Baltimore sports fans are irrational, unrealistic, unforgiving, and hard-to-fool. Baltimore sports fans are unlike any other sports fans, because they’re–as Toyota used to say–“simply the best.”
Every Wednesday, over the next 40-years or so, I’m going to author a semi-regular feature entitled “How to be a Baltimore Sports Fan.” The idea behind this stems back to a conversation I had with some college students during my time as an English professor at a local community college.
The conversation went something like this:
Me: “This season might be another ‘Why Not’ year.”
Student #1: “Why not what?”
Me: The “Why Not” season in 1989; the year the O’s went from worst to ‘almost’ first.
Student #2: I was born in 1992.
Me: Don’t you know any Baltimore history?
Student #3: Ain’t this English class?
Me: It is. But you’re clearly struggling with speaking the Queen’s language–and you’re from Baltimore.
Student #3: How you know dat?
Me: I can tell by your accent. I’m from Dundalk. I could pick out a Bal-murr accent halfway around the world in a room full of people screaming Chinese expletives.
Alas, it’s this conversation that has sparked this column. Some people–local youth, sheltered stepchildren, non-local-Ivy-Leaguers-of-the-“local media”–need some help on understanding what it means to be a Baltimore sports fan.
Without further ado.
How to be a Baltimore Sports Fan…
#1 Be Irrational: Fire Dave Wallace and release the entire starting rotation.
Miguel Gonzalez went five-and-two-thirds last night. Wei Yin Chen went five the night before. Ubaldo Jimenez hurled five-and-a-third on Sunday. All three pitchers topped the 100 pitch mark. It’s impossible, yes impossible, to win more than you lose when your starting rotation consistently throws a full-game worth of pitches at the half-way point in the game.
Show me a team who has a rotation that consistently gives way in the 6th and I’ll show you a sub-.500 record.
Perhaps we’re starting to see why Dave Wallace has been away from the Major Leagues since 2007. Even though he’s still been around baseball, you have to wonder if his tactics and his style are working, some seven years later.
Think about it, what were you doing seven years ago? Me, I was finishing college and chasing girls around Canton and Fed Hill. If my wife ditched me tomorrow and I jumped right back into the bar scene, I’d be as effective as water-logged firewood.
#2 Be Unrealistic: The Wizards are 2-0 in the NBA Playoffs, build an arena and give Baltimore the ball!
The Wizards look legit.
Down in the fourth-quarter of both games in Chicago, the Wiz–coincidentally, that’s my name too–have come out on top and carry a 2-0 series lead back to the Mid-Atlantic region–Baltimore sports fans refuse to use the word that describes the area in which Congress meets to discuss their vacation plans and fantasy football teams.
All this Wizards’ success means that Baltimore should definitely build a new arena and focus on attracting an NBA team.
#3 Be Unforgiving: Jonathan Schoop doesn’t belong in the Big Leagues.
He can hit. He’s got some talent. But he doesn’t understand the game of baseball and desperately needs to return to a slower-pace at Norfolk.
#4 Be Hard-To-Fool: The Ravens aren’t looking for character guys, they’re looking for cheap talent.
Like it or not, the Baltimore Ravens have shifted their focus. There was a time when the organization steered clear of troubled players–think of all the receivers they passed on during a time when the roster was devoid of anyone with play-making ability. Brandon Marshall was a head-case, Chad Ochocinco-Martinez-Wong-Abdullah-Kazamakos-Johnson-Smith was a jerk, and so on.
If the flirtation with Rolando McClain proved anything, it’s that the Ravens have given in when it comes to looking past a players’ off-the-field issues or personal flaws.
Maybe it’s just the state of the NFL and society, but if you told me that this organization would have allowed itself to be yo-yoed around and attached to the negative press that Rolando McClain created, I’d have bet you’d first see Peter Angelos doing the Wild Bill O-R-I-O-L-E-S cheer atop the Orioles’ dugout in game seven of the World Series.
#5 Be The Best: Ubaldo Jimenez needs some love.
This Friday night, in Baltimore, Jimenez will make his fifth start as an Oriole. It’ll come against a spry and aggressive Kansas City lineup. He’s ranged from horrendous to decent thus far. If you’re at the Yard on Friday night, get behind Baltimore’s $50Million man. Give him some love.
But if he gets chased after giving up more than five runs in less than five innings, boo him like he’s the lovechild of Billy Cundiff and Mark Teixeira