Today is my brother’s birthday I wanted to recap all the incredible events that have transpired since he joined the angels in the outfield on September 24th:
September 25: Ethan’s all-time favorite college, Michigan State, beats Nebraska 23-20 in overtime to stay undefeated. MSU trailed 20-13 when I turned on the TV, knowing the magic was coming. With under four minutes to go in the game, the Spartans returned a punt for a touchdown for the first time in over a decade. Then did it again the very next week.
September 26: Rams 34, Bucs 24. A sign of things to come?
October 30: Michigan State still had work to do. In heart-wrenching fashion, his boys beat in-state rival and my alma mater Michigan 37-33 in one of the greatest games of all-time. The day after my dad’s birthday… a fellow Spartan
November 27: Ethan has Michigan’s back, I mean, he hated Ohio State, too! We beat them 42-27 for the first time since 2011. The Wolverines would go onto slay Iowa and claim their first Big Ten Football title since I attended the university in 2006. As an emotional fan recorded himself in tears saying, “This shit MEANS something to ME.”
December 5: The Lions finally get their first win. I was looking out the window in dismay as our hopes clang to the final drive with almost no time left. Ethan’s Spartan flag was blowing in the wind, wouldn’t let my eyesight go… and I felt that energy as I sat back and watched us beat the Vikings on a last second score as time expired. I went into the living room and lifted my dad into the air the same way our coach did our owner, it felt incredible.
January 23: The REAL matchup vs. Tom Brady, Ethan’s hated rival, and the Matthew Stafford led Los Angeles Rams. 27-3 looked awfully safe… until it was tied. And Stafford had to reach back, like he did in Detroit for us Lions fans to see weekly, and show the world the rocket launcher, sending a guided missile into the air for Cooper Kupp to catch and secure the game-winning field goal.
February 13: THE SUPER BOWL. NUFF SAID.
March 31: Bulls 135, Clippers 130, OT. A replication of the game we went to together in Chicago twenty years ago… the dramatic ending, the ultimate Bulls glory… and the inevitable Clippers collapse. It was so special because at the time no one else believed in those teams putting together a worthy contest. And now they continue to do it, and this time, it was for a sold out United Center to feel what we did.
April 8: REALLY REALLY WANTED THIS ONE. It was Opening Day and the game was IN Detroit. The White Sox, our nemesis lately, led 3-0 and then 3-1 in the bottom of the 8th. The g of gs Miguel Cabrera stepped up with the bases loaded and sent the pressure away with a game-tying two out base hit. BUT Chicago wasn’t done, sending my heart and a fly ball in the 9th into the left field stands. So Detroit, in the bottom of the ninth, returns serve. After our pinch-hitter took an obvious ball called a strike with one out, he took another, this one properly called, to make it a full count. Eric Haase got his pitch and delivered a blast to tie it up at 4. And the Tigers, thanks to a replay put in place to prevent them from getting cheated in the first place – walked it off with a game-winning near home run off the outfield wall, fittingly right by the area I sprinkled our childhood dog Kirby’s ashes years ago
April 12: If you aren’t exhausted reading Ethan’s heroics by this point, I was. The Whitecaps played Opening Day this week, and I KNEW he couldn’t be stopped. But I was getting tired… it was extra innings… and we trailed FOUR runs in the bottom of the 11th. I didn’t really need to follow the score; I can hear the crowd from my room. And they just. Kept. Cheering. It was 10-10, bases loaded, two outs, BOTTOM OF THE 11th – AND WE FUCKING WALKED IT OFF AGAIN!!! I could hear the crowd that had been there for five hours cheering into the dark night. And then they sent the fireworks into the air, as my Dad and I watched one of the best shows of all-time.
Ethan Ralph, I wrote this not only because you are just unstoppable, but because I want everyone to know, today, on your birthday, you are as alive as ever. Like I said when we all got together, Ethan would DEMAND today be a celebration! So enjoy yourselves and even though you might miss him, you can believe me: my brother is still kicking ass.