Although I attended UNL (hurr durr AAU joke), I’ve been a voracious reader all of my life—that’s why I can confidently use words like voracious in everyday life. The very first “real” book I remember reading on my own was, in fact, Kristy’s Great Idea from The Babysitters Club series. The library in my small Nebraska town had the entire series—which eventually numbered 131 books, as well as 15 Super Specials, 36 Mysteries, and 4 Super Mysteries! The series went on until 2000, and though I aged out of the series before it finished, I’m sure I read 70 or 80 of the regular books and as many of the specials as I could.
The series, for the uninitiated, revolves around a group of middle school girls in Connecticut who have a boatload of entrepreneurial spirit and one private phone line between them who form a club where parents can call in at regularly scheduled meeting times in order to reserve a babysitter. The books each feature a different main character, as well as her dramas with either the other girls, their family members, or the children they are babysitting. It is, as you may have guessed, not great literature, but was eagerly consumed by an awful lot of Elder Millennials. Today, two thirty-something men have a podcast based on reading the books called “The Babysitters Club Club.” Netflix released a mini-series based on the first few books this summer, and it was surprisingly not awful - it was interesting to see how they updated both the themes and technologies in a way that made sense for 2020 rather than 1992.
Anyway, 1992 was a simpler time of land lines and no global pandemics, of blessedly limited news sources and problems that could not be quickly and easily solved with a cell phone. This is 2020, and our teams are playing football (kind of) when games aren’t cancelled. Read on to find out where we ranked your team this week.
Ohio State (#1) - Kristy’s Great Idea
First Place Votes: 13 High: 1 Low: 1 Last Week: 1
Kristy thinks the Baby-sitters Club is a great idea. She and her friends Claudia, Stacey, and Mary Anne all love taking care of kids. A club will give them the chance to have lots of fun — and make tons of money.
But nobody counted on prank calls, uncontrollable two-year-olds, wild pets, and parents who don’t always tell the truth. And then there’s Stacey, who’s acting more and more mysterious. Having a baby-sitters club isn’t easy, but Kristy and her friends aren’t giving up until they get it right!
Though Nebraska is getting a lot of heat as the “responsible party” for pushing for football during a pandemic, this “great idea” also found welcome reception in Columbus. And why not? Ohio State actually has something to play for! Playing in a pandemic will give them the chance to have lots of fun—and make tons of money!
So far, the Buckeyes are having an easier time of things than the Babysitter’s Club did, but something even more complicated than wild pets or prank calls has reared its ugly head - Covid-19. As the virus makes its way through the Buckeye ranks, sidelining the team for weeks, it’s now a real possibility that the perfect plan (and a perfect record) might all come to naught.
Indiana (#2) - Mary Anne and the Playground Fight
H: 2 L: 4 LW: 3
Summer’s coming, and the BSC members should be excited...right? SMS is planning a big trip to Europe. A playground camp is opening in Stoneybrook — and it needs counselors with baby-sitting experience. Mary Anne can’t think of anyone more qualified than her friends in the BSC.
There’s only one problem: There are nine BSC members — and only six jobs at the playground camp. The competition is turning fierce, and Mary Anne’s friends are arguing more and more every day.
Can the BSC survive the fighting?
The Big Ten has been an unanticipated sort of “playground” this season, as perennial powers or (wannabe powers) have skinned their knees, while late-adds to the kickball team Rutgers, Illinois, and especially Indiana are all showing up better than expected. As the weeks of the shortened season dwindle, the chances for wins and a bowl-eligible records are dissipating for some teams faster than spots at Stoneybrook’s Playground Camp, but Indiana remains in great shape.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for Michael Penix Jr., who will reportedly miss the rest of the season with a lower leg injury. The timing couldn’t be worse as the Hoosiers face a possibly competent team in Wisconsin, before closing the “regular” season against in-state rival Purdue.
Northwestern (#3) - Mary Anne’s Makeover
H: 2 L: 4 LW: 2
When Mary Anne sees a picture of a haircut that she really likes, the baby-sitters don’t pay much attention to it. They like good old Mary Anne just the way she is. But Mary Anne really wants the haircut. So she goes ahead and gets it — along with some new clothes and a little makeup. Mary Anne can’t wait for her friends to see her. What a mistake! The Baby-sitters can’t even believe what she’s done. That makes Mary Anne mad. Maybe she’s the one to blame?
