general aviation community. The Sentinel's editorial board has also weighed in, asking TSA to exercise some common sense and transparency in dealing with a community and industry that could be gradually eroded away by this directive, which is slated to go into effect on June 1.

Combined with a sidebar about a local private pilot and his vintage flying machine, accompanied by magnificent photography from Gretel Daugherty, the piece displayed some of the best talent that we have in local media. Gary looks like he's found a niche issue to sink his teeth into, and his considerable journalistic skill has been showcased because of it.
Now if only we could do something about that column...

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest individual achievements in baseball history, even if all it got the player involved was a loss in the record books.

On May 26, 1959, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves, retiring 36 batters in a row before an error and a hit gave him a 1-0 loss in 13 innings.

In an excellent example of leveraging online content with the printed word, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a package of stories in Sunday's edition that detailed what has been called A Perfect Loss. This multimedia presentation provides links to photographs, the P-G's original coverage of the game, and other content that not only illustrates the magnitude of the feat, but the effect it had on the game and the man who did it.

For me, reading about the game lent new meaning to the term "run support". It also made me think about the evolution of the game today in comparison to its historic past. Today we have starters, middle relievers, late relievers, and closers. A complete game win is a notable feat, a no-hitter significant, a perfect game remarkable. It's doubtful that you will see anything approaching Haddix' achievement ever again.

Yet looking at the achievements of those who played the game 40 or 50 years ago (or longer), the almost romantic allure of some of those players seems to easily overshadow the over-specialization, the performance enhancements, and the over-reliance on minutiae over instinct that has impacted the game in many ways.

It was a good read and an excellent history lesson, even if it also served as a reminder that I'll be turning 50 next year.

Speaking of baseball, there's a lot of interest in Grand Junction currently, and not just because it's JUCO week. Our Mesa State Mavericks are in the NCAA Division II College World Series for the first time, and as of now are still in the winner's bracket. They play later today. A link to an interactive bracket and other information is here.

I hope that your weekend was a safe and enjoyable one. Being involved in public safety, this translates to hoping that you or your loved ones were not involved or associated with some of the injuries sustained in our area through violence, carelessness, or reckless recreation.

It's travel time later this week. Talk to you then.

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