Saturday, March 11, 2006

It's about that time

It's March, which for most Michigan sports fans means it's time for another MSU romp through the NCAA men's basketball tournament. And my Spartans are looking good, having knocked off #9 Illinois 61-56. No, 22-10 isn't exactly stellar, but I've got high hopes for the boys in green. But for a guy like me, March means something even more important: Spring Training.

You see, some of my first memories are of being outside with my dad in the garage during the summertime. While he would work on the car or mow the lawn, the slow, sweet southern voice of Ernie Harwell graced the airwaves on WSGW 790. I fell in love with Tigers baseball, even feeling transported to "The Corner" of Michigan and Trumbull while Ernie paused to let listeners hear the hot dog vendors or the crack of the bat. Oh, how I miss hearing of batters "standing there like a house by the side of the road" as strike three sailed past, or of home run balls that are "looonngg goonnee!"

Down in Lakeland, Florida, the Tigers (7-2) have been putting in the time getting ready for what (I hope!) will be their first .500 or above season since 1993. Can they do it? You bet. In recent Grapefruit League action, they trounced solid contenders the Dodgers 12-3 and the Yankees 6-1. While last year saw the long-awaited return of a solid starting rotation anchored by young upstart Jeremy Bonderman, and this year brings the addition of aging veteran Kenny Rogers. And if Placido Polanco (2B) keeps up his hitting that should've earned him the AL batting title last year, Chris Shelton (1B) and Craig Monroe (OF) continue to play solid ball, and Magglio Ordonez (OF) stays healthy, Motown could become a contender in the American League Central. It's time to Restore the Roar!

On another sports-related note, on Thursday we took many of the visiting spring breakers from MSU to the
Besiktas futbol match against Kayseri. We were treated to another showing from the raucous tarafta (loyal soccer fans) and a 2-0 victory by my Black Eagles. (Haydi kartal, haydi kartal, haydi! Gol zamani, gol zamani simdi!) But the coolest part of all came when we discovered our photo in two local newspapers. The accompanying caption said that fans from all over the world came to support Besiktas. They thought we were German (as seen by the Carsi Berlin scarf waved by someone in the foreground), Asian (Brent), and Afghani (Kahve)! It was hilarious and served as a great conversation starter the next day on campus. You can see me in the center near the back, wearing a white beanie and with a black and white scarf around my neck.

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