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Showing posts from March, 2021

FIELD NOTES: Trust in authority, but verify

At some point in our lives, most of us have been either the victim or the perpetrator of a prank phone call. Most of these calls are harmless. Many are legitimately funny; some are mean-spirited, and a select few are dangerous. In college, some of my buddies and I would call a random number pretending to be from a fictitious sports radio station. We would ask a nonsensical question to (supposedly) win a prize. One question I specifically recall was, “Name  the three teams in this year’s Super Bowl.” The “contestant,” likely a teen girl by the sound of her voice, got the first two teams right but, not surprisingly, struggled with the third one.  Ultimately, she guessed Pittsburgh, which was “wrong,” but actually a pretty savvy answer given that the Steelers were a perpetual Super Bowl contender in those days.  Although those calls don’t represent my finest hour, I think even the “victims,” if they ever even realized they’d been pranked, would admit it was pretty innocuous. When done wit

FIELD NOTES: Implements mightier than swords

A few years ago, I wrote a magazine article about Banana Republic, the real safari-clothing Banana Republic of the 1980s, not the upscale Gap that has appropriated the name. In that piece, I mentioned one iconic BR item I still own, the Israeli Paratrooper Briefcase. To quote the catalog description:  “When called away suddenly on business (to Entebbe, for example), it can be hard to organize paperwork. To cope with the kind of bureaucratic entanglements that accompany international brinksmanship, the fast descending Israeli paratrooper takes along a durable briefcase – one with D-rings, a padded adjustable shoulder strap, three big inside compartments appropriate for legal pads, and an exterior flap pocket sized to suit a ponderous paperback. Also: two rows of sturdy loops for implements mightier than swords.”  So, yeah … basically nonsense. But in the spring of 1986, that bag symbolized the life I wanted to live – one of adventure, intrigue, and maybe even a little danger. I bought t

FIELD NOTES: Baseball realignment not quite a homerun

Die-hard baseball fans have known for a couple of years that a significant restructuring of the minor leagues was coming this season, pending a renegotiation of the master agreement with the majors. It was understood that 40 or so of the less-viable teams would be contracted, with each Major League team claiming one squad in Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, and Low-A for a total of 120 minor league affiliates. There was also speculation about a geographic realignment of the leagues to reduce travel costs and facilitate roster moves to and from the parent teams. The extent to which this realignment occurred was a surprise to many, though, myself included. The Charlotte Knights, an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, have played in the International League (IL) since their elevation to Triple-A in 1989. Under the new alignment, the IL is gone, replaced by the generically named Triple-A East. The Knights will play in the Southeast Division of the Triple-A East, along with their former IL rival