Monthly Archive for August, 2009

When Life Throws You Curveballs, You Take Them The Other Way

In a literary sense, I sort of like clichés. Before they become hackneyed and mundane, they are tight exceptional metaphors and similes. The first time somebody compared his lover’s eyes to a glowing moon, or her beauty to a red rose it was brilliant. The meaning of those words has worn over time, but not the initial spark of genius from which they were born. Like any writer, I avoid clichés as much as I can, but their initial spark remains bright in my mind.

The same can be true for most conventional wisdom: at one point, it was not conventional. It was just an idea that explained something fairly well, or a strategy that was effective most of the time. The sacrifice bunt, for example, is a conventional strategy in baseball. It’s often employed without second thought, lauded if effective, criticized if ineffective (or used too frequently). But the first time some manager trotted a weak-hitter out to move a runner over with a bunt, it probably blew minds.

In the tendency to assign grand meaning to Sports, I see both the cliché and the conventional wisdom. I see the initial reasoning for doing so and dig the value of this pretense, but I also see the worn out catchphrases and the strained logic and wonder why it happens. There are so many sayings about Sports – and I mean to refer to Sports as a proper noun here – that it gets hard to remember which ones came from Vince Lombardi and which ones originated with some orthopedic surgeon coaching his son’s Little League Team.

Football is War. Baseball is a microcosm for life. Casey Stengel and John Wooden and so on and so forth and I think I’ll grab myself a drink. The task of a coach is to mold young men, men who prove their mettle, prove their value as humans on the field of play. By this world view, people don’t dive in front of slap shots, or lean into inside fastballs, or take a hard charges in the lane merely because they want to win the game, but because winning the game has everything to do with winning at life. And damn it to hell if life is not about winning.

The point to all this crotchety, self-righteous, rambling is pretty much to bemoan the overwrought (ironic that I’m calling somebody that) way we think about sports. I’m thinking we should back up a smidge. Instead of seeking wisdom in the broad existence of Competition and Running and Playing and Winning and Losing maybe we can find wisdom elsewhere. Maybe the real wisdom can be found in the tiny situations, the intricacies of each game, the times that a particular sporting event lines up with a particular moment in our lives. Baseball is the National Pastime, not the National University or the National Church. Things are better this way.

The game serves a wonderful purpose: not as a metaphor, but as an entity that merits discussion on its own terms. There is insight to be had and wisdom to be found in baseball. The sport has its own language and its own issues and its own ongoing dialogue. Sometimes baseball mirrors greater society and sometimes it exists on a completely separate plane. Baseball and Sports in general, contribute to language and culture and dialogue the way anything else do. There are things a man’s curveball can tell us, but there also things his marriage or his job performance or his fashion sense can tell us.

I love the way Free Darko can extrapolate on-court behavior and performance into stunningly accurate and refreshing takes on an athlete’s broader position in our society, his own personal struggles, and the general mythology of sport. But I also appreciate that while Greg Maddux’s repertoire and approach and legend seem an accurate reflection of his entire existence, he probably wouldn’t put it that way. Sports is just another activity in our lives which means sometimes it’s an effective way to make the nuanced, the deeply personal, the incomprehensible events and emotions that we deal with every day a little easier to understand. But sometimes those events and emotions are better explained in the context of a road trip, or a meal, or a six pack of beer.

The Free Darko guys understand this. They like basketball and have a keen sense for what basketball can tell us about both itself and the broader world, but they realize that the game is not a perfect representation of society. Unlike the speeches of Vince Lombardi, or the pained reminiscing of nostalgia-crazed “those were the days” baseball fans, there is no dogma to be found here. There is only the transitory wisdom and pleasure of a pastime.

We must realize that while Sports can tell us unique and vibrant and refreshing things, it cannot tell us everything. A life is a life, a war is a war, and baseball, to end with a surprisingly fitting cliché, is only a game.

The State of the Cap

There’s an interesting profile about the New Era hat makers in the New York Times today. It’s a business that has, more and more, catered to an audience outside of baseball purists, including fashion taste-makers. Despite the overall trend towards flashy fashion caps, as tirelessly documented on the Strictly Fitteds blog, the recession has caused New Era to return to its core business of selling fans official MLB hats.

hat chart mlb

The article is a good enough reason to think about baseball caps for a minute or two. We might start with the players themselves, who get a brief mention in the article, describing a visit to MLB clubhouses by a New Era dude:

Each year, Dave Aichinger from New Era visits every clubhouse in the majors to make sure the players have enough caps. These days, the biggest issue for the players is the height of the crown. Younger players like a lower crown while older players prefer a higher one.

