Week of October 26, 2015


Dirk Nowtizki. You rang?

Thing We Already Know: The NFL is Awful, Evil

Working PR for the NFL must be a nightmare. The latest example came this week when the NFL fined Steelers players William Gay and DeAngelo Williams for uniform infractions. Their crime? Gay wore purple shoes during a game for domestic violence awareness in honor of his mother, who was shot and killed by his step-father when Gay was 7-years old.


Williams wore eye black with “We Will Find a Cure” and the breast cancer awareness ribbon printed on them, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which the NFL heavily pushes to its own massive profit (from the breast cancer awareness products it sells, the NFL donates only 5% of proceeds to the American Cancer Society, pocketing 90% as profit).


These fines for Gay and Williams came on the heels of the NFL fining Steelers linebacker Cameron Heyward for writing “IRON HEAD” on his eye black in honor of his late father, the great NFL running back “Iron Head” Heyward, who died a few years back from brain cancer. Just what the hell is the NFL’s problem? Seriously. I get it – if you allow some messages, then players will begin to push the line. So what. As long as nothing is inappropriate, political, or an advertisement, why do they care? Because they’re the NFL and they are evil and they do. Roger Goodell is an idiotic, heartless human being. I wish he would just go away. And I feel sorry for the PR professionals working for the NFL who have to spin this – they must hate their job. For their part, Gay and Williams asked that their fines be donated to support their respective causes. Good for them. -TOB

Source: William Gay Wore Purple Shoes for Domestic Violence Awareness, Got Fined”, Josh Alper, Pro Football Talk (10/28/2015); NFL Fines DeAngelo Williams For Raising Breast Cancer Awareness During Breast Cancer Awareness Month”, Ben Rohrbach, Yahoo! Sports, 10/28/2015

PAL: I have nothing more to add on the NFL. As I said last year – I’m just out. Granted, I’ve never been a huge football fan, but the NFL sucks so consistently that they’ve lost me as a casual sports fan. Baseball is too good. The NBA is too good. The NHL playoffs are too good. Soccer is getting way better. What the hell do I need the NFL for, anyway? They can no longer see the forest for the trees. When common sense is involved, the NFL is incapable of making the obviously correct call. I’d love to hear Susan O’Brien’s take on this (TOB’s wife), as she’s got 10 years experience in the PR industry and is as good at her job as anyone I know.

Careless Omission: Tadich Grill

Terri Upshaw – widow of deceased football great Gene Upshaw – is the daughter of Steve Buich, the owner of Tadich Grill, 160+ year-old SF restaurant. When she was 23, she met and fell in love with Upshaw. Earlier this week, she told the Washington Post that her family disowned her because Upshaw was black.

“Her parents, now in their early 80s, and siblings have never met Upshaw’s sons, 28 and 25. She says they didn’t reach out when her husband died. She says that she has tried over the years to make contact with her family — that they ignored her at her grandmother’s funeral. When her oldest son was 3 months old, she says, she took him to her parents’ house and was ordered to leave.”

However, The Washington Post article leaves out one detail, and – according to Steve Buich, it’s the most important detail: Gene Upshaw was married when he and Terri started dating. Per the SF Chronicle: “[Steve Buisch] says that his decision in 1983 to disown daughter Terri Upshaw, who was 23 at the time, had to do with the fact that she’d begun a relationship with a married man — pro football player Gene Upshaw, who was 38 at the time, recently retired from the Oakland Raiders, and in the process of getting a divorce.”

Here’s the deal: regardless of where your gut might fall on this issue, isn’t it extraordinarily careless of the Washington Post to publish this without at least noting that Upshaw was married at the time the relationship with his future wife took place? I’m not siding with either version of the story here, and my bet would be there’s probably some truth to both versions of the story; however, you’d think the Washington Post might want to mention that there may have been other factors at play before positioning this story as a father disowning his daughter because she was in love with a Black guy. – PAL

Source (initial story): “Terri Upshaw says she had to choose between family and love”, Loanne O’Neal, The Washington Post (10/25/15)

Source (follow-up): Tadich Grill’s ex-owner: This wasn’t about race”, C.W. Nevius, San Francisco Chronicle (10/28/15)

TOB: Phil said pretty much what I thought – but let me add this: When the story was first reported by the Washington Post, users who had never been to the Tadich Grill flooded the Tadich Yelp page with 1-star reviews. It shouldn’t, but this drives me insane. Yelp is useless when people do things like this. I JUST WANT TO KNOW HOW THE FOOD TASTES. Driving down the rating of a restaurant because you don’t agree with what may or may not be the personal beliefs of an old man who hasn’t run the restaurant in 20 years defeats the purpose of Yelp.


