Sunday, November 25, 2007
Mmmm, losing, how it has consumed my football.
I of course attended the Michigan/Ohio State game, which was a disaster. A total disaster. It was freezing cold out, but just warm enough to keep the rain rain and not snow. I don't know how it was possible for the air to be as cold as it was while we were still getting rained out, but apparently Ohio State bewitched the air to make us just that much more completely miserable. I was soaked through by the end of the game, and I had rain gear on. Some people were worse off. And of course there's no shelter in the Big House.
Part of the problem was that, while the game didn't ever really 'feel' close, and even though it definitely never seemed like Michigan (and more especially Chad Henne) was going to make a comeback, the score technically WAS close enough to keep most of us in our seats. Of course leaving a ballgame early is despicable behavior, but in this case it would have been perfectly justified by the soul-destroying nature of the loss and the potentially health-destroying nature of the weather, and if this had been a blowout I would've been out of there before you could say, "Jim Tressel eats babies."
ALAS, IT WAS NOT A BLOWOUT. The score at the end was only 14-3. That's a surmountable score even in the NFL, and it's easily surmountable by college football standards. Hell, I've seen Michigan overcome much bigger deficits in that very stadium. You can't leave a college game when the score's that close, you just CAN'T, because if the losing team makes a comeback and you aren't there for it you can NEVER FORGIVE YOURSELF.
I mean, look at that MSU game in 2004. We were down by 17 with 8-some-odd minutes to go in the 4th quarter. As the game wore on, the mid-70s temperature of the daytime gave way to the mid-30s temperature of the night, meaning that we had all showed up wearing tshirts and were literally freezing. It seemed like the perfect time to leave, and Michigan ended up coming back and winning in triple overtime. It's one of the most epic games in recent memory and a classic in the UM/MSU rivalry.
Can you imagine being at that game and leaving early? Lots of people did. (I almost did, but my seatmate said we should wait for at least the 5-minute mark, and Michigan started the comeback around the 6-minute mark). I know some people who left. THEY HAVE STILL NOT FORGIVEN THEMSELVES.
So, with Michigan only down by 11 at the most, I just couldn't leave. Not even with the pervading air of hopelessness, not even with the weather that threatened to end both me and my camera. This time around, Michigan did not reward me with a win. The defense played well (witness the fact that OSU was held to 14 points), but the offense doesn't even rate mention. Suffice it to say that the offense was Bad, and the capital B is intentional.
Photos from the game are here. I went early to take a bunch of stadium shots, as it's my last game as an undergrad. Thankfully the rain did not start until the game did. I got some nice player shots from warmups too. Not so many good shots during the game, due to the aforementioned and much belabored weather. YOU CANNOT UNDERSTAND HOW TRULY MISERABLE IT WAS UNLESS YOU WERE THERE. The weather for that game: also Bad.
In happier news, I was also at the Thanksgiving Day Lions game! Oh wait, did I say 'happier'? I meant 'equally sad but less overtly miserable because at least the Lions play indoors'.
This was, by far, the highlight of the game. Dippin' Dots. In a miniature Lions helmet. I think you will agree with me that this is awesomeness made solid and incarnate, yes? Yes.
As for the game itself, whatever. I literally spent parts of it thinking to myself, "Hey, this isn't half as bad as the Michigan game! I'm inside! It's climate-controlled! I have a real seat instead of a small section of bleacher! The Lions are playing with some hope here at the end! I have Dippin' Dots! Altogether a superior losing experience!" And all that was TRUE. It made the Lions game just seem so whatever-esque. Brett Favre and the Packers are on a streak of vicious football prowess. The Lions have been winning, with the exception of the Denver game, by the skin of their pointy feline teeth. Whatever! At least it wasn't an absurdly bad blowout like the past two Thanksgivings. This game was close! So, whatever! See?
Photos from that game are here, in addition to some shots from before and after, as we trotted around the city.
At least it looks like the Patriots are going to win this game. If you listen carefully, you can hear my feeble, beaten-down cheer as I muster the little enthusiasm I have left for football right now.
Oh, and PS, check out this downtown Detroit bar:
Yes, it is called "Jacoby's". I had to take a photo of that. Who wouldn't?
Labels: Buckeyes, football, Jacoby Ellsbury, Lions, loss, NCAA, NFL, OSU, rivalry, terrible, Wolverines
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Late to the party? Yes. Apologetic? Very. Blogging now? SEE THE REALITY OF IT! As a token of my true apologeticality, that Papelbon image on the left is clickable for a desktop-sized version.
Lest you fear otherwise, I did of course watch the World Series, every glorious moment of it. I just haven't had a ton of time for blogging lately, and what little time I did have was dedicated to Roar of the Tigers, because I'm actually obligated to post over there, while the posting over here is on a 'whenever I feel like it' basis. It's not just the Sox: you'll note that I've missed blogging about the Lions and the Wolverines as well, although I'm definitely watching/attending all those games too.
I realize I've said this before, but I think I'm ready to pick it back up on a more regular basis. The end of the season was a crazy time, and the start of the school year was a crazy time, and.... I hate genetics. Genetics is destroying my life. That's basically the reason for all of this. BLAME UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN GENETICS.
The plus side of posting so long after the World Series has ended is that instead of posting an immediate YAY GO TEAM US THEO IS A GENIUS I LOVE EVERYONE post like the rest of the blogosphere, I can stand back and say what made this World Series most memorable to me.
