Last week I took my family on a train trip from Chicago to Seattle for Spring Break. This trip was planned months ago and as luck would have it our flight from Cleveland got into Chicago early last Saturday and the train didn't leave until 2:15pm CST so I had time to find a bar and watch the Michigan-VCU game. We selected "Mother Hubbard's" because it was fairly close to Union Station and had good reviews for their food & beer selection and was considered "kid friendly (I had our 8 year old with us) and we had a great time. I wore my Michigan warm-up jacket and Sugar Bowl hat and both my wife and son had Michigan gear on as well. We were pretty much the only Michigan fans in there that day based on the cheering (just us mostly) and people were friendly and supportive.
On our way out after the game we passed a big table of MSU fans who had recently arrived to watch their game against Memphis. They were all dressed in their finest Sparty gear and as we passed their table I said "good luck today guys - keep the B1G domination rolling" and smiled. I was greeted back with "whatthefuck-ever dude" by one guy and some chick giving me the finger. Everybody at their table laughed at that (the girl flipping me off) and they all basically turned their back on me and said nothing after that. I was way too happy to let a bunch of MSU fans bring me down so I just left and reminded myself that they truly just hate us in all situations no matter what and left.
On Thursday of this past week we were winding up our stay in Seattle and getting ready to fly home the next morning. By the way - if you haven't spent time in Seattle I HIGHLY recommend doing so as it's a fantastic city with more to do than we could squeeze in four days but that's another story. Anyways we decided to go to a Sports Bar near our hotel to watch the OSU & Indiana games and cheer for our fellow B1G schools while enjoying a few beers and some food. Shortly after the OSU game started I heard a roar coming from the other side of the partition and when I stood up I saw about 200 OSU fans all decked out in scarlet and grey with a giant "Seattle Buckeye Club" banner hung beneath the biggest TV in the place. I live in Cleveland and somehow I manage to run into the largest collection of Buckeye fans I've ever seen some 2,000 miles away from home.
Well the difference between the Buckeye fans and the MSU fans was pretty stark. I was dressed basically the same (full Michigan-wear regalia) and other than some good-natured teasing about why I picked THAT bar I was welcomed and to a person, told they were going to root like Hell for us tomorrow. No snide comments, no smug laughs and certainly no one-finger salutes like I got from the Michigan State fans earlier last week. And mind you Ohio State was losing most of the game Thursday and Michigan State was killing Memphis when both encounters occurred so I couldn't attribute their reactions to me on the score of the game they were following.
To me it summed up and confirmed what I've thought about how the respective fan bases view Michigan and our fan base. OSU dislikes, but respects Michigan and generally roots for us to win unless of course they are playing us. MSU, on-the-other-hand, dislikes us period and would like nothing better than to see us lose every game no matter what. Oh, and one last thing. If you ever get the chance to take a cross-country train trip I would recommend that experience as well. You will get to see parts of the country you just can't see any other way!
UPDATE: I got about six congradulatory text's from OSU friends of mine here in Ohio after the game yesterday. A couple of guys were texting me mid-game telling me they were very happy that at least one B1G team showed up large for the tourny.
Let me start this by stating I was born and raised in Michigan, graduated from U of M in 1981 and have lived in Northern Ohio since 1987. In the 25 years here I have become a Cleveland sports fan and recently (thanks to my wife's father giving us his PSL as a wedding gift) became a Browns season ticket holder. Because he first got his tickets in 1954 these are fantastic seats - 3rd deck but row 1 (on the rail) and on the 50 yard line. The Browns suck but I love football so I've enjoyed going to the games and taking my family with me.
This past Sunday my wife and I took our 8 year old son to the game and for the first quarter things were pretty uneventful. The Browns were playing relatively well (for the Browns) and everyone in our section seemed pretty happy. I must add here that because of the quality of these seats everyone around us are season ticket holders and most attend every game. You get to know your neighbors so to speak. But with about 10 minutes to go in the second quarter all Hell broke loose It started with smell of cigarette smoke flowing down upon us and went quickly downhill from there.
For those of you who've been to my wife's website (inshapemom.com) you know she is more than a bit of a health nut so the smell of cigarette smoke drives her insane. And when you couple that personal bias with our 8 year's presence and add in big "no smoking" signs everywhere you get her yelling out "please put out your cigarette - no smoking" loudly. Twice. Now obviously this was a mistake - what should have happened was a simple non-confrontational walk to an usher to inform them of the offense but this didn't happen. So after the second "No smoking" yell from my wife "F-You" was the response. Here is where I made my first tactical error - I turned and looked in the direction of the yell.
At that point I made eye contact with the cause of the smoke and the F-You - two guys in their late 50's about 6 rows up and on the isle. Both started yelling F-You at me now but I wasn't too worried as I'm 6'4", about 245 and work out daily. These guys combined were about my size, very drunk and looked like they had not seen a gym in 40 years. In the words of Mark Dantonio - where's the threat?. I sat back down and went back to watching the game.
With about about 4 minutes to go in the half I made my second tactical error - I went to the bathroom. Upon returning to my section I had to wait for a second to get back into my row (something was happening on the field) when all of sudden one of the guys came running down the steps and started screaming F-You about an inch off my face. Once the shock of what was happening wore off I realized that if I hit this guy I would: 1 - get arrested, 2- spend the night in jail, 3 - probably get sued so I stood my ground and just kept telling him to sit back down. Meanwhile my wife is frantically gesturing to the female security guard one row over who is simply watching all this unfold and not moving an inch. I must add that I'm NOT wearing any Michigan gear I've got all my Browns stuff on so that wasn't causing any provocation.
Anyways after a minute or so of this back and forth exchange between me and drunk angry guy I see his friend stand up and start moving down the steps towards me. At this point I've got a decision to make cause it sure seems like I'm going to be fighting both of them at once in about five seconds. Security guard still hasn't budged and screaming angry guy seems to be getting madder. I notice that the guy coming down the steps is picking up speed and I as I watch him literally start to run down the steps I realize he has lost control and isn't going to stop. I move to my right and he passes both me and his angry friend, almost at full speed, and slams into the back of the head of the guy sitting at the end of our row (sort of a reverse tea bag) at which point he does a slow-motion cartwheel over the rail and onto the mezzanine seats about 10 feet below us. He lands on top of a group of fans who all start yelling obviously and that excitement finally gets the security guard to move. The guy screaming at me sees his friend, forgets about me and runs over to see if his even more drunken buddy is ok. Security arrives, escorts both out of the stadium and I return to my seat hoping my 8 year old somehow missed all this while watching the game.
Can't wait for Sunday against the Redskins. This week I'm taking my 26 year old son instead of the 8 year old.
Edit: If you scroll down a bit you can see a picture of where all magic happened. I just found it on my phone and posted it