Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sparty On . . . .

You may have already seen this:

A lot of Spartys I've talked to think it's great. Some thought it over the top.

I think it's funny. Not what the billboard says. The words aren't funny. In fact, even for a Spartan, the words aren't much at all, except to remind each MAC alumnus who saw it that after a big win they don't think about a good game, instead they criticize their nemisis. Were I a spartan, I would be sad.

Which is why I think it's so funny. Picture it:

Mr. Bitter Rivals calls the billboard company days ahead to reserve the space. He has already lined up those fantastic quotes like "Leaders and Best. In your dreams maybe." It took him 12 months to come with these great lines, save the funniest, Holy Toledo" which took about 3 weeks.

Michigan plays another mediocre second half and the guy who was so fortunate to sit in Michigan Stadium instead of Huntington Bank Field is now, literally, peeing his pants over that billboard. He hurries to the car after the win. Starts it up. Hustles on back to 23 North, thinking how badly he wished he could have bought that sign in Whitmore Lake to show all of those Wolverines how great State is. How awesome it was to win in the Big House. But, he is at least comforted that he was able to buy that billboard in East Lansing.

He turns left to merge onto 96 West and he can hardly stop from laughing out loud to the universe. He thinks how great it will be to have all of Spartydom look upon his creation glowing with the knowledge that "Oh Well. There's Always Men's Basketball. Oh Wait. My Bad."; "Roses are Red. Violets are Blue. Your Football Team's Terrible. And Your Basketball Team, Too."; and of course "Leaders and Best? Seriously?? Lately?? You've got to Be Kidding". Because, you know, it just wouldn't be enough to say "Congragulations to the Michigan State Spartans".

Nope, instead, he reminds all of Spartydom that it wasn't a congragulatory moment, it was an opportunity to put down the school that they look up to on the field, in the classroom, and at the workplace.

And here is the Wizard of Rival explanation of why he spent 12 months to come up with wonderful quotes like "Where's the Arrogance Now?"

Yep, I did it, paid for it and sprung it on the Michigan faithful immediately after the game......and here's why.

I have attended every MSU vs. U-M game since 1992 and have never experienced such arrogant, mean-spirited gloating as I felt last year. This premeditated, choreagraphed and orchestrated display of classlessness was led by the little runt Mike Hart.

I've heard Michigan fans say "Act like you've been there". Does that include mocking the opposing Coach by pointing to an imaginary watch like Mario Manningham did last year after catching a TD late in the game?

How about Mike Hart standing 5-yards from our sideline before last years' game and trash-talking until he was physically pulled away. That's what Coach D was referring to when he mentioned "look what they were doing before the game". I saw it first-hand and knew what he was referring to.

Did U-M fans forget when their (heavily-favored) team knelt down at mid-field after the game and openly mocked our team and fans. Then in post-game comments continued to rub our noses in a crushing defeat. Gracious? Classy? No, orchestrated and mean-spirited.

Finally, I have witnessed the unfurling of a 30-foot sign in the visitors section of Spartan Stadium glorifying the arrogance of Michigan fans in games they won in our own back yard (anyone remember the "Pardon Our Arrogance" sign?). They did it again last year and I vowed to myself that I would return the favor in spades this year.

Someone posted that they wished there was a billboard on U.S. 23 so the Michigan fans would see it every day they drove home from work. I tried to get the Whitmore Lake billboard expressly for that purpose but was turned down flat. I wanted all the U-M and Spartan fans returning from the game to see that board lit up immediately after the game. They refused to take my money because they feared the University's response. I even offered to pay them 1/2 of the weekly fee to post it for only 3 hours after the game and was turned down as well. That's the God's honest truth.

Is it gloating? You betcha. Were the billboards designed to rub it in the Michigan fans faces? Absolutely.

If you want to criticize me for being petty and vindictive, I am guilty as charged. But, if your Michigan friend tries to take some kind of moral high ground on this, please remind him that they taught us that this type of response is acceptable and expected in this rivalry.

Or have they forgotten when Jalen Rose rubbed his butt on the block "S" in the Breslin Center.

When a Michigan fan questions why we're so elated about beating a team we were favored to beat, remind him when Chris Webber stood up on the scorers table and did a victory dance after his heavily-favored team beat MSU in OT in the early 1990s.

Hey, we didn't make the rules but now that we know them it's game on.
But, I assume, sir, that you, sir, are probably not a 19 or 20 year old kid. I assume, sir, that you, sir, are not a college student. I assume, sir, that you, sir, didn't jump up on a scorers table in the heat of an emotional overtime victory, but rather spent 12 months of planning this wonderful billboard endeavor and still thought it was a great idea. I assume, sir, that you, sir, were one of the idiots gloating over Michigan State's flag planting turf bouncing brilliance on the gridiron years past.

But perhaps, sir, I have underestimated you. Maybe you, sir, are really so enamored with the University of Michigan that you can't get us off of your mind. Maybe you, sir, are simply one among Spartydom that cannot define himself without saying "Michigan" or "Leaders and Best" in the same sentence. And, that, sir, is why you, sir, are my little brother. And for you sir, in my very best impression of a Budweiser commercial so appropriate for you, sir (and a good deal of your Sparty mates):

"So here's to you Mr. Sparty Bitter Rivals Celebrating A Victory Over Your Arch Rival Like A Real Amateur Guy -- You're an Inferiority Champ."

Newsflash, Mr. Inferiority Champ. After Michigan takes you to the shed at Huntington Bank Field next year, and the year after, and the years after that, we will celebrate our victories and know that we've made it about halfway to a Big Ten championship. We'll be proud of our team, of our school, of our players. We'll save the congragulatory billboards for the National Championship.