They don't call themselves "independent" for nothing: The 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club backed Rich Fitzgerald this weekend, but it...
Cold wind and blowing rain greeted a small group of travelers who broke away with me for quick side of Amsterdam. We had just landed with a total of 26 people joined me on a Tulip River Cruise of the Netherlands last week, I blogged every day about our adventures and wanted to wrap up with some stories from a great trip.
We were on our way to the Floating Flower Market, a place filled with just about everything you could imagine for the garden. Amsterdam is a beautiful city, charming row houses look out over canals. In Europe there are always surprises for Americans walking the streets. Bike lanes and roads are hard to figure out and we spend lots of time alerting our friends to fast moving bicycles, cars and trolleys headed in their direction. While walking down the street past coffee shops reeking of marijuana, we're greeted by a strange window filled with faces. I have no idea what this business was, but it was one of those things you see in Europe that makes you wonder and laugh at the same time.
We were there to see how the locals garden and see how they use plants. In one town we saw daffodils planted on the roof of a Dutch home. It was just one of the cool ways they plant.
But there's a rich and painful history here too. I did a story a Emmy Busmen, who's mother endured living under Nazi occupation for most of her teen years and I visited the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, filled with 1749 soldiers, most killed in WWII's Battle of Arnhem. Many of the grave stones included personal messages from family. J.W. Hope was killed on September 20th, 1944. This was written on the bottom of his grave; "I miss your smile. With you I spent the happiest days." Standing among all those white grave markers and reading the personal messages on each puts life in perspective.
No trip to Holland would be compete without seeing windmills. One of the best places to do that is Kinderdijk. It's a place to see lots of them together and climb a working mill to see how the miller lived there with his family.
But the highlight of the trip was a visit to Keukenhof Gardens. Only open for eight weeks, this bulb display is one of the most magnificent gardening displays I've ever seen. It's something I wish every gardener could see. Of all the gardens I've seen over the years, Keukenhof stands shoulder to shoulder with the best.
I think the one thing that made our trip to the Netherlands so wonderful, were the Dutch people. They are resilient, funny and love to garden. What else could you ask for?
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-“Anytime you have success, you feel a little more confident. Getting a couple of goals makes everyone feel more comfortable, that we’re going to put up more goals than one or two a night.” - Chris Kunitz (right) on his effort in Game 2.
-“If we can get a lead in the series it will be huge for us.” - Marc-Andre Fleury on tonight's Game 3.
-“We need him to be a threat offensively, and he’s been that through two games. He’s had the puck a lot. When he has the puck down low and he’s spinning in the corners, that’s when he’s so dominant and he was big last night.” - Brandon Sutter on Sidney Crosby.
-Mike Johnston speaks:
-Evgeni Malkin speaks:
-"We don’t really want to change the way we play just because we’re on the road. We kind of have that us-against-the-building mentality when we go on the road. Sometimes it helps you just kind of stick together and go through the ups and downs a little bit better.” - Rangers captain/defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
-Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein will remain sidelined for Game 3 due to a forearm injury.
-A day after it was reported he would not be returning for national anthem duties, the Rangers announced long-time anthem singer John Amirante would be asked to sing on occasion in the future.
-After the Jump: Overtime on Long Island and in Ottawa.
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Maybe more than any other sport, baseball is hard to predict how a high school kid will do in the future. Even high school seniors who are drafted in the first few rounds don't always make it big. On the other hand, there are plenty of kids who weren't maybe great prospects in high school, but have big success later on in their careers.
Adam Liberatore is a great example.
Liberatore played at Quigley Catholic High School through his junior year. He transferred to Blackhawk as a senior and played outfield and pitcher. He pitched all of 6 1/3 innings as a high school senior.
Now, Liberatore is pitching in the major leagues. And so far, things have just been perfect.
Liberatore got called up to the Los Angeles Dodgers a few days ago and pitched the ninth inning for the Dodgers Friday in a 7-3 victory against the Colorado Rockies. A left-hander, Liberatore ended the game with a strikeout of former Pirate Michael McKenry.
Then Liberatore came back today against Colorado and pitched two more perfect innings with two strikeouts.
It took a while for Liberatore to get to Major League Baseball. He was a 21st round draft pick of Tampa Bay in 2010. He had been in the minor leagues since 2010 and was traded to the Dodgers in November.
So, the 27-year-old now is on the same team with Clayton Kershaw. But get this: Liberatore was a 2005 graduate of Blackhawk, and as a senior, he was 0-1 with a save. He had eight strikeouts in those 6 1/3 innings. You go from pitching 6 1/3 innings as a high school senior to pitching in the major leagues. It's a wonderful story.
Liberatore played for Blackhawk's American Legion team the summer after his senior year. Bob Amalia coached both the Blackhawk high school and Legion teams, just as he does today. Liberatore eventually signed with Tennessee Tech, but what's funny is that it was questionable what was his best position. Liberatore was 6 feet 2, 195 pounds back then. In a 2005 Post-Gazette story, Amalia said he wouldn't be surprised to see Liberatore eventually be a pitcher, but Amalia said, "He didn't pitch a lot for me in high school. But he's been timed at 89 [mph] on the mound."
Liberatore even said back then he was most comfortable in the outfield.
"I think he's better in the outfield because of his defensive ability and the way he hits," Amalia said in 2005. "But you never know."
Liberatore is the second pitcher who played for Amalia and made it to the major leagues. Brian Omogrosso is the other. In 2012 and 2013, he pitched 29 innings for the Chicago White Sox.
Another former Blackhawk pitcher, Clayton Hamilton came close to the majors, making to Class AAA. He also pitched professionally in Japan.
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