Why I love being a sports fan, but it sucks

February 01, 2012 | Paul Hoke

This Sunday, the New England Patriots will be taking on the New York Giants in Super Bowl 46 (I know they post the Super Bowl in Roman numerals, but I’m not Roman, I’m a Baltimoron).  It’s a game that I’m honestly not sure I’m going to watch.  For a very simple reason….my team is supposed to be playing in the game, however, because they were unable to put away a team they outplayed in the AFC Championship Game, they will not be participating.

And, in a nutshell, that is what sucks about being a sports fan.

What I love about being a sports fan is that it is a diversion from everything that has to do with the real world.  Like tonight for example.  Yesterday I worked a 13 hour day that involved a foot chase, fight, and eventual apprehension after a K9 dog did what he is supposed to so.  I came home last night after 9 pm, grabbed a quick dinner, and got up to begin my shift again the next morning at 8 AM.  After 16 years, I’m used to the long hours and short turnaround.  But tonight, instead of dealing with the scum of the world, I get to sit back, and watch my favorite hockey team, the Washington Capitals, face off against the Florida Panthers.  It’s a nice escape.  I love hockey and the Caps bridge the gap between the Ravens and baseball season.  Problem being, that the Caps have been colossal under achievers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two season, despite entering each as the #1 seed.  I blame a big part of that on the fact that they have waltzed to division titles in a less then competitive division, enroute to a conference best record that has been mostly cloak and dagger.  This season, they are a shaky #3 as they cling to a one point division lead, all the while playing a notch below the best teams in the Eastern Conference and going through an early season coaching change and less then stellar play from their all world star, Alexander Ovechkin.

Manchester City, as the up to date standings show are locked in a dead heat with cross town rival Manchester United, as both sit a top the English Premier League table with 54 points (17-3-3).  Truth be told, I haven’t paid as much attention to the EPL this season, mostly because, before 7 PM on January 22nd, I had another, more important football team to follow.  But the fact that Man City is finally reaping the benefits of their spending spree over the past few seasons, makes the cold nights of February just a little easier to take.

This brings us to the Baltimore Orioles.  There is no other team that I have followed as long as the Orioles.  There is no other sport that is more dear to my heart then baseball.  My Dad and I share a special bond because of baseball.  My son and I share that same bond.  Football is my favorite sport, but throughout my almost 36 years, no other sport comes close to having a bigger impact on my life to baseball.  I’ve followed the O’s for 30 years.  Remembering fondly, watching the 1983 World Series championship from my grandmother’s living room on Hazelwood Avenue.  I can remember being at the final game of the 1982 season against the Milwaukee Brewers, where the Orioles were trounced 10-2.  It’s my earliest memories of Memorial Stadium, a place that I would call home for much of my childhood with Dad.  The Orioles will always hold a special place in my sports fan heart.  My son is almost 12 and LOVES the Orioles.  Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis are his favorite players.  Jeremy Guthrie is a close third ever since he tossed the game ball to Dylan at an October, 2010 game following a win over the Detroit Tigers.  He, like his father at his age, lives, eats, and sleeps baseball.  But, unfortunately, the Orioles are one of the main reasons being a sports fan sucks.

I can’t change my allegiance.  They are my team despite the fact that the current administration cares zero about the fans or putting a winning team on the field.  In my first 12 years on this Earth, the Orioles had won a World Series, played in another (1979) and won their division 4 times.  In Dylan’s first 12 years, they have played exactly ZERO meaningful baseball games.  They have never had a winning season, and continue to be the worst franchise in all of sports along with the equally woeful Pittsburgh Pirates.  But I love this team.  And as much as the Ravens’ loss in New England hurt, the realization that sports in this city won’t matter again until training camp starts, hurts more.

And that’s why I love, and hate, being a huge sports fan.  I take pride in the Ravens.  They are one of the best organizations in the NFL.  The only team to win a playoff game in each of the past four seasons, and they reached the AFC Championship twice during that four year run.  But they haven’t made the Super Bowl during that time, and this loss a week and a half ago still hurts this city.  But the Ravens, right now, are everything that is right with Baltimore sports.  While the Orioles, who should be the landmark team of this community, are everything that is wrong.  So while it was great to once again bask in the glory of another successful Baltimore Ravens season, the premature end only means that we will have to contend with another few months of meaningless baseball, until our Purple Birds strap on the shoulder pads again for August training camp.  And that is why it sucks being a sports fan.

It’s a great diversion from the fact that everyday life is hard, and can beat you down.  But when your team stinks, and you have nothing to look forward to until August, it makes you question whether it’s worth the investment.  But who knows, maybe the Caps stage a late season rally, and save their best hockey for the playoffs.  Maybe they catch lightning in a bottle, like the Bruins did last year, and finally complete their Stanley Cup journey.  Then, being a sports fan will be perfect.

But if they don’t, and they continue their run as an also ran, what is this Baltimore sports fan to do??  Put stock in a Maryland tourney run?  Or think the unthinkable and hope that maybe this is the year the Orioles finally turn things around??

Sure looks bleak.  And that is why I love being a sports fan, but in the end, it sucks too.