Oct 1, 2009
The dotting of the "i", the Nasty 'Nati, Hi-C Ecto Coolers, Chipotle Burrito Love, McKenzie Phillips, Kobayashi killin' it, and a drunk Jets fan
So I’m at the Bengals game with my buddy Mike last Sunday. It was a beautiful late September afternoon, we had great seats, the Bengals won in dramatic fashion over the hated Steelers, we ran across a drunk and (I’m assuming) homeless African-American gentleman shouting racial slurs while he ironically was walking past the Freedom Center, all perfectly fine and meaty enough topics to delve into for this week’s post. But there was something else I took away from the afternoon which has occupied my thoughts more so than anything else. It was the dotting of the “i”.
The Ohio State University marching band performed at halftime. I know this only because Mike said he thought they looked “bad-ass” walking in and wanted to watch. If not for that, I would’ve been drinking by the concession stands and would right now be typing away about that drunk homeless guy who was proud as hell to be from “The Nasty ‘Nati!”
The band marched out into a block “OHIO” formation, played Hang on Sloopy, then capped-off the performance with their coup d’ grace, the Script Ohio. By all accounts from anyone who’s seen it live and in person and who’s not a Michigan fan, it’s pretty cool. It really shouldn’t be cool but for some reason it is. Why shouldn’t it be cool? Well, maybe because it’s a herd of band geeks marching in time, spelling out the word “Ohio”, all led by a supreme band geek carrying a baton and wearing a plumed Q-tip hat, who culminates the act by high-stepping like a hopped-up tree fairy while leading a sousa-dork to his or her ceremonial position as the dot of the “i”. Everything about in on paper screams “Lame!” But when it unfolds before you as it has before millions of others for well over seven decades, it’s really anything but lame. In fact, the fairly simple yet clever act of spelling out your state’s name and then dotting one little “i” works so well that it makes you wonder why Mississippi didn’t think of it first and really maximize its potential.
So why does Script Ohio work? I believe it works because it has the four ingredients necessary for a sports tradition to become a “must experience”. By “must experience” I mean the kind of thing that you tell someone that they just have to see in-person. The kind of thing that can make it onto people’s bucket lists. The kind of thing that network television waits around a little longer to show live before going to a commercial. The four ingredients required to create a “must experience” sports tradition are as follows, along with a bonus ingredient:
1)It must be unique
2)It must be representative of the group of people in front of whom it’s performed
3)The participants must be passionate, committed, and not concerned about possibly looking uncool
4)It must involve music
…And a bonus if it involves a horn section. Everything sounds better with a horn section.
Check, check, check, check, aaaand check. Script Ohio incorporates all four plus the bonus and that’s why it works. All of the major colleges have bands and fight songs and traditions that are unique but very few of them put it all together to make a “must experience”. Michigan, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and USC make it work with great fight songs amidst some of the most unique backdrops in all of sports. Oklahoma, Colorado, and Florida State are a few who make it work with unique scenes playing out with their respective fight songs serving as the soundtracks (the Sooner Schooner, the running of Ralphie the buffalo, Chief Osceola on horseback spiking the flaming spear into the fifty yard line). And although college football certainly seems to corner the market on them, these “must experiences” can be found in other sports and leagues as well.
Take for example the singing of “Take me out to the ballgame” at Wrigley Field. Sure, it’s sung during the seventh inning stretch at every major and minor league baseball game from Vancouver to Vero Beach, but nowhere else do they sing it with such vigor, pride, and in the memory of someone so revered as the late Harry Cary. Another one from the world of baseball is the singing of Sweet Caroline before the bottom of the eighth inning at Fenway Park. That one gets the bonus because the song includes contributions from a horn section. Speaking of horn sections, I’ll submit the playing of the Brass Bonanza theme song for the old Hartford Whalers as a now extinct “must experience”. And speaking of teams no longer around, how about the Houston Oilers theme song inside the Eighth Wonder of the World filled with a sea of baby blue? Of course there’s the singing of My Old Kentucky Home before the Kentucky Derby, the Olympic theme and lighting of the torch at each opening ceremony, the haunting chant of “Rock.. Chalk….Jay ..Hawk” during KU basketball games, and many more in the states and around the world that I’m sure to be missing.