Some players pull out the white gauze that absorbs sweat on the inside of the cap. Other players want their hats to have a starched look. Some players consider it bad luck when extra decals are added to commemorate anniversaries.

“It’s all about tradition and superstition,” Aichinger said.

Each team has a credit through M.L.B. to buy caps. The Boston Red Sox, one of the more superstitious teams, rarely change a thing, while the Pittsburgh Pirates issue new caps almost every month, Aichinger said. Roger Clemens used to change his caps several times a game to stay dry, while Orel Hershiser used to paint the underside of his visor black to help him focus.

The players have enormous influence on the marketplace, whether it’s a well-worn cap made famous by John Wetteland or the caps with earflaps that became popular after the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays wore them in last year’s World Series.

There are many more strata of baseball caps in the stands, without the rigors of MLB standards.

You’ll often see those soiled, decrepit caps that seem welded onto the head of a given fan, even if it’s a cheaply made promo cap given out at a mid-season game in 1988. “Why don’t you wear that bad boy into the shower every once in a while,” a nearby fellow fan wants to whisper. There must be a story there. Maybe it was a great game, or a game attended with someone special. It’s a cap with a story, whatever that might be.

Others wear the pristine “dad cap” that looks like it’s been kept in a glass case at home. I call it a dad cap because it’s worn the way my dad wears his baseball caps: high and tight, looming over the brow like a general. (Omar Vizquel wears a dad cap.)

Dad cap.

Dad cap.

Caps are also a simple way for fans to declare their favor for one of a team’s logo iterations over another, via the retro cap. If you still like the Rangers’ blocky T from the Nolan Ryan era, go for it. Never much cared for the new Blue Jays modern artwork? Fire up that Kelly Gruber white panel number and live it like it’s 1990. With a baseball cap, unlike a jersey or a jacket or even a t-shirt, kicking it retro is possible without being overbearing. It’s a simple statement, the cap, in complicated times.

Then there’s the New Era era cap, with all manner of gyrations and patters and logo sizes apparently, according to the above article, ushered in by Spike Lee’s 1996 request for a red Yankees cap. Call it a complicated statement in complicated times, with a post-modern commentary on tribalism and the sanctity of symbols. Is a Yankees hat still a Yankees hat if it’s red? Or is it something else entirely? Is an American flag still an American flag if it’s upside down, or on fire? Not every fashion capper considers these ponderous questions, but it’s not a stretch to suggest that even a few color changes can change the visual landscape of fandom, like a user-driven Wikipedia of symbology.

yankees hat red

I’ve experienced the downside of this fashion cap era myself, as I’m guessing you have too if you’ve spent any time in an away city. On several occasions I’ve seen folks around with an Astros cap on. “Hey, Astros,” I’ve said awkwardly, throwing out the double thumbs up.  But the Astros-cap-wearer gives me a funny look: “Oh, sorry man, I just like the hat.” Punch to the gut. I’ve committed this minor sin myself in the past, sure, but since those incidents I’ve stuck with the cap of the team I actually support, as I don’t want to take an unwitting fan on that grueling emotional roller coaster.

I’m guessing that a fan’s cap of choice typically correlates to the manner in which that fan conducts the rest of his or her life. A frat boy sleeping on a pile of dirty socks every night is more likely to sport the stinky chapeau, whereas a lawyer from the suburbs keeps his cap on a hook at night, next to his leather suspenders. Not rocket science. The fashion caps blur the lines a little more. I’ve even had the notion to buy one, but I’ve stopped short, feeling that I couldn’t “pull it off,” that my daily wardrobe couldn’t support a super-flashy head piece.

My personal cap rotation consists of one up-to-date New Era Astros cap, chewed to smithereens by my dog and sliced around the edges for a looser fit, and one adjustable mesh-back (the fancy mesh, not the trucker hat) with the Astros logo from the 80s and still the finest cap design the Astros have ever worn. So I cover all of my bases, you could say, with the authentic modern and the sporty slightly alternative retro. The former is a little severe (the Astros cap being black with orange logo) for daily wear, so I tend to use the retro logo when casually around town.

