SBD/April 5, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Weekend Plans With Wall Street Journal Sports Editor Sam Walker: All Things Michigan

Walker's son will play Little League ball before they head off to an auto show
To say that Wall Street Journal Sports Editor SAM WALKER is simply a Univ. of Michigan "fan" would a major understatement. The Ann Arbor native's memories date back to the ripe age of four years old when he began hooting and hollering for the maize and blue. With the school making its first Final Four appearance since 1993, there is little guess as to what will occupy Walker's time this weekend. However, Walker still plans to find time to celebrate his wedding anniversary, cheer at opening day of Little League and attend an auto show.

BIG BLUE: This weekend is kind of unusual in that it all revolves around one event, which is Saturday night’s Michigan game in the Final Four. The entire weekend will rise and fall from the outcome of that game. It’s not just my alma mater, I grew up in Ann Arbor. My father was on the Michigan faculty. I’ve been a Michigan fan since I was four. I have memories of being at a football game at four years old.

SILK ANNIVERSARY: We have dinner plans with friends on Friday night and we’ll probably just go to a little place. I live in the West Village and there are so many great restaurants. We’re obsessed with a place called Red Farm on Hudson Street and there’s a little place called De Santos that we go to. It’s our 12th wedding anniversary this week, although we’ve already kind of celebrated.

PLAY BALL! It’s Little League Opening Day on Saturday for my son. That’s a big deal and we’re going to hit that and then we have practice. I’m not a bad Little League parent, I’m just kind of a schizophrenic Little League parent. I have my BlackBerry, because the whole weekend -- when you’re running a sports department -- everything is happening on the weekends. We’re odd in that we don’t have a Sunday paper, so we’re a little bit different on the print side. But we’re constantly updating and writing for online. So the traffic going through my inbox on a Saturday is still pretty strong. So I’m kind of half looking at my BlackBerry, half watching and trying to give my son bad advice. I don’t do a lot of yelling, I’m more like positive coaching.

SPINNING WHEELS: If I can sneak in a bike ride around Central Park, I’ll do it. When I’m in town I do that. But this Saturday I need to be home and in complete lockdown by 6:00pm for the beginning of the two games. We have a beach place out on the north fork of Long Island that we tend to spend a lot of time at. If we’re out there, we go on long bike rides. When I’m in the city, it’s my favorite thing. I have a little crappy, collapsible bike and will literally run out and get on it and pedal up there. Do a couple loops around the park, work up a sweat and come home. Usually, I can do it in under an hour, which is good with two young kids.

FOUR SQUARE: People think I’m weird because there are a bunch of Final Four viewing parties and people are kind of getting very excited about it. But I want nothing to do with it. I don’t want to be around anybody. I’m a complete maniac. I can’t really be in my house anymore, increasingly because of the kids. I have a seven-year-old and a four-year-old and they just don’t get it. I’m going to see how it goes, the first half probably won’t be too bad. And then, probably for the second half, I’ll have to sneak out. There are a couple of NYU dive bars that I know will have the game on and it will be loud and I can be a complete maniac and no one will notice.

GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING: On Sunday, I don’t have time to mope. Bright and early, my son’s Little League game starts. Then we’re off to the auto show, which is our fifth annual trip to it. My son and I are car nuts, and it’s the last day, so we’re sneaking in under the wire. We’re huge car geeks. We bought a car a couple years ago. It was a '63 Chevy Corvair, which was a bit of a beater, but as a convertible it was a lot of fun and we did a lot of work to it. Then we lost it in Hurricane Sandy after it got flooded. So we were crushed and to console ourselves, we went out and got a '74 MG Midget and we also bought a '66 Mustang Convertible, which is also in pretty rough shape. But we’re doing a little bit of work on it ourselves.

TOTALLY IMPARTIAL: I have to stress that I am a completely objective journalist when it comes to Michigan and all college sports. I do not discriminate, I do not favor them in any way with our coverage. I think we’ve been tough with them in the past and we’ll continue to be. But I can’t help who I am. It’s the only team that I feel that passionately about. I have other teams that I like, but nothing even closely approaches my devotion to Michigan teams.

BOOK WORM: I read a lot of books, but I don’t really read a lot of sports books. I really try to take a vacation from sports on the weekend (as much as I can). I’m not reading novels, but I like nonfiction. I try to stretch my brain and read other topics. I like to read pretty much the entire newspaper -- except the sports section -- on Sundays. And thus I am sometimes the last guy who saw the big play or the big game. I remove myself a little more than you would probably think. My wife is a literary agent, so I’m sort of married to the publishing mafia. I just finished "BOOMERANG" by MICHAEL LEWIS, which I’d been meaning to read for a while. And I’m reading a galley of a book called "DECISIVE" by CHIP & DAN HEATH. I like books about management and business and finance.
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