After looking positively putrid for most of 2019, Big Ten fans had a hard time accepting the new, competent Northwestern in 2020. It was more than a new haircut, it was the… well, the winning mostly, that was confusing. While Cats fans were elated, and old, busy friends found their way back to OTE, the rest of the Big Ten was less sure—we also liked the old Northwestern just the way it was.
It seems, however, that unlike Mary Anne, who had the fortitude to persist in her new haircut in the face of her friends’ disapproval, the Wildcats crumpled under the glare of disapprobation—committing four turnovers and returning to familiar form against Michigan State.
Iowa (#4) - Claudia, Queen of the Seventh Grade
H: 3 L: 6 LW: 5
At first, Claudia hated going back to seventh grade. But things are definitely improving. She’s on top of her schoolwork, she’s made some great friends, and her new classmates really look up to her — so much that they nominate her for Queen of the Seventh Grade. And when the votes come in, the results are clear: Claudia’s not just adjusting to seventh grade, she’s ruling it!
Being queen is harder than it looks, though. There’s a ton of work involved. And Mark Jaffe, the newly elected king, is no help at all. Claudia’s determined to stop him from turning her glorious reign into a royal mess. But how?
Claudia, the artistic cool girl of the club, seems a poor match for Iowa, who is neither particularly artistic nor cool. However, their struggles are otherwise similar. The book begins with a particularly humiliating setback for our girl, a demotion from eighth grade to seventh grade. Iowa can relate. They started the season with two close, galling losses to Purdue and Northwestern, a shame which seemed insurmountable at the time. But like Claudia, things started look up. Since these setbacks, the Hawkeyes haven’t lost since, in spite of giving it their all to do so against Nebraska last week. Now, they’re ranked #19 and face a very winnable game against Iowa next.
However, they still have a potential fly in the ointment. The newly elected King of the Hawkeyes, Spencer Petras, is often no help at all. As the Hawkeyes seek to become Kings of the Big Ten West (a dubious honor on par with becoming Queen of the Seventh Grade), Kirk Ferentz will have his work cut out for him to make sure that Petras doesn’t make a royal mess of things.
Wisconsin (#5) - Mallory on Strike
H: 2 L: 6 LW: 4
Mallory couldn’t imagine not being in a big family like hers. There’s always someone to do things with, and she likes to help take care of her younger brothers and sisters.
But now Mallory’s working on an important writing project, and she needs peace and quiet. So why won’t everyone leave her alone? Nicky needs help tying his shoes, Claire wants a sandwich, and someone has to break up the fight among the triplets.
Mallory feels like a baby-sitting slave.
And there’s only one thing to do: This Baby-sitter is going on strike!
Is this one too obvious? Yes, probably. It’s unlikely that like Mallory, the Badgers are working on anything like an important writing project, but nevertheless, the Badgers have had plenty of peace and quiet thanks to having over half of their games this season canceled due to ‘rona-related problems. Perhaps that’s a pro tip for Mallory - Covid is one way to get people to leave you alone.
Maryland (#6) - Dawn on the Coast
H: 6 L: 7 LW: 6
Dawn can’t wait for her trip to California. Besides all the sun and fun, it’s her first visit since her brother, Jeff, moved back to live with their dad. California is better than Dawn ever remembered it. The beaches are beautiful, Disneyland is a blast, and Californians eat healthy food! Plus, Dawn’s best friend, Sunny, has even started her own baby-sitting club.
After one wonderful week, Dawn begins to think she might want to stay in California, like Jeff.
Dawn’s a California girl at heart — but could she really leave Stoneybrook for good?
Ok, so this one doesn’t totally fit. Dawn was introduced a little later in the series, the product of a bi-coastal divorced parents. She’s a free spirit, because she’s from California. Apparently, she was brought in to show pre-teens that it’s ok to have divorced parents and also ok to be a vegetarian. This might also be why Maryland was brought in to the Big Ten, we don’t really know. Do turtles have a vegetarian agenda?
After a couple of wonderful weeks, Maryland had to sit out two weeks for Covid reasons. And then there was the disappointment of losing to Indiana, with the small consolation of somehow scoring 11 points in the game. With flailing (to put it mildly) Michigan on the docket this weekend, Maryland will discover where their true place in the conference is - at the bottom, or solidly in the middle.
Rutgers (#7) - Mallory Hates Boys (And Gym)
H: 5 L: 10 LW: 11
Mallory has never been a sports person. In fact, you could say gym is her least favorite subject. But now Mal’s worst subject has turned into an absolute nightmare. Gym class has gone co-ed!