I am curious to know what caps you keep in your stable, and under what circumstances you wear which one?

Eric: “I wear the standard blue dodger cap with relative frequency. I need a new one though.”

Reminders

August has been slow at Pitchers & Poets, but fear not. We’re getting back into the swing of things. Ted and I have a great new project underway (you’ll hear a lot about it in the coming weeks), and we’ve both settled nicely into the semblance of routine after cross-country moves.  Good things are coming so take this as a reminder to check back frequently, add us to your RSS feed, and engage with us on as many social media platforms as you possibly can.

You have been warned:

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Poem of the Week: The Ball Game

This week’s poem by Robert Creeley comes to us via The Good Form,  a blog “where sports and poetry meet to talk it out.” The kind (and kindredly spirited) folks over there contacted us a few weeks ago, and we’re sorry it took this long to introduce you. Anyway, they present Creeley’s poem in the context of a kind of funny, but kind of morbid story about a rainy Saturday night spent in the company of the Padres and Nationals.  As for me, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly old Bob Creeley is trying to say here:

*Update: Ted found this mp3 of Creeley reading the poem out loud: Robert Creeley — The Ball Game

Robert Creeley Poets and Pitchers Poet card setThe one damn time (7th inning)
standing up to get a hot dog someone spills
mustard all over me
.

The conception is
the hit, whacko!
Likewise out of the park

of our own indifferent vulgarity, not
mind you, that one repents even the most visual
satisfaction
.

Early in life the line is straight
made straight
against the grain.

Take the case of myself, and why not
since these particulars need
no further impetus,
take me at the age of 13
and for some reason there, no matter the particular
reason.

The one damn time (7th inning)
standing up to get a hot dog someone spills
mustard all over me

 

An Open Letter to Jim Tracy

Dear Spaghetti Arms,

I try not to engage in criticism. That is, I try to avoid using this blog as a platform to shout about why a certain player should bat in a certain place, or why Joe Scouting Director should be Fired Immediately. There are plenty of blogs for that, but we at Pitchers & Poets pride ourselves on a different kind of thinking. We try to examine the game from both a greater distance and a much more intimate, immediate angle.

We’re much inclined to gently criticize a point of view, or go off for a thousand words on some inane theory on fandom than make actual concrete predictions. Most of this is because Ted and I don’t see baseball as just a collection of results. But another part of it, at least for me, is that I hate being proven wrong by insurmountable piles of data and cold hard facts.

flying spaghetti monster

So it’s with a heavy heart that I apologize to you Jim Tracy. I not only questioned your hiring as manager of the Colorado Rockies, but berated the team’s management for it. Here are some of the silly things I wrote:

In both Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, Jim Tracy was epically dull, notably un-dynamic, and completely void of compelling traits.

Okay that’s still true.

Even on an interim level this might be the least inspired managerial hiring in the history of baseball.

Here are some statistics:

70-54 as of today

19-28 on May 29 when Clint Hurdle was fired.

51-26 since you, Jim Tracy, took over the club.

You can’t see it, but I’m actually looking away from the screen as I type this, so shamed I am by the numbers above.

It’s not Jim Tracy’s fault he’s dull and ineffective and keeps getting hired. I’m sure old Spaghetti-Arms is a nice enough guy and he certainly won’t screw things up too badly.

If you discard my sarcastic, mocking tone, then this statement is actually accurate too.

Anyway, the point is I was wrong about you Jim Tracy. Your arms remain discomfortingly long and your gaze remains eerily unaffected, but you certainly have the capacity to manage a baseball team. As much as I’d like to hold on with contemptuous pride to the words with which I described you (words like unsurprising, conventional, representative of a managerial stases in the MLB bloodstream, and retread), I must let them go. They were inaccurate and unjust and I have learned my lesson.

In the future, more esoteric, off-kilter, semi-obsessive posts on fandom, less pretending I actually know something about the inner workings of the Colorado Rockies. Alright, Jim. May you win the Wild Card, but fall comfortably short of the Dodgers in the NL West Race.

Warmest Regards,

Eric

That Time of Year: The Baseball Season and its Stories Thus Far

memorial[Quick non-sequitorial question: am I the only one who leaves Fire Joe Morgan in my RSS reader, even though nothing new ever pops in, as a kind of memorial?]