The New York Times covered a class at my alma mater, UC Berkeley aka Cal, regarding an independent study class aimed at student-athletes with promising professional careers ahead. The class is entitled “Personal Finance and Brand Management in Professional Sports” and it is taught by Stephen Etter, one of the founding partners of Greyrock Capital Group. Etter developed the class after meetings with then Cal football player Nnamdi Asomugha in 2002. Asomugha would go on to do great things, both in the NFL and off the field. Featured in this article is Etter’s current pupil, Cal quarterback and possible 2016 #1 NFL Draft pick Jared Goff, but past students include former Cal athletes Marshawn Lynch and decorated Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin. Etter teaches his students about how to deal with the massive amount of money they are about to be handed, and how to think about money in general. It seems an invaluable resource – I may not have millions, but I sure wish I could take that course. -TOB

Source: Before Student-Athletes Earn a Penny, a Course in How to Manage Millions”, Karen Crouse, New York Times (10/23/2015)

Innocent Doing Work

This one hits real close to home. I’ll try to paint the picture. Como is an offshoot of St. Paul, and it’s mostly blue collar sprinkled with some nicer homes close to downtown (I always thought of it as a neighborhood where University of Minnesota professors lived). Como Lake was the location of my grade school’s annual “marathon” (translation: get neighbors to pledge x amount per mile that you ran/biked/rollerbladed around the lake). The fact that this incredible story takes place in Como makes me smile, and the budding Cross Country refugee at the heart of the story – Innocent Murwanashyaka – is a reminder to never complain. This kid kicks ass in all ways – Cross Country, holding down a job at Menards (think Lowe’s, but Minnesota, with the best commercial jingle ever), and bursting at the seams to go to college. 100% feel good. You can have the phenoms; I want more stories reminding me of the true American Dream. – PAL  

Source:Innocent Is Independent: The Story of A Cross Country Runner”, Sarah Barker, Fittish (10/25/15)

My Favorite Website: Baseball-Reference.com

Here’s a short, neat article on my favorite website: baseball-reference.com. Baseball Reference is amazing. It has every conceivable baseball statistic for every player who ever played, including stats from the minor leagues. It has statistics as far back as 1871, when Lip Pike of the Troy Haymakers led the National Association with 4 home runs. I routinely get lost, diving deep into weird statistical wormholes. Finding names like Lip Pike are one of the true joys of a baseball-reference visit. One time I wanted to find the time my Grandpa took me to an Angels game when the Angels scored 4 runs in the 9th to beat the Brewers. With a little educated guesswork and some sleuthing, I found the game – it was Thursday, July 25, 1996. JT Snow led off the 9th with a home run, and light-hitting shortstop Gary Disarcina hit a walk-off 3-run jack to win it. My Grandpa had tried to leave after the Top of the 9th – but I wouldn’t let him. Another time I found the date this photo was taken:


Saturday, April 20, 1991: My first game at Candlestick Park. Bud Black threw a complete game, 5-hit shutout against a stacked Astros team (Biggio, Bagwell, Caminiti, Steve Finley, Luis Gonzalez). If you love baseball and have never perused Baseball-Reference, do so now. You’ll find lots of great stuff. -TOB

Source: The Sublime Simplicity of Baseball-Reference.com”, Michael Weinreb, Rolling Stone (10/28/2015)

PAL: What a dad story to post.

Video of the Week


PAL Song of the Week: Loudon Wainwright – “The Swimming Song

Check out our full playlist here. It’s like finding $10 in an old pair of pants.

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Maybe I’m spending too much of my time starting up clubs and putting on plays. I should probably be trying harder to score chicks.

