Baseball fans, do me a favor. If you’re home now, stop reading this column. Go dig out your baseball mitt, put it right near your face and breathe in deep. Sniff it good. Then, come back.
If you’re like me, taking in that leathery smell brings back a host of baseball memories: throwing the ball around in the backyard with Dad, heading to the ballpark and hoping to catch a foul ball, playing second base and letting the ball go through your legs to lose a little league game (Okay, maybe that one’s just me).
At 3 p.m. today, just a short walk down State Street, the opportunity to create new baseball memories beckons. It’s Opening Day for the Michigan baseball team, the most underappreciated team on campus.
A small, dilapidated old structure calls out to you.
“I AM THE FISH,” it cries. “I have been hosting Michigan baseball games since 1923, and today, I ask – nay, implore – that you drop whatever you are doing and watch America’s pastime right here in Ann Arbor.”
Not convinced by the Fish’s valiant plea? Let me argue on its behalf. Here are my top 10 reasons to get your lazy ass out of bed and watch Michigan baseball this afternoon:
10.) The ping. Close your eyes and picture it: a fastball, right down Broadway. A quick, non-steroid-induced swing slicing through the batter’s box. PING! The beautiful sound of aluminum hitting the ball at precisely the right moment. Ahhh.
9.) Because the Fish is so small, you can pick up on all the on-the-field chatter. Just sit behind a dugout and keep your ears peeled.
8.) Chicks dig baseball. According to the dating service “It’s Just Lunch,” more than 65 percent of women say baseball games are good for dates (I read this in an airplane magazine). So take the apple of your eye to the Fish. Snuggle up under a blanket, impress her with your extensive (but not excessive) baseball knowledge and kick your game as best you can. If the ballgame date doesn’t work out, no worries. Dancing up on random drunk girls at Skeeps or Rick’s is still an option – the game should be over by 6 p.m.
7.) I covered the team last year, and I can tell you, the baseball players are a bunch of cool, fun-loving, down-to-earth guys. And, word on the street is that they throw some pretty sweet parties.
6.) Michigan’s at-bat music is classic. Last year, for example, the PA played “Apache” by the Sugarhill Gang every time Eric Rose stepped to the plate. Needless to say, Michigan’s fans couldn’t help but “jump on it” prior to each at-bat.
5.) It’s free for students.
4.) Going through afternoon-drinking withdrawal after St. Patty’s Day? Michigan baseball is a perfect excuse to start your weekend early. With forecast temperatures in the high 30s, you could probably use a little extra alcohol-induced warmth. I particularly recommend spiked hot chocolate. (Note: Drinking is not allowed at the Fish. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
3.) Michigan coach Rich Maloney is the man. First of all, he’s a great coach. Michigan’s program has done a 180 since he took over in 2003, culminating in last season’s NCAA Regional berth. Plus, when his team does falter, he’s straight up with the media. He doesn’t hide behind clich