There is a post-game ritual which my father and I share. We pile into the car with anything we've taken with us and we turn the tuner to AM 900, the game presentation is ending, and Rick Zamperin (at least of late) demands that we should stick around for the 5th Quarter. Since it's a long drive back into the suburbs, we always oblige.
Ted Michael's voice penetrates into my brain, with a short post-game summary which explains to me just how much we have lost by, and they move onto the calls.
Next comes the worst part -- the callers. They slur their words and repeat themselves. Sometimes they can't even complete a sentence. Ted Michaels even occasionally shoos them off in a way which helps them to maintain some of their dignity.
The opinions of these intoxicated buffoons are usually ill-informed or ill-advised and very rarely do they make any sort of coherent argument. I curse and slam the dashboard and wish that they would shut up. Of course, Ted Michaels is not much better, and is constantly making excuses for the team.
I cannot even recall how many times the sentences, "This is a very good team," and "They're about to turn it around," were used in defense of their piss-poor performances.
But I still listen.
There is something, somehow, that is very nice, very encouraging about having a forum such as the 5th quarter for self-expression that I think is in itself representative of the kind of society in which (ideally) we live. It is a supposedly free forum of ideas.
Or so we are lead to believe.
I'm listening, as usual, and I'm taking offense to most of the things being said about this football team.
But It's OK I think to myself. They're entitled to their opinion.
Rick Zamperin, who is filling in, greets the next caller. The caller starts on his criticism, which is of the organization on the whole, of Bob Young for not bringing in the right personel to get the job done.
Zamperin will have none of this, he doesn't want to hear any of it. Suddenly he's off, screaming into the microphone, accusing the fan of being ungrateful and asking him where the team would be without Bob. He won't let the fan respond, he just keeps screaming and repeating himself, it sounds as if he's slobbering all over the bloody microphone. He lets up, just milliseconds before he hangs up on the caller.
This sets off a chain of memories. This isn't the first time it's happened. In fact, as I recall it has happened several times over the tenure of our Caretaker.
My question is this: what is the point of providing a free forum of ideas if one is not going to allow all ideas to be heard? The man wasn't being vulgar, and he was only slightly drunk, yet he was lamblasted and not given the opportunity to defend himself.
Perhaps this is not a Ti-Cat policy, perhaps it is not a CHML policy, but whoever's policy it is (and it is a policy, as this has happened every time I've heard a criticism of Bob or any supremely high-ranking Ti-Cat personel) -- but it is my belief that it must stop.
Why? Because it is unfair to expect the fans who pay money to go to your games, soak in your advertising (which you make money off of), and support this team to be supremely patient and not start pointing fingers.
While you may not like what they have to say, ultimately they're footing the bill, and as the "owners" they're entitled to their opinions.