I have a confession to make and frankly it is rather embarrassing.
I’ve been watching soccer and enjoying it.
The affair started with some people on Twitter sharing about the English Premier League. Then came the decision from NBC to air every single Premier League game live. I decided to dive in and have been following Newcastle United for about a year now. Casually at first but now I find myself DVRing games getting mad when they lose (I’m mad a lot lately)
But the funny thing is, as pure sport, soccer is just “okay” for me. Perhaps it is just my American conditioning, but I much prefer to watch baseball or football. Soccer seems too simple and the outcomes too arbitrary in relation to the skill of the team. But in the simplicity there certainly is beauty. There is a natural ebb and flow to the game. It’s more like watching an aquarium of fish swim around than it is a Bourne movie.
But soccer is more than pure sport, it’s a study in anthropology and geography. It has a whole culture.
For one it is a global game. Americans are not the best soccer players in the world. Even the word “soccer” would cause most people around the world to grimace. To understand a big time soccer club you must understand the people, culture, and language of the other place. This flies in the face of American exceptionalism and is actually quite satisfying if you are willing to put down your Quarter Pounder and consider something outside of ‘Merica.
Being a soccer fan is different than being a fan of different sport. I dare say supporting a soccer club is more about the experience of the match than the team itself. There are flags and drinks and scarves and songs and a general festiveness that is different.
I’ve been a bit jealous of my friends on the east side of the state as they have a pro franchise, the Detroit City Football Club. It looks like a lot of fun. I see the supporters march over to Cass Tech from the local watering hole waiving flags and generally having a good time. Why not on the west side?
What would a Grand Rapids franchise look like? I’m no expert, but lets do a little thought experiment.
Detroit City F.C. plays in the National Premier Soccer League. They have a Great Lakes division with three teams from Michigan already in place. Seems like it would pretty simple to add a GR team.
We need a place to play. A soccer only facility would be amazing, but it makes no sense to build something from scratch when we have ample spaces available. East Kentwood has a gorgeous new facility, but it is out in the suburbs. To me, soccer needs something urban, something, well, European. This brings us to Houseman Field. The field is in an urban area, has had recent extensive renovations, and seats 10,o00 people. There are a couple problems. One, those pesky garish football lines. Two, booze. I don’t know how the Grand Rapids Public Schools, owners of the field, would feel about beer in (or at least around) the field. Beer is going to be an important component, because we’ll need a…
The biggest impediment for any fledgling franchise is money. In order to get money (to start) we need some sponsors. What better sponsor for a GR team than Founders Brewing Company? They are a growing brand and are growing their national reach with their ever expanding facility. They have shown a interest in supporting other “fringe” sports like cycling and whitewater rafting. Their clientele fits soccer perfectly. Young, social, urban people with an interesting in having a unique, fun time without the baggage of traditional jock culture. If the English have thought us anything it is that drinking a beer and supporting a soccer team go hand in hand.
Not only are we going to put their logo on the kits, we are going to NAME THE WHOLE FRANCHISE AFTER THEM. Grand Rapids Founders sounds great, the Founders name has roots in GR history, and, we can always fall back on Founders Bank and Trust to send us money!
I chose to mirror the colors for the kit based on the Founders logo because not only are we selling out to the brewery, but because they also look damn good together. Tell me you wouldn’t wear that shirt around town and be proud.
Yes,Grand Rapids is known for the river and for the Calder, but it is also known for furniture making. The quality of furniture from Grand Rapids was so good that other companies outside of West Michigan would name their companies or brands “Grand Rapids” to fool consumers into thinking they were getting Grand Rapids made furniture. In response, furniture makers in GR created this trademark:
Here is another, cleaner, look:
I basically co-opted the look and darkened the red to match the Founders Logo. (I had a heck of a time finding a typeface that looked even close. This one is okay, but I’d still like it look more like the original)
Think of the people you see in a brewery on a weekday night or you see at the farmers market on Saturday morning. These are people who could support a team. Young, urban, professionals looking for something social to do. Supporting a soccer team in America is something you do with a wink and a nod, understanding you are being a bit eccentric. Cheering on a soccer team is a borderline hipster endeavor. I imaging people going nuts for it. Starting at Founders or Brewery Vivant and making their way to the field waving flags and wearing big hats. All the fun without the drama and posturing of going to Lions game.
Having a soccer team in GR would be a lot of fun, but this is more than just games. There is a huge potential for growth here. The Griffins and Whitecaps have proven success is possible in the more major sports and while soccer is young yet in America it is growing. As concerns about head injuries mount in football and more and more kids are being raised with soccer, the demand for the sport will grow.
So, if any of you has lots of money, and wants to start a team, send me an e-mail and a blank check and we’ll get to work!
