Showing posts with label Tigers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tigers. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mike is dead. Long live Mike

Mike VI, October 2011
Mike VI lost his fight with cancer today, and the LSU community mourns.
He was a good boy.

Mike also brought untold joy to countless Tiger fans, and to anyone else who had the privilege of visiting this beautiful animal. He wasn't just a mascot, he was like your dog or cat at home -- part of the family.

He fought hard, and we will miss him terribly.

From The Advocate:

Mike, April 2015
As if to punctuate what has already been a tumultuous and emotional football season for LSU, Mike the Tiger – who many considered to be the living embodiment of the team's spirit – died on Tuesday at the age of 11.
Mike VI was euthanized by his attending veterinarian David Baker, ending what may be the world's most famous case of a tiger battling cancer.

"It's an emotional thing," said LSU sophomore Staci Shelby, shortly after hearing the news. "A lot of people associate the tiger with football and school spirit and things like that."

Over the past few months, Mike VI encountered a lot of firsts. He was already one of only two live tigers mascots for a university team in the nation. And in May, the famous feline was diagnosed with a spindle cell sarcoma in his face after caretakers noticed his eye was bulging.

It was thought to be the first such diagnosis of the rare, incurable cancer in a tiger.

Then Mike became the first such tiger to receive treatment for the cancer in an attempt to extend his life.

LSU Vet school officials, in conjunction with the Mary Bird Perkins-Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center, treated Mike in June with stereotactic radiotherapy, something that is often used for humans but had never been used on a tiger. Stereotactic radio therapy uses a beam of X-rays pinpointing the tumor while providing minimal damage to surrounding cells.

It was a massive undertaking, one that required an after-hours police escort, to anesthetize the 420-pound tiger and bring him across town to the hospital for the treatment.

The treatment was considered an initial success, as scans found the tumor had shrunk. Baker optimistically hoped Mike would live for another year or two.

But two weeks ago, just days after LSU coach Les Miles had been fired, Mike was treated for a sinus infection.

A scan found that the infection was attributed to the resumed growth of the tumor, which started blocking the sinus cavity. The cancer had also aggressively spread throughout the tiger's body. Smaller tumors were found on Mike's neck, hind leg, and throughout his lungs.

Medical staff determined that additional cancer treatments would not save Mike.


LSU sophomores and friends Ella Ruth Hill and Victoria Dekerlegand were in their mass communication class when they saw on their phones the news Mike had died.

They watched the news make its way around the room as other students whispered about the latest to one another.

After class the two were among the many who trickled by Mike's empty enclosure, adorned with cards, balloons and flowers from the tiger's many fans.

"With everything that's happened this season, with football and Les and everything, Mike is something that's so precious to the students, and he's so sweet," Hill said.

Dekerlegand added that a live tiger on campus makes LSU unique.

"Mike is a constant," she said. "Nobody else has a live tiger."

LSU Student Government announced it would host a memorial Wednesday in front of the habitat.

"Mike taught us how to fight like tigers and we are forever grateful for the opportunity to make him a part of our lives as LSU students," said Student Government President Zack Faircloth in a statement.

Mike was born on July 23, 2005 and came to LSU when he was two years old.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

If you or a loved one has been hurt by Leonard Fournette. . . .

I don't care who ya' are, this is funny.

In a related class-action development, I understand that pursuers who inhale the dust in Leonard Fournette's wake also may be at high risk for mesothelioma. If you or some linebacker you love develops mesothelioma after playing football against LSU and Leonard Fournette call State, War Eagle and Orangemen at 1 (800) TOO SLOW.

Geaux Tigers!

Monday, October 27, 2014

SEC football, explained by YouTube

Rebel fans' tantrums are decidedly NSFW

There was no joy in Yoknapatawpha County on Saturday night; the mighty Rebels had flamed out.

Welcome, children, to the wild, wild world of Southeastern Conference football, where the men are men, the women are pissed -- whooooooooaaaah, NELLY! are they pissed --  and the rivalries are hate fests of Balkan proportions.

In case you missed it, the LSU Tigers took down then-No. 3 ranked Ole Miss 10-7,  handing the Rebels their first loss of the season and ruining the life of this poor woman, who obviously has no more reason to live.

Ain't it grand?

IF I WERE the guy who shot this epic video, I would have thrown in a few "GO TO HELL, OLE MISS! GO TO HELL!" chants. Because we Tigers love us some Ole Miss just as much as the Rebels love them some LSU . . . not.

Really, you should have been around Baton Rouge some late October in the 1960s. I recall that, back then, no car with Mississippi plates was safe from having its windows soaped with a message telling Ole Miss exactly where to go.

