SportsMonday Column: A Saturday night at the ol' Bar & Grille
SCOREKEEPERS BAR & GRILLE — Sometimes, you find yourself in the right place at the right time.
I never really thought the bathroom of a bar on Maynard Street in Ann Arbor would qualify. But hey, I’ll take it.
I’ll admit I bowed out of the delirium of the packed dance floor a little prematurely. I had to pee. They say alcohol does that to you. Sorry Mom and Dad.
Luckily, I beat the postgame line to the bathroom and took my place in front of a urinal. The guy standing to my right was staring at the wall in front of him in a stupor. I think he might have been drunk.
Then he said something — said it all — to no one in particular.
“The Final f***ing Four, baby.”
Yeah, that about sums it up. Saturday night, the Michigan men’s basketball team topped Florida State, 58-54, at the Staples Center. The game was as ugly as your high school yearbook photo. Still, the Wolverines are headed to San Antonio.
To be clear, I would have gone to Los Angeles if it were an option. Unfortunately, our budget doesn’t have much room for a washed-up, second-semester senior columnist. So I had to settle for the next best option: Skeeps.
My friends and I got there at 7:40 p.m. for an 8:49 tipoff, and there was already a line. The guy in front of me wasn’t keen on being interviewed. He’s graduating in a month. But he did say he came back because Skeeps was as loud as he’d ever seen it when Michigan beat Texas A&M. He seemed to frequent the place.
We got inside at 7:50, thinking we had plenty of time to get a table. We were wrong. And we weren’t the only ones.
Caroline Gilhool, a junior in the School of Information, got there at 7:30. She wanted to arrive a half hour earlier, but got caught up grabbing dinner at Zingerman’s. She’s also no stranger to the Skeeps watch party — she celebrated her 21st birthday there when Michigan beat Houston.
And given that she’s from Florida, I thought it was reasonable to ask her who she was rooting for. She seemed insulted.
“Michigan, what the hell?” she said. “Go Gators, I hate the Noles.”
So just how late were Caroline and I? Well, I introduced myself to a guy named Matt Safranek, who’s getting his master’s in accounting here. He said his friends got the last table around 7, only because a couple decided to leave.
And I thought the early-semester bar lines were bad.
My friends and I decided there was only one thing that would allow us to come to grips with standing for the entire game: beer.
About 20 minutes later, we had settled into our standing room, right in front of the huge projector screen. It involved some bargaining, as a bearded man sitting in front of us warned not to bump him once the game started. I don’t think he had been in a college bar before. But we did our best to uphold our end of the bargain.
If you got there at this point, you might have assumed it was just another college bar night. Loyola-Chicago was nearing its upset over Kansas State, but people didn’t seem too excited. I asked one group what they thought about Michigan potentially needing to play spoiler to divine conquest.
“I’m just here to drink,” one of them told me.
I can’t knock him there.
Eventually, I tried my luck at another interview. One guy agreed around 8:30, but I didn’t get a chance to actually ask him a question.
“If Michigan wins, I’m getting a butt tattoo,” he declared. “Print that.”
He said he wasn’t drunk yet, and offered his uniqname. I’m a little suspicious though, and I’m going to keep that information to myself. I don’t want any professors demanding he live up to his word.
At long last, the game actually started. You know what happened there, and you can probably gather that there were some profanities exchanged throughout the night.
One guy took exception to me asking him to stop pushing me into that bearded guy. Other patrons were friendlier. A stranger asked to give me a hug. He had a pretty cool Hawaiian shirt.
One fan really liked to say “Rahkman” repeatedly.
As the game wound down, Duncan Robinson hit a three from the corner with just over two minutes left, and Skeeps could have registered on the Richter scale.
One of my friends threw a drink in his girlfriend’s face. She wasn’t even mad.
My phone ended up on the ground. Shockingly, it isn’t broken.
Finally, the clock hit zero, and the bar descended into pandemonium.
Someone sprayed the crowd with liquid. I think it was water. He probably looks up to John Beilein.
I went to the bathroom and ran into that guy I mentioned before.
Then, I walked to the Diag. I sat there alone for about 10 minutes. People were looking at me funny.
One guy stomped on the ‘M,’ screaming “Final Four” over and over. I wish him luck on his next exam.
Another told his friend that Loyola-Chicago isn’t like Florida State. I mean, yeah, they don’t even have nuns in Tallahassee.
I made my final stop at South U Pizza. I’ve heard it’s great drunk food. One guy walked by and slammed on their storefront window. I don’t think the owner was very happy.
Around 12:30, I got to my block.
I walked past a neighbor’s house, where the resident was sitting on his porch smoking something. I’ve never talked to him before, but I guess he was feeling friendly.
“Final Four,” he whispered. “Final Four.”
Yeah man, you said it.
Santo can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Kevin_M_Santo. You can also find him at Skeeps next Saturday, where he will be accepting donations in the form of pitchers.