It is my birthday on Monday, the 17th of October in the year of The Great Willie Young 2011, and as a gift the universe decided to piss on my face and then shit on my soul. This isn’t just because the Lions lost – after all, I kind of saw this coming – but because it was the turd on top of the shit sundae that was my sports weekend. In order to truly understand where I’m coming from you have to . . . well, you’d have to be me, which I fear would be too terrifying a thing for most of you – hell, it’s too terrifying for me a lot of the time – but I think you can at least get the gist of it if you understand some basic concepts.
First of all, it is no secret that I am a huge fan of the Michigan Wolverines. Always have been. And for the most part that’s been great. But the last few years have, uh, been a little rough and nothing has been rougher than having to sit here and watch Mark Dantonio and his gang of heathen Spartans rise like some terrible Leviathan from a den of flaming couches. (I kid, my Spartan brothers and sisters, because I love. Well, not so much right now, but you know what I mean, right? At the end of the day we are all friends so just take whatever vile slings and arrows I hurl your way here with a grain of salt. Okay, you fucking degenerates? No, wait, where are you going? Come back. I . . . I didn’t mean it. Fuckers. Okay, I’m done now.) while my team shits its pants over and over and over again. But this season has been different. Or at least I thought. My Wolverines were 6-0 and while they had also been undefeated coming into the game against Michigan St. the last two seasons, those seasons were marred by the fact that my Wolverines had a defense so abominably bad that there was a real chance that Rich Rodriguez and Greg “Gerg” Robinson were going to be brought up on War Crimes for conspiring with the enemy to allow their own people to be mercilessly slaughtered. This season, though, Brady Hoke took over (instead of everyone’s Plan A, Jim Harbaugh, but we’ll get to that later.), he brought Baltimore Ravens Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison with him and the defense seemed to be at least something resembling respectable. So . . . yeah, I foolishly got my hopes up and desperately wanted this year to be the one in which cosmic order was restored to the Big 10 and to my Michigan loving heart. Cut to about 3:30 yesterday afternoon and I was on my hands and knees like some broken fool ranting and raving to the football gods. It’s possible that I even compared myself to Prometheus. (Both our livers are constantly gnawed upon, although the only gods gnawing on mine are the ones who live at the bottom of a Southern Comfort bottle. Then again, maybe the bird who ate Prometheus’ liver wasn’t an eagle at all but a tiny demon that lived at the bottom of a bottle of Thunderbird. Think about it. Also, yes, I recognize that this is proof that my mind has been broken. Let’s just move on before things get really weird.)
Anyway, that was a bad way to start the weekend. At least for me. I understand that I probably just lost half of you and another quarter of you don’t give a fuck about college football either way, so to my reduced audience, I say thanks for hanging in there. We’ll get to the Lions game shortly.
It’s also no big secret from my ravings on Twitter or the blog Baseball Feelings (where I have generally taken a more minimalist approach to blogging which I know is almost impossible to believe given the absurd level of sheer gibberish on display here week after week.) and other assorted Internet hives of scum and general villainy that I am a pretty big fan of the Detroit Tigers, which is something that for years was kind of like being a fan of taking a blowtorch to the genitals while a beaver gnawed away at whatever was left over. But a few years ago the Tigers actually rose from the dead and have been chasing that elusive World Series triumph ever since. This year finally seemed like it might be the year. I wouldn’t allow myself to believe it for most of the year but starting in September those fuckers made me start to believe. And then when they put away those heathen Yankees, whatever resistance I had left – whatever was hanging around looking after my mental well-being – broke and I began to believe in the impossible, that my Detroit Tigers could win it all. And while that took some blows in the series against the Rangers, the Tigers managed to stay alive in Game 5 and then took a 2-0 lead in Game 6. Holy shit, they’re gonna do it! Yeah . . . about that.
A half inning later, I was gibbering like a fool, Jim Leyland was hanging naked from a cross, Nelson Cruz was burning that wrinkled old naked body with Jimmy’s own Winstons, and everyone on Twitter was consoling me. So much for that dream.
And it’s with that as the background – the destruction of multiple sports dreams which I had been fiercely clinging to for the last couple of months – that my 5-0 Detroit Lions took the field to face off against the 4-1 49ers and Jim Harbaugh, the man who had famously spurned my – and his – Michigan Wolverines back in January, leaving them to scramble for a replacement. In retrospect, this confluence of events was rather obvious, the symmetrical work of Fate and if I were a smarter man I would have seen something like this coming.
But I was moony eyed with pixie dust and dreams and so I went into this weekend full of hope, ready to claim all that which lived already in the most hidden parts of my heart. It was with that joyous pomp and with the memory of the Lions consuming Jay Cutler’s soul on Monday Night still fresh in my head that I decided that this week would be an okay one for the Lions to lose. No . . . okay isn’t the right word. I guess “tolerable” is closer. I really, really didn’t want them to lose but I guess I felt like if they were going to – and let’s face it, we all knew they were going to eventually – I would rather it come now, while my heart was glad and my soul was filled with the light of a billion stars. (Don’t get all worked up. I still really, really wanted them to win this week. It just didn’t feel as life and death as it did, say, last week. That’s all I’m saying.)
But then all of the above nonsense happened and suddenly this Lions game took on a new importance. At least for me. I’m not speaking for anyone else here. I’m not saying this had epic consequences or that we were collectively standing on some sort of brink staring into doom or any other hyperbolic horseshit like that. I’m just saying that I was sad and I wanted my favorite football team, the Detroit Lions, to make me happy.
And that’s what everyone told me on Twitter last night too. Unfathomably, the Detroit Lions had become my savior, my shining light that I looked to in dark times. In retrospect this is a hilarious concept. Hell, at the time it seemed ridiculous, but this is how far the Lions have come and honestly, just the fact that I could honestly say and believe something like that makes me happy. Maybe this actually is, as my twitter pal Nick (@iamfakenick) said to me last night, the future.
