An emotional end of June

June 26, 2009 | Keith Melchior

It’s a sad thing when 3 well known celebrities you sort of grew up with all pass away seemingly within hours of each other. Ed McMahon was well known as that guy who introduced Johnny Carson and his famous “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny” even made it into the movies with that famous Jack Nicholson line in The Shining. I remember when Farrah Fawcett was the golden girl in the mid 70s while I was in high school . It seemed like every girl wore that fantastic Farrah flip hairstyle.  I followed the Jackson 5’s music through grade school and well into the 80’s as Michael went out on his own and changed the music world forever. I heard lots of tributes today and most of the radio stations played clips of Jackson’s songs when going into and out of breaks. People are sensitive to all sorts of issues in the entertainment world.  Many fans cope with the passing of an icon by visiting a site and leaving flowers as a memorial. People today gathered together to sing, dance or share stories of their experiences of MJ and his music. Both Farrah and MJ items flew off the shelves and out of Ebay auctions.  People want one last memento and then will move on with their lives.

When it comes to local sports figures, people are just as sensitive when a player does something they don’t think is appropriate. Last year we heard the Aubrey Huff sound clips from the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show in which he called Baltimore “a horsesh*t town.”  Oriole fans were up in arms over that comment and wanted Huff traded immediately for bashing the city which he played for. A multitude of boos were heard on opening day 2008 even after Huff formally apologized for his comment. He went on to have a career year and was eventually cheered again. Fans accepted his apology and moved on.

Now there is an issue surrounding another Baltimore player. Today, I heard  people up in arms calling talk shows about it. Terrell Suggs of the Ravens was seen on ESPN wearing a New York Yankees hat. Comments like ,”what’s wrong with Suggs?”,  “that’s a slap in the face to Baltimore” and “how dare he diss our city on national television, he should know how we hate the Yankees around here.”   Baltimore fans are overly sensitive about the Orioles and Ravens. For years it was the conspiracy theory talk that kept the city from getting an NFL team and then having to hear about the records of the Colts in the Hall of Fame in Canton belonging to Indianapolis with little or no mention of  the Baltimore history with the Colts. Any negative talk about the Orioles over the last 11 years was seen as disrespecting the team and not being a true fan. Now the chatter is all about Terrell Suggs. What’s the big deal?

Suggs is not from Baltimore and he doesn’t live here year round. He just happens to play football here. Why should he worry about what type hat he wears on ESPN? It was a Yankees hat, so what? Why are people up in arms about it?  It is merely a fashion thing as it is with mostly all young professional athletes. They want to be trendy and wearing a Yankees hat is the thing to do when you want to “fit in” with that trend.  LeBron James is seen wearing a Yankees hat on quite a few occasions. You think Cleveland fans care?  As long as he takes the Cavaliers deep into the playoffs and gives them promise of a possible NBA championship, they don’t. 

So why are Baltimore fans so upset about Suggs?  Is it because of the hatred for the Yankees?  Suggs doesn’t have any allegiance toward the Orioles and why should he? Had the Orioles been like the Yankees  and actually played winning baseball over the last 12 years things may have been different. But, it is what it is with pro athletes.  It wasn’t until last year that the Orioles even acknowledged the Ravens were from Baltimore when they had John Harbaugh and some players throw out the first pitch a few times during the 2008 season. The animosity the Orioles has against the Ravens since 1996 was surreal. Here are two major franchises playing approximately 500 yards apart from each other and the Orioles acted like the Ravens were totally insignificant. That action turned many many Ravens fans against the Orioles and frankly I don’t blame them for being upset. Was it due to the fact that Oriole management didn’t want to lose it’s Washington fan base?  Washington. As in Redskin fans. For years, the Orioles seemed to spend quite a bit of time marketing the team about 35 miles south of Camden Yards. This also turned lots of fans off.  As the Orioles started their nosedive toward the bottom of the AL, crowds dwindled to 10,000 or less. The sellouts of the 1990’s quickly turned into the empty seats of the 2000’s. The Montreal Expos took up residency in Washington and  the Orioles were crying about how a team in Washington will hurt their attendance. Like 8 years of losing baseball hadn’t hurt the attendance yet? The MASN television network was born, splitting time between the Orioles and Nationals. The Orioles have been making millions of dollars from MASN, but the time had come for them to embrace their NFL neighbors in an attempt to win back some of their fans. It’s been entirely too long.

Emotions and passion run high among Baltimore sports fans. Don’t say anything negative about the teams or you’ll be raked over the coals. I see Duke, UNC, Yankee and Red Sox hats being worn all the time by people who live around the area. Why should Terrell Suggs be any different and why should he be singled out by Baltimore sports fans? I think once he steps on the field in a few more months and sacks an opposing QB, all will be forgotten.