1) I had occasion to review my 2014 income tax return this week and was reminded of an interesting item on it. A number of my books are available on Amazon. Last summer someone downloaded a copy of Memoirs of a Grade Ten Dropout to their tablet. In October I received a royalty cheque for $1.37. When I went to my usual bank branch to cash the cheque I pointed out to my favourite teller that it was US funds. She looked at me with a completely straight face and said, “I may have to put a hold on this.” We both had a good chuckle as she handed me a loonie and two quarters. But that’s not the main reason I’m bringing this up. In addition to issuing me that $1.37 cheque last October, in March Amazon sent me a form 1042S (equivalent to a Canadian T5). Factor in the price of two first class stamps and I was thinking that Amazon can’t have made much money on that download. But then I realized it would probably have been more expensive to exempt the transaction from their royalty payment and income tax reporting procedures than it was to issue and mail the cheque and document. What an interesting business world we live in, where it’s likely cheaper to process something than it is not to.
2) At lunch last week Pete Conacher handed me a book saying, “Lyman, I think you’ll really enjoy this.” Its title is Lessons From Behind the Glass, written by Allyson Tufts. The book chronicles her years of watching her goalie son, from the first day he ever stepped on the ice right up to the day he was drafted by an OHL team. (Although she uses pseudonyms throughout her book, a couple of minutes on the internet established that her son is likely Brock Tufts, a goalie with the Hamilton Bulldogs, formerly the Belleville Bulls). Ms. Tufts aptly describes the emotional roller coaster she experienced while living through the highs and lows of being a hockey mom. That alone makes it an enjoyable read. But this book should be mandatory reading for every parent, coach, and executive involved in any way with kids’ sports. Ms. Tuft’s lessons will save a lot of people a lot of anxiety, heartbreak and frustration. And if the adults take the lessons to heart, playing sports will be a lot more enjoyable for the kids. It’s available online at www.lessonsfrombehindtheglass.com
3) I’ve never been a prankster, but I’ve always appreciated pranks that are clever and harmless. I heard about one this summer I like, even though its logistical machinations make me wonder whether it was actually ever pulled off. The idea was to acquire four little piglets and paint the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 5 on their respective backs. They would then be taken to, and released in, a large box store; let’s say Walmart. The fun would be watching frantic staff members fruitlessly searching for number 4.
4) Baseball lost one of its most iconic stars this week with the passing of Yogi Berra at the age of 90. There’s no question he was one of the game’s greatest catchers; maybe even the best ever. Consider his 10 World Series championships, 15 all-star team selections, 3 MVP awards, and 358 home runs. Of course, he’s equally famous for his seemingly nonsensical philosophical comments, which when carefully analyzed made some sort of sense. Everyone understands what he meant by “It isn’t over till it’s over” and “Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.” His oft-quoted response to a teammate who asked him the time (“Do you mean right now?”) makes perfect sense when considered in context. The Yankees were flying to the west coast and had been in the air a couple of hours when Yogi was asked the time. Think about it for a minute. What Yogi was asking the questioner was whether he meant New York time, west coast time, or the time in Kansas, over which they were probably flying at that moment. On the other hand, though, he also said: “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.” “If people don’t want to come to the ballpark nobody can stop them.” And, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical” But my favourite is, “You know, I didn’t say most of those things I said.” Joe Garagiola, who is now 89 years old, was a catcher in the National league for nine years. He and Yogi grew up on the same street in St. Louis and were life-long friends. Garagiola said one time, “Imagine spending nine seasons in the major leagues and not even be the best catcher on your block!”
5) Most sideline interviews with athletes are a complete waste of time because their answers are programmed, non-informative and usually inane. Barry Davis’ recent sideliner with Blue Jays catcher Dinoer Navarro was a rare and refreshing exception. When asked about being with the Jays and also having a new addition to his family, Dioner replied, “I have everything in life I ever wanted.” My friend Rick Briggs-Jude is a television producer who works many Blue Jay games and is around the team a lot. Rick told me that that answer was typical of Dioner’s character and attitude. He said Dioner is one of the finest people he’s ever met.