What a wild Saturday full of sports in our area. First, I attend the Army-Navy Game and truly enjoyed the pageantry and spectacle that is this great American Classic. Earlier in the week, I heard Brian Billick say on WNST that this is a sporting event everyone should see once. Kind of like the Preakness and the Indy 500. I couldn’t agree more.
The march on of the academies, while about an hour too early for me, is really a wonderful spectacle. The parachute teams of both Army & Navy were spectacular. The F-18 Super Hornets flyover and the Army Blackhawk helicopters flyover were thrilling and heart pounding. The two academies poking fun at each other through video clips on the jumbotron included some very funny stuff. The story of the two soldiers who were hurt and paralyzed while serving in the Mideast was so heart warming that all of M&T Bank Stadium stood and applauded, many holding back tears.
As for the game, Navy defense and special teams really played well and the vaunted triple option attack of Paul Johnson wore down the Black Knights in the fourth quarter. Navy slotback Reggie Campbell, all 5’6", was the biggest star with his 98 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, his punt return that set up the field goal with :01 left in the first half, and his touchdown run in the fourth that sealed the game. Navy has now won a series high six straight games. They lead the all time series 52-49-7.
Army, although game and tough, really needs to improve their program. The gap between its program and Navy’s and Air Force Academy’s is a mile wide right know. They have to stop thinking they call throw the ball like other programs. Academies don’t get Tim Tebow’s and Matt Ryan’s.
The Crowd at Army-Navy: WNST’s own Nestor Aparicio mentioned in his blog that he was surprised how little the crowd got into the game and how the atmosphere wasn’t as super charged as he thought it would be. I think I have the answer to that question.
First, many season ticket holders for Navy in my section, way at the top of 528, where very unhappy that as Navy season ticket holders they got put up in the stratosphere. I was not surprised nor shocked. Like any sporting event of this magnitude, I am sure corporate sponsors and political and military brass eat up most of the good seats downstairs. Plus, add the 8,000 seats that justifiably go to the two academies’ student corps, and you have real fans getting pushed up and, in some cases, out of the stadium.
Second, Navy and Army fans are not like raucous NFL fans or super-hyped college fans such as at Maryland or Ohio State. These fans are more about admiration than atmosphere. They are legacy fans and fans who have a real connection or love of the academy, its football program, and its legends. They are very courteous and knowledgeable, just not loud. But make no mistake, they support their team and are passionate about their football. Unlike Oriole Park, fans there not just there to be seen.
Earl "The Pearl" Monroe: Before I was able to secure tickets to Army-Navy, my wife secured some real cheap nosebleed seats for the Wizards-Raptors game. For only $10, why not? From where I was sitting, I heard a game was being played; I just can’t confirm that.
It was a chance to see former Terp and Baltimore native Juan Dixon for the Raptors and Gilbert Arenas for the Wizards. And of course both missed the game.
I was extremely pleased when I found out that the Wizards where inducting Earl "The Pearl" Monroe and retiring his Baltimore Bullets No. 10 Jersey. You know the orange one he wore for the Bullets from 1967-72 at the Civic Center. "Earl The Pearl" is one of the NBA’s fifty greatest players and one of its greatest showmen of all time. While long overdue, "The Pearl" actually never played in Washington for the Bullets/Wizards, only the Baltimore Bullets before his trade to New York.
It was nice affair with the organization bringing back several of his old teammates like Wes Unseld, Kevin Loughery, and even Bullets who didn’t play with him like Mike Riordan and Phil Chenier.
However, I have beef to pick with Abe Pollin and his management team. How come there was very little promotion in Baltimore about a player who played with the franchise when it played on Howard and Baltimore Street?
I am sure if your public relations staff would have contacted WNST or any of the other stations, they would have been happy to have somebody like Unseld or Chenier or even "Earl the Pearl" on for a couple of minutes.
Why not make some ticket offers? After all, you were offering tickets for only $10. But once again, Baltimore to Abe Pollin is the bad child that you don’t acknowledge from your first marriage when your new trophy wife comes in.
Speaking of which we should find a way to honor the old Bullets at the Ist Mariner Arena with a special banner or the name on the inside of the facade somewhere. Maybe the Blast or the City could do that? It would be a nice way of honoring Baltimore’s past–something Mr. Pollin only does when it helps him sell some tickets in Washington.