with their “paid for” enthusiasm for the Ravens.
Then, “The Fan” — and that branding is more of a joke than anything, considering they’ve summarily spit in the faces of Baltimore sports fans with powder-puff, profit-first propaganda regarding the 14-year freefall and demise of an institution as significant as the Baltimore Orioles — hires more hosts from St. Louis, Michigan, Virginia and Boston and calls themselves a local entity that serves our community. But I’ll save more of that diatribe for my “State of Baltimore Sports Media” Part Deux, coming Super Bowl week.
The simple fact is this: understanding the provincial nature of Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh takes a lifetime to live and understand. And for the most part, Drew wrote this blog eloquently two days ago for all of us who have suffered this career of indignation in the postseason shadow of the Steel City. Luke Jones also did a nice job here at WNST.net of summing up the last 15 years since the Ravens came to town here to fan the flames of the hottest, meanest rivalry in the NFL.
But this is my personal story and I can’t think of anyone short of Ozzie Newsome, Kevin Byrne and Eddie Carroll who have personally witnessed more Pittsburgh pain than I have with my physical being given the amount of time, money, travel (planes, trains, buses and automobiles) and heart I’ve invested in Baltimore sports and anguished with each loss to the Steelers and Pirates and Penguins.
I can leave 1971 out of because I didn’t see Roberto Clemente destroy the Orioles but my Pop and the videotapes tell me all I need to know about the pain.
Eight years later at the tender age of 10 I was in the lower reserved obstructed view seats for Games 1 and 2 of the 1979 World Series. That Orioles team was the best team of my lifetime, a pure magic that only a kid and a summer with his father could appreciate. (After going to 44 games that year on No. 23 bus from Highlandtown, my Pop couldn’t score us tickets for Games 6 or 7. And in retrospect, that’s a good thing in my memory bank because watching Willie Stargell that night was hard enough on television from Bank Street in Dundalk).
I was also in the lower deck in Sect. 41 just below where Donald Kroner flew that plane into the upper deck three years earlier in 1976 when Terry Bradshaw came to town. And I watched in agony the following year as Bert Jones floundered on my television in the snow flurries and chill of Three Rivers Stadium – both ugly, lopsided losses for the blue and white horseshoes of our father’s passion.
I was in Memorial Stadium in 1983 when 25,000 of yins came don and took over 33rd Street in another embarrassing loss to end the Irsay era. It was the last Baltimore Colts game and NFL game I ever attended with my father, who died in 1992.
And as any of my longtime readers, listeners and friends know, I was a passionate, crazed Houston Oilers fan from birth until the day that Vinny Testaverde and Art Modell showed up at the Inner Harbor in early 1996.
I wore powder blue into Three Rivers Stadium every year from 1987 until 1994, year after year, watching yins thwartz “Luv Ya Blue” and Warren Moon’s efforts to get to a Super Bowl. I think I cried during both of the AFC Championship Games in 1979 and 1980 when Dan Pastorini and Earl Campbell came to the confluence only to lay an egg that only those who remember Mike Renfro can appreciate.
I’ve seen far more playoff football games in Pittsburgh in person – driving all 258 miles each way and buying tickets (like a real fan, something some of the morons in the mouthy media