-Max Fischer


Week of October 19, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 10.53.06 PM

Stan Van Gundy’s rap game is raw. 

Donuts Are Serious Bidniss

Sometimes it seems that being a professional athlete can be really tedious. That coupled with the fact that many pro athletes are overgrown children can at times lead to some really strange and funny happenings. Take the Minnesota Vikings’ Donut Club. On Saturdays, the players don’t have to arrive at team facilities until 10 a.m. But, as an incentive to arriving early, the players have created a Donut Club – which is exactly what it sounds like and so much more. There are rules to Donut Club: For example, don’t be late; don’t touch the donuts before the designated time (8 a.m.); Always finish your donut; and wear your Donut Club uniform. Yes, Donut Club has a uniform. And it’s kinda sweet:


This is one of the funnier, goofier stories I’ve read in quite a while. -TOB

Source: The Rules of Donut Club”, Kalyn Kahler, The MMQB (10/20/2015)

PAL: These are the seemingly insignificant traditions the make life great. Stupid routines and rules that bring us together and laugh. Doesn’t matter the reason or the time of day – find a way to get together with your people. Look at the smiles on the dudes’ faces. 100% joy. Who wants to start a donut club?

Still The Same: The Chicago Cubs

Cubs fans – and baseball fans in general – have seen this movie before. The Cubs find ways to come up short. Sometimes it’s a cursed goat. Other times the blame falls on a dorky guy in a turtleneck reaching over the wall to snatch a potential out from his home team. This time, it was a better team with a scary-good starting pitching staff and a second baseman out of a Matt Christopher book who can’t stop hitting home runs. This article sums up the 100+ years of heartbreak. D. Francis Berry writes this game summary in the vernacular and stylings of a turn-of the 20th Century sports reporter. It might be a little cute, but it’s the perfect way to to encapsulate the timeless failure that is the Cubs. God love ’em. – PAL

Source: Even in the Language of 1908, the Cubs Come Up Losers”, D. Francis Berry, The New York Times (10/22/15)

Gif break! 

Handsome Man Throws Baseball

Sometimes I read an article that is not terribly interesting, but I want to share the article because of one passage or quote that is too funny to pass up. This is one such instance: Mets pitcher Matt Harvey was struck on his pitching arm by a line-drive in Game 1 of the NLCS. He was fine and was throwing the ball around a few days later. Mets’ pitching coach, Dan Warthen, was asked how Harvey looked playing catch and Warthen responded: “Very handsome.” Heh. -TOB

Source: Matt Harvey Expected to be Available for Game 5 Despite Triceps Bruise”, Anthony Rieber, Newsday (10/19/2015)

PAL: Here’s my Matt Harvey prediction –  his career will mirror Josh Beckett’s in every way. Great stuff, solid success, moments of clutch post-season greatness (don’t forget Beckett threw a complete game shutout against the big bad Yankees, in New York, in the deciding game 6 of the series). Also, at 26, Harvey is already on his way towards mimicking Beckett’s skinny man gut

Gif break! 

The Next Great Fight Already Happened

Tommy is the boxing fan of this duo, but this story has a cool angle to it. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, a late-bloomer from Kazakhstan, is an unlikely choice to be the next big draw in boxing after Floyd Mayweather’s apparent retirement. Yet, the man has serious power (30 knockouts in 33 of his wins. The more likely “next big thing” would have been Canelo Alvarez. The young, talented boxer’s path to the main attraction seemed to be determined before he was 20. The two boxers, with paths that bear no resemblance, find themselves one last fight from the top before it would make sense for them to square off. They fight would be the main draw in a sport that really needs just that. Turns out, they’ve already fought. There were only a handful of people to witness it, but GGG and Canelo sparred 5 years ago it what might prove to be the preview to an eight-figure fight in the near future. There is a lot of other elements to this story – some I dig and some I don’t mind, but I’m a sucker for the foreshadow story that takes place in some nondescript ring. Boxing is all about the build up anyway, right? I mean, I for one like Rocky’s training montages more than the fights. – PAL

Source: ‘Are You Serious?’ The Unlikely Ascent of GGG to PPV”, Eric Raskin, Grantland (10/16/15)

PAL Song of the Week: Ann Peebles – “I Can’t Stand The Rain”

Check out the full playlist with all of our songs here. Play it loud while doing your Saturday chores. You ain’t too old to play your music real loud.