Then again, maybe not. For the weekend, I’m pretty sure my teams’ quarterbacks were sacked a combined 168 times. That actually may be a low estimate. I’m not sure. I heard the voice of that that lizard fiend Mike Pereira penetrate my wounded consciousness another 4 or 5 times like the voice of the devil taunting me while I burned. I watched the refs call a throw away a safety, make up some new rules in order to justify their own interpretations of whatever acid-induced reality they were living in and then my Lions gave up the lead and the game by a single inch on a 4th down play, much like the fortunes of my Michigan Wolverines turned yesterday on a single inch on a 4th down play late in the 4th quarter of their game. And so it goes.
The universe decided it hated me again. At least for one weekend and while I will no doubt recover and remember that my Lions are 5-1, my Wolverines are 6-1 and my Tigers won 95 games and almost made the World Series this year, for now all I know is that on Friday my dreams seemed limitless and beautiful and by Sunday at about 4:30 PM my heart was filled with sorrow and my blurred vision was only capable of picking out Jim Harbaugh - the same man who famously walked away from the pleading wails of the Michigan faithful and broke my heart in the process - strutting off the field, victorious, his arms raised and the whole thing just felt like some cruel game, a jape played at my own idiot expense.
Rarely do I feel as much like just some pathetic zoo animal as I do today, like I’m just here to amuse the sports gods, my happiness and my despair mere playthings at their disposal. Shit, I even watched Dark City late last night. How much more evidence do you need that this whole damn weekend was cosmically engineered? Let’s not forget that it’s also my birthday so of course this all happened.
Naturally, when it was all over, the only thing that my spirit could do was rise up from my fractured shell of a body, drift screaming on the wind to Ford Field, temporarily possess the body of Jim Schwartz and then try to beat the shit out of Jim Harbaugh. I’m just assuming that was what happened. It makes sense. At least to me anyway. Then again, my perspective has been skewed by the fact that my brain just melted and by the fact that I just spent the last hour painting my face and wandering around in the woods like Colonel Kurtz. So who’s to say what’s sensible?
All I know is that I don’t want to be Whiouxsie’s slave (Read the preview piece from Friday if this doesn’t make any sense to you. Hell, there’s a good chance that it still won’t make sense after you read it but if you really expect me of all people to make sense, then perhaps you are the insane one, my friend.) and that I really, really wanted – needed – my Lions to win today. I know I haven’t talked that much about what actually happened in the game but that is because I can’t without drinking the blood of a small dog to satiate the wild rage that I know such descriptions would cause and I don’t want to drink the blood of a small dog. After all, I am a vegan.
It’s simply enough to know right now that the whole thing happened about as cruelly as it could. Inches man. Inches. That’s the difference between me sitting here and writing this dirge and me sitting here and telling you about the redemption of my sports loving soul. And in those inches lie infinite screams and the shredded remains of my heart. This is all very ridiculous and I know that and like I said, tomorrow I will sit down and remember that my Lions are 5-1 and that I even predicted that something like this might happen and that I should just chill out. But today I just feel sad, okay?
The Lions losing is not that big a deal all on its own, but in the context of my entire weekend, of this weekend’s existence and promise as the culmination of everything that I dared to hope and believe in as a sports fan, it is something else entirely. I’m still not exactly sure what, but my sports world suddenly feels a little grayer, a little colder than it did a couple of days ago and the ridiculous part of me which writes these damn things can’t help but notice the confluence of events, the almost unbelievable symmetry and synchronicity of it all. The fact that it is my birthday weekend just seems somehow too, I don’t know . . . too . . . perfect. Like, really? Come on, man.
Happy birthday, Neil.
Love, the Universe (P.S. for your present we got you this box full of bees. Their stingers are all tipped with failure, horror and AIDS. Congrats!)
Yes, I know I have spun out of control here and no one reading this feels even a fraction of my sports pain but goddammit, sometimes these things just feel personal and this is one of those times, strange and terrible as it is. The totality of the terrible failure of this weekend is something which doesn’t exist to everyone reading this – or even to the majority of people reading this – but I suspect that it exists to a select few, those intrepid spirit warriors who dare to fire walk with me down the same dark paths I call my own. And it doesn’t exist to anyone as uniquely as it does to me, at least not in quite so bizarre a way. So, even though this has been horribly self-indulgent, I don’t apologize for any of it. I have made an ass out of myself, but I feel like an ass so it’s appropriate. Fate and the universe have made a colossal ass out of the sports fan in me this weekend and this is just what happens in its wake.
The Lions lost and they lost in a way that ate the last crumbs of my sports soul, but to hell with all that, they’ll be back. They’re okay and they’ll be okay going forward. They’re 5-1, they just had to suffer through the indignity of the hangover from Monday night, so they shit their pants and now it’s time to go to their room, heads hung low and in shame and change those fucking drawers. I don’t want to make more of this than it is. (A little late for that shit, dude.) I mean, at least as far as the Lions go. The rest of this has just been the bitter ravings of a broken man, a sports fan who had his ass kicked one too many times in one too many ways this weekend. Unfortunately, the Lions were a part of that and, well, here we are.
I just wish that my spirit wouldn’t have been forced out of Jim Schwartz’s body before it got a punch at Harbaugh off. That would have made me feel better, I think. But enough of this gibberish. It is unbecoming and I am shaming myself now. It’s time to move on, and it’s time to start remembering that this was just a blip, the shot we all knew was coming, even if we didn’t want to admit it to ourselves. And now we – you, me, the Lions themselves - can all move on. So that’s just what I am going to do. And that’s that.