Performance Review

A Drexel University student (a zealous baseball fan) once did a 6-month ad agency internship for me  in Chicago. After he went back to school, I received some paperwork from his internship program.

I called a friend, then teaching at Penn, who said I could stay with him. I booked a cheap direct flight to Philadelphia and completed paperwork at my friend’s house.

I contacted the former intern and arranged a meeting place, “Gate 1 of Veteran’s Stadium…”

I arrived in at the Philly airport a few weeks later.

Two days later, I was here:

Baseball diamond, Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia

Veterans Stadium
(Paul Altobelli / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

That stadium was ugly, the Phillies were bad, and it was a hellishly hot day. It wasn’t hard to find privacy. My former intern and I just walked up four rows from where my friend and his kids sat. We went over the review form  and returned a few minutes later.

Certainly employee-performance reviews during the 3rd inning of a Phillies game is one those things that is no longer a thing.

What is the Zoom equivalent?

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Naming Rights

Heads or Tails?

My favorite  sports memory was a coin toss.

This is likely quite rare, among fans, and even non-fans. I may be even be alone in this.

I haven’t watched football for many years, my reasons for shunning it are too many to list here ( short story: nothing to do with kneeling vs standing). Though, the last team that I had any interest in (decades ago) was the Washington Redskins; which as of yesterday are no longer the Redskins.

I didn’t have any prior connection to the team, but when we were young men, one of my high school teammates became their special teams captain for a few years.  My loyalty to Washington’s  team came on rather suddenly.

Seeing Reggie on the field, across from John Elway and other Denver Broncos’ captains, for the Super Bowl coin toss stands alone as my all-time favorite sports moment.

Referee and Redskins football player at Coin Toss cermony

Reggie Branch, Super Bowl XXII

No other sporting event has ever reduced me to tears. But there I was, furiously wiping my eyes and  cheeks, with fingers that had just handled some hot peppers, so I cried some more.  At least I could  legitimately use the “I got something in my eye,” excuse when my friends made fun of me.

That Name, Though

I didn’t think that much about the name “Redskins” in the beginning. As a whiter-than-white kid, growing up in the era I did, I was exposed to many  entertainment options containing  racist elements. You probably were, too (if you don’t believe me, you  can pop some search terms into YouTube–perhaps ‘racist cartoons’– then you can get back to me). As a child, when I first heard the name Redskins, I never even gave a thought as to whether it was offensive.

Though,  as I pondered the name and listened to people, it was clear how problematic the name Redskins was.  I briefly lived in the DC area in the early 1990s, and there was what seemed like an especially large amount of uproar about the name. Yes, it was  a pretty messed-up name.

I was glad to read today that the owner of the team announced that the Redskins name was being dropped. This followed comments by the teams owner that he would “never” change the name. This threat, by FedEx–which had naming right the team’s stadium– to revoke a sponsorship deal seems to have been the reason for the reversal.

Money talks.

From what I’ve seen on social media, many middle-aged white men are offended by the decision. This  seems rather comical, in the same way when dudes claimed that their childhoods were ruined when a remake of Ghostbusters featured women in the lead roles.

Let them be offended. They’ll get over it, or become outraged about something else, soon enough. It was well past time for that team’s name to be changed.

Good riddance.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I don’t think I’d talked to Reggie Branch since  we were about 20, when during a college break we both showed up at our high school’s weight room to for a workout.

Though a few years ago, I was able to get his contact info. In the subsequent  text message conversation, I made it abundantly clear that I alone was responsible for his success.

“I missed so many blocks in high school, that you had no choice but to become a tough runner. You owe me everything! EVERYTHING!”

Football play runner avoiding Defense

Scott Smith (72) Preparing to Miss a Block

He laughed, or at least his emojis laughed for him, and he agreed.

I feel as though he should give me his Super Bowl ring.

Bonus Track

Much of the world is in a sports-starved state, so I’ve included this post, National Signing Day about my storied career, and  my scouting report.

Yes, it’s satire…..or is it?

 

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The Happiest Emergency Field Hospital on Earth

I am a recovering Florida Man.

I haven’t lived there in decades, and after I lost my parents I haven’t had much motivation to go back there, even for brief  vacations, during Michigan’s face-cutting cold.

I do know a lot of people in Florida  and I’m related to some them, so I do keep up on things going on in that area, particularly with the surge of C0vid-19 cases.