There were lots of memorable storylines this season, don't get me wrong. Just going over the bare bones of it:
--The fact that we won a World Series in the first year of our Japanamania is certainly worth noting-- even if Matsuzaka wasn't as crazygood as we wanted him to be right out of the gate, the fact that Okajima was good at ALL, when he was basically supposed to be a companion donkey to the stud racehorse of Dice-K, more than makes up the difference.
--Josh Beckett ate babies for breakfast and used the youthful energy he gained from that heartiest of meals to power him to insane levels of domination on the pitching mound. I know Beth is going to disagree with me since I haven't put him as my memorable thing, but I am not QUITE as fascinated with Josh Beckett the Man/Myth/Only-Slightly-Human-Beast-Creature as she is.
--Not only did he play much of the season with a broken hand, the kind of broken hand that puts other players out for MONTHS, not only did he overcome the fact that he's approximately half the size of some of his own teammates, but Dustin Pedroia also won the Rookie of the Year award. Short men all over New England rejoiced and enjoyed much attention from single ladies who wanted a slice of that action.
--Every single thing that Mike Lowell did, up to and including all the ways that he is not Alex Rodriguez.
--The fact that the Red Sox became the only team in MLB to have a fully functional bullpen band, which was not afraid to use water bottles, hands, benches, overhangs, and anything else as instruments. Doug Mirabelli became an instrument when he was musically hammered upon from both sides by overly enthusiastic teammates. I honestly don't think there are enough words to describe how awesome this whole thing was.
--JD Drew redeeming his season with one swing of the bat. The one moment when the entire ballpark was certain the at-bat would only end in tears and possibly with men stranded on base, and JD freakin' Drew comes through with the grand slam. Did this really happen, or did I just hallucinate it?
--Every Red Sox fan everywhere, regardless of gender association or sexual preference, falling deeply, madly, intensely in love with Jacoby Ellsbury. Seriously. He cuts across all attempts to categorize and separate sex and gender roles. He is JACOBY ELLSBURY, and he appeals to all.
--So, this kid named Clay Buchholz threw a no-hitter. Didja hear? It was pretty great. (Even better was the fact that I got to watch no-hitters from both my teams this season, as Justin Verlander also threw one, and it was also pretty great.)
--Many of Coco Crisp's catches in the outfield. Dude can FLY, and it is fun to watch.
--Everything that Manny did, as usual. He doesn't even need to do one big crazy thing... it's just the little things, like snorgling with various teammates on the bench and growing his hair out so much that it won't even fit in his 'do-rag anymore, and wandering around the field like he doesn't know the difference between the infield and the outfield and the lockerroom (or, more likely, knows the difference and just doesn't care) that make Manny so consistently enjoyable to watch. If you're a Sox fan. I guess he's fairly infuriating if you're not getting to watch him crank out the hits from the right rooting side.
--David Ortiz playing through screwed-up knees. David Ortiz trying to steal bases and slide because he cares that much about getting the extra base. David Ortiz winning games for the team and that being a NORMAL thing. David Ortiz EXISTING. I can understand why some people have a problem with Manny, but if you have a problem with Big Papi than you're just looking for excuses to be sour and I'm very sorry for you.
--Insert your favorite happy-making memory from this year here.
All that said, when I think back on this World Series, there is one particular storyline that I'll remember. This wasn't like 2004. That World Series was THE World Series for us. You can't really separate the image of Dave Roberts stealing the base from the image of Keith Foulke and Doug Mientkiewicz leaping skyward from the image of Curt Schilling's bloody sock from the image of Bronson Arroyo getting the ball slapped out of his glove from the image of Mark Bellhorn's homerun smashing off the foul pole from the image of Jason Varitek falling to his knees in the grass and getting hugged by Kevin Millar. That's all one amazing entity. This year was more like a 'normal' World Series, though: without that historical ubersignificance, certain things can stand out more.
I am, of course, referring back to the image that started this post. So far as me and my memories are concerned, this year was above all the Year of the Papelbon.
He has a pre-pitch stare towards the batter that causes TV announcers and AP photographers to fall over themselves! He can throw 100 mph! He was one of the best closers in the game! Feared! Adored! In a way, though, we already knew all that. This season stood out because this was the year we were exposed to the full spectrum of Papelbon-ness.
It's not just the dancing, although I have to admit that the dancing was a big, big part of making him memorable. Jigs! In his underpants! OUT ON THE FIELD! Playing air-broom on the duck boat with the Dropkick Murphys! Do-si-do-ing with Mike Timlin and aggressively hugging a slightly nervous Hideki Okajima! He dances with an empty box of beer on his head!
But the public dancing was just a tiny part of Jonathan Papelbon the Crazy Closer and Equally Crazy Human Being. He plays Scrabble! He and Josh Beckett fight like little boys sniping at each other! He refers to his pitching personality as Cinco Ocho (the reverse Chad Johnson)! He... oh, hell, HE DANCES IN HIS UNDERWEAR WHERE TV CAMERAS CAN SEE HIM.
I feel certain that, years and years from now, when many other details have faded (hopefully in the face of loads of intervening Red Sox and Tigers World Series victories), the image of Jonathan Papelbon's crazy dancing self will still be there whenever I think about 2007.
Labels: baseball, excuses excuses, Jonathan Papelbon, MLB, Red Sox, World Series