Friday, September 09, 2005

The View from Ann Arbor | by Pat

(A note from mgoblog on this fine football Friday. Here's our letter as posted on his site.)

To: BGS readers

From: mgoblog

I have attended away games against all of Michigan’s rivals and I can say without question that my experience in South Bend, Indiana was the foulest of all. The game I had the misfortune to attend was the 2002 25-23 loss(/win, depending on perspective). I had fully planned on hilariously chanting “Field Goal Jesus” at the Irish, touchdown-less in two previous games, but that plan was swiftly cut short when they rudely scored on their first possession. All told, the game featured a phantom Carlyle Holiday touchdown (Holiday fumbled at the two), four Michigan fumbles, and a series of ridiculous and mind-shattering penalties that left me with a nervous tic involving a raised middle finger and a screamed threat at a referee that is not, in fact, there that re-emerges at inopportune times (job interviews, weddings, modeling auditions) to this very day.

So I hope you are understanding when I tell you that I was in full mutter-and-plot-the-deaths-of-innocents mode immediately after the heartbreaking loss. This is when the foul horror happened. I was attempting to stalk my way out of the stadium as angrily as possible when I saw a child and his father approach me. “Aha!” I exclaimed. “Perfect! They were in the sweet spot: The child was young enough so that he posed little threat— a swift kick to the head and he would be down, crying for his mother—while the father was old enough that, having dispatched with the son, I could batter him without fear of serious repercussion. All I needed was the most tenuous justification and the cathartic beatdown could commence posthaste. This is when the horror comes in.

The child, a towheaded young boy, maybe eight, maybe nine, approached me and looked up. He opened his mouth; I awaited the beautiful slur that would unleash my inner Wolverine, as it were.

I swear to God, the Devil, and Charles Woodson that these are the exact words that came out of the boy’s mouth (the exact words):

“Good game, mister.”

(What did it sound like? It sounded precisely like this child had emerged from TV Land reruns of an adorable ‘60s sitcom that very morning.)

“Good game, mister.” The actual words!

I sat there stunned, fists clenching and unclenching, all my impotent rage at what I had just witnessed on the playing field bottled up, eating away at the lining of my stomach and causing me to burst out with foul imprecations at absent referees at inopportune times. This feeling of inexplicable, stolen release, uncomprehending anger, and a desire to smack that adorable little ‘60s throwback precisely sums up the Michigan side of the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry. It is not a pleasant one for Michigan fans.

WHEREAS the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry has your classic “We Have Our Application To BETTER UNIVERSITY In Common” dynamic and therefore a pleasurable aftertaste of latent and undeniable superiority which reflects itself on the field, where Michigan loses one of three games at most...

WHEREAS the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry has your classic good versus evil thing going on, not to mention a boatload more history and much more recent national significance, and Michigan hasn’t done badly at all in it despite a recent, ominous turn for the worse…

WHEREAS everybody else is pretty much owned by Michigan (give it a few years before claiming otherwise, Hawkeyes)…

WHEREAS every other year features a Michigan pratfall in the Least Interesting Place In the Universe against a team that usually plays someone like Lousiana-Southeast Underwater Bit in the bowl and loses 400-6…

THEREFORE let it be known that the recent years of the Michigan-ND rivalry is based entirely on Michigan losing in unlikely fashion.

For most of my adult life Notre Dame has been a college football afterthought, a prime example of sadly past glories unlikely to return. The Irish do things like lose to BYU and State and never, ever finish anywhere near the top ten or, more recently, even the top 25. Despite this, mighty Michigan cannot beat them in South Bend. They RETURN TO GLORY(!) every two years now against a team that finishes the year ever further ahead in the ancient, creaky winning percentage battle the two schools wage. More infuriating yet is that the reason for this my superstition, luck, and idiot-conventional-wisdom despising mind has formulated as to why this happens has everything to do with a strange, mystical patina of incompetence that befalls the Wolverines whenever they enter that pale imitation of the Big House in Indiana. To a Michigan fan, every Irish loss over the past ten years has been due to an unfortunate, ridiculous confluence of unlikely events: fumbles, ridiculous refereeing, blocked punts, hilarious deflected passes, etc. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not (though it is): that’s what it feels like. It feels like Michigan has nothing to gain and everything to lose, and everything gets lost on a biannual basis.

So that’s why we don’t like you, unless you post on NDNation, in which case the reason we don’t like you is because you’re completely out of your gourd, with no exceptions. That’s why the administration keeps muttering about playing someone else. That’s why Vijay is going to make South Bend look like Stalingrad should Michigan lose Saturday: you suck, we don’t, and it’s not fair.