Did I mention that LSU and Ole Miss don't like one another?

Anyway, despite Ole Miss' high ranking in the football polls, the Rebels ought to have known how this was going to turn out.

Let me introduce you to the founding superintendent of the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning, which we now know as Louisiana State University and A&M College:

William Tecumseh Sherman

HAT TIP: Deadspin.

Monday, October 06, 2014

The LSU football season, explained

Well, that Auburn game was fugly.

Here's a handy guide that will explain LSU's football season thus far and, one hopes, provide a handy guide for what to expect as the Tigers stagger toward Thanksgiving and a merciful end to the 2014 campaign.

Above, we have a brief video recap of LSU's 7-41 non-triumph against That Other Football Team in Alabama.

But before that merciful November end, the Fighting Toonces have to get through six more Southeastern Conference games with nothing more than a defense without a clue and an offense without a prayer. So let's look at the remainder of the schedule, along with LSU's prospects in each.

NEXT UP is a trip Saturday to Gainesville, Fla., home of the FLORIDA GATORS. Here's a preview:

THEN, at home on Oct. 18, a much-improved KENTUCKY. Again, to the game preview:





Monday, September 15, 2014

All's fair in love and war: LSU edition

You're liable to see just about anything at an LSU home football game.

Which brings us to Saturday's. Call it "crazy s*** white people do" -- everything from taking "falling in love" a little too literally to, well, not that.

What my alma mater needs, clearly, is a little, er . . . balance. And a better class of drunk-ass frat boy.

White folks: You just can't let some of 'em out in public.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

LSU, early 1950s

What a treasure!

This treasure happens to be home movies taken by an LSU student in the early 1950s, shots of a campus, of a Tiger Town just north of campus and of a way of life that simultaneously is quite familiar and somewhat alien.

The Goal Post restaurant? Long gone. I figure it was across Highland Road from where The Chimes bar and restaurant is now.

And . . . oh, my Lord! The mascot! That's Mike I -- the university's first live Bengal tiger mascot.

A treasure. Just a treasure for old Tigers like me.

UPDATE: I was reminded by an old friend of the 8-millimeter movies shot by his parents just a few years later -- around 1956 or '57ish -- when they arrived in Baton Rouge for his dad to take an assistant professor post at the Ol' War Skule.

It's heartening to realize that even the darkest days of segregation and Southern self-foot-shooting could not stifle the time-honored LSU tradition of smart-assery, directed in this instance at the Louisiana Legislature.

Trees "for white dogs only." Heh.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The coach is dead

I was a 20-year-old student journalist at LSU, covering the latest outrage against the long-suffering student body of that august institution.

The athletic department had announced it would begin searching, at the gates of Tiger Stadium, football fans' purses and backpacks for Demon Rum.

And Demon Bourbon.

And Demon Vodka.

And Demon Beer.

The goal was to sober up the student body -- and everybody else -- a little bit in hopes of improving Tiger fans' demeanor at games.

MY JOB was to interview the athletic director, LSU coaching legend Paul Dietzel, about the new policy and come up with a front-page story for The Daily Reveille. As a newspaper reporter, my aim was to get a good story.

As a student, my opinion was that this smacked of an egregious violation of the Fourth Amendment.

As someone who was most appreciative when somebody passed the flask down the aisle so we could put a little zip in our ballgame Coca-Colas, I already was feeling a little dry. Remember, this is Louisiana we're talking about -- not Utah. God Almighty, not Utah.

On the one hand, I was going to have the lead story in the paper. On the other, I was going to meet the Tiger coaching legend, the man who had delivered the school (at that time) its only national championship of the modern era with the undefeated 1958 football team -- the man behind the iconic Go team, White team and the mighty Chinese Bandits defense specialists -- who also happened to be, in this instance, The Enemy.

The Man.

The second coming of Carrie Nation.

SO I GO in there for the interview, I shake the legendary Enemy's hand, sit down on the other side of the desk and we start to talk. It was the best kind of interview . . . a real conversation. Coach Dietzel treated this wet-behind-the-ears reporter with the utmost respect, to the point where it was like solving all the problems of the world with your favorite uncle.

He explained the policy, the reasoning behind it, and then he started asking me questions -- questions about what students were thinking 20-odd years after he had engraved his name onto Tiger fans' souls, forever and ever, amen.

Dietzel was gracious, down to earth and funny. He was a true gentleman. Humble, even. And he allowed that his favorite student-section cheer was the one reserved for hated Alabama -- "Around the bowl and down the hole! Roll, Tide, roll!"

That one really cracked him up.

