Welcome to Reader Rant Round Table for the week of March 23-29, 2014!
This week's offering is a true
(potpourri), a hodgepodge of disparate thoughts jumbled together, higgledy-piggledy. March, it is often said, "Comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb." (Lamb stew, by the way, is a derivation of hodgepodge, although it was originally made with goose, although even more originally "Hotchpotch" was a legal term meaning "taken together in equal parts" - what is now known as "tenancy in common." See what I mean about higgledy-piggledy?)
It was on this date, in 1765, that the British "Quartering Act" went into effect, precipitating, in part, the American Revolution. The "Stamp Act" went into effect the day before. But that's OK (a term that came into popular use this day in 1839). This was also the week, in 1989, that the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, spilling somewhere between a quarter and three-quarters of a million barrels of crude oil into the pristine waters of the sound. (A barrel of oil, by the way, is an inexact term, as the volume of oil in a barrel will vary by air pressure, temperature, and density of the oil. In modern times (and for economic reasons) it is defined as 42 (US) gallons, measured at 14.696 psi and 60 °F. Unless, of course, it is measured anywhere else but the United States. When measuring disasters, though, the oil industry naturally tries to be as inexact as possible - considering liability, and all.) This particular disaster resulted in a major change in the shipping of oil worldwide, as the single-hull design of the Exxon Valdez (since repaired, renamed (x5), and retired) is now banned in North American and European waters.
This week, of course, is defined by disasters. (Remember that "in like a lion" thing?) Weather related disasters accumulate in March in the Northern Hemisphere. But, occasionally, we are transfixed by disasters of another ilk - i.e., man-made. In addition to the Exxon Valdez, the Triangle Shirtwaist factory disaster occurred this week (in 1911), two Boeing 747s collided on a runway in the Canary Islands (in 1977), and the Three Mile Island reactor overheated (1979).
UGH! Let's talk about something else, shall we?
SPRING TRAINING! Spring training has been an annual ritual for Major League Baseball since almost its inception. As early as the 1890s, baseball owners saw the profit merit in showcasing stars and future stars to a wider audience. But it also gave the players the opportunity to train and prepare out of the goldfish bowl attention given by their regular fans. Spring training occurred all over the place, from Havana, Cuba to Hawaii. The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Mexico have also hosted Spring Training. Eventually the congregation of teams in Florida resulted in the creation of the "Grapefruit league." All but six of the current Major League teams have trained in Florida during their history.
In the 1940's, however, there was a color line, and that was particularly true of Florida. It was partially as a result of this that the "Cactus league" developed. According to the autobiography of Bill Veeck (former Cleveland Indians owner) avoiding racism was one reason the Cactus League was established. It seems that
in 1947, Veeck was the owner of the minor league Milwaukee Brewers and the team trained in Ocala, Fla. Veeck inadvertently sat in the Black section of the segregated stands and engaged in conversation with a couple of fans. According to Veeck's book, the local law enforcement told Veeck he could not sit in that section, and then called the Ocala mayor when Veeck argued back. The mayor finally backed down when Veeck threatened to take his team elsewhere for spring training and promised to let the country know why. Veeck's account was the subject of much debate among sportswriters after his autobiography was published, but later investigations proved his story to be mostly accurate.
- Wikipedia. Although many teams had previously trained in California, eventually many were persuaded to congregate in Arizona, and create what has become the Cactus League.