Anybody Out There?

October 19, 2007 |

 

My confession: I have BCE. I’m not proud of it. I wish I didn’t have it, but I do. Maybe this first blog entry will help me deal with my problem.           

My childhood demographic could be described as poor, urban, white. The urban part, more specifically is Canton, Highlandtown, and Dundalk. That’s where I’m from. So if anybody’s out there, and anybody cares about my low, abyss-like opinion of Baltimore, keep in mind, it’s coming from a full-blown Baltimorean.

The roots of my BCE are in 1973 when the Baltimore Bullets changed their name to the Capital Bullets and hung two baskets in a new tortilla shaped arena in Metro Washington. My condition intensified when I discovered that my “home-town” college basketball team, the Terps, played in the same neighborhood as my turncoat Capital Bullets.

My BCE became a straight-flush syndrome after I started traveling to major league ballparks across the country.

The Case became acute after the Colts left and I purchased an Eagles season ticket.

Yep, I had it…Big City Envy.

Big City Envy is the uncomfortable feeling of living in a place with all the negatives of a big city but few of the benefits.

Baltimore is a breeding ground for BCE. It has all the negatives of a large metropolitan American city:

  • A high murder/crime rate
  • Open air drug markets
  • Street gangs
  • Dirty air: especially in the summer
  • Blood-pressure-rising traffic congestion

Now, let’s look at the positive it’s missing: 

  • An indoor arena less than forty years old
  • An indoor area with at least 20,000 capacity
  • An NHL or NBA team
  • The NCAA basketball tournament
  • A steady stream major concert acts
  • A major college football or basketball sports program

I listen to a lot of talk radio from other cities. Here’s a sampling of calls to the St.Louis version of WNST: Excitement over the Blues, disappointment over the Rams, Cards GM, Blues, Mizzou football, Blues, Blues, Cards, Mizzou, Rams, Cards, Blues…

Anybody out there? Anybody see the difference. Baltimore talks about the Ravens pretty much 12 months out of the year, the Orioles during the season, and the Washington Metro Terps in the winter.

Baltimore has never-ever supported more than one major league team at a time. When the Orioles had their mini-dynasty from 1966 to 1974 they struggled to reach 1 million in attendance. The Colts were Baltimore’s team of choice. That changed in 1977 when the Orioles broke attendance records and the Colts played to some of the fewest gates in the NFL. Remember the ’77 playoff game against the Raiders? It didn’t sell-out in time to lift the blackout! The baton as now been transferred to the Ravens. PSL’s are being resold at bearish prices while the Orioles are setting all-time Camden Yards attendance lows.

My point? Other big cities have the sophistication to root for more than one team. Patriot fans love their Sox, Bruins and Celtics. In Section 513, Joe Fan is excoriated by his fellow Ravens loyalists whenever he wears his Oriole hat.

I confess…I envy those fans who can turn to their ‘NST and listen to a variety of talk. I yearn for emotional comments about our hockey team’s losing streak in January. I long for a time when the city is all abuzz at a Sweet 16 NCAA weekend at our sparkling new arena on Howard Street.

Other cities smaller than Baltimore enjoy these experiences. I’m sure it helps them deal with the crime, grit and congestion of living in urban America. Why are Baltimoreans deprived of this?

Is anybody out there?