Why do we not have any nacho-only restaurants?!
Here is the menu:
Standard, $5.99: Bed of tortilla chips (triangles, of course), seasoned beef, melted cheese blend, onions, tomatoes, fresh salsa, sour cream
Deluxe $6.99: Bed of tortilla chips (triangles, of course), seasoned beef, melted cheese blend, onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, black olives, fresh salsa, sour cream, guacamole
American $6.99: Bed of thick cut potato chips, ground beef, melted cheddar cheese, diced onion, dill relish, Heinz ketchup.
Poor $3.99: Bed of tortilla chips (round…round seems cheaper for some reason), refried beans, warm nacho pasteurized cheeze product, canned salsa
Fancy $11.99: Bed of pita chips, choice of diced steak or seasoned chicken, melted gruyere cheese, organic garden fresh salsa, sour cream, guacamole
Baseball has a language all its own. Lucky for you I’m here to translate.
He was out on the bunt attempt, but it was a good idea
That was a terrible idea.
Sure, he was thrown out by 15′ at the plate, but I would have sent him there too
What the fuck was he thinking?! I’ll fall on the sword for my guy’s crap decision.
I was trying to establish the inside part of the plate. It’s important to be able to pitch inside
That guy is a total asshole, I was trying smoke him. I’d just walk up and punch him in the face if I could get away with it.
He doesn’t have an over-powering fastball
This pitcher is a pussy
We need to get him going
Damn, he is really sucking ass right now.
This is a young team
This is a shitty team
He’s scuffling a bit right now
He couldn’t hit sand if he fell off a camel
We just have to come to the ball park ready to play
We’re exhausted. Is this shit over yet?
Confession time. I’m not really Phil Coke. Well, you knew that already didn’t you? Truthfully, I haven’t even been a Phil Coke parody for a long time, if ever. Sure, I’ve written from Phil’s perspective, but basically the twitter feed has been a character I’ve built, stupid jokes, and Phil Coke references. But you know all this already, so why am I talking about it?
First of all, It is time to be done with the parody. Sure, it is a fun idea, but about a week into it I decided it was silly to act like the rest of the player parodies. I decided that I would put my own spin on it and abandon strict adherence to Phil’s life and play.
Second, When I started this silly account I thought the world of Tigers baseball was so beyond me I really couldn’t touch it. However, over the last year it has opened up the opportunity to have a host of conversations. At first I could just write whatever I wanted knowing no one of any importance would ever see it or care. As it has grown some people have picked up on it. It has even gotten to the point where people are asking Phil Coke himself about it. That’s not fair to Phil. In order to ensure there is no confusion, I am dropping the guise. I have the utmost respect for Phil and never want to make him upset. I hope it is pretty clear that I think Phil is awesome.
Why is Phil awesome? Yes, he does take the game seriously but you get the sense that he does know IT IS A GAME and it looks like he is HAVING FUN. Baseball is an activity that brings joy to peoples’ lives. If following and/or writing about the Tigers doesn’t bring you joy, you are doing it wrong (unless it is your job, then it is completely fine to be miserable).
Third, I simply don’t have the discipline of someone like @oldhossradbourn who can faithfully hide behind the wall. I enjoy interacting with people and have even had the opportunity to meet some of you. I would like to do more of this in the future, but I can’t do this if I’m so tied to this guise. In fact, I was hoping to attend the blessyouboys.com meet-up before scheduling conflicts arose.
So as of today there is going to be a slight shift. I am no longer going to write and tweet from Phil’s perspective but from my own (well, kind of). I am still going to keep a low profile, but I’ll be a little more open about myself if you are interested (you aren’t). Don’t worry, I will still be the same old Phil Coke’s Brain and will always center on Detroit Tigers baseball and general merrymaking. I’m not going to change my blog name or my twitter handle, but I have changed the name on my Twitter account to Eric (since that’s my name). Think of PhilCokesBrain sort of like a really dorky CB handle. Shoot, if there is a guy that goes by “Christmas Ape” maybe I can still use PhilCokesBrain. Of course Coke will remain a focal point of the account and the blog, because that is awesome.
In the end this is really nothing new. I just hope I don’t wake up tomorrow and see I don’t have any followers left.
I had a lot of fun with this flow chart on BlessYouBoys. Long story short — I had inclued Torii Hunter in a previous edition and then moved things around. In the end I didn’t included him.
Here is my attempt to make amends.
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament brackets were released yesterday thus is time for my annual rite of spring: losing money in the office pool. This year I know even less about the teams, but the good news is that the field is more unpredictable than ever. So let’s just go by something I actually know a little about. Behold, the Detroit Tigers bracket! Hey, it can’t possibly be worse than picking teams by mascots or uniform colors or by who Digger Phelps likes.