Unbreakable records

Much debate is had over the “unbreakable record” in sports, records thought to be out of reach and never matched, and thus standing forever. Let the record show many of these so-called unbreakable records have been, well, broken.

Here’s one that probably won’t be.

In his major league career pitching legend Denton True “Cy” Young fashioned 749 complete games. (The exact number has changed a bit over the years but 749 seems to be the current consensus.)

For a little perspective, consider this.

Max Scherzer, the greatest pitcher of his generation, arguably the greatest of this century, and perhaps the greatest I’ve ever seen…

has 11.

Cent’anni, Mr. Angell!

Every once in a while I check Roger Angell’s Wikipedia page to make sure, you know, well, yeah.

Every time I’ve checked it so far it speaks of him in the present tense, and barring something unforeseen, tomorrow when I check it it’ll list his age in triple digits.

(Now that’s an unusual way to start a tribute!)

Roger Angell was born in 1920. World War One had just concluded. As had–sorry to introduce into the story–the previous global pandemic. (Hey, we survived that one… just sayin’.)

In 1920 the magazine that made Roger Angell famous was still five years from publishing its first issue. Certainly one of the most well-known magazines of the century, The New Yorker is where Roger Angell has published his work since 1944. Officially on staff for something like 60 years, he was for decades the magazine’s chief fiction editor. He was still contributing pieces in 2019, three-quarters of a century after his first byline.

Oh, and by the way, he’s the most famous baseball writer of all time.

How far is Roger Angell ahead of number two? Okay, think of the second-most famous sixteenth-century English playwright after Shakespeare.

Roger Angell first wrote on the subject of baseball in 1962, when William Shawn, then editor of The New Yorker, dispatched the 42-year-old writer to Florida to report on the game’s Spring Training season. He was 20 years older than most of the players. And half a century later he was still one of the national pastime’s most widely-read authors, reporting on World Series games well into his nineties.

Most of Roger Angell’s baseball books have been collections of essays. Some of the greatest essays written on the sport. His 2002 collaboration with David Cone (A Pitcher’s Story: Innings with David Cone) has been called a masterpiece. (Okay, it was I who called it that.)

I guess it was no surprise that Roger Angell became a writer. It was the family business, after all. His mother, Katharine S. White, was a writer and editor at The New Yorker from 1925 (six months after its inception) until 1960. his step-father, with whom he was very close, was E.B. White. Yes, that E.B. White, of “Strunk and White” and Charlotte’s Web fame.

Angell learned the craft well, and has a century’s worth of awards to prove it, including a spot in the writers’ section of baseball’s Hall of Fame.

A century’s worth of awards.

Well, his first century.

Still good after a thousand years or so

One of my least favorite things in the world is admitting I was wrong.

You know where this is going.

About a year and a half ago Disney released a new, live-action version of Aladdin, starring Will Smith (of all people) as the Genie and for the past year and a half I’ve flat-out refused to see it. Why? Simple. The cartoon version of Aladdin (1992–also Disney) is so awesome I figured nothing could ever compare.

Well, the cartoon version is still my favorite, but I must admit the 21st offering is pretty dang good as well. The music, the sets, the costumes… I even liked Will Smith. Gettin’ genie wit it.

The tale of Aladdin and his lamp and a thousand and one nights and all that has been around a long time for a reason. It’s good. And we take care with things that are good because it’s so easy to mess them up. Fearing a mess up I avoided seeing this film until my son talked me into it this past weekend. I’m glad he did. And I’ll admit… I was wrong.

First time for everything.

Yeah, that was some Washington football

Was it the roar of the crowd? Or the community pride in that catchy new nickname?

Either way, the professional football team formerly known as the RED***S found its mojo yesterday, after a beginning that was all too characteristic of its sad performance in recent years.

But from the mid-second quarter on? That. Was. Sweet.

Sept. 11 is becoming ancient history

Trying to explain September 11 to kids born in the past decade or so is kind of like trying to explain the coronavirus to, well, kids born in the past decade or so. The world isn’t really like this, so we claim, and soon enough we’ll be back to normal.

Because that’s all any of us really wants. Just to go back to normal.

And someday we’ll talk about it like it’s ancient history.

Isn’t it pretty to think so?

Back to Robert Hall

Schoolbells ring and children sing, “It’s back to Robert Hall again.”

It’s the only song I ever heard my father sing… two lines from a (then) 50-year-old advertising jingle.

He didn’t know the rest of the words either.