Mal feels totally gross in her ugly, oversized gym suit. And once the boys find out she can’t play volleyball, they decide to make her life miserable.
Mal’s always hated gym. But she’s beginning to hate boys even more!
If I’m being totally accurate, this is more of a 2019 analogy for Rutgers than a 2020 one, as Rutgers is finding out this year that boys and/or gym aren’t quite as bad as they used to think. However, this is my favorite title in the entire series, so there’s your honor, Scarlet Knights. Soak it in, and don’t say I never did anything nice for you.
This also works because although Rutgers appears to be a little better at football than days of yore, they, like Mallory, still can’t play volleyball.
Purdue (#8) - Kristy + Bart = ?
H: 6 L: 12 LW: 7
Bart and Kristy are good friends. They go to dances or to the movies sometimes, but they’re not really boyfriend and girlfriend.
Or are they? Lately, Bart seems a little more serious. Kristy doesn’t mind, exactly, It isn’t that she doesn’t like Bart — she definitely does. But she’s not sure she likes him like that. And what’s going to happen to their friendship if they become a Couple?
Purdue is a bit of an enigma this year: are they decent, or are they actually pretty bad? Is Jeff Brohm a genius coach, or did Purdue cough up some money for a guy whose decision-making is so questionable that he hired Bob Diaco to helm his defense?
Lately, Purdue doesn’t seem to have quite as much potential as they did last year. The West doesn’t mind, exactly. But what’s going to happen in West Lafayette if Bob Diaco sticks around and Jeff Brohm runs out of tricks/incredible running backs?
Minnesota (#9) - The Fire at Mary Anne’s House
H: 7 L: 11 LW: 8
When Mary Anne is woken up in the middle of the night by her cat, Tigger, she immediately knows something’s wrong. Then she smells the smoke … and hears her father yelling her name. Mary Anne’s house is on fire – and she makes it out right before everything burns down.
Now Mary Anne doesn’t know what to do. All of her possessions are … gone. Her house is … destroyed. Will Mary Anne be able to get her old life back? Will her family move away from Stoneybrook … for good?
One good way to have your house not catch on fire is to have it be a sunken boat, which is certainly a strategy the Gophers have tried at various points this season. In between spectacular losses and Covid cancellations, the Good Ship Peej has appeared to be taking on water this season.
However, when the chips were down and Peejus decided to go for it on a 4th down with six minutes left and a three point lead, the Minnesota offense… crumpled. Dramatically. Things were shaping up well for Purdue, and they had PJ himself to thank for this. When the OPI that wasn’t negated the go-ahead touchdown for Purdue near the end of the game, PJ had the balls to call it “adversity” and act like he’d planned it all along. You’re not fooling anyone, PJ. The officiating crew is played by Tigger in this analogy, and you were damn lucky to get out before it all burned down.
Michigan State (#10) - Little Miss Stoneybrook… and Dawn
H: 8 L: 12 LW: 12
Then it’s Dawn’s turn to shine. Mrs. Pike wants Dawn to help prepare Margo and Claire for the Little Miss Stoneybrook Contest. So what if Margo’s only talent is peeling a banana with her feet? Dawn’s going to help her charges win that contest any way she can.
The only trouble is...Kristy, Mary Anne, and Claudia are helping Karen, Myriah, and Charlotte enter the contest, too. And nobody’s sure where the competition is fiercer: at the pageant — or in the Baby-sitters Club!
In the olden days, MSU would certainly be the team most likely to get a chip on its shoulder about missing a formal welcome ceremony to a babysitting club. Don’t people know that Spartans are a special football team too?
So far this season, MSU has shone in weird ways: they “shone” by breaking Rutgers’ very long conference losing streak; only to go on to further break Jim Harbaugh’s spirit and future employment chances. This was followed up by getting rocked by Iowa, getting blanked by #10 Indiana, and then… beating #19 Northwestern? This may all be the talent equivalent of peeling a banana with your feet, but there’s denying it’s keeping things interesting.
Illinois (#11) - Kristy and the Dirty Diapers
Last Place Vote: 1 H: 9 L: 14 LW: 10
When a local business, Davis Diapers, offers to sponsor the Krushers, Kristy accepts. She figures the new uniforms will give her team a big boost. But instead of being psyched, the Krushers fall apart: Mr. Davis bosses them around, and their new uniforms say DIAPERS — in huge, red letters. And that’s not Kristy’s only problem. With Dawn in California for good, the BSC is way overbooked.
But the new girl on Kristy’s block likes baseball and kids. Maybe she can help...