If I've ever had a more enjoyable interview with someone, I can't remember when, or with whom, it was. I don't know that Coach changed my mind about the Tiger Stadium War on Fun . . . er, Booze, but he did win my respect, and he taught me something about honorable people and honest differences of opinion.

THOUSANDS upon thousands of words will be written in Tigerland -- and across the sports universe -- about Paul Dietzel on the sad occasion of his death today. The vast majority will be about his tenure as coach, and later, AD, and his magical team that conquered all of college football 55 years ago. Some will be reserved for how he became an accomplished watercolor artist later in life. A few might touch on his World War II days as a B-29 crewman in the Pacific theater.

But Coach's greatest accomplishments -- gentleman, husband of 69 years, father, good man -- get short shrift. Those are the ones I'm thinking about right now. Those accomplishments and the graciousness and good humor he showed this young-punk reporter back in 1981.

Godspeed and God bless, Coach. You will be missed tremendously.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dear LSU: Never fire this man

How f***in' easy it was for me to largely stay away from the Internets on Sunday.

How f***in' easy it would have been for me to miss the most f***in' epic of all Les Miles' f***in' epic press conferences as LSU's head football coach.

Excuse my language.

But, WOW! What a press conference!

I don't give a flying expletive deleted what stupid-ass Tiger fans think about Les. Don't care how badly they want him fired for losing two games this season, or for shooting craps on the sideline and sometimes rolling snake eyes. I know a little about LSU fans, being one, and I know that if brains were dynamite, 48.92 percent of them wouldn't have enough to blow their nose.

And I know that a lot of them get even stupider -- not to mention meaner -- after they've been drinking Bud Light all day and night. So any noise they make about removing this great man as the Tigers' coach should be regarded as the drunken ravings of a bunch of dumbasses.

FOR ONE THING, if LSU ever fired Les -- particularly so long as he keeps winning more games than he loses -- it never would find any decent coach insane enough to take that job. Only one decent coach today is insane enough to put up with such a dumbass fan base . . . and his name is Les Miles.

Like, you did watch the video, right?

And for another thing, Les is one of the few coaches out there just as certifiable as Louisiana itself. The Mad Hatter is the personification of the Gret Stet when it's at its bat-s*** crazy best, yet he somehow manages to avoid being like Louisiana when it's at its bat-s*** crazy worst.

LSU -- and Louisiana -- cannot lose this singular individual who, in fact, is the only person in the state to have successfully pulled that off. Les Miles not only should never be fired, but the Ole War Skule instead needs -- and I'm talking right now -- to commence an all-out research program dedicated to cloning the coach and disseminating his gene pool widely throughout the state.

And if there's a university geneticist who can do this great service for Louisiana, you need to grab him and give him a big kiss on the mouth. If you're a girl.

OR A GUY, but only if she's a girl. Because on this here blog, "heteronormative" is not a dirty word.

Have a great day.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vote for Pedro Mike

Listen, we're royally hosed no matter who wins between Romney and Obama. The only distinction is in the particulars of the civic molestation.

Ipso facto, your vote doesn't matter. We are screwed regardless.

Mike, back in the day
On the other hand, here is an election that matters -- best college mascot. And there's only one mascot out there who can bust a move like Napoleon Dynamite. That would be Mike the Tiger of Louisiana State University.

Mike's opponent, Truman the Tiger from Missouri, just looks like a cereal-box reject. And he's from MizzouRAH. Eww.

I mean, with the reception Missouri's football team is getting in its first season of SEC competition, the poor thing probably can't even bear to look. Maybe Truman's special talent is rolling bandages, I dunno.

Anyway, do your patriotic duty. Vote for Mike -- it's important.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Marching through Georgia

"I can make this march, and I will make Georgia howl!"

-- William Tecumseh Sherman,
founding superintendent,
Louisiana State Seminary
of Learning (now LSU)

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Probably can't remember plays, either

Apparently, there are confused people on the LSU campus -- apart from those trying to figure out what the hell the Death Star (a.k.a. Gov. Bobby Jindal) is going to zap them with next.

And these confused people happen to reside in the Tiger football program (not to mention the sports section of Baton Rouge's daily newspaper).

Interestingly, none of them are Coach Les Miles.

Nebraska's athletic quarterback is "Zach Martinez"? Who dat?

The Huskers have a Zac Lee at quarterback, and they also have a Taylor Martinez. I assume Rueben Shepard was talking about (and the Advocate scribe was writing about) the Husker starter, Martinez.

Whose jock strap the LSU quarterbacks are not fit to hold.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The most ironic website comment ever

My old college newspaper, The Daily Reveille at Louisiana State, has just captured first-place in the ongoing race for the most ironic comment-box posting ever.