Yesterday, a friend of mine claimed she could smell Fall on the air. I acted like I didn’t know what she was talking about, but it’s hard to deny that the sad and joyful truths of this baseball season now feel set in stone for most of fans of most teams. The halcyon days of summer can no longer mask the gray pallor of failure for the lion’s share of the league, and the long middle days are giving way to the short, action-packed ones.

For the teams with a chance at postseason access, the season is heating to a glow. The Texas Rangers, of all teams, are challenging the Red Sox and the Rays going into the final turn. I have general awareness of three or four of the Rangers pitchers, but as far as I can tell they are a band of unknowns doing an above average job as led by old Millwood, holding the line while the artillery–Kinsler and Cruz and Young and Blalock–pepper the enemy from three trenches back. At a glance, though, no Ranger hitter is having a world-class season, a Pujols-type year, but rather a bunch of them are hitting well enough at once. After wowing the baseball world last year, Josh Hamilton has been cooled by injury and ineffectiveness. One of the go-to storylines of this past offseason, Michael Young’s move to third to make way for Elvis Andrus, seems to have worked out just fine, if only to keep Young still-potent bat readily available. It’s a team that has milled a winning product from a tenuous blend of well-balanced averageness. Hardly a dynasty-making proposal, but at this time of year it’s not dynasties that matter, but flashes in the pan.

Flash_in_the_pan_

That simple exercise above is another symptom of this time of the year, when the glamour of spring has worn away to the grind of late summer, which is to say the parsing of all of the stories. Every season has its Texas Rangers, and literally hundreds more when you take into account the breakout years and the remarkable runs of fortune. One can hardly follow all of these stories without devolving into a post-modern zombie state, so we, I think, take a moment here and there to investigate them from afar, to put ourselves in the shoes of, for example, the typical Rangers fan. He or she is no doubt halfway to the moon right now with a kind of desperate hope, that this team will drive forward on the wings of optimism and make a real run at it. My brief synopsis does little to capture the crescendos of passion that come with a season like this Ranger one, but sometimes it’s the best that we can do to live vicariously for a few minutes.

Other notable (and pleasant) surprises: the Giants looking to recapture the Bonds era success, the Rockies looking to repeat 2007, the Marlins who are a surprise every year, the young and powerful Dodgers, the unsurprising surprising Yankees…. The sour apples of the bunch: the Unmazing Mets, the fire-saling Indians….

So what’s the flip side? Joe Posnanski has chronicled the putrid Royals franchise with the zeal of an Egyptian royal scribe, so there’s nothing more I can add to that unadulterated pity party. My Astros team might be a less extreme example of the anti-Rangers (or Phillies or Rays of last year) storylines. The Astros have had a remarkable run in the last decade or so, with late season triumphs and under-the-radar buzzes of the tower. But this year, mediocrity has come home to roost, with healthy winning streaks undercut by an overall malaise, despite some legitimate star power. Unlike the Rangers, the Astros have been unable to balance their faults with their strengths, so it’s been a long year that around this time seems ultimately futile.

royal tenenbaums futility

I don’t introduce the Astros just to insert my home team for no reason. Rather, their 2009 tale embodies the plight of most teams, those trending towards the middle of the pack, with seasons that rise and fall but ultimately end up smack dab in the middle, which is, in the baseball universe, nowhere. Optimism and pessimism for fans is leveled out into a broad plain of normalcy. The list of teams that aren’t out of it but aren’t in it is filled with last year’s surprises and next year’s surprises, with solid clubs and clubs over-performing even to reach average–the Cubs, the Braves, the White Sox, the Twins. Some twists of fate could put them in the running easy, but for now they’re mellowing out in the middle.

If I’ve rendered the regular season too complete, then I’ve gone too far. Whatever doldrums this time of the year contains, there are just that many or more plot deviations standing at the ready to confound the predictive nature of the past. A four-game series can change the fortunes of the last three months in a half a week; a minor slump mixed with a minor run of luck is an intoxicating cocktail. So let’s not close out our tabs too early. Except for you, Posnanksi, you’re the designated driver.

