Joe Ganz? More like Joe MANz!
If you follow college football, you might have heard about the insane beating that Nebraska handed to Kansas State on Saturday. It was at least as crazy as the score indicated; I had the pleasure of seeing it from Row 3 right behind the "B" in the word "Nebraska" painted in the south end zone. Some of MANz's seven (yes, seven) touchdown passes happened about 10 feet from me, and I loved each one more than the one before it.
After last week's embarrassingly large loss to Kansas (no, I am not consoled by the fact that nobody has beaten Kansas. I still hate losing.), it was refreshing to see the Huskers play with some heart again, the way they did against Texas two games ago.
I am a fan of gentlemanly, sportsmanlike play, but I was not at all offended by some of the penalties called on the fired-up Husker players. Excessive celebration? At least we're in the endzone. Roughing the passer? That means our defense got through someone's line... Hallelujah! I think a lot of Nebraska's losses this season can be attributed to lack of heart. All season, the team has lacked the intensity and attitude to incur the types of penalties I just named. I don't want my Husker players to act like thugs, but it was kind of fun to see them, for once, showing up at Memorial Stadium with a little bit of attitude, that "swagger" that can make winning even more satisfying for this year's beleaguered Husker fans to watch. After that game, I finally feel confident that the Huskers can beat Colorado in the annual day-after-Thanksgiving meeting.
Incidentally, Joba Chamberlain paid the stadium a visit, which got people pretty fired up. Before they introduced him, along with his father, Harlan, the good folks at HuskerVision treated the 84,665 in attendance with a Chamberlain highlight video, complete with many of those trademark fist pumps from his Husker days and his magical time with the Yankees. When he walked behind the endzone, right under my seats, I very shamelessly yelled "Holy crap! It's Joba!" He turned and did a thumbs-up/gun finger gesture in my general direction, which was my first encounter with a Yankee player. I may hate the Yankees with the fire of a thousand suns, but I love Joba Chamberlain. All this stuff that's written about him...it's true. It's all true; it's the story that brought tears to my eyes every time I heard it during Joba's time in a Husker uniform. I was thrilled with his visit to Lincoln this weekend so I had an excuse to spend some time thinking about some of the good that's left in the world, the good that is impossible to ignore even when it's wrapped in Yankee pinstripes.
A father who raises his son to sincerely say things like this is a father more kids should get to have:
"I wake up with two purposes each day: Make at least one person smile and have fun. If I can make a wisecrack or give someone a hug, that day's been worthwhile, even if I give up 15 runs. No matter how bad it is, it'll get better. I mean, look at this ."
His hand sweeps across a beautiful ballyard -- Comerica in Detroit -- shimmering beneath a cloudless August sky. "This is what I do for a living. I get to come here on a weekend day and watch a major league game for free -- and maybe even get to pitch in it. What could be better than that?"
Wow, that was quite a tangent. This post was really supposed to be about Husker football, and then basketball. My bad.
Yesterday three friends and I made a car trip to Minneapolis to see my favorite band, the Dropkick Murphys, in concert. I learned many things, like driving 900 miles when gas is over $3 a gallon was not the most economically sound decision I've ever made. In fact, it may have been the least so. At least I didn't get a speeding ticket -- I'm looking at you, Mr. Posnanski -- and my car behaved splendidly. And my map was reliable and despite the fact that I was navigating, we got where we needed to go and back without getting lost. The weather was unseasonably warm, and most of the people we encountered were kind, even if they were ridiculously shocked that actual people live in Nebraska, and would travel such a great distance for a show. One patron who was not so kind was this kid who apparently loves his elbows so much that he has to share them with everybody by keeping them in the air at all times. In a crowded nightclub, this meant that those lovely (pointy!) elbows were embedded in the side of my neck for most of one of the opening bands' sets. My attempts to dislodge the elbow from my throat ended in him glaring at me and digging it in more deeply. Sigh.
But the really cool thing about seeing this particular show was that it was Veteran's Day, and the Dropkick Murphys' beliefs about war and service are delightfully different from most punk bands. When they offered up a song as a tribute to veterans and to those who are serving right now, the club was transformed, almost as if by magic, from a venue full of all the usual moshing, nosebleeds and chaos that are usual fare for a punk rock show, into a crowd full of people who were belting out the words to the song in respectful remembrance of a lot of people who are normally not respected by such crowds. After the song was over, the chaos resumed, but those three minutes alone were beautiful enough to make the whole trip worth it.