Video of the Week: 


Bills fans go hard.

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“And then, I look over, and she’s reading J. Crew, which was so weird, because I was such a huge J. Crew person then, too. Still am. We sometime like to go to Starbucks on weekends and take an L.L. Bean catalogue along, and I’ll say, ‘Honey, what’s new?’ And she has 5 minutes to look through and find out what’s new.”

– Hamilton Swan

Week of October 12, 2015



Wazzu Popcorn Guy: You Are Not Alone, Nor Are You Forgotten

A little inside baseball on what goes into getting the very best crowd reaction shots on sports broadcasts, specifically college football. What do those crowd shots mean? What feelings do they convey? What are the stories behind those people? Featured are some famous blasts from the past, including my favorite of all time – the Wazzu popcorn fan in the rain. Behold:

I don’t think anything illustrates the feeling of being a sports fan, especially that of a perennial also-ran, as that video of that sad, pathetic man pouring the dregs of his bag of popcorn all over his rain-soaked face, as the drops continue to fall upon him. I can relate. -TOB

Source: Meme People: The Meaning of College Football Viral Fan Shots”, Bryan Curtis, Grantland (10/13/2015)

Say Goodbye to the Ol’ Ball Coach

A bit lost amidst the stories of USC’s firing of head football coach Steve Sarkisian after he allegedly showed up to work Sunday morning drunk (and possibly was drunk during a recent game), is the fact that legendary coach Steve Spurrier abruptly resigned this week from his post as the Head Ball Coach(™) at the other USC – South Carolina, effective immediately. My b.s. detectors are going off, but as of now there are no reasons for his resignation, other than the fact that he is done. Spurrier is a funny guy – very easy to despite, especially if your team routinely played his team. But from a distance, especially as an adult, I can appreciate the way in which Spurrier didn’t take himself, or his position in the world, too seriously. Here’s an excerpt that pretty well illustrates Spurrier’s persona:

“He was a bully and a pre-Internet troll and he was so adept at issuing undermining one-liners that a Florida sports columnist compiled a book of them. What is my favorite Spurrier noodge of all time? Maybe it’s the time he was informed that a dormitory fire at Auburn had destroyed 20 books, and he replied, “But the real tragedy was that 15 hadn’t been colored yet.” I mean, I have nothing against Auburn, but that’s A-list Don Rickles material right there.

In an era where college coaches are getting increasingly conservative (and I don’t mean politically), Spurrier will be missed. -TOB

Source: So Long, Head Ball Coach: Steve Spurrier Steps Away From the Game He Forever Changed”, Michael Weinreb, Grantland (10/13/2015)

How to Get Thrown Out at First on a Hit to Left Field

A quick but decent read: Former major leaguer Sean Casey recalls the time he got thrown out at first base on a ball hit to left field:

Now watch Casey’s appearance on Dan Patrick where he laughs about it:

The video is a classic, and Casey’s re-telling is just as good. -TOB

Source: Let’s Relive the Time Sean Casey Got Thrown Out at First From Left Field”, Tom Ley, Deadspin (10/14/2015)

Video of the Week

1470948930086293422-Me, on Saturday, if Cal had managed to beat Utah. (Click the photo to open the video.)

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“Ohhh, the ‘C’ is silent.”

-Billy Madison


Week of October 5, 2015


It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

A Life in Baseball Through the Lens of a Father

This is a cool photo essay by Giants’ third baseman Matt Duffy’s dad. The photographs and anecdotes chronicle Matt’s baseball career, starting at age two, and ending with Matt’s breakout 2015 rookie season. He’s a proud papa, and while reading it, a liiiittle part of me hoped that one day I can begin a similar photo essay with this photo:


Hey, a dad can dream! -TOB

Source: A Father, A Son, and A Dream”, Tom Duffy, The Players Tribune (10/07/2015)

PAL: We all had that kid on our team whose parent hovered with the massive lens snapping 450 pictures at a meaningless Tuesday night game at a crappy, dirt-infield park. In the moment, you’d love for them to put the damn camera away; in retrospect, you’re glad they were there. Side note: there are few logos that bubble up the nostalgia as much as the ol’ Little League patch seen in some of these pics.