Poem Of The Week: Brush Back

This poem comes from a chapbook by Jilly Dybka called “Fair Territory.” You can download it here. For free. The poem’s relevance should be obvious in these trying times. Pardon the format:

Brush Back Poem

Grains of Loyalty: Staying True to Your Team in Traveling Times

Transience might be the defining characteristic of my generation, those in the ballpark of their twenties right now. It starts with college a thousand miles from home, then a junior year abroad, then post-college city-hopping to chase down entry-level jobs, and then post-post college grad school hopping to chase down normal-type jobs. My own pursuits and mispursuits recently brought me–as of a week ago–to Seattle, Washington. I’ve arrived, in other words, at the latest geographical challenge to that dusty term, loyalty.

Loyalty

I was born in and have spent a considerable portion of my life in Houston, Texas, and I’m an Astros fan. My high school days were a golden time for the home team, as me and my buddy Mike skipped out on afternoon classes to spend hours in the Astrodome, under the fluorescent lights, watching Biggio and Bagwell. But since those geographically stable, unambiguously Astro-faithful days, I’ve lived in six cities or towns in six states. By my tally, that would stake each of the Red Sox, the Braves, the Cubs, the White Sox, the Reds, and now the Mariners with a decent claim for my attentions (for what they’re worth). The draw of some have been greater than others, driven by media outlets (I was a Braves fan in the early nineties only because they were on TV every night) and friendships. But usually there is the ever-moving convivial current, the urge to float along downstream with those around you, in spite of the quiet, wooded pond waiting back home.

At 17, I left for college in New England, and in the days before mlbTV, it was nearly impossible to pass as an engaged Astros fan from so far away. All I had were the Houston Chronicle’s game recaps to work with. I couldn’t see the new rookie play, I couldn’t watch the fading veteran struggle to replicate his past glory. I could read about it, and that’s not the worst, but it gives little sense of satisfaction. To others, you sound like an absentee father talking half-proudly about the children he doesn’t know.

Naturally, therefore, as a Robinson Crusoe figure stranded on an island barren of any Astros awareness whatsoever, I was drawn into the narrative structures that unfolded around me. The Red Sox fans dominated the narrative game, this before the decade of their abundance. Back then they were hypnotically loud, obnoxious, sour, despised and despising, especially by and of the loud, obnoxious, hubristic Yankees fans, whose narrative at the time was that of the wealthy hypochondriac (whose illness, it turned out, was all too real). There were other cadres–some Mets fans, a few Phillies fans–but the Sox and the Yanks banter filled up the TV rooms; it was their bemoaning and disbelief and jubilation that steered the baseball conversations up that way. The Sox fans with their ill-fated futility, the overlooked attic inventors to the Yankees fans’ canny corporate taste makers. Of course these stories were infectious.

What I found so compelling was that term I mentioned above: the loyalty. Never before or since have I met fans whose teams were so much a part of their personal fabric. They oozed allegiance, not from some choice, but by a sort of birthright. If it wasn’t an actual birthright, it became so through sheer force of will, through a repetition so relentless the Catholics would be jealous. Red Sox fans and Yankees fans believed it–they believed that they were inseparable from their teams–and it was so. Loyalty was not a choice of geography, it was a certainty. Not being a religious person, and being an Astros fan, I’d never seen that before.

dan duquette.jpg

Anyhow, I’ve diverged, but that was my first sense of the tenuousness of loyalty, that feeling I’d get listening to Red Sox talk on sports radio, and imagining myself for a couple of ticks to be a Red Sox fan, to be as engaged in those tedious, melancholy debates as the Irish kid from Newton, Mass. I felt a little guilty, but I also felt that, like an adulterer, my desire was overwhelming my reason and my loyalty. In the end I overcame temptation, and watched the Astros when they showed up every several months on ESPN’s national broadcast. But the same thing happened again in Chicago, with America’s second great–and now its only–bastion of despair, the Cubs. Fortunately, I got to see the Astros play locally a few times, and it helped that they were in the same division, so the sense of isolation wasn’t as great. But I didn’t, I’m ashamed to say, discourage my wife from getting a Cubs hoodie. (It looks great on her.)

So what is it about this loyalty? Why should I feel bad about switching allegiances, if that’s what my id demands? The word itself derives from the term leal, which is in some way related to the term fealty, which means fidelity, which means faithful. So there is an implicit sort of religious drive behind it, of faith over choice. One doesn’t think of choosing a religion (though it happens all the time, I suppose), as much as one is born into it, and I think there’s the perception that baseball fans should work in the same manner. Fathers playing catch with sons, and that sort of hereditary legacy. That is, after all, how I was drawn into the appeal of the New England fans, with the jealousy of a day guest at the country club. And the guilt creeps in too, the way the day guest feels bad about his friends back home and all of those after all pretty pleasant bike rides through the boring old neighborhood at sunset.

