As the confetti dropped Sunday night at LucasOil Stadium in Indianapolis to punctuate the New York Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI win over the New England Patriots, a harsh reality set in throughout Charm City.
While the Baltimore Ravens were eliminated some 14 days earlier, the immediate hangover effect of an AFC Championship Game loss lingered into Super Bowl week. The significance of the Super Bowl even without the Ravens’ involvement prevented the malaise of the football offseason from setting in too quickly.
It’s here now though, and it absolutely stings.
Just as we’ve finally had enough time to get over the Ravens’ heartbreaking defeat in Foxborough, we’ve been forced to accept the fact that there really isn’t anything on the sporting horizon that we can deflect our purple energy towards. After working ourselves into a frenzy over the course of the last two months, we have basically no choice but to sit on our collective hands for the better part of the next seven months while we wait for John Harbaugh’s team to take the field once more for real.
Sure, we’ll all drink some beer and tell our favorite Earl Weaver stories on Opening Day. Most of us will throw down a few shekels on the Kentucky Derby winner on Preakness Saturday in May. We’ll be gripped to any rumors related to the Purple Birds.
The moments of excitement will be fleeting and there will certainly be no outlet for us to channel any level of sporting fervor.
Here’s the rundown on the “Reality” of the situation:
-Much of the country will immediately shift their focus to College Basketball season. In past years, an exciting University of Maryland has provided a level of excitement after football season concluded. Barring a miracle it won’t be the case this season, as the Terps sit at 3-5 in ACC play with no significant victory and none likely to come. This was to be expected in Mark Turgeon’s first season but it won’t help anyone in the area shake themselves awake from an “end of football season coma.”
One small shining light is Loyola University basketball, as the Greyhounds find themselves tied with Iona for first place in the MAAC at 11-2. This year’s team is the best Jimmy Patsos has ever had, and has a legitimate shot at the NCAA Tournament. The only cloud for the Hounds’ chances is that the Gaels certainly have more overall talent. It doesn’t mean Loyola couldn’t figure a way to a MAAC Tournament title, it’s just reality.
Coppin State entered Monday with a respectable 7-3 MEAC record and a legitimate crop of talent. Morgan State’s season has been mired by a mid-season suspension of head coach Todd Bozeman and has lead to a disappointing 3-6 conference record entering Monday. The Eagles have a semi-realistic chance of winning the MEAC Tournament, the Bears can’t be completely ruled out but have struggled.
Towson and UMBC have basketball teams. One has a first year coach (the Tigers’ Pat Skerry), one has a coach who might be in his last season (the Retrievers’ Randy Monroe). Neither are even a little good.
Before I leave the topic, the University of Maryland women (who provided us a pleasant distraction with their 2006 NCAA Championship run) have a nice team again under Brenda Frese. They’re not liking a team that could make a Final Four run, but they weren’t supposed to be that year either.
-Other fans across the country will turn their attention to the NHL and NBA. With no team in either sport (and no arena for hope of a team relocating here in either sport) Baltimore isn’t afforded the opportunity to shift attention to such areas.
A handful of sports fans in Baltimore are interested in the Washington Capitals, who have made the NHL Playoffs in each of the last four seasons. After firing coach Bruce Boudreau earlier this season, the Caps find themselves sitting on the outside looking in at the playoff picture now under Dale Hunter and aren’t likely to make a run longer than last season’s advance to the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
There are less than a handful of Washington Wizards fans in Baltimore, which might be good news because the Wizards are unthinkably terrible.
-College Lacrosse season gets underway in the next 10 days, and both Johns Hopkins and Maryland find themselves in the Top 10 of preseason polls. A run to the Final Four from either the Blue Jays or Terrapins would be pleasant, but with the National Semifinals and Finals back in Foxborough Memorial Day weekend is not likely to register the same way for any local sports fan.
-That of course brings us to baseball. The Baltimore Orioles play their first Spring Training games on March 5. They’ll hope to avoid being mathematically eliminated from the AL East race before their first game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards April 6. There’s no guarantee they’ll succeed.
That’s where we are. It’s a harsh reality, but it’s reality. I don’t write this to try to depress anyone. The good news (for you) is that you won’t have to talk about it for four hours a day. I’m not afforded the same opportunity. And it’s not as if I’m really telling you anything you didn’t know, I just felt as though Monday was the day everything sunk in.
We’ll still be here for you however…if for no other reason than to pass the time.
Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…