The Things You Learn at the Neighborhood Block Party ℅ roommate Jamie J. Morganstern

The ol’ roomie sent along this gem. I liked his email so much that we’re just dropping it right in here. – PAL

Yesterday at the Annual Ewing Terrace Block Party I learned a little more about the history of the neighborhood. Most of us know that the property used to be one of the city’s cemeteries before they moved a lot of graves to Colma.

A few years later, in 1914, they decided to build “Ewing Field/Park,” which was the new home of the San Francisco Seals baseball team, a professional team at the time. One of the old timers at the party told me this story and explained that Ewing was actually the name of the owner of the SF Seals.

“1914–Ewing Park becomes the new home of the San Francisco Seals, intended to be the finest minor league park to date, located one block south of Geary at Masonic.


“San Francisco Chronicle said, ‘The only possible drawback is the possibility of meeting bad weather conditions.’ Indeed, the new park was a fiasco. The club returned to Old Rec Park in 1915.”

The park was short lived. The foggy weather didn’t work well for baseball. Pop flies disappeared into the outfield.

Maybe others knew this already? Anyways, I thought I’d share the story and the photos. One of the photos shows that old building on Geary that is now a long-term storage facility.

Source:Baseball Teens – 20s”, foundsf.org

TOB: Wow. That is so cool. I already loved Phil’s neighborhood, but this pushes it over the edge. Life goal: Buy a house on Ewing. *checks Zillow estimates* Shoot.

That Time Agent Zero Almost Got Got

You may remember the batshit story of the Wizards locker room gun incident involving Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton from back in 2009. But the reports were kind of cryptic and I always wondered what really happened. Well, Caron Butler (who has lived a very interesting life) wrote an autobiography. This excerpt covers his first-hand account of what happened – how it started and how it went down. It’s even more insane than I imagined. (FWIW, Arenas today posted a rebuttal, with his version of the events. It is no less insane, but you can read it here). And this story is even more spooky when you remember that Crittenton is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for voluntary manslaughter. Gilbert Arenas may, as he said, “play with guns” – but Javaris Crittenton does not play. -TOB

Source: I Play With Guns: Caron Butler’s Inside Account of the Gilbert Arenas Gun Incident”, Caron Butler, Washington Post (adapted from his autobiography “Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA”) 11/08/2013

PAL: When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong”:

Bill Belichick: Master Motivator

Bill Belichick could provide a very interesting test case for a psychologist. Belichick’s motto is “Do Your Job.” He instills that mantra in his players. Accordingly, Bill does not hand out individual praise lightly. After all, if you do what you’re supposed to do, you don’t deserve praise (insert Chris Rock reference here). So on the rare occasion that he does hand out individual praise, it means a lot to the recipient – so much so that the players can recall the very specifics – the game, the play, what Bill said. These are grown men, at the top of their professions, acting like well-trained dogs who get excited when their owner pats them on the head. Fascinating.

Source: The Patriots’ White Whale: Praise from Belichick”, Kevin Clark, The Wall Street Journal (10/06/2015)

Video of the Week:

PAL Song of the Week: Jim James & Calexico – “Goin’ to Acapulco” (Bob Dylan)

Check out our playlist. It’s the top playlist on Mel Kiper’s big board.

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“I love his music. I do. I’m a Michael Bolton fan. I celebrate the guy’s entire catalogue.”

-Bob Slydell


Week of September 28, 2015

1447836024724701730Call Raiders owner Mark Davis “Men’s Wearhouse” because he likes the way he looks.