So its an internal process, this loyalty business, a way of calibrating one’s own compass to sustain a sense of continuity and a connection with the homeland in the midst of the transience that I mentioned in the first paragraph. Guilt comes into play, and temptation lurks around every corner of the continent. I could’ve become a Red Sox fan whole hog, yes, but would I have enjoyed their 2004 and 2007 World Series victories as much as I would have an Astros win, in 2005 for example? The answer is too easy, and so an Astros fan I remain.

The good news, or at least the news, is that for all of this existential wrangling, there are vastly more tools available today to nurture the uprooted adherent. With mlbTV and radio, media coverage is always available everywhere, and the monopoly of content is wrested away from the ESPN scheduling gestapo with all of their New England-centrism, into the hands of the MLB. And you don’t even need a TV. The same flexibility holds for all of life too, obviously, which probably means that college freshmen, instead of abandoning their high school friends until next summer, get to hear all about how shitty a team each other is having year round.

The residual effects of this ease of access suggests to me that today’s baseball-loving college freshmen a) spend a lot more time than they already do huddled in a shadowy corner of their ten foot, double occupancy dorm room watching their home team play meaningless September games b) find even fewer reasons to interact with their peers who are all out having more fun than them anyway (see item a) c) be out 120 bucks of WoW budget money d) fail to detach themselves completely from their vastly romanticized high school days, thereby spending the next four years devising ways to get back to Cincinnati or Cleveland or Milwaukee instead of just getting on with it already.

I kid, of course. It’s possible to closely follow your home town team on a daily basis, as if you were there, and bring it up regularly in conversation, even though you’re thousands of miles from where your team does it’s business, in a city with its own far more successful team, without sounding overbearing or brutally out of touch. Right?

Poem of the Week: Pull Hitter

Mariner Russell Branyan is having his best year as a pro, the proverbial “career year.” Credit may go to a computer-aided eye exercise program, or to statistical anomaly, but the big lefty has kept the Ms over .500 and in sniffing distance of the Wild Card in a tough AL West division. In honor of Branyan–a hard-swinging pull hitter–we present “Pull Hitter” by R. Gerry Fabian, via Baseball Almanac. In a year when every pitch must look to him like a grapefruit, this poem might remind Russell of those long minor league nights, after and before another bus ride, when the latest chance at four bases floats inches past the pole, and a career
.234 hitter grounds another chopper to the first baseman, longing one more evening for the major league minimum.

At
the
CRACK
of the bat
a l o n g drive
c
  u
    r
      v
    i
  n
g
Foul!

Catfish and the Centennial

As of today Pitchers & Poets has enough posts for somebody (like  VH1 or Pitchfork or  Time Magazine or the Modern Library Association) to create a definitive and Important list of the  Top 100 Pitchers & Poets posts. Indeed this very collection of words that you are reading right now is the blog’s 100th post. It’s very cool to write that, to reach that A-ball milestone, as I had very tempered expectations in terms of not just audience, but the quality and consistency of the content when i started this blog. Thanks to Ted for coming out of nowhere to simultaneously challenge me, spell me, and reign me in with his writing.  And thanks to you guys for reading, or at the very least pretending to.

Some species of Catfish can live to be over 100 years old.
Fact #1: Some species of Catfish can live to be over 100 years old.

Your reward is an update to the Baseball Mixtape. This one’s a cover of Bob Dylan’s classic bootleg Catfish. This version, performed by a Miami blues artist named Albert Castiglia, has a kind of heavier, soul-oozing vibe. Ted, who dug this up somehow, says there is a Dr. John-ness too it. I’ll agree with that and mention my first reaction: it puts me in a swampy southern minor league ballpark on a hot summer night. Enjoy.

Albert Castiglia- Catfish

Fact #2: It takes longer to read the first 100 pages of a James Michener novel (like Centennial!) than it does to write 100 essays about baseball.
Fact #2: It takes longer to read the first 100 pages of a James Michener novel (like Centennial!) than it does to write 100 essays about baseball.
Some species of Catfish can live to be over 100 years old.