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Prank gone wrong puts Marlins prospect on disabled list

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(Read caption) Checking in on first baseman Josh Naylor of the Grasshoppers

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt – or until a minor league baseball player jeopardizes his career.

Stone Garrett, the Miami Marlins' Minor League Player of the Year in 2015, is on the disabled list after his hand was cut by his roommate and teammate, Class A Greensboro Grasshoppers player Josh Naylor, during a prank that involved a knife, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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"Naylor has a reputation of being a bit of a prankster, but this one obviously went a little too far," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill told the Sun-Sentinel. "Obviously, he's torn up about it. This is a good friend, his roommate. They came into pro ball together, so they're good friends."

Pranks are "a rite of passage," says Jonathan Wynn, a sociologist at University of Massachusetts – Amherst in a telephone interview.

It's not "just about sitting on a Whoopee Cushion anymore, now that social media has become a factor," he tells The Christian Science Monitor.

"Pranks are fun and humorous, but they also set out to break down the traditional barriers of high-low, inside-outside roles in social groups," says Professor Wynn. "In this case, it seems like peer-to-peer bonding that just went wrong."

A prankster designation can be a status symbol, he says.

"There is power in jokes," says Wynn. "There’s a certain status for the joker, the trickster who goes against the rules."

Additionally, the "win" that comes from a successful prank can become socially addictive, he says.

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"Certainly there’s a feedback loop of escalation and it’s a form of communication and bonding," Wynn explains.

Hoaxing icon Joey Skaggs, whose new documentary Art of the Prank screens this week, says in a telephone interview that he has several prank criteria.

"I ask, ‘What is the intent, content and the meaning of the message,' " Mr. Skaggs says. "Does it have a life by itself, does it have a legacy?"

"What I have always done is art. I use the media like a medium, as a painter uses a canvas, to create fake realities," he explains. "My purpose it to reveal the underbelly."

Asked if the current presidential election cycle has inspired him to take action, he laughs, "Absolutely! I’m ready now to reveal that I’m the one behind the Donald Trump campaign. It’s my doing entirely."

On a more serious note, Skaggs says television, YouTube, and social media sites have helped make pranks "ubiquitous."

"The bar has been lowered," he says. "My aim is to raise the bar back to where it belongs."

Not everyone agrees that social media has changed pranking for the worse.

"Pranks have evolved from being simple gags on friends to being as complex as producing a flashmob of hundreds of people to shock random strangers on the street," writes Keith McElwain, president of Pranks Network, in an email to the Monitor.

In 2016, he writes, "Becoming a prankster isn't any different than becoming an attorney or doctor. There is a set of rules to ensure the safety of all parties involved and the compliance with the laws in your area."


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