The Golden Pitch

There is an esoteric term in the glossary used by persnickety baseball fans like myself called the golden pitch. It refers to a pitch on which either team can win the World Series if a certain hit or out is recorded. For example, with two outs and runners on second and third bases and the home team down by one run in the bottom of the 9th, almost any base hit wins the game and any out loses the game for the home team. As such, it must take place in Game 7 of the World Series, in the 9th inning or later, with the home team behind by three runs or fewer and at least one runner on base. Until 2016, it had happened on only seven occasions, most recently just two years before, in 2014. Continue reading

How I Got Hooked on Magic

On a recent trip to Australia and New Zealand, I had a nostalgic moment that made me recall my entry into the world of Magic. As my flight from Sydney to Christchurch was taking off, I popped open the Kindle app on my iPad looking for something to read. The trip was around 3 hours and, unlike the 15-hour flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, I wasn’t tired. I happened upon a book I’d downloaded probably a year ago and been excited about when I bought it, but somehow hadn’t gotten around to reading. It’s called So Do You Wear a Cape? and, as a longtime Magic player, I was engrossed in it immediately. Its author, Titus Chalk, is about my age and discovered Magic around the same time I did. Coincidentally, he had just moved to New Zealand and happened upon it when—like me—he was unable to ingratiate himself into any of several cliques at school and finally gravitated toward the nerds, who introduced him to this peculiar new game. Continue reading

A Picky Eater Goes Abroad

Perhaps it’s just all those movies I’ve seen in which outlandish caricatures of people from other countries engage in huffy, exaggerated outbursts whenever a foreigner—usually an American, natch—commits a cultural faux pas, but I can’t stand the idea of doing so myself. Before I travel to another country, I do some homework. I research cultural differences and look for red flags of behavior that’s considered normal in America but would be unacceptable there. I try to speak the language. I make every effort to not attract any more attention than necessary. The idea of perpetuating the stereotype of the unworldly American tourist who doesn’t bother to learn the language or customs of the country he’s visiting, and expects all the locals to speak English and cater to him, is mortifying to me. The vast majority of visitors from other countries I have encountered in America seem to have done their due diligence when coming here, and most of them have learned quite a bit of English—which I find rather impressive, given how complex English is—so I figure it’s the least I can do. Continue reading