Sam’s Column – Three Years of Sports
One. Just one column is all I have left, after three years. For three years I’ve spent every Sunday night with my laptop open to countless sports websites, watching highlights and jotting down stats for the week. But the next few paragraphs will bring all of that to an end.
Maybe you’ve read this since the beginning. Maybe you’re a freshman and have only read this year. Or maybe this is the first time you’ve ever read my words. Whatever your situation may be, let’s take it back to the very beginning and reflect on my favorite moments in the past three years of sports.
My very first column started with the same word as this last one did, “one.” Headlined, “Battle for a bowl,” the column expressed my aggravation at the Wolverines 2009 season when they needed just one win to go to a bowl and failed to do so.
Wolverine football is a topic that I haven’t covered too much, but when I think back now, it has provided some of my most enjoyable and most memorable events. The second time I covered the Wolverines it was in bad light in a column titled, “Tate the not so great.” I’m sure all Wolverines fans can remember the rise and rather quick fall of quarterback Tate Forcier.
My favorite memories pertaining to the Wolverines didn’t come until this past football season. After covering the firing of Rich Rod, I was quick to express my delight at the hiring of Brady Hoke. Fans everywhere were thrilled with the news of his hiring and he didn’t disappoint.
After a nail-biting victory over Notre Dame, I insisted that the Night Game was my favorite experience. The lights, being on the field, the victory, I was thrilled. Then came Ohio, another absolute nail biter. The secretive cheering under our desks in the press box (no cheering is allowed for either team up there), the race down to the field to see the last five minutes from the sideline, celebrating with my sister after the student section rushed the field, and hey, I even got on ESPN.
The season was only made better by my eleven hundred mile journey this past January to New Orleans, Louisiana to watch, you guessed it, another nail-biter. When Gibbons’ kick was ruled good, all of my professional journalism standards went out the window as I yelled, cheered, and celebrated the victory. Judge me all you want, but old time reporters were doing the same thing.
The hour after the game brought my last press conference, throwing confetti around with Toussaint and Kovacs, and taking pictures with Kovacs. It was truly a great Michigan experience.
More experiences and memories came in all sorts of ways. One of my most favorite columns came not too long after I started writing. Titled, “Talk of the trade,” it explained the reasonings behind the Detroit Tigers’ Granderson trade and, although I understood, my annoyance over it. I remember being so excited over how much effort I put into it and I still tell anyone who will listen all about it.
But like Michigan Football, I never wrote about the Tigers too much.
I remember my panic at the thought of Mike Illitch buying the Detroit Pistons. There was talk of him renovating the Palace, combining the venue for both the Pistons and the Wings. For those few moments, my only concern was that instead of driving the roughly twenty-three minutes it currently takes me to get to The Joe, I was going to have to drive over an hour to see a hockey game.
My first and only world news coverage came in the form of the 2010 Olympics. I remember struggling to find the right words to express my sorrow after 21-year-old Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed during a practice run just hours before the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympics.
Many of the columns blur together in a haze of how aggravating referees can be, how much I love a good hockey fight, classy vs. non classy athletes (one of my favorite from this past year), and whether offense or defense are more important.
Those past few topics have one thing in common, and lead me to the topic I’ve saved for last. Those of you who have followed this column at all know what I am going to say next.
The Detroit Red Wings are my life. The team is, far and away, my most written about topic over the past three years. Always giving me something to write about, I always laugh at how quickly my direction of those columns changes. Just this year I wrote one about the NHL record-breaking 23 game home record, followed two weeks later with one about how they were about to lose the most consecutive games since 1997.
The team never fails to keep me on my toes and I will always support them. The past three years have brought so many memories. The game four win in 2010 where, after seeing Franzen score four goals during just the first period, I met and got a picture with Rafalski.
I remember how much my face hurt from smiling and laughing so much in the Olympia Club after that game. It was the first time I’d ever met a Red Wings’ player and I was ecstatic. Little did I know that the next season I would have a chance to meet other Red Wings in the form of Lidstrom, Bertuzzi, Datsyuk, Franzen, Filppula, Stuart, and Howard. I’m still on my quest for Abdelkader, but that will come one of these days.
The Wings are currently in their twenty-first consecutive playoff appearance and many seem worried, myself included. Down 1-2 in the series against Nashville, I’m concerned that the Wings may not even make it past the first round of the playoffs, much less all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. If that tragedy happens, it’s going to be a very long summer.
This summer’s going to bring all sorts of sports news. Most likely the retirement of both Lidstrom and Homer for the Wings. I’ve already got my tissues prepared for that day. Abdelkader’s contract is also up. Should the Wings not resign him, I may just uproot and move to the city of whichever team signs him.
Whatever happens, although I won’t be writing, you know I’ll be watching, starting with tonight at The Joe, where I’ll be cheering for a Wings’ win.
For those of you who have stuck with me, I can’t thank you enough. It’s been three years of ups and downs but most of all, memorable moments. Thank you for sticking with me through the last at bat, the last puck drop, the last touchdown, and the final buzzer.