I’m calling you out: If you’re
a true Michigan fan, you’ll be at The Fish at 3 p.m. Friday
for Michigan baseball’s Opening Day.

Jim Weber

So in other words, I’m not expecting a much bigger turnout
than last year’s attendance of 354.

Exactly how many students are actually loyal Michigan fans?

Yeah, you rocked the Big House for the Ohio State game.
That’s expected — it’s the greatest rivalry in
college sports. And I doubt you would have turned in that kind of
performance if we hadn’t mocked you week after week with the
Hype-meter.

And yes, the Maize Rage has made the last two NIT games feel
like the Final Four. Why was it difficult to fill the bleachers
during the regular season against Indiana with hopes of an NCAA
bid? So the Ragers traveled to Penn State this season and
Northwestern last year. The number of Maize Ragers at the Big Ten
Tournament was slim to none. Awful big of you to travel to the
homes of Big Ten bottom feeders and taunt their downtrodden fans.
The Michigan fan making the most noise at Conseco Fieldhouse was a
player’s mom, who made everyone miserable throughout the
Illinois game by screaming “Dee Brown’s loose —
get him!”

Now that’s a super fan. Someone give her that cape and
mask.

Yost faithful: Where were most of you two Sundays ago for the
decisive Game 3 against Nebraska-Omaha in the CCHA first round?
Sorry it wasn’t convenient for you guys to spend your Sunday
night supporting a team that could have been facing its last game
of the season.

And then there’s the baseball team — it
doesn’t even have student fans. No popcorning in the stands,
no “Ohhhh, see ya!” There’s an inside joke among
sports staffers that the Athletic Department uses a random number
generator to produce attendance figures.

I can’t speak for the hot girl that sits by herself every
game or Crazy Horse (Michigan baseball’s middle-aged Super
Fan), but I think it’s pathetic. It’s not like
you’re being asked to attend a regatta. I can’t even
begin to imagine student attendance once the new baseball stadium
is built next to the Varsity Tennis Center.

What makes low attendance even more inexcusable is that everyone
enjoys Opening Day. Even if you don’t watch the game,
it’s an opportunity to chill with friends outdoors —
when’s the last time you got to do that?

After a month of playing baseball on the road, the team deserves
a warm welcome home. In honor of all the games its already played
away from The Fish, here are 14 reasons why the baseball team and
The Fish are two of the best parts of Michigan athletics:

14) The athletic department dubbing this weekend’s dual
series against Detroit and Oakland as the “Michigan
Classic,” framing creampuffs as historical intrastate
rivals.

13) Unlike last week, March Madness doesn’t start until 7
p.m.

12) Nicknames like “Long-ball Lollio” (former
outfielder Gino Lollio) for a guy that hit 16 career home runs.

11) Tradition. The baseball program has been around longer than
football at Michigan and won more national titles than
basketball.

10) Watching an opponent crush a pitch, turning to your buddy
“Major League”-style and telling him “it’s
too high,” then watching it careen off the Indoor Track and
Field Building.

9) Five-foot-six Matt Butler walking to the plate to the Rocky
theme song.

8) The aforementioned hot chick I vow to meet before
graduation.

7) Sports Information Director Jim Schneider assigning hits
instead of errors on plays a tee baller should make.

6) Wondering if your car windows are still intact after each
foul ball.

5) Brandon Roberts coming to the dugout during a 2002 game in
the middle of the seventh inning screaming about being disrespected
at home after Oakland extended its lead to 14-2 on an RBI bunt
— then watching Oakland go on to win 17-3.

4) It’s Daily style to call it “The Fish”
instead of “Ray Fisher Stadium.”

3) Schneider pulling double duty as stadium DJ, playing a
variety of ’80s hits and country music. I always picture
Schneids in the press box lip-syncing like the Zamboni driver from
Happy Gilmore.

2) It’s free for students.

1) Second-year coach Rich Maloney, who increased the
team’s win total by nine games in his first campaign. Unlike
most coaches around here, Maloney tells it how it is. One of
Maloney’s keys to turning around the program after he was
hired two years ago?

“Right now, we need to get some better players in
there.”

I would give anything to have seen the face of Associate
Athletic Director Megan McCallister at that exact moment.

Three p.m. Friday at The Fish. Me, the hot chick and Crazy Horse
will see you there?

Jim Weber can be reached at
“mailto:jamesmw@umich.edu”>jamesmw@umich.edu.

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