IT COMES amid the feedback to's story on the Tigers' crushing 31-30, last-minute loss to Arkansas on Friday:
Les needs to issue IQ tests before he signs players to a scholarship. The moronic penalties from stupid, undisciplined players is what cost LSU this game. LSU players have made dumb choices all year. If they can't play under control maybe we need a coaching change. I've backed Miles ever since he came to LSU, but consoling a player who makes a personal foul when the next down would have been 4th from deep in their territory shows me there are no consequences for their actions. Players don't have respect for Miles any longer and fans are quickly losing their respect for players who can't control their emotions.
AN LSU FAN left that comment. An. LSU. Fan. Left. That. Comment.

LSU fans "are quickly losing their respect for players who can't control their emotions." I cannot adequately express to you how rich that is.

Oh, Lordy. That is so rich that one bite of that baloney sandwich would give an anorexic a real lard-ass problem.

I wonder how Tiger fans might express that disappointment and lack of respect? By tumping over the team bus?

Lord God Almighty!

Of course, at this writing, the lead comment on that Reveille story goes like this:

This comes down to the pure moral difference between white and black people. These blacks on the football team have no discipline and no moral compass. They're a bunch of ghetto thugs who don't know how to behave. I'd rather have an LSU team with great character that loses games with integrity than even having this gang of thugs winning a title.
SOMEWHERE IN LOUISIANA, it's always 1959.

Or, as my wife said after I told her about that comment, "I'm never going down there again." Frankly, I'm half inclined to follow her lead.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Snopes is as Snopes tries to justify

From the comments on the white riot preceding Louisiana State home football games:

At least we dont [sic] riot and kill people like Euro-trash soccer fans. Everything that goes on is in good fun. No one is forced to come out and experiance [sic] SEC football.
OH, WELL . . . that's different, then. Assault, sexual assault, indecent exposure, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct all "in good fun" is so much better than your run-of-the-mill assault, sexual assault, indecent exposure, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.

Tonight, I think I'll call Mrs. Favog a c*** and a bitch -- all in good fun, of course. Then, I expect her to respond -- in equally good fun -- by smashing a cast-iron skillet into my cranium. That would precede her channeling the Ginsu-y spirit of Lorena Bobbitt.

All, once again, "in good fun." Just like at LSU.

IF ONLY Adolf Hitler had had more LSU football fans on his general staff, perhaps the world could have seen the Holocaust in a much more benevolent light. Because, frankly, there isn't any foolishness -- or worse -- these folks can't justify.

Or, at least, whose justification they won't give the ol' college try.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dear LSU: Take out the (white) trash

Click on the frat boy's butt for video.

I wonder what Noël Coward -- famous for noting "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun" -- would have made of Saturday nights in Tiger Stadium?

If he had happened upon the LSU gridiron scene today (or, really, any time in the last 40 years), bon mots about how "white trash and drunken men come out on a football night" would have been flowing from his pen.

It's come to this. A state known for feeding on the bottom of every index of societal success manages to find world-class acclaim in the field of loutish behavior by sports fans.

Even the English football hooligans are starting to get nervous.

THE LATEST DOCUMENTATION of some very, very bad behavior on the part of Tiger fans comes from . . . Louisiana State's student newspaper (and my old stomping grounds), The Daily Reveille. The student paper did quite an ingenious thing -- two female staffers went tailgating Nov. 8 for the Alabama game in Baton Rouge.

With a video camera.

Dressed as Crimson Tide fans.

What they could show on a website not run by Larry Flynt, Al Goldstein or Hugh Hefner is not a pretty sight. What they couldn't show was exponentially worse.

But one of the brave -- and calling her "brave" isn't just whistlin' "Dixie" here -- student journalists who posed as 'Bama fans did write about it in a Reveille editorial Nov. 11. Editorial board member Gerri Sax didn't shy away from recounting some of the language she was subjected to, either.

I shall. When you see asterisks in this excerpt, assume the worst:

The final video of our experiences on is an accurate depiction of what we encountered, but it was only the tip of the iceberg. Here are a few things we couldn’t fit in the video.

Vulgar language has never really bothered me, and the incessant “Tiger-baiting” and “Around the bowl and down the hole, Roll Tide, Roll” mocking were the least of my worries.

Almost every tailgate spot we visited greeted us with the same expressions. The women called us “bitches,” and the men called us “c***s” followed by the traditional “Rip. Rip. Rip. Rap. Rap. Rap. You ‘Bama girls got the clap, clap, clap!” cheer.

And if that wasn’t enough, the amount of times we were spit on also struck a nerve.

Spitting on someone is one of the most degrading things a human being can do to another.