Mark Davis Doesn’t Give a Damn What You Think

This is an amazing piece of journalism, by one of my longtime favorite sportswriters, Tim Keown. Keown profiles Raiders owner Mark Davis, who took over the team when his dad, Al Davis, died in 2011. That guy up top of this post? That’s Mark. Do you see that haircut? Mark has been rocking that awful hairdo for years, and people have been mocking it for just as long. But Mark Davis doesn’t just like that haircut. He travels 500 miles to Palm Springs to go to the same barber to get that haircut. Does he know people laugh at it? Yep. Does he care? Nope. The dude is worth $500 million and he does not care what you think. Check out the opening paragraph to the story:

Most days start the same — behind the wheel of a white 1997 Dodge Caravan SE outfitted with a bubble-top Mark III conversion kit, a VHS player mounted to the roof inside and a r8hers personalized plate. Mark Davis pilots this machine from his East Bay home to the nearest P.F. Chang’s, where he sits at the left end of the bar, same spot every time, puts his white fanny pack on the counter, orders an iced tea and unfolds the day’s newspapers. Beside him on the bar, next to the papers, is his 2003 Nokia push-button phone with full texting capability. When someone calls and asks him where he is, he says, “I’m in my office,” and sends a knowing nod to the bartenders. It gets ’em every time.

I have read that five times and I laugh every time. If that doesn’t make you click this story to read the rest, I give up. -TOB

Source: Just Live Up to Your Dad’s Name and Solve the NFL’s L.A. Problem, Baby!”, Tim Keown, ESPN the Magazine (10/01/2015)

PAL: The next time someone tells you “I don’t care what other people think,” you can call bulls*&t. Simply pull out your phone, have them read this story. Mark Davis doesn’t care what other people think, and he’s the only one. Hilarious story. Great find. Also, the man is worth $500 million and he drives a conversion van with a vanity plate. Can we get the Mark Davis biopic movie into pre-produciton already?

Another High School Football Death

Evan Murray, a 17-year old from New Jersey, died during a high school football last weekend. Murray was the third high school football player to die from injuries suffered in a game in the month of September. From 2012 to 2014, thirteen high school football players died from injuries suffered during a game. I have discussed in this space many times the guilt and mixed feelings I have because of my enjoyment of football. There is not much more for me to say but to acknowledge my hypocrisy. Still, this is a good read: Grantland’s Charles P. Pierce discusses the complicit culpability we all have in the death of Evan Murray, and other players like him. -TOB

Source: The Death of Evan Murray”, Charles P. Pierce, Grantland (09/30/2015)

Mascot Rampage

This is amusing. The guy pictured below, with the fantastic mullet, went to a minor league baseball game in North Carolina last weekend.

He got so drunk that he passed out in a stairwell and awoke around midnight, long after the ballpark had been deserted. While leaving, he stumbled upon the team’s mascot’s costume. He put the costume on and met up with friends at a local bar – dancing the night away and, as he put it, “ragin’, dude.” Nice work, guy. Also, excellent headline, Creative Loafing Charlotte. -TOB
Source: Homer’s Night on the Town: If You Drank a Shot With the Knights’ Mascot on Sept. 20, You Were Basically Harboring a Fugitive”, Ryan Pitkin, Creative Loafing Charlotte (09/30/2015)

PAL: Since there is nothing I could possibly write to make this story any better than it is, please read this excerpt:

He said he was at Hooters, so I told him to stay there. I start walking down the hallway to leave and I look to my right and see the mascot dressing room. I thought, there’s no way this door is unlocked. I turned the handle and it opens right up and there’s the damned costume.

So, I suited right up, walked out the door and proceeded to Hooters. I walked right up into Hooters and my buddy didn’t even know it was me. I was ragin’ dude.

I left Hooters and there was a big line at Tilt next door. I just said, “Yo man, can I go in?” The guy said, “No,” and I was like, “Dude, You’re not gonna let Homer the f*&kin’ mascot into your bar right now?” Then he said I could go in. There was nobody on the dance floor. I come sliding in and start getting it. I was doing all the moves you always wanted to try but are too embarrassed to.

Videos of the Week

Baseball Locker Room Celebrations are the best.

PAL Song of the Week: Jungle – “Busy Earnin‘”

Check out our full playlist here. It’s Cialis for your ears.

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“I come sliding in and start gettin’ it. I was doing all the moves you always wanted to try but are too embarrassed to.”

– Joe Gillespie