Saturday, October 30, 2004
I was not, obviously, at the Red Sox victory parade today. Initially I was pretty upset about this (I mean, who knows when or if this will ever happen again?), but it turns out that I had such an amazing and ridiculous day that I actually forgot all about the parade until I got home tonight. More on that shortly.
How amazing is that image? Not only do you have the joys of Kevin Millar and Doug Mientkiewicz, you get the added bonus of Manny Ramirez holding a sign. A truly delightful sign. I want to give Manny a hug for carrying it, even if he probably didn't make it. *wipes tear of joy from eye* That said, let us hope that this does not serve to energize the Yanks come April, as Sheffield's tasteless remarks did for us. At least this sign is just simple, good-natured taunting, as opposed to what Sheffield said, which was truly inflammatory.
In any event, that wasn't the highlight of my day. Day, afternoon, and evening.
Wait, you say. Isn't that Michigan Stadium? But I thought the game today was at 3:30 in the afternoon!
Ah, I reply. So it was, so it was. And it was Michigan/Michigan State, at Michigan, which everyone with two eyes and half a brain had picked Michigan to win. Alas, it was not meant to be so simple.
The first three quarters of the game were, to put it mildly, painful. We kept running Michael Hart, which is fine, really, he's very good, but you just can't run one guy all the time and expect the other team to not pick up on it. He had his third straight 200-yard game today, which is impressive, but still. We had something ridiculous like 15 passing yards going into halftime. Why weren't we throwing it? It's not as though we didn't have anyone to throw to, because we do. Braylon Edwards is great, and no one in the crowd could figure out why the heck we weren't going to him.
In the fourth quarter, it was just getting sad. People were leaving (although, since the stadium is so huge, it apparently looked like everyone was still there to the folks watching the game on TV). "Can we come back?" Leslie asked. "Well, we're down two touchdowns," I muttered. "So it's possible?" "Um. Yeah." "Is it probable?" "Um. No." We were contemplating departure ourselves. Hey, it was getting late, the sun was down, it was freezing cold and we were starving. Generously, as she's not really a football person, Leslie said, "Well, you know what, we'll wait for the 5 minute mark, and then we'll go." Thank. Goodness.
Because, you see, with around 6 and a half minutes left in the game, Michigan finally scored. Chad Henne aired one out to Braylon Edwards (finally!), who caught it on an amazing jump and barely pulled it in for a touchdown. The place erupted. Absolutely erupted. Seconds before the crowd had been dejected, grumbling, leaving. Suddenly everyone was leaping into the air, screaming at the tops of their lungs, high fiving everyone in sight, throwing ripped-up newspapers and programs into the air, where they made impressive clouds of reflective white as they drifted in front of the artificial lights. Two guys in full-body costumes, one a lobster and one a chicken, went crowd surfing all the way from the bottom of the stadium to near the top. A giant inflatable phallus with 'Fuck State!' painted cheerfully along its sides emerged from the crowd and was enthusiastically passed around half the stadium.
The band, elated, launched into a stirring rendition of 'Living on a Prayer', which the entire student section sang along to. It was quite startling to hear hoarse sorority girls and crazed football fans raising their voices together to wail, "Oh-o-o, we're halfway there! Oh-o-o, livin' on a prayer! Take my hand and we'll make it, I swear! Oh oh, livin' on a prayer!"
Then we kicked an onside kick. Which we recovered. And we scored again, tying the game at 27 and sending the crowd into ridiculous paroxysms of joy. State got the ball back and went for a long field goal, which they missed. We were taking the game into overtime! This was exciting, as I'd never been to an overtime game at Michigan before. It was also unfortunate, because by now the sun was completely down and the ambient temperature, which had been around 70 F when the game started had dropped to around 35, with the windchill. Most everyone (myself included) was wearing some form of t-shirt, and this did not make for happy circulatory systems in fingers as the game progressed.
First overtime. We got the ball first, and managed to get a field goal. State took the ball, and got a field goal. Curses. Infinite curses. That meant we needed to go to a second overtime. By now I could not feel my feet or lower legs, and the gorillaish chest-thumping of the guy in front of us was starting to take on a worryingly desperate air.
Second overtime. They score. We score. 37-37. The numbness had spread to my hands and arms. Also, much hunger. Leslie was threatening to leave at 8:30 no matter what happened. As we shivered and shook through another ill-advised media timeout, she glared at her watch. "Did I say 8:30? I mean 8:10."
Third overtime. We got the ball first. And... Braylon's got the ball! Michigan touchdown! More eruptions of joy, more homemade confetti. Apparently there's some rule in college football that you have to go for the two point conversion after a touchdown if it's the third overtime (presumably to keep the game from going on into infinity), but I only found this out after the fact. At the time all us poor, frozen souls in the stands could see was that our boys were finally taking the initiative and going for two.
Henne reared back. The stadium, hushed by students frantically waving their arms, was as silent as I've ever heard it, to give our offense an easier time calling plays. Henne looked to the endzone. Who was open? Edwards? Where was he? Green helmets nudged their way towards Henne. The ball, released, shoveled through the air inelegantly, landing in the brawny forearms of Tim Massaquoi, who was planted firmly at the back of the endzone. Pandemonium. Complete and utter pandemonium.
The game, however, was not over. State now had their turn with the ball. As the crowd counted downs, our defense suddenly decided to show up, after having been absent for most of the game. An incomplete pass into the endzone was State's last play of the game, and Michigan won, 45-37, in triple overtime. The game ended around 8:15 pm, after having started at 3:30. That's nearly 5 hours, mind you. I'm still not at all sure how we survived.