Verbal abuse is powerful, but when things get physical, that’s a little more effective.

The most significant physical encounters were from male Tiger fans. And they all involved some kind of inappropriate gestures. We were groped and squeezed by just about every guy we interviewed.

Not only did things get physical for us personally, our camera equipment also has some bruises as well. I can’t even count the number of times a Tiger fan ran up to the camera and shouted expletives or just yelled at the lens.

LET'S SEE. In a pregame afternoon and evening of seeing "how the other half lives," the two young ladies from the Reveille were witness to -- or victim of -- disturbing the peace, assault, public drunkenness, drunk and disorderly conduct, terroristic threats, lewd conduct and sexual assault. And I may have missed a few.

That's entertainment.

That's also the kind of behavior Louisiana's "flagship" university puts up with -- on its property, in its name, by its students and football fans. It's particularly disheartening to see a state's "best and brightest" reveling in acting like anything but.

Note to LSU's Greek community: Dressing like preppies for the big game is no prophylactic against "common" if you get drunk, become even more obnoxious than usual, then proceed to act like . . . white trash. Snopes is as Snopes does.

And if "family night at the Snopeses" is what visitors to a major state university can expect amid its "stately oaks and broad magnolias," the scene inside the halls they shade must be something less than inspiring these days. You are what you tolerate. Six or seven Saturdays every autumn, the top university in Louisiana tolerates behavior that will land you in jail in Nebraska.

Or in Louisiana, if you do it at the mall, instead of on the LSU campus.

THIS KIND of loutish, criminal foolishness not only is met with grudging acceptance in Louisiana -- in the shadow of what passes for an ivory tower in the Gret Stet -- it's become a perverse source of pride. It's the pride of the ignorant redneck who knows he's doomed to lose at schoolin', and at work, and pretty much at life, but is satisfied if he can win the fistfight.

It's likewise the pride of the 'hood, where hopelessness and death is to be accepted, and even embraced . . . but never, ever "disrespect."

But respect cannot be gained at the point of a gun. Or by a right cross to the eye.

Or by a bunch of foul-mouthed drunks who think a good time on a Saturday night is to go out in public and let their Id hang out. Among other things.

And woe unto the school -- or the state -- of which this is the best that can be expected when company comes calling, because you're making a horrible first (second, third and fourth) impression. That, people don't easily forget.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Look away! Look away! Look away! Tigerland

Naw, I guess this was a joke, too. Jes' tryin' to make that Yankee coach look silly, with all his big tawk about us not knowin' the Civil War's over.

Crazy sumbitch think the war's over!

FUNNY THE THINGS you find when you're directed to the UC-Irvine athletics site to see the picture of the "good" LSU baseball fans waving American flags to greet the Anteaters at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge.

Funny, didn't the LSU administration tell fans they'd really, really,
really rather they didn't
bring purple-and-gold Confederate battle flags on campus?

And didn't fans get the idea that the battle flag
tended to rub minority students the wrong way? Of course, some fans couldn't have cared less . . . not that they didn't know the War of Northern Aggression was over or anything, according to this 2006 Associated Press story:

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The flag blends a symbol of the Confederacy with the school colors of Louisiana State University, a combination that provokes anger from blacks and creates headaches for the university.

Black students held a string of game-day protests last year -- the largest attracting several hundred participants -- to demand that the school prohibit fans on campus from flying the banner, a Confederate-style flag in the purple and gold of the LSU Fighting Tigers. The protests resulted in a few scuffles and a lot of attention in the news media -- but no ban on the flag.

This year, the protest organizer is taking a different approach: Instead of protest marches, senior Collins Phillips said he's planning pregame tailgate parties near Tiger Stadium. Beginning with the season opener on Saturday, Phillips said the parties will aim to encourage students to discuss the different meanings the flag carries: from pride in the South to the shame of slavery.

"If we were to march again this year, I think it would be a little redundant. People would say, 'There they go, marching about the flag again,'" he said.

University officials consistently rebuffed Phillips' demands for a ban on the LSU-themed Rebel flag, saying a ban would infringe on First Amendment rights. But while those who like the flag consider it a symbol of both LSU pride and Southern heritage, the school is opposed to the idea of merging its colors with what is also a symbol of slavery.

"We have an intolerance of the display of this symbol, a fundamental rejection by the university, of the use of university colors to even vaguely imply that we would tolerate or endorse this display," said LSU chancellor Sean O'Keefe.

The school has no restrictions on flying the flags on campus, but O'Keefe released a letter Friday asking fans to leave them at home.

"We will not impede the constitutional right of free speech by banning this flag, but we ask that it not be flown on the LSU campus," the letter said.