After beginning the season with the type of inept performances for which the Illini are known and which typically send Thump into paroxysms of despair, Illinois seems like they’ve recently gotten a big boost. They narrowly escaped Rutgers and then pulverized Nebraska, twin occurrences which sent Ohio State running scared and cancelling their game. Can the Illini overcome the DIAPERS-like stigma of being Illinois in order to knock off Iowa and/or Northwestern in the coming weeks? Or will Lovie be scouring his neighborhood for randos to help him continue to try to coach the Illini out of stinkiness?
Penn State (#12) - Kristy and the Walking Disaster
H: 10 L: 13 LW: 14
When Kristy sees how much her little brothers and sister want to play on a softball team, she starts a rag-tag team of her own. Maybe Kristy’s Krushers aren’t world champions (how could they be, with Jackie Rodowsky, walking disaster, playing for them?), but nobody beats them when it comes to team spirit.
Now Bart’s Bashers have challenged the Krushers to a real live game. It’s bad enough that the Bashers truly ARE lean and mean- but what’s worse is that Kristy has a crush on the Basher’s coach. A crush with a capital C!
I didn’t really mean to have two Kristy’s Krushers books in a row, but I also didn’t really think I’d ever be writing a football article pairing teams with Babysitter’s Club books during a season that’s partially played due to a pandemic, and here we are.
Poor Penn State have not been world champions this season - in fact, they held the dubious distinction of being the last Big Ten team to notch a win. As to their team spirit, I have to assume it’s taken a beating, but all that WE ARE shit has to count for something right?
Luckily, Penn State didn’t have to play Bart’s Bashers last weekend - they only had to play the Michigan Wolverines, who at this point very possibly would lose to a team of middle school baseball players. That happy circumstance gave PSU its first win of the season - but let’s be honest, they are still very much a walking disaster.
Nebraska (#13) - Kristy’s Worst Idea
LPV: 3 H: 12 L: 14 LW: 13
What’s going on with the BSC? Meetings have never been like this before. Members are showing up late, arguing about jobs, even pushing to get rid of Friday meetings. Extra schoolwork is making everybody tense, too. Then a favorite charge gets hurt, right under Kristy’s nose.
It feels like the last straw to Kristy. Maybe she’s not such a good sitter — and maybe the Baby-sitters Club isn’t such a great idea. But Kristy wouldn’t disband the club...would she?
What is going on with Nebraska? Games have never been like this before… wait. Yes they have. Players are failing to execute, passing the buck, even throwing away chances to win. All fo the losing is making everybody tense. And then they lose to Iowa, right under Scotty’s (maskless) nose.
It feels like the last straw for many Husker fans. Maybe Scott isn’t such a good coach—and maybe playing football isn’t such a great idea. But the Huskers wouldn’t get rid of Frost yet… would they?
Michigan (#14) - Dawn’s Wicked Stepsister
LPV: 9 H: 11 L: 14 LW: 9
Now that Dawn and Mary Anne are friends and sisters, Dawn wants them to do everything together — share a room, talk all night long, wear each other’s clothes.
But living with Mary Anne isn’t exactly what Dawn expected. Mary Anne brags about having a date to the school dance, her kitten throws up on the rug, and she hogs Dawn’s baby-sitting jobs!
Dawn’s always wanted a sister. Instead, she got Mary Anne, the wicked stepsister of Stoneybrook!
You know how sometimes you think you know what you want? It sounds great, and makes a lot of sense on paper? That’s Michigan and Jim Harbaugh. Never was a coaching hire more ballyhooed than that of Harbaugh at Michigan. The consummate Michigan Man with proven success, it seemed a match made in heaven. Books were even (prematurely, it turned out) published about the return of Michigan football. Michigan and Jim Harbaugh could hardly wait to do everything together — from sleepovers, to Italian trips, to wearing each other’s clothes (or maybe not, I don’t want to think about this one too much.)
It’s safe to say though, that this isn’t what anyone - Wolverine or otherwise - expected out of this relationship. Michigan is 2-4, looks utterly lost, and just lost to the last remaining winless team in the Big Ten. Next up is Maryland… and then Ohio State. Let’s just say that the kitten barf that poor Dawn experienced is going to look like nothing next to what Ohio State does to Michigan, should that game occur.
Michigan fans got what they thought they wanted. Where do they go from here?
Which childhood book series do you remember most fondly?
This poll is closed
The Babysitter’s Club
The Hardy Boys
The Chronicles of Narnia
Something Else Whose Superiority I Shall Assert in the Comments