Thinking about it has made me a bit jealous that we don’t have a “must experience” here in Cincinnati. So since it’s football season and since this blog is supposed to center around the NFL, I figured I’d go ahead and try my hand at creating one for the Bengals. Here goes…
Picture if you will a crisp autumn afternoon on the Ohio River. Paul Brown Stadium is filled to capacity, player introductions have just concluded and smoke from the fireworks is still lingering above the playing field. A fairly small-numbered yet mighty Bengals Marching Band spells out a script Who Day towards the northern end of the gridiron and their percussion section unleashes what sounds like rolling thunder on the banks of the Ohio. Suddenly, a loud explosion erupts from just outside the Bengals tunnel and more fireworks stream into the air. Emerging from the smoke is a masked figure covered head-to-toe in orange spandex and wearing Slash’s signature stovepipe hat with the large ornate silver chains. In the figure’s hand is one end of a leash, a leash that at the other end is tethered to a snarling, full-grown Bengal tiger wearing Paul Brown’s fedora. The two sprint to midfield, give a throat-slash gesture to the visiting team’s sidelines, and plant a large Bengals flag into the turf. The mysterious orange man and the Bengal tiger then remove their hats with their right hands (er, paws) and bow to the crowd. Over the loudspeakers we hear the opening electric guitar riff of Welcome to the Jungle, the orange man is handed a microphone by a Ben-Gal cheerleader, then proceeds to take off his mask, revealing himself to be some well-known local celebrity, then screams into the microphone, “You know where you are?! You’re in the Nasty ‘Nati, baby. You’re gonna diiiiiiii-eeee!!!!”. The tiger lets out a blood-curdling roar, the crowd starts the rhythmic “Who Dey!” cheer, and the two take a lap around the field, snagging at least one person from the visiting sidelines as a sacrifice before disappearing into back into the tunnel.
I’m thinking that homeless guy I saw last week could be the first celebrity, then fill in the rest of the season with people like Ickey Woods, Bootsy Collins, Jerry Springer, Carl Lindner, and Archbishop Daniel Pilarcayk. Either all that or the marching band simply spells out a script Cincinnati”, they dot the three “i”s, cross the “t” and everyone goes bananas. You make the call.
Now, on with the matchups….
Shirts (Buccaneers) at Skins-
Tampa Bay’s Josh Johnson, not to be confused with first round pick Josh Freeman or my friend’s son Josh Bowman, will take over at quarterback for Byron Leftwich this Sunday. Johnson has exactly 36 more career passing yards than both Josh Freeman and Josh Bowman. Meanwhile, the Bucs have already allowed five pass plays of over forty yards against them this season. But before you call your bookie and put some money down on my sleeper team of the season (I am SO sorry about that one), take a look at some of the quotes coming out of DC this week….
“You just don’t see the same fight, the same determination.” – cornerback DeAngelo Hall
“We’re not a great team.” – linebacker London Fletcher
“Right now, we’re just not a good team.” – defensive end Phillip Daniels
“I don’t know what we want to be offensively. I don’t know what we want to be defensively.” – cornerback Carlos Rogers
“Losing creates thoughts. It can create thoughts.” – head coach Jim Zorn
“Again, I am SO sorry.” – Kevin St. John
I’ve called the league office and they’ve confirmed that one of these two teams will indeed have to win this game. Unless they tie.
Bengals at Browns-
Speaking of problems, the Real Men of Mangenius have a new field leader. Actually, he’s their former field leader, Derek Anderson. I haven’t seen them play yet but Brady Quinn must be just horrible. He’s got to be dreadful for Derek Anderson to come off the bench, throw three interceptions in the second half, and impress the coach. Anderson’s in a no-lose situation right now. He’s in that same place that McKenzie Phillips first adult boyfriend was in. No matter what he does or how bad he is, he cannot possibly be as bad as the last guy.
Too soon? Really? I thought we could go there.
Giants at Chiefs-
Time for this week’s pop quiz….
What do the fans at Arrowhead Stadium yell instead of “brave!” at the conclusion of the Star Spangled Banner?
C)“Lesbian rock singer, Melissa Etheridge!”
D)“Swarmy late night talk show host Craig Kilborn!”
E)“Mayor Mark Funkhouser!”