The school also sent letters to wholesalers and local retailers, asking them to stop selling the flag -- and strongly implying that the stores could be frozen out in the future on the lucrative sales of franchised LSU flags, banners and other items. The flags retail in some stores for $35. To wholesalers, the school sent letters indicating that the flags -- with their taint of racism -- could cause the value of LSU's trademarks to drop, O'Keefe said. The letters included the veiled threat of a lawsuit.

The result, O'Keefe said, has been a sharp drop in the sales of the flags.

"These are serious businesspeople. They get the picture," O'Keefe said.

The owner of one Baton Rouge flag shop said he stopped selling the flags at LSU's request. Byron Smith, owner of the Flag Shop, added that the flags weren't big sellers anyway -- until Phillips started his protest campaign last year.

"I started getting calls like crazy" after the protests began, from people requesting the flags, Smith said.

Phillips' protests drew wide coverage on local TV news and front-page stories in The Advocate, the local daily. Before the homecoming game, three people were arrested for allegedly throwing objects at the roughly 200 protesters. Phillips said he and other demonstrators were spat upon and called racial slurs.

Phillips, 23, a general studies major focusing on communications and African-American studies, takes pride in publicizing the fact that a large chunk of the population considers the flag a symbol of slavery and racism.

ISN'T THERE ANYTHING ELSE to take Southern pride in, apart from a lost cause to preserve a "peculiar institution"?

I'm asking, because I well know how central veneration of that lost war was -- is? -- to one's very identity as a Southerner. After a century and a half, we don't break out the slur "damn Yankee" for nothing when a non-Southerner offends us.

Really, we can talk about honoring our heritage, and our fallen ancestors, and Southern pride, and blah blah blah blah till Gen. Robert E. Lee rides back from the dead atop his beloved Traveller . . . but what does it say about us that we still venerate a war fought to preserve a way of life predicated on enslaving the Negro race?

By what mental and spiritual gymnastics do we turn what is objectively shameful into the source of our "Southern pride"? Again, I'm asking, because it took me a mere four decades of life -- and almost half of it away from the orbit of Southern groupthink -- to ask some quite basic questions on this topic.

HAVE WE SOUTHERNERS become nothing more than America's Serbs? And is Louisiana the rowdy, dysfunctional corner of a rowdy, dysfunctional homeland?

Or am I just a disloyal, so-called LSU fan? And a damn Yankee turncoat bastard, to boot.

Keep that trash down on the bayou

There's nothing like responding to an insult . . . by living down to it.

There's nothing like taking a stereotype . . . and giving it new legs.

There's nothing like being too bloody stupid to realize that the nation isn't laughing with you, but instead is laughing at you.

Well, dat's Loosiana for you!

IT ALL STARTED when California-Irvine's baseball coach, Mike Gillespie, gave an interview to the school's hometown paper. In that interview, Gillespie compared Louisiana State's fans to Nebraska fans -- and not in a positive light:
Gillespie said the LSU fans will be different from those UCI encountered at Nebraska.

“That was pretty electric,” Gillespie said of Saturday night’s crowd of 8,646 at Haymarket Park that witnessed UCI’s 3-2 win over the host Cornhuskers. “It was a sea of red, but they’re not a hostile group,” Gillespie said of the Nebraska faithful.

“They’re not on you, and they’re not rude and they’re not vicious and they know the Civil War is over and they know how to act,” Gillespie said, before backtracking somewhat. “Now, I don’t mean to suggest [that is the case at LSU] I really don’t.”
YES, HE DID MEAN to suggest every word of it. And then some LSU fans set out to prove the man right.

Now it's all over the Internet exactly how right Gillespie was . . . and, to a degree, he was right. Stupid to say it to a reporter but pretty much right, nevertheless.

Nebraska fans are some of the classiest in the nation -- no, the classiest in the nation. For as long as anyone can remember -- after the clock ticks down to 00:00 -- fans at Memorial Stadium have given the visiting team a standing ovation.

Win, lose or draw.

Even Oklahoma.

BY COMPARISON -- unless half-drunken chants of "Tiger bait!" can be considered a warm, loving welcome for visiting teams and fans -- this cannot be said of LSU. And unless hearty greetings of "F--- (fill in the blank)!" are considered non-hostile behavior, my experience with LSU home athletic events (and even some away games) tells me that Gillespie wasn't completely full of beans.

Ask any Nebraska football fan brave enough to follow the Huskers to either the 1985 or 1987 Sugar Bowl where, each time, the opponent was . . . LSU.

I remember the 1987 game well, because I was there. And my wife is a Nebraska alumnus.