Reading news last week, I was stunned into silence when I read some articles, within a few minutes of each other, where I learned  that:

  1. The state was approaching 15,000 new daily cases (they exceeded the threshold days later) and
  2. Dozens of hospitals, in the state, including  several near Orlando, were beyond their ICU capacity and
  3. The Disney theme parks in Central Florida were opening that weekend.

The parks were also opening in the hottest part of the year and during hurricane season.  I don’t even want to think about where people with heat-related,  or storm-related  injuries, would seek care.

This a hot mess that is inevitably going to become hotter and messier.

Saturday morning, (July 10)  I saw several tweets that made mention of the opening of the Disney Parks, and included Disney’s “Welcome Home” reopening video:

One tweet in particular captured  my sentiments, Yashar Ali ( @yashar) simply stated: “No, Thanks.”

Moments later, my current thoughts drifted to some rather old thoughts, and I had a rather vivid recollection of dream I’d had years, and years ago, and hadn’t thought about much since.

Here, we queue up the flashback sound effect from old sitcoms:

As a teen recovering in an Orlando hospital after surgery, for several weeks, I had wacky-ass dreams/hallucinations because my sleep was disrupted by the pain, steroid treatment, etc.

I once had a vision that my hospital bed was in a huge room with hundreds of others, and Mickey, Pluto, Donald, etc….were tending to patients.

WTF?

I realized I was at Disney World, in a hospital!

An alarm went off and I saw that there was coin slot on my bed and I had to put more money in. I had no coins, I was in a hospital gown….and I was sporting   a Foley catheter ffs….

I was told by a (human) nurse  that  if I didn’t have any money, I had to leave the bed; she grabbed my arm to yank me out of it. I resisted. Then,

Right about then I awoke, stressed, with quickened breaths.

I saw cleaning staff in my room.  My semi-private room. So, it  just my bed and the one where the fireman with kidney stones slept.

The steroid-fever dream now seems like it could become Disney’s new business model: The Happiest Emergency Field Hospital on Earth.

What do you think? It could help offset some revenue holes for Disney.

Seriously, I understand, that like many other organizations that Disney has been been bleeding cash.  Their theme parks rely on revenue from admissions, meals, souvenirs and that had been closed off for months.

Furthermore, one of their other key holdings, ESPN is likely suffering from the lack of sports; thus the  viewership and ad revenues are down.

I understand that the reopen target date for the theme parks  was set months ago, when Florida had few cases compared to some of hotspot states.

Still,  reopening the parks, even with a reduced cap on guests, is an act of  negligence. Doing so  puts park employees, its guests, and the community at large at risk

If Disney  being pressured by government, they are complicit in a crime.

I don’t have faith that Disney, or the government will make a good decision anytime soon.

My advice to all of you is to stay home:

 

 

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Royal

When I was a sophomore in  (the former “white”) high school, my father shared a conversation he’d had at the local hospital, where he worked as a nurse. He had  been told that Jackie Robinson had made his professional debut in Sanford.

I  knew  (and my father did, too) that Robinson had played in the Negro League, thus knew that the claim wasn’t technically true.

Though I’d  learned that several Major League teams had previously conducted spring training in Sanford. I figured that perhaps the Brooklyn Dodgers were training there when  Robinson made his first appearance with  the organization.

I found out later, that had been  the Dodgers’ intent, but Jim Crowe had other plans.

In 1946, the Brooklyn Dodgers assigned Robinson, and another Black player, Johnny Wright, to one of their minor league affiliate teams, The Montreal Royals, that was conducting spring training in Sanford.

Robinson and Wright were twice run out of town.

The first time, was shortly after they’d first arrived in Sanford, where they were guests in a private home, because they were not allowed to stay at the Mayfair Hotel with the team. Keep in mind,  this was NOT  a hotel policy it was the damn law. 

Branch Rickey, owner of the Dodgers had intended to break baseball’s color line in Sanford, but learned of threats made to Robinson and Wright, thus relocated the minor-league team to Daytona Beach where Robinson and Wright took the field for the first time.

A month later, the team was scheduled to play a game in Sanford. Robinson played in the first inning. But the local police chief ordered him off the field and threatened jail time for the team’s manager, and Wright and Robinson,  if the either of the Black players took the field again.

My reaction to learning this, was along the lines of WTF?!? Though it was  not particularly surprising. This was the Deep South.

While, I had begun to enjoy high school, after a bumpy start as a new kid, (a still-chubby freshman, and a yankee at that), there were a lot of things I disliked a lot about Sanford, and looked forward to leaving it one day.

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