Monday, October 9, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different. . .

I've generally organized this blog around the general themes of marriage and family life. But today, partly in the interest of full disclosure, and partly because I'm just so giddy about it, I'm going to do a 'sports post'. With apologies in advance to those of you who are wondering, "What the heck is up with that?"

Mr. Husbland has been posting in recent days about the Detroit Tigers and how exciting this baseball season has been in Tigertown (I've already told you all that I live in Michigan, so I don't suppose that I'm 'blowing my cover' by admitting this). But, I thought a more, uh, seasoned treatment of the subject might be helpful for you all (ie, I'm a whole lot older than he is).

I started following the Tigers when I was a little kid - we used to try to imitate Rocky Colavito's stretching exercises when we played pickup games. I was 12 when the Tigers won the World Series in '68, which I think is just about the perfect age to take on a passionate, lifelong commitment to a favorite sports team. Al Kaline was my boyhood hero, and I've come to learn that a boy could do a whole lot worse than emulating Al Kaline (in all sorts of ways). Willie Horton, Norm Cash, Bill Freehan, Mickey Lolich, Denny McLain (well, OK, a boy could do a whole lot better, but come on, he went 31-6 in '68) - these were the ballplayers who were at the very front of my youthful consciousness.

I was older (married, with one daughter and another 'in the oven') when the Tigers won in '84, but I had been a college classmate of Kirk Gibson, and that whole group of guys - Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Lance Parrish, Jack Morris - were all about my age, so I had a certain, more 'peer-ish' identification with them.

After the World Series that year, a buddy of mine came over to my house and handed me a baggie with a small hunk of sod in it. "Thought you might appreciate this," he said. I looked at it, thinking, what the heck? until it slowly dawned on me what it was - he had been down to the stadium for the final game of the Series, and afterward, had torn up a hunk of sod, which he divided into smaller chunks and gave them out to his buddies. And that little piece of sod - about three inches square - grows in my back yard to this day.

The thing that's so cool about this year's Tigers is how they just absolutely came out of nowhere. Three years ago, they set the American League record for losses (and ten guys from that season are still on the team!). We were hoping that this year they'd be better than they had been, but nobody expected them to be anywhere near this good. So it's been just an astounding baseball season. I've just been shaking my head all season - they can't really be this good, can they?

Saturday, I was with a group of 20 or so guys at a buddy's house, ostensibly to watch our alma mater play a football game against our hated in-state rival, but before the first quarter was over, we had switched over to the Tigers game. Jeremy Bonderman is getting a special place ready for himself in all-time Tigers lore (and, I'm not gonna lie - it was all the cooler for beating the Yankees). When the game ended, and the players were running along the stands, spraying champagne on the fans, it was one of the most incredible moments I've ever seen at a sporting event - you don't see players and fans bonding like that very much these days. It was very cool.

There is a cool, trans-generational thing that baseball has that none of the other sports can quite duplicate. I can talk about Al Kaline and Willie Horton, or Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, and my kids can talk about Justin Verlander and Pudge Rodriguez, but my dad can also talk about Charley Gehringer and Tommy Bridges and Schoolboy Rowe, and you've got 70 years of Tigers history spanned by three generations of our family.

So, thanks for induging my bliss for the moment - I promise we'll get back to our 'normal' topics as soon as possible. And I do realize that we've still got to play the A's, whose pitching is just about as good as ours, and even if we beat the A's, then we have the World Series. But in the context of recent years, it's all a gratuitous gift.


Also, the other day Emily was asking for our favorite jokes, and this seemed a fitting time to tell my own personal favorite:

Two guys in the men's room do their business at the urinals. When they finish, one guy goes to the sink, while the other guy heads for the door.

The guy at the sink calls over his shoulder, "I see you went to Michigan State."

The guy at the door stops, and says, "Why, yes I did. How did you know?"

Sink-guy says (in telling the joke, it really helps if you can affect a Thurston-Howell-type accent at this point), "Well I went to the University of Michigan, and we were taught to always wash our hands after urinating."

Door-guy says, "Oh; that's a really good idea. But at Michigan State they taught us not to piss on our hands."

And with that, I will leave you until next time. . .


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