Answer: 95% of them yell A), 3% of them yell B), the other 2% raise a flannel sleeve in front of their mouth and mutter C)
Seahawks at Colts-
Hags coach Jim Mora, Jr blamed last week’s tough loss to the Bears on his kicker, Olindo Mare. Mare allegedly missed two field goals in the game which they lost by six points. Let’s see…two times three equals six… Yep, Jimmy, that was the difference. It certainly wasn’t Seneca Wallace’s ill-advised side armed pass that was intercepted on your own fifteen yard line, or your defensive backfield’s plethora of missed tackles. No, let’s blame the kicker who missed two field goals but made four field goals and scored TWELVE OF YOUR TEAM’S NINETEEN POINTS. Also, in defense of the entire team, how in the name of all that is holy were they supposed to play well when you had them dressed in Hi-C Ecto Cooler Green?
Raiders at Texans-
The moveable force meets the unmoving object. The Raiders have the second worst offense in the league while the Texans “boast” the league’s worst defense. Whether they like it or not, one of these two units is going to have to do well this Sunday.
A little off-topic here but have you seen this?...
Quite impressive but I think Raiders quarterback Jamarcus Russell could de-throne him.
Titans at Jaguars-
One of these two teams is 0-3 and it’s not the Jaguars. Seriously.
The Jags may have won last week but that does not in any way mean that The Jack Del Rio Farewell Tour has been cancelled, or even postponed. I promise you, dates are still being booked and tickets are still being sold (just not in Jacksonville). We believe last week was merely a fluke and do not anticipate it happening again anytime soon.
Ravens at Patriots-
I may have to re-think my hatred for the Ravens. Why, you ask? Because they have a Chipotle Burrito Club!
If it were possible to make love to a Chipotle Burrito, we’d be married, living in an aluminum foil house, and have four little chimichangas by now. And yes, I know they don’t sell chimichangas. Whatev.
Lions at Bears-
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz had this to say after his team broke their 19-game losing streak last Sunday: “We’re excited, yeah. But let’s put it where it is…It’s a week three win, we’re 1-2, and we need to get a win this week against a division opponent to get back to 2-2. Sorry to be so boring.”
Whoa! Hold your horses there, Coach! Two wins? Like in a row? That’s not boring, that’s actually a bit ambitious and quite frankly, a bit shocking. Next thing we know, you’re going to be rallying for safer streets and better schools in Detroit. You’re only one man, Coach Schwartz, you’re not a miracle worker.
Bills at Dolphins-
It’s Trent Edwards and the 1-2 Bills taking on Chad Henne and the 0-3 Dolphins, this Sunday on CBS!
Jets at Saints-
Unstoppable offense meets unpenetrable defense. I’m already chilling the Miller High Life for this one. Winner instantly starts getting serious buzz as a possible Super Bowl team. Loser immediately starts getting buzz about whether we had them over-rated.
This lady, well, she just gets buzzed…
Rams at Niners-
Marc Bulger has a bruised rotator cuff which is usually not a good thing for a quarterback, so he may not play this Sunday. If he can’t go, “Dammit Kyle” Boller will have to take over. On the other side of the field, tailback Frank Gore has an ankle injury which is usually not a good thing for a tailback, so he probably won’t play. If he can’t go, rookie Glen Coffey will get to carry the ball. According to the CDF, this situation has caused 341 instances of sportscasters and sportswriters this week advising fantasy football team owners to either “Pick up some Coffey”, “Grab some Coffey”, or (my personal favorite) “Go get yourself some piping hot Coffey”.
It’s sad, predictable, yet strangely comforting.
Cowboys at Broncos-
I don’t know what I’m more surprised about; that Khloe Kardashian and Antwan Odom’s wedding may have just been a publicity stunt, or that the Denver Broncos have started the season 3-0. I thought for sure those crazy kids were in love just as I felt sure that the Broncos were a dysfunctional mess coming into the season. Now here we are after three weeks and they’re undefeated with the league’s #1 ranked defense and Kyle Orton has yet to throw an interception. Yet some people are disputing the Broncos prowess because two of their wins have come against the Browns & the Raiders, and their other win was that fluke against the Bengals. What’s not disputable, however is the verdict on Broncos cheerleader Tara. With respect to the charge that she’s being a hot piece of Rocky Mountain goodness, we the jury find her guilty as charged.
Hey, that reminds me…
Chargers at Steelers-
It’s Cheerleader Posedown Time!
Packers at Vikings-
Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings host the Green Bay Packers.
Bizarro, meet Superman. Superman, meet Bizarro.
As strange as it is, maybe we should’ve seen this coming....
Posted by Smitty