It's an amazing -- and amazingly unpleasant -- thing to be on the wrong end of "Tiger hospitality" in the Big Easy. But why believe me? Believe
the postgame story from The New York Times:
The key sacks came from Broderick Thomas, the end, and Danny Noonan, a consensus all-American middle guard, on the last two plays of the third quarter after L.S.U., trailing 17-7, had taken over on the Nebraska 17-yard line following a blocked field-goal attempt

A defensive tackle, Neil Smith, a New Orleans native, said the motivation for Nebraska came on the first night in town, when nine players and two graduate assistants were arrested in the French Quarter for disturbing the peace, charges which were later dropped.

''A lot of guys say they were mistreated and didn't want to come back,'' Smith said. ''I felt like we needed to give them a bonus to get them to want to come back.''

Noonan, one of those arrested, said the incident was influential in the Huskers' performance. ''I think that only helped us,'' Noonan said. ''We got fired up. The people treated us like dirt.''
AND LET'S NOT FORGET the treatment Tennessee received when the Vols came to Tiger Stadium for a 2005 weeknight game in the wake of Hurricane Rita.

So, the UC-Irvine coach told the truth as he saw it during an unguarded moment. As it happens, the truth as
Mike Gillespie saw it was pretty close to the truth as it actually is.

Of course, there are a great many polite, gracious and welcoming Tiger fans. Those may even be a sizable majority. The problem is an inordinately large minority of hateful, rude, profane and -- yes -- racist jerks.

Monday evening, in response to Gillespie's "disrespecting" of the locals, a couple of these morons thought making a joke of the Civil War would be a real knee-slapper. Which kind of proved the Anteater coach's point about Louisianians not knowing the Civil War ended in 1865.

The loss of a generation of Southern men might be the stuff mirth is made of back home . . . and the deaths of 600,000 Americans might be 900,000 too few for some LSU fans who seek a best-of-three smackdown . . . and the fact that my homeland made chattel of human beings and thought it so good it fought a war to, among other things, preserve its
"peculiar institution" might be damned funny to some Tiger fans, but that crap isn't going to fly here. Or across most of America.

To summarize -- just in case Baton Rouge didn't get the memo -- the Civil War wasn't a laughing matter. And it's still not.

I can't imagine that LSU's African-American students were amused by the baseball "joke." Neither, I imagine, was most of Baton Rouge, where white folks happen to be in the minority.

AS A NATIVE of Louisiana and an alumnus of LSU who now resides in the United States, maybe I'm the person to inform Tiger fans of one cold, hard fact of life -- your act is wearing thin.

This is one example that you've entered the Michael Richards Zone. This is another. And this is yet another.

this one . . . this one includes a YouTube video that renders the "humor" of the Alex Box Stadium "Civil War" banner null and void. Out here in America.

In case you don't want to follow the links, here's the video, shot in January before the BCS National Championship in New Orleans:

LET ME lay this out for folks from my home state -- particularly those who plan to make the trip to Omaha this week to cheer on our Tigers.

I was born and raised in Louisiana. My family had been around Baton Rouge for a generation before Jefferson struck a deal with Napoleon, and I know that my hometown (along with the rest of the "Florida Parishes") didn't join in on the fun until 1810.

One of my great-great-grandfathers lies in a Confederate grave at Port Hudson, La. Another died in the Battle of Atlanta. Somehow, I don't think a "two out of three" Apocalypse would sit well with them.

I know "Fergit, hell!" In fact, in elementary school, it came as something of a surprise to me when I first learned the South lost the war.

Having grown up in a milieu where it was possible to not know the South lost the war, it is no surprise that I also know segregation . . . and know what racism looks like when I see it. And I know the Alex Box Stadium ha ha banner was sick sick inappropriate.

YOU DON'T come up with that kind of stuff -- even as a joke, even to tweak a loudmouthed opposing coach -- without making a very basic assumption that LSU is a "white" school and the Tigers are a "white" team. Despite the African-American players on it.

That kind of sick conditioning is something you fight, for the rest of your life, to overcome. First, however, one has to recognize it's sick. Then one must decide to resist the sickness.

Obviously, judging by at least one LSU fan site, folks down on the bayou are struggling with the first part of the equation. The "it's sick" part.

"America's original sin" sure has staying power. More than 140 years after the South's "peculiar institution" died a violent death, people just can't confess that dirty little secret everybody already knows.

Not after the South started a war that damn near destroyed it.

Not after it lost most of a generation in that war.

Not after a century of Jim Crow, that de jure attempt to undo the 14th Amendment south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Not after the civil-rights movement and several acts of Congress finally killed ol' Jim Crow.