We raced out of there as fast as our stiff legs could carry us, staggering out of the unlit tunnel (can you say 'safety hazard'?) into the area within the stadium gates. Jubilant Michigan fans in varying stages of exhaustion and varying levels of face-paintedness reared up out of the darkness, lurching towards their chosen exit point. Stunned State fans also made their way to the gates, although their pace was more one of plodding disbelief. After all, they had been up by two touchdowns and a field goal with 8 minutes left in the game.
We didn't really care. All we could think about was sitting down (you don't sit down at a Michigan game, you stand on the bleachers) somewhere warm, with warm food. "Pizza," my brain moaned. "You get me pizza, and I will love you forever." To the Union!
Since we had charged out of the stadium with such celerity, we managed to get to the Union before the big crowds arrived. Ah, blessed warmth. Blessed food. The win hadn't really sunk in yet. Indeed, it didn't really hit until I came back to the dorm and collapsed, completely done in, at my computer. I flicked on the TV to watch the Miami/UNC game (which UNC won in a crazy upset victory, by the by... no overtime though, the cowards), which brought Nate and his friend Alex in. Nate had left the game early when it looked like we were losing, then had seen a TV on his way back and had flipped out and run back to the stadium. The guards wouldn't let them back in, so he and his friends had gone around, jumped the fence (!) and made it back in time to see State miss the long field goal that sent us into overtime. As he said, "It was like God was telling me to get my black ass back in there. I never woulda forgiven myself if I'd missed that."
His friend Alex claimed that if Michigan had lost this game he was going to seriously consider transferring to USC, but now he would stay at Michigan. Madness. He then proceeded to pass out on my bed for about 45 minutes, until Nate came wandering back in and poked at him to make him get up. By this point I was on the phone with my dad about the Michigan game and how wild it had been (my family had had dinner reservations at a local restaurant, which they had pushed back a number of times because the game just kept going on and on). I still can't quite believe that we won.
Oh, I did promise that I was going to take my camera to this one, and so I did. Michigan/Michigan State Game, Oct. 30, 2004. This was one for the history books, kids, and I was there. I've got the photos to prove it.
Tomorrow it's Lions and Pats. Both should be good games, although who knows? The Lions seem to be intent on showing everyone that you can never predict how they're going to do from one week to the next, and the Pats are going up against a team whose quarterback is being called 'the next Tom Brady'. I refuse to speculate. We'll just have to see. The Dolphins have the Monday Night Football slot, which is cool, but they're playing the Jets, which is not cool. Just because the Jets are no longer undefeated does not mean that they will lie down and let a very shaky Dolphins offense run over them, especially in New York. But again, one never knows.
Oh, and Mark Bellhorn on the cover of Sports Illustrated? How amazing is that? Of all the Red Sox to get put on there, how excited do you think Bellhorn is that he made it? I feel... vindicated. When does this come out for general purchase? Anyone know?
In other Sox notes, Bill Mueller's option was picked up, so he'll be back next year for sure. Excellent. Another year of eye candy at third base. And Curt Schilling, although he still backs Bush, will not actually be campaigning with him, and admits that he was wrong to have made that statement publically (see Boston Dirt Dogs... you have to scroll down a bit). Hrmph. Whatever.
Oh, in art lecture on Thursday, the night after the Red Sox won the Series, Joe came in and congratulated me for my team's win. This sparked a baseball discussion. Of sorts.
Carla: "So, how many points do you get if you hit the ball?"
Me: "Err. It depends how many people are on base. You get one for every person who goes over home plate."
Carla: "So every time you hit the ball you get a point?"
Me: "Ah. No. If the other team catches it in the air you don't get anything. If the ball goes out of the park you go around all the bases and get a point."
Carla: "But if you touch three bases, don't you get three points?"
At this point I turned to helplessly to Littany, who was sitting on my other side. "How do I even begin to explain this?" I asked, desperately. She dissolved into laughter. See, this is why I sometimes have issues with the art school.
That's about all. Football tomorrow, if I feel up to it. Maybe I'll even post a bit of my Maya homework, if it seems worth posting. And Halloween? Who knows. G'night, kids.
edit: A final note-- the attendance at tonight's Michigan game was 111,609. This doesn't set the record (we did that last year at the Michigan/Ohio State game, with 112,118), but it was indeed the largest number of people watching a football game anywhere in the world today. Score.
edit again, because I can't seem to leave this thing alone and just go to sleep already: Bill Simmons finally picks the Lions to win their game in his NFL predictions for this week. Since he's consistently picked us to lose in games that we go on to win, does this mean that we won't win tomorrow? Is he finally coming around on his inexplicable dislike of Joey Harrington? Interestingly, he has us ranked as 'Improbably Lurking' at number 9 in his Power Poll, above all sorts of other teams (23 of them, in fact). I'm nervous. He's been so steadfast in his dislike of us that this sudden tinge of favor has me running for the hills.
Of course, he doesn't seem to be hurting the Patriots any. Just thought I'd mention it.
Also, Nomar quietly returns to Boston on the day before the parade. They're giving him a full World Series share. Hm. I'm not sure what to think about this one. On the one hand, he played for us for so long, and was such a face of the franchise. On the other hand, he went out whining and creating friction in the clubhouse.
I guess since we won it all I can set aside any lingering bitterness and make my peace with the Still-Living Ghost of Nomar. Heck, if the Sox can do it, so can I.