Yeah, the Civil War. Best two out of three. Ha ha. A joke.

A joke built upon the corpses of a mountain of martyrs.

TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, it would have been a lot funnier if LSU officials had given every fan walking through the gate a little American flag. War over . . . and Mike Gillespie looks like a fool instead of looking vindicated.

That's probably how it would have gone at Haymarket Park in Lincoln. And that's exactly why at least one Louisiana expatriate now calls Nebraska home.

And as a Nebraskan, and an Omahan, this native Baton Rougean has one thing to say to my fellow Tiger fans: Leave your "funny" banners and some of your other "peculiar" notions back in the swamp. They're not welcome here.

The jambalaya, etoufée and gumbo, you can bring. That, and the best of that Fightin' Tiger spirit.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

O! What mine eyelets hath seen!

Hello. I'm the Mighty Favog's lucky baseball cap.

I have rested atop that boy's sweaty-ass head for the last 20 years, through thick and thin -- and I'm mainly talking about your blogmeister's hair, here.

Can somebody's head be "sweaty-ass"? Just wondering.

Anyway, where was I? Aiiight.

AHEM. For the last 20 years, I have adorned the Mighty Favog's incredibly ugly head, which -- whether it technically can be sweaty-ass or not -- has a tendency to expel copious amounts of smelly saline solution on hot days at the ball park. As you can see, that has taken its toll on me.

It didn't make it any easier that for years at the College World Series, I had to witness things like Ben McDonald getting shelled like Omaha Beach by the Texas Longhorns in 1989. My Tigers had a habit of getting to Omaha, but not being able to get over the hump.

FINALLY, in 1991, the Favog and I sat for a week in general admission, watching LSU tear through the CWS field. We liked those old metal stands just beyond first base at Rosenblatt Stadium, because if you wanted a drink -- or if you just had to go -- you could save a lot of time by climbing down the sides . . . and then climbing back up again.

Try that today, buddy, and they'll have your ass in handcuffs. Wait, that didn't sound exactly right. You know what I mean.

I remember we were sitting in the grandstand for the championship game against Wichita State, and after the final out, with the Tigers victorious, that stupid idiot picked up Mrs. Favog and started spinning us all around like a top. I thought we were going to fall down about 3 million stadium steps.

AND I REMEMBER two years later, when we were back in the first-base cheap seats and the Long Beach State fans thought they were about to send LSU home. Eliminated. "Start the bus! Start the bus!" was what they chanted at us.

Bottom of the ninth. Three runs. Tigers win, then go on to beat Wichita State (again) in the championship game.

In 1996, things got kind of blurry -- not to mention dizzifying and deafening -- when Warren Morris hit that bottom-of-the-ninth, two-out line drive that kept going until it had cleared the right-field fence. I saw the ball go out . . . and then I was flopping all over as that idiot owner of mine kept throwing me and waving me and whacking me on stuff. Then -- yet again -- picking up the wife and spinning.

I thought we were going to die. And you wonder why I look like I do now.

I was there at Rosenblatt when LSU won in '97, too. This one Alabama fan was really unamused by our "Around the bowl and down the hole! Roll, Tide, roll!" cheer. And we were there in 2000, too, when Stanford got a little Tiger payback for Paul Carey's walk-off grand slam in 1987.

And, of course, we were there -- Mr. Cap Abuser and me -- through all the just-miss years and a couple of years of abject CWS humiliation during the Smoke Laval Era. Enough said.

Really, I don't want to talk about it.

SO NOW, after a four-year absence,
Paul Mainieri has our Tigers back in Omaha -- the Omaha where we live, and the Omaha where Fathead's wife's dad worked for three decades to make the College World Series a local institution. (OK, so your Idiot Blogger married up . . . and married well. Lots of people can marry a higher class of wife, you know?)

I imagine the boy will be back in the stands come Sunday, cheering on his alma mater. While Mr. Expatriate has famously conflicted feelings about Louisiana and his hometown, Baton Rouge, there is no ambiguity in his rabid support of LSU baseball and football.

Frankly, I don't know if I will make it this year. I am old, and I am tired. I have seen better days, obviously, and my appearance seems to horrify Mrs. Favog. I mean, I'll try, but my stitching ain't what it used to be . . . and Fathead's noggin hasn't gotten any smaller over the decades.

Judging by my aching seams and sweatband, the boy ain't a size 7 3/8 anymore.

So, if I see you, I see you. If I don't . . . well, I'll always have my memories. In the ball yard of my mind, I'll always have Rosenblatt's left-field bleachers -- the old ones -- the Twizzler Man and "Share with your neighbor. And don't be stingy